Feeds:
Posts
Comments

Posts Tagged ‘education’

Having fun with your child with autism is absolutely essential.  It’s a key to your emotional health, and to the relationship you’re building both with your autistic child and with your typically developing children.  Perhaps just as importantly, when you see your child with autism outside of the classroom or therapist’s office, you may just discover that (1) he or she has some talents you never noticed before and (2) your child with autism is actually a lot of fun to be with

Each Sunday in April we’ll featuring a guest post from Lisa Jo Rudy, the author of Get Out, Explore and Have Fun: How Families of Children with Autism and Asperger Syndrome Can Get the Most out of Community Activities.   She was the the About.com Guide to Autism for five years, and is now an inclusion consultant for community organizations and  museums, a writer for autismafter16.com, and (of course) the mom of Tom Cook, age 15, diagnosed with PDD-NOS.  Find her at www.authenticinclusion.org or at www.lisajorudy.com

Take TV to the Next Level!

Our kids are often sponges, who can learn almost anything by heart if it’s introduced through videos, TV or even music.  At first we were horrified by our son’s echolalia: he’d simply memorize entire scripts from his favorite TV shows, and recite them.  Later, though, we came to embrace certain TV shows and videos: they provided him with the tools he needed to engage with other kids, with the real world, and even with academics.

Like many parents, when our kids were small we allowed only “educational television.”  But kids watch an awful lot of shows on ad-heavy cable TV.  We didn’t want either of our kids getting seduced by ads, but even more particularly we didn’t want our son wandering around reciting ads for pop-tarts.  So we started borrowing videos and DVDs of kids’ shows from our library.  We could choose our time to watch together – and avoid the ads completely.

If you have a child who is mesmerized by TV, you may have started to use TV as an opportunity to get away for a little while.  Instead, try this:

  • Choose a TV show that your child really likes, and purchase a few toys (action figures, die-cast figures, etc.) that relate to the show.  Don’t worry too much if your child is “too old” for the show: grown ups still love the Muppets, and even grandparents love Disney
  • Choose a time to watch together, and talk about the show as you watch.  Ask your child questions; if he doesn’t reply instantly, try saying outrageous things that he knows are wrong (eg, Big Bird is purple with green stripes, isn’t he?).  Your child’s connection with and love of the show and characters may well prompt him to interact with you in new ways
  • Once the show is over, try using your new toys as puppets, acting out bits from the show.  Or use them in interactive play (Thomas the Tank Engine is ideal for this, since model train layouts are fabulous tools for sharing, creative thinking, role play, etc.)

You may find that your child is more verbally responsive to Thomas the Tank Engine or Elmo than he is to other human beings – or more fascinated by the tracks than by the people playing with them.  If that’s the case, you can build on that in the real world!  Your child might love attending puppet shows or going to TV-show oriented events (a Wiggles concert could be an ideal introduction to concerts and plays, even if your child is “too old” for the Wiggles).

Read Full Post »

Having fun with your child with autism is absolutely essential.  It’s a key to your emotional health, and to the relationship you’re building both with your autistic child and with your typically developing children.  Perhaps just as importantly, when you see your child with autism outside of the classroom or therapist’s office, you may just discover that (1) he or she has some talents you never noticed before and (2) your child with autism is actually a lot of fun to be with

Each Sunday in April we’ll featuring a guest post from Lisa Jo Rudy, the author of Get Out, Explore and Have Fun: How Families of Children with Autism and Asperger Syndrome Can Get the Most out of Community Activities.   She was the the About.com Guide to Autism for five years, and is now an inclusion consultant for community organizations and  museums, a writer for autismafter16.com, and (of course) the mom of Tom Cook, age 15, diagnosed with PDD-NOS.  Find her at www.authenticinclusion.org or at www.lisajorudy.com.

Meet a Critter

My son’s first word was “cat.”  His best buddy to this day is his cat Dot, and his favorite recreational activity is bird watching.  Tom is not at all unusual among people with autism: many, in fact, are more comfortable with animals than with people.

Perhaps the best known example of an autistic adult with a strong connection to animals is Temple Grandin, who is a leader in the humane management of cattle.  But your child need not be a Ph.D. scientist to enjoy connecting with animals of all kinds.

If your child with autism is an animal fan, what’s the best way to help him pursue his interest in the community? A few possibilities include:

  • Horseback riding.  Hippotherapy or plain old riding lessons can open all kinds of doors for children with autism.  Riding builds physical strength and balance, communication skills, and even social skills when riding is done in a group setting or as part of an equestrian team.  Some people with autism become so engaged with their horse and stable that they volunteer and work for their local stable owner.
  • Bird Watching.  Alone or in a group, birdwatchers exercise their powers of observation, enjoy the natural world, and become part of a worldwide interest group.  In the long run, bird watching can even lead toward a career as a naturalist, nature educator, conservationist or scientist.
  • Animal Rescue Work.  The ASPCA and other animal rescue organizations are always looking for volunteer help. Children with autism can spend time with rescue animals, helping to socialize them or otherwise providing support to the rescue organization.
  • Visiting Zoos, Aquariums and Nature Centers.  While it can sometimes be tough to take a child with autism to a zoo or aquarium due to crowds and smells, nature centers are wide open and much less congested.  Some kids, though (like my son) are so motivated by their interest in the animals that they’re able and willing to overlook crowds, heat and smells to spend time with their favorite critter.
  • Animal Shows.  Whether you’re watching elegant Lippizaner horses from Vienna or local livestock, it can be fascinating to spend time at an animal or pet show. Kids with autism may not be able to spend a great deal of time at a show, due to sensory or behavior issues, so starting with low-cost options is probably the best choice.
  • Pet Stores.  Every mall has a pet store, and every pet store has at least a few adorable critters to observe.  Sometimes, pet store owners will even allow visitors to take a puppy into a small room where it’s possible to interact without risk to dog or child.

Whatever your child’s level of verbal ability or behavior, don’t pass by the possibilities provided by animals.  Non-verbal children are as capable as anyone of establishing a positive relationship with an animal . Your child may well surprise you with her compassion, connection and willingness to build a relationship with a non-human friend.

 

Read Full Post »

Having fun with your child with autism is absolutely essential.  It’s a key to your emotional health, and to the relationship you’re building both with your autistic child and with your typically developing children.  Perhaps just as importantly, when you see your child with autism outside of the classroom or therapist’s office, you may just discover that (1) he or she has some talents you never noticed before and (2) your child with autism is actually a lot of fun to be with

Each Sunday in April we’ll featuring a guest post from Lisa Jo Rudy, the author of Get Out, Explore and Have Fun: How Families of Children with Autism and Asperger Syndrome Can Get the Most out of Community Activities.   She was the the About.com Guide to Autism for five years, and is now an inclusion consultant for community organizations and  museums, a writer for autismafter16.com, and (of course) the mom of Tom Cook, age 15, diagnosed with PDD-NOS.  Find her at www.authenticinclusion.org or at www.lisajorudy.com.

Take a Hike!

With so much on your plate, it can be hard to find the time or inclination to take your child with autism on a simple walk in the woods, a visit to a pond, or a trip to the beach.  Yet people with autism are often very much attracted to a connected with the natural world.  And, because there are few social or physical demands made by chirping birds, rippling brooks or cool green forests, you may find that your child calms down, relaxes, and enjoys himself.  You may just find that you do the same.

Start by choosing a nearby destination that is likely to be uncrowded and undemanding.  Before you go, take a trip on your own with a camera or video camera in hand, and create a preview of your plan.  Ideally, choose a location with a water attraction: a pond, lake, brook, river or beach.

Choose a day that’s not physically challenging (terribly hot, cold, or wet), and tell your child about your plan.  Show her your preview images or video, and discuss how long you’ll be out (no more than a couple of hours), what you’ll see and do, what snacks you’ll bring along, what you might see along the way, and so forth.

Then, get out and start enjoying.

Pay close attention to your child’s demeanor, her likes and dislikes, and her preferences.  Does she enjoy walking briskly for long distances, or get tired easily?  Is he bothered by bugs, or oblivious to them?  Is the woods a good choice, or would your child be happier in a meadow, a city park, or another type of natural setting?

What does your child notice?  Our son happens to be very interested in birds, and can spend a good deal of time watching birds on ponds, in marshes, and near harbors.  To make the experience more interesting and fun for all of us (his parents, sister, and family friends), we now go for nature walks and bring along binoculars and a field guide to birds of New England.

If there is water in your area, spend some time there.  Try skipping stones, or experimenting together by tossing in different types of objects (stones, pine cones, acorns, wood chips).  Is your child following your lead?  Can you follow his?


Read Full Post »

Having fun with your child with autism is absolutely essential.  It’s a key to your emotional health, and to the relationship you’re building both with your autistic child and with your typically developing children.  Perhaps just as importantly, when you see your child with autism outside of the classroom or therapist’s office, you may just discover that (1) he or she has some talents you never noticed before and (2) your child with autism is actually a lot of fun to be with

Each Sunday in April we’ll featuring a guest post from Lisa Jo Rudy, the author of Get Out, Explore and Have Fun: How Families of Children with Autism and Asperger Syndrome Can Get the Most out of Community Activities.   She was the the About.com Guide to Autism for five years, and is now an inclusion consultant for community organizations and  museums, a writer for autismafter16.com, and (of course) the mom of Tom Cook, age 15, diagnosed with PDD-NOS.  Find her at www.authenticinclusion.org or at www.lisajorudy.com.

Get Splashy

You may feel it’s tough to enjoy sports with your autistic family member, but perhaps you haven’t considered swimming.  Kids with autism often enjoy water – and swimming may come very naturally.  The great thing about swimming is that it’s very versatile.  It’s easy to swim as a family – but it’s also possible to swim as part of a team, in a pool, lake or ocean, with other kids or on your own.

If you’re thinking about pool swimming, I can highly recommend the YMCA.  Most Y’s have pools, and most Y pools are intended for recreational swimming (meaning they’re warm enough to be comfortable).   Y’s offer daily passes, so you can give it a try without committing a fortune.  Many Y’s also offer special times for family swim, and even for special needs swim.  If your child turns out to be a natural swimmer, Y’s are always willing to include special needs kids in their lessons and teams.  If you enjoy swimming as a family, Y’s also offer financial aid so that you can join and come whenever and for as long as you like.

Start off shallow and easy: in the kiddie pool or in a pool where she can easily stand.  Make as few demands as possible; just enjoy floating around and having fun together.  If your child shows an interest, you can consider lessons or provide lessons yourself.   Of course it’s very important that your child build enough water skills to stay afloat – but excellent stroke skills and the ability to dive aren’t critically important.  If your child is really interested in going further with swimming, individual or group lessons may be in order. And if your child turns out to be a great swimmer, swim teams are a terrific option.

Read Full Post »

Orange Nose DayTomorrow, October 5, is the first annual Orange Nose Day in celebration of the top five steps to good health:

  • Wash hands
  • Get immunized
  • Eat colorful foods
  • Exercise
  • Avoid body fluids

For the autism community this also includes the CDC’s “Learn the Signs. Act Early.” for diagnosing autism and other developmental disabilities early in a child’s life. From birth to 5 years, children should reach certain milestones for playing, learning, speaking and behavior. These milestones are easy ways for parents to know if their child is on course or might need some extra help.

Early diagnosis are critical for children with autism as it allows a child to get the treatments they need. Children with autism in a good early intervention program can make meaningful gains in skills. In fact with early treatment, 30-50% make enough gains to be mainstreamed by kindergarten. Scientists can effectively screen children as early as 12 months [1], and recent studies have even found that some diagnoses can be made as at 6 to 8 weeks [2]. It’s important to note that early intervention programs vary by state, so check with your local organizations.

Beyond early intervention, Orange Nose Day is a reminder for all of us to take a moment and focus on your health. Pledge to take the 5 steps to good health and to wear an orange nose for the day. Our staff will be sporting an orange nosed profile pics on Facebook for the day. You can make your own for free on the Orange Nose Day website.

How will you mark Orange Nose Day with your family? Will you take an extra walk or maybe incorporate a new colorful food into your dinner? Share with us how you’ll be marking this healthy day!


[1] Pierce, K et al. “Detecting, studying and treating autism early: the one-year well- baby check-up approach.” Journal of Pediatrics. Vol. 159, Issue 3 (2011). http://www.jpeds.com/article/S0022-3476%2811%2900240-X/abstract.

[2] Klin, A. “Diagnostic Indicators of Autism Spectrum Disorders In the First Six Months of Life.” Speech presented at the IMFAR 2011, San Diego, CA. May, 2011.

Read Full Post »

By Alison Singer

Over the past two days, members of our team have been in Philadelphia, where a coalition of non profit organizations has come together for the 2nd annual “Social Media Summit” to learn about social media and improve our communications with the families who rely on our organizations for accurate, timely information. As part of this summit, all of the organizations created a new suite of online resources focusing on the importance of immunization.

The new initiative is called “Real Guys Immunize”. It was created in 24 hours, as an instructional vehicle for those of us at the conference, as a salute to dads who work so hard to protect their families, and also as a way to share important information about the fact that vaccines save lives.  As an autism advocacy organization, we supported the choice of this topic since in many instances parents still cite concerns about vaccines causing autism (Pediatrics, April 2010). As a result, children are being left unprotected from diseases that can be deadly, and we are seeing a resurgence of vaccine preventable disease, such as pertussis, that have not been in the United States in decades.  “Real Guys Immunize” will provide facts and debunk rumors.

http://www.vaccinatenow.org/realguysimmunize
http://facebook.com/guysimmunize
http://twitter.com/guysimmunize
http://youtube.com/user/RealGuysImmunize

Take some time to check out all the great information posted within the last 24 hours and then watch for improvements to the Autism Science Foundation’s own social media activities. We have learned a lot in the last two days and can’t wait to put all the great ideas and social media tools into action to improve the way we disseminate autism research news to our ASF families.  

PS: I fear this blog post does not meet even the minimum standards as outlined in the seminar “to blog or not to blog”. Here are a few items on the checklist:

Have you included something funny?  I’ve been to Philadelphia about a dozen times this year and on this trip I finally got to see the Liberty Bell. Yes, it was all it is cracked up to be.  (ok, attempt at funny)

Have you included a personal anecdote? While in Philadelphia I had dinner at what just may be the best tapas restaurant ever.

Have you shown humility in your post?  My sense of direction being what it is, I cannot for the life of me tell you where the tapas restaurant is. Somewhere in Philadelphia is the best I can do.

Have you included links to high quality, highly relevant sites that add value to your post?  Yes, but don’t ask if I have optimized them for search engines or inserted title tags.  #SMSPhilly

Read Full Post »

 

(From AutismArtist.org) 

AutismArtist.org, a not-for profit organization founded in December, 2009, announced today that it had begun accepting artwork from children with autism. One child’s artwork will be featured each day at www.autismartist.org. T-shirts, sweatshirts, bags and hats featuring the artwork will be auctioned online to raise funds for educational and other programs for children with autism spectrum disorders. 

“When I began working with children on the autism spectrum and developed a close relationship with many students, I realized there was a void in the resources that were available to them.  I became determined to find a way to enhance their education, and make a difference in their lives,” said Florence Arking, president of AutismArtist.org and former field worker and teachers assistant at the Douglas Developmental Disabilities Center in New Brunswick, NJ.

At the end of the year, the original pieces of artwork will be matted, framed and auctioned off at a black tie gala with 100% of the proceeds distributed to schools and other programs that support children with autism.

How to Submit Artwork:

Each piece of artwork should be created on paper or canvas that is no smaller than 8 x 10 and no larger than 20 x 24 inches.  Children can use any type of art supplies including crayons, markers, paint etc. and can use any colors.  On the back of each piece of art write the child’s name, date of birth, contact phone number and email address.

For more information visit www.autismartist.org

Contact Info:

Florence Arking
President
AutismArtist.org
331 West 25th St
New York, NY 10001
autismartist@gmail.org
732-859-5944

Read Full Post »

By Alison Singer
President, Autism Science Foundation

This post is in response to Marc Rosen’s examiner.com post “Why Autistic People Don’t Like Autism Speaks”. http://www.examiner.com/x-21742-Long-Island-Autism-Examiner~y2009m9d7-Why-autistic-people-dont-like-Autism-Speaks#comments. I am posting here because of the 1000 character limit at examiner.com.

In  his blog post, Marc Rosen writes, “Another huge reason why autistics hate Autism Speaks is their film ‘Autism Every Day’, in which they film their then-Executive Vice President, Alison Tepper Singer, saying that when her daughter was first diagnosed, she seriously contemplated driving her car, with her autistic daughter inside, off a bridge… By her own admission, apparently, she would have preferred to murder her own child than to have an autistic child.”

The film Autism Every Day was produced several years ago, and I still get questions about what I meant by my comments, particularly the comment about  contemplating driving off the George Washington Bridge rather than put my daughter in a school for kids with autism. Everything I said in the Autism Every Day video was an honest reflection of how I felt at the time. When I went to see the schools that the New York State Department of Health recommended for my daughter Jodie, I was sick to my stomach. It was out love for her that I would never let her be in a place like that. It brought back very difficult memories of when my brother was institutionalized when we were kids. I certainly don’t want to kill my daughter. I love my daughter and am incredibly proud of her and of all the progress she has worked so hard to make. I am part of this community because of my love for her. The point I was trying to make in the film was that the lack of appropriate services and the thought of putting her in a terrible school made me want to drive off the bridge; not that Jodie did. If I had the film to do over again, I would certainly try to make that point more clearly than I did. I certainly did not mean to offend anyone or suggest that Jodie’s life (or anyone else’s) was not valued.

After Jodie and I had visited several schools that day I remember I pulled the car over to the side of the road and just cried. There was just no way that I was ever going to let her be in a terrible school like that. I was overwhelmed and shocked because I thought these were our only options. This was at the start of our journey. When Jodie was diagnosed, I didn’t know what to do. I called the New York State Department of Health, said that the neurologist thought she should go to a special education preschool, and asked them to give me some names. Given the lengthy waiting lists at most schools, try to imagine the type of state supported school that has an opening in March. Fortunately, after this terrible day I connected with other parents in my town and found a great special education preschool where Jodie thrived. We had to wait a year for a spot to open, so before she started we did a home ABA program. That therapy also helped her tremendously. I had no idea these options even existed on my fateful “school visit” day. But the truth is that after I visited the state schools that day I pulled my car over to the side of the road and really did think about whether we would all be better off if I just drove the car off the bridge with the two of us in it, and whether that might spare her the suffering that my brother experienced in Willowbrook. Those thoughts were not rational, although those feelings were real. I am not the only mother to ever experience those desperate thoughts. Fortunately, it didn’t last very long and after a few minutes I drove home. Many parents called and emailed me after they saw the film and said they had experienced the same moments of desperation. Please know that those feelings stem from love and desperation. We love our children.

I have spent a lot of time in the last year or so speaking with members of the neurodiversity community and have learned a lot from these conversations. These relationships have been very productive for me, and I have a much better of sense of the issues now. I have changed my behavior and rhetoric in response to some of the very good points people have made, and continue to speak frequently with many of the leaders of the neurodiversity community. There is still one big issue, however, on which we disagree. I do still feel that genetics research is the best chance we have for understanding the mechanism of action of autism and creating targeted therapeutics. This remains as a sticking point in my relationships with many of the leaders of the neurodiversity movement, although I do think that we have tried to be friends and continue to talk about this issue. I also don’t think that a belief in the importance of genetics research detracts from my eagerness to support research into supports and services and expansion of funding for this critical area. I have been extremely vocal on that issue at the IACC meetings.

I also think a lot of these issues stem from the heterogeneity of the autism diagnosis. I truly pray for the day to come when my daughter can blog or self advocate. She still has a long way to go in overcoming significant cognitive challenges. But I look at the type of work that Dr. Mark Baer is doing at MIT and am really hopeful that Jodie and other kids like her will someday be able to benefit from that type of research.

Read Full Post »

Older Posts »

%d bloggers like this: