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.

Great Expectations – Starting the School Year Off Right

September is here which means the start of a new school year. Great expectations and high hopes abound. Maybe your child is going to a new school this year or attending school for the first time. Parents and children can feel both excited and anxious. How can you make this year a successful one? What is both reasonable and attainable this school year?

At Home

  • To make mornings a little less stressful, lay clothes out the night before, make lunches and check agendas for communication, forms etc.
  • If your child has trouble waking up, set the alarm 15 minutes earlier than needed to allow time to rise.
  • Post a visual schedule or checklist where your child can see it to know what needs to be done before leaving in the morning – bathroom routines, packing a backpack, dressing etc.
  • Be cautious about overscheduling with extra-curricular activities. For many children with ASD, it takes great energy to cope with the school day and down time can be needed after school. Look at alternative ideas such as one day events or weekend activities for things to do.
  • Decide if your child will do homework or not. If you decide to do homework, assign a quiet spot where it can be done and a regular time in the schedule.
  • Create some visual organizers for items that have to go back and forth to school. This could be a basket or bin by the front door.

Read More »

Getting Summer Work Experience For Those With Autism

My children, Marc and Julia, have been involved in their first work experience this summer. They finished their final shift of four at the Famer’s Market yesterday. What a great learning experience this has been for the kids. Their work environment was a supportive one, surrounded by people they knew through my figure skating club. Volunteering gave them a chance to see what working was like, presented them with challenges and gave them opportunities for personal growth.

Read More »

Team Around The Adult – Why We Need A Community

Children with ASD attending school have teams of support around them, often without parents having to ask. There is an IEP, an aide, teacher, consultants, and professionals giving input like a speech pathologist or occupational therapist. If your child is receiving services from an agency, there are usually multi-disciplinary teams in place to provide guidance and therapy. Once that child…

Read More »

How do I teach sexuality to a person with ASD?

Answer: For children that are concrete thinkers, teach rules and skills. Many individuals with ASD follow rules well and understand those types of boundaries. Make sure everyone who works with that child knows the established rules as well. You can teach the “why” behind the rule if the child is at a higher social-cognitive level. Keep in mind the cognitive level when teaching concepts. Does the person understand abstract concepts? Can they apply what they’ve learned in books to real life? Think about how the person learns best: using computers, through visuals, reading, video modelling etc.

Read More »

Autism, Immunity and Gut Health : New Study Continues the Link Between ASD and Health

The connection between autism and gut issues has been known about for over a decade, but until now, while the connection has been clear, the causes have been unknown. Up to 70 percent of those with ASD have gastrointestinal (GI) abnormalities at some point during childhood or adolescence. They are also more likely to have constipation or chronic diarrhea than children…

Read More »

How Animals Benefit Individuals with Autism

Owning a pet and interacting with animals can have many benefits. An animal can provide companionship, friendship, reduce loneliness and alleviate anxiety. It can be easier for a person with autism to interact with an animal because an animal is nonverbal and non-judgemental. Owning a pet can also foster responsibility in children. A study done in 2013 at the University…

Read More »

Does my baby have autism? Infant behaviours that may predict ASD

The first year of a child’s life is normally a non-stop daily or weekly celebration of “firsts” – first smile, first crawl, first steps, first words…first full night’s sleep (with any luck). But what if your baby doesn’t seem to be reaching these milestones? Every child is different, and meets these milestones at different times, so when should parents start…

Read More »

Preparing For Employment with ASD

The unemployment statistics for those with autism is in the range of 70 – 80%. Reading such a statistic makes one ask, “Why is this so?” As a parent of two young adults with autism who finished school in June 2017, I am starting to see firsthand why finding a job is difficult. There are so many skills needed to…

Read More »

Sleep Baby Sleep: Bedtime Tips for Those with Autism

Parents at one time or another struggle with a child who has difficulty falling asleep turning bedtime into a stressful time of the day. Instead of being a comforting time to wind down, tempers flare and tears fall. Children with autism seem to be particularly prone to poor sleeping habits that surface when trying to go to bed, in the middle of the night, or in chronic early waking.

I have several friends with autistic children who struggle getting their child to sleep. “It’s awful,” complains Andrea.

Read More »

Inclusion at school: new study finds that public school may reinforce negative self image for those with autism

Inclusionary measures for those with disabilities in the public educational system have become far more widespread in the last few decades. With more understanding and support at the public school level and programs like Sesame Street developing characters with autism, we have come a long way to creating inclusion for those who don’t fit the mold. Continuing to educate our society as…

Read More »

The Low Arousal Approach at Home

Dr. Andrew McDonnell, creator and founder of Studio III UK , was recently at my home to meet my family. He commented that my home embodies the tenets of low arousal. It got me to thinking – what have we done to make it that way? How have we kept life on an even keel with two young adults with…

Read More »

What Can I Do For My Child While Waiting for an Autism Diagnosis?

Here is something I hear quite frequently – “My child has been placed on a waiting list for assessment. We have to wait several months before someone will see my child. Is there something I can do in the meantime to help my child before a diagnosis is given?”

Anxious parents don’t want to wait to start intervening if they suspect something is amiss. If a diagnosis of autism is suspected, there is much that can be done even before an official diagnosis is given. If suspicions turn out to be incorrect, the help given will not have been harmful in any way. I was in this waiting position with my own son, seeking a diagnosis for him at 10 months of age. The diagnosis did not happen until 2 years later even though I was persistent. In the meantime, I felt helpless as I watched Marc lose what few words he had, become increasingly frustrated, and his challenging behavior escalated. I wanted to do something but didn’t know where or how to start.

Read More »

Visual supports for autism: a step by step guide

Answer: People on the autism spectrum tend to learn best using visual supports rather than through auditory input. Seeing it, rather than saying it, helps the person retain and process information. Temple Grandin, the most famous woman in the world with autism, describes being a visual thinker in her excellent book Thinking in Pictures.

Read More »