Encountering Other Mothers With Autistic Kids

Local support groups are a great way to meet other parents of children with autism. However, meeting a mom in another place besides a support group is somewhat happenstance, but no less informative. Because the spectrum has such a vast diversity, and because so many kids are affected by it, it’s very likely that you will run into another mom with an autistic child and an opportunity to ask her questions.

Most commonly, moms like to compare and contrast the things their kids can and can’t do, as well as their amazing and unique abilities as part of the spectrum. This is even a common practice between moms who have “normal” kids, but it’s more of a reassuring practice with moms and special needs children.

Here is a list of the most common questions asked and why they are asked, or at least why they are sociologically assumed to be acceptable questions to ask.

1. So your child has autism too? When was he/she diagnosed? : A general lead in question begins the conversation, and it’s just a general question. What are the types of autism spectrum disorder(ASD) is considered very rare?

2. He/ she seems to be …. Is he/ she in any educational programs that help? : This question can apply to any positive you see in the other child and follows a comparison of when your own child was diagnosed. In a social setting you can reflect on the other child’s ability to play with others, share toys, etc. They might be enrolled in school and have program activities that help in the most crucial areas that children with autism need help in. “Questions To Ask Schools And Special Need Teacher In Regards To Your Autistic Child

3. What do you do for behaviors? : Generally, an autistic child will have at least one behavior incident an hour if they are lower functioning, but that’s not a strict rule of thumb by any means. You could ask this question if a behavior occurs right in front of you and you can empathize because your own child has behaviors. Use these behavior management strategies for children with autism.

4. How does he/ she do with self help skills? I still can’t get my child to do yada, yada…: This is another comparison and how do you do such and such question. It’s a good way to continue talking to another mother but only if the conversation allows.

5. Was/ Is he/ she in the birth to three program? A preschool program or early learning program for special needs children? : This question has to be tailored to the area in which you live. Birth To Three is a state-sponsored program that helps kids get extra in home help to catch up to their peers. Some states don’t have this program and instead have an early learning program for toddlers and preschoolers with special needs. Some mothers may know about these programs because their children are in them while other mothers haven’t even heard of them. Exchange of useful information is good. Find out services available for children with autism in your state.

6. What other kinds of therapy does your child receive? : If the conversation progresses and time permits, a lot of moms who make a connection over their kids and with each other will probably get to this question. Again, one mom may find out from another about useful resources that she might not otherwise have known about.

The most important thing to remember when encountering another mom with an autistic child is that they are just as busy and consumed with the special needs of their child as you are. Don’t bombard her with questions or engage her with conversation about her child unless the environment and situation allows. Moms who want to talk will, and those who aren’t interested shouldn’t be considered rude; don’t take their current busy-ness personal.

Why do autistic children scream?

This is an assumption that all autistic children scream. They don’t. Lower functioning children on the spectrum scream because they like the sound of their voices and aren’t using them to talk. Or they have a health problem that they can’t tell a parent or doctor about. Pain will make them scream too, and since their pain thresholds are already low, they scream when they even so much as feel a pin prickle.

Parents have to recognize what the different screams mean. Just as a scream of terror in a horror movie means one thing and a scream of surprised means something else in another, so the screams of autistic children who do scream have their own meanings. Watching for other non-verbal body cues help parents figure out why their child is screaming.

A particular form of autism spectrum disorder that only affects girls is called Cri Du Chat, which is French for “cry of the cat”. It’s an extremely rare disorder but has become part of the spectrum because it attacks infant girls at the age of twenty-four months, the same time that autism begins to transform children who have it. Their cries, or screams, sound very much like the piercing cry of a cat being tortured, and will continue it for hours. It’s very unnerving to hear and even more unnerving to be around the whole time it continues. Supposedly over time it decreases as the little girl grows and continues to regress in all of her abilities.

As for high functioning autistic children who scream, they do so because they want you to pay attention to them and they think that if you aren’t looking right at them and acknowledging them when they talk you are ignoring them. They do not like being ignored unless they want to be. This behavior is easily correctable, as high functioning autistic children can respond and learn from discipline just as well as the next child. They just need to be reminded to use their words, because they have them and they can use them.

The spectrum is wide, with many variations on it. Generalizations such as this one about all autistic children screaming is precisely what promotes the stereotype that is hurtful and not helpful. If a child screams, it is safe to always ask the parent why; they might tell you that their child is fine or that he/she has autism spectrum disorder and this is typical for just their child. That is the truth, too. No two autistic children are alike; one may scream and the other doesn’t. It’s just the mysteries of autism. There are many more behavioral problems in children with autism. Apply these powerful behavior management strategies to control an autistic kid.

Discrimination Against Autism

Does Discrimination Against Autism Exist?

Rare is the case of discrimination against autism that there were no news articles to be found on the subject online. Either the cases are unheard of because people aren’t talking about it when it happens, or they settle outside of court before the discrimination gets to the media. Whichever way the wind blows, it seems that discriminatory cases against children and adults with autism do not, presently, exist.

It’s quite possible that discrimination can and does occur. There are still five times as many people out there who don’t know and don’t understand what autism is, and are fearful of it when they see it. They are the same people who are also afraid of people with mental retardation, Down’s syndrome, and any other disability. It is up to the educated classes to understand that discrimination is about fear, and fear controls human action, reaction and interaction more than any other emotion.

Understanding that fear is what drives individuals to act in discriminatory ways, when you do see it happening to your autistic child or adult relative, there are several ways to deal with it.

1. Deal with it directly. Let that person know their behavior is offensive and rude. Also let them know that if they have any questions regarding the disability that they are free to ask. Be calm, polite, and assertive. You are the community advocate for autism.

2. Ignore it. Not the best idea in the world sometimes but if you get the vibe that this person is only going to escalate the matter into a major fight, walk away.

3. Ask them if they need help understanding what the problem is. Nothing unnerves them more than being asked, politely and camouflaged, if they are fearful and/or ignorant. Their attitude is likely to change in a hurry.

4. If it escalates or repeats, and is very obvious or threatening, legal action may be your only option. Nobody likes to get the courts involved, but if someone is just that obvious about their discrimination or prejudice, they need a lesson in behavior modification.

People are generally more agreeable once you explain to them that your child or relative has autism. You don’t have to and shouldn’t have to disclose something so personal, but if you’re twelve year old looks like he’s going to try and bite the salesclerk because the item he wants isn’t in the store, a quick explanation with an apology turns things around in a hurry. In fact, people are sometimes MORE helpful if they know that there is a reason someone is acting in an unusual manner.

In one instance, when a child with autism insisted that he saw a certain toy at a specific store, the mother took him to look for it. When it couldn’t be found, the mother did what most mothers do; she asked a salesgirl to find it. When the salesgirl and two other clerks couldn’t find it, the child with autism began to have a meltdown. The salesgirl started to apologize heavily, but the mother explained her son’s condition to the salesgirl. “Ohhh,” started the salesgirl, “okay. I have a cousin with autism too. I get it now.” The mother walked out knowing they had done what they could to find the toy the boy was fixated on and that the person looking for it, well, her life was touched in some way by autism too. The prevalence of the disorder was such that the salesgirl knew and understood when the mother explained, and more compassionate feelings were applied. It’s just generally accepted, and therefore not much discrimination exists.

“Updated on 08/23/2013

Recently  in the news, an Ontario, Canada woman had the nerve to write a most despicable letter to her neighbor in regards to the neighbor’s grandson.  It has gone viral around the world, and is quite the shameful piece.  The hate-filled woman had the audacity to tell her neighbor that the behaviors her grandson exhibited were disgusting displays and that the boy should be put to sleep like a rabid wild animal.

Any mother or grandmother would be mortified as it is, but what makes this letter so particularly heinous is the fact that the boy has autism.  He is non-verbal and only exhibits loud vocalizations that can sometimes frighten people who may not fully understand autism or even know what it is.  Rather than have a polite, neighborly conversation with the grandmother and uncover the reason behind the boy’s odd behaviors, the neighbor chose to write a very seething and discriminatory letter to her instead.

Like most people who exhibit discrimination, this woman chose a very cowardly way to express it.  She obviously couldn’t bring herself to knock on the grandmother’s door, because, of course, that would mean taking a more polite and less hostile tone.  The woman claims that her “normal” children were being terrified by what they saw and heard, yet the woman didn’t even bother to explain to her children that there was nothing to be afraid of, because she herself was afraid of that which she obviously knew nothing about.

No doubt this letter and incident will be infamous to infinity as a prime example that 1) autism awareness has not been publicized enough, and 2) discrimination against anyone with special needs still exists in the world.  This woman’s assumptions that the boy was “retarded” and “no woman will ever want to marry him” and he “will never amount to anything” blatantly shows how little she knows about autism and that it doesn’t necessarily and automatically equal retardation, nor does it mean that children with autism can’t have normal and fulfilling lives.  It is a truly sickening display of cowardice, and an example of how one person didn’t dare change her own perceptions, much less those of the three children she claims to be raising.

It just goes to show that we all have a lot more work to do to make people aware that autism isn’t a bad thing or that something’s wrong with our children.  We have to show others how right our children and how unique they really are.

Questions to Ask When Picking a Best School For Your Autistic Child

Questions To Ask Schools And Special Need Teacher In Regards To Your Autistic Child

Training in autism and autism spectrum disorders is required of any teacher who plans to graduate and work in the field of special needs teaching. If they graduated more than thirty years ago, their training should be up to date. As a parent you have every right to question your child’s potential school and what supports are available to help him or her. The following list is a set of must have questions when you meet the special needs and classroom teachers for the first time. (If your child will be mainstreamed, i.e., spends most of the time in a regular classroom versus a special needs classroom, you will want to ask some of these questions of the classroom teacher too).

  1. What experience do you have supporting children on the autism spectrum?
  2. What or how many years of teaching experience do you have with autistic children?
  3. How do you handle behavior issues?
  4. What do you use to communicate with a non-verbal child with autism?
  5. Does my child need to be fully potty-trained before entering Kindergarten/ first grade?
  6. What kind of expectations do you have of my child in your room?
  7. What do you use to teach children about appropriate social interactions?
  8. Loud noises/ sensory overstimulation is a problem for my child. Do you provide therapy for this?
  9. My child is a very picky eater. How do I know he/ she has gotten enough to eat during the day while at school?
  10. Will my child be expected to do homework?
  11. How many hours of speech/ OT/ physical/ social therapy will my child have each week?
  12. How often can I expect to meet with you for IEP changes?
  13. What is your approach with discipline regarding children on the spectrum?
  14. Can I get more frequent progress reports to make sure my child is adjusting to school okay?
  15. Do you work with my child’s strengths as well as those areas that give them trouble?
  16. How will I know if my child has had a good day/ week/ month? What happens if there is a serious behavior problem?
  17. Can I visit my child at school? Can I have lunch with them?
  18. How involved am I allowed to be in my child’s education here?
  19. Are there extra supports or teachers’ aides in the room to help my child?
  20. Will my child need to pay for any equipment or supplies to meet their needs while in attendance?

This is the most basic but most relevant set of questions. You may have some questions of your own that are not on this list. Be sure to write them down when you meet your child’s teachers the first time or you might forget them in all of the interruptions you’re likely to encounter in the first meeting.

Do autistic children recover?

Is Autism And Asperger’s The Same?

The answer, quite simply, is no. Absolutely not. There are distinctive diagnostic differences between autism and Asperger’s that make them clearly two different disorders. It needs to be addressed that autism refers to a broad spectrum of pervasive developmental disorders as well as its own disorder. Encompassed within the autism spectrum are autism, Asperger’s, PDD-NOS, and two others which have recently been reclassified as autism spectrum disorders.

Admittedly this can be quite confusing for parents who are just beginning their journey with their child through the world of Asperger’s, since their child was seemingly quite “normal” until a professional from either school or a clinic noticed the child was a little different. The most striking difference is the inability to understand certain expressions in speech. Idioms, homilies, metaphors, and similes don’t make sense to most autism spectrum children. With Asperger’s children who have been able to speak since toddlerhood, this really stands out as odd.

Another problem is the social interactions between the Asperger’s child and his or her peers. Social interaction is always a problem but here it turns violent and even volatile. Peers can be injured by the Asperger’s child who has completely misconstrued what the other child has said or done. Social coaches are assigned to these students in school to help them navigate social situations better and without aggression.

Daily routines can’t be interrupted or altered at the last minute for a child with Asperger’s. It causes extreme anxiety and outbursts. Transitions have to be part of the day, such that he or she knows what to expect next. Their sense of security is dependent entirely upon strict structured routine. Children with autism need structure too, but not to the extent that most Asperger’s children do. It complicates your whole life, because you don’t have an ounce of flexibility in your day, but you do get used to it.

Do Autistic Children Get Better

Do Children With Autism Spectrum (AS) Get Better?

Children diagnosed early on with an autism spectrum disorder may appear to get better as they get older. This is especially true of children who didn’t or couldn’t speak and then through several hours of speech therapy learned to speak fluently and clearly. However, a child who really has AS does not “get better”; this is a physical, mental, social and emotional developmental disability that stays with a child for life.

This is often a question presented by parents who are hearing this diagnosis for the first time. They are hoping there is an instant cure, like antibiotics for strep throat. It’s difficult to hear that your child is different and that all the hopes, dreams and expectations you had of raising wonderful children to adulthood are taking a detour. It takes time for you to adjust to all the modifications you have to make to accommodate your child who has autism spectrum disorder, and that’s completely normal.

You should be comforted by the fact, though, that although children with ASD aren’t cured or get better, you can help them adapt. With the help of really good teachers, you can show your ASD child how to get along with others, recognize others’ feelings, make friends, excel academically, be responsible for their actions, and get physical therapy if they need it. With a more positive approach, your child will grow into a well-adjusted adult, still with special needs, but less noticeable for the time and effort you put in as a parent to encourage their growth as a person.

In the next fifty years, the cause as well as some incredible treatments for ASD will no doubt come to light. Your child can’t wait that long. You can help him or her now by showing through examples and encouragement and consistent techniques on how to deal with their ASD.

Who Diagnoses Asperger’s? How to Diagnose Asperger’s in Children?

A team of concerned parents take their child to a pediatrician, a psychiatrist and a applied behavior analyst, and possibly even a pediatric neurologist to make an Asperger’s diagnosis. Because this diagnosis doesn’t come as early on in life as other developmental disorders and their diagnoses, a solid memory on the part of the parent or parents is necessary because there are traits that clearly define Asperger’s from autism, even though they are on the same spectrum.

In most cases, a parent will notice certain social deficits or communication deficits in their child. The communication deficits are not from the inability to speak, but rather from not being able to adequately understand. Academic issues in reading and writing will also be apparent. Taking them to a psychiatrist who has experience with children and possibly even special needs and developmental disorders is the first step. If these traits go unchecked, aggression against peers due to a lack of understanding in idioms and other common expressions in speech is the next thing to surface. Again a parent would probably take their child back to a psychiatrist for a closer evaluation at why his or her child is aggressive and almost toddler-like in behavior. At this point, things will start to unravel and become clearer. Evaluations from pediatricians from early on in the child’s life come into play, and the child might be referred to an applied behavior analyst who will conduct the testing and make the diagnosis solid.

Depending on the age of the child, the next step in the procedure is to find them additional daily help to cope and adjust and understand their peers and surroundings better. Services for these special needs children are generally paid for by the government. The younger the diagnosis is made the more positive the outcome towards adulthood.

What are the types of autism spectrum disorder(ASD) is considered very rare?

Rare Co-occurences of Common Autism Spectrum Diagnosis

For a short while I worked as an Autism Line Therapist. This really aided my sight into the field and allowed for me to be more accepting of my own children’s issues with the autism spectrum. Although there really isn’t a rare type of the disorder, there are rare co-occurrences within the spectrum and other diagnoses.

For instance, given that autism generally means a deficiency within three main areas of development but an increased or heightened ability in others, a co-occurring diagnosis of Down’s Syndrome with autism is rare. Most children born with Down’s have average to lesser than average intelligence levels and intellectual capacities. When this co-occurs with autism the effect is mind-boggling; the child often appears to have average or above intellectual capacities even though the autism mixed with Down’s Syndrome amplifies the difficulties associated with other areas of physical and emotional and social growth and development.

Rhett’s syndrome, which is a genetic disorder linked to the X-chromosome in girls, is estimated to be only 1 in 10,000 to 23,000 births. Because many earlier cases of Rett’s predate the scientific criteria, this is just a guess. It is rarer than autism, which is estimated to be one in every 1,000 births.

Childhood disintegrative disorder is a very baffling and sad disorder. It is even rarer than Rett’s and Asperger’s (.3 births in every 1,000) combined. A normal child can suddenly begin to lose everything they have learned and are capable of doing. Not much can be done for them either.