Articles & Blog

Maureen Bennie curates a news blog for Autism Calgary called "What in The World is Going On About Autism". Her blog often mines and expands on the articles and events that she has detailed in that news feed, as well as looking at current best autism resources, news stories, and events on a variety of topics about autism and ASD.

Autism and (trans)gender: dysphoria, ambivalence, and gender fluidity in ASD

People who feel significant gender distress because their gender identity differs from their birth sex have higher than expected rates of autism. This is a growing topic of study and discussion as our acceptance for those with gender dysphoria grows. What is gender dysphoria? Gender dysphoria (GD), also known as gender identity disorder (GID) is the condition of distress (or…

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Should we insist on eye contact from children with autism?

Making eye contact has been a long debate in the autism community. Eye contact is a necessary skill for navigating social landscapes at work and school. Lack of eye contact is one of the hallmarks of autism, but should we insist on it? Why do children find it difficult to make eye contact? A new study, published in November in…

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A Home of One’s Own: One Woman’s Journey to Independent Living with Autism

When you are a parent of a child with an autism spectrum disorder, you worry about the child’s future as an adult. Will they be able to live on their own? What happens if a parent is no longer able to care for their adult child? Canadian psychologist Dr. Lillian Burke believes only 3% of adults with Asperger Syndrome are able to live independently with no support. With this statistic in mind, what services and supports need to be in place to make the transition from the parental home to independent living? Can independent living be an option?

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Christmas with Autism: Ho-Ho-Hold the Expectations

The Christmas holidays are a time of great excitement and anticipation. Holidays also mean changes in the schedule, visitors, crowds, line-ups, noise, and socializing. For children with ASD, the Christmas holidays can be a stressful and anxious time. Meeting family demands can be especially nerve-wracking, particularly if you want to break with time-honoured traditions that just don’t work for a child with autism. Here are a few ideas for making the holidays happy.

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What gifts can I get for an older child with ASD?

Shopping for the older child with autism can be more challenging. When toys are no longer appealing, what other options are there? Here are 10 ideas to take the guesswork out of gift giving. Passes to Attractions – movies, museums, special attractions such as amusement parks, gyms, swimming pool, recreational facility – see what’s available in your city or town.…

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How to Keep the Holidays Happy and Stress Free for Those with ASD

The holidays are just around the corner. Most schools are out on Friday, everyone is busy Christmas baking, shopping for Christmas gifts, the malls are packed, company is coming, presents need to be wrapped, and the tree needs decorating. The holidays are magical from some and stressful for others. For children with autism spectrum disorder (ASD), this time of year can cause anxiety and be particularly overwhelming on the senses. Lights, crowds, traffic, line-ups, and visitors can be upsetting for children who need predictability and routine. Most therapy programs are in low gear during the month of December, school programs break for two weeks, and respite care is hard to come by. How to you keep children with autism on an even keel during the hectic holidays?

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Does my child have sensory processing disorder?

Sensory processing disorder (SPD) has long been associated with autism, and its external manifestations are often what lead a parent to getting a diagnosis. For a many years SPD was seen as a “symptom” of autism, but a breakthrough study in 2013 found that this disorder had a biological basis that separated it from many other neurological disorders. More recently it was found…

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Gunilla Gerland: 5 Secrets to Success for Professionals in the Autism Field

While at the Autism Europe Conference, I had the great pleasure of listening to Swedish lecturer Gunilla Gerland  speak about being a professional in the autism field. Having grown up with Asperger Syndrome in an unsympathetic environment, she had great insights. She wrote a book called Secrets to Success for Professionals in the Autism Field. Gunilla talked about essential tools…

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Autism Europe Conference Highlights, News, and More

This fall I had the opportunity to attend to the Autism Europe Conference in Edinburgh, Scotland from September 16-18 . This conference happens once every 3 years and is hosted by a European country (2019 will be in Paris, France). This sold out event had 1750 delegates from 60 countries attending. There were 300 speakers from across the world sharing advances…

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My adult child just received an autism diagnosis. What should I do next?

Answer: Higher functioning individuals on the autism spectrum often go undiagnosed until school life ends and independence begins. When the routines and structure of school end and work or post-secondary education begins, young adults can start to feel the pressure. There are more decisions to be made, greater organizational skills required, less structure and an increase in social complexities. The parent-child relationship is often redefined at this stage of life. The young adult may want more independence from parents but does not understand how to do this.

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How do you know what therapy is right for your child with ASD?

If you have a child who is newly diagnosed with autism, or are thinking of starting a new therapy program for a child with ASD, I highly recommend reading the article, What Kinds of Therapies Actually Help Autistic Kids? by Shannon Des Roches Rosa. The learning curve for therapies to help your child with ASD can be daunting. Not every…

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How expanding interests helps those with ASD – The LILA Principle

Over the years, I have tried to expand my children’s interests to help them increase knowledge, keep their lives interesting, and to foster growth. This has also been an educational goal in both school and home therapy programs. My son Marc, now 19, has a great range of interests that has broadened beyond ceiling fans and Thomas the Tank Engine.…

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The Positive Effects of Dogs on ASD: Ms. Claire’s Excellent Adventure

A Canine Assisted Educational Initiative

I think the ‘Claire Buron Project’, as we have come to call it, began years ago when I read about the positive effects of dog ownership. I began thinking that if owning a dog could lower a person’s stress level, and if just petting the dog could release pleasurable hormones, then maybe a dog could help calm highly anxious students with autism in a school setting.

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