Kudos to Special Education teachers! it takes a lot of courage to be a mentor without stepping on someone else’s toes and it takes double that courage to be able to treat another person’s son or daughter as your own. these people must be angels sent down to us families with children who have special needs. our heartfelt gratitude and may your tribe increase ten-fold!
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.
A couple of months after we’ve finally settled down in our new home, an exciting development came our Johnny’s way. Apart from adjusting easily to his new school and meeting new friends, he has developed (though, he loved cooking with me when he was young ) a penchant on culinary cooking. So, we enrolled him in a culinary tech class and yes, such a sweet sweet surprise! [ 359 more words. ]
What a fantastic review of my book, website and advocacy as a whole! I’m sharing this with you in the hope of reaching out more to others and, most importantly, in raising awareness for autism.
Here’s the link to the review — —
I would truly appreciate if you read the review thoroughly and come visit my website, too, at http://livingautismnow.com/ . My book is still available in Amazon.com and Amazon.ca which you can conveniently access on my website.
To Lorna d’Entremont of KidsCompanions.com, from the bottom of my heart, THANK YOU SO MUCH for your wonder-rific thoughts. You completely speak my mind. Bless you and your advocacy, too.
A couple of months after we’ve finally settled down in our new home, an exciting development came our Johnny’s way.
Apart from adjusting easily to his new school and meeting new friends, he has developed (though, he loved cooking with me when he was young ) a penchant on culinary cooking. So, we enrolled him in a culinary tech class and yes, such a sweet sweet surprise!
All intent on his purpose of becoming a chef, John would pours his mind over how to prepare the meanest pies. From rolling and kneading of the dough for its crunchy crust to molding it into a perfect pie shell, the awesomely peeled and cored apples, the spices lined up like good platoon of soldiers waiting to be whisked into a gastronomic war of aroma and flavor—his focus is truly awe-inspiring—and yes, leading us to such an awesome home-made apple pie.
Aside from apple, he also loves working on pumpkin and meat pies (goodbye leftovers!), cottage and shepherd’s pie, and so on. Lately, he’s also has been creating fruit flans and now flakey pastries. He is eying a tarts section and a slew of ice cream concoctions he stumbled upon online.
We truly love the culinary school to bits. His chef Del Menchions is not only accommodating, he also nurtures his students encouraging them to give their full potential—and it is working as John seems to be always looking forward to his day in the kitchen no matter how tired he is.
While writing this right now, I can smell him cooking up something to perk my senses up. Amid his autism, my Johnny has always been caring and sensitive to the needs of those around him. Soon, he will join the “legally adult” league but I can now rest my head thinking that he will never go hungry with this new life skill.
Anyway, let me just refrain my thoughts on adult autism and its lack of services thereof. Today, I simply want to celebrate the thought of his newly acquired skills—and he truly aced it! He also got plans for Christmas dinner lined up and we are all dying in hopeless anticipation.
How about you, dear friends? How’s your loved one with autism doing? I fervently hope that amid the meltdowns and frustrations, something bigger and more forceful is coming up. It smells like Christmas once again and to some, this could be a challenge. Today, however, let me simply send you a HUGE HUG to keep the blues away.
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.
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.
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.
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.
Going on a diet takes a lot of will power and determination. This is even more so when a child has autism. Picky-eating, digestive problems and allergies are just three of the most common problems faced by parents of kids with autism. Repetition is a common element in autism and kids who have it can certainly live off their whole lives eating potato wedges and chicken nuggets, or spaghetti and meatballs, and so on. It does not really matter if a child prefers a certain food that is jam-packed with nutritional value. What matters is when a child favors unhealthy food. It is entirely possible, however, to wean him or her from such unhealthy diet. To jumpstart your quest, here are some useful tips that I have done with my son, John, when he was but a tot. I had highlighted this on my book, Living Autism Day by Day.
1. As much as possible, always involve experts in your first foray to creating a healthy diet for your child who has autism. A registered dietician and an occupational therapist are good options for you to reach out to when trying to address a child’s food aversion or feeding disorder. This should be the first step to tackle as children with autism often suffer from serious gut issues. Having your child checked before undergoing any diet regimen will ensure his or her safety.
2. When introducing new food, do it gently and gradually. Autistic children have specific wants and they thrive on repetition. A carrot is a carrot not a carrot cake. Work around this dilemma by slowly introducing new food in small doses along with his favored food. Putting a colorful vegetable side dish on his favorite Salisbury steak can prove to be disastrous. Integrate small pieces of carrot and potato on the steak itself, in a small amount, will do the trick. The idea is to slowly make him get used to the taste and texture of the new food. This can be challenging but doable.
3. A gluten-free and casein-free diet has been growing in popularity. The premise of this diet is to eliminate certain food groups that aggravate the symptoms. Though proven effective, this can be taxing. The key here is not to abruptly alter your child’s diet regimen. Yes, it will take a lot of pain when it comes to this. Doable, yes but the perspective must be for long term use and not just for a week or two. There are stores and pastry shops nowadays that sell GF-CF food items and if you have one in your area, slowly introduce this to your child. If not, make sure you have plenty of time to work in your kitchen as this requires dedication and focus.
4. Infusing healthy liquids to your child’s diet will prove to be an amazing move. Try juicing apples, oranges, berries, pineapples or whatever fruit your child prefers. Instead of commercial juices, this one is packed with vitamins and minerals for your child’s growth. Invest in a good working juicer for this.
5. Most kids with autism are known to have gut issues. Adding yogurt or any probiotics to his diet will make his meal more enjoyable and his gut more stabilized. Most kids love this food item and infusing these to your child’s regimen will help compensate minerals and nutrients he loses out somewhere else.
To make a meal enjoyable, one might consider setting an example for a child with autism. These kids, whether high or low functioning, are very perceptive of their environment. Eating along with your child will prove to be the best course of action.
Few things in the world are more powerful than a positive push. A smile. A world of optimism and hope. A ‘you can do it’ when things are tough. ~~ Helen Keller
There seems to be a lot going on in various autism communities and families around the globe. Some say it is due to reclassification, of late diagnoses, and of rising awareness to the disorder. In my humble opinion, however, the surrounding arguments are immaterial. The fact that there is shortage in autism services is a clear indication that this is growing and, up to this moment, has no known cure and no “absolute” therapy to manage it. Best of all, there is little, if not zero, services for adults on the spectrum.
My Johnny is going to be an adult pretty soon and, can no longer avail the free services allotted for him. He will no longer be on the list of “qualified” individuals but rather will be left in oblivion. He is well-protected because we, his family, are still here. What scares me most and, perhaps, many autism parents out there is what the future might bring. How will these kids fare when left alone in a world where acceptance is a long hurdle to achieve?
I have written before on how to prepare our children for a bleak adult future. I advocate on teaching them appropriate life skills and other needed abilities to ensure their future. But this is not easy hurdle to make especially for those who are in the lower end of the spectrum. This leaves many families in a quandary on what to do should their children will be left alone with no one to care for them—and I join them in this predicament.
Autism is a lifetime disorder. To some, it can be managed. To others, it takes all their strength and sanity just to get by each day. One thing, however, is for sure—it is here to stay and still has no known cure, or even an absolute cause. It is not a disease that one can simply operate upon. It cannot be removed like a tumor. It is what it is and, whether we, autism families, like it or not, it will continue to haunt our every waking moment. But this reality should not hinder our efforts to advocate for more autism awareness. Acceptance may sound like a long shot but, nothing could go wrong if we stay an optimist all throughout the ordeal.
A label is too small for a human being’s magnificence.
Am I Autistic or Do I Have Autism?
The National Autistic Society (NAS) has recently conducted a study on what to call people on the spectrum. You can read about it here. There seems to be a lot of debate as to whether one should say, “He or she has autism” or “He or she is autistic.” I’m on the autistic spectrum myself, and people have sometimes asked me, “Do you want me to say you’re autistic or do you want me to say that you have autism?”
If you’ve ever had questions about ASD’s or want to know how to help a friend, family or loved struggling with an autism spectrum disorder, this is THE resource that makes it simple and easy to navigate. Pamela gives clear advice and words of hope along with resources that will help you offer your families a balanced and loving life despite the diagnoses of ASD!
From the initial view of the cover, I quickly understood that this was a book which would demonstrate ways to put life back together and make life more solid. This book is certainly well written, containing numerous insights about life, for someone who has had to deal with the life-change of autism, and not. What a wonderful resource that people who deal with autism can turn to for inspiration and help toward the future.
I do know of life-change, after getting hit by a truck and laying in a coma for 37 days. Then, after awakening, having to learn to everything physical again (although, if my mind I know what to do, I had to retrain my body.) Then, 18 years later, getting hit by a truck, the second time, much of my body broken. In a large way, autism and brain injury are similar, so I see that this is a much needed book, even if you have not had to deal with either of these two areas.
Thank you Pamela, for bringing to us these words of hope. Many can learn from this wonderful book about making change work for us.