What in the World is Going On?
September 2016 Edition
By Maureen Bennie
Autism Calgary Community
Autism Awareness Centre Inc.
With the carefree days of summer winding down, our thoughts turn to fall and all the changes that the season brings. It’s a time of transition – back to school, the start of new activities, off to college, a return to routines, new programs, or perhaps employment. How can we best alleviate the anxiety of all this change and transition and keep everything running smoothly?
The Kids Activities Blog features a clever colour-coded visual clock that is so simple to make, keeps kids on track, and creates predictability. The number areas on the clock face are blocked in a different colour to represent an activity or routine that kids should be doing at that particular time of day. What’s great about this is it lessens the parent having to constantly give reminders and the child gains independence and responsibility by following the schedule without having to be told to.
This great blog has its sections divided by ages and covers a wide range of topics such as recipes, organizational tips, crafts, and even ideas for teachers.
One of my most popular Facebook posts this past month came from Teaching in Progress. The blog post Why I Will Never Use A Behavior Chart Again struck a chord with people. Author Nikki Sabiston came to the realization that while these charts track behavior, they don’t change it. The chart can cause stress, embarrass children, makes the assumption that the child is going to misbehave, and is demoralizing.
The alternative to the chart is the “Take a Break Space”. Nikki explains, “This is a place in the classroom where children can take a moment to decompress, take a breather, or think about making different choices. The students often go there on their own, but sometimes are asked to go there by the teacher. The student will only stay there for about 1 or 2 minutes and I use an egg timer so kids don’t stay too long.”
The space has a mirror (sometimes it helps a child to see the emotion on his own face in order to recognize it), squishy balls for squeezing the tension away, a few cue cards for self-calming, and a timer to remind kids not to stay too long. There is even a plush toy for cuddling. Check out Nikki’s great visuals and all of her resources and classroom management tips on her site.
Making school lunches can be a total chore and stressful too. Mom Emma Waverman and nutritional counsellor Leslie Beck help take the guesswork out of creating nutritionally balanced lunches in this article. Now, I know many children with ASD follow special diets or are picky eaters with a limited range of foods they will eat, but what I like about this article is it tells you to pick a carbohydrate, protein, healthy fat and snack and gives numerous examples in each category. With loads or flexibility, you may be able to expand your child’s dietary likes. Although it took us 16 years of trying, our 19 year old son now eats a wide variety of fruits and vegetables. Never say never!
If you have a child who is newly diagnosed or are thinking of starting a new therapy program, read What Kinds of Therapies Actually Help Autistic Kids?
Parents often feel pressured into certain kinds of therapies by well-meaning friends and family or by what is being featured in the media. Author Shannon Des Rocs says, “Autistic kids can benefit from specific supports, but we need to be cautious and mindful of our kids’ personalities, interests, tolerances, and needs when settling on those supports. We need to be especially careful about not putting our kids in therapies just because they are touted as ‘gold standards for all autistic kids.’”
Shannon recommends getting a communication evaluation done and reading guidelines such as Sparrow Jones’ article What Does Helpful versus Harmful Therapy Look Like. Once the communication needs are assessed, then it’s time to decide how to best help them learn and interact with the world. Remember that each child’s path will be different so it’s important to take an individualized approach. I can attest to this having two children with autism that both have very different learning styles, needs, and interests.
Still worried and confused? Read Finding a Program that Works for Your Child with ASD and Choosing a Treatment/Therapy for Individuals with ASD.
Pokemon Go has been the biggest summer craze with no signs of letting up for the fall. Don’t fight it – use it as a tool and help a person with ASD get the most out of the app. Did you know that the creator, 50 year old Satoshi Tajiri from Japan, didn’t graduate from high school because of his obsession with bugs and video games? Check out this post Four Tips to Get the Most Out of Pokemon Go for Your Child with Autism to find out how to use this new game safely and for the most benefit.
Most parents worry about their child’s long term happiness first and foremost. There are many articles that highlight negative life experiences on the spectrum, but according to researchers at the Child Neuropsychiatric Clinic in Gothenburg, Sweden, men with autism who have above-average intelligence may not achieve typical personal or financial milestones, but many are content, according to their new study.
‘After speaking with the men in the study, Helles found that many seem happy with their lives. “I think it is an important distinction that even though someone has severe difficulties with functioning in everyday life, they can still be happy,” he says. “Maybe we don’t think a person with Asperger’s is living up to his potential, but perhaps he feels that he is.”’
Twenty-four of the men in the study who also had a psychiatric condition in addition to their autism seemed to have a worse quality of life than those who have autism alone, according to the adversity measure. This result suggests that the greatest hardship comes from having multiple conditions, otherwise known as comorbidity.
Individuals with ASD who take antipsychotic medications often experience weight gain. A new study shows significant evidence that a common drug used to treat type2 diabetes — metformin — is also effective in helping overweight children and adolescents with autism spectrum disorder (ASD) who take antipsychotic medications.
“The doubleblind, randomized clinical trial observed outcomes of 60 adolescents and children (ages 6-17) with ASD who were overweight due to side effects of FDA approved antipsychotic medications prescribed to treat irritability and agitation. Such medications can cause a significant increase in weight gain and BMI, which increases long term risk of diabetes. Researchers explored the effectiveness of metformin in counteracting weigh gain associated with antipsychotics.”
Just published in time for back to school, The Special Needs SCHOOL Survival Guide is the handbook that will answer your questions about school accommodations, how to work with school personnel for government assisted programs, autism, Sensory Processing Disorder (SPD) in the classroom, learning disabilities, handwriting, ADHD, Individual Education Programs (IEPs), behavior, dysgraphia, and more.
This book contains easy to follow school activities. The Q & A format makes the book easy to read and understand. This book will prove to be a resource you will use frequently as your student with special needs progresses through school.
New to the bookstore from Canadian occupational therapist Paula Aquilla is The Sensory Detective Curriculum: Discovering Sensory Processing and How It Supports Attention, Focus and Regulation Skills. This book is a resource that can be used in a school setting to enable children to learn more about themselves and others. It meets learning goals in science and social studies and can provide a platform to discuss how we behave and communicate with each other. Opening this discussion can help us understand how tensions can rise, how bullying can happen, and how children in our own classroom can feel lonely, isolated and misunderstood.
The Sensory Detective Curriculum enables students to discover sensory processing and how it supports attention, focus and regulation skills. Learning adventures include: the neurology of sensory processing, how sensory processing supports the nervous system to pay attention and focus, how emotion is connected to sensory processing and regulation. Each chapter has fun activities for students to not only deepen their understanding but to apply this understanding to their own classroom.
These are the highlights of what in the world is going on in autism for September 2016.
Do you have an adult child with autism and PDD?
Do you have a family managed contract?
Do you want to find new social activities for your child and their caregiver?
Come to the Autism Calgary office to chat about a new idea to bring families in the same boat together to network and discuss creative solutions!
Thursday September 15, 2016
3639 26 Street NE, Calgary T1Y 5E1
- Gluten free options will be available
- Parents, caregivers and individuals with ASD are all welcome to attend
When: Sunday, September 18, 2016
Where: St. Mary’s University College – 14500 Bannister Road SE map
Registration – 10am
Race Start – 11am
BBQ & Presentation – 12pm
To register on-line click here and join team Autism Calgary*. Thank you!
*Every agency that collects $1500 in pledges and has 15 participants in the race goes into a draw for $5000!!!
For more information on this event please visit http://www.alliesforautism.com
Autism Calgary will be having a booth at ArtWalk (an event for local artists on Stephen Avenue put on by Canadian Artists for the Poor). Any artists who are on the Autism Spectrum who would like to contribute art of any kind are encouraged. It can be donated (proceeds of the sale going to Autism Calgary) or we can do a profit share with professional or semi-professional artists.
For more information on this event, please visit: http://www.artistsforthepoor.ca/
Map of Stephen Ave
Thank you to Everyone who has volunteered! We still have one shift available and back-up positions!
You can still sign up by clicking here:
Cash Casino: 4040 Blackfoot Trail SE map
The Casino brings in a significant amount of money for our organization. It will help us provide the best service to YOU our members.
Thank you so much! We can’t do this event without you!