Something for Everyone. A Few of My Favorite Autism Resources

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photo by Pixaby

I am fortunate to live near a Big 10 university and know some pretty progressive professors who let me come in to their classes every year and speak freely as an expert.

Why is that so progressive? 

Well, for starters,they are not tapping into my professional expertise as a clinical social worker, advocate or behavioral therapist, but rather into my expertise as a parent of a child with a life long disability.

Also, in both my undergraduate and graduate studies in helping professions, not once did we talk about disability perspective or experience from the direct report of the person or caregiver dealing with what we were learning.

As the years go by and awareness grows, those of us who both work in the field of developmental disabilities and who also live in it has grown exponentially.

Have 14 extra minutes?  Here is the  TEDx Talk I gave a few years ago about the experience of living and working “in the field”. 

I am always honored and humbled to speak to our future social workers, nurses, allied health professionals, teachers and physicians.  As raw as it might be, I lean into authenticity even when it means I share my political leanings, mostly because those leanings have turned into shovings because my baby’s future is at stake all the time. He needs more than me and a bunch of warrior moms. We need front line people to understand and advocate too.  My end goal in about an hour and half to impart all of the things books won’t tell them. What it is like to deal with broken systems, where I have gone to understand how those systems work and the qualities of professionals who have had the most impact in our lives.

I do not have all the answers, the knowledge or perspective. I only have my own.

After almost 16 years of parenthood and about 30 years of social services experience, I have compiled some resources from my personal helping library. My experience both personally and professionally have led me to seek out some pretty specific things. Here are some tips to keep in mind when attempting to gain an inside perspective or personal narrative in the world of resources:

  1. Is there any research behind a method? If not, are they pretty clear about that?
  2. Does the resource have any input from someone with a disability/caregiver?
  3. Does the “helping” resource ensure the individual’s dignity while still helpful?
  4. Does the resource claim to be the only or best way to do something?
  5. Is the writer hypervigilent in any way? Are they constructive in their observations? Do they demonize or humiliate anyone while trying to educate? If they are negative, are they clear it is coming based on their own personal experience? Do they recognize any shortcomings?

**I have not been asked nor have I been compensated for adding any of these resources to this list. I am also not endorsing one resource over another

**This list is not exhaustive! Feel free to contact me with some of your favorites. I am always looking to add to my collection

HELPFUL BOOKS

WHAT ITS LIKE (Autism related)

Neurotribes: The Legacy of Autism and the Future of Neurodiversity (2015) by Steve Silberman

The Loving Push: How Parents and Professionals Can Help Spectrum Kids Become Successful Adults (2015) By Temple Grandin

Schuyler’s Monster: A Father’s Journey with His Wordless Daughter (2009) By Robert Rummel-Hudson (Schuyler is not autistic, but has apraxia of speech)

Carly’s Voice: Breaking Through Autism (2012) By Arthur and Carly Fleischmann

The Reason I Jump: The Inner Voice of a Thirteen-Year-Old Boy with Autism (2016) By Naioki Higashida

Fall Down 7 Times Get Up 8: A Young Man’s Voice From the Silence of Autism (2017) By Naioki Higashida

Look Me in the Eye: My Life with Asperger’s  (2008) By John Elder Robison

Ketchup is My Favorite Vegetable: A Family Grows Up with Autism (2015) By Liane Kupferberg Carter and Susan Senator

Thinking in Pictures (1995) By Temple Grandin

The Way I See It (2008) By Temple Grandin

Born On A Blue Day  (2006) By Daniel Tammet

The Horse Boy (2009) By Rupert Isaacson

Chicken Soup for the Soul: Raising Kinds on the Spectrum  (2013)

Aching Joy (2018) By Jason Hague

What We Love Most About Life: Answers from 150 Children Across the Autism Spectrum (2016) Complied by Chris Bonnello

This Is Asperger’s Syndrome (1999) By Brenda Smith Myles and Elisa Gagnon

What About Me? A Book By and For an Autism Sibling (2017) By Brennan and Mandy Farmer Illustrated by Emily Neff

ADDRESSING SENSORY/REGULATION

The Out-of-Sync Child: Recognizing and Coping with Sensory Integration Dysfunction(1998) By Carol Stock Kranowitz

The Out-Of-Sync Child Has Fun (2003)

Disconnected Kids (2009) By Robert Melillo

Sensational Kids: Hope and Help for Children with Sensory Processing Disorder (2006) By Lucy Jane Miller

Raising a Sensory Smart Child: The Definitive Handbook for Helping Your Child with Sensory Integration Issues(2005) By Lindsey Biel and Nancy Peske

Interoception: The Eighth Sensory System (2015) By Kelly Mahler

Food Chaining (2007) By Cheri Fraker, Mark Fishbein, Sibyl Cox, Laura Walbert

The Incredible 5 Point Scale (2003) By Kari Dunn Buron and Mitzi Curtis

Exploring Feelings: Cognitive Behaviour Therapy to Manage Anxiety (2004) By Tony Attwood

The Explosive Child  (2001) By Ross W. Greene

From Chaos To Calm ( 2001) By Janet E. Heininger and Sharon Weiss

Asperger Syndrome and Difficult Moments: Practical Solutions for Tantrums, Rage and Meltdowns (2005)By Brenda Myles, Jack Southwick

Zones of Regulation: A curriculum designed to foster self-regulation and Emotional Control (2011) By Leah Kuypers

The Relaxation and Stress Reduction Workbook For Kids(2009) By Lawrence E. Shapiro and Robin Sprague

ADDRESSING SOCIAL DIFFERENCES

Thinking About You Thinking About Me: Teaching Perspective Taking and Social Thinking to Persons with Social Cognitive Learning Challanges, 2nd ed. (2007) Michelle Garcia Winner

The New Social Story Book 2000 by Carol Gray

The Hidden Curriculum: For Understanding Unstated Rules in Social Situations for Adolescents and Young Adults (2013) by Brenda Smith Myles, Melissa L. Trautman, Ronda Schelvan

Navigating the Social World: A Curriculum for Individuals with Asperger’s Syndrome, High Functioing Autism and Related Disorders (2002) by Jeanette McAfee

Skillstreaming the Elementary School Child: New Strategies and Perspectives for Teaching Prosocial Skills (1997) By Ellen McGuinnis and Arnold Goldstein

ADDRESSING BEHAVIORS/LEARNING

ABA (Applied Behavior Analysis) : Behavioral Intervention for Young Children with Autism: A Manual for Parents and Professionals (1996) Edited By Catherine Maurice, Gina Green and Stephen Luce

PEAK Relational Training System (2014-2018)   By Mark Dixon

Bringing ABA to Home, School and Play (2012) By Pam Leach

VBA (Verbal Behavior Approach): The Verbal Behavior Appoach: How to Teach Children with Autism and Related Disorders (2007) By Mary Lynch Barbera

Floortime Approach/Greenspan ApproachThe Child with Special Needs: Encouraging Intellectual and Emotional Growth (1998) By Stanley Greenspan, Serena Wieder

The Challenging Child: Understanding, Raising and Enjoying the Five “Difficult” Types of Children (1995) By Stanley Greenspan

Addressing the Challenging Behavior of CHildren with HIgh Functioning Autism/Asperger Syndrome in the Classroom: A Guide for Teachers and Parents (2002) By RebeccaMoyes

How to Teach Life Skills to Kids with Autism of Asperger’s (2010) By Jennifer McIlwee Myers

Taking Care of Myself: A Healthy Hygiene, Puberty and Personal Curriculum for Young People with Autism (2003) By Mary Wrobel

The Sixth Sense II (2002) By Carol Gray

Simple Strategies That Work:Helpful Hints for Educators (2006) By Brenda Smith Myles, Diane Adreon and Dena Gitlitz

ADDRESSING EXECUTIVE FUNCTIONING

Late, Lost and Unprepared (2008) By Joyce Cooper-Kahn and Laurie Dietzel

Taking Charge of ADHD (2005) By Russell Barkley

The ADHD Book of Lists (2003) By Sandra Rief

How to Reach and Teach ADD/ADHD Children (1995) By Sandra Rief

You Mean I’m Not Lazy, Stupid or Crazy?!  (1993) By Kate Kelly and Peggy Ramundo

Driven To Distraction (1994) By Edward Hallowell and John Ratey

Organizing the Disorganized Child (2009) By Martin Kutscher and Marcella Moran

HELPING/ADVOCACY/COPING

Ordinary Families, Special Children: A Systems Approach to Childhood Disability 3rd Ed (2007) By Milton Seligman and Rosalyn Benjamin Darling

From Emotions to Advocacy 14th Ed (2011) By Pete and Pam Wright

All About IEPs: Answers to Frequently Asked Questions About IEPs (2011) By Peter Wright

The Complete Guide to Autism Healthcare  (2017) By Anita Lesko

Ethics for Behavior Analysts (2011) By Jon Bailey and Mary Burch

The Five Things We Cannot Change (2005) By David Richo

Getting to Yes: Negotiating Agreement Without Giving In (1981) By Roger Fisher and William Ury

The Only Negotiating Guide You’ll Ever Need (2003) By Peter B. Stark and Jane Flaherty

YOU TUBE CHANNELS

Admittedly, this is a newer realm for me!  Contact me to add resources

Running Through Water

Special Books By Special Kids

PEAK Relational Training

TED Talks

OCALI (Ohio Center for Autism and Low Incidence

Autistic Not Weird

Kerry Magro

BLOGS/SOCIAL MEDIA I LIKE

Check out my link here. This list is always growing and changing!

HELPFUL WEBSITES

Education/Learning/Advocacy

Understood

Wrightslaw

Ohio Center for Autism and Low Incidence

Autism Internet Modules

The US Department of Education

IDEA (Individuals with Disabilities Education Act) Full PDF Text

IDEA State Contacts

Disability Advocacy and General Info

The ARC

Disability Scoop

Autism Society of America

Respect Ability

Allergies and Autism and Sensory Overload, Oh My! How to Make Halloween Inclusive

halloween
The Grim Reaper takes a break to ensure his safety while the ill-prepared firefighter keeps his distance just in case

(originally posted 10/2015)

A couple of years ago I was coordinating a party for my child’s 4th grade classroom. 20% of that classroom had food allergies. I gently reminded parents the goal was for all children to be included, be safe and have fun. I was perplexed when one parent refused to change a cookie decorating idea which did not meet these basic criteria.

Kids who can’t make or eat them can at least enjoy them for how cute they are!”

In what I believed was a teachable moment, I reminded her this still excluded a fifth of the class and also created a potentially dangerous situation. This parent became so incensed that she quit the committee. While I still get as excited about Halloween as the next guy, I was horrified as one of those children was mine.

Another parent was willing to not only exclude him, but risk his safety because she was so excited about her adorable cookie project.

Halloween has become the holiday where those children with differences become the most exposed and have the potential to be the most left out. The numbers of children with food allergies and other differences have risen sharply since I was a child. As a parent with kids with food issues and also autism, it took me many years to figure out ways how to adapt the most super-fun holiday so it was still fun. Turns out, there are lots of ways to do this both as parents and as community members.

Here are some of the top ideas for the “BIG 3” to make Halloween still the coolest holiday ever

1. FOOD ALLERGIES:

a. PARENTS: Sort out the candy with your child to teach his what is ok to eat. Have the “SWITCH WITCH” visit later that night and exchange that bag of candy full of offending allergens with a present. Your child will be thrilled to have the best of both worlds. And hey, there is no rule that says the switch witch can’t give you that bag to stash away and secretly eat after the kids are asleep.
b. SUPPORTERS:  If you paint a pumpkin teal and have it on your front porch it will alert parents of kids with food allergies that you have an allergen alternative available. If you are planning a class party, ASK about allergens—be sure to ask about brand specifics and preparation—that can all play a role in safety. Please remember what it would be like to be 8 years old where everyone gets to eat really cool looking cupcakes except for you. If that were easy to do, none of us would ever be on a diet. The willpower of a child with a food allergy is like nothing most of us can ever understand.

2. SENSORY DIFFERENCES

a. PARENTS: Respect your child’s sensory difference. If noise is an issue, avoid those homes that go all out for Halloween. Your child might be in for a “jump scare” that will end his evening of fun. Costumes are not always made out of the finest of materials. Have him choose his own and try a number of options until one feels right. Contact your local support groups for special needs—there may be sensitive Trunk or Treat nights available which may suit your child much better.
b. SUPPORTERS: Teachers and room parents—if you have children with special needs in your class, tone down the scary a bit. Spooky music should not be on full blast and the mulling around of 25 kids in costume might be disorienting. Have a quiet space outside of the classroom where the child knows he can go to escape if overwhelmed. And for Pete’s sake NO BALLOON POPPING ACTIVITIES OR STROBE LIGHTS!

3. AUTISM

a. PARENTS: Create visuals to help your child understand what to expect at school parties or trick or treat. Try on the costume ahead of time. If your child does not want to participate in Halloween festivities, don’t force them. Throw a small party at your house with old school fun and invite 2 or 3 children he knows for trick or treating. Stick to familiar neighbors homes and buddy up with a child who can model. Sometimes “just a hat” IS a costume with enough thinking on the fly.

Freddie Krueger
Freddy Krueger as a child…before all the drama. He just wanted to feed everyone cereal and soup.

b. SUPPORTERS: If a child does not say “trick or treat” or “ thank-you” he may not be being rude. He may not be able to speak or fully understand what is expected of him. Same goes for a child who appears too large or too old for trick or treating. If a child grabs a handful of candy or doesn’t seem to know what to do when you hold the bowl out, give them a prompt of what to do or physically help them. Their fine motor skills may be impaired and the ability to just pick one or two candies from a dish might be difficult. Still compliment an aspect of their costume even if it seems incomplete. This is still their Halloween too!

The anticipation of Halloween is still timeless. As a parent, I find myself still caught up in creating spooky Pinterest fails and contemplating what candy I can pilfer from my child’s treat bag without him noticing. Some costumes are so realistically scary that I am not certain my red meat consumption hasn’t finally caught up with me and am opening my door to the actual Grim Reaper himself. There is a revolving door of Elsas and Harry Potters who could just very likely just be the same child over and over again capitalizing on those homes with full sized candy bars.

Those of us who try to make our kids feel included no matter what can get very good at scooping up the world around, tying it in a different bow and re-presenting it to our kids and Halloween is no different.  With the help of our community, little tweaks can make all the difference between Halloween being fun or being truly scary.

#autism, #halloweenparties, #halloween, #sensoryprocessingdisorder, #PTO, #specialeducation, #community, #inclusion #dignity #parenting #foodallergies #celiacdisease #specialneeds

Moving Forward on Parental Instinct for Your Child with Special Needs

I posted this 5-Minutes-In-The-Water video about parental instinct on my social media pages back in May.  It is time to talk about it again as a teaser to introduce you all to something new we will be doing with A2, since it looks like it really, really is going to happen.
A2 on paper looks very cognitively, socially and intellectually impaired. A2 in person, looks like the prom king. He is adorable, social, friendly and seems to understand ways of the world which elude the rest of us.
My ultimate goal is for him to be happy, as independent as he can be and to rise to his highest potential to be a contributing citizen. Just like most people want for their child regardless of circumstance, right?
The thing is, he has to be able to learn. He can sit still long enough to learn. He is compliant and yet his learning is minimal, basic and cannot seem to transcend across settings, losing learning over time. If something is being reinforced at school, it is unlikely I will see him do it at home. Such is the nature of his apraxia and autism.
Yet I never had the sense that meant he couldn’t learn.
It just meant we were not teaching him in a meaningful way. We weren’t tracking where he learned the best and how (except for once circumstance…and it literally became the thing he could do well everywhere!).  I found it odd that I had to convey the concept of generalization across settings. It was interpreted, “He can do it with Mrs. X in the resource room, gym and speech room”. My point was that if he couldn’t do these things at home or in the community, it didn’t matter.
It would be like saying I was fluent in Japanese, but only when I was in my kitchen and only when my one neighbor came over. Would it matter if I couldn’t speak it in any other circumstance?
However, last school year, the behavior support person in my school district spoke a bit about a ‘newer’ program called PEAK Relational Training System. She described what I had been trying to convey for years about how I think A2 learns and how to track this through cumulative data collection across multiple settings. I hopped a plane to the west coast and got trained for a Level 1 certification.
Being I have been the only consistent “team member” in A2’s entire life, case managing ALL OF THE THINGS educational, therapeutic, medical, religious and social…coordinating consistency, training, communicating across all settings.  And like everything else, I can go figure out the best thing in the world, but unless I have a dedicated and well trained home team, have education professionals who are critically thinking , while also making them believe I need to play a tighter role and having that happen ALL AT THE SAME TIME, well, it is like waiting for a Super Moon on a Leap Year before the Jubilee.
So I spend most of the time doing a very, very crappy job for my child, or at least feeling that way because I cannot do any of this if even one element is missing. Sometimes that element is me–thus my hypervigilence in learning whatever I can to help. What I don’t know, I don’t know, and I am the physical consistency for him.
And here we are.
All the elements are in place, at least for the moment.  He has been assessed and we discussed preliminary plans. Watching the behavior person’s eyes light and hearing her espouse the same mantras about A2’s ability with the right programming along with her sense of urgency to get moving has sparked a motivation I had forgotten when it comes to parental instinct. So, I move forward with cautious optimism. Stay tuned…..