Tuesday, November 30, 2010

Holiday Activities & Autism ~ Be Prepared!

Do visitors and the disruption of regular routines present problems for your child?

Try this..................

1)Write a social story about a specific event that you think may be difficult for your child; prepare them ahead of time; create a more predictable environment.

•Be sure to write it in language your child understands.

•If you take great care with use of language when speaking to your child, then write it down the way you might say it.

•Be brief in describing what and/or when, where, why and how of the event.

•Write about who will be there and how everyone will be feeling and how your child will be a part of what is happening

•Describe your expectations.

•Be very positive and don’t make it a list of do’s and don’ts.

•Use lots of visuals: photos, drawings, graphics

•Be creative.

~ This can be one or two pages (age appropriate amounts of text)

~ Make a storybook with a sentence and illustration on each page.

~ Use drawings, graphics, Google images, photos, magazine cut outs)

~ Put it on the computer, maybe a power point presentation.

~ Make a video presentation, even just video tape yourself reading it.

~ Make it a song.

~ Create a comic strip

2)Read this story to your child several times a day up until the event. Have others read the story too. This way you are sure that you and other family members/caregivers are all on the same page with expectations and the message is always the same.

Do you have any tips for parents or educators from your experience with social stories? Or perhaps you have some questions to ask others.........please do comment.

Holidays & Autism ~ Challenges Made Easier!

Do you and your child already find mealtimes a challenge?
Are they a picky eater who has even more difficulty with the extra hustle and bustle, special guests, different timing or location of family meals during the holiday season?

Try this.................

Create a visual display about the meal, using text if appropriate to label foods or describe what will be happening. You will be taking away a good deal of the surprise and your child will like that they know ahead of time what they will be eating. Review this often ahead of time and display at the time of the meal.

1)Present pictures of all the foods that will be served-use photos, graphics, Google images, magazine cut outs.

2)Have your child choose the foods they will eat and stick them on a drawing of a plate or a real plate!

3)Divide the plate in 4 and have them choose 4 different foods to go on their plate. You decide ahead of time on the number and selection of foods.

4)Plan for a drink choice and a dessert choice too.

5)Think of other ways your child might be involved in helping with the meal if appropriate:

•Can they help you shop for the foods (take some pictures with you)

•Maybe they can help with some of the meal preparation

•If you had an illustration would they be able to set the table or assist with this task

•Could they put name cards (perhaps photos) on the table, so they know where people will be sitting

•Is it possible for them to help serve the meal

•With everyone finished the meal and out of the kitchen would they enjoy helping to clean up, listening to some favourite music perhaps

Can you add any other ideas to these lists? Sharing a tip that works for you may be just the solution another parent is looking for.

Monday, November 29, 2010


Are you wondering how to deal with all the activities of the upcoming busy season?

Are you concerned about how your child will deal with company arriving for a visit and you'd like to prevent possible meltdowns?

Write a social story (ies) about visitors who will be coming and put photos of your friends/family in the story, especially any you might have of your two families together. That way they won't be strangers to him and he will know what to expect. Write little stories about things you will be doing together, especially if different from your normal routines. Read these stories several times a day up until they arrive and while they are there if you need to.

If you haven't used social stories, know that they are a very powerful teaching tool for kids on the spectrum, actually for any kids! They are written in language your child understands, very personal, can include photos and/or graphics, describe a situation well (make it predictable), is not a list or rules or “to dos”, is very positive, can be read repeatedly to reinforce what you are trying to teach and every time it is read the message is EXACTLY the same. The latter is very hard to accomplish when it is not written down. Also when it is written down everyone who reads it is imparting EXACTLY the same message ~ how else can you get such consistency?(the story helps more than just the child!)
Mom, dad, siblings, babysitter, therapist, grandparents, school staff can all be on the same page, imparting the same message ~ it is powerful! I know children, teens and young adults who read and reread their own as needed! Oh and they can all help you write them if capable and appropriate. Some of them may even help take the pictures. There are also many creative ways to present the stories (for another posting)

Keep the stories in a binder in page protectors so they don’t get worn out, because they will be well used. Make more than one copy and send one to school and ask them to read them. They may start writing some for school that you can read at home, you are supporting school efforts and you are well informed of school expectations too! I have written hundreds for many children, teens and young adults and was never disappointed with the results!

Do you use social stories? How old is your child? Would you share one tip that might help other parents or educators who are just starting to use social stories?

Wednesday, September 15, 2010

A Few of My Favorite Sites

I have been rather neglectful of my blogging lately and intend to do something about that starting today. Thought I would add some links to a few of my favorite sites. You will notice a series of pictures down the right hand side of this page, below my profile picture. Each picture will take you to one of my favorite places. I invite you to check out these sites and maybe add them to your list of favorites.

The Gift: A Blog for Caregivers of Sensational Children: Transitional Tuesdays: SPD From My Perspective -- An Interview With My Jaimie

The Gift: A Blog for Caregivers of Sensational Children: Transitional Tuesdays: SPD From My Perspective -- An Interview With My Jaimie

Thursday, August 26, 2010

Is Your Picky Eater A Constant Challenge?

What can a parent do to meet the constant challenges of a picky eater?

It can be an overwhelming task to provide a healthy diet for a child with a very selective, restricted diet. We know that a healthy diet is needed for overall best health, growth, learning and performance. As a parent you want your child to have every opportunity to be their personal best.

So what can you do?

It is so important to rule out or address any medical issues (gastrointestinal or oral motor) that may be at the root of the problem with a family physician and/or paediatrician.

• Is it food allergies or intolerances? Try eliminating some foods that can be problematic: dairy, wheat, sugar, additives, gluten and then reintroduce one at a time, noting any adverse reaction. Consider allergy testing.

• Perhaps there are sensory issues at play. Record all the foods your child has eaten and those they consistently refuse. You can analyze and categorize this list: textures, tastes, temperatures, smells; to later discuss with a health care professional, occupational therapist or dietician.

• If all of the above concerns have been ruled out or properly addressed and you are still dealing with a picky eater then there is a good chance that you are dealing with a child who has learned how to be in control. Children needing to be in control in their environment (for varying and not bad reasons) learn at a very young age that they can do this with food.

Often your endless efforts to introduce new foods are unsuccessful and you are pretty much forced to give in to their plan. You, like many parents, never run out of the foods your child will eat and you probably provide these foods on demand in your effort to make sure your child is eating enough. This is understandable when you finally decide you have fought your last battle. A child has to eat and you will do what you can so they won’t be hungry.

So your child is in control of food choices. So now what do you do?

My suggestion would be to let them maintain control of their food choices but within parameters that you establish that will guide them to make healthier choices. This is your opportunity to teach your child some nutrition and independence in making choices. We know that children learn best in play situations, so try to make it fun, like a game. Use strategies and reinforcers that you know work. Make family meal planning part of your daily routine; let your child (children) take the lead.

If you are consistent and persistent with your plan you may soon be able to start making one meal for everyone and no longer have to deal with the constant challenges of a picky eater!

Sunday, April 4, 2010


Autism presents many different challenges in the areas of communication, cognition, social skills, social interaction, repetitive behaviors, dietary/digestive disorders, sensory processing. These challenges differ in intensity/severity in each individual diagnosed with ASD and can affect many areas of development and daily living.
At this time we do not know the causes and therefore have no cure. Parents and advocates lobby everywhere and constantly for an increase in research to find answers for this disorder that affects 1 in 150 or more. A major challenge with this effort is to try to get advocates speaking in a united voice when some feel they are fighting very different battles and not being heard.
There are some very good therapies and strategies that can definitely make a difference. We know that early and intensive intervention for all areas of need is crucial and very beneficial. The challenge is always funding for what is usually a great expense.
If autism is affecting nearly 1 in 150 families you would think people would be more aware, but not so. Everyone can help. If you are aware, share what you know with others. If you are not aware ask and seek out ways to learn more about this disorder that could easily affect your extended family at any time.

MY CHALLENGE FOR YOU is to contribute a comment here, asking questions to increase awareness or sharing an experience/thoughts/resources that will help others learn about ASD.