‘Pokémon Go’ Completely Changed This Child With Autism’s Life

Maybe you think it’s cool to hate Pokémon Go. Maybe you think its cool to be completely apathetic about it. It’s also officially cool to have your stone cold heart warmed at the knowledge that it’s changing some people’s lives, for the better.

Like Ralphie Koppelman: a 6-year-old boy who has autism spectrum disorder and hyperlexia.

“I would call it Ralph’s first taste of what it’s like to have something in common with the rest of the world,” his mom, Lenore Koppelman, told Today, referring to Pokémon Go. “He gets excited enough that he wants to reach out and communicate. It’s like an awakening in his socialization.”

Individuals on the autism spectrum and with hyperlexia struggle in social interactions. But Lenore said in a Facebook post that thanks to Pokémon Go, Ralphie was interacting with neighbors, friends and strangers.

“MY AUTISTIC CHILD IS SOCIALIZING,” Lenore wrote in the Facebook post. “Talking to people. Smiling at people. Verbalizing. Participating in pragmatic speech. With total strangers. Looking up at them. Sometimes even in the eye. Laughing with them. Sharing something in common. This is AMAZING.”

Peter Faustino, a psychologist and member of the Autism Speaks Family Services Committee, wrote a blog post for Autism Speaks encouraging loved ones of young adults with autism spectrum disorder to play the game.

Pokémon Go is giving young adults with ASD their own unique reason to leave the house, albeit if it is to catch pocket monsters,” Faustino said. He added: “My advice is not to judge this new gaming experience as all bad and in need of limits. Rather let’s embrace a step toward video games and virtual reality that may one day be tailored to inspiring those we love with ASD to leave the house and receive points/rewards/tokens for gathering information from other people they encounter in the store, at work, or at a place of leisure.”

Source:mic.com

Stop Trying to Convince Me My Daughter Doesn’t have Autism Spectrum

Dear Well-Meaning Acquaintance,

Please stop trying to convince me that my daughter does not have autism. I know that you are trying to give me hope that she is “normal” or “will grow out of it.” But I know that she isn’t, and she won’t, and I’m tired of having to run through all of her symptoms to convince you of her diagnosis.

“But she’s so smart!”

Yes, in some ways she is very smart. Autistic doesn’t mean stupid. At barely 2 years old she can count to 20. She knows the alphabet and can identify letters on command. She can read a few simple words such as “mama.” She knows shapes and colors and animals and is very good at memorization tasks.

She also can’t tell us when she’s hungry. She struggles to say 2 syllable words and can’t form multiple word ideas. She doesn’t understand waiving “hi” or “bye.” She doesn’t understand the words “happy” and “sad.” When you exclaim that she can’t be autistic because she’s smart, you force me to explain all of this to you, and to remind myself of her deficits instead of celebrating her strengths.

“She’s so young, how could you possibly know that at this age?”

Yes, she’s young. She was diagnosed at age 22 months, by a team of 4 professionals who specialize in developmental assessment. Since that time we have gotten opinions from three speech/language pathologists, two pediatricians, one board certified behavior analyst, and one developmental psychologist. Every single one of them agrees: she has autism. We, her parents, also agree with the diagnosis. Recognition of autism at this age is increasingly common, and yes, we’re sure. Your doubt doesn’t give us hope, it gives us fear that people won’t take her needs and diagnosis seriously because she’s “too young.”

“I saw her make eye contact! She engaged with me! She can’t be autistic.”

Yes, she can be. Autism usually comes with significant impairments in social interaction, including eye contact, and our daughter is no exception. Yes, she makes eye contact with adults fairly often, but it’s still significantly less than typical children her age. It’s also a skill we’ve been actively working on. She initiates play interactions with adults. Again, this is a major skill we have built with her and we are very proud that she does this. She does not, however, initiate social interaction or make eye contact with other children. She does not respond to her peers when they speak to her or try to play with her. It’s heartbreaking to watch. Again, in trying to give me hope, this objection instead forces us to explain these deficits rather than rejoice in her progress.

“She seems fine/happy/normal to me.”

She is fine, in her own way. But she does have autism. She seems happy now, in her own world playing. But when we go to change her clothes, or remove her shoes, or if her food touches other food, she’ll melt down. If we touch her food after it’s served, she’ll melt down. If we move a toy from it’s “correct” location, she’ll melt down. If we place her on her chair, she’ll melt down. If we put mittens on her, or a hat, she’ll melt down. I don’t want to have to explain to you all the ways in which she is not fine or normal, I’d rather be able to enjoy the fact that right now, she’s happy.

So what should you say when I tell you that my daughter has autism? You could start with “It’s so great that you got the diagnosis early! You must be a great parent.” We also love to hear “I can tell you’ve been working on her skills, she’s doing great!” You can ask us what kind of treatment she’s getting and what progress we’ve seen. You can ask how we cope with the condition. You can offer support if you want to. Or you can just say “Oh, she has autism? OK.” and leave it at that. Just please do not question the diagnosis, because we’re sure and I shouldn’t have to justify it to you.

Sincerely,

The Parents of a Child With Autism

 

Source: breaktheparentingmold

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Autistic Boy Fails In Exams, But The Touching Letter Teacher Sends Home Will Bring You To Tears

Gail Twist had rougher time than most finding a scholastic niche where her 11-year-old son Ben would thrive. Ben was born with Autism, and though he communicates with friends and teachers remarkably well, he was not able to adapt to traditional standardized testing.

Twist stumbled upon Lansbury Bridge School, an alternative school with a visually based style of learning that resonated with Ben. He started to do extremely really well in his classes.

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And then at the end of the last term, his mother recieved a letter in the mail containing his test scores. He had failed them all.

But instead of a harsh reprimand and a reminder to study more often, the letter contained a message that brought Gail to tears. It’s one we all need to hear.

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The letter listed Ben’s wonderful attributes: his artistic talents, his ability to work with a team, his kindness… and the list went on. The letter read:

Dear Ben,

I am writing you to congratulate you on your attitude and success in completing your end of key stage SATs.

Gil, Lynn, Angela, Steph and Anne have worked so will with you this year and you have made some fabulous progress.

I have written to you and your parents to tell you the results of the tests.

A very important piece of information I want you to understand is that these tests only measure a little bit of you and your abilities. They are important and you have done so well, but Ben Twist is made up of many other skills and talents that we at Lansbury Bridge see and measure in other ways.

Other talents you have that these tests do not measure include

-Your artistic talents
-Your ability to work in a team
-Your growing independence
-Your kindness
-Your ability to express your opinion
-Your abilities in sports
-Your Your ability to make and keep friends
-Your ability to discuss and evaluate your own progress
-Your design and building talents
-Your musical ability

We are so pleased that all of these different talents and abilities make you the special person you are and these are all of the things we measure to reassure us that you are always making progress and continuing to develop as a lovely, bright young man.

Well done Ben, we are very proud of you.

Best Wishes,
Mrs. Clarkson

Twist was so astounded by Clarkson’s words that she took to twitter with her story, and the letter soon went viral.

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What if we all saw each other for our individual strengths instead of comparing to others?

Share and spread some smiles!

 

Source: inspiremore

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4 Suggestions For The Parents Of Autistic Children We Don’t Talk About

I am an avid reader. I read tons of books and even more blogs. As someone who considers himself to be a part of the special needs community, I often read a lot of blogs about special needs families. Over the last two years one of the things that I have discovered is that there is a wealth of resources and reading material for parents who have children with special needs. As a result the term “special needs parent” has become almost exclusively synonymous with that scenario.

Let me say that I applaud and admire those parents and caregivers. They do a tremendous job and I am not the type of person who likes to pretend that they don’t deserve to be recognized. They do, but of all of the parents that I know that have children with special needs, they do it because they are parents. That is their child. That is their reason. That is their motivation.

With that being said, there is an entirely different population of special needs parents out there that can sometimes be overlooked and under-appreciated. They are the parents like me, parents who don’t have a child with special needs. Instead, we are special needs parents because we are parents and we have a disability. There are many parents with disabilities that care very deeply and passionately about their children. The primary difference is that we are special needs parents because we are care givers who at times need a little extra care for ourselves.

 

In 2014 at age 36, I was diagnosed with ASD (autism spectrum disorder). I had a family, a career, and 3 children when I was diagnosed. I also had lived my entire life struggling with something that was both unknown and unnamed. From the outside looking in I was a regular guy to most, but to those who knew me well, like my wife of 15 years, there was an obvious struggle.

I have to admit that I have been blessed. My wife is an amazing woman who is extremely supportive. Since my diagnosis we have embarked on a journey of discovery that has made life as a husband and father less complicated for me. We have learned how to allow me to slowly deal with my limitations while still being the best father that I can be to our three beautiful boys.

Special needs parenting and being a special needs parent both require passion and persistence, but being a parent with special needs has taught us four ways spouses and co-parents of someone with a disability can help to provide an environment where we can fully participate in raising our kids with the passion and love that they deserve.

Understand Our Capacity

Life on the autism spectrum can be a roller coaster for me at times. If I were to be honest, I’m not always sure when I will be up to performing some of the social tasks of fatherhood. Both my wife and all of our children are extremely outgoing. They love to hang out at the pool, walk around the mall for hours, and go out into the world with absolutely no agenda except to hang out all day. I have social anxiety, and I usually have the capacity to hang for about 2-3 hours before I have stepped over my limit. My wife understands that so together we organize activities differently. For example, they may plan a trip out on the town for the day, and I may join them around lunch time to continue the day with them when I am ready to hang out. This strategy has worked very well for us.

Learn To Take Our Cues

ASD sometimes limits my ability to pick up on social cues. Sometimes the world can be complicated because I may miss important cues. Nuerodiverse minds also have a system of social cues and because most of all human communication is non-verbal, we must both realize that we are both constantly communicating through a system of social cues. All behavior is communication, so my wife doesn’t just depend on me to pick up on neurotypical social cues; she has learned to pick up on my cues as well. This has been extremely important in our ability to parent together because she is able to understand the things that I am sometimes unable to verbally communicate.

Use Creativity

Autism is a part of my neurology, not my psychology. In short, my brain simply functions in a completely different way. It is not always a matter of personal preference. While this is an unchangeable reality, the advantage is that it can enhance parenting skills because it provides our children with a very creative environment to grow up in. In addition to our different personalities, our brains function quite differently, and it promotes the idea that our approach to parenting must be creative and unconventional. There are no “traditional” roles in our home because we can’t afford to box ourselves in. Because of that our family is extremely creative in how we approach everything from disciplining the kids to how we vacation.

Allow Us To Have Some Control

One of the misconceptions about people with autism or special needs is that they are incapable of handling certain tasks. This is true with children, and it is also true with adults. While I admit there are a few things that I struggle with, there are other things that I am excellent at. Identifying strengths are a great place to allow for some control. What I am NOT advocating for is the right to be controlling, but what I have found helpful is to allow the special needs parent to have major influence in their area of strength.

For example, as a person on the autism spectrum I can be very detailed with certain tasks. Time is one of them. I am almost never late to anything because I have an internal clock in my mind. While my wife and I do not share the same sense or sensitivity to time, we find that it is much better to allow me to have a major influence on time and schedule sensitive issues such as getting the kids off to school, getting the kids ready for bed at their designated bedtime, or even planning out-of-town trips. Being late to something isn’t always a bad thing, but being on time is always a good thing, so it’s ok to let me take the lead on those types of issues.

 

Parents of children with special needs answer the call every day to love and be caregivers for their children. For that I am grateful, but I am also eternally grateful for those of us who are special needs parents because we too answer the call every day to care for our children as we live life with our own distinct needs and challenges as well as our own distinct gifts and graces.

Source: huffingtonpost

My Son Has the Kind of Autism No One Talks About — Part 2

The comments in response to my last blog post taught me something very important. See, I was operating under the assumption that we, as a society, were not aware of autism in all of its forms. But those who commented showed me that I was wrong. You are aware.

You are aware of autism. You just don’t understand it. It’s not something that directly impacts you, and so you don’t really care about it all that much. And why should you?

Unless you are the caregiver or educator of an individual with autism, caring is rather inconvenient. After all, you are busy raising your typically functioning children. That keeps you pretty darned busy. You’re helping them with homework and driving them to the mall or to soccer practice. You’re diligent about keeping them safe and helping them grow up to be their very best. And that’s exactly what you should be doing. That’s what all of us as parents should be doing.

My Son Has the Kind of Autism No One Talks About — Part 1

Autism? Well, you know it’s out there, you’re thankful that you don’t have to deal with it and you plan on keeping it that way.

But we are operating under the assumption that you raising your child and caring about mine are mutually exclusive. What if I told you that both of us — you, with your typically functioning child and me, with my child with autism — could both do things together that would benefit the wellbeing of our children and that would enable all of our children to grow up to be their very best?

We can… if we want to.

Many of you asked me for solutions. I have several. Here are the top three:

1. Become trauma informed.

Individuals with disabilities experience stressors every day simply from painful sensory input, feeling overwhelmed and anxious and being unable to do what others can do. These stressors accumulate over time and do the same thing to the brain as does a major trauma such as sexual abuse.

When an individual experiences trauma, changes happen to the brain. These same changes can also happen in response to the brain receiving repetitive stimulation. And these changes can cause a child to show signs like hyperactivity, anxiety and impulsivity, behaviors that often appear as inappropriate and aggressive. But it’s important to understand that these are either responses to severe anxiety or an attempt to stop something from causing them to feel anxious. People with autism aren’t being malicious when they are aggressive. Their brain is simply initiating the “fight or flight” response.

2. Become a behavior detective.

All behavior has a function, meaning that it is done to meet a need. There are only a handful of functions. Behaviors can be sensory related in that an individual may be seeking or avoiding sensory input. Behaviors can be used to attain an item, escape a situation that is upsetting or gain attention. That’s it. But once we understand function, we can get to the “why” of a behavior. And once we know why someone is doing something, we can make simple changes to the environment so that they don’t do that behavior any more.

My Son Has the Kind of Autism No One Talks About — Part 1

3. Become an interactive parent.

In my last blog, I talked about us being a village. Many of you with “normal” children stated that you didn’t want to live in any village where my son and I reside. I hate to break it to you, but your chances of escaping this are dwindling. Institutions are closing. People with disabilities are coming home to their communities. Inclusion is the new normal and people who struggle with challenges are moving to a street near you.

This is your chance to get out there with your typically functioning child and teach them the skills that they will need throughout their lives. If you help them interact with the child with autism next door, you’ll be able to make sure they are safe while teaching them how to handle disagreements. You’ll show them how to help calm a situation. You’ll model for them how to be kind and compassionate. And those of us with children with autism will be out there with our child making sure they aren’t hurting yours while teaching them the very same things! And we can do this together.

And for those of you who are aware but don’t feel that it’s your responsibility to understand, I have a recommendation for you too.

Bookmark this blog post. You’re going to need it.

Not only will someone with classic autism probably move down the street from you at some point in the not so distant future, but you have a very high risk of autism becoming a part of your family. According to the latest numbers provided by theCDC, about one in 68 children were identified with ASD. And when you find out that a child in your family has autism, you’re going to want to give this blog post to the neighbors down the street who don’t want their kids playing with yours.

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I’m on the Autism Spectrum and Some People Think I’m Weird. Here’s Why That’s OK.

Some people think I’m weird. Some people pass judgment on me, and others laugh and talk about me. It used to bother me, but now it doesn’t. When someone assumes things about me it shows me their mind is so closed that they are not willing to learn something new. When people talk about me or pass judgment on me it shows me I’m quite interesting to the person because they are taking the time to observe me. My only advice is, before you judge or assume, get to know me enough to ask questions. If a person does take the time to enter my world I will teach them things they never thought of because I have the ability to think outside the box.kim goodman

There was a time I had a desire to be “normal.” I had people telling me to watch what I did and said in fear of what others might think or say about me, and I had people who criticized me because of my differences and people who compared me to others and pointed out what they thought I wasn’t doing right. After having people question me about why I can’t do things like a “normal” person or why I can’t like things like “normal” people my age, I couldn’t help but think that the term “normal” meant a non-autistic person or a disability or disorder-free person.

 I spent a great deal of my life not knowing how to live. I was confused and didn’t know what to do so I became a follower. I tried to live my life like the majority of society, but I failed miserably because it was hard for me to pretend to be someone I was not. I felt a great deal of sadness, frustration, anger, anxiety, fear and pain. I felt inferior to most people and believed I was a bad person because I was different.

Then I reached a breaking point. 

I realized if I wanted to live a happy and productive life, I had to make changes in my life. First, I had to accept I was different from most people and understand that a lot of people might have a problem with my differences and that is OK. Second, I had to learn I had the power to decide who I let in my life. If someone caused me stress, discomfort and wasn’t supportive of me, it was OK to not allow them in my life or walk away from them. Third, I had to learn how to be strong. I had to stand my ground and not give in when people try to change me into who they wanted me to be or who they thought I should be.

I had to learn who I was as a person and not who society or those around me wanted me to be. When I was diagnosed with Pervasive Developmental Disorder, I learned all I could about it so I could better understand myself. For years I wondered why I never developed sexual feelings for males or females. Through research I found out I was androgynous (having both masculine and feminine characteristics). I accepted these things about myself, and now I expect the people who I allow in my life to accept these things about me too.

I don’t always act my age, and at other times I may appear too professional or serious. I have a more masculine appearance, and sometimes people have a problem with this. I’ve had a lot of people who tried to get me to explore my feminine side more. At one point in my life I would allow people to temporarily change me into the feminine person they wanted me to be. I would feel so much discomfort, but I didn’t know how to tell them how miserable I felt. Now if someone tries to change me into who they want me to be, I wouldn’t do it, and if they insist too much I would just walk away or kick them out of my life. Now I feel if a person can’t accept me as I am or respect my decisions and choices, then that person doesn’t have a place in my life.

I have dreams and goals of being an entrepreneur. Some people tell me I can’t succeed at being an entrepreneur because I have a disability and I am healing from years of abuse. Years ago I would have believed this, but now I don’t. 

Source: themighty

Autism and gut bacteria – the surprising link between the mind and the stomach

 A recent paper has found that autistic-related social patterns can be reversed when one species of gut bacteria is present in the microbiome of mice.

Autism – a developmental disorder that causes impediments to social interactions and behaviour – is usually linked by scientists to abnormalities in brain structure and function, caused by a mix of genetic and environmental factors. Scientists have almost always attempted to understand the way autistic people process the world around them by looking to the mind.

According to the National Autistic Society, “There is strong evidence to suggest that autism can be caused by a variety of physical factors, all of which affect brain development; it is not due to emotional deprivation or the way a person has been brought up.”

Recently, however, a lesser-known link to autism has gained traction. This time, the link is not found in the brain but in the gut.

Reporting their findings in the journal Cell, researchers from the Baylor College of Medicine, Texas, found that the presence of a single species of gut bacteria in mice could reverse many behavioural characteristics related to autism.

In the digestive tracts of humans and other animals, there exists a complex, symbiotically integrated network of trillions of microorganisms known as the “gut flora” or “microflora”. The idea that all these bacteria and microorganisms have taken up a home in our gut may initially seem startling, but they serve a number of beneficial purposes, such as aiding digestion and offering immunity from infection.

The potential link between gut flora and autism arose as researchers identified the increased risk of neurodevelopmental disorders, such as autism, among children born from mothers who were obese during pregnancy. The microflora of obese people is demonstrably different from those who are not obese, and as a result, connections have been made to the gut issues often reported in autistic people.

The senior author of the study and neuroscientist Mauro Costa-Mattioli said: “Other research groups are trying to use drugs or electrical brain stimulation as a way to reverse some of the behavioural symptoms associated with neurodevelopmental disorders – but here we have, perhaps, a new approach.”

To determine what the differences in gut bacteria were, the researchers fed 60 female mice a high-fat diet, with the aim of replicating the type of gut flora that would be found among people consuming a high-fat diet which would contribute to obesity. A control group of mice was fed a normal diet to serve as comparison. The mice in each group then mated, and their eventual offspring then spent three weeks with their mothers while being observed to see how behaviour and microflora was affected.

It was found that the offspring from the mice laden with high-fat foods exhibited social impairments, including very little engagement with peers. Meanwhile, a test called ribosomal RNA gene sequencing found that the offspring of the mice that were fed a high-fat diet housed a very different bacterial gut environment to the offspring of mice fed a normal diet.

Discussing the result, co-author Shelly Buffington was keen to stress just how significant the findings were: “By looking at the microbiome of an individual mouse we could predict whether its behaviour would be impaired.”

In an effort to understand whether the variation in microbiome was the reason for differences in social behaviour, the researchers paired up control group mice with high-fat diet mice. Peculiarly, mice eat each other’s faeces, which is why researchers kept them together for four weeks. The high-fat diet mice would eat the faeces of the normal mice and gain any microflora they held. Astonishingly, the high-fat diet mice showed improvements in behaviour and changes to the microbiome, hinting that there may be a species of bacteria making all the difference.

After careful examination using a technique called whole-genome shotgun sequencing, it was found that one type of bacteria – Lactobacillus reuteri – was far less prevalent in the offspring of high-fat diet mice than the offspring of normal-diet mice.

Discussing the method and finding, Buffington said: “We culture a strain of Lactobacillus reuteri originally isolated from human breast milk and introduced it into the water of the high-fat diet offspring. We found that treatment with this single bacterial strain was able to rescue their social behaviour.”

What the Lactobacillus reuteri seemed to be doing was increasing production of oxytocin, a hormone which is known by various other names such as the “trust hormone”, or the “love hormone”, because of its role in social interactions.

The results of the experiment showing that Lactobacillus reuterican influence social behaviour are profound findings. Though the work would need to be transferred from mice studies to full human clinical trials to see if this could be applied to autistic people, the impact of adding Lactobacillus reuteri to the gut flora of mice can’t be underestimated. It seems then, for now, that research will go with the gut.

Source: newstatesman

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30 best apps for kids with autism~social skills, emotions, sequencing, language, ABA and more

awesome-apps-for-autism-executive-function-600x900As we are growing with the field of technology, we are realizing more and more that our children are benefiting from the use of these new and innovative tools that are being marketed. Even with some of the basic (but crucial) skill development for children with Autism, the i-Pad can be a fantastic tool in helping with bridging the gap. With April being Autism Acceptance Month, many app sellers/distributors have special deals and discounts on apps that are designed for kids with autism. Below I have listed some of the autism apps and ABA apps that are being highlighted this month.

Please note, I have deleted some of the prices because they have changed. I will not be updating with new prices since they are subject to change. Please check the app store for full details, thanks.

Here are some of the skills sets that you can work on with your kids with apps:

  • sensory skills
  • language and communication skills
  • social skills
  • functional skills
  • stress reduction

 

 

Great Apps for the I-Pad that work well for children with Autism and other sensory or social skills deficits

  1. Look in My Eyes–clever way to help children with autism develop the habit of looking in the eyes of another person.
  2. proloquo2Go- this must-have app provides you with alternative and augmentative communication features for children that have speech/language difficulties. The program contains text-to-speech voices, up-to-date symbols, a default vocabulary, and much more. Speech/Language therapists, teachers, and parents recommend the program for children and adults not only with autism but also for cerebral palsy, Down Syndrome, apraxia, ALS, developmental disabilities, and stroke or traumatic brain injury. Proloquo is considered by many to be the gold standard in communication apps and it’s a bit spendy. But, they have offered it at 50% off on World Autism Day, so check back.
  3. Autism Express–facial expression and emotions are some of the most difficult things for people with Autism to interpret.
    This program helps Autistic individuals recognize and express their emotions through fun and easy interface games. Application is also available forfree!
  4. Model Me Going Places–great program that models social skills to kids in various settings like the playground, mall, restaurant, doctor, grocery store, and getting a haircut. It plays through each setting with pictures, text, and audio as you flip-touch through each page and “social story”. Perfect for kids with ASD to help with social skill building and understanding social situations.Plus it is free!
  5. Stories 2 learn–create personalized social stories using photos, text, and audio messages for autistic kids that have difficulties with communication, transitioning, excursions, or routings. Easy to create sentences by just arranges pictures in a sentence. This program can be effective for children with ASD or others with special needs that do well with visual prompts.$13.99
  6. icommunicate–amazing program that allows you to customize your in any language by creating pictures, flash cards, storyboards,vital schedules, routines, and custom audio. There are 100+ pictures to get you started and you can add pictures with google search or your camera.
  7. Grace–designed by Lisa Domican, a mother of two autistic children in Ireland-this application’s idea is to gracefully help autistic and other special needs children effectively communicate by building sentences from relevant images. You easily customize the app by using picture and photo vocabulary of your choice. The idea behind Grace is to ensure interaction of the user with the listener, and mutual understanding of the user’s real communication needs and build trust.
  8. Tap to Talk Education– pretty, cool “game-like” device to teach communication. Tap the picture and the Tap to Talk speaks.With over 2,000 pictures and the ability to add your own photos and sounds, this program allows you to create a very individualized album for your autistic child. Plus it is amazingly….free!
  9. My Talk Mobile Actions–useful app that enables people with communication difficulties to express their needs to those around them through pictures, images, symbols, and audio files including a human voice. Turns your iPad into an alternative communication device (AAC).
  10. iConverse– this program is more like a picture exchange board (PEC) that provides the user tiles to choose from with both audio and visual. This is perfect for the ASD child that has communication difficulties.
  11. Autism Tracker Lite-Autism Tracker can be life changing for families with an autistic child. Explore Autism. Track what matters to your child and your family. Use the visual calendar and multi-item graphs to view and discuss patterns. Share individual events or entire screens with your team using Dropbox, email or Twitter (Twitter lets you set up closed groups).
  12. Touch and Learn Emotions-helps reinforce learning emotions of others by what their body language and expression is.
  13. Turn Taker-Turn Taker uses visual and audio cues to facilitate turn taking and sharing for any child. The app also includes an illustrated social story about game play and sharing. This app has been used successfully with a variety of young children who find it difficult to share.
  14. Manners Social Stories-This app includes a 10 page social story about why it is important to be polite, and how to have good manners. The app also includes a simple visual support for using the polite phrases from the story.
  15. Autism iHelp, WH questions-Autism iHelp is a vocabulary teaching aid developed by parents of a child with Autism and a speech-language pathologist. Autism iHelp was inspired by the need for specific language intervention tools for children with Autism Spectrum Disorder focusing on their unique strengths and difficulty with expressive vocabulary.
  16. Social Skill Builder-2 modules in the title Preschool Playtime (Preschool & Playground), 13 modules in the title My School Day (Laughing, Table Talk, Classroom, Transition Time, Lunch Time, Jungle Gym, Team Games 1 & 2, Cubby, Eating, Playground, Hall & Line Up), 2 modules in the title My Community (Friend’s House & Restaurant), 2 modules in the title School Rules! (Hanging Out & Classroom Assignments)
  17. Social Comprehension-Social Comprehension is an app dedicated to helping people of all ages, particularly teens with Autism and other special needs. This will help with their understanding of various social situations, teaching them how to interact and study with their peers.
  18. Autism Emotion– Autism Emotion uses music and a photo slideshow to help teach about different emotions.
  19. Autism iHelp, Language Concepts-Autism iHelp is a vocabulary teaching aid developed by parents of a child with Autism and a speech-language pathologist. Autism iHelp was inspired by the need for specific language intervention tools for children with Autism Spectrum Disorder focusing on their unique strengths and difficulty with expressive vocabulary.
  20. Autism Apps– If my list isn’t good enough or big enough for you, then check out Autism Apps. Autism Apps is simply a comprehensive list of apps that are being used with and by people diagnosed with autism, Down syndrome and other special needs. It also includes links to any available information that can be found for each app. The Apps are also separated into over 30 categories, and the descriptions are all searchable, so any type of app is easy to find and download.

 

10 ABA apps for kids with autism

  1. ABA Flash Cards – Alphabet – Kindergarten.com
  2. ABA Flash Cards – Animals – Kindergarten.com
  3. ABA Problem Solving Game – Which Go Together? – Kindergarten.com
  4. ABA Receptive Identification – Kindergarten.com
  5. ABA Problem Solving Game – What Rhymes? – Kindergarten.com
  6. ABA Receptive Identification – By Class – Kindergarten.com
  7. ABA Flash Cards – Food – Kindergarten.com
  8. ABA Sight Words – Kindergarten.com
  9. ABA Flash Cards & Games – Emotions – Innovative Mobile Apps
  10. ABA – Problem Solving – What does not belong? – Innovative Mobile Apps

In Canada, there was also this phenomenal project that was completed last year by some teachers and researchers in the assistive technology field with Autistic children to specifically look at which apps worked best in certain areas for the i-Pod touch. Rather than re-invent the wheel, here is that publication for you to have for your reference:Apps for ASD i-Pod Touch Project

All said and done, there are so many great technology tools now readily available to parents. It takes just a little bit of research to see what best fits your child’s individual needs for success.

 

Source :adayinourshoes.com

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Teaching Safety Skills To Children With Autism Spectrum

Teaching safety skills to children with autism is imperative in our rapidly changing unsafe world. Most children have this inate sense of danget that keeps them relatively safe.  Our children with autism lack any sense of danger which inherently puts them in more danger than the average child.  As with most skills , you have to approach it from a developmental standpoint .  What you can not do is to neglect teaching this skill regardless of the age of the person with autism.

 

When Logan was younger , he was what we call a bolter.  A bolter is a person who takes off in a parking lot or somewhere else.  He saw something that he liked so he would “bolt” from us to get to it.  It didn’t matter that it was across a busy highway or in a parking lot full of cars.  He had no sense of danger so he merely went to where he wanted. This meant that child locks were always on in the car.  The door wasn’t opened without immediately grabbing his hand.  One hand on him while unbuckling the car seat with the other.  This meant I couldn’t go anywhere alone after Madison was born. I simply could not carry her in her car seat while keeping track of him.  I wasn’t willing to take that chance.

We didn’t attend many outdoor events at that age since Logan couldn’t handle them from a sensory standpoint.  When we did manage to get out , we played tag.  I would be near and watch Logan for a time then tag Michael to switch . There was never a time when one of us did not have our eyes on him as well as be close enough to grab at least an arm should he bolt.  We did this for so long that we do it out of habit even to this day.  He certainly hasn’t bolted in years. He has such a good grip on safety that we often have to chide him for being too cautious.

Teaching safety skills to children with autism.

Let’s talk about how we got to this point.  Here’s a typical scenario for an autism parent. You’ve spent YEARS working with your child on safety skills, especially when it comes to looking for cars in parking lots, before crossing a street, etc. He is inconsistent, at best. If you don’t remind him right before he walks across a street or parking lot, he won’t remember to look. When you ask him, he knows the rule. I ask him why he didn’t look and he says, I forgot.

First, this is a much higher level thinking skill.  You have to fill in the developmentalgaps from the early years before you can ask this skill of your child.  One of the things that RDI works on is filling in the earlier skills so you can work on the higher level ones.

The earlier skill  needed here is referencing Mom and Dad, stopping when Mom/Dad stops, slowing down in co-regulation/coordination with Mom/Dad  or pausing with them. Why is this important for teaching safety?  When your child stays with you automatically, you can keep them safe as well as teach them.  Social skills storiesaren’t going to work in this case as you have no way to predict what other people are going to do.   It’s not about remembering the rules. It’s multitasking all the non-verbal information happening, and an early step is co-regulating and coordinating yourself with what is happening around you. The rule is the summary of all of that, but it is much less about the rule than it is about the non-verbal communication. You can’t practice it on a regular basis as the outcome will constantly change.  Your child simply needs to learn to co-regulate his actions with your actions. How exactly do you work on that?Keeping children with autism safe requires a plan.

  • When Mom moves to the side, he should reference, “why”? There is a great deal of non-verbal communication happening and it is learned with an adult guide first.
  • You have to teach the child to be observant around him. That there is important information that he needs to know happening . That can’t happen without him knowing and practicing the non verbal communication part.
  • Walk around the block where you vary your pace and wait (silently – no prompts) for him to notice and match your pace can be very helpful. If he gets ahead, you can say, “You got ahead of me!” which lets him do the thinking to come back to you.
  • Carry something together. Move the kitchen table so you can sweep under it. Have him at one end of the table and you at the other. Coordinate actions to move the table to the side. You can move furniture all over the house.
  • Carry a bucket of water or a watering can full of water together – suspend it on a short length of rope or on a board or stick – the rope or board becomes the visual connection for the two of you. Water the flowers in the yard together.
  • Carry a laundry basket together from room to room to gather up dirty laundry, you on one side, he on the other. The laundry basket becomes the visual, tangible connection between the two of you. You can stack clean clothing in a basket and carry it together from room to room to deliver clean laundry to each resident in your house.
  • The more you can spotlight connection as you do something together – the better. This is manipulative mode. Mental and abstract mode come later in development. A mental connection or abstract connection at the corner where you stop together and look both ways is a later step in development.

As you can see, sometimes you have to go back in order to move forward.  Once you have the co-regulation into place , you can move on to the abstract connection of safety.  Until you get these earlier processes in place, you are simply spinning your wheels in frustration.  No one wants that much less you or your child.  I promise you that if you will take time to fill in these gaps , the rest will come easier.

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Autism Spectrum Disorder May Not Develop Entirely In Human Brain; Defects In Skin’s Nervous System Found

One out of every 68 children suffers from an autism spectrum disorder (ASD), a condition that for years scientists have believed originates inside the brain. A new study by Harvard Medical School researchers reveals experts may have been wrong all along, and that ASD may not involve just the brain, but the skin too. This makes sense since many of the symptoms people with autism experience involve issues with sensory processing, which makes them hypersensitive to various sensory stimuli — among them, touch.

“An underlying assumption has been that ASD is solely a disease of the brain, but we’ve found that may not always be the case,” said the study’s senior author David Ginty, a neurobiology professor at Harvard Medical School, in a statement. “Advances in mouse genetics have made it possible for us to study genes linked to ASD by altering them only in certain types of nerve cells and studying the effects.”

Many people with autism are often hypersensitive to light touches, a sign that indicates to experts that part of their disorder is tactile in nature. It’s often possible to calm a person whose sensory system is believed to be overstimulated by using deep pressure applied through hugs and heavy blankets. Knowing this, Ginty and his team tested how mice reacted to a light puff of air on their backs and how well they could differentiate various textures. Because certain gene mutations were related to ASD in humans, such as Mecp2 and Gabrb3, researchers found mice with the mutations were startled by the puffs of air, compared to normal mice. They were also unable to tell the difference between textures.

“Although we know about several genes associated with ASD, a challenge and a major goal has been to find where in the nervous system the problems occur,” Ginty said. “By engineering mice that have these mutations only in their peripheral sensory neurons, which detect light touch stimuli acting on the skin, we’ve shown that mutations there are both necessary and sufficient for creating mice with an abnormal hypersensitivity to touch.”

Their findings, published in the journal Cell, reveal that the sensation of touch travels along receptors at the surface of the skin and connects into the central nervous system. The sense of touch is key to socialization and navigation, which is why an abnormal reaction to it can make it problematic for a person with ASD to function in their day-to-day life.

Ginty concluded: “We think it works the same way in humans with ASD.”

Baby AutismAutism may stem from outside of the brain, leading researchers to search the central nervous system for answers.Photo courtesy of Pixabay, public domain

Currently, researchers have only found this effect in mice with anxiety problems that resemble autism, which limits them in being able to predict exactly how it will play out in a human brain. If removing the genetic marker in humans works the same way it did in mice, the approach might turn the volume down on how sensitive those with autism are to touch.

However, being able to see how the receptors in the central nervous system differ depending on ASD gene mutations reveals that the brain may not be working alone. Instead, researchers believe that identifying ways to target both the brain and the central nervous system could help doctors treat the disease in a way that helps manage some of the anxiety behaviors and difficulties with social interactions that are common among people who suffer from the condition.

Dr. Mark Zylka is a Harvard University professor with expertise in the mechanisms of pain and autism. Though he wasn’t involved in the study, he told Medical Daily: “It will be very difficult to eliminate a faulty gene in a human. However, knowing what gene is mutated in a child with autism could, in the future, be used to treat that child with medicines that are personalized for their unique mutation. This study will refocus scientists on the peripheral nervous system as a possible source of some of the symptoms of autism.”

 

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