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.

ASD · Autism · Autism Spectrum · Newly Diagnosed · Parents

New to the World of Autism? Part Two

Question Two: Where do I begin?

 Your child recently has been given the diagnosis, and you have been able to at least grab hold of the situation, but you are unsure of really where to begin.

 If you aren’t sure, grab a cup of coffee, tea or what ever your pleasure.  Sometimes wine can help but make sure you wait for that in the evenings. 🙂 Begin by sitting down at your computer and just Google away.  Google terms, “Autism” and (your state).  See what pops up on the screen. Usually that can get you to a good starting place.  Don’t Google too much or you might suffer from information overload.

Do your research:  I highly recommend this.  Depending on how old your child is it can be frustrating or satisfying. From my experience, at the time my son was diagnosed I didn’t have the resources to do much of anything.

I spoke with my child’s pediatrician and he was able to give me a referral to my Area Regional Center and that’s what got the ball rolling. With this referral I knew this meant he might be qualified for services. Fair warning though, the process can be quite daunting.  There are a few steps you have will go through to be qualified;  Required written documentation, assessments, interview and orientation.

Things I discovered through this process:

1. Paper Pusher Extraordinaire: 

You will accumulate an incredible amount of paperwork.  If you are organized I envy you, because I am not in the least. The skill of organization will come in handy through your journey.

 2. Be Patient:

 I can’t emphasize this enough.  During the entire process you will be doing a lot of “hurry up and wait.” Don’t be discouraged by this and throw in the towel.  The outcome is well worth the wait 100 times over. You will acquire a vast amount of patience over the years.

 3. Ask a lot of Questions:

Before my child was diagnosed, I was not one for asking questions.  Now seven years later, I question every single issue that arises.  If you are not sure, always ask. It is your child and you have every right as a parent.  http://www.wrightslaw.com/ Don’t let anyone tell you differently.

Stay tuned for the third question in part three: What is Autism Exactly?

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ASD · Autism · Autism Spectrum · Holidays · Tips

Surviving the Holidays

5 tips

Now that the Holidays are here, how are you handling it?  Becoming stressed?  I can relate. Christmas time may be stressful for everyone, but it can be even more overwhelming with someone on the Autism Spectrum. i.e. Sensory overload. 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 at home. If you are attending a gathering with friends or family, 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.)

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 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 for yourself the gift giver either.  Gift buying might become 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 2014

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Autism · Autism Spectrum · Echolalia · Food · PECS · Pica · stimming

Stim Soup Series: What’s in the Soup? Part Seven

StimSoupSeries

Welcome to Part Seven of the Stim Soup series “What’s in the Soup.” These posts are just a simple guide to the many terms of Autism.  Just broken down into simple terms from A-Z. It is the goal here at Stim Soup to make it simple and practical.  No long-winded explanations necessary.  If you are like me, then you want to get to the point and find the answer.

The terms in part seven of the series are:

  • PECS -Picture Exchange Communication System

  • Pica

  • Self-Stimulation Behavior

Let us begin with the most widely used form of communication throughout Autism community.

PECS – Simply put: A way to communicate using pictures and symbols.  Picture Cards.  A powerful method of communication for non-verbal children or children that have difficulty with their expressive language.  I.E. These photos are of what my son previously used to communicate his wants and needs.  Now they are no longer necessary.

Bathroom PECS
PECS for the skill of washing your hands
PECS 2
Similar PECS on a cardboard strip that can be used with Velcro. Every step is listed.

Pica – An eating disorder in which a person will consume non-food items.  Anything from dirt to soap.  Sometimes with Autism a child can have the condition.  It is related to the sensory needs of the child.   The brain has a difficult time processing all the sensory input and constantly seeking some form of stimulation by putting anything into mouth. Sensory seeking behavior.  Usually Pica can be helped by Sensory Integration Therapy or some form of Behavior therapy.

Self-Stimulation Behavior- Usually called “Stimming,” is very common with Autism.  Stimming can be referred to as a number of behaviors.  Repetitive body movements being the most common.  You might also see them staring at lights, flapping their hands, rocking their body, licking things (Pica), smelling objects, and Echolalia being the most common.  All of these behaviors will be repetitive.

If you need to or you missed have other parts, go back and read One,Two, Three, FourFive and Six.

Stay tuned for Part Eight of my What’s in the Soup? I truly hope you are benefiting from this Series.

Feel free to comment and let me know.

Take Care,

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ASD · Autism · Autism Spectrum · Echolalia · Executive Functioning · Fine Motor Skills · Fragile X Syndrome · Speech and Language

Stim Soup Series: What’s in the Soup? Part Four

StimSoupSeries

Hi There and welcome! I have been behind with the series lately, What’s in the Soup? But here is part four of the nine part series. As a parent/guardian/caregiver, it is very helpful to be educated and informed. If you are new to the world of Autism, it is my goal is to help you out and take away that feeling of being completely overwhelmed. Basically keeping it as simple as possible.

In part three of the series I talked about.

CHILDHOOD AUTISM RATING SCALE (CARS)

DISCRETE TRIAL TRAINING (DTT)

ECHOLALIA

For this part of the series we will learn about: Executive Functioning, Expressive Language, and Fine Motor.  I have added a new term to the series so I have switched some terms around a bit.

This first term is used quite a bit and I figured It should be a part of your ever-growing vocabulary.

Executive Functioning:

The skills that allow us to organize, plan, and problem solve.  Executive functions help you manage life skills. For example, executive functions let you organize your day, plan what you will wear, organize a paper for school. Children with Autism usually don’t have the “command and control” functions in their daily lives to help them manage themselves.  For example, when a child has a meltdown and is not able to control his emotions that is apart of Executive functioning.  They are not in command or have control over those functions.  This is when behavior management comes in play and teaches the child to self regulate their own behavior.

Expressive Language:

The ability to communicate and express themselves to another through language. One of the aspects of Autism is the inability to communicate effectively their wants and needs. It’s difficult for them to clearly express themselves.

Fine Motor Skills:

Fine Motor involves movement of small muscles of the body such as in the hands and fingers. Skills include: writing, grasping, and fastening,  All of which depend on strength, control, coordination, and dexterity. I will be talking about Fine Motor later on in more depth.

Most of these terms in the series will be discussed in the future in more depth.  But as I said before, the goal here is for simplicity.

Next time in the series I will be talking about:

  • Fragile X Syndrome
  • Gross Motor
  • Hypotonia

 

Stay Tuned.  I look forward to sharing with you more terms.  Thanks!

 

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ABA Therapy · ASD · Autism · Autism Spectrum

Stim Soup Series: What’s In the Soup? Part Three

StimSoupSeries

Hi there and welcome to another part in the series on Autism. This is the third of a 9 part series on the terminology and acronyms associated with Autism. As a parent/guardian/caregiver, it is helpful to be educated and informed. If you are new to the world of Autism, it is my goal is to help you out and not be so overwhelmed. Basically keeping it as simple as possible

7. Childhood Autism Rating Scale (CARS):

A behavior rating test to diagnose Autism. They rate the child in 15 separate areas from: relationships to people to general impressions.  On a scale from 1 to 4, with four being severe.  It is the most common test to diagnose Autism.

8.  Discrete Trial Training (DTT):

Very similar to ABA (Applied Behavior Analysis) in that a Behavior Therapist or tutor will work with the child one to one at a table.  Discrete Trial is a simplified version of teaching a skill, broken down into steps instead of all at once.

6: Echolalia

Described by many as a behavior associated with Autism.  It is actually a form of communication. Defined as the repeating of words and phrases that they have recently heard or something they heard months ago. It is also referred to as “Scripting.”  For example, my son will recite and repeat lines from videos he watches on Youtube while outside in our yard by himself.  I refer to it as TV talk.

Stay tuned for part four of the series, where I talk about:

  • Expressive Language
  • Fine Motor
  • Fragile X Syndrome

If you missed any other of the series, please click on the link on the home page. Thank you!

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