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 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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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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