A good night’s sleep is important. Without it, children can be irritable, struggle with academics, engage in more repetitive behaviours, become easily fatigued, and are more likely to suffer from unintentional injury. Over the long term, poor sleep can lead to adult obesity, anxiety in adulthood, and sleep problems throughout adulthood.
I’d like to share some thoughts for making travel with children on the autism spectrum successful. I have spoken about predictability in past blogs. Individuals with autism need to know what is going to happen to them. Leaving home means everything is going to be different. Here are 10 ideas to create predictability when travelling:
Hiring someone to care for your child with autism can be daunting. Allow time to find the right person and be honest with applicants about your family’s needs. It takes time to form a mutual trust relationship with someone new.
It is an overwhelming task for parents to choose the right program for their child with autism. We do our research through media, family, friends, and ask other people in the autism community what is working for them. We then enroll our child in that program only to find it isn’t working for them. So what went wrong?
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…
Receiving a diagnosis for your child is a life-changing experience. Raising any child is challenging, but those who have special needs have other struggles to contend with. Many families look to family members for support but don’t always get it. Well-meaning family members can say hurtful things, share outdated information, and have their own myths and prejudices around a diagnosis.…
Author Brenda Kosky Deskin has made some great suggestions on how to modify household chores so a child with special needs can handle them. It’s important to practice chores to work towards greater independence. Some chores can also be worked into a sensory diet. Having a child do household chores makes them feel they are contributing members of the family.…
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?
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?
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.
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.
Looking for an appropriate 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?
Before you even start looking and interviewing, ask the following questions and write down your answers:
- What are our family values?
- Do you want someone who shares your family values or do you want to introduce your family to different ways of thinking?
- What kind of pace does your family feel comfortable with?
- What is your lifestyle – casual or formal?
- Is your family structured with routine or are you spontaneous?
- Do you value privacy or are you more open with personal issues?
- How much time are you willing to devote to train someone or do you want someone with a lot of experience?