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.
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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!
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.
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…
When you are faced with having no assurances as to if your child will progress or regress, sometimes parents get desperate. Whether it is Autism or some other diagnosis; as parents we just want to make our children’s plights easier for them. The way some parents go about this can sometimes swing towards the extreme.
Unquestionably one of the most debated cause topics surrounding Autism is maternal smoking. For years now, the credibility of the theory of maternal smoking and Autism has been questioned. There have been studies done for countless years on whether smoking while you are pregnant can cause Autism. The number one question needing answered is if there really is a tangible correlation between mothers who smoked during pregnancy and children who are diagnosed with Autism. The answer to this question seems to be held in studies linked out of the U.S. and Sweden.
Although your child’s safety is the most essential thing during a meltdown there are other elements that you must look for and be aware of; such as, comorbid disorders that may be triggering them and what you can do to combat against them. We’ve all had those moments when our child melts down and we are left with no earthly idea what caused it. We are left staring at the floor, at our child, trying to figure out what triggered this reaction from this little person that we love so much. Often the issue isn’t Autism alone. Often one of the issues is a comorbid disorder of Autism called Sensory Processing Disorder, or SPD for short.
If you were to ask any parent of an Autistic child what they thought the truest introduction into the life of Autism is many would say the sometimes-brutal launch of a severe meltdown. Meltdowns are daunting, discouraging, arduous, and at times embarrassing.
We all have good days and bad days. Let's face it, as a parent raising a child with special needs, any kind of helpful advice is going to make our lives easier. I recall before the internet with all of its tips, groups, and forums I felt like I was the only one. I believe there are many who still feel this way. Rest assured, you are not alone on your journey.