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.
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.
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.
Teaching independence is a baby steps process that starts at an early age. When working with children with autism on any skill, you have to think it forward. How will this look and function at age 5, 10 or 18? Imagining where you want this person to be as an adult is a good motivator to teach independence skills. It gives a framework to set goals. This post looks at the small, gradual ways you can help your child to build independence.
Video: Maureen Bennie part 1
Maureen Bennie, mother of two teenagers with autism, talks about how a program at Calgary’s The Ability Hub is teaching her children the daily-living skills that prepare them for independent living in adulthood.
(video re-directs to the Ottawa Citizen website)
Answer: There are a number of frequently asked questions around when you should tell a child about their ASD diagnosis. How do you tell a child about their diagnosis of ASD? Is there a right age? How do you know when the child is ready to hear the information?
Answer: It would be a challenge to find a school anywhere that does not have a student in it with an autism spectrum disorder (ASD). Most teachers will have a student with ASD in their classroom at some point in their career. Because the symptoms and characteristics of autism can present themselves in a wide variety of combinations, from mild to severe, a teacher may not recognize new students in their classroom with an ASD from year to year.
Answer: Perhaps you fit one of these parenting scenarios. You suspect your child has a language delay and are on a six-month waiting list for an assessment. In the meantime, you want to take affirmative action to help your child. Or maybe your child has been diagnosed with a language delay, is receiving therapy, but you want to provide additional parental support at home. There are several strategies a parent can use at home to assist in language development: following the child’s lead, balance turn taking, match what your child is doing, wait for communication, and listen to communication attempts.
Answer: Receiving an autism spectrum diagnosis is a life-changing event. Now that you know, the next question becomes who should you tell? What do you base this decision on? It can be difficult to know how much information to give because you don’t want to overwhelm people yet you need to give enough information to educate and inform. There will be some trial and error in disclosing because there’s no way to predict another person’s reaction; some reactions will be positive and others will be negative. Negativity often stems from fear so an initial negative reaction can turn positive once a person is more comfortable with autism and what it’s all about.
Answer: Finding the right person to provide respite or in-home care can be a daunting task. The person needs to be a good fit with both the child and the family. How do you find the best person? What qualities to you look for?
Answer: When it is suspected that a child has autism, they are often placed on a waiting list for an assessment. The wait can be several months, sometimes longer. In the meantime, parents, grandparents, caregivers and other professionals would like to help that child in any way that they can. 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. Where do you start?
Answer: There is a dizzying array of information about autism and what treatments/therapies work best. You’ll get advice from parents who’ll tell you how well something worked for their child. Medical professionals will have an opinion. Internet research, forums, and articles may also influence your decision.
Answer: Whether you are switching schools, moving from elementary to junior high or junior high to high school, or starting school for the first time, entering into a new school environment can be stressful for the child with autism.