17 10, 2018

5 Ways to Help During the Storms of Autism

A volcano of emotions erupts. Shocked and uncertain and at a loss as to how to help. What should I do? Fair question – especially if you are genuinely concerned. How can we help a person with autism, of any age, when they become overwhelmed and deeply upset? To be begin with, bring to mind a time that you were really angry, upset or ultra frustrated. What happened? Where were you? Who you were with? What thoughts were you thinking? What feelings were you experiencing in your body? Now consider how those around you reacted. What did they say or do? Did it help? Or make it worse? Every person will react to situations differently. People who live with autism have the same feelings and emotions as any other human. The difference in their reactions reflect the realities of living with an autistic brain. For those who do not live

19 09, 2018

Authentic Individual Education Plans for Students with Autism – Keeping it Real

Authentic Individual Education Plans for Students with Autism - Keeping it Real Do you struggle to write good IEP goals for a student with autism? What if you include a goal like this?  “Johnny will say “hello" to the staff he meets in the hallway 3 out of 5 times.” But what if Johnny has already seen that staff member 5 times in the last 10 minutes? What if the staff member is conversing with another person? As well intentioned as we are, sometimes the goals we create for kids with autism are just not that helpful. Sometimes there are far more important skills we should be focusing on. Goal setting is hard. It can be painstakingly hard for parents and teachers to figure out WHAT needs to be the goal and then, HOW is that goal supposed to be written as a S.M.A.R.T. goal? Yes, we strive to produce 

22 08, 2018

What You See Is Not Always What You Get

What You See Is Not Always What You Get “He doesn’t look autistic!” “She has high functioning autism – a milder case of autism.” Just writing those sentences makes me shudder. Experience has taught me that judgements like that are far from helpful. The words, ‘mild’ and ‘high functioning’ are, in fact, very hazardous to the well being of humans who need us to know better. While a higher IQ and verbal ability can minimize the appearance of impairments that come with autism, make no mistake about it - the impairments still exist. If you aren’t convinced, take a good look at the child who follows the perimeter fence of the school yard at recess because he doesn’t know how to play. He’s probably the same kid who doesn’t get invited to birthdays because his peers consider him ‘weird’. Listen carefully to the teen whose attempts to converse with

2 08, 2018

Are You Ready to Teach a Student with Autism?

Are you Ready to Teach a Student with Autism? Have you heard the ‘horror’ stories about this kid? Why are they placing him in MY class? I don’t know enough about autism or how to cope with the meltdowns I hear so much about. What am I supposed to teach? How can I be expected to meet his needs and the needs of 25 other kids? Will all of my time and attention be consumed by one student? If any of these concerns have crossed your mind – or jolted you from sleep – you’re not alone. The reality of teaching one or more students with autism is unnerving to say the least – even for the most experienced teacher. These kids, no matter how ‘high functioning’ (I really hate that term) are not your average learner. Students with autism are complex and let’s face it, school boards and

19 07, 2018

When The Next Step Seems Impossible 

When The Next Step Seems Impossible Why is it that I sabotage myself? Resist doing what I know will make me feel good? Put off the things that I know leave me feeling clear, calm and happy? Exercise is one of those things for me. After yet another round of intense negotiation and laboured bargaining with myself, I finally dragged my butt to the gym this morning. Took my sweet time getting there. Dawdled. Synced itunes music. Did just about all I could to procrastinate. My legs begrudgingly ascended the stair climber. I told myself I only had to do 10 minutes. A manufactured justification that that was all I needed to do. Resistance was winning. And then I saw her. Eyes set on the space directly in front of her, with the railing as a guide, one foot slid slowly in front of her. Then the next foot.

1 06, 2018

Building Success Habits in Autism: Retraining 3 Thinking Errors

Building Success Habits in Autism: Retraining 3 Thinking Errors Life happens. Good stuff. Bad stuff. Every human has to deal with a range of events that impact their well being. We may not have control over WHAT happens in some cases. But, we always have control over what we tell ourselves about what happens. What we tell ourselves matters. A lot. Autistic brain wiring may nudge default thought patterns towards a negative, pessimistic explanatory style. People who live with autism are more vulnerable to life challenges because they also have to contend with extreme sensitivity to the environment and sensory stimuli, literal and/or rigid thinking, and difficulty negotiating the fast-paced social world they live in. It is sadly, no surprise that higher levels of depression, anxiety, phobias and paranoia compared to the general population exist among those with autism. For those of us serving individuals with autism – parents,

16 05, 2018

Help Me! I am Stuck! Combatting Learned Helplessness in Autism

Help Me! I am Stuck! Combatting Learned Helplessness in Autism I know I go on and on about it. I need to – our students and children REQUIRE us to remove the bubble wrap so they can GROW. If you missed the Bubble Wrap blog be sure to go back and check it out here. Every single adult with autism that I know tells me that the key to their success is that that were taught to push through fear (with a lot of support) and to wrestle with struggle. One thing is certain – those individuals with autism who have thrived learned how to resist learned helplessness and navigate challenges with support. They weren’t sheltered from the pain of disappointment, discomfort and failure. It is entirely reasonable that people who live with autism would be susceptible to a believing that they are incapable of success in areas of

25 04, 2018

Please Remove the Bubble Wrap: Building Success in Children with Autism

Please Remove the Bubble Wrap: Building Success in Children with Autism Dear Parents, I have something I need to tell you. I don’t want to hurt your feelings, because I know that you do what you do, out of love for me. Your intentions are good. But, to be super honest – you are hurting me. Remember when you asked me if I wanted to join the bowling club? I said NO. When you asked if I would just try yoga class for kids, I refused? You offered to have me try T golf, dance, T ball, soccer, art class, gymnastics – all of which I declined? Then there was the day you told me that if I wanted a treat from the store I would need to go in and purchase it myself. Remember I freaked out. I was so angry with you. The truth is that when I

4 04, 2018

I’ll do it! Building Success Habits in Children with Autism

I’ll do it!  Building Success Habits in Children with Autism Kids with autism can contribute.  They need to contribute. It’s up to us, the adults in their lives to take the lead, set the standard, teach the skills and provide the supports needed to be successful. Let’s be honest - it takes effort, time and patience on our part. It’s often easier to do a task ourselves. But, we rob a kid of so much when we do! Our kids with autism can feel helpless - somehow broken because they need a lot of care and help. We owe it to them to offer balance – opportunities to be ‘givers’ because they are all capable of contributing.  There is a whole lot of value in the expectation of completed chores: Teaches how to persist and finish something that isn’t that fun Teaches how to follow a schedule and checklist Teaches

21 03, 2018

You Want Me To Do WHAT???

  Building Success Habits in Children with Autism Exhausted. Tired of the fight. Sick of explaining and listening to the barrage of excuses. Was I asking was impossible? Ever feel like it just isn’t worth the effort to get a kid to complete a chore? Particularly a child with autism? If so, you aren’t alone. The truth is that if we want children to grow up to be as self-sufficient, responsible and self-confident we have to start expecting them to contribute to the family, classroom and community when they are young. Even those with autism. Especially those with autism. An autism diagnosis does not preclude our kids and students from doing their part to maintain a house or a classroom. Everyone has a role to play. Each person contributes. Temple Grandin herself is a strong advocate of chores and responsibilities for children and teens with autism. She warns that parents