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.
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?
You have recently been told that your child has been diagnosed with Autism. Most of the time our reactions are disbelief, shock, and sometimes depression combined with being isolated from the outside world. I won’t put it lightly…receiving the news stinks and it weighs heavy on your head night and day. Who do you talk to now? What do you do? First of all ask yourself this question:
Question One: How Am I Doing?
Are you down and just really depressed? Follow these tips:
Take the time for yourself, listen to music, meditate, try to sleep when you can, hide in the bathroom, take up a new hobby, look at your life and just laugh at it. You will survive. 🙂
Social Media & Facebook:
There are hundreds of personal Facebook Autism support pages out there. I highly encourage you to head on over, check them out and like their pages. Try and develop a connection with a community that “Gets it.” Just knowing there are families, individuals, and services out there will give you a sense of well-being and help you cope.
When my son was diagnosed over 7 years ago there wasn’t the presence of Autism as it is today. It much easier to connect these days.
Make the connection with Me>>
Facebook: You can like and follow my pages for the latest on my website.
There are wonderful meet ups just to chat, have coffee and a time or too have guest speakers. These groups can be based on the age of your children. If you cannot find a connection in your part of town where you live, my suggestion is to start one!
These aren’t as numerous, these groups may have social outings with activities for children. Meet up groups for example. http://www.meetup.com/
But personally I am not much of social person, but once in a while I find it comforting to know that there is someone out there (parent or otherwise) who totally “gets it!” That is such a nice feeling.
Stayed tuned for the next two parts of this article.
My son BP who is has Autism has been very afraid of dogs since he was very young. Now at 13, It’s been a several step process to lessen his anxiety. In the beginning, during his weekly Behavior Therapy sessions, we tried everything from outings to the park, making trips to the pet store, and even having one of BP’s ABA therapists bring in their own pet, which ended up not working. After a few months of several attempts and putting our heads together, we contacted a local Therapy dog program. Perhaps, one that frequently would visit hospitals and veterans. Didn’t know if the idea would fly at all. We told them our story and asked if they might bring one of their dogs to our house just to make BP feel more comfortable around them.
They were gracious enough and said “yes!” We were elated! This was something new for the dog Therapy program because they never encountered children with Autism before. This is a huge step in the area of behavior therapy. I think it’s a great concept. They loved the idea of visiting our home to make a child happy and so do we!
Now a few months later, My son has made so much progress that he can actually be next to a dog with out anxiety for about 15 minutes! So parents, even if your son/daughter is not afraid of dogs. This might be an alternative just to try. Therapy, Companion and Service dogs can be wonderful for your child.
February 2015 Update:
We are continuing with the weekly Therapy Dog visits, Brutus, a sweet black lab mix, come to visit. So very calm!
I am currently in the process of filling out an application for an Autism Service Dog thorough Canine Companions For Independence. They happen to offer Service Dogs for no charge. But they aren’t easy to obtain. There is a several step process just to get approved for a dog: Interviews, etc. It will also require a few weeks personal time for intense training. But right now we will see if we even get approved. I will keep you posted!
Note: M & M’s are a great motivating tool for BP. But we never give them to doggies.
If you are thinking about getting a service dog for your son or daughter, I would highly recommend it! Don’t be discouraged by the process of obtaining one, because it’s going to so worth it in end and having a service animal will certainly improve the life of your child in ways you could have never imagined!
Autism Service Dogs can provide a calming sense of security, decreased meltdowns, anxiety, and reduced stimming. They also can increase social interactions. Improve and encourage verbal communication. Total companionship. An unconditional friend, they can also help with daily living skills and will help increase your child’s sense of independence.
A few tips and recommendations:
A. Do your research: There are many wonderful organizations out there who train Autism Service Dogs. Google it and see what you come up with. There are several different options. Assistance Dogs International has a great site to search by area for organizations or programs.
B. Have Patience: Obtaining a Service Dog can sometimes can take up to two years. It won’t happen over night. It’s a several step process that will require your constant effort. Don’t give up.
C. Talk with your family: Having a service dog is a life long commitment. Are you as a caregiver or parent willing to take care of the Dog and keep up with training?. A service dog is not considered a pet but, a companion assigned to your child and actually chosen specifically for your them.
D. Talk to your Child’s Doctor: Do you feel your child would benefit from a Service or Companion Therapy Animal? Perhaps they might write a prescription letter stating your child would benefit from having such an animal.
I apologize for not updated posts. But will be keeping up as much as I can.
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!
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!
News! I have a new website that is still underdevelopment. I am currently working on all the kinks and bugs. It will have resources for the new Parents who have recently found out their child has Autism. Information and tips for caregivers, and Educators alike. A page for newcomers. It’s a big venture and my goal is to make it simple just like this blog. If you know of someone who would benefit, kindly let them know.
If you have any Autism stories or would like to submit a blog or resource, simply click on the links provided on the Home Page. I’d be happy to read them.
Just a note: All material is subject to approval. Nothing offensive. No spammers, trolls, etc. You know the drill.
So if your interested, head on over and check it out. Stim Soup. Spread the word to people everywhere!
I apologize for the long delay, I have been busy getting the website together. That’s in another post!
This is the final post on the Stim Soup Series, “What’s In the Soup?” Part Eight. After pawing through notes and deciding on what would be relevant, I felt these last terms would be the most helpful.
For the sake of those reading this series for the first time, my explanations on the terms are to the point. Nothing intense about it. I figured there is no sense in writing long-winded definitions. As a new parent to the Autism community that is not what you are searching for. You are seeking answers and would rather forgo the stuff in between.
Sensory Integration Therapy
Speech Language Pathology
Sensory integration therapy – The therapy improves daily function in children with autism. Symptoms often include a difficult time processing sensory information such as textures, sounds, smells, tastes, and light. Referred to as Sensory Processing Disorder. These difficulties can make ordinary situations feel overwhelming. They can interfere with daily function. Largely used by occupational therapists, uses play activities to change how the brain reacts to touch, sound, sight and movement.
Speech Language Pathology – Autism can affect speech, language development, and social communication in many ways. Speech Therapy can benefit persons with Autism. Kids may babble, be non-verbal, have various communication challenges and can help with any issues in Speech and Language.
TEACCH– Treatment and Education of Autistic and related Communication handicapped Children. Founded by the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. The primary aim of TEACCH is to help to prepare people with autism to live or work more effectively at home, at school and in the community.
I truly hope you as a Parent/Guardian have found this eight-part series to be informative. It is meant as a starting point of a long journey in Autism. As a mother of a 12-year-old with Autism, I have been on this road for quite a while now. The road has been bumpy, long, and quite the learning adventure. But the road will always go on and some day you might see the end. But for the time being I can at least help smooth out the bumps in the road and guide in you your search for spoonful’s of information. A little bit at a time.
If you have not read my other parts of this series, please take the time to do so. I am hoping the series will answer some of the most common questions regarding Autism.
As throughout the series, all topics are to the point and just to get your feet wet. It is not meant to overwhelm you. My purpose is to take the confusion out of an already vast expansion of the disorder we know as Autism.
Keep in mind these terms are only the tip of the iceberg. There are many, many more and I will be expanding on many of the terms and including several other ones as well. Autism Spectrum Disorder is very broad and includes many aspects so stay tuned!
One final note: I will be making this Series into a PDF document for you to download on the new Stim Soup website. Free for to you to print out on to use at your first IEP meeting and impress the heck out of them with your knowledge. Or print it out just for reference.