Maureen Bennie's Autism Blog

Autism News - Blog

Maureen Bennie’s blog on a wide variety of subjects pertaining to autism spectrum disorder (ASD). Maureen is a mother of a son and a daughter ages 24 and 22 with autism. She has managed an at-home Intensive Behavioral Intervention Program for eight years for her children. She has written hundreds of articles and book reviews that have appeared in publications and on websites throughout North America and the UK. Maureen also gives presentations both live and online across Canada on various topics about autism, available books and resources and how to use them.

Autism Awareness Centre Celebrates 20 Years

The month of June marks our 20th anniversary at Autism Awareness Centre Inc. (AACI). Twenty years is a milestone and one I wasn’t sure that we’d reach given the turn of events that happened because of the pandemic. Our world has changed a great deal, affecting everything we do and plan going forward. Over the past 20 years, I’ve had…

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Recognizing Autistic Interests as a Strength

If you ask a parent what the most important goal is for their child, they would probably say being happy and healthy. What things in life bring happiness and a sense of well-being? The answer to this question is often found through interests. Interests are a strength! Supporting an autistic person’s interests and passions are important because they are motivating,…

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Under-Responsive / Seeking Sensory Input

Sensory processing involves the effective registration and accurate interpretation of sensory input from the environment and from one’s body. Information received through the senses such as touch, taste, sight, smell and hearing must be noticed, processed and then responded to appropriately. Sensory processing issues arise when there is difficulty organizing and responding to this information that comes through the senses.…

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What is low demand parenting or a low demand approach?

Low demand parenting or the low demand approach is often spoken about in the context of Pathological Demand Avoidance (PDA); however, this can be helpful for a person who experiences high levels of stress and anxiety. This is a low arousal approach because it prioritizes the reduction of stress and anxiety and is based on trust, flexibility, collaboration, and a…

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Teaching Flexibility – An Important Skill

Not everything in life goes according to plan – when change happens, we need to be able to adapt. While autistic people need predictable and consistent routines, it’s still important to be able to cope with changes both planned and unplanned. Having flexibility will build resilience, problem solving skills, and help a person to overcome changes and challenges. In order…

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How can perseverative thoughts be lessened?

Perseveration is when a person has repetitive thoughts and dwells on negative incidents, causing them to become “stuck”. Perseverative thoughts can happen because a person may be trying to manage stress, process information, shift attention, can’t stop thinking about certain things, or can’t control behaviors. This kind of thinking, or looping thoughts, is not done consciously or on purpose. It…

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Supporting Autistic Children through Structured Play

Engaging in play is an important part of child development. There are numerous benefits derived from playing such as developing imagination and creativity, cognitive growth, building social skills, improving literacy, encouraging independence and promoting physical fitness. While autistic children enjoy playing, they may find some types of play difficult. This can be due to the development of social and communication…

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How can we recognize depression in autistic individuals and find the support they need?

While depression is a mental health condition that can affect anyone, autistic individuals are 4 times more likely than the general population to experience depression. Research suggests that up to half of all autistic people will be depressed at some point in their lives. Depression should not be ignored and is treatable with the right support. If you or someone…

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Collaboration in Education – Working Together for Positive Outcomes

In the educational setting, in order for families of autistic children to feel understood, supported, and experience success, they need a village around them. They need to collaborate with teachers, educational assistants, school based teams and community partners. Think of the TEAM acronym: T – Together  E – Everyone  A – Achieves   M – More For collaboration to happen, people…

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The Struggle of Aging Caregivers

I read an excellent article in the Globe and Mail about the struggles an aging population has with trying to balance work, personal life, and caregiving responsibilities. While caregiving is a labor of love, it also has another side to it that affects employment, physical/mental health, and well-being. As we age, we also have to assess how feasible is it…

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What is autistic inertia?

An autistic person wrote to me and asked what might be the reason they are experiencing difficulty starting a task. This got me thinking about autistic inertia. Quincy Hansen, autistic blogger, defines it as: the tendency that autistic people have to want to remain in a constant state. When we’re asleep we want to stay asleep, when awake we want…

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Ten Tips for an Autism Friendly Christmas

Christmas can be a magical time filled with decorations, treats, presents, twinkling lights, and excitement. It can also be a stressful time for autistic people because of schedule changes, visitors, sensory overload and unpredictability. Here are a ten tips to help make this holiday season an autism friendly one. Maintain routines for predictability. Try to stick with routines like bedtime,…

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Financial Stability for Autistic Individuals and Their Families – What Should Be Taken into Consideration?

In November, I spoke on a panel for the Public Health Agency of Canada National Conference to discuss aspects of the National Autism Strategy. My topic was financial stability. Each panelist only had a few minutes to speak about the issues and possible solutions. While I really enjoyed hearing my fellow panelists viewpoints and ideas, the experience left me upset…

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The Versatility of Using Visual Supports with Autistic People

Visual supports are the cornerstone of communication. They provide structure, routine, consistency and predictability. When a person understands the expectations and knows what to do, they are more independent and confident. Visuals can give a non-speaking person a voice or provide another way to communicate when anxiety and stress take over and words fail. There was a study that found…

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Social-Emotional Learning and Autism

Social-emotional learning (SEL) is the process of developing and using social and emotional skills. SEL skills are necessary to understand and manage emotions, set goals, make decisions, cooperate, resolve conflicts, feel empathy for others, solve problems, and work on a team (just to name a few). Children start to learn these skills from the time they are babies and continue…

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