26 03, 2014

Coping with Halts in Production

A student or individual with autism who refuses to do a task is not a brat. Instead, he or she is telling us that something is not right and WE need to fix it.  According to Dr. Aspy and Dr. Grossman, it is wise to ask three questions BEFORE assigning a task to a student with autism: 1. Are you asking for performance of a skill that is too hard? 2. Are you asking for performance of a skill that has not been taught? 3. Are you asking for a task to be completed without the necessary supports? Before you answer these with a simple “No, I am not,” consider that every skill is made up of sub- skills and prerequisite skills.  For example, the simple task of writing a sentence requires a person to come up with an idea, decide whether it is ‘good,’ remember it while manipulating a

6 10, 2013

Fixing Everybody Else

  It is so easy to fall into the trap of spending our energy and emotions on trying to change someone else. Dr. Phil's words come to mind: "How's that working for you?" Spin as we may, I have to wonder what result would we get if we put even half as much energy into working persistently on changing ourselves? Is it possible that while we are scoffing at the weaknesses of others, we are missing our own faults? Is there a chance that while we complain about the rudeness, arrogance or incompetence of someone else that we might be missing the opportunity to honestly reflect on these very characteristics in ourselves? Time and experience has taught me that most of my anxiety and stress comes from my constant need to control and 'fix' others....peace and serenity are more attainable when I refocus on my own attitudes and growth.  :lol:

26 09, 2013

Is Your Anxiety Getting in the Way?

Picture it. Your child’s screech pierces the air as you pass by the aisle of treats in the grocery store. Your intelligent brain tries to reassure you that you are right to not give in to the demands for candy, but, your ego’s voice is screaming, “Give him the damn candy and shut him up! EVERYONE is looking at you!” Next scene. You are an educational assistant and you and the student you assist are calmly and discreetly entering the classroom and joining the other students in a learning centre.  Without warning, your dream of discretion is shattered by fingers gripping securely into your arm and the force of a determined pre- teen drag you backwards. Your face turns red, your arm throbs and all eyes are on you. How do you feel in each of these scenes? Is your heart pumping fast, climbing up in your chest, face flushing,

20 09, 2013

Does God only give special children to special people?

Personally, I don’t think so. I think it’s fairer to say that people CAN BECOME a better version of themselves when they raise special children. Disabilities happen. Diagnoses happen. It is how we respond to the events that makes all the difference in our lives and in the world. Life events leave us with a whole plethora of choices in how we will react. Some choose to ignore the child’s atypical development; bury their heads and hope it goes away. Some choose to let their anger and bitterness spoil their spirit and their relationships. Some choose to become “warriors” and fight for their children. None of these responses is bad or wrong in and of themselves….if they are temporary reactions. But, when they become cemented in a pattern of response…the results are problematic.  I don’t pretend to know God’s mind. The God I believe  in is a God who loves perfectly

23 08, 2013

One Act of Hate Inspires Oodles of Love

Like so many others, I am deeply disgusted and disturbed that a human being is capable of thinking, let alone, writing and sharing thoughts that are so inhumane and evil. In case you have not heard about it, a local grandmother received an anonymous (cowardly) letter expressing anger and hate about her grandchild with autism. Yep, a CHILD with autism was described as being so abhorrent that he "should be euthanized!"  My mind is riddled with all kinds of questions as to HOW and WHY anyone could be so backward, so filled with cruelty and nastiness, not to mention arrogance and self righteousness! I am horrified, indignant and ashamed that this kind of thinking still exists.  But, at the same time, I see the beauty that emerges from the pile of garbage. The news is filled with stories of letters of support, gifts and phone calls that are coming to

26 07, 2013

Make Peace with Mistakes: Raising Resilient Kids with Autism

If we want to raise children that will bounce back from disappointment and failure we have to teach them and model how to make peace with mistakes. Failing is a sign that we need to correct our course, make changes and try again. Mistakes make us humble (if we let them) and they remind us of our own vulnerability. When we choose to allow children to see us make peace with our own mistakes we demonstrate that mistakes do not render us unlovable or immobile. We can move forward even with our imperfections.  Do you berate yourself for mistakes, even small ones?  Do you feel think of yourself as stupid when you error? What do you say to yourself when you are wrong?  These are all clues as to what we are teaching our children. Our children need to be able to acknowledge mistakes made, apologize without any reservation and

16 07, 2013

Honouring Courage: Raising Resilient Kids with Autism

Our kids with autism encounter rejection, blame, and failure a lot. And yet, these same kids show up to school, to birthday parties, to sports activities time and again knowing that they will struggle once again. In a world where we tend to focus on deficits and challenges, perhaps it is imperative that we speak the language of courage with our children and students. Words such as: courage, bravery, adventurousness, determination and tenacity need to be a part of our communication and daily language. Focusing on strengths and honouring attempts at courage is the key to building self esteem. A mentor who tells me that I DO have what it takes and highlights the tenacity I have demonstrated in the past is truly inspiring. Consider keeping a Courage Journal with your child or student. How useful it might be to be able to look back on all of those times when the individual showed courage

4 07, 2013

Raising Resilient Kids with Autism

So how do we raise resilient kids so that they can become resilient adults? Build strong relationships with a child. Be open and present when they come to you with their stories, worries and complaints. Relationships are built over the long term and it is often those small little gestures of closing a computer or a book, stopping to look at a child's eyes  that make a big difference in self -esteem. Sometimes just knowing that someone in our life “gets us” is enough to comfort us through the challenging times. Genuine human connection can get us through the darkest times. Individuals with autism may be bothered by events and experiences that we think are silly or unreasonable. Maybe we think our child is being overly dramatic. By taking the time to put yourself in the child’s mind (or body) and really listen (not just hear) what is being said,

29 06, 2013

Get up and Keep Moving: Raising Resilient Kids with Autism

Living life is akin to riding a horse. One day you trot along quite serenely, the view is lovely, the air refreshing and the pace is invigorating. You and your horse travel in rhythm. Out of nowhere a sudden noise spooks the horse that is carrying you and in an instant your torso is thrown willy nilly into space and your heart leaps out of your chest while your stomach hurls up into your throat. Gravity is not your friend today. Luckily, you have been raised to be resilient and expected to stand up, dust yourself off and get on keep moving when life’s events throw you down. You have learned that the horse will settle, the journey will continue and you will enjoy the ride again. Letting our kids struggle is usually one of the toughest parts of being a parent. It can be agonizing to see them disappointed,

23 06, 2013

Clearing Up Blurred Boundaries

One thing is for sure: raising a child with autism does not come with a manual. There are no blueprints to follow for grandparenting a child with autism either. Each family will have different issues and different needs. Boundaries must be clearly delineated by open and honest communication.  Sometimes, under the guise of “help” grandparents create more anxiety and shame. Insisting that your child ‘really must do this or that’ in terms of medication or therapy can leave your adult child fraught with guilt. Your intentions are good;  you want the best for your grandchild. But be honest with yourself: you are not the one living with the day to day drudgery and exhaustion of raising a child with autism. At the risk of being too blunt, you don’t get to choose. How do grandparents work with their children who have different priorities and values? The reality of life is