Rethinking Autism and “Picky Eating”

Published by: Thinking Person’s Guide to Autism
Written by: “Seeking Sara”

For as long as I can remember, I’ve been ashamed of what I do and don’t eat. The stigma of being a “picky eater” has followed me my whole life, bringing comments (and no small amount of exasperation) from family, friends, wait staff, and strangers.

I’ve recently been examining why I struggle with certain foods, and have come to the same conclusion as I have with much of my post-autism-diagnosis self-exploration: I’m actually incredibly strong, and my experiences are real and valid.

Why am I so “picky”? Well, if you could experience my senses for a few hours, I bet you’d be more understanding, less judgmental, and I’m fairly certain you’d stop using the word “picky” pretty quickly.

Often times, I want desperately to like a food, to be able to order anything at random, or to just eat whatever is put in front of me without hesitation. But for me, food is almost always a relentlessly overpowering experience. Click here to read the rest of the story.

RESOURCES

4 techniques for picky eaters with autism

8 secret strategies for sensory issues with food

Autism and food issues

Encouraging picky eaters to try new food

How to help your child with autism overcome picky eating

Mealtime and children on the autism spectrum: Beyond picky, fussy, and fads

Picky vs. problem eater: A closer look at sensory processing disorder

The picky eater

When your child with autism is a picky eater

Why children with autism struggle with eating

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Anxiety or Agression? When anxiety in children looks like anger, tantrums, or meltdowns

Published by: Hey Sigmund
Written by: Karen Young

Anxiety can be a masterful imposter. In children, it can sway away from the more typical avoidant, clingy behaviour and show itself as tantrums, meltdowns and aggression. As if anxiety wasn’t hard enough to deal with!

When children are under the influence of an anxious brain, their behaviour has nothing to do with wanting to push against the limits. They are often great kids who don’t want to do the wrong thing, but they are being driven by a brain in high alert.

If we could see what was happening in their heads when anxiety takes hold like this, their behaviour would make sense. We would want to scoop them up and take them away from the chaos of it all. Of course, that doesn’t mean that they should be getting a free pass on their unruly behaviour. Their angry behaviour makes sense, and it’s important to let them know this, but there will always be better choices they are capable of making.  Click here to read the rest of the story

Holiday Fine Motor Activities

Fine motor skill activities should include skill development in using the small muscles in the hand. Most activities focus on using pencils, scissors and tongs. This holiday season, why not engage your special needs child in a fun, engaging activity that will help to improve the pincer grasp and hand manipulation? The following links include fine motor activities with many items you can find around your home.

5 fine motor holiday activities

Candy cane Christmas fine motor skills activities for kids

Candy cane pipe cleaner garland

Christmas cards cane fine motor activity

Christmas crafts for kids

Color sorting activity for Christmas

Easy ornaments for kids 

Grow your own Christmas tree

Jingle bell painting

Playing with pine needles

Pom pom painting Christmas tree craft

Popsicle stick snow ornaments

Present wrapping fine motor skills activity

Recycled cards Christmas fine motor skills

Recycled ornament garland craft

Styrofoam tree decorating Christmas craft activity

Tissue paper wreath ornaments

Yarn and bead Christmas tree craft

Resources For Teaching Sequencing Skills

Sequence is defined as a set of related events, movements, or things that follow each other in a particular order. For many children and adults with developmental delays and disabilities, the ability to arrange thoughts, information and language may be a challenge due to issues with their executive function capabilities. The following resources, tips and strategies will help you teach sequencing skills.

How to teach sequencing skills at home

How to teach sequencing skills to children

How to teach sequencing to preschool children

Sequencing activities for students with autism

Sequencing skills teaching strategies 

Story sequence strategies

Strategies for teaching your child sequencing skills

Teaching sequencing skills

The importance of sequencing skills in a child’s development

Tips to teach sequencing skills in children

10 Easy Steps of Audit and Survey Readiness

Annual audits and surveys can be very intimidating. A group of state surveyors showing up at the residence or day program to review services given to individuals with developmental disabilities.

What is the purpose of the audit?

In each state, Immediate Care Facilities (ICF), Immediate Residential Alternatives (IRAs), Waiver services or privately operated programs are funded through Medicaid Assistance Annually State agencies. Annual surveys serve the purpose of recertifying facilities and to make any further recommendations. Overall, the goal is to ensure the quality of for the individuals receiving services.

What are surveyors looking for?

In recent years, the focus is more on ensuring facilities that provide services and supports to individuals with intellectual and developmental disabilities are providing opportunities for individual choices including person-centered planning, community inclusion and choice-making. Typically, State auditors will review the Individualized service Plan (ISP) document to determine it the ISP is both current and accurate.

Audit Preparation

State Auditors generally spend some time talking to staff. They may ask you questions relating to the person’s plan. The questions are often generated after they have read the individual’s ISP plan. The questions that are asked are more than likely things that you do well everyday. here are 10 easy steps as you prepare for the auditing process:

  1. Knowledge of Individuals. know each person’s plan including person-centered planning plan, medical needs, preferences and habilitation plan.
  2. Cleanliness. Make sure the environment is neat and orderly.
  3. Privacy. Remember to give the person privacy when needed.
  4. Choice. Offer choices throughout activities whenever possible. The auditors may ask you how do you teach choice-making.
  5. Tone. Always speak in a positive and appropriate tone of voice.
  6. Small groups. Work in small groups whenever possible. Incorporate variety  of choice during activities.
  7. Community activities. Ensure individuals are able to make choices in activities in the community and community inclusion opportunities are available.
  8. Universal Precaution Guidelines. Know the precautions and follow them. Remember to change gloves when moving from one individual to the next.
  9. Active Programming. The auditors may ask questions related to what they have read in the individuals ISP or CFA (Comprehensive Functional Assessment).
  10. Safeguards. make sure you are able to describe the individual’s supervision needs.

Remember: Demonstrate your self-confidence, because you are good at what you do!

Matching Tasks Activities

Matching task activities provide children with special needs an opportunity to learn in a fun, interactive way. Matching activities provide the opportunity for children and adults to master a skill through repetition and leads to higher learning. Matching and sorting helps to strengthen memory and identify the relationship between two or more items. Below are links to worksheets and matching activities.

All words-to-pictures matching worksheets

Color matching activity

DIY kids emotion matching game

Match the number activity worksheets

Matching activities supporting reading development

Matching animals to pictures

Matching colors when you only have a minute

Matching words to pictures

Rainbow bear color matching spinner game

Teaching preschoolers to mix and match

Understanding The Individualized Family Service (IFSP)

The individualized Family Service Plan (IFSP) is a written plan that is developed for infant and toddlers up to the age of 3. It is Part C of the Individuals with Disabilities Act responsible for developing and implementing statewide early intervention services for infants and toddlers with disabilities and their families.

The difference between IFSP and an IEP, is that ISFP is written plan designed for the family while the IEP focus is the student. ISFP should include the following information:

  • Your child’s level of functioning and needs
  • Outcomes expected
  • Family information Natural environment
  • Where your child receives services
  • Number of sessions your child will receive for the service
  • Who will pay for the service

Services provided through early intervention based on your child’s needs include:

  • Audiological services
  • Vision services
  • Occupational and physical therapy
  • Special education service
  • Speech and language therapy
  • Medical and nursing service
  • Nutritional services
  • Psychological and social work services
  • Health services necessary for your child to benefit from other early intervention services
  • Family training, counseling, and home visits
  • Transportation to enable your child and family to receive early intervention services
  • Respite care and other family support services
Team Members

Individualized family service plan team members include:

  • Evaluator
  • Therapist
  • Service Coordinator
  • Parent or caregiver
  • Other family members
  • An advocate if requested by the parents

A service coordinator is provided to assist and enable an infant or a toddler with a disability and the family to receive services. The service coordinator also:

  • Coordinates early intervention services and other services
  • Facilitates and participates in the development, and evaluation of the plan
  • Ensures services are provided in a timely manner
  • Facilitate the development of a transition plan to preschool, or to other services.
Resources

Center for Parent Information and Resources

Family Connect

Pacer Center

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3 Tips for Parents of Children with Health, Developmental and Behavioral Differences

Published by: Children Rehabilitative Services
Written by: Dr. Nick Tanner

First:

Never stop advocating.

When parents have a kid with extra needs or differences, things may things get contentious between parents schools, healthcare providers, and government agencies.  Sometimes it can feel a little like it is “us vs. the world.”

As a psychologist, part of my job is encouraging my parents to engage with these complex systems of care, help them navigate the procedural challenges inherent to these systems, and facilitate collaboration with the goal of helping patients and families thrive.

Although it’s important to have realistic expectations, the old saying is true; squeaky wheels tend to get the grease. Families and parents who are persistent tend to be more successful in getting more individualized and intensive treatment.

Though conflict can be uncomfortable, it’s important to be your child’s biggest cheerleader – never stop advocating. Click here to read the rest of the story

 

What is Lowe Syndrome?

Lowe Syndrome also known as Oculocerebrorenal Syndrome is a rare genetic disorder that affects the eyes, brain and kidneys. It has a prevalence of 1 in 500,000 and mainly affects males.

Signs and Symptoms
  • Congenital cataracts
  • eye abnormalities and eye disease
  • glaucoma
  • kidney abnormalities (Renal Fanconi Syndrome)
  • dehydration
  • abnormal acidic blood
  • progressive kidney problems
  • feeding problems
  • bone abnormalities
  • scoliosis
  • weak or low muscle tone (hypotonia)
  • joint problems
  • developmental delays including motor skills
  • short stature
  • intellectual disability
  • seizure
  • behavioral issues

Children and adults diagnosed with children and adults may also show the following signs and symptoms due to an intellectual disability:

  • decrease learning ability
  • delays in crawling
  • delays in sitting up
  • difficulty solving problems
  • lack of curiosity
  • language and speech delays
  • poor memory
  • behavior problems
Teaching Strategies

The following strategies will help when teaching a child or an adult diagnosed with Lowe Syndrome:

  • Use short and simple sentences to ensure understanding
  • Repeat directions
  • Teach specific skills when possible
  • Use strategies such as chunking, backwards shaping, forward shaping and role modeling.
  • Use concrete information
  • Provide immediate feedback

Image thanks to Robert Thomson on Flickr.com (creative commons)

Resources

National Organization for Rare Disorders

Genetics Home Reference

Dove Med

Wikipedia

Teaching Strategies For Students With A Nonverbal Learning Disorder

Nonverbal Learning Disorder is a disorder you may or nay not heard of. It shares similar characteristics to autism such as the challenge in reading body language but is also quite different. By learning the signs and symptoms of nonverbal learning disorder, the better chance you have in using effective teaching strategies.

Nonverbal learning disorder is defines as a person who has difficulty in interpreting and understanding non verbal cues in the environment If 93% of how we communicate is nonverbal, a person with nonverbal learning disorder is only getting 7% of daily communication.

Dr. Byron P. Rouke of the University of Windsor developed the following criteria to assess nonverbal learning disorder:

  1. Perceptual deficits usually on the left side of the body. The child has difficulty understanding or perceiving information through the skin of both hands but the left hand has more difficulty than the right.
  2. Tends to be clumsy
  3. Difficulty with visual-spatial organizational skills. Finds it difficult to organize notes.
  4. Difficulty when encountering new information.
  5. Difficulty in knowing what is expected of you and hard to see the bigger picture
  6. Distort sense of time. Time is abstract and non-linear
  7. Well-developed, rote and verbal capacity
  8. Repetitive way of speaking
Signs and Symptoms
  • Excellent vocabulary and verbal expression
  • Excellent memory skills
  • unable to see the bigger picture
  • Poor motor and coordination skills
  • Difficulty with reading
  • Difficulty with math reading problems
  • Fear of new situations
  • May have symptoms of anxiety, depression
  • Misreads body language
  • Well-developed vocabulary
  • Better auditory processing skills than visual processing skills
  • Focus on details

Teaching Strategies For Parents and Teachers
  • Give assignments in chunks
  • Give constructive feedback
  • Create a daily class routine and stick to them
  • Write the class schedule on the board
  • Provide several verbal cues before transition
  • Give the student time to preview and prepare for new activities such as group projects
  • Minimize transitions
  • Offer added verbal explanations when the student or child seems confused
  • Teach in sequential steps
References

Rondalyn Varney Whitney/OTR, Nonverbal learning disorder: Understanding and coping with NLD and Aspergers: What parents and teachers need to know (2008)

Woliver, Robbie (2008) Alphabet Kids: From ADD to Zellwer Syndrome.

Learning Disabilities of America

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