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Keep the Season Bright (Despite Being Light-Sensitive)

Photo © Damian Gadal | Flickr/Creative Commons [image: Photo of out-of-focus multicolored holiday lights] Emily Brooks www.emilybrooks.com Winter holidays are all about people. And as hard as that is for me as an adult with autism spectrum disorder (ASD) and anxiety disorders, that’s also why I love them! In the hope that other adults or teens with ASD can benefit from my mistakes and experiences, I’ve compiled my tips for dealing with the holidays. Give When You’re Out of Money and Ideas If you’re like many adults with ASD, you struggle with employment or finances. Try not to panic if you can’t afford expensive presents. When choosing and making presents for your loved ones, it’s keep in mind that gifts are less about the actual objects and more about showing people you care. If you have a little money but you aren’t sure where to spend it, search through cheaper…

Getting Through the Holidays!?

We chose the punctuation above for a reason — cautious optimism and the hope that, with the right guidance and attitude, we can make it through the winter holidays, possibly even with some happy memories. So if you, your families, and your friends are hunkering down for the holidays; and if you, like some of us are also a bit … stressed about changes in routine, location, or faces — consider what the wise folks below have to say about navigating this most tumultuous time of the year. And if you have any advice, please leave it in the comments below! Happy Holidays, friends. -The Editors —- Self-advocate Annabelle Listic: …it is especially important, during the holidays, for any autistic person to have:  A way to communicate basic needs, emotions, opinions (a travel dry erase board, sticky notes with simple language on each, a typing program on a phone, tablet,…

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My Autistic Son’s Joyful, Successful Disneyland Trip

Shannon Des Roches Rosa www.squidalicious.com As many of us are planning summer excursions, here are the whys and hows of one autistic boy’s successful trip to Disneyland. Look, I grew up in Anaheim. Disneyland’s fireworks exploded over our house every summer night, and I played Dopey the Dwarf in the Main Street Electrical Parade. I couldn’t be more blasé about the house of Mouse, so if you told me that my former workplace would one day make me happy enough to cry, I’d have scoffed. But crying with happiness is exactly what happened during my autistic son Leo’s birthday trip to Disneyland — he had two full days of pure joy that melted my cold, hard, meh-filled heart. For my son, it really was a Magic Kingdom. Photo of Leo by his uncle Mike Des Roches Leo hadn’t been to Disneyland since 2004 because the interim years were challenging ones…

Stephen Shore: The TPGA Interview

Stephen Shore is noted for his tireless, globetrotting autism advocacy and education work. He is also such a busy and accomplished individual that he doesn’t always mention roles like being a public member of the U.S. IACC (Interagency Autism Coordinating Committee). TPGA editor Shannon Rosa had the pleasure of talking with Stephen two weeks ago. You do so many different things that people aren’t always aware of everything you do. Can you tell us about yourself, in terms of your various pursuits? I do a lot of teaching and researching at Adelphi University on issues related to the autism spectrum; specifically teaching courses on autism: an intro course, and a more second-level course called “Diagnosis and Intervention in Autism,” in which we go deeper into different approaches and techniques. I also teach an intro to Special Education and a master’s course in which students are expected to piece together everything…

The Journey

Spectrummy Mummy SpectrummyMummy.wordpress.com Our family of four recently moved from the U.S. to South Africa. This isn’t our first international move, but traveling with a toddler with sensory issues, and a preschooler with an autism spectrum disorder complicates matters. Before we left, I referred to our journey as The Flight, and much as it deserved capital letters, it disguised the fact that there were in fact two flights. The first was a tiny domestic flight under two hours, the second being a mammoth fifteen hours. So in my preparations, I concentrated mostly on the big one. I assumed the first flight would be easy. I was wrong. We’d had a couple of hiccups before boarding. The van that we booked to collect us was late, and we were all waiting in the D.C. summer heat for over half an hour. To say that the kids became irritable doesn’t really do…

International Travel with an Autistic Child

L. Mae Wilkinson www.autismisnottheboss.com Could this be the year you take your child overseas for a family vacation? Yes! …and you can have a fabulous time. Travel is enriching, educational and fun. It offers a break from therapy, homework, housework, deadlines and bedtime battles.  Travel is pure, quality, family time with no distractions. And in our case, our son always rises to the occasion by being on his best behavior. Here are some tips for those brave enough to travel internationally with an autistic child. Practice. International flights are not for novices. A child (and his/her parents) will find it comforting to have had at least a few domestic flights under the belt before heading off on a long-haul trip. Using a combination of credit card points, frequent flier miles and fare sales, we’ve been traveling since our son was three years old. Starting out, we used pictures to preview and practice…

Holiday Wrap-Up

Liz Ditz http://lizditz.typepad.com/i_speak_of_dreams/ http://lizditz.typepad.com/academic_remediation/ The editorial team here all thought we would all take a break until January 3rd, 2011 but I changed my mind. This year, I actually wrote down all the recipes I used so I’d remember them next year, and I thought we could use this time to note down what worked and what didn’t, as far as the holidays, travel, and autism are concerned. Shannon shared her tips and those gleaned from others in Autism and Holidays: Success Through Meticulous Planning (inclused my new favorite seasonal carol, Let Me Stim, Let Me Stim, Let Me Stim. Here are a few more autism & Christmas posts from around the blogosphere: Caren Zucker at the Daily Beast wrote Christmas With My Autistic Son, (also at TheMcGlynn) in which there was a failure of communication, which resolved into increased family closeness. Check out Mickey’s Christmas list! Lisa Jo Rudy…

How Pip Dealt with Costa Rica

Karen B. Golightly Last summer I took my three kids to Costa Rica to meet with two other families. For most parents, this would be a pretty big feat. For me, it was a bit more than that. I’m a single mother of three children, aged 14, 11, and 5. Pip, the five year old, has autism, mostly manifested in transitions and lack of much verbal communication. So, let’s drag the crew to a tropical country, where I’ve never been before and don’t speak the language, during the rainy season. I figured, we’d done Disney the year before, Costa Rica would be a breeze.  There were a few problems. I didn’t figure in the fact that the rental agency wouldn’t have an automatic car, or that I’d have to drive four hours, over a treacherous mountain range, in a huge pick-up truck with a camper on the back, with my…

Autism Is Not Invisible Anymore

Lou Tecpanecatl ourlifewithdiego.blogspot.com Christmas is supposed to mean a day of relaxation and family meals. But last year, we decided to visit my parents in Ohio, and we booked a flight on Christmas Day. We knew in advance that flying with our older son, Diego, was going to be stressful because he might feel the need to get out of his seat to walk around and we were not sure how he would handle the airport crowd. We arrived well in advance of our departure in order to check our luggage and to make sure the kids had a chance to eat. Things were going relatively well until we got to the security checkpoint. I was in charge of keeping Diego from getting out of line and running somewhere else. My wife and I frantically unloaded the stroller and removed the baby’s jacket and shoes (he was six months old…

Meeting Maddy

Jennifer Byde Myers www.jennyalice.com www.canisitwithyou.org www.haveautismwilltravel.com It was almost dark when we pulled in to the campground in Ohio. I went to the door of the manager’s office, and the sign said, “Will return 9:00.”  I am an eternal optimist (HA!) and hoped that it meant in eleven minutes at 9pm instead of 12 hours later. We had a reservation, called in hours before, but there were no instructions left for us taped to the door. Most RV parks and campgrounds will do this, so you can still find your way in the dark. As I stood there on the porch, looking back at the RV, knowing that my children were probably yelling at my tired husband because they so desperately want to get OUT of the RV when we stop, I thought I might die of exhaustion. I wilted a little in the heat, and began to survey the campground…