FINALIST to the The 2015 USA Best Book Awards

Finalist of The 2015 USA Best Book Awards!

Christmas came early to John and our family. My book, Living Autism Day by Day: Daily Reflections and Strategies to Give You Hope and Courage, made it as a FINALIST to the The 2015 USA Best Book Awards (Parenting and Family)! http://www.usabooknews.com/2015awardannouncement.html
With this, I would like to send out my heartfelt gratitude to everyone who had made this happen.

Autism in itself is a huge challenge and your constant support truly touched me and my family particularly John. All my book’s awards, I offer them in gratitude to everyone who continually motivate me to go the mile in raising Autism awareness and acceptance.

This award is for you.

For those who wish to know about my book, you can check out my website for a sneak peek: http://livingautismnow.com/book/.

To order, simply go to http://livingautismnow.com/buy-now/. (for Amazon deliveries)

Once again, from the bottom of my heart—THANK YOU SO MUCH!

SpecialNeedsBookReview.com

“The Importance of Realizing You Are Not Alone”, this is what Pamela Bryson-Weaver hopes her book, Living Autism Day-by-Day: Daily Reflections and Strategies to Give You Hope and Courage will accomplish…  This book may be read all at once and then re-read day-by-day. The second time hopefully you will take the time to journal in your feelings as this has proven to be very therapeutic.

The entries address the world of autism and include some of the following:

  • practical advice
  • inspiring stories and quotes
  • household tips
  • humorous anecdotes
  • facts and statistics
  • hope and encouragement
  • strategies and tips on autistic child-care
  • insights for family, clients, and friends wanting to learn more about autism
  • treatments and research

Autism Needs To Be Studied, Heard, Accepted – Epidemic or Not!

Autism Needs To Be Studied, Heard, Accepted - Epidemic or Not!
Photo Credits: https://www.psychologytoday.com/blog/the-superhuman-mind/201310/the-left-hemisphere-hypothesis-autism

I have noticed recently that my inbox is flooded with reports, studies, research and what-have-you concerning the growing rate of autism. Most of these studies are out to debunk the idea that this pervasive developmental disorder is not an “epidemic”. It just so happens that diagnoses nowadays are more reliable and efficient to the point of being advanced. Children as young as a few months can even be diagnosed using tech-savvy systems never before imagined.

But what do these reports and studies are really trying to expose? Are these people helping the autism communities who are struggling to meet their autistic kids’ needs for better services? Let’s say there is some truth to autism not an epidemic, now what? Can they show us the underlying cause of the disorder? Do they have foolproof treatment that can completely cure these children and adults who, in their daily lives, are struggling to be accepted in a society that is so easy to shun away from the not-so-ordinary?

I have nothing against reports and studies like this but when it offers nothing but yet, another dead-end, that’s when I get really disappointed. We need more experts and professionals who can clearly draw the line on what causes the disorder and how it can be either prevented or cured. If there is no cure, present us with new alternative treatment then. When one presents a problem, a solution is always necessary. Saying that it is not an epidemic amid the increasing rate of children being diagnosed and, offering no clue whatsoever on how it came to be is truly disturbing.

There are so many things going on with autism. From vaccines to diabetes to environmental concerns, the list of possible causes can make one’s head spin. Add to the pile the seemingly worsening state of accepting such disorder as something commonplace in the society. Yesterday, I was reading this news about a man who was targeted just because he has autism and, it broke my heart into tiny little pieces. I cannot fathom what the family must have felt to hear such horrible findings from the police. I have no strength to grasp such an idea if it happens to my son.

We are at a crossroads where autism is indeed increasing at a steady and alarming rate. Many nations have also opened its doors in recognizing that such a disorder has become a rampant issue and with these individuals safety at stake, a collective effort must be done to guarantee that they be studied, understood, and embraced.

Saying that it should not be a cause of worry because it is not considered an epidemic is akin to telling people that “It’s okay to swim as there is only a single shark in the water.” Epidemic or not, experts should double their efforts in finding answers instead of throwing more questions. Instead of sending us mixed signals, perhaps, it is high time for them to gather their heads together and help solve this baffling disorder. Enlighten us, pretty please. This cloak of mystery can sometimes feel suffocating.

Dear Teachers, I Wish You Knew This About Kids With Autism

Cover Photo Credits: http://cognoscenti.wbur.org/2013/03/08/autism-virginia-breen-susan-senator

Life has never been the same from the day my son John had his autism diagnosis. This pervasive developmental disorder has changed a lot in our lives and even more so when he was in school. It is common for most, if not all, children who have autism to struggle in social situations. It is ingrained in their system. What may seem natural to other kids do not simply come as naturally to other children with ASD and this makes school a rollercoaster ride for them.

To parents, leaving their children with autism in the care of school teachers can be both a breath of fresh air and unending worry. I believe it is common for parents to feel this way. Parents are “born” to be worrywarts, they say, and this is even amplified to those who have autism in their midst. John will be in 12th grade and up to the this minute, amid the compassion and patience his teachers, there is always that lingering fear—and if I am to repeat the whole thing over again, these are some of the things I would want a teacher to know when dealing with a student who has autism:

1. All individuals are unique and autism is no different. There are kids who have a hard time speaking even in grunts or nods while others are complete chatterbox. Some kids may show high intellectual thinking, have penchant for music and math, the arts and the logic. But there are also others who are on the opposite side of the spectrum. In this regard and if it is possible, a flexible academic curriculum should apply. The teacher handling the class should know better what to do and discussing it with parents instead of forcing the kid to cope with the rest of the class would be best.

Dear Teachers, I Wish You Knew This About Kids With Autism - bullying
Photo Credits: http://neuronetlearning.com/blog/bullying-experiences-of-children-with-autism/

2. Children on the spectrum have different interests. Let this be your guide in motivating them to learn. My son John has a penchant for sea creatures and he would listen intently on activities that mention them. All other kids in a class have different interests, too. Perhaps, finding a common interest among them will not only increase their interest, it will also improve their socialization skills.

3. Be perceptive of their behavior. To others, a meltdown and negative behavior are just that. No, these things happen for a reason. This is their way of telling you something that they cannot verbalize. When a child “misbehaves,” try to look beyond the misconduct. Take note of what triggered such a behavior and from these observations, finding an alternative for him or her to learn. Patience is a virtue and this is what counts more in this aspect.

Dear Teachers, I Wish You Knew This About Kids With Autism-youngest son
Photo Credits: http://naturemoms.com/blog/tag/youngest-son/

4. Sensory issues are common not only to children with autism but with neurotypicals as well. Loud sounds, rowdy behavior and other discomfiting gestures are just too much for them to take. Schools have occupational therapists and reaching to them to ask for sensory-friendly ideas would help a lot.

5. Be precise in giving instructions. If you want a child to clean up a mess he made, scolding him won’t help. Teaching him how to do it properly, however, will deliver a more positive reaction. Instead of telling a child with autism to “clean up his mess,” be precise by telling him to “throw crumpled paper into the trash bin.” Metaphors and generalized thinking are foreign to them.

6. Never use a child with autism’s weakness when stressing a point. Some teachers do not even know that they are a hairline short from bullying these kids. To the others, this is some form of “constructive criticism.” Well, their brains do not work like others. Precision—this is where they thrive. When you say something in the negative, they will simply perceive it as it is.

7. Be sensitive to their needs. Parents do not ask teachers to give special attention to their autistic kids but, as much as possible, teachers should know when to impose discipline. Never do it when they’re hungry, over-stimulated, fidgety, angry, nervous, or any situation where they are emotionally unstable. Shouting does not help. Talking in a calm soothing voice or leaving him in a quiet corner to feign for himself (but still maintaining your eyes on him) will help bring back his emotions in check.
8. Last but not lease, never attempt stereotype his behavior with that of others. Telling him “kids like you are all the same” will only confuse him. Telling him precisely what is and not acceptable will make him learn more. Instead of lumping him in an over-generalized category, providing him with a concrete example on how to do things will come a long way in shaping up his behavior.

Dear Teachers, I Wish You Knew This About Kids With Autism-activities for autistic
Photo Credits: http://autism.lovetoknow.com/Activities_for_Autistic_Children

Teachers are supposed to be role models for fortitude. They are considered as second parents to our kids. There is no doubt that working around kids with autism and other disabilities can test their patience and endurance. It is scary to hear news on teachers causing undue harm to their students with special needs nowadays. Human as they are, keeping an open mind and reaching out to parents will help ease their burden. Autism or not, our children are works in progress. We are just here to support them. All they need to do is call our attention.

Brenda Lee Ramsay

This book saved my family … I don’t believe I would have have been able to do that if I hadn’t understood. Your book is a must have. If they had a first aid book bag this be the first book. I impressed a few people that day. Even my self.

Autism Limelight: The GFCF Diet

Autism has no known cure. Over the years, a lot of behavioral treatment and therapies as well as medical prescriptions have been given to children with autism but, still the idea of a cure seems farfetched. Apart from having no known causes, Autism Spectrum Disorders can be as complicated as it gets.

Autism Limelight-The GFCF DietHowever, recent studies and personal observations from parents, family members and caregivers presented the GFCF Diet to be an effective method in managing autism.

GFCF diet stands for gluten-free and casein-free diet wherein children and adults with autism removes two groups of proteins from their diet completely – with no cheat days! Casein is found in all milk and dairy products, while gluten can be found on wheat, rye, barley, and some oats. Some of the most common foods usually consumed by children are milk, yogurt, ice cream, bread, cereal, pasta, hotdogs, and bottled and jarred sauces or salad dressings are known to contain gluten or casein.

The GFCF diet revolves around the idea that children with autism cannot fully digest or break down gluten and casein. With leaky guts, some of these undigested or partially digested proteins can leak through the intestinal walls and passes through the bloodstream into the brain leading to heightened issues with speech, social, and behavioral skills. According to reports, kids with autism on a strict GFCF Diet tend to have less temper tantrums or meltdowns, hyperactivity, speech and eye contact issues, and sometimes, physical diseases like seizures, allergies, and skin rashes. Kids with autism eating gluten-free and casein-free foods are known to be more relaxed and have the tendency to sleep better than those who are not.

Though the fame of the GFCF Diet is rising over the years and half of the kids with ASD suffer some kind of gastrointestinal issues, it is important to note that it does not work for everyone. Working closely with an accredited health practitioner (see LivingAutismNow’s accredited nutritionist and dietitian) and a physician with hands-on experience on the GFCF Diets can be of great help. These two can assess your child’s gastrointestinal condition and current diet, assess if there’s a need for other nutritional supplements, and help prepare meal plans for your child. Be aware that by eliminating both protein groups- casein and gluten to your child’s diet can compromise his other nutritional requirement so delving into this diet requires expert assistance. Not only will this ensure your child’s progress but also to guarantee that he is in tip-top shape.

How to Become Your Own Child’s Autism Advocate

Autism numbers are rising. As several disorders on the spectrum are grouped collectively to fall under a single diagnosis of Autism Spectrum Disorder, the number of children and adults alike are also rising. Nonetheless, it remains a complex neurological disorder with equally complex diagnosis, causes, and therapies or treatments. The feeling of being a parent to one with ASD, however, remains the same. Overwhelmed, frightened, confused? These feelings are nothing new. It is normal to have apprehensions and more questions than answers.

Your child, however, needs you now more than ever—and the best way to help him or her is to widen your knowledge about autism and its eventual effect on your child.

So, what to do to become your own child’s autism advocate? Here are some ways how:

Enroll in Parenting Classes

Look up your local yellow pages for a nearby autism institute and research center. These institutions always provide parent- education classes, seminars, and symposium catered specifically for parents whose son or daughter is diagnosed with ASD. Some classes regularly meet on a weekly or twice-a-week basis for several weeks or months to teach you how to set realistic and doable short- and long-term goals. It has a set of curriculum to follow that allows parents to learn practical skills, techniques and strategies on how to go-about your child’s disorder and improve his/her skills. Some research centers also tackle collaborative initiatives with educators and professionals in a way of developing tactics for school and home.

Attend Community Outreach Programs

Another low-cost option in learning about autism and is by joining community-based training. Most programs initiated in communities are sponsored by experts in the field of autism. These programs usually follow the same core curriculum as that of institute-based classes. In some, groups engaging in open discussion and usually facilitated by parents to autism children provide lectures on ASD tapping awareness, life skills, social skills, and other specific aspects of autism. This parents’ forum are often considered the very tie that binds autism communities across regions providing valuable knowledge and support to families with members on the spectrum.

Online Tool Kits

The internet continually proves to be an indispensable part of raising autism awareness and in providing support to families dealing with ASD across nations. Free online tool kits are available for families in various websites. These kits usually provide important and relevant information on the disorder, treatment options, coping strategies and techniques, and goal-setting. Some websites, like Living Autism Now (www.livingautismnow.com), provides a portal that connects families to the best professional help and services in their localities. It also provides ample information and links to resources as well as a space dedicated to answering questions and for sharing experiences with others.

School-Based Programs

Primarily targeted to parents with school-age children, this program type usually deals on how parents and teachers can best met the educational needs of children with autism. The program usually consists of lectures, forums, seminars, open-discussion groups, and one-on-one engagement initiatives. Each school has its set of curriculum to follow, and to best gauge which will work best with your child is to check with its special education teacher or its guidance counselor.

Faith-Based Programs

Some religious communities have also set-up its own outreach program to aid in the growing need for autism awareness and acceptance. If you belong to a certain religious congregation, try checking with the local parish priest, catechists or lay ministers for any open discussion groups or counseling care. These programs often tap on providing families with emotional and spiritual support.

There are many resources available nowadays for you to choose from. As parents, we only want what is best for our children. Each autism case is unique. Finding one that will best suit your child and your expectations solely depend on your choices.

Awareness and Acceptance – Why These Two Go Hand in Hand

There are quite aplenty of feedback that can be gathered nowadays pertaining to the recent World Autism Awareness Day.

Not everything is positive though as there are those who remains to be passive and nonchalant about the whole concept of Autism Spectrum Disorders, a range of complex neuro-developmental disorders characterized by communication difficulties, social impairments, and often restricted, stereotyped, and repetitive behavioral patterns. It is a joy to note though that public awareness is rising via this annual event.

Importance of Autism Awareness

But why raise awareness? You see, heightening the public’s level of understanding on the background and implications of Autism is the very gateway for people to understand what it is like to be living in the spectrum. It is not about telling people what to do but simply, in explaining to them the issues involving ASD and in disseminating useful information to guide them when interacting with an individual who has autism. Awareness, however, should be two-way—public awareness and self-awareness. Self-awareness occurs to both the individual with autism and to the individual’s understanding on how his/her actions or inactions affect another individual who is living autism day by day. General public awareness, on the other hand, tackles widespread acknowledgement and understanding of the issues revolving around autism on a societal level. Both levels of awareness are of utmost importance. By having a common understanding on what ASD is all about can lead to how individuals relate to it in their respective communities. Through autism awareness campaigns, a shared belief and values can become important issues in the community hence, ushering to a wider acceptance level.

Learn how to teach your community about Autism the positive way.

The Road to Autism Acceptance

In human psychology, acceptance is an individual’s assent to reality. It is the very recognition of autism in all its glory and flaws without protesting. It is important to note that up to this day, the road to autism acceptance is bumpy. A lot of controversies continually hound the realm of autism, from vaccines to therapies, treatments, researches, and what-have-you – and this virtually creates a tug-of-war from within hindering the very acceptance it hopes to pursue.

If only we can find that common ground about autism as it is, the level of awareness raised year after year could have pushed a higher level of public acceptance. Not only will this open huge opportunities on autism care, safety, and research but, also in encouraging individuals who are still in the dark to come forward and be heard. Without raising awareness, the drive for autism acceptance will prove to be futile – and vice-versa.