This month marks Autism Awareness Centre’s 12th anniversary. It’s hard to believe so much time has passed and see how much we’ve grown since 2003. AACI has hosted 93 conferences since it began. We will be hitting our number 100 milestone conference this April 2016.
Receiving an early autism diagnosis remains a concern for parents because new research shows that pediatricians are still dismissing parental concerns about autism.The study found that doctors often reassured patients that their child would grow out of it rather than refer them to a specialist or send them for developmental testing.
Sitting on Santa’s knee and telling him what your Christmas wishes is a childhood tradition, but for children with autism this isn’t always a reality. Long line-ups, loud music, screaming children, and a busy shopping mall can be too stressful for a child with autism. Enter the Quiet Santa Program – geared to children with autism and special sensitivities. The…
Sleep deprivation is a common complaint among parents of those with autism. Children can have difficulty falling asleep, staying asleep, or waking too early in the morning. Lack of sleep can affect a family’s quality of life, lessen a child’s ability to cope and focus, and fray nerves. A new study from the Archives of Disease in Childhood compared information…
Great strides have been made in reducing the number of nonverbal people with autism from 50 percent to 25 percent. This decline is more than likely due to early intervention programs and the diagnosis of milder forms of autism. Early intervention programs have been promoting language development. Researchers are now saying to better understand and treat this subgroup of nonverbal…
Verbal communication can be an area of difficulty for people with autism. Using a camera can be an alternate way of communicating and most children love to use them. Looking at what they take pictures of, angles, colours, and details can give you a peek into how the person with autism sees the world.
This month marks Autism Awareness Centre’s 10th anniversary. Our past 10 years have been peppered with many memorable conferences, heartfelt letters, and projects all over the world. We’ve hosted 79 conferences since February 2004 – 9 in the UK and 70 all across Canada. AACI has hosted a conference in every province and the Northwest Territories. It’s been rewarding meeting…
There are many reasons for continued programming for children with autism spectrum disorder. Firstly, ASD’s are lifelong and on going with no present cure. We know that early intervention programming has made significant gains for our children and helped them with behavior, communication, social interactions, and sensory issues; however no human being is a stagnant entity.
Children with ASD’s grow, develop, and change, as does a neurotypical child. The problems present at age 5 are not the same problems at age 7 or 12. Yes, they are rooted in the same causes such as the inability to read the hidden social curriculum, anxiety, on-going sensory problems, and restricted behavior patterns, but new strategies need to be developed on a continual basis to meet the new challenges.
I had an eye-opening experience this week with my social worker about my children’s services. I’ve almost run out of funding on my current contract that will expire next month. Part of the reason for this is because I have not been accessing all of the correct programs. When I said I didn’t know about a certain program, I was told it is my job as a parent to know what the programs are available and what I should be accessing. It’s on a website, which is transparent, and I should be able to figure out all of the information from there. I was dumbfounded because how do you ask a question and search for information when you don’t even know the right question to ask?
I had a similar experience when my son was younger and was still in diapers until the age of 9. A parent told me in passing that I was eligible for funding for diapers because my son was over the age of 3. Why had no one on my professional team ever told me about this program? Same thing with the disability tax credit – another thing I stumbled upon on my own quite by accident.
It boils down to this – caveat emptor or buyer beware. You have to think of yourself as a consumer even where autism supports and services are concerned, read the find print, and do some investigating to find out what you qualify for. So where do you start and who is in the know?
This month, Autism Awareness Centre Inc. (AACI) celebrates 9 years of service in the autism community. Our journey has been a remarkable one. When we first started the company, we had 90 books in our bookstore. Now, we have over 500 and continue to expand the collection monthly. I spend a great deal of time researching new books, reviewing them, writing book reviews for publishers, and help authors bring their new works to an enthusiastic readership. We added a French books section 7 years ago. We were one of the first bookstores to develop a Girls Only section, finding information pertinent to girls – a gender not often discussed in the field of autism. I’ve seen tremendous growth in the autism book industry over the past 9 years and have tried my best to pass on new information to all those who visit AACI. Our monthly book blasts keeps our readership on the cutting edge of new publications.
We’ve travelled throughout Canada with our bookstore supporting other autism and related disability events. AACI has represented speaker/authors, organized book signings, donated books for door prizes, and been on-site to answer questions about resources, websites and much more! It’s been a great source of pride for us to support and enhance community events. Thank you to all those organizations who have made us feel so welcome and a part of things.
Our website has expanded considerably over the years. I started blogging 3 years ago and have written about many autism topics. Although the concept was to be a weekly blog, constant travel and family demands have caused me to miss a week of posting here and there. Thank you for your patience with the blog! We’ve added a monthly Q & A which addresses your most pressing and frequently asked questions. The Help/ Resources links section continues to expand monthly. Last month, a Technology section was added to address this growing field. The website will continue to evolve and grow to meet the changing needs of the autism community.
How and when 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? These are frequently asked questions around helping a child understand they have ASD.
It is recommended not to start this process before the age of 7. Children under that age generally don’t have enough understanding to grasp what autism is all about. When parents feel anxious about wanting to talk to their young child about autism, I usually suggest they begin with celebrating differences and building positive self-esteem. A couple of good children’s books to start with are It’s Okay to Be Different or Special People, Special Ways. Let them know that each of us is unique, deserving of respect, and we should appreciate different ways of seeing the world.
This week I attended an excellent seminar about how to best serve immigrants who have a child with a disability. One of the guest lecturers began the presentation in Spanish; her Power Point slides were also in Spanish. Although I could understand the overall meaning of what she was saying and had visual support with the slides (I have a good background in French), I found myself having to concentrate twice as hard as I normally do. I was worried that I was missing important details of what was being said, even though I understood the information generally. What a great way to open this topic by putting us in the shoes of a person who doesn’t speak the language fluently.
As 2012 fast approaches, I like to spend time reflecting on the past year and all the things to be grateful for. I receive e-mails from all over the world and hear the struggles facing families and professional in other countries. Even though I complain at times, I do realize we have support and options in the field of autism in Canada. Although some areas of the country are stronger than others and more options exist in urban than rural areas, there is still support to be found in most areas along with funding.
I recently returned from running our 4th annual conference in Bournemouth, UK. We partner with a school there called The Linwood School, which is a local school for children with special needs in the district or Local Education Authority (LEA), as they are called in the UK. I am fortunate to have the opportunity to speak with parents and professionals about the UK autism scene and observe firsthand what they do well. I know I am an outsider looking in so my impressions may be somewhat skewed, but I have to say there is so much that I admire about the programs and options that they offer for families.
Let’s start with early intervention. There is a program offered by the National Autistic Society (NAS) called the Early Bird Programme which is for parents whose child has received a diagnosis of autism spectrum disorder (ASD) and is pre-school aged (not yet of statutory school age). The programme is designed to support parents in the period between diagnosis and school placement, empowering and helping them to facilitate their child’s social communication and appropriate behaviour in their natural environment. It also helps parents to establish good practice in handling their child at an early age, so as to pre-empt the development of inappropriate behaviours. They use PECS, the TEACCH approach and the NAS’ approach called SPELL. The programme lasts for three months and combines group training sessions with individual home visits, where video feedback is used to help parents apply what they’ve learnt.
Whether you are dealing with a recent diagnosis, transitioning a person to adulthood, starting a child in school, or are somewhere in the middle of these, it is important to ensure success for an individual with special needs. What can you do to help a person have the best life possible?
Here are some things to consider:
A Good Doctor – Having a supportive doctor who listens can make all the difference to a family. Find one that is knowledgeable at giving referrals to specialists for matters they can’t deal with, can see you quickly when problems arise, and can offer help with difficult problems from sleep disturbances to challenging behaviors. A doctor also needs to sign the Disability Tax Credit form (T2201 form).