Autism Q & A

Our Autism Q & A section is where we try to answer the most common questions we are asked, in a clear short concise manner. Everything from how to tell a sibling about autism, to teaching a person with ASD to be more independent. This section likely has an answer to your questions about autism.

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.

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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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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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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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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 I keep my marriage strong while raising a child with autism?

Marriage is work and a lot of it, even when the relationship is a strong and loving one. About 60% of all marriages end in divorce. That is a staggering figure. I’ve read that the failure rate of marriages that have a child with autism is 80%, although I have never seen a confirmed study of this number. Does the autism factor put marriages at a higher risk for breakdown?

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How do I prepare a girl with autism for menstruation?

Answer: Introducing the topic of menstruation to girls on the autism spectrum can be a daunting task. Mothers worry about how their daughters will react to the event. Will there be sensory issues around blood flow and the use of sanitary pads? How will they feel about this change in their body? Will it be painful? How do you teach hygiene around menstruation? Will menstruation be understood and accepted?

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How do we help a person with ASD be successfully employed?

Answer: In order to answer this question, we first have to ask ourselves the following question, “What does competent adulthood mean?” Often, the preparation that happens in high school is not what will help an individual be successful in the workforce. How often have we seen a sentence finished like this when talking about a person with ASD – “…allowing the student to reach their highest potential.” Peter Gerhardt from the Organization for Autism Research says this is an excuse for poor outcomes. Adaptive Daily Living skills is another way of saying chores. Keep in mind that adaptive behavior changes according to age, cultural expectations, and environmental demands. Learn to say no to working on unproductive activities.

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How do I teach a person with ASD how to cook?

Answer: A few years ago, I attended an excellent seminar with 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…

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How can I make the summertime fun on a small budget for my child with autism?

Summer around home doesn’t have to be boring, a chore, or expensive. With a little research and planning, you can create a fun, educational summer providing experiences for your child to grow and develop. Relax, take it easy and don’t get in a knot about the small stuff. Summertime provides a needed break from programming and therapy so make the most of your free time with the kids. Kick back and enjoy creating a memorable summer for your family.

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How does a person with ASD date successfully?

For individuals with as Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD), dating can be a real challenge. It is a misconception that people on the spectrum don’t want relationships – often they do, but they just don’t know how to meet people or understand the nuances of relationships. How do we effectively teach relationship skills?

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How do I explain autism to a sibling?

Siblings of children with autism play a unique role in the family. Important as that is, they are often the ones who get less attention, alone time with parents, and adjustments to make in their lives due to the demands of the child with autism. The key to family harmony is fostering an understanding of autism and the importance of the role a sibling plays in a child who has autism.

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Is homeschooling a good option for my child with autism?

Once a child with autism reaches school age, parents ask themselves how to provide the best possible educational program for their child who has special needs. There are a number of options: public education, private school, or homeschooling, but what is the best option? Read on to help choose what might work best for your child.

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How do I keep a person with ASD safe from abuse or mistreatment?

No parent ever wants to think that their child may be harmed or abused, but it can happen. We can’t always be present, supervising at all times. Children go to school, visit other people’s homes, take the bus, work, and interact with others. People with developmental disabilities are more at risk for abuse than the general population. People on the autism spectrum often have a strong desire to be socially accepted and have difficulty reading emotions and social situations, and therefore may miss important cues that something is not right. This post looks at the newest research and programs that can help us keep our kids safe from harm.

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