Monthly Archives: December 2014

5 Things Your Child with Autism May Want you to Know This Christmas

Dear Family,

1. I may not want to open all of my gifts on Christmas morning. It may take me all day! I may want to just play with the paper or with the first gift I opened. New toys can be hard to get used to.

2. Please don’t insist that I hang out with all of the friends and relatives. I need a space to myself… a place for quiet. Find a place that I can do my favourite activity so that you can enjoy your visits with others.

3. I may not be as excited as you would think I should be for Christmas. To be honest, I find it all a little too much; so many people, many different smells, too much noise, changes routine and too busy for my liking. Be patient with me.

4. I may want to leave the party early…..I may not enjoy the festivities as much as everyone2121-gauzy-starry-red-abstract-background else. I may cry, scream, or become hard to handle if I cannot cope. I am not trying to misbehave. I need help.

5. Please use visuals to show me the plan. A calendar of the family activities, a checklist of the errands we will have to do, and a photo album of the people who will visit would really help me to cope with all of the transitions and people. I don’t need fancy visuals…keep it simple. Just draw me stick figures or write out your plans in words.

Christmas is overwhelming for many of us. The numerous activities, errands and messed up schedule are just a few of the aspects of the season that can throw us off. Children with autism need help to cope with the Christmas season. Even high functioning individuals can find it all “too much.” We need to look at Christmas from the perspective of a person with autism and provide the tools and strategies necessary so that each member of the family can enjoy the season!

Wishing you a very Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year from our family to yours!  😀

Thank you Little Boy

Dear little boy,

I am filled with excitement and pride. Our bathroom break didn’t start well, I know. I knew you were very angry with the plan on the schedule. Leaving your play and going to the washroom is not easy for you. You ran from me. I took your hand to guide you and I sat on the floor while you cried. It broke my heart to see your tears streaming down your face. You turned to the wall reminding me that I was not in your favour at the moment.

I sat silently with Pikachu on my lap and slipped the visual schedule into your line of vision. You threw it at me. I know you were angry with me and the schedule. I don’t blame you. It’s hard when I am so stubborn.

I wanted to talk to you, to explain why I was making you take time for a washroom break. I wanted to comfort you. But I stayed quiet. I knew I had to.

I smiled to myself as you slowly quieted your sobs and allowed yourself to look at Pikachu love is patientsitting on the edge of the toilet. My heart silently jumped for joy the moment you pointed to ipad on the visual schedule. I knew you were ready. Holding my breath, pointed to the picture of the toilet first and then the ipad. You gave me one last look, sighed, peed in the toilet and smiled that magical smile! YES! You did it!

Your face beamed with pride as you turned to wash your hands. Your wet little hands around my neck made me feel like I would burst with love. But the hug was short lived because the ipad was ‘next’ on the schedule.

Thank you little boy. Thank you for challenging me. Thank you for teaching me to be quiet and let the pictures and routine do the talking. Thank you for reminding me that love is not always easy. Love is consistent, gentle and firm. Thank you for trusting that you are safe with me.

I love you and I will give the best of me to you. I promise.  🙂


Coping with Autism’s Rough Patches

WHY? Why is he doing that? What prompted this new behaviour? How should I respond? What am I supposed to do about it?

When working with a child with autism, have you ever felt like you were losing any semblance of control? Do you notice yourself nagging, begging and chasing a child? Are you wondering what you are doing wrong?

I hear you. You want answers. You need solutions.

I have bad news. Clear cut answers don’t exist. Some folks will assume they know the answer. Others will have some valid ideas and notions about the answer.  The only person who really knows, is most likely the one with autism – and the chances are that he or she cannot tell you.

Ready for some good news?calm-water quote

Assuming that the new actions do not pose any danger to anyone, you may just try a few things before resorting to the dreaded functional behaviour analysis.

CALM the environment. Do your best to see, hear and feel the sights and sounds around you. Consider exactly where, when and with whom the ‘behaviour’ occurs. Next, do everything in your power to “turn down” the stimulation. It may just shock you to see the response!

Allow quiet spaces: reduce your talking. Most often, when we begin to feel less in control we tend to increase our verbal instructions. Maybe we show the visual schedule and then keep saying what is on it. Perhaps, we catch ourselves explaining more and encouraging more than necessary. Is it possible that our repeated directions border on begging? Refrain from filling in quiet spaces.

Tighten the schedule and add visual support (even if you think it is unnecessary).  It IS the Christmas season and routines tend to change frequently. Our kids with autism sense disruption and increased confusion in the school. Their actions often reflect the environment – especially in the afternoon when their own exhaustion inhibits the ability to self -regulate. Remember, this is a neurological response within the brain – NOT a behaviour choice.

There are very few certainties in this world but one thing is sure: children with autism will always keep us on our toes. We may not have precise answers but we can often help ease a rough patch by making some pretty simple adaptations to the environment.

Be patient – with yourself and the student. This too shall pass.

😉 Jenn