Autism Archives - Page 5 of 6 - Autism Awareness

Autism - Blog

It’s true that almost every blog post could fit into this category, but we try to keep it mostly to those blog posts and articles that specifically reference autism itself. News, research, any articles that talk specifically about autism, rather than a related disorder, or behaviour.

The Case for Long-Term Support of Children with ASD

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.

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Caveat Emptor or Buyer Beware – Know Your ASD Services

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?

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Autism Awareness Centre Celebrates 9 Years

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.

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How to Tell a Child They Have Autism Spectrum Disorder

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.

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Autism Diagnosis and Service Delivery for Immigrant Families

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.

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Reflecting on the Past Year

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.

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What They Do Well for People with ASD in the UK

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.

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Ensuring Success for Individuals with Special Needs

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).

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A Review of Autism Treatments

Last week in the Globe and Mail, there was an article about the effectiveness of autism treatments over the past decade. Two of the findings published in the journal Pediatrics that stood out to me were:

  1. Intensive behavioural and developmental therapy results in improved cognitive performance, language skills and behaviour in some young children, but few studies in this area were rated of good enough quality to single out specific approaches.
  2. There is little evidence of benefit for most medications used to treat ASD.
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Nova Scotia’s Autism Through the Lifespan Report

The Nova Scotia Government formed an advisory committee to help it improve services to those affected by Autism Spectrum Disorder. The Autism Management Advisory Team (AMAT) included representatives from local autism organizations such as the Provincial Autism Centre, Autism Society Nova Scotia, Autism Society of Cape Breton, AnnapolisValley Autism Support Team, and three government departments: Education, Community Services and Health.

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The Death of A Myth: Dr. Wakefield and the MMR-Autism Link

On Thursday, January 6th, the Globe and Mail ran an article about one of the great research frauds in recent history – Dr. Andrew Wakefield’s study that developed a probable link between the MMR vaccine as a cause of autism. Dr. Wakefield first published his findings in The Lancet on Feb. 28, 1998. He wanted the MMR vaccine replaced by three separate shots, then strangely enough he patented his own measles vaccine to replace the MMR one.

In 2004 a British journalist from The Sunday Times, Brian Deer, published evidence of Dr. Wakfield’s ties to the MMR lawsuit launched by a group against the vaccine. He was on their payroll and his research was going to be the centerpiece of the group’s claim. The children in the lawsuit were recruited unethically and there were other flaws in Wakefield’s study. For years, scientists have been trying to reproduce his findings but none have ever found a link between autism and the MMR vaccine.

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Quest for Autism Services

Parents are in a constant quest for services, no matter what the age of their child with ASD. The need for services changes with both age and circumstances. What services for people on the autism spectrum are out there and how are they accessed?

Recently Diagnosed

If you are a parent who has recently received a diagnosis, finding services can seem like a maze. A good place to start is to visit your provincial government website and look under Child and Family Services. This will be called different things in different provinces, but most governments use a similar title. The government will list how to obtain funding, what programs are offered or subsidized, and what government policy is on assisting families with a disability.

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Autism and Vulnerability

We just returned from our annual conference in Birmingham, UK. This year’s topic of autism and vulnerability was one not tackled in our previous conferences. The speaker, Marc Serruys, gave an excellent and informative talk on the subject and what it is that makes this population so vulnerable.

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