Siblings of children with autism play a unique role in the family. Important as that is, they are often the ones who get less attention, not enough alone time with parents, and adjustments to make in their lives due to the demands of the child with autism. The key to family harmony is fostering an understanding of autism and the importance of the role a sibling plays in a child who has autism.
For families who have a child with a disability, a Registered Disability Savings Plan (RDSP) is a great way to start saving for a more secure future for them. This plan is intended to help parents and others save for the long-term financial security of a person who is eligible for the Disability Tax Credit.
The RDSP program began in 2008. Before the RDSP came into being, disabled people who were receiving payments from the welfare system could lose those benefits if they were receiving any financial aid from their family. Now, anyone can contribute to an RDSP on behalf of someone who qualifies for the disability tax credit.
The Edmonton Journal published two letters this week about the lack of services for adults with autism. Anyone with a child over the age of 18 knows there is not a wide range of services and programs available for a person who is no longer in school. In the province of Alberta, an autism diagnosis does not guarantee funding in adulthood through PDD if the person has an IQ over 70. Deciding who qualifies for adult services based on IQ shows we have moved back into the dark ages. Other provinces are following suit with this way of thinking.
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?
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.
Advocating for your child at school is not an easy task. To be effective, you have to keep your emotions in check, be concise about what problems your child is experiencing, bring possible solutions to the table, and be prepared to wait for change to take place.
One Sunday morning in March, I received a phone call. My best friend, Gertrude, had died in the night. Megan, Gertrude’s daughter, had found the body that morning. Megan has Asperger’s syndrome and at the age of 27, her adaptive functioning levels place her in the eight to eleven year old range. When the police arrived, she was in an hysterical state, threatening to kill herself. She was restrained, put in an ambulance and taken to the hospital. That evening, she was finally seen by a psychiatrist who, after a five minute interview, deemed her fit to go home.
I am a participant in an Alberta Family Life Survey for families of children with disabilities. This is a three year project at the University of Alberta designed to help gain an understanding of the multiple roles parent-carers have and what resources they need to keep the family running. I just received the preliminary results of the first survey. I’d like to share some of the highlights of what 538 families said.
Marriage is work and a lot of it, even when the relationship is a strong and loving one. About 60% of all marriages end in divorce. That is a staggering figure. I’ve read that the failure rate of marriages that have a child with autism is 80%, although I have never seen a confirmed study of this number. Does the autism factor put marriages at a higher risk for breakdown?
Most young families look forward to summertime – a holiday and a break from the old routines. For those who have young children with autism, going on a vacation may be simply out of the question because of the disruption to routines, travelling to a strange place, or visiting with relatives the child is unfamiliar with. Throw in a special diet into the mix and travelling becomes even more difficult. You have to avoid restaurants and take your own food everywhere.
Mother’s Day is on Sunday, May 9th. It’s an occasion when we celebrate and recognize what mothers mean to us and the difference they have made in our lives.
The Winter Olympics wrapped up on Sunday in
The Christmas holidays were something I always enjoyed throughout my childhood and young adult life. It’s that time of year to recognize people you care about by giving a gift or a card. Family and friends get together to socialize. Routines can go by the wayside for a couple of weeks.
Our autism community was in the headlines again last week over the tragic death of James Delorey in