4033978416_cca29d752e_m-4033073

How to Help Your Autistic Kids Have the Best Halloween Ever

Shannon Des Roches Rosa www.ThinkingAutismGuide.com When it comes to Halloween and autistic kids, parents need to be clear-headed, creative, and flexible, and prioritize our kids’ needs and stamina. So, if you’re in the market for Halloweening advice, let me dump some on your head, courtesy of personal experience, friends’ adventures, the Internet, and the Twitterverse. Does your child find the entire concept of Halloween overwhelmingly frightening? Then sit down with your child and read as many books about Halloween as you can, talk about what kinds of activities may be available, agree ahead of time which activities your child will participate in and to what degree, and reassure them that they can opt out of anything, any time (and then weave behind-the-scenes spells to ensure that your promise holds). Does your child need encouragement to try new or different things? Trick-or-treating may be just the ticket, given the treats they’ll…

Advertising for Autism

Dr. Claire Hughes-Lynch www.professormother.com The Wyndham Hotel in Austin, TX recently started to offer “autism-friendly” rooms with sensory activities and an alarm on the door that will alert you when the door is opened. Colgate is sponsoring a Dental Tool Kit for children with autism. Dealing with a child’s Asperger’s is a main plot theme in the show Parenthood on NBC, the movie Adam and many, many other more main-stream media. Regal Cinemas offers “autism-friendly” movie showings in which it is OK to make noises, cry and wander around. Discovery Toys just started marketing a line of toys designed for children with autism. And of course, there are the various foods, technology and products specifically designed to educate, cure, support, and raise awareness of autism I think we’ve just reached the tipping point of autism being used as a marketing tool to reach families. As Kristina Chew said, back in…

DIR®/ Floortime™: An Introduction

Sara Chapman, MA www.playconnectlearn.com Navigating the world of autism is no easy task for parents, particularly with so much information — and misinformation — currently available. Parents spend hours searching for what is best for their child, understandably so, often confused or uncertain about what will truly help their child learn, develop, and grow into a warm, independent, and emotionally connected individual. The DIR®/ Floortime™ model provides a framework for helping parents better understand their child and to re-establish those early connections that once seemed lost or unattainable. It is about finding the “gleam in the eye” and falling in love with your child all over again, no matter what your child’s challenges might be. In turn, this will lead to healthy foundations for social, emotional, and intellectual development. What is the DIR® Model? The DIR® Model, or Developmental, Individual-Differences, Relationship-based Model, is an interdisciplinary framework for assessment and intervention…

What to Ask of an Occupational Therapist

Barbara H. Boucher, OT, PhD, PT www.therextras.com My identity as an OT runs as deep as my sense of being an adult. I begin on a personal note because if you have trouble discerning a person’s face or need concrete affirmation of my being you might imagine me to have three heads: As a naive undergraduate I learned at the feet of Jean Ayers’ generation of occupational therapists. For reasons that are most easily characterized as my professional “developmental” trajectory, I became a physical therapist, also. A complete psychological profile of me might read that I received a great deal of reinforcement in an academic setting. From my Doctor of Philosophy (PhD) in Human Development and Family Sciences I claim the title of Child Development Specialist. If the words “occupational therapy” (OT) are new to you and accompanied your child’s diagnosis, you are not alone in struggling to understand what…

Autism: Feeding Issues and Picky Eaters

Judy McCrary Koeppen www.septar.org www.sagetherapy.com www.sagetherapy.blogspot.com Autistic children are often very picky eaters, or have eating issues. Having your child refuse to eat any foods that are not white and soft in consistency can be maddening, but as a speech therapist and parent I’ve found it most helpful to have a clear understanding of why a child self-limits their diet. Eating is a multi-sensory experience. Each mouthful brings the possibility of a variety of flavors, textures and temperatures. A feeding specialist would break this down further, identifying “Flavors” including sweet, sour, salty, spicy, bitter and neutral; “Textures” including crunchy, chewy, soft, mixed, puree, thick liquids, and thin liquids; and “Temperatures” including cold, room temperature, warm, and hot. In addition, we experience food odors, and often the way they feel in our hands. Many children who are picky or problem eaters may have Sensory Processing Disorder (SPD). In her book The…

What a Great Speech-Language Pathologist Can Do for Your Child With Autism

Jordan Sadler, MS, CCC-SLP www.communicationtherapy.net When your child is diagnosed with autism, one of the first professionals you will need on your child’s team is a high quality speech-language pathologist (SLP). This is because challenges in communicating and relating are core features of the diagnosis, and improvement in this area will make a tremendous difference in a child’s — and family’s — life. For many children with autism spectrum disorders (ASD), the speech-language pathologist is the cornerstone of the therapeutic team. A speech-language pathologist may also be referred to as a “speech therapist” or the more descriptive “communication therapist.” Whatever the title, parents will want to be sure their child’s therapist is licensed by the state and certified by the American Speech-Language-Hearing Association. Furthermore, be sure to work with a practitioner who has extensive training and experience in the field of autism, and don’t be afraid to ask the therapist…