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children with developmental disabilities were excluded from pain research, but this past month a new (as yet unpublished) study showed conclusively that people with autism exhibit abnormal brain responses when a painfully hot object is placed against their skin.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.
I am frequently asked the question about how to introduce the topic of menstruation to girls on the autism spectrum. Mothers worry about how their daughters will react to the event. Will there be sensory issues around blood flow and the use of sanitary pads? How will they feel about this change in their body? Will it be painful? How do you teach hygiene around menstruation? Will menstruation be understood and accepted?
Assistant Professor Paul Shattuck who lead the study, says that as children with ASD age, and as their cognitive skills improve, they spend more time using social media, which helps them to further develop social skills. So how can we get our kids technology time more social so they can build these skills?
Because of sensory processing issues, individuals with autism may exhibit hyper or hypo sensitivities to heat and cold. A child may not feel how cold it is in the winter and take off his coat. Another person may start to shiver as soon as they come out of the sun and enter an air-conditioned room.
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.…
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?