ASD · Autism · new blog · Thank you · website

New website in progress

Hi friends of Stim Soup Autism.  I have  a new website coming soon.  https://stimsoup.wordpress.com won’t be active much longer.  I don’t want to lose any of you.  There are many things I will be changing.  I will be keeping WordPress format though.  Just simple for you.   If you have any ideas of what you would like to see.  Just leave a comment.  I’d be happy to see what I can do.  I  have much in store, even a members forum.  So stay tuned and stick with me.  I have so much to share! Here is the new address, Just click on the link:

http://www.stimsoup-autism.com

Keep in mind, that I will be constantly changing things around and doing a lot of stuff until I can get things just the way I like it.  Thanks for following me.

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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 · Tips

New to the World of Autism? Part One

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:

 Self Care:

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. 
Twitter: follow me on twitter
Stim Soup:  A website just for you.

 Support groups:

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! 

 Social Groups:

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.

Part 2: Where Do I Begin?

Part 3: What is Autism Exactly?

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ASD · Autism · Autism and Pets · Companion Dogs

Autism and Pets: Considering a service dog?

Dog Therapy Session with BP

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.

Therapy Session Therapy Session2

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.

Thanks.  Have a great day!

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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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