Wednesday, January 27, 2010

Autism and A Job

Well Dominoe brought home a job application last night. I stopped what I was doing and filled it out right away.

I also gave her state ID and her social security card. After explaining that even though her name was on those I needed them back, she fussed. I told her next week she could go get her own. I had kind of figured she would fuss when she saw her name.

She also wanted to know why those people’s name was on there (the application). The PCA told her that was people for recommendations. We told her who they were. I let you know what happens again!

Monday, January 25, 2010

Autism and Growing Up

A couple days ago Dominoe informed me that she hated her horrible life. She needed a job and a place of her own. She has said similar things to this before.

When I asked her why her life was horrible she said because she could not take a bath by herself! Of course I asked her why. To my knowledge the PCA only helped her with her hair. Dominoe agreed that the PCA only helped with the hair.

Maybe she just caught me on the wrong day but I told her to get a job. And get the PCA’s to bring her to get job applications and I would fill it out.

I also told her to go to our provider company and get them to help her find an apartment. She is 21 year old now. She is old enough.

I guess it is a little cold hearted to tell her like this. I just do not want her to feel like I am the one holding her back. I get the feeling that is what she thinks. So… I will let you know how it goes.

Saturday, January 23, 2010

Why Do People with Autism Need Job Coaches?

People with Autism need job coaches for many reasons. It is harder for many people with this disability to find and keep a job. Job coaches can provide some of the soft skills for them to get and keep jobs. This can be done while also doing job shadowing or job sampling if needed.

Because communication is harder for people with Autism it is important to look for a job coach early in the process of employment. A job coach can help find a job or carve out a job for someone with a disability. They can also help negotiate shortened hours or fewer days if needed. Some job coaches can negotiate job sharing so an employer can get full time coverage by two or more trained employees.

When carving out a job a job coach can look at the job duties of several positions at one employer location. Then he or she can then select duties that other employees find repetitive. Combining those duties can make the perfect job for some people with Autism.

A job coach may be able to explain odd behaviors of their client to co-workers and employers. If employers know that repeating the steps to a particular job duty over and over is typical of some people with Autism they may not be as concerned when it happens. Particularly if the employer knows that they could remind the employee not to do that or to use a quieter voice.

Job coaches can also teach the specific job duties. They will also be on the look out for ways for the person to be able to do the job better or easier. Accommodations on the job are some things that the everyday person might overlook.

Job coaches do not stay with an employee with Autism throughout their career. Usually a job coach assists for a certain length of time and then provides periodic follow up. A job coach can be called back in if the employer wishes the employee to learn new skills or if a problem comes up.

Job coaches have success finding jobs for people with Autism for many reasons. The success may be because the job is boring and/or repetitive for the typical person. The success may be related to the fact the job is connected in some way to a subject that a person with Autism has an interest in or knows a lot about.

Sunday, January 17, 2010

Autism Circles Of Support: Professional vs. Non Paid

Circles of Support for people with Autism are a useful tool. Unfortunately if you look at the Circle of Support for a typical person compared to a circle for a person with a disability you will discover a huge difference.

Typical people have Circles full of friends and acquaintances. Those friends may be close friends. It may be friends they see once a year. It could even be friends who only share certain interests.

Then you look at a person with Autism’s circle. You will see a large group of professionals. They might be doctors, nurses, therapists, teachers, or aides.

It is a parent’s challenge to figure out how to get more non paid people in their child’s circle. This is no easy talk but is critical to the long term happiness and success of our children.

Sometimes it is hard for parents like me to see how to find the non paid people who might be able to be part of a Circle of Support. Whenever possible, children with Autism should shop with you. If you child can tolerate the smells go to the gas station.

They should go and see the differences in the world. I would take my child to church. Not all the time but often enough that they could meet people. Sometimes we would have to leave early if she was uncomfortable but we would try.

Going into the community and going to family activities also helped expand my child’s Circle of Support. More specifically expanded the non paid portions. When one of the families I know started to need someone to stay with their child they already had people lined up.

Friday, January 15, 2010

Autism Sensory Integration: Why Do You Need Hippotherapy?

Hyppotherapy provides a unique opportunity for children with Autism. They get the opportunity to practice a variety of skills. They also have the opportunity to develop character skills at the same time.

Hippotherapy can be provided by physical therapists or occupational therapists. Usually this type of therapy is provided to work on a variety of goals. These goals can include activities of daily living, safety skills, and strengthening. The gait of a horse is considered similar to human gait. Because of this similarity is provides strengthening and flexibility to the rider.

All of these and more goals are provided in relation to the skills used during horse riding and competition. That competition can include vaulting, barrel competition, showing, etc. All with the therapist, aides, and volunteers involved for safety and support.

Children with Autism also experience an increased sense of independence and mastery. Enhancing their self esteem at being able to control an animal as large as a horse is amazing. The change in children with disabilities changes obviously during the course of the therapy. The change is obvious on their face and in the way they handle their body.

Hippotherapy also gives a child and therapist a change in what they are doing from session to session. A change of scenery and a change of activities help provide renewed interest for both. Engaged interest in therapy is important to progressing.

Wednesday, January 13, 2010

Saying It Over and Over

Dominoe's favorite phrase right now is "Be Strong. Be Strong." Over the years she has been very attached to phrases she likes. She would repeat them over and over.

The first one I noticed years ago was "I'm gonna poke you in your eye!" She would say it over many times in a day. You had to be careful because she might try to poke you in your eye too.

We happened to be in the doctor's office one day and he actually brought it to my attention. He called it a Repetitive Behavior. He explained that some people with Autism have it and some don't.

Over the years the phrase has changed. There for almost a year it was "Co ca Co la". She loved the word and the soda.

All of this to say I have finally figured out where "Be Strong. Be Strong." came from. She got it from a song I heard her singing with the song. Singing seems to be so much easier for her.

Monday, January 11, 2010

What is Replacement Behaviors?

Replacement behavior is a tool that parents deliberately teach their children. This tool is called a replacement because you are trying to exchange it for an unwanted behavior.

One of the many things that parents of children with Autism have learned is how to extinguish or get rid of a behavior. Unfortunately, during this process all children tend to substitute another behavior. As parents of children with autism know sometimes the behavior their child substitutes is worse than the original behavior.

Many parents have learned to substitute what is called a relaxation behavior for the unwanted behavior. Counting to ten if you child can or will count or even deep breathing are two relaxation behaviors. We have successfully used this with Dominoe in years past. It is also easy to teach and for everyone else to model.

Other parents use physical activity as a replacement behavior. This can be ideal for some children as it expends excess energy and makes them sleep better. That is true whether your child has a disability or not.

Substituting physical activity for an unwanted behavior also gives parents other perks. One of these is reducing the child with Autism’s frustration. Physical activity also gives the parent the opportunity to be up and moving around too. Dominoe and the aide used to move books from one room to another. She even liked it.

Another perk is moving around seem to give the child a chance to think of words to use instead of behaviors. A parent may have to prompt their child to do this but it does happen.

Saturday, January 9, 2010

Signs of Autism

When parents finally hear that their child has Autism it brings out a variety of emotions. For some parents hearing your child has autism can be a heart wrenching ordeal.

There are signs and symptoms a parent can look for if they think their child might have Autism. It is usually apparent that there might be a problem before a child turns three years old.

If your child is showing problems with speech, there might be a reason for concern. You need to think and observe whether your child is taking longer than most children their age to talk.

Think about whether your child is meeting the development stages on time.

Children with Autism do not seem to show much if any emotion. Normally children start crying if they see another kid crying. A young child with autism will not.

When your child is a couple of years older they seem to keep forgetting anything taught to him. Some children with Autism do not seem to retain whatever you teach them.

It is also important for parents to remember that all children with Autism will not show all the signs and symptoms at the same time.

Some children will become obsessed with a certain object or subject.

If you find these signs and symptoms in your child you may want to consult with your child’s doctor. A simple evaluation and check up can help alleviate your fears or put you on the path to getting help

Thursday, January 7, 2010

Holiday Break

I needed to take a little break after the holidays. I will start posting on a regular basis again after this. I miss being able to put my thoughts down.

Hopefully everyone had a nice quiet holiday. That is what we did. I enjoyed it thoroughly and we didn't have any major melt down.