The holidays are just around the corner. Most schools are out on Friday, everyone is busy Christmas baking, shopping for Christmas gifts, the malls are packed, company is coming, presents need to be wrapped, and the tree needs decorating. The holidays are magical from some and stressful for others. For children with autism spectrum disorder (ASD), this time of year can cause anxiety and be particularly overwhelming on the senses. Lights, crowds, traffic, line-ups, and visitors can be upsetting for children who need predictability and routine. Most therapy programs are in low gear during the month of December, school programs break for two weeks, and respite care is hard to come by. How to you keep children with autism on an even keel during the hectic holidays?
If you have a child who is newly diagnosed with autism, or are thinking of starting a new therapy program for a child with ASD, I highly recommend reading the article, What Kinds of Therapies Actually Help Autistic Kids? by Shannon Des Roches Rosa. The learning curve for therapies to help your child with ASD can be daunting. Not every…
Over the years, I have tried to expand my children’s interests to help them increase knowledge, keep their lives interesting, and to foster growth. This has also been an educational goal in both school and home therapy programs. My son Marc, now 19, has a great range of interests that has broadened beyond ceiling fans and Thomas the Tank Engine.…
We just got back from a week long vacation on Vancouver Island, BC. We drove to Courtenay which took 2 days each way. We haven’t done a car trip of that length for 5 years, and travelling with Marc and Julia has improved considerably over the years. Is it because they are maturing or are we getting better with vacation planning?
While many of us learn to dislike our chores or household duties, we all like the feeling that we can help! Household chores can be loads of fun especially for younger children who actively look for ways to participate. For those on the spectrum, household chores can be a way to improve or create self-esteem, and ultimately lead towards more…
You are a grandparent! Nothing can compare with the boundless love that a grandparent feels for their grandchild. No longer limited by the need to juggle work, home, school and raising children into mature, self reliant adulthood, the gift of grandchildren is one of life’s greatest blessings. But life doesn’t always deliver it’s blessings in the package we expect. The diagnosis of autism is for many a jolt into a new world; one that many have not even heard of or at least have no knowledge.
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.
There are small, gradual ways to build independence. The foundation of independence is using visual supports. I have written about the effective use of visual supports in a past blog. Visual supports can be used to break down the steps of any task. When the steps are put on a strip, the person with autism now has those for a handy reference. I’ve used this idea for routines like getting dressed, toileting, hand washing and brushing teeth. There are some great ideas for this on the Do2Learn website. Thinking this forward, these tasks strips could be used for doing laundry or dishes.
Adapted from an article by: Elizabeth Sautter, MA, CCC-SLP Phrases like “pay attention” and “listen carefully” ring out in classrooms across the country. Moms, dads, and other caregivers can be heard saying some version of these same words to children everywhere. Paying attention and listening to others are not only considered essential for social communication, but also for learning to be…
Predictability is the ability to know and understand what is coming up next in your day. Many of us feel less anxious when we know what is expected of us, and how we are going to navigate our day to day lives. For someone on the spectrum, where even knowing which washroom to use -unless it is exactly like the one they are used to using at home- can be a major challenge. Predictability is a way for someone on the spectrum to assuage their anxiety over the unknown, and empower themselves into their daily tasks. For some of the spectrum, not knowing what to expect at a new school, in a new restaurant, or while on vacation can make life unbearable for themselves and their caregivers.
John Simpson is a young man with Asperger Syndrome who resides in the
Raising more than one child with autism in a family is a unique experience and not without its challenges. Those of us that parent two or more children on the spectrum are not as small in number as you might think. When I tell people I have a son and a daughter with autism, they ask questions like, “Is is common to have more than one child with autism? Is it harder than having one? How do you cope? I’ve never heard of a boy and a girl in the same family – does that happen often?”
While I don’t have exact statistics on multiples with autism in a family, I can tell you I am meeting more families in this situation all the time. We are not as rare as you might think. I have no neurotypical children so have no idea what it’s like to parent normally developing children. I am in awe when I get together with friends and see how their children interact with each other. My stories about the weekend don’t sound like anyone else’s I know. Parenting two children on the spectrum is relentless – one is always off the rails. It’s hard to keep things on an even keel, yet there are some great rewards.
Sometimes it’s hard to imagine where our kids will be several years from now. What will their life look like once they leave home? What skills will they need to be successful as an adult? What is a meaningful life for this adult with ASD?
These questions swirl around in my mind all the time. My children aren’t many years away from accessing adult services. I often think of the skills they will need to be successful. Those skills will vary for each child depending on their functioning level.
Ido Kedar is a young man on the spectrum who has an excellent blog called Ido in Autismland. In his own words, he says: “I am an autistic guy with a message. I spent the first half of my life completely trapped in silence. The second – on becoming a free soul. I had to fight to get an education.…
Historically children with developmental disabilities were excluded from pain research, but this past month a new (as yet unpublished) study showed conclusively that people with autism exhibit abnormal brain responses when a painfully hot object is placed against their skin. The brain’s response to pain has three phases – early, intermediate and late. In an experiment with 17 people with autism and 16 people without, a small piece of metal was taped to the skin and heated to the point of causing discomfort/pain but not injury. The people without autism were still responding to the pain ten seconds after it stopped, but the people with autism had no brain response after the ten seconds.
Feeding a child on the autism spectrum can be a great challenge for parents. Creating healthy meals, eating a variety of foods, eating too little or too much food, focusing on only one texture or food presentation, and gut/digestive issues are just some of the worries parents have when feeding their children. Here are a few helpful hints that I have learned as a mother of two children with autism who are both on specialized diets and struggle with eating.