Autism News - Blog

Maureen Bennie’s blog on a wide variety of subjects pertaining to autism, and ASD ( formerly known as Aspergers). Maureen is a mother of a son and a daughter ages 16 and 14 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 across Canada on various topics about autism, available books and resources and how to use them.

How to Teach Money Management for Independent Living with Autism

Becoming an independent adult with ASD involves a large skill set that needs to be planned out over the lifetime of your child. I recently posted an article on establishing clear guidelines around sexuality early on. Money management is no different. Being able to pay for items and stick to a budget is a barrier to successful independence. Many people –…

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Story PALS: How Reading to a Dog Gave My Daughter a Voice

My daughter, Julia, and I discovered a public library program called Story PALS back in 2009. The program is designed for reluctant readers ages 6 – 12. A child comes to the library and reads aloud to a dog once a week to make them less anxious about reading aloud in front of people. The dogs come from an organization called…

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When Interventions and Support Go Wrong: How to Reframe Challenging Moments and Create Predictability for Success

For many of us with children on the spectrum, support people like doctors, therapists, extra school staff, teachers, aids etc…are a big part of life. We depend on the help we get from various sources, but what happens when a situation goes badly? Even more important, how can we create predictability for our kids with autism so we can ensure greater…

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Bone Tired: Autism and Parental Fatigue

One of my most popular Facebook posts this month was about University of Regina’s Sarah Elizabeth Ivens’ thesis about parental fatigue entitled Fatigue in parents of children with Autism Spectrum Disorders: The role of parental and child factors for mothers and fathers. While most parents of newborn children have experienced some level of fatigue, many of us who have children…

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Temple Grandin: Still Going Strong at 70

Autism Calgary celebrated its 25th Anniversary on February 22nd with an exciting event – an evening with Temple Grandin. Temple spoke at the Calgary Hyatt Regency Hotel to a huge, enthusiastic audience of nearly 1200 people. She was in top form, delivering a two hour talk full of insight and practical information. Temple’s energy and enthusiasm for the subject of…

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What’s Cooking? Life Skills for Kids with Autism!

I attended an excellent seminar last night sponsored by the Autism Calgary Association. The guest speaker was Penny Gill, President of the Autism/PDD Family Alliance in Southern Ontario. Her presentation, Overcoming the Challenges: Teaching Someone with Autism Spectrum Disorder to Cook Really Well, showed us that you can teach someone with an ASD the important life skill of cooking provided the challenges are understood and the right supports are in place. Penny runs a cooking school out of her home for people with ASD ages 18 and over. Her eight week sessions work on more than just cooking; her students work on social skills, sensory issues, motor challenges and food aversions.

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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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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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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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