Wandering or “elopement,” a common behavioral occurrence among children with Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD), refers to the tendency to leave a safe, supervised space or caregiver and subsequently expose oneself to potential danger. Wandering is both tragic and terrifying for parents, given that drowning and wandering-related behaviors are the top causes of death in the ASD community (Rice et al., 2016). Although most of the reports of wandering have been anecdotal, the first major study on wandering by the American Academy of Pediatrics provides hard data on wandering and elopement among individuals with ASD.
This article was originally published on the Speech@NYU blog. Speech@NYU is the online master’s program in speech-language pathology from NYU Steinhardt.
1 in 68 children have Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD), which is roughly 1 percent to 2 percent of students in the United States, according to a recent CDC report. Schools, in increasing numbers, are recruiting professionals to serve the academic, social, and emotional needs of students with autism.
Linda Hodgdon has been a long-time friend of Stages Learning and is author of the best-selling book, "Visual Strategies for Improving Communication." We have invited her to impart some of her wisdom and experience in a guest blog and she discusses an important topic that comes up often in the autism space.
If you have a student with autism, you probably have a list of situations where you deal with problem behaviors and meltdowns. Children with a diagnosis of Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD) are frequently identified because of their difficulties with communication and behavior. Visual strategies provide a solution.
It’s likely that we all know someone who experiences anxiety, and there’s no doubt that anxiety can be exhausting and can interfere with daily life. For children with autism, anxiety can occur more frequently and can be very intense. Seemingly simple daily activities such as leaving the house, interacting with peers, riding in the car, or taking public transportation can become increasingly difficult and anxiety provoking. In order to help children who may be experiencing anxiety, it is important for parents and teachers to understand anxiety and how it may be affecting children with autism.
The practice of quieting the mind, otherwise known as mindfulness, is increasingly being practiced across the board – from Google executives to classrooms as a replacement to detention (Bloom, 2016). Mindfulness specifically refers to the practice of paying attention to the present moment non-judgmentally. Observation of our thoughts and feelings allows us to better understand our emotions and react rationally to negative situations.
I can still remember when I was a child watching my mother cook. Her face always beamed with a smile so big that everyone could tell how much joy she had in preparing a great meal for my family. It seemed cooking was not only a hobby that she enjoyed, but also one of her passions. She told me she had watched my grandmother cook as a child and started learning at a young age. I know the experience is still one of her fondest childhood memories. No wonder why she is a great cook!
5 Tips for Helping Your Child Succeed in Sports
It is no secret that sports are a big part of most people’s lives. More than 100 million people in the United States alone tune in to watch the Super Bowl every year. However, being a sports fan and playing a sport are two completely different things–especially in the eyes of a parent. You probably know enrolling your child in a sport has tremendous benefits such as endurance, strength, and general fitness. But as you might have guessed, for many children with autism, finding the appropriate sport can be challenging.
Leveraging Special Interests to Help Children with Autism: An Autistic Person* Shares Her Experiences
Having a special interest in something is a major part of the repetitive behavior that comes with autism. In fact, researcher Tony Attwood (2003) found that special interests seem “to be a dominant characteristic, occurring in over 90% of children and adults with Asperger’s syndrome.” Your child, client, or student with autism may have an intense interest in one particular subject. While hearing someone you love go on and on about his or her favorite subject may get tiring, special interests are important. A 2007 study done by Winter-Messiers (2007) reflected that special interests should be treated seriously because they may be beneficial in building up skills that would be hard to obtain otherwise.
This article was originally written in English and has been translated into Chinese.
This article was originally written in English and has been translated into Chinese.
I hope everyone’s been having a great holiday season! Whether enthusiastic about it or not, the time has come for families and friends to get together and celebrate. This particular time of the year means many things for me: turkey, inviting aunts and uncles over, wrapping presents, my siblings asking me to wrap their presents for them, pie, singing, joy, worshipping, and getting really excited about making cookies! However, holidays also mean a messed up routine, sensory chaos, and unwritten social rules.
What is bullying?
Stopbullying.gov defines bullying as:
“Unwanted, aggressive behavior among school-aged children. It involves a real or perceived power imbalance and the behavior is repeated, or has the potential to be repeated, over time.”
There are three types of bullying: verbal, social, and physical. All three types of bullying can have serious, long-lasting effects on children. Therefore, it is important to teach children the appropriate strategies to deal with a bullying situation should they ever encounter one.
As an autistic person, I am very familiar with AAC. I use it, and I am around others who use it too. Because it is AAC awareness month, I thought this was a good opportunity to write about it.
*Print out out Free Card to give to a stranger when your child is having a difficult time in public.
The “Five W’s” approach to choosing when to be an ambassador for autism and when to walk away.
Children with autism and their families often find themselves in uncomfortable situations during encounters with strangers. Despite much more widespread awareness about autism, strangers can be outright rude, insensitive, or simply ill informed. Any parent wants to step in and defend their own child, but for parents of children with autism, there often is an even stronger desire to defend and protect their child. These psychologically demanding public encounters with strangers are confusing, hurtful, and stressful for parents and children (Ryan, 2010).
Summer is an important time to take a break from school routines, spend time with the family, and explore extracurricular interests. However, the transition from the more laid-back schedule of the summer to that of the school year can be stressful for students and parents alike. This article offers tips to help you and your child with your back-to-school transition.
Activities that are comforting, thrilling, or intolerable to people with autism can vary considerably from what a neuro-typical child or adult may experience in the same situation. For example, haircuts or birthday parties can be extremely unpleasant. Carly Fleischmann, a woman with autism, wrote a book about her experiences and a team of talented disability rights allies helped her produce this video, demonstrating her experience within a coffee shop.
Have you ever worried that your child is exhibiting symptoms of autism, but had no one to go to and no understanding of how to acquire a diagnosis and ensure that your child will receive the help they need?
Sequencing is the ability to logically order events, images, thoughts, and actions. Why is sequencing important for children?
Of the roughly 50,000 young Americans with autism who graduate from high school each year, less than 7,000 end up with a college degree (Wei et al 2015). This discouraging statistic has given rise to countless transition programs that we hope will allow more students to enroll in appropriate postsecondary programs, benefit from their time on campus, and enter rewarding careers. A series of steps from transition meetings to college admissions, outlined below, function as a roadmap for teens and parents who have set their sights on higher education.
Many parents are unsure about how to speak to their child with autism spectrum disorder (ASD) about the diagnosis. Parents may fear a number of reactions: that their child will not understand, become angry or depressed, or use ASD as an excuse for why he or she cannot do some things. While some children can find the news upsetting, the information can also come as a relief, as found by a group of researchers that interviewed 9 individuals with high-functioning ASD, aged 16 to 21. Most children reported feeling a sense of shock and disbelief when first informed of the diagnosis, but seemed able to incorporate the idea of “having ASD” into their identity by the time of the interview. Some expressed that learning that they were on the autism spectrum helped them understand why they had experienced various difficulties and had been treated differently. It also provided a reason for their behavior that they thought others might understand (Huws & Jones, 2008).
As a grandparent it can be a struggle to find presents for a granddaughter or grandson who has autism. Sometimes traditional gifts can backfire for the child with autism.
Holidays can be a time of great joy and excitement, but they can also be stressful and disruptive. For families who have children with autism, extra planning is essential to keep everyone on an even keel. Managing expectations about what a holiday “should” be like, and minimizing the changes that will occur in your family routine will help reduce stress and avoid meltdowns.
Research[i] confirms what many parents of children with autism already know: children with autism have a higher incidence of sleep challenges, and the more severe the autism symptoms the more severe the sleep challenges. Research,[ii] as well as common sense, also tells us that impaired sleep has a negative impact on physical, emotional, academic, and social functioning.
As a parent our needs are often the first to be postponed or set aside. Sometimes there is no choice: we have to attend to the immediate needs of our children. But in the long run we could be doing significant damage to our physical and emotional health by not attending to our own needs. And if our health and emotional well-being is compromised this is likely to have an impact on how well we are able to care for our children.
Planning for a young adult with autism spectrum disorders (ASD) or other special needs to transition from special education to adult services can be overwhelming for children and their parents alike! Many parents are so intimidated by the transition process that they refuse to think about it until their child turns 14 and a statement about that student’s transition services is required by law to be in their individual education program (IEP), or age 16 when those services must start to be implemented. Other parents may think that they don't need to consider transition until their child is older since the actual transition from special education doesn't happen until students turn 21 (or the age at which special education services end in their state). However, as with any change, the sooner parents and their children start preparing for transition, the smoother the actual shift from special education will likely be. Despite what some may think, there are skills that can be taught to children at a young age that will make any transition easier as they get older. Three of these skills and the importance of implementing them at home are discussed below:
These days nearly everyone knows a friend or family member who is touched by autism. Perhaps it’s your own child or your sister’s child. Perhaps it’s the child of your neighbor, your dentist, your mail carrier, or hair dresser.
With the holidays fast approaching, you may be asking yourself: are there any gifts for people on the autism spectrum that are both meaningful and appropriate?
When you have a child with autism or other special needs, chores are often overlooked or parents don’t consider it a possibility for their child. Just as modifications are needed in the classroom, small modification or supports can be developed to not only make chores a possibility, but part of the daily routine. Find out more about increasing your child's independence with chores at home!
Parents and educators often struggle to help children with autism communicate their feelings. When children with autism have trouble recognizing and communicating how they feel, it may contribute to inappropriate behaviors such as tantruming and aggression, or even increased social withdrawal. If our kids could tell us how they feel, they would be less frustrated, and we would be better able to help solve their dissatisfaction.
Our first experiences with food have a large effect on our eating habits for the rest of our lives, so the best time to teach good dietary habits is during the early years. Think about some of your best and worst food habits... don't you wish you had started better habits at age 3, rather than trying to change those habits at age (fill in the blank!)?
New routine, new teachers, new classrooms…. New, new, new! This can be stressful for all children, but even more so for children with autism and other special needs. What can you do to minimize stress and maximize success in the new school year? Here are some ABC’s to ensure back to school success.