- Expert Ways to Help Tame Tantrums and Manage Meltdowns
- How Nutrition Impacts Children With Autism
- 8 solutions for a picky eater with autism and sensory food aversions
- 15 Activities, Teaching Strategies, and Resources for Teaching Children with Autism
- 13 Tips On How To Bathe A Child With Autism Easily
- How to Help Your Child with Autism Cope During and After a Move
- Sensory-Friendly Home Modifications for Autism and Sensory Processing Disorder
- How to Make Exercise More Fun for Children with Autism
Here are some articles to empower parents who are raising children with autism.
Thank you to the kind reader who sent me the following links all about helping your child with autism to connect with their friends and join in on social activities such as birthday parties.
So, bust out the shaving cream, grab the dried rice, beans, and corn, and make your own fun!
7 Sensory Play Activities for Children on the Spectrum
How to Create the Ultimate Playroom for a Child With Autism
How to Explain Autism to Neurotypical Kids
How to Help Your Child with Autism Fit in Socially
Sensory Friendly Birthday Parties for Children with Autism
Most everyone loves to travel. Getting away and making trips to your favorite vacation spot for a weekend with your family is a great way to escape the stress of everyday life. However, for families who have children or teenagers with autism or Asperger's, the thought of a vacation may evoke feelings of anxiety and fear.
Traveling with children with autism may seem difficult, but when you plan your vacations ahead of time and with care, they can be an absolute treat and a great way to strengthen familial bonds.
Here are a few tips to make your vacation a pleasurable one for your child and the entire family.
Choose an ideal destination for your child
Encourage your children to participate actively in the planning process and evaluate their current interests, attention span, sensory processing/information-processing abilities, and relate it to your upcoming trip. Choose a place where your child would still get to do activities that they typically enjoy. For example, if your child loves amusement parks, try taking them to Disneyland, if your child loves playing with water, consider planning a beach vacation. Make sure you’re not overwhelming your child by involving them in too many activities, as this would result in stressing out not just your child, but the rest of the family as well.
Arrange proper identification for your child
Parents of children with autism often struggle to manage their child’s wandering during vacations. Nearly half of children with autism tend to wander or run off, causing tremendous concern and anxiety to parents.
Here are a few identification tools you can use
Predict your child’s needs
Parents can typically anticipate their child’s needs. However, this becomes even more necessary with the child with autism. This is because children with autism typically struggle to accept changes in their routine, and a vacation requires a divergence from their usual schedule. This could lead to meltdowns and anxiety attacks. To reduce such incidents from happening when traveling, here are some ideas. Call the airline in advance to check for delays. This gives you enough time to make special accommodations. Work with your child on the need for patience for TSA lines at the airport as well as amusement park rides. Use social stories to help prepare your child for the trip including ordering food in restaurants, sleeping in a new bed in the hotel or resort, and tolerating long car rides.
Prepare a checklist of essentials
Prepare a checklist so you leave behind nothing that is important to your child. Always have reinforcements handy to reward your child for their good behavior. You can use soothers such as MP3 players a piece of cloth, string, or a toy to help keep your child calm. Pack their favorite snacks, toys, stuffed animals, books and assistive communication tools. Enlist your child's help so they can add necessary items or alert you if something is missing.
Enact vacation scenarios with your child
Preparations for an upcoming trip should start well in advance of the trip. It is recommended to start your groundwork at least 2-3 months before the vacation. Talk about the trip with your child every day by creating sequential picture stories of planned events and provide simple captions for each picture. Role-playing is one of the best ways to help children understand what they can expect to see while on vacation. Having meaningful conversations about the trip with your child or teenager will help to relieve stress and reduce problematic behaviors during the vacation.
April is Autism Awareness Month! As a clinical psychologist who specializes in working with children and teenagers on the autism spectrum, I read and wanted to share these four blog posts that I found helpful and well-written. Thank you to a reader of the blog who informed me of these blogs.
Helping Asperger's Teens to Survive and Thrive: 15 Key Steps
How to Create a Backyard Sanctuary for Kids with Disabilities
15 Behavioral Strategies for Children on the Autism Spectrum
For Teachers and Educators: Strategies for Working with Children with Autism Spectrum Disorder
I came across several good articles about topics that concern having a child with special needs. I thought that they were useful and wanted to share what I found.
1. Creating a Home Where Your Child Can Thrive with a Disability
2. How to Create an Autism-Friendly Environment for Kids
3. Discipline Strategies for Children with Autism Spectrum Disorder
4. 20 Tips for Keeping Your Child with Special Needs Safe in Your Home
5. 6 Tax Tips for Parents of Children with Special Needs
6. The Best Activities for Special Needs
7. Autism in the Teen Years: What to Expect, How to Help
1. Teaching Children with Developmental Disabilities, Classroom Ideas
2. Teacher Resources for Special Needs
October is upon us! And at the end of this month, it will be Halloween. For most children, this is a fun holiday to dress up, imagine you are someone else, and go trick-or-treating! For those of you who give out candy, you will get to see the cool costumes of the season and hear the laughter of children. Some families will participate in neighborhood activities as well.
For the child with special needs, Halloween can be fun but it can also be challenging. For the anxious child, Halloween can be hard because they might be fearful or shy with strangers or in groups. For the child with sensory processing disorder, the loud noises of Halloween or their costume can be hard to tolerate. For the nonverbal child, they will not be able to verbally say "Trick or Treat" or "Thank you!" For the child with autism, Halloween can be challenging because of the costumes, loud noises, change in routine, and social demands.
If you anticipate that your child with special needs may have a challenging time with Halloween, there are some things that you can do.
Tips for parents
1. Prepare! In the weeks leading up to Halloween, have your child wear their costume around the house. Have them practice saying, "Trick or Treat!" if they are verbal. Maybe consider writing a social story for the child with autism and read it daily with them. Social Stories, which were created by Carol Gray, gives children very specific information about what they should expect and how to respond in a variety of situations. An example of a social story for Halloween can be found here: http://www.autismsocialstories.com/Halloween/.
2. Read Books about Halloween. Reading books about Halloween is an easy way to start talking about Halloween and to discuss stories, ideas, and to share ideas.
3. To Wear or Not to Wear: The Halloween Costume. If your child refused to wear a scratchy costume, something in their hair, or face paint, don't worry about it and don't force it. The day should be about having fun together.
4. Trick or Treat! Many children with autism have dietary restrictions or very selective food preferences. Friends and neighbors can give out inexpensive, yet inedible treats like stickers or squishy balls. As a parent, you could even visit your neighbors before the big night and leave them something that they can give your child that you know the child will enjoy. That also gives you the opportunity to let your neighbors know that you’re going to be trick-or-treating with your child with special needs. You can explain it’s their first time (or not) and you’re unsure how it will go, but are excited to give it a try and would appreciate their patience.
5. Keep it in perspective! It's best to let your child lead in terms of how long they can trick-or-treat for. If your child is done after 20 minutes, then so be it and head home.
Tips for the Ones Giving Out Candy
Make your own tradition this year, one of acceptance and patience. This fresh perspective may mean the difference between a frightening, stressful holiday and one full of happy memories.
"I cannot emphasize enough the importance
This week, I received an email from a mother who has a child on the autism spectrum. She complied a list of online resources for both parents and educators of children with special needs. I appreciate her generosity in sharing these sites with me, and with her permission, I am sharing them with you. I hope that these resources are helpful to any parent, caregiver, or professional who works with or raises a child with special needs.
1. Creating the Optimal Living Environment for a Child with ADHD
2. Suggested Classroom Interventions for Children with ADD and Learning Disabilities
3. The Life-Changing Impact of Autism Service Dogs
4. 22 Tips for Teaching Students with Autism Spectrum Disorders
5. 50 Must-See Blogs for Special Education Teachers
6. The Ultimate Guide to Water Safety for Parents and Caregivers of Children with Autism
7. Teaching Your Child About Peers with Special Needs
8. Teaching College Students with Autism Spectrum Disorders
9. Autism and Addiction: Coping With and Treating Your Dual Diagnosis
10. Choosing a College: Planning For Teens with ADHD
11. Overview of College Resources for Students with Disabilities
There was a very good article in Psychology Today in 2011 about the ways that you, as a neighbor and friend, can help a family who has a member with autism. The article can be found in its entirety here.
Here are some of the key points from the article:
1. Be there. Make yourself available.
2. Discuss autism.
3. Learn about the individual with autism.
4. The worry about prognosis.
5. Share new information when it is appropriate.
6. Have play dates with friends.
7. Have play dates with neighbors.
8. Offer a helping hand. Babysit or help out in any way that you can.
9. Avoid judging the family with a child or teenager with autism.
10. Protect their confidentiality.
In your lifetime, you will probably know more people and families affected by autism. You can choose to be part of the solution by helping support a friend, family member, or neighbor. Take the time to learn not just about autism, but the individual child. Make the decision to accept children with disabilities and teach your children how they can help children with autism by being a friend too.
Steve Summers was diagnosed with Asperger's Syndrome (part of the Autism Spectrum) as an adult. He was diagnosed following his 11-year-old son’s diagnosis with Asperger’s. He stated that “I am happy to have my diagnosis. It was like a light being turned on that illuminated my entire life in a new way. Now I understand why I never really ‘fit in.’ It is like having a huge weight lifted off of my shoulders to have my diagnosis.”
Steve Summers wrote a guest post at Autismum and I have re-posted it here in its entirety.
1. Please always keep in mind that communication difficulties are common with autism. We have difficulties in reading social cues and body language. Be patient and understanding.
2. We tend to take things literally and have often trouble reading between the lines. As a result, we may ask a lot of questions to clarify what is meant by something that you say. I have been told that I ask a lot of questions. Don’t be offended by this. It is our way of being sure that we understand what you are telling us. We may repeat back to you in our own words to try and get on the same page as you.
3. If we misunderstand something that you say, please be patient and expand on what you said and explain what you meant. Don’t assume a negative or hostile intent from us if we misunderstand something that you said. Keep in mind that communication can be difficult for us. Things that come naturally to you take extra effort by us.
4. Please don’t get offended by our communication style. We tend to be frank, honest and matter of fact. Some people may interpret this as blunt or rude. We don’t intend to offend you by not sugar coating the things that we say. We don’t intend to be rude. Please don’t get defensive or assume that we are attacking you. Remember that communicating is hard for us. Don’t make negative assumptions. Too often we get corrected or attacked by someone who fails to give us some slack and the benefit of the doubt.
5. Please don’t expect eye contact. We may be able to force eye contact, but it is not comfortable for us. Making eye contact takes a conscious effort. This effort may take away from listening and understanding what you are saying. I tend to look at a person’s mouth more often than their eyes. Other autistic people will rarely look at your face. This is ok.
6. Please keep in mind that we most likely have been rejected, excluded, ridiculed or bullied in the past. If we seem anxious or insecure this may be due to living in a world that misunderstands us and is often hostile to us. We have to work hard to reach out to others. Please work at reaching back to us with understanding and kindness. If we feel that you are ignoring us we will feel bad about that. We may persist in asking for feedback from you. Please be reassuring and clearly express your support for us.
7. Please don’t speak down to us. Treat us as equals. We may sound flat or have an unusual tone to our voice. We may not speak with our voice at all. We may need to type our words. Please be patient with us. It may take us a while to formulate our answers.
8. Please don’t talk too loudly or yell at us. It is very jarring to us. It makes me jump when someone comes up to me and talks too loudly. It is like having someone jump out in the dark yelling “BOO!” at me. It causes an adrenaline dump in my body. I don’t like this.
9. Please do NOT touch us without warning. It will make us jump. We don’t like unexpected touches.
10. Please don’t assume that we lack empathy or emotion. We pick up on negative or judgmental attitudes. We know when people look down on us or are hostile to us. We will shut down if you show us a lack of respect.
AUTISM SPECTRUM DISORDERS:
10 TIPS TO SUPPORT ME
by Joaquin Fuentes, MD
1. I am not “autistic.” I am first, foremost, and always a person, a student, a child, and I have autism. Do not confuse me with my condition. And, please, do not use the term in a negative or inconsiderate way. I deserve to be respected.
2. I am an individual. Having autism does not make me the same as other people with autism. Make an effort to know me as an individual, to understand my strengths, my weaknesses, and me. Ask me—and my friends and my family, if I cannot reply— about my dreams.
3. I deserve services, just like all children. Services for me begin early. Autism is—or it will be, when recognized—a public health issue in many countries of the world. There are instruments to screen it. They should be applied in the framework of screening for other developmental disabilities. If you start soon, my life will be different! And remember that about one quarter of my siblings will have autism or other problems. Help them; they are an important part of my life.
4. I belong in the health care system, just like all children. Include me in regular health care. The health care system should adapt to me, limiting waiting times and ensuring that I understand what is to be done, by using, for example, easy-to-read materials, pictograms, technologic means, and so forth. Other patients also will benefit.
5. I belong with other children. Do not separate me from them because you want to treat me, educate me, or care for me. I can, and I should, be placed in regular schools and regular community settings, and special support should be provided to me in those places. I have something to teach other children and something to learn from them.
6. I belong with my family. Plan with me for my future and my transitions. I am the one who should decide, and, when my ability to do so is limited, my family and friends will speak for me. No government agency can take the place of my family, and, please, make sure that our society values my family’s generosity when they support me on society’s behalf.
7. I deserve the right to evidence-based services. These may not be convenient or easy, but when I get them, I do better. Do not substitute my educational, health, and social support with medication. I may require medication, and I look forward to new developments in biological treatments, but you must be cautious in their use. Count on me for research ventures; get me involved, with all my rights protected. I also want to help others.
8. I belong in society. Engage me in vocational training. I want to contribute. The services I need during my adult life should be guided by self-determination, relationships, and inclusion in all the activities of my community. Your goal must be to adapt the environment I have to face and modify settings and attitudes. It also will make our society better.
9. I have human rights, and I face discrimination for many reasons. Many of us live in poverty with no community support system. Some of us are immigrants or minorities, including sexual minorities. Keep a gender perspective. Girls and women with autism are often at greater risk of violence, injury, or abuse.
10. I belong in the world. I have a role to play. We, and my legal representatives, want to be involved in policy making, its development, and its evaluation. You need my help to know what should be done. Empower me. Remember my motto: nothing about me, without me.
Miranda J. Gabriel, Psy.D.
A licensed clinical psychologist providing psychotherapy to children, teens, and adults in the San Francisco Bay Area.
Information and opinions found on this website
are not substitutes for
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