Monday, September 4, 2017

Latest Articles About Autism

Latest Articles from the "New York Times"


Latest Articles from the "Chicago Tribune"


Latest articles from the "LA Times"


Latest Articles from the "Star Tribune"


Thursday, September 8, 2016

Setting Timers

Setting timer has worked well for for both our children.  It works in a number of scenarios, has fostered independence, as well as cutting down on bickering.  We use the timer on our stove which can be heard throughout our house.

The first area we use timers for are chores. We discuss with our children beforehand how long a particular chore should take. Our children are allowed to have input, but we always make the final decision.  Then we set the timer for the amount of time we have agreed upon.  When they were younger we set it for them, as they get older they begin to self monitor and set their own timer.  This has cut down the amount of time they get distracted, and the chore gets completed much more quickly.  It has also cut down on my distraction as a parent.  I have a clear reminder to follow through with praise or discipline.  If the chore is completed I tell my children they should be happy with what they accomplished, and how helpful it is to our family.  If the chore is not completed there is an appropriate loss of privileges, usually electronics related.

The second area we use timers for is electronic time.  In our home electronic times mean anything you plug into a wall for amusement.  We choose lengths of times according to their age, maturity, and type of activity (educational vs. non-educational).  We follow the same principal as with the chores.  We discuss and decide the amount of time together beforehand, then the timer is set.  This has cut down on a lot of bickering and meltdowns at the end of electronics time.  It has also encouraged more reading and creative playtime.

The third area we use timers for are timeouts.  This is just a given for our family for years.  The timeout's length correlates with the child's age, one minute for each year.  We rarely have to give a timeout anymore because just the initial warning seems to work every time now.  Both my children are aware, much to their dismay, that I will still give them a timeout at ages 11 and 16.

For my son who is diagnosed with ASD the timers have been wonderful.  He feels in control, knows what to expect, gets less distracted, and is working toward a goal.  His meltdowns have all but disappeared when he has to give up electronics.  He knows when it is coming, and that he may not have privileges the next day if he doesn't try his best to control his behavior.  We still have our moments, but it is mostly just part of his routine now.  He is now at the stage where he is learning to self monitor.  He sets the timer for himself, turns the timer off, and finds me to let me know he has completed his activity.  This has worked wonders for learning life skills like cleaning his room, staying on task during homework time, and making sure he is getting enough reading time in.  I think he will be able to apply this to his life skills as an adult to stay on task and control his obsessive love of gaming.  After all don't we all give ourselves time limits on fun activities and work?  He may just need an extra beeping reminder.

Every child on the spectrum is sensitive to different things, so timers may not work for every family.  My son can have sensory overload with sounds, but the timer doesn't seem to bother him.  I also do my best to be fair when he is having a rough day.  I try to understand that he may need more or less time one day to the next.  Somedays I have to check in with him to help him stay on task, other days I am amazed at how he can complete his chore so quickly on his own.  It has worked for us, so maybe it is worth a shot for yours.

Monday, September 5, 2016

Latest Articles on Autism

Chicago tribune articles on gaps between pregnancies and link to autism.

Star Tribune article about voting rights for the disabled.

Boston Globe article about new autism institute.

Boston Globe article about gaps in care.

Thursday, December 17, 2015

Be Real PDD/NOS: Last Holiday Show

Be Real PDD/NOS: Last Holiday Show: Today was my son's last holiday show of elementary school.  It was a bittersweet moment.  I thought about how far he has come, and how much our lives have changed. Also, I thought about the challenges he is going to face next year attending intermediate school. His holiday programs will no longer be covered with cute planned hand gestures and mistakes. His idiosyncrasies, that I love, will stand out. It may cause others to judge him unfairly. How will I protect him? After all that I told myself to knock it off, and live in the moment. I ended up enjoying a great program.
After coming home, and having time to reflect on these thoughts, I decided to watch some old videos of his holiday shows. With tears streaming down my face I watched his early childhood 4K video, the reasoning behind living in the moment was clear. I was amazed by how absolutely adorable he was, and how much he has achieved. I promptly posted the video to social media and declared, "He's come along way!"
I remembered the thing all caretakers of a child diagnosed with ASD have to remember sometimes, live day by day. If you are putting in the time and therapy, you will accomplish good things. No one wants a parent who is dreading the future. Live in the moment, work toward goals, and you will see results.

Tuesday, December 2, 2014

Do You Understand or Not?

I sometimes wonder if the educators on my child's team really understand what is going on.  They say his stimming is disrupting the class this year.  I have received a few emails and phone calls.  The team decided to mainstream without a special education helper after K.  They decided to remove OT and PT from his schedule at the beginning of this school year.   Even though they though he had progressed beyond these needs someone seems annoyed at least once a week about disruptions to the class.  All the disruptions are do to with his stimming by flapping his arms, and being told to control his body during or afterward.  As a parent I care very much about the education of all the children in the class, including my son.  I don't want the other children to be disturbed, the teacher to have trouble managing, or his behavior to socially ostracize him.  So I marched down to the school and asked for some observation time during the last 45min of his school day.  This of course was met with resistance.  I was told I should have scheduled ahead of time. I was also told why don't you just volunteer in the classroom.  Which I explained I try to stay away from to give my son independence and myself a break.  I am helping him 24/7 at home, and I am always at field trips and PTO events..  That was not met with a lot of understanding. I do understand where the staff is coming from, but how am I supposed to know what is really going on in class if I can't just drop by?  The classroom teacher and staff finally agreed so I went to the classroom to observe.  The classroom teacher proceeded to demonstrate the relaxation techniques she uses right when I stepped in.  I appreciated the demonstration, but again I want to quietly observe the class not have a show put on for me.  Once the class finished with the demonstration they began quiet reading time. While I was observing I noticed my son stimming a bit, but not bothering anyone around him.  Including the child sitting directly next to him.  I noticed many of the other children not remaining in their seats and continuing to talk, even after they were instructed to do so.  My son was being less disruptive!  Now I know I may have not seen the worst of it, but this unchecked behavior continued and seemed like it was an everyday occurrence.  So, I wondered did all these other parents get emails and phone calls about their children? Is my son just being singled out because of his disability? Should my son be asked to stop a behavior that no one knows whether he can control all the time?  Will he ever have a job with this behavior?  So on and so forth into that worrying ASD mom mode.  In then end I realize there is nothing I can do to completely "fix" the situation for the school, myself, or my son.  I just have to accept it, work with his team, and give him other tools to help.  I have ordered a new gel seat and some chewelry to help him take out his excitement and anxiety.  Hopefully it will help and everyone can be happy and content.  If not it will be time for more observation and many a change in the way he is educated.

Tuesday, October 14, 2014

Times Are Changing

When my son enters a new grade and class I have the same joys and nervousness as other parents.  What people don't realize is how much extra fear you also have when your child is on the ASD spectrum. 
I worry every year. Will the class work be too hard?  Will he make friends?  Will he stim too much and be disruptive?  Will this be the year he begins to be bullied?  Is this the year mainstreaming won't work?  There are so many more it would be impossible to list them all. 
I know there are other parents out there feeling like I do.  I can't see them and make eye contact.  Feel the bond parents with typical kids take for granted in the halls and drop off lanes.  As I walk away from the doors every year, I take a deep breath and let it go.  Because I never can predict what is going to happen in life with my son.  I love him, so I will just take it as it comes.  If I am stressed he is stressed, so the best thing for both of us is too live in each and every moment.