Publisher: Yahoo News
Written by:Rachel DeSantis
A day at the Dollywood Family Amusement Park is filled with enough sights, sounds and colors to overstimulate anyone — especially those with autism.
That’s why Dollywood safety manager Judy Toth, who noticed an influx of families with children on the spectrum at the Tennessee park, decided to take action to help make their trip all the more memorable.
The result? A first-of-its-kind calming room that serves as a refuge of sorts for families seeking a break from the non-stop hustle and bustle of the 150-acre theme park.
“[It’s] sensory overload when you come to a theme park,” Toth tells PEOPLE. “And I couldn’t quite grasp at the beginning, you know, why are they coming? Knowing that something could potentially trigger their child. But realistically, it was just that they want their child to do what any other child does.”
The calming room first opened in the spring of 2016 after Toth observed that families with children on the spectrum were having to either end their trip early or slip someplace quieter, like a bathroom or a first-aid tent. Click here to read the rest of the story
Published by: Speaking of Autism
I want you to imagine that you are a kid once again, maybe ten or eleven years old. You are sitting down in the evening with your family for dinner. The table is set, and your parents bring out what will be tonight’s entree: a cut of cold, raw chicken breast. It’s slimy pink mass slides onto the plate in front of you, and soon after your whole family is chowing down on the raw cuts of meat. You can’t stand to even watch anyone else eat the raw chicken, let alone fathom yourself choking it down. Yet, despite the very real disgust and aversion you feel towards the raw chicken breast, somehow it’s you who are strange for not wanting to eat it. Maybe you’re called “picky” or told that you simply need to and just learn to enjoy raw chicken like everyone else. Maybe you go hungry every night at dinner because the only thing being served are items as aversive as the cuts of raw chicken. Click here to read the rest of the story.
Published By: Autism Parenting magazine
For children with autism spectrum disorder (ASD), head banging is a common way to self-soothe and communicate needs. Both neurotypical and autistic babies and toddlers seek to recreate the rhythm that stimulated their vestibular system while in utero. Other rhythmic habits that fuel a child’s kinesthetic drive include head rolling, body rocking, biting, and thumb sucking. According to Dr. Harvey Karp MD, rhythmic habits trigger the calming reflex in infants and toddlers. Many babies begin head banging around six months of age, but neurotypical children usually will not continue the behavior after the age of three. Please click here to read the rest of the story.
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.
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
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
Since President Trump’s, election, there has been a vigorous interest in politics not only in the United States but also in other countries as well. The upcoming mid-term elections provides an opportunity for adults with developmental disabilities to participate through a lesson plan created not only on the upcoming election, but also ways to get individuals more involved on topics and platforms that impact their lives.
Sadly, I have heard very little from politicians on issues concerning people with disabilities and the impact it will have on people with disabilities and their families. This affords an opportunity to have real discussion with people on issues that are important to them through a series of multisensory activities.
- Who doesn’t like a game of bingo? Download the bingo template, make as many copies as you wish and set up an activity playing Bingo. Once you call out a name. use it as an opportunity to have discussion i.e. How would you describe a conservative? When is the election held? Below, click on the template
2. The second activity includes a week-long lesson plan on election and representative in office using a multisensory approach. The first day is set up for making an apple smoothie and a trip preparation activities allowing individuals to work on their social and money management skills. I left the lesson plan editable so that you can move activities around as you wish.
Materials Needed for the lesson plan activities
Mock Voter Registration
mock voter registration
Apple Smoothie Recipe
Apple Smoothie Recipe
Caramel Apple Smoothie
Patriotic Printable Paper Chain
Free patriotic printable chain
Patriotic paper chain with needed supplies
Oh, this is also a great activity to use a home or school for students at the high school level.
A few weeks ago, I had the opportunity to speak to a parent who voiced her frustration with her daughter’s school. Although her daughter is diagnosed with autism, she falls on the mild range of the spectrum meaning her deficits are ignored. This becomes challenging for a teacher who may not recognize the signs and symptoms of an autistic child.
Girls, in particular, often develop the ability to disappear in a large group. Imagine the amount of energy it takes to pretend you hold the same characteristics of others. This leads to both depression and anxiety in children with autism. There are also sensory challenges a student with autism may face including auditory, visual and tactile.
Reading non-verbal cues forces a child and even some autistic adults to work harder everyday which causes exhaustion and can possibly lead to anxiety.
There are a number of ways to accommodate a student with autism. If you are a teacher, read as much information as you can on autism. each child is different so it will help to get feedback from parents who can help provide the right accommodations.
The following articles provide great information on both modifications and accommodations which can be put into the child’s IEP:
10 tips for making middle-school work for kids with autism
14 possible IEP accommodations for children with autism/ADHD
20 classroom modifications for students with autism
23 classroom accommodation suggestions for kids with autism and Asperger’s syndrome
Accommodations and supports for school-age students with autism
Asperger syndrome/HFA and the classroom
Common modifications and accommodations
IEP considerations for students with autism spectrum disorder
Recommendations for students with high-functioning autism
Supporting learning in the student with autism
Written by: Ricki Rusting
Published By: Spectrum
Every morning, Avigael Wodinsky sets a timer to keep her 12-year-old son, Naftali, on track while he gets dressed for school. “Otherwise,” she says, “he’ll find 57 other things to do on the way to the bathroom.”
Wodinsky says she knew something was different about Naftali from the time he was born, long before his autism diagnosis at 15 months. He lagged behind his twin sister in hitting developmental milestones, and he seemed distant. “When he was an infant and he was feeding, he wouldn’t cry if you took the bottle away from him,” she says. He often sat facing the corner, turning the pages of a picture book over and over again. Although he has above-average intelligence, he did not speak much until he was 4, and even then his speech was often ‘scripted:’ He would repeat phrases and sentences he had heard on television. Read the rest of the story here
Studies show that 5 to 39% of children with Down syndrome are also on the autism spectrum. There are overlaps in some of the symptoms which delays the signs and symptoms of autism. This observation is slowly growing and informing parents to look for specific signs and symptoms.
The importance of getting the diagnosis
Most often children with Down syndrome are treated for the characteristics of having Down syndrome which overlooks giving children the appropriate treatment for Autism such as social skills and sensory issues. A child or young adult with both diagnosis will likely experience aggressive behaviors, meltdowns, and show signs of regression during their early development. The following are signs and symptoms to look for in your child, or student:
- Hand flapping
- Picky eater
- Fascination with lights
- Staring at ceiling fans
- History of regression
- Head banging
- Strange vocalization
- Seizure Disorder
If you suspect your child is dual diagnosed, make an appointment for a medical work up which should include:
- audiological evaluation
- lead test
- complete blood count (CBC)
- Liver function test