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 · 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 · IEP · Occupational Therapy · PDD-NOS

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

StimSoupSeries

Hi! Welcome to part six of the Series on the ABC’s of Autism.  I am hoping to educate parents/caregivers in a very simplistic way.  Life is already complicated, it does not have to be and I am here to help. 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.

In part five of the series I talked about a three different terms of Autism: Fragile X Syndrome, Gross Motor Skills and Hypotonia. All of which are important terms to have in your ever increasing vocabulary.  Also just as a reminder, all the topics I discuss are broken down into simple easy-to-comprehend terms.  Then I will later hit on these terms in more depth for you.  How simple is that?

Part Six topics include:

  • I.E.P – Individualized Education Plan
  • O.T. – Occupational Therapy
  • P.D.D – N.O.S. – Pervasive Developmental Disorder Not Otherwise Specified

If you gain any amount of information from this series let it be on the Individualized Education Plan. I mention last post about how important an I.E.P. would be to your child’s education. I cannot emphasize this enough.

I.E.P. – Individualized Education Plan.-

When your child enters public school, receives Special Education and services they will have an Individualized Education Plan .   Your child will normally be evaluated for services, and then will determine their eligibility for those services. If your child is found eligible for those services, then an I.E.P. meeting will be scheduled. The team that writes a child’s Individualized Education Program includes the parent(s), regular education teacher(s), special education teacher(s), other individuals from the school and district and the student when appropriate.  Information in I.E.P’s includes information such as current performance, annual goals, special education and related services they receive, accommodations, tests, and measured progress.   Usually twice a year, sometimes more depending on goals and changes, your child will be reevaluated and you will meet again with staff and teachers.   As a parent you have complete rights to change any aspect of the Individualized Education Plan.  Individualized Education Plans are crucial.  This particular topic is important and I will devote an entire information page on I.E.P’s in the future by breaking break it down step by step.  We certainly do not want information overload.

O.T. – Occupational Therapy –

Usually a service that might be included in your child’s IEP or a service that a child might receive at home.  Occupational Therapists help children work on their fine motor skills, this includes small tasks of grasping, and handwriting skills, and improving eye-hand coordination. Therapists are important for the learning of everyday life skills such as: bathing, getting dressed, brushing teeth and feeding themselves. Occupational Therapists also help tremendously to teach the child how to manage their behavior.  Another issue they address is in the area of Sensory Disorders. Lastly, they will evaluate a child’s need for specialized equipment, such as wheelchairs, bathing equipment, dressing devices, or communication aids. The majority of these topics are important for a child with Autism.  I will also be addressing them in more depth soon.

P.D.D.-N.O.S. Pervasive Developmental Disorder Not Otherwise Specified

Pervasive developmental disorder not otherwise specified is given to individuals with difficulties in the areas of social interaction, communication, or narrowed behavior patterns or interests, but who do not meet the full criteria for autism. In other words, it’s the diagnosis they use for someone who has some but not all characteristics of autism or who has relatively mild symptoms. In a nutshell. Often referred to as the “atypical” Autism.

Part six of series was quite intense and stock full of information this time.  If you need to or you missed have other parts, go back and read One, Two, Three, Four, and Five.

Stay tuned for Part Seven 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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Autism · Fragile X Syndrome · Gross Motor Skills · Hypotonia

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

StimSoupSeries

Hi! Welcome to part five of the Series on the ABC’s of Autism.  I am hoping to educate parents/caregivers in a very simplistic way.  Life is already complicated and it does not have to be. I am here to help.  This is the goal here.

Fragile X Syndrome:

A genetic disorder in which one part of the X chromosome has a defect. It can cause cognitive issues, some physical aspects, development delays in speech, motor skills, hyperactivity, and most of these characteristic occurs in Autism as well. Fragile X can occur in about 15-33% of individuals diagnosed with Autism. Fragile X can be diagnosed with a simple blood test. I will write in-depth on Fragile X on later post. But I wanted just to give you a simple explanation for now.  Remember our goal here is to keep it simple.

Gross Motor Skills:

Gross Motor involves the large muscles such as the arms, the legs, and the trunk of the body that enable such functions as walking, kicking, sitting upright, lifting, and throwing a ball. It’s important for major body movement such as walking, balance, coordination, jumping and reaching. Core strength is important for Gross motor development and sometimes with Autism the developing core strength (upper body support) is weak and lacking muscle tone. This is might affect their ability to use their fine motor skills as well, such as writing.

Hypotonia:

Poor muscle tone.  A condition that can impair both Fine and Gross Motor movements. Many with Autism can have Hypotonia.  It can be managed by Occupational Therapy and Physical Therapy.  I will go more in-depth later on Therapies, but this is a good start.

Next time I will talk about:

  • IEP – Individualized Educational Plan (this will be crucial to your children’s education)
  • OT – Occupational Therapy
  • PDD-NOS – Pervasive Developmental Disorder-Not Otherwise Specified

I hope you are benefiting from this series please comment.   Please click here for part four.  If you are just new to the series, please read Part one.

Thank you and 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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Autism

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

 

 

StimSoupSeries

Hi There and welcome! This the second of a 9 part series on helping you out with all the terminology and acronyms associated with Autism. It’s good to be educated and informed. If you are new to the world of Autism, my goal is to help you out and hopefully not be so overwhelming.  As a parent who been through it, I can relate and I want to make it easier on you. This week is the terms that might be familiar with a lot of people.

 

4. Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD) /Attention Deficit Disorder (ADD):

Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder/ADD is a disorder is that is diagnosed to include Inattentiveness and hyperactivity.  Sometimes the child/adult can have either one, the other, or at times both.

Inattention signs can range from:

  • distracted easily
  • forgets daily tasks
  • forgets where items are; i.e. homework, toys, etc.
  • difficult time following instructions
  • easily bored
  • lack of organization
  • does not pay attention to details

Personally, I am the inattentive type.  I have most of these. Some more severe than others.  My oldest son as well.

Hyperactivity signs can range from:

  • constantly fidgets and is very squirmmy
  • can’t stay in their seat
  • Their “motor” never stops
  • always on the go
  • may talk a lot
  • has a short temper

I am placing both ADHD and ADD together because ADD is a term no longer used.  It has since been deleted from even being recognized as a disorder. Although it is still referred to commonly.

5. Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD):

This term is meant to encompass Autism as a disorder in every sense of the word.  When a child or adult is “on the spectrum” it means that they have been diagnosed in one form or another with an Autism.  It can be on many different levels.  No one person is the same, hence the name “Spectrum.”

6. Behavior Modification:

Behavior Modification is crucial in helping your child cope with tantrums, meltdowns, aggressive behavior, communication and the like. It can also be a home program such as ABA Therapy  taught by licensed BCBA Therapist.

Note: I mentioned in the first post of the series, that I would include ADD as a term.  This is not the case.  I have decided to leave it out because it is simply redundant. 

Next time in the third part of the series, I will talk about:

Childhood Autism Rating Scale(CARS)

Discrete Trial Training (DTT)

Echolilia

Look for more in the future.  Forgive if I am a little behind, I am creating an informational website to help “new” parents of Autism!  Stay tuned.  Meanwhile if you haven’t read the first in the series, go here.

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