Saturday, March 27, 2010

Staying Together

I noticed a news piece about Ari Ne'eman's nomination being held up. President Obama had sent his name for the National Council on Disability. People are upset that Mr. Ne'eman seems to be more interested in services.

On the flip side he is not as interested in a cure. As far as I understand he thinks the genetic research in some way is working towards something like the amniocentesis for people with Down Syndrome.

Although I tend to agree more with him on the view that we need more services, I do agree with him over his other views as well. What I am concerned about is the hold on his nomination.

This seems more of the divide and conquer tactics that have been used against people with disabilities for year. If we fight among ourselves then we do not work on all of our issues. That disturbs me more than anything....

Saturday, March 20, 2010

Autism Communication: Why Do Parents Need Non-Verbal Communication

Parents of children with Autism learn to read their non-verbal child’s communication early on. As a matter of fact all parents learn to read their child’s non-verbal communication. I would even go so far as to say people in general learn how to do it.

So learning to read non-verbal communication is not hard or unusual. What is unusual is when that is the primary form of communication and it goes on for a long period of time.

It is essential at some point that we remember to keep pairing verbal and non-verbal communication. This will help stimulate speech in our child if it is ever going to happen on any level.

Non-verbal communication is needed because we use it all the time. It also lets us know when something is wrong. This is particularly true when a typical person does not want us to know.

It gives our children the opportunity to make choices. After all making choices is critical to proving to other people that our child does understand even if they do no speak with their voice.

Many people believe our non-verbal child is not communicating with people, but they really are communicating. It is just different. Some parents of children with Autism have taught their child to sign or to use an alternative communication device.

In the past parents were worried that a child who signed or used a communication device would depend on it and not speak. Over time it has been recognized that if our children are going to speak with their voice it will happen anyway. Speaking even seems to be stimulated by the signing or the device.

Saturday, March 13, 2010

Autism Inclusion: Why Do Parents Need Community People?

I have a friend that thought that Autism Inclusion was only about school. This was surprising since our children actually spend such little time in school compared to the length of their days and lives. Inclusion should be about friends, neighbors, co-workers, church members, and even employers.

Since human life is finite, our lives as parents are also finite. Meaning that we in all probability we will be gone before our children. I have told people for years that I have been preparing for my death for many years now. Do not get me wrong I do not plan to die for many more years. But I have been planning.

All of the people in my community are parts of that plan. Even my grandchildren are part of those plans. The people in my community will be the ones who know when our children with disabilities need help. They will be the ones to notice is something is wrong.

That is why it is important for our children to be included in the community. They need to go shopping at the stores you go to and pay the bills with you. Our children need to go to church with us and help clean the yard. This is inclusion in the real sense of the word.

Parents of children with Autism need people in the community for the same reason everyone else does. The people in the community need our children so they can remember things like tolerance and acceptance of difference. It is really a win/win situation for everyone.

Thursday, March 11, 2010

Autism Medication: Why Do Parents Need Medication for Safety?

Medication is just a tool. It is neither good nor bad. It can help in a variety of ways. But it is just a tool. Many people have an aversion to medication and I understand. On the other hand there is a time and place for medication.

When a child with Autism tries to run at every opportunity it might be time to look at a variety of tools. When a child tries to physically damage themselves or other people it might be time to look at a variety of tools.

To me the critical point is safety. Safety is paramount. Some parents could not make it through the night if they did not have medication for their child to sleep. Who am I to judge?

If a parent seeks medical help to keep their child safe, they are being a good parent. It might be critical at their home for them to be able to sleep so they can be fresh to deal with the next day.

Of course as with any tool a parent wants to use medication with the proper medical care. They would also want to alert all the people who are involved with their child to possible side effects. Parents can keep track of the side effects for themselves and their doctor to continue care.

Tuesday, March 9, 2010

Quitting School

So my child with Aspergers wants to only go to school when she wants to. And she thinks that should be ok. I just can not get her to understand that school doesn’t work that way.

I went ahead and made an appointment with Adult Learning. The might be able to get her a tutor. If we could just get her to the point she could get a GED. She likes animals. Maybe at some point she could get some training in that area. Some independent living skills along the way.

I just think she will do better around adults. She could mimic them a little! She seems to naturally gravitate toward younger people but if there aren’t any…

Friday, March 5, 2010

Autism Communication: Echolalia

This is probably one of the most interesting areas with a child with Autism. People who have children who do not have any speech might be envious of echolalia. On the other hand I know many parents who have children that drive them wild with the constant repetition. There are some techniques that reduce it.

My child did have echolalia about certain subjects. I thought the repetitive speech helped stimulate more speech. I have run into several parents who report the same experience. So echolalia might be good for some children with Autism.

One family I know found triggers. They then made sure not to talk about the things that triggered the repetitive speech. Unfortunately the family’s friends might trigger the child with Autism. This was helped some by warning friends ahead but never completely.

Of course parents who have a child with Autism know that sometimes echolalia starts without any seeming provocation what so ever. In this case sometimes different sensory techniques have helped reduce tension and stress. Even when it appears there was no reason for stress.

Finally other parents have found it beneficial to remove themselves from the situation. The repetitive speech did not bother their child. It was easier to just go another room or another part of the house at least temporarily.

Tuesday, March 2, 2010

Why Do you Need Strategies to Deal With Autism Behaviors

Many children with Autism have behaviors that there parents would like to change. The good news is that this is possible. It will take work but parents are not stuck with Autistic behaviors.

The first thing to do is to realize the purpose of behavior. Children with disabilities have behaviors to communicate. It is up to us to remember and help other people remember this first and foremost.

The behaviors may be communication about good things. They could be excited and happy and still have behaviors we would like to change. The behaviors could be communication about about things your child is unhappy about or upset about.

The second thing to do is to remember that as a parent you know so much already. Without even knowing it you have developed strategies that other people in your child’s life may not know.

One of the things I did when my child with Autism was very young was cover her eyes with my hand. Whenever she got upset and started to tantrum I would just cover her eyes. I know that sound a little strange but it would work.

I did not need to hold her down or grab her. As soon as she calmed down I could remove my hand. I am not even sure how I thought that might work. I guess not taking in so much visual stimulation for a few seconds let her adjust to what was going on.

The third thing to do is to keep a list. Since you have been and will be with your child longer than anyone else capturing your techniques is a must. It will be helpful to other people at different times.

The list will also be helpful to you. When you run into a tough problem you can look over the list of things that have worked in the past and reuse them. If that does not work parents may be able to recycle an idea in some way.