ASD · Autism · Autism Awareness · Autism Spectrum · Family · repost · Tips

Coping with the holidays – A Repost

5 tips

This is re-post from December 2014.  My advice for parents surviving the holidays with ASD. 

Now that the Holidays have arrived, how are you handling it?  Becoming stressed?  I can totally relate. The holidays may be stressful for everyone, but it can be even more overwhelming with families on the Autism Spectrum. i.e. Sensory overload, routines,etc. Here is something to ease your mind.

I have written for you 5 simple tips to get you through the holidays and actually enjoy them with your family.  I hope.

1. Don’t Over Do it.

It’s okay to say “no” to all the invites for holiday parties and gatherings.  Your child will be much happier and more comfortable celebrating in a place where he feels comfortable. If you are attending a gathering with friends or family, you may kindly excuse yourself and leave.  If you have to take two cars, do it! If they are accepting of the situation normally folks will not feel offended if you need to exit the house because your child has had a meltdown.

2. Plan Ahead (Prep, prep, and more prep.)

Definitely, have a plan in place. If you are traveling by any form of transportation and visiting friends or family, prepare activities for your child.  Have a familiar bag full of activities ready to go.  Also have a designated quiet spot for your child to escape to when it gets too much of you happen to be staying elsewhere. Write Social Stories for visits to i.e. “The Trip to Grandma’s House.” If you are flying contact the airlines and ask what their accommodations for passengers with Autism are.

3. Maintain the Routine.

Try to keep your child’s routine as normal as possible, this will make it less stressful for everyone involved.

4. Make Gift Giving and Shopping Simple.

I cannot stress this enough. Make this process simple. Prepare ahead, only spend a minimal amount of time initially, and then gradually increase the time you spend in the mall or store. Your child’s sensory expectations will change and probably heighten while you’re in the store. Make gift giving fun and simple! Frustration can increase when given too many choices.   Don’t make it difficult on yourself.  Basically think simplicity. If your son is like mine, he doesn’t know about writing a list. Gift buying might become more difficult for you as it comes closer to Christmas.  Stick with simple gifts!

5. Relax

I know it is easier said than done but if you are anxious, stressed and anxiety ridden, your child will sense that something isn’t quite right. They are wonderful at picking up ques. So take your own “time out” and enjoy the holidays!

Stim Soup Copyright 2015

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Autism · Autism Awareness · Autism Spectrum · Behavior · Psychology

Counting Sheep… With One Eye Closed and One Eye Open. Part Two

sleeping chart
Sleeping chart we used on a weekly basis. BP would place an X in the box everyday and at the end of the week receive his reward.

Last post I talked about our struggle with sleep.  This time I will relate to you about needing a plan.  Always, always have a plan A AND a plan B.  Because kids with Autism are not always going to go with your plan A.  You have the choice!  Should we go hog-wild and go forth with plan A? Knowing that full well we wouldn’t be getting any sleep and being prepared for the constant “blowouts”  while in his bed. This is what psychologists call “Flooding or Extinction.” Basically exposing your child to the behavior that they fear most or trying to avoid. That was sleeping through the night in his own bed. I don’t recommend this method at all. We tried it for about three days and three days was simply too much. Dad was the one going into his room if needed, we would offer choices to read in bed and other toys to play with.  If he decided to launch a book or a toy across the room it would get taken away. Crying, yelling, and throwing things. Sorry that’s not tolerated. As parents try not to put yourself through this method.  The goal is to make it easier on you and your kids.  You don’t need the drama. Am I right? Throughout all my posts I stress simplicity.  Why make it difficult on yourself?

After three long days of crying, tantrums, yelling and lack of sleep from both parties. We all were in favor of plan B: The De-sensitization Method: This method involves the use of a timer and gradually increasing the time he would spend in his own bed and eventually doing with the timer as he got used to sleeping in his bed. It also allows the use of toys or books as long the child is calm. A more timely approach to dealing with their own phobia or fear. Same rules apply: Launching a book or toy across the room is not okay.  With this method we also used a reward system!  We implemented this weekly. With our son food is a big motivator and I know some will disagree with it.  But if you choose food in moderation and appropriately I don’t feel it’s an issue. If he enjoys something else he can work for, by all means, go for it. It doesn’t have to be food related at all. Notice I said in “moderation”, that’s huge.  If it is going to help him succeed, why not?

Step one: BP gets in his own bed till timer goes off and then gets to go in our bed.  Basically this was just to get him acclimated to being in his room and in his own bed.  Something he wasn’t at all comfortable with in the beginning. The first week we determined that he would have to stay in his bed for 5 minutes. I highly recommend using your timer on your phone or one of these. With this step using the timer really helped him stay in his structured routine.  Timing is everything. Every week we would gradually increase the time. 10-15 min.  There was an a bit of an issue with this.  BP would be so be focused on the timer and not going to sleep that he would ask when he could get up.  Our Solution: We would tell BP that he must be completely quiet and cannot ask about the “time” or more time will be added. Problem Solved. Happy parents. You might have to figure out how long it takes your child to naturally fall asleep.  With BP, it depends on how good his day has been. Does it take 5 minutes or an hour? Keep in mind our son is 13 so sleep issues might will vary for each child. Also I have not brought up the issue of drugs for sleeping.  We have not used anything as of yet.  He is a light sleeper but I try to keep drugs out of the picture.

Basically by the time week four rolled around he was sleeping in his bed all night long.  This method has been proven and does work. I know that every child will be behave differently, but give it time, it may not happen in a month or even 2 months.

Basically with anything, a child with Autism will learn in steps, pieces or chunks.  A little bit goes a very long way. That’s the Autism mind. Learning anything can be broken down into a step at time. I am not advocating that you need to use these methods, take up child psychology or know what they are. But it truly helps to know about your child’s behavior.  It helps parents understand, so I can help our children.

Tips:

1. Use a timer, this is a must.  Utilizing a timer helps him know there is a definite end to the activity.

2. Make a chart or purchase one. This shows their progress and will keep your child motivated.

3. Acquire a lot of patience.  This isn’t going to happen overnight.

4. Praise your child for staying in their bed, even if it is for 5 minutes!

5. Have a reward system in place.  This will be a huge motivator.

Autism · Autism Awareness

My Awareness Immunity: The Unexpected Advantage

Awarenessgrpahic

This is my personal story of Awareness:

Awareness: “the state or condition of being aware; having knowledge; consciousness”

Are you conscious of it?  Not everyone is aware or conscious of what goes on.  Period. But that goes with everything, everyday life and not just in April.  I am very much Aware of Autism, I was involved with it even before it entered our life. 14 Years ago when my oldest atypical Son was three I found myself working in the public schools as a Special Ed Aide. I was going to college to teach elementary school and I figured this was a great start to work in the schools. My first job as an aide was in a K-1 Autism classroom and at the time I was pregnant with our second son. Little did I know that he would be diagnosed six years later. There was no initial shock when my son was diagnosed 7 years ago and “what do I do now”? I did not go through all the phases of denial, or grieving.  I have been very immune from the beginning.  Because I had been through all of it before with my mother.  At 5, I was helping her up off the floor. My mother was born with Cerebral Palsy, I was an only child and my father traveled for work.  She was not able to accomplish the things that most Mothers could do.  She had limited mobility.  Balance, coordination were difficult and fine motor skills were a struggle. I basically grew up taking care of my Mom and succumbed myself to all the strange stares from the kids when she fell numerous times from her lack of balance. At a young age I became immune to the idea of “Awareness” and what it meant.  I was really too busy growing up, being the nurturing daughter, because that is all I knew and really all I know now. “The nurturing woman of massive patience.” That’s how I describe myself.  Now you must be asking yourself, how does being a nurturing Mom and having plenty of patience suck? That is my battle. Years later I have finally come to terms with that the childhood I had been preparing me for the life with Autism I never expected. I do understand now, my life is immersed in Autism 24/7 and I wouldn’t change it for anything. My past apparently has given me an immunity to Awareness and I deal with it on such a different level than most. I don’t even blink an eye.

I began Stimsoup with the intention of helping people, because that is what I do best.  Perhaps, helping others will give me a sense of meaning and a different perspective of “Awareness.” Maybe it’s my place in life. I never intended to be involved in Special Ed, Blogging and because I never gave it a second thought I simply pushed it aside. This may be my path in life that I have been given and who ever knew when I stepped foot into that classroom. I think my son’s Autism has been a blessing in disguise.

Take Care and Spread the Awareness! 🙂

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