Extracurricular Activities and the Autistic Child

Extracurricular Activities and the Autistic Child
Obviously, we are talking about the high-functioning autistic child here, since most kids on the opposite end of the spectrum would not be able to participate in after-school activities with their peers. Although you want your child to experience all the world has for them to experience and want to support their interests completely, there is a parental learning curve here. Involving your child in a sport after school is great, but if the practices are too much or too long, your child will not have what he or she needs to maintain an even emotional keel for very long. That results in aggressive behavior, outbursts and meltdowns. Likewise, involving your child in too many after school activities will have the same effect.

So how do you choose what is right for your child? Most parents of “normal” kids figure it out by first limiting the number of activities their kids are involved in, and adding more as the child gets older or seems able to handle more activity and responsibility. However, the neuro-typical child has a filter that helps them block out excess environmental stimulation that ASD kids cannot.

So, simply put, if your son or daughter wants to experience an activity, like dance, soccer, music or art lessons, try it for short durations. The best time to enroll your child in a short-term experience is in the summer. It keeps him or her from getting bored and helps both of you figure out if the activity is a good fit . If your child wants to continue the activity once school begins again, he or she is already settled into the routine of the activity and can expect it with the same frequency as he or she did in the summer. It is best to try one activity at a time, and add only one more activity if your child requests it. If there are dramatic shifts in behavior or mood, then you know that two or more activities is too much, and you and your child will have to decide which one is most important before dropping the others.

Middle schoolers and High schoolers will have tons of opportunities and endless options for after-school activities. Although your child may be eager to try them all, you have to rein him or her in, because you already know what your child can manage and what is too much for him or her. Although your child may be heading to college and need those extracurriculars on his or her college application, most colleges are also forgiving and understanding of applicants who have ASD or other qualifying disability. What is more important is that your child finds out what he or she likes and sticks with it, rather than trying everything and sticking with nothing.

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Physical Placement and Custody of an Autistic Child

Autism And Depression In Teenagers
Divorce is hard on kids, but much more so for kids with ASD because they cannot process why Mommy and Daddy won’t live in the same house anymore. Since they already have a difficult time with social interaction and personal relationships, it becomes especially confusing to the ASD child when parents split. If parents are not careful about making custody and placement decisions, the ASD child will suffer more than usual during and after a divorce.

More and more judges and lawyers are becoming familiar with autism and autism spectrum disorders. They are recognizing the impact it has on children who need consistency and stability in their lives in order to feel more secure. Parents who fight over where their child with ASD is going to live are actually jeopardizing that child’s sense of security. The ASD child will begin to lash out, become aggressive and stressed, be emotionally charged and have more frequent meltdowns. To them, their whole world is falling apart and now they are expected to go to Daddy’s on certain days and times and live with Mommy the rest of the time, or vice versa. Although this isn’t the best option already for kids who are not on the spectrum, it is the worst for kids who are.

If you, as a parent, are going through a divorce and are worried about your child with ASD, you need to fight really hard to keep your child living in one location to maintain consistency. That is not to say you should deny your ex of his or her rights to see your child, but instead offer liberal visitation and shared custody. Primary physical placement with one parent is the ideal situation for these children, but they need both parents in order to continue growing socially and emotionally. This is a very difficult thing to do, since some parents are quite insistent that children should split their time and living quarters between parents, but it isn’t a suitable option for kids on the spectrum, especially those who are high-functioning enough to understand some of what is going on.

If you are having difficulties with custody issues and your soon-to-be-ex, make sure you hire a lawyer who has experience with disability cases who can also schedule a hearing with a judge who is equally experienced and familiar with autism and ASD. Whatever your ex’s argument is regarding physical custody, the judge should be able to persuade him or her that it may not be in your ASD child’s best interests to toss him or her to and fro between two residences. Also, if you can prove that your child does not adapt well to change and has issues with transitioning between homes and transitioning in and out of other locations and situations, that may help solidify your case to keep your child in one home or the other consistently.

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Fun and Function : Early childhood break box

Soothing Kits for Kids on the Spectrum

Calming toys for special needs children

No doubt that as a parent of a child with ASD, you have witnessed your fair share of meltdowns. Other people who are not aware of your child’s diagnosis might accuse you of bad parenting or that your child is a spoiled brat. What they fail to understand is that your child is currently overstimulated, and needs to be soothed but not coddled.

Mental health therapists who meet with higher-functioning kids on the spectrum often suggest a soothing kit. Usually within the first two or three meetings, kids discuss with their therapists the different things they find comforting. Some kids like really soft objects to brush up against their skin, while other kids really love fidgets, a type of toy that lets them putz and explore but still helps them focus.

Using a rundown of sensory experiences, your child’s therapist will come up with different things you can put into a soothing kit for him or her. There should be at least two different objects for each sense in the kit, e.g., two objects for touch, two for sound, two for smell, etc. The only sense you might want to avoid is taste, because you will have to replace it far too frequently. Many kids on the spectrum already stick everything in their mouths for oral stimulation, so actual edibles in the soothing kit is discouraged. It is also discouraged because you do not want your child to learn that eating is a healthy way to soothe one’s feelings when it is not.

The other thing you want to keep in mind is that not all children on the spectrum will appreciate soothing items for sound or light, but if your child naturally gravitates towards certain objects and finds them comforting, in the kit they go. Because of their high distractibility, kids with ASD will move out of meltdown mode if given something pleasing and soothing to their currently raw nerves.

Special needs retailers, such as Fun and Function, sell a wide variety of sensory soothing kits and items small enough to throw into a Rubbermaid tote to create a kit. It can be a real trial and error process, especially if you do not have anything at home that your child already responds to positively. Whenever possible, take your child to an educational toy store and head for the special needs toy aisles. Being able to touch and play with fidgets and sensory toys helps your child have a say in what goes into the kit, even if he or she is non-verbal. Once you have a well-stocked kit, keep it close by at all times. If you want to travel with it, then putting your son’s or daughter’s favorite soothing items in a backpack will ensure a more peaceful trip for all.

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GPS Tracking Devices for Kids with Autism

Autism Tracking Devices

Because children with autism have no fear of their surroundings or the dangers of sexual predators, they put their parents in a terrifying position every time they wander off in public. If this sounds like your situation, you know exactly what that is like, and how difficult it is trying to explain to a sales clerk that your child isn’t going to respond to a loudspeaker announcement to come to the service desk. It is so hard to accomplish your errands when you have children with autism, but would you seriously want to
imbed a tracking device in your child?

That is a recent development, one which wealthy parents have chosen to do even with their non-autistic children. Parents ease their discomfort when their children wander off by tagging them like the family dog or cat, then use a special app or a handheld device which works something like a GPS locator. Although it is very effective at finding your lost child, it brings up many questions regarding ethics and physical pain.

Tracking devices for children with autism

There are also devices that do not go under the skin but over it. These tracking devices are less invasive than the chips some parents have decided to use. The devices look very much like criminal anklets or bracelets, and your child cannot remove them without a code. The biggest concern here is that a child with autism might find the bracelets or anklets very uncomfortable or they might obsess with chewing on them. There is also the potential for the bracelets and anklets to be cut off if a child predator can get
the autistic child alone long enough to cut the device off. Still, it is a better option than asking your doctor to implant a computer-tracking chip under your child’s skin.

If you want to keep track of your child and keep him or her from wandering off in a public place, less expensive and simpler devices are available. Mini-backpacks with detachable leashes are more ideal than a tracking device because you can hold onto the leash while still allowing your child room to explore around you. These mini-backpacks also have a small pocket in them that would allow you to put personal information in the pocket along with your child’s health conditions and diagnosis if someone
kind and decent finds your child and tries to help. This low-tech way of keeping your autistic child close to you could allow you to place a high-tech tracking device in the pocket which will not interfere with your child in any way, and thus the combined solution would lead you to your child and allow others to bring your child back to you.

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Rapamycin for Autism

Autism and Tuberous Sclerosis , How is it linked to Rapamycin

There is some fairly new drama surrounding a drug and its potential for causing autism. Like most things, it is all hype, and you may or may not have heard about rapamycin anyway. If your child has a dual diagnosis of autism and tuberous sclerosis, then you do know why rapamycin is. It is the drug that helps shrink the tuberous growths throughout your child’s body.

The argument comes from a government study that examined the effects of this drug on lab rats. That’s right, lab rats. They were researching what the drug did for tumors, and instead concluded that it made the animals more social. It, like so many other drugs, alters the brain chemistry and some of its physiology such that the rats seemed more attractive and approachable to other rats. The key word here is seemed, since you cannot actually ask other rats what they think of their cage mates when the
cage mates were on this drug.

As with all drug research and development, lab rats are a long way from human trials, and it takes a lot of proof and study to be sure that the drug has no negative side effects on humans before a human drug trial can begin. The hope of the researchers is that rapamycin will make people with autism less socially awkward and facilitate better social interaction with their non-autistic peers, but it is years off from being tested in this fashion.

Meanwhile, parents and teachers of children with autism have to be the facilitators of social interaction for these children. It requires a lot more effort because everyone has to model social behavior and help the children with autism learn how to interact with others. There is no short cut here, and it is hard work, but many children with mild to moderate autism learn how to act, interact and react to what others say and do in correct ways, something which they would still have to do if they were taking
rapamycin.

The conclusion here is that there is no quick fix and no cure just yet. There is still the overwhelming task of teaching kids and adults how to interact even if there was a quick fix, and parents of children with autism would have to make the decision to place their children on this drug for life. If your child already takes it for tuberous sclerosis, then the decision is a simple one because your child really needs it. If not, then it becomes a choice between forcing your child to change and become social, or remain in his or her own quiet, little world.

The effects on children with moderate to severe autism are even more of an unknown, since most of these children do not want to be touched nor do they seek out affection. Given that there are so many medical hurdles to cross before anyone can find out, you do better by your child teaching him or her how to respond to others. That is better than any pill you can make him or her take.

Is there a link between pitocin induction and autism

Autism and Pitocin

What is Pitocin

Most women have had to take pitocin during the birthing process, either because labor is not progressing as it should, or because the baby is in danger if the mother cannot push the baby out on her own. Sometimes, when the mother has requested induced labor rather than wait for birth to start on its own, doctors use pitocin throughout the birthing process. Pitocin is man-made and mimics the natural chemical, oxytocin, which the mother’s body produces at the onset of labor and continues to produce until the afterbirth has been ejected from her body.

pitocin autism

Does pitocin cause autism

Recently, some people have argued that the use of pitocin causes autism. This is a wholly and completely unfounded argument for several reasons. First of all, there are limited studies on the subject, all of which have had the same result—pitocin does not affect brains of children during childbirth.

Secondly, the pitocin a child experiences during the birthing process is short-lived. By the time the child is born, usually within eight to ten hours after the first IV of pitocin has been administered to the mother, the baby’s brain has only been exposed to the chemical for that period in time. Its brain has not undergone any serious changes because it was not developing or growing during the birthing process.

Third, after the child is born and the cord is cut, the baby wheedles the pitocin out of its little system just as it would any other drug through its urine and its bowels. It does not linger and begin destroying brain cells, as these people might contend. Finally, the baby is not exposed to the drug after birth, although a very small amount might appear in the mother’s milk with the first feeding, but after a couple of days when the mother’s milk comes in, there is nothing left in the mother’s system to cross over in the milk.

Ergo, pitocin does not cause autism, nor can it have a significant impact on the brain of a baby in the birthing process. It simply is not feasible, and there is no significant correlation. Again, as any good biologist will tell you, even if there was correlation, it does not prove causation.

As an added note here, AutismSpeaks is conducting research on a drug that delays premature birth. This drug does affect the oxytocin receptors in a baby’s brain, although no one is certain just yet how much of an impact it has. If you would like to follow the study and learn more about the research they are conducting in relation to this particular labor drug, you can read up on it here. “http://www.autismspeaks.org/blog/2012/06/01/autism-pitocin-connection

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Is ABCMouse.Com good for my autistic child

The World of ABCMouse.com: How It Can Help Your Child with Autism Learn

It’s no secret that a child with autism tunes right in to the world of computers because it makes sense to them and because they do not have to interact with live people. The children’s subscription service known as ABCMouse.com is ideal for these children because it begins with the most basic preschool curriculum and continues to build on the skills each child masters. All of the games, stories and songs that the children engage in on this website are immediately rewarded with virtual tickets that children can spend for virtual items in a virtual store inside the program.

abcmouse com

The fun of the activities combined with the immediacy of the rewards speaks to the emotional and intellectual needs of an autistic child. They feel accomplished and their self-esteem is elevated by the immediate rewards and the challenges do not reach beyond the child’s current skill level. Your child does not feel frustrated nor will he or she feel defeated or bored because ABCMouse has so carefully tailored their program that it resembles many of the learning games children can play on a tablet or learning tablet system.

As your child levels up in skills, he or she also levels up in the virtual school in ABCMouse. You are able to see and track your child’s progress and monitor their strengths and weaknesses. Because it is the exact same cumulative curriculum many teachers use in their classrooms, you can see what grade level your child is actually at in every subject including writing, reading, math and science.

Has anyone used ABC Mouse?

If you are not sure about how ABCMouse.com can help your child with autism, the company frequently offers introductory prices of $1 for the first month, or forty to sixty percent off an entire year’s subscription. Even if your autistic child does not take to the program, your “normal” children will, and it will help them catch up to their peers. The program starts out at the preschool level and advances your child when he or she is ready, all the way up to the sixth grade. You do not have to do previous school year levels either. If you jump in when your autistic son or daughter is in the second grade, the program still continues onward as if your child had started the program in an earlier skill/ grade level. It really is the only program of its kind.

The program simulates home schooling in many ways as well. If you already home-school your special needs children, then this program can be easily incorporated into the curriculum and even support the home-school curriculum you already use. The benefits far exceed and outweigh any educational deficit you could possibly dream up, and you should at least give it a try at the $1 introductory price.

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Probiotic for autistic children

Different Diets, Same Autism (Probiotics and Autism)

Probiotic autism
There have been many rumors circulating that a change in diet can help a child with autism cope with his or her surroundings. There are some grains of truth to this, but it should be kept in mind that even regular people can have a change in behavior and mood when they change their diets. The latest rumor running in autism circles is about the effect of probiotics. Here is the cold, hard truth. Children with autism often have poor diets, not because their parents don’t do everything they can to get them to eat healthy, but because autistic kids get stuck on certain foods and won’t eat anything else. There is also the problem of food textures and spices, which some kids with autism are extremely sensitive to, and therefore they simply won’t even try a lot of foods that may be healthier or could vary their diets more.

What this adds up to is a digestive system that does not run as smoothly as intended. Kids with autism often have constipation because they refuse to eat vegetables or fruits. They are hard-wired to consume carbs, although it is not certain why. Since you definitely do not want to give your kids laxatives all the time, some parents are wondering about the effects of probiotics.

What are Probiotics

Probiotics is a fancy word that describes the healthy bacteria in the human intestines. When it is properly balanced, you feel great and your bowel movements are regular and normal in consistency. It is completely natural to take probiotic supplements to aid digestion, and it can help your child with autism regulate his or her little system.

The thing is, it is not a fancy diet to follow nor is it a change in lifestyle. In fact, if your child does not have a lactose intolerance and is not sensitive to dairy products, he or she can get all the probiotics he or she needs simply by consuming one to two servings of yogurt daily. You do not have to overextend yourself financially buying probiotic supplements to give your child.

Can probiotics help autism

The drawback to this line of thinking is that probiotics can cure autism or that it dramatically improves the challenging behaviors of autism. It cannot be stressed enough that probiotics are not a cure-all, nor are they going to completely eliminate problematic behaviors. Will your child feel better and because he or she feels better behave better? Absolutely, but anyone eating yogurt or taking a daily probiotic supplement will. Correlation is not causation, and vice versa.

Plain and simple, when your child is not struggling to create a BM and then empty his or her system of that BM, he or she will be more comfortable, content, and less challenging. There is nothing wrong with trying this approach, especially if you notice your child has infrequent BM’s or really hard/hard to pass stools. What will ease their gut will ease some of their distress and in turn ease some behavior, but not all.

Omega-3 fatty acids supplementation for autism spectrum disorders (asd)

Autismspeaks.org

Autism Speaks

Many people have worked to fund research to find the cause(s) of autism and they have done a good job helping researchers pay for expensive studies. The organization that has so far done the best work of fund raising has been Autism Speaks. This group has worked to fund autism research through sales of donated articles and group specific merchandise. It is a nonprofit that works to donate all of their time and energy to the funding of autism research.

How was autism speaks founded

The site was started in 2005 by Bob and Suzanne Wright who have a grandson with the dread disease. They worked with a friend to start the organization initially and have since grown exponentially. Their friend, Bernie Marcus, donated the initial $25 million that gave them the funds to start the site and begin fund raising efforts. The organization is dedicated to raising awareness and helping both those who suffer from autism and their families gain some kind of hope in a world that often seems hopeless.

The color of the website is a royal blue and they have made that the color of choice for the organization. With their “Light it up Blue” campaign, they are hoping to raise money to fund further research and to assist families of children who have autism.

The site is a constant fount of news for those family members looking for an oasis in the desert. The news articles include fundraising efforts and where people can gather to help raise money, talk of cures that may show promise as they are developed, and other news of interest to the ever broadening community.

This shows that the dedication of a small group of people can genuinely make a difference in the lives of people with a debilitating condition. It is through efforts like these that autism will finally be cured and people released from its bondage.

Difference between high functioning autism and Asperger’s

Difference between high functioning autism and Asperger’s

In the past, Asperger’s Syndrome and autism were thought to be two entirely different things. People with autism were not able to live in society because of their mental disabilities and physical problems; while people with Asperger’s may have a difficult time relating to society and the people in it, they were still able to function and have relatively “normal” lives. This has recently changed. Now Asperger’s is classified as high-functioning autism. So, as of a few years ago there is no difference between the two. Some people who are considered high functioning autistics do not have all the features of autism though.

Sleep disorders linked to ADHD and autism