What if an easy and inexpensive test could predict the likelihood of your child developing Autism when performed at well-child appointments starting at the age of 3 months? What if this test performed with 100 percent accuracy? What if I tell you this may be a reality?
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In the world of Autism, we often hear about the depressing and painful parts of raising our kids, rarely do we hear of the wonderful parts of it. Our children are amazing individuals that have countless advances to add to this world as they grow. However, while making a purchase at the store the other day a gentleman asked me what I did for a living - I told him I was a writer and a mother of 2 awesome boys with Autism. His response was that he was “sorry.” He honestly looked me in the eyes and told me that he felt sorrow for me because I have Autistic children. That reopened my eyes to the stigma surrounding Autism and parenting an Autistic child. We hear a lot about Autism throughout April, as it is Autism Awareness Month, now that April is over that doesn’t mean that we should stop spreading the awareness. Let’s start by spreading some awareness to the wonderful parts of our children and our adventures raising them!
When you think of Autism you often think of the obvious issues that families deal with; the meltdowns, the lack of eye contact and the lack of speech. Very rarely does the general public or the newly diagnosed parents think of the “small” issues that we deal with that often go unspoken of. One such issue is parental depression. Sometimes living the life that we must live leaves us depressed and stressed out. Whether it be from a lack of social communication with other adults or just the feeling of being overwhelmed. It certainly is not easy to be the parent of a child on the Autism spectrum. There are joyous moments, but there is no denying the challenges parents face, and the toll these take. Parents also have to worry about themselves getting sick, fighting for services, sacrificing careers, sinking into debt, and some simply rage at the injustice of it all. Parents grieve. We are allowed to do so. I find myself there right now. The monotony of each day, the meltdowns, the constant doctors’ appointments, the lack of sleep, the lack of understanding by both my family, friends and my son… it all gets to me from time to time and right now is one of those times.
Many parents ask if their children are the only Autistic children that seem to have a higher or lower pain thresholds than the “normal” person. The answer is no they are not. Many children with Autism experience reduced or heightened pain sensitivity. It is actually widely reported to be a common feature of children with Autism. Sensory abnormalities in Autism are well known; they are even part of the diagnostic criteria for the condition. But few investigators have looked into how people with Autism experience pain. The ones who have base their conclusions of reduced and heightened pain in children with Autism on anecdotal observations and questionable measures of pain reported by parents. My son is among the Autistic children that are affected by this.
Potty training is never easy, whether it be an Autistic child or a neurotypical child. A lot of parents find themselves at a complete loss. When it comes to Autistic children it is a whole new ballgame.
If you have been raising an Autistic individual for a while you may already know that schedules and routines are pretty much key to their development. Truthfully, routines play an important role in the lives of people with Autism. In fact, one of the earliest signs of Autism can be a love of ritual, consistency, predictability and routine. It boils down to simple things that “normal” people do every day being intensified to the max for a person with Autism. The everyday events that most people view as “normal” can be an overwhelming combination of frightening crowds, intimidating sounds and overbearing lights for people with Autism. Routines and schedules help to create stability and order.
When our children are diagnosed we tend to go along with what the doctors and therapists say to do, as we should. We typically start a medication if they say to start it or end a medication if they say to end it. We do the same with various types of therapies. Over the years I have tried an enormous amount of medications and therapies for Autism with my son to try to better his quality of life. Much of them with great success rate, some of them with horrible outcomes. The biggest regret I have in all these years is not researching the medications that I was using extensively before starting them.
If you are new to the special needs world you may not know what an IEP is or have had to deal with having one yet. IEPs, or Individualized Education Plans, are the holy grail of special needs services in school aged children. An IEP is a “written document that’s developed for each public-school child who is eligible for special education.
By this time of year most households have or are about to start preparations for state standardized testing. I get a lot of questions about the tests that states administer and if Autistic students have to take them. The answer isn’t a clear cut yes or no. It really depends on your child’s deficits and their IEP guidelines. What I can do is tell you about the tests and what you can do to help prepare your child for them.
Every couple of years the prevalence rates for Autism are released and we parents cringe. As we last heard in 2016, the CDC had reported the prevalence rates at 1 in 68. As these reports are released on a biannual basis, today, April 26, 2018, we got news that the rate has once again rose. We now have a prevalence rate of 1 in 59 school aged children diagnosed with Autism. This data is based on monitoring that the Centers for Disease Control does in 11 communities. This new report reiterates a long-standing pattern- The rate of Autism diagnoses is continuing to increase.
When it comes to Autism and the divorce rate, many studies say the rate is up near 80%, while others rate the divorce rate somewhere near 20%. Either way, it is way higher than the rate for parents of non-special needs children. One of the reasons for this is stress and not sharing the responsibilities of raising the Autistic child. This isn’t an easy job to do and if you are doing it without help it is obviously even more daunting. Or maybe there are the moments when they do “help” and it makes things worse because your partner just hasn’t taken the time to get to know Autism like you have. No matter what the reason, a relationship coming apart at the seams is a devastating notion for any family, let alone one that has a child that is abhorrent to change.
Most of us parents of Autistic children and teens have an issue at some point in time with the school system that your child goes to. Whether it be a problem with bullying, and IEP issue, or just plain administrative/teacher issues, most of us have been there. We are our children’s voices and their advocates.
As of late I have heard a lot of questions about the difference between Autism and Autism Spectrum Disorders (or ASD’s) in the DSM-IV versus the DSM-V. We all know that the terms Autism and ASD are often used interchangeably. ASD is an umbrella diagnosis, with many separate disorders encompassing it. Since the DSM-V came out there have been some changes. So, what is the difference in the two? Here's a real quick break-down of the changes.
When asked what the hardest thing to cope with when dealing with Autism is a lot of parents will name things such as lack of sleep or meltdowns as their top rating stressors. Truth be it, a lot of the time the number one stressor in our lives isn’t our Autistic child at all; it’s our extended family members. The ones that say they’ll be there, but obviously do nothing but judge. You know the ones I’m talking about; the Aunt, Uncle, or Grandparent that just simply doesn’t get it. With that ignorance a lot of the times come hurt feelings and harsh words.
Discipling an Autistic child is a tricky thing; each child is different and each parent’s opinion on how to do it is different. When it comes to disciplining a meltdown the whole concept is altered though. When you discipline a child for having a temper tantrum it is different than disciplining for a meltdown.
Potty training tips for a 9-year-old boy? He is verbal, knows how to use the potty (and does several times a day with no issues), but he has accidents every day (and every night) and he won’t ask to use the bathroom (he has to be told). I got tired of him having a rash from wet clothes, so he is currently in a pull-up. Advice?
MIND Institute is probably one of the most interesting and important Autism research networks that we have, MIND and IANRESEARCH. MIND is responsible for such research projects as CHARGE and APP. IAN PROJECT is a product of the Kennedy Krieger Institute.
Of all the therapies that parents choose to try on their Autistic children and teens I find one to be exceptionally interesting; that being Neurofeedback Therapy (NFT), or EEG Biofeedback. It is also called “Brainworks” overseas. NFT is a route that some parents take to “retrain” their children’s brain to respond more appropriately to outside stimuli. The main purpose being to improve the child’s quality of life. But the concept of the therapy raises more questions than it does answers.
As far as treatment options go when it comes to Autism, we are lacking a variety of them that work. One medication has shown some promising responses when combating the “core symptoms” of Autism. That medication is called Arbaclofen, or Bacofen. Originally it is used to treat muscle spasms. Many Scientist believe that in comparison to the study done of Oxytocin Nasal Spray and Autism that this medication shows more incalculable improvements. Back in 2012 there were several studies into this medication. Two with promising results, one with mixed reviews leading to further researching. So, let’s look at this medication and its treatment of Autism.
As your child ages, especially when they reach puberty, you will notice a whole new set of challenges in front of them. Not only are they going through the different emotions that come along with puberty, they also have a whole new set of social challenges ahead of them with their peers.
We might ask ourselves if giving our Autistic children chores is appropriate. The answer is Yes!
The fear associated with having an Autistic child has hit a whole new level of hysteria as of the last ten years or so. As of the last few years, parents have been granted the right to select the sex of their babies using IVF techniques in an attempt to avoid having children with Autism.
While stress that is felt by an Autistic person is hard on the Autistic individual, it is hard on their families as well. The stress that families feel due to the meltdowns their autistic family members inflict on them alone is astonishing. Family members experience and respond to stress in different ways. There’s no one right way of feeling or responding to your child with Autism Spectrum Disorder; but, does help to be understanding of each other’s feelings.
Controlled deep breathing is one of the best skills to learn for coping with anxiety, sensory overload, irritability, and more.
A recent study shows too much screen time for kids and teens is problematic. Increase in screen time causes overstimulation, sleep problems, and psychological difficulties. But does it affect Autistic children the same?
We all talk about meltdowns when it comes to our Autistic children, but what about meltdowns in Autistic adult individuals? Sometimes it seems that our Autistic adults are cast aside to lay focus on our children. There are so many areas of the Autistic adult’s lives that are in need of further examination and understanding.
Cognitive Behavioral Therapy, or CBT, is one of the basic “go to” therapies in the Autism community. It’s based on how a person thinks, acts, feels and how their behavior affects those around them. The biggest positive in this type of Autism treatment is that it has no adverse side effects and no warnings associated with it. It also helps astoundingly with meltdowns and other behavioral issues.
My son was recently diagnosed with autism and when April rolled around I wanted to do my part in spreading awareness and acceptance of the autistic community. As I was getting ready to light my profile pic blue I discovered there were other colors to choose from.
One of the indications of Autism is difficulty socializing. Difficulties include eye contact, interest in others, sharing and communicating thoughts. Boardgames are a great way to work on these barriers of socialization.
We all know about Speech Therapy and Occupational Therapy for Autistic individuals, but what about other forms of therapy that parents use? There is one form of therapy I’d like to bring to your attention. One age-old therapy that we’ve fought insurance companies over for years- ABA Therapy. Applied Behavior Analysis, or ABA therapy has been recognized as a successful Autism treatment since the 1960s. What’s it all about though? Some parents do not know, so let’s talk about it…