What in the World is Going On October 2012 Edition

Despite inclusion efforts, acceptance of people with special needs still remains low. There are still many generations who have had no personal experience with people with special needs and they are fearful of them. They pass this ignorance on to their children.

Sensory processing disorder (SPD) often goes hand in hand with an autism diagnosis. Toys and equipment to help with SPD can be expensive for families on a tight budget. One mom wrote a great article on how she made sensory integration affordable. She has peppered the article with photos and gives excellent advice on where to find items at low prices. Moms often know best and are wonderful resources for finding out how to do things cost effectively.

For those with teenagers and adults on the spectrum, check out Liz Becker’s article on guardianship. Liz said, “It is not something to be taken lightly, the role of Guardian, and yet I can see very clearly that it could be easily abused. Guardianship does not mean dictator – it means protector. My son needs me for some things – I accept that and Matt accepts that – but I also need to allow him as much independence as possible. The hard part is figuring out where my role as his guardian begins and ends. To me, it’s like chasing shadows across the lawn as the sun moves across the sky. Just when you think you have it all figured out the light shifts. The shadows can either become a deeper shade or become so thin as to let small beams of light poke through. And it never ends, this shifting of responsibility. Even as an adult, Matt’s autism is in flux. I have to remind myself that just because there are some things he can’t do now that doesn’t mean he may not be able to do them next year, or the year after, or even 10 years from now.” This article is very poignant and well-articulated – an excellent read providing personal insight into guardianship.

Most people who live with ASD also experience challenging behavior at some point in their lives. It can be bewildering and difficult to address. Autism Speaks recently published a Challenging Behaviors Toolkit. The guiding principle used in developing this kit is that each individual with autism and his family should feel safe and supported, and live a healthy life filled with purpose, dignity, choices, and happiness. With this in mind, positive approaches and suggestions are highlighted throughout the kit. The general framework and intervention principles included are relevant at any stage of life, and we have included basic background information, with links to further information and resources on a variety of topics. This is an excellent resource.

I just discovered the Squag Blog this month. The SquagTM blog is a place to come and read about new ideas in ASD that relate to health, home life, school, sports, love, friendship, and the opportunity to be creatively fulfilled. Their experts are parents, professionals, and kids that speak their mind, always challenging us to think twice before defining the word autism.

I read Anabelle Listic’s insightful Squag post on De-Mystifying Stimming. Anabelle views stimming just like any other coping mechanism in life, but says it can be more auditory and/or visually intense. She states, “I believe in guiding autistic individuals, and any other individuals who find stimming to be calming, to find positive safe ways of stimming that fit their wants and needs. I stim quite often, I especially love jumping. I jump at home on my big trampoline, inside on my mini trampoline, at the grocery store, and with friends. But, I have learned, through experience and the help of others, that jumping can sometimes be dangerous. Like, in an elevator, near ledges, on a weak surface, or when injured (like a sprained ankle, knee, or concussion). With that in mind, note that every autistic individual should have multiple stimming choices.”

Anabelle Listic is a 27 year-old artist living is Seattle and is a film and digital photographer. Anabelle has autism and is profoundly visual. She is passionate about her art and about mentoring parents and kids living life on the autism spectrum. Anabelle blogs regularly about the autism experience.

Earlier last month, Chicago teen Jack Kieffer sent me an e-mail about his website, Autism Plugged-In, an autism apps review site. Jack began volunteering with special needs kids through his community’s Special Recreation Association and their recreational camps. As a result, he developed a passion for ensuring that kids with autism are able to get the assistance and education necessary to connect them with their world. This site is very comprehensive and features free apps, suggest an app section, top app lists and much more. A very professional looking site and one I’m glad I know about.

My daughter’s teacher recently made me aware of this site – Teachers Pay Teachers. This is an open marketplace for educators to buy, sell, and share original teaching resources. The site is organized by grade level, subject, and price range. Some resources are free and others are less than $5.00. Sounds like a great way to get new ideas and expand teaching resources on a budget. Great for homeschoolers too!

Fall is a busy season in the publishing industry. Two new books, both from Kari Dunn Buron, have just been released. Social Behavior and Self-Management: 5-Point Scales for Adolescents and Adults
uses scales as a way of explaining social and emotional concepts to individuals who have difficulty understanding such information but have a relative strength in understanding systems. The 5-point scales can be used to increase communication between the person on the spectrum and their support person. It can increase self-management skills and, once learned, it can serve as an excelled self-advocacy tool. As such, it is invaluable at school, on the job and in the community. If you like The Incredible 5-Point Scale (just released in a 2nd Edition), you’ll like this resource too.

Adalyn’s Clare is a chapter book for young readers in grades 3-6. Although Adalyn is brilliant in academics and has highly developed, special interests, she is filled with fear and prefers to be alone as she finds most human beings confusing and annoying. Adalyn’s best friends are the animals in the science room, which is just about her favorite place in the whole wide world. But then comes Clare… Clare is a therapy puppy who has been assigned to help Adalyn find friends. This is a big assignment for a three-month-old puppy, but she doesn’t have to figure it all out on her own. Clare draws support from memories of her own mother’s wisdom, some really caring teachers; and the life lessons of a friendly ferret, two very smart rats, an exotic bird and a three-legged, guinea pig. Their stories will entertain, delight and amaze you.

Through this book, author Kari Dunn Buron hopes to draw attention to the realities of social anxiety, the importance of teaching relaxation and other coping strategies and the need for teachers and loved ones to help create valuing relationships for children who have difficulty making friends, like Adalyn. You can hear Kari speak at the Autism Awareness Centre Conference on November 16th.

These are the highlights of what in the world is going on in autism for October 2012.

 

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