31 01, 2018

This post might sting a bit…

“Mother knew that she had to “stretch” and lovingly push me just outside of my comfort zone so I could develop to my fullest.” These are wise words spoken by Temple Grandin, autism advocate, animal science professor and best-selling author. Like Temple, with every fibre of my being I believe that having autism, or any special need for that matter, does not mean less expectations. In fact, it might mean more. What is the reality for many children who live with autism? Too many parents, unintentionally, ‘sell out’ kids with autism. I know. That was harsh. But, to be fair, unless we name what is not working, we cannot do better. We love our kids. We want the best for them. That is precisely why it is imperative that we pull the band aid off - even if it hurts -  and identify what we might be doing that is

17 01, 2018

Moving Beyond “I can’t do it”

I can’t. I won’t try. We’ve all heard these words at some point. Feeling helpless and incapable is a very real problem that arises for our kids with autism (and those without it as well). Why does having autism seem to lead to learned helplessness? Part of the answer is uncomfortable for those of us who parent, educate or work with these children. Quite frankly, we tend to feed those helpless feelings. We allow anxiety, tears, and emotional drama to convince us to take over and get the job done when the child struggles to do a task. If we are not intentionally and consistently counteracting the child’s dependence with our words and actions, then we are promoting the dependence and powerlessness. Children with autism, even those with severe autism, are capable of SO MUCH MORE than we often give them credit for. Time and again I hear parents and

14 12, 2017

7 Keys to Help Students with Autism Cope with the Holiday Season at School

The weeks before Christmas are a tidal wave transition for folks with autism – and for many of us, quite frankly. Almost nothing remains the same: reduced daylight hours, TV shows are pre-empted for holiday specials, and daily classroom routines are interrupted by assemblies, play practice, and sing alongs. Blinking lights and shiny decorations change the look of classrooms and home and trees pop up in indoor spaces! All of this to offer a break in the darkness of winter – and life. And yet, it can be far too much for so many people. For those with autism, the spike in social expectations – Christmas parties, well meaning visitors popping in to say hello can be anxiety provoking. Particularly, when those visitors hug without warning and laugh a little too loud. An atmosphere of frenetic activity at school, the mall, in traffic, and at home threatens to send almost

1 09, 2016

A New School Year: What are you Thinking!

It's that time of year!  The words "Back to School" ring loud in the ears of parents, students and educators. Schools, families, businesses and communities are hearing the rally cry and readying themselves for the inauguration of a new school year!!Some are celebrating the new start and others are bracing for a new year and the anxiety about the unknown. As we busy ourselves with back to school shopping and a return to more routine in our daily lives, I think it is equally important to prepare emotionally and mentally as adults who love and/or work with students with autism. It is well documented that our mental attitude and our thoughts play a huge role in shaping our reality.Time for a Check on your Thinking…Is your mind harboring resentment about what resources you don’t have ?Are you ‘stewing in your own juice’ about the lack of support your child with autism will have or the demands

21 06, 2015

I Love you Anyway, Dad

Dad, I am not the child you thought I would be. You love me anyway. I cannot do the things you hoped I could do. You cheer for me anyway. I have interests that are very different from yours. You participate with me anyway. I don’t respond to you the way you would expect. You engage with me anyway. I sometimes behave in ways you don’t understand.  You keep learning anyway. My future may not be what you planned. You encourage me to grow to be the best me anyway.   Sometimes, you get impatient and frustrated with me, I love you anyway. Sometimes you feel scared and your heart hurts, I see your bravery, love and courage anyway. Thank you for loving me the way I am Dad. Thank you for letting me love you, the way I can. Love, Your Child with Autism   Copyright©2015JenniferKrumins

20 03, 2014

When Production Comes to a Halt

What just happened? Where did that sweet child go? Just as you feel as though you and the child are in a good, productive groove...KABOOM! In a flash there are tears, frustration and what seems to be an explosion of outright defiance. Been there? Sometimes our students or children with autism do a sudden about face and jolt us with their disobedience. Perhaps tasks or activities that had previously been accomplished with minimal support now seem to produce volcanic eruptions of emotions. What do we do? How should we respond? Our authoritative gut instinct may tell us to get tough and stand our ground by demanding the tears stop and the work gets done. Too often we jump to conclusions: "He just doesn't want to do it! "He is just being stubborn! He wants out of the work! He is just pushing my buttons!"  For the record, that thinking is OUR

2 02, 2014

Will I EVER be Done????

When I look at the mountain of laundry that never seems to shrink, my shoulders sag and my energy wanes. I know that when I get one load done, there will be more…and   more. It is a never ending chore.                                                    Perhaps that is how some students with autism see the tasks ahead of them at school. The school day becomes a litany of tasks that are imposed on me. This happens in addition to the fact that I am trying really hard to stay calm after the roles of each member of the cooperative group I am in were changed. I am trying to ignore the sounds of the kids scraping their chairs on the floor and I feel like there is no way

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

6 09, 2013

Slow Down Production

The autism consultant tells us that we need to use visual schedules to break down tasks into smaller more manageable steps. Eager to do anything and everything to improve life for the child and ourselves, we log on to the computer and launch into the creative flurry of making visual symbols and pictures for schedules and supports. Sometimes, we get so excited about finally knowing what to do that we forget the 10 binders full of pictures from the last creative burst! Step away from the computer...think first... You are starting to sprint and it is a marathon, not a race, remember?      Visual schedules are an awesome tool to use for expectations or situations that repeatedly cause problems. If you find yourself constantly needing to explain, coax or threaten a child with autism to wash his hands, hand in homework, put items away, move to the table when