Parenting & Family

Want to know how to get your child with autism into their fall coat? Maybe you are taking a trip, and want to know how to make it a smooth experience. Or maybe you are a parent on the spectrum. This section contains all blogs and articles dealing with the subject of autism, ASD and parenting.

Keep Calm and Carry On This Holiday Season : 8 Tips for Supporting Individuals with ASD

The Christmas holidays can be a time of wonder and delight, taking part in family traditions, seeing loved ones, and a break from routine. The holidays can also be a time of stress for those on the autism spectrum who thrive on familiarity and predictability. This can be a difficult time of year, but with some preparation and planning, the holiday season can be enjoyable.

The school schedule can be interrupted with plays, concerts and assemblies. Teachers and educational assistants, give lots of warning about changes in the daily routine. Work in special activities into the visual schedule. Create a social story about a concert or a play the children will see. It is often anxiety rooted in fear of the unknown that causes challenging behavior and avoidance of new experiences.

Allow for some quiet or down time during a day that has new experiences in it. Create a plan B if the school play is too hard for the child to sit through. If a music concert will be loud, perhaps use some noise cancelling headphones to lessen the sound. If the class is planning a Christmas party, walk the child with ASD through what it will be like. There are some great party planning suggestions in Tasks Galore: Making Groups Meaningful. Maybe the child can also help with the organization or suggest a favorite game to play. If a preferred activity is included in the day’s events, the child is more likely to be enthusiastic about it. Think about scheduling a favourite activity right after a new experience so that the child knows when the concert ends, there is some computer time, games, or play time with a much loved toy.

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Ageing Caregivers – Who Will Take Care of Our Kids When We No Longer Can?

This week I was spoke on an ageing caregivers panel hosted by the Autism Calgary Association. It was both interesting and informative to hear parent perspectives on how they have supported their adult children through different life transitions. No matter what our stories were, common themes emerged : the need for housing secure income continuing advocacy and who will oversee…

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Enjoying Halloween: Tips for Parents of Children with Autism

For parents of children with autism – and those with autism themselves –  any kind of holiday or special occasion can become an extreme source of stress; Halloween is no different. For parents, there can be too many expectations to try and live up to. For children with autism, holidays are unpredictable, loud, and often bring changes in routines and diet. Halloween,…

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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.

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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…

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Supporting Executive Function in Children With Autism (Part 2)

As was outlined in the last post, executive function disorder affects many of those with autism in ways that can make tasks that most of us find quite simple, very challenging. Laura Munoz, an occupational therapist in Nelson BC, supports many children on the spectrum to develop executive function (EF) skills. When asked what she thinks is the biggest learning…

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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…

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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.

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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.

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Back to School with Autism – Elation or Deflation?

Most parents have mixed feelings about sending their children back to school. The relaxed schedule of the summer is suddenly gone and evenings become hectic with homework, extra-curricular activities, making lunches and getting clothes ready for the next day. On the other hand, it can be a relief to get back into routines and a scheduled day. Most parents need a break from their children by the end of the summer.

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School’s Out Forever…What Do We Do Now? Navigating life after graduation for those with ASD

Once the last few weeks of summer roll around, parents start thinking about the transition to back to school. If your child has graduated, the road ahead can feel daunting without the daily structure of school. Finishing school is a big life transition. It can be difficult for those with ASD to jump right into post-secondary education or employment once…

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Sleep disorders in autism directly affect social skills: new study

Sleep disorders have long been a topic of discussion around those with autism. With an estimated 50 to 80 percent of children with ASD suffering from insomnia, sleep behaviour is finally getting the study it deserves. From blue light being linked to sleep disturbances in older children and teens who use tech devices, to the hypothesis that there may be a…

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