Sunday, January 26, 2014

Advice About Autism From Our Readers

Discussion Question:  Everyday I seem to come across someone that thinks that they have great advice when it comes to dealing with a child who has Autism. 95% of that advice gets filed in my BS file. However, from time to time, I do get some glimpse of genius. What advice have you received that you believe is a game changer? ~Bridget

Liz thought : I can also think of a lot of the BS but I think the best bit of advice is to treat them as any other child, while remembering that they DO have Autism and there is a reason for what they do - even if you can't see it at the time.

Ann said: The smartest thing anyone ever told me was from a nurse at Sutter Hospital in San Francisco (Hello Patricia!). She was talking about her son and his 'special needs' when she stopped and said, 'well, who am I kidding? ALL kids have special daughter needs ...’ and it was something like 'a lot of acknowledgement' or something like that. But to this day, it is the TRUEST thing anyone's ever told me about child-raising. They ALL have the things they need that are special to them. Pointing that out, especially to kids, and asking THEM what THEIR special needs are starts the discussions for making actual friendships.

Jeannine commented : Don't lower your expectations just because the kid has a disability. I wasn't really given that advice, but learned it from watching what happened to so many kids because teachers didn't expect them to be able to do things. This included college professors. The professor I had for "Material and Methods in Learning Disabilities" assigned us all a project. My topic was "Things LD kids do to avoid being labeled". When I was done the prof asked me how I knew that and I told her I was LD. She told me that LD people don't go to college. I was upset at that and never lowered my expectations when I started teaching in the PS. I got in trouble with the administration, but was really liked by the kids and parents. I do this with my own kids. They may not all reach the expectation in the same way or at the same time, but that doesn't mean you lower them.  

Jo said: The best advice I have ever received when working with people, is "just be kind" - and I don't mean nicey nicey....sometimes the kindest thing is to be tough....or just not react and feed into things. Kindness is being awake to the moment and what is needed for that person to grow - so easy to say and hard to do.

Tamara commented : "Do not accomadate your child out of life. If they never HAVE to deal with life's challenges they'll never be ABLE to deal with life's challenges." I spent so much time making everything easier for them that I wasn't giving them a chance to feel the pride of accomplishment.

Gina thought: My advice, as a special education teacher, is to find out what works with your child. There are good resources about autism: however those resources also make it seem like every person on the spectrum will respond to the same things in the same way. My student responded best to instruction if I said "Watch me" before giving instructions on a new task. Don't assume that you know the best way to do a task. Remember that people with autism are individuals and you as a parent or teacher need to find out what the person values and what works for that person.

Aunty Dale wrote: Back in 1995 there was hardly any info but we were lucky we had the Internet and found a website for hyperlexia which had links to heaps of help and it was amazing for its time nowadays there if information overload and everyone has an opinion and what works for one doesn't workforce another. I have both ends with a boy now 23 and a girl 4 both have special needs but are different needs. Also more things are available now that weren't in the 90's. Especially school wise.

Juliana mentioned: A psychiatrist taught me to see those frustrating moments in a different light. I was getting too bogged down by "this is happening because of autism in our lives (son has severe autism)" but now I stop and think - what else could make people feel the way I do right now - perhaps kids taking drugs, perhaps being a refugee, perhaps... And that, for me at least, changes the narrow focus on autism into a general 'that's life' we all deal with it the best we can.

Ann advised: That's easy - just 2 words - Presume Competence.

Janice felt: It's amazing how all that "great advice" that doesn't end up being great advice (at least not in your case) still gets you somewhere. It often takes hearing from many minds with their many ideas to evolve to the point where you figure out the right ideas. People may think that all of those ideas are BS, but, in my experience, worthless ideas aren't necessarily worthless; they can lead us to the right answers in amazing ways if we just listen to them.

Bridget said: The best advise that I have received came from an adult with autism she said "When you tell your child to wait give them a time frame. Wait is something that they have no idea how to measure causing confusion." When I started doing this I cut out meltdowns when I asked him to wait.  
Steve added: Are we waiting an actual one more minute, or a convenient to parent one more 'minute'? Get an egg timer or smartphone/tablet pie-chart like countdown timer to appeal to visual mode

Ann added: Remember that autism is a developmental delay, not a developmental limit. Many of these kids will reach the milestones, it just takes them longer. But, never stop expecting them to amaze you. Always assume that they will be able to do incredible things.

Chana stated : If you know one kid with autism you know one kid with autism.

Erica commented: Each person with autism is their own little puzzle piece to the world of autism. They are all unique in their own special way.

Cara said: Breathe--it's simple but it's needed

Katrina mentioned: What works one day does not necessarily work the next.

Kate commented: I don't have a child with autism but I work with a unique wee 5 year old, who incidentally has autism. I have dealt with advice from experts that appalled me. I think that "respect" is the term I try to use with this little person who deserves it, and "individual" is the other

Steve said : For ALL children, tell them what you want them to do, not what you don't want them to do.

Kerith mentioned: For my CP kid -- Let her fail so she'll learn from that.

Beck thought: Routine and structure with clear expectations and consistent reinforcement - Done in whatever unique form of communication they understand.

Cas said: Along the same lines as "let your kids fail so they can learn to succeed" was some advice I received at the World Down Syndrome Congress a few years back: "Even people with Down Syndrome have the right to get hit by a bus." When I heard it I was shocked (my daughter was 3 at the time) but I get what they are saying: we can't hold our children's hand forever, and regardless of whether your child has special needs or not, they need to be given opportunities to try and fail, to live their life to the full and to make their own mark.

Dee mentioned: Listen to the child with all your being, not the words that come from his/her mouth. Then you will know his/ her heart and that is more precious than any advice from anyone.
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Odd Socks Mummy is thrilled that Smart Apps for Special Needs has such great readers and will try to keep all this amazing advice in mind.

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