“Take-Home Toolkit” for Positive Relationships for those with Autism, Continued


2. Enhance empathy: Tune into empathy, not sympathy.  Try to put yourself in their shoes and imagine what they may be thinking or feeling, especially since they have difficulties understanding, expressing and showing emotions which can be confusing.

Try to get a clear understanding of what visual and motor skills our kids have to be able to read.  Pat, my co-author of this chapter is going to hand out overlays so you can feel the difference a color could make for a child on a piece of paper. Most people with autism are extremely sensitive – actually hypersensitive. Color is no exception. By printing papers on toned paper for a school project or whatever can make a huge difference! And different colors can affect different people differently.

Enhancing Empathy can also mean engaging empathy by doing activities together. You can get a real feel for what they like or don’t like and participate in the activities you find most comforting to them. Strangely enough, they may be the most comforting to you as well!

It’s not always important to talk, talk talk all the time and try to get inside their head. Sometimes something as simple as sitting down with some nice colored pencils and markers and scribbling with them at a table in silence can foster a world of closeness. Communication is more than just words (especially for some people with autism).

Another empathetic activity might be going to an empty community hall or large room where you can play music and swirl around together! Be careful of the music. Different types of music affects people differently – sometimes even Classical music can affect someone with autism adversely (I know that may be hard to understand).

Just remember, as much as it may seem to you sometimes that some people with autism don’t always express their feelings, desires, likes and dislikes, it doesn’t mean they don’t have them – they just don’t know how to express them! And above all,  look for the gifts, praise and nurture them within your loved ones.

…to be Continued…

Seeking Creative Website Developer on Autism Spectrum

There is a brand new, special animated series for children, parents and teachers currently being pitched to major television.  They are seeking creative website developer on the autism spectrum that can carry their concept all the way from script to screen.  Please email:  karenss@shaw.ca if you are a person on the spectrum that thinks this is a fit.

“Take-Home Toolkit” for Positive Relationships for those with Autism

1. “Get” the label: We need to get past the label drama by offering a way to help people better understand what’s going on and ultimately support differences, not discriminate against them.  It’s not the label of autism that’s the problem, rather, the fear of the unknown and preconceived notions we associate with the label.  We must understand the challenges facing autism, which are first communication and sensory challenges which result in social skill deficits and behavioral challenges.

For example, because people on the spectrum can be very literal, don’t take what they say personally, as I described in the story about Jonny’s teacher, Mrs. Spaulding. Also, remember to watch out for areas on concern for example, bright lights, loud sounds and possibly uncomfortable clothing as it may cause discomfort leading to poor social and communication skills which affect relationships.  Understand their lack of ability to process and express themselves.  It’s not that they don’t feel; they just have trouble expressing themselves.

When my son was young, I used to get very hurt because he wouldn’t hug me goodbye when he went off to school.  I didn’t think he had feelings or cared about me.  One day right after he learned how to ride his bike he was darting down the street faster than a speeding bullet across a busy road, without even stopping to see if any cars were coming.  He had no fear of anything!  I ran up to him screaming at the top of my lungs “Jonny, what on earth are you doing?  You could have been killed!”  He came over to me with great big tears streaming down his cheeks.  “You hurt my feelings he said” What?  Up until then I never realized he really had feelings, or that he even knew what they were!  Never underestimate what is going on inside their minds and their hearts.  They feel a lot more than we give them credit for.  It’s up to each of us to find out how they express themselves and enjoy the differences.

Not long after that incident, a little boy in the first grade was killed in a tragic accident.  I hadn’t realized that Jonny thought he was very close to Michael, and that Michael was his best friend.  Because Jonny loved video games and wasn’t really in touch with reality he said “I wish I had another life, so I could give it to Michael and bring him back”.  Sometimes relationships to us aren’t necessarily the same to those on the spectrum.  It doesn’t mean we have to fit them into our mold; rather we need to understand that this is okay.

To be continued…

What Led to the Birth of Chicken Soup

“Chicken Soup for the Soul, Children with Special Needs” is all about the relationships parents and caregivers have with special needs children. I first approached Mark Victor Hansen in 2001 to create this book, because by now, I had heard so many heartwarming, loving, emotional and “chicken-soup able” stories from many mothers and felt it would help raise awareness for everyone. Back then I created my own type of Chicken Soup book “The Autism Experience, Stories of Hope and Love”, which was a great success.

Before I had special needs children I didn’t have a clue what the special needs world was all about, now I see it everywhere. It’s kind of like having a brown car.  If you have a brown car you start seeing other brown cars, but probably not until you have your own.  At the time I suggested the book to Mark, I was met with reluctance by Marks publishing group but finally I convinced Mark Victor Hansen and their head office to publish this much needed book.  During the submission process we collected well over 5,000 stories, a first for Chicken Soup, and stories continue to roll in.  That speaks volumes about this book!  I know it will raise awareness, while helping others understand from the inside out what it might be like to live in the special needs world.

Being Your Own Best Advocate for those with Autism!

Recognizing the early signs of autism is not always a mystery, but learning about the right types of foods, therapies and interventions can sometimes be obscure and elusive. Helping facilitate the success of an autistic child can be challenging without the right tools. Planning for a child’s future, having resources at your fingertips and knowing what steps to take is my best advice to you. By being your own best advocate for those with autism, you can stay up to date on the latest biomedical and educational interventions. And, by keeping with current intervention methodologies and having the resources needed for recovery, you can help those you love achieve a better quality of life.

If you know someone you suspect has autism or you have a child you suspect has autism, I would  encourage you to seek early intervention. Intervention at the earliest diagnosis of autism has already helped thousands of children world-wide and continues to do so. Many have found presentations of renowned autism authorities to be very helpful.

For Children with Autism and Language Delays

There are proven, effective ways to help children learn the art of dialogue. Conversation takes place between two people. Children can and do learn to stay on topic while they converse with adults and peers when equipped with the right tools. Learning to respond appropriately and spontaneously to questions first and then learning to initiate questions has been very effective. Simple, easy-to-understand methods have been proven to be most successful. Keeping subjects fresh and interesting helps children stay on task with learning the art of conversation. You never know when a child will want to start the initiative of learning the art of conversation, which it’s why it’s important to always be prepared.

Read more about EASY WAYS to teach language, concepts and comprehension.

Teaching Children with Autism, Aspergers, PDD-NOS

Teaching children who have autism, aspergers, PDD-NOS, and speech & language delays can be a challenge, to say the least. What seems like common knowledge to most, is baffling to others. Pictures with questions and answers have proven to be powerful tools for teaching children this so called common knowledge.

Where, why, when, what, which can be so frustrating for parents and caregivers, one would almost want to ask “why me” to themselves! Frustration is not going to help children learn this valuable knowledge. I have been amazed hearing what parents are saying as their child begins to answer questions by themselves about all the things we do at home all the time.

Click for Details:

Autism Teaching Tools

The Birth of the Official Autism 101 Manual

Navigating through the hospital, education and community relationships was difficult to say the least.  I learned to always ask questions.  Access to school systems and understanding the process, as a mother of a child with autism and five other children was challenging.  I found it very difficult to understand autism, let alone discover all the options available to parents to help them along the path.  I would try new and innovative tools, though the doctors warned me that the studies weren’t complete yet and I was taking a my chances.  I figured that Jonny would be grown by the time the studies were finished, so I tried them anyway.

One such intervention was the DAVID machine, which is piece of equipment that has light and tones and changes your brainwaves.  During the 6 week period we monitored his use, his eye contact improved, he became more social, less echolaliac and his communication improved.  I then began to think of a way other parents and professionals could access similar information, offering a wide variety of choices so they could make more informed decisions about the treatment for their children.  I didn’t leave any rock unturned.  This led to the development of “The Official Autism 101 Manual” with 44 top experts, caregivers and parents which won the Independent Publishers Book Gold Medal in New York this month!

The Ultimate Resource – The Official Autism 101 Manual

Beginning ‘Little Rainman’

During these days I sought information to help his teachers relate to him better by understanding him. Just like with Mrs. Spaulding example, I had to explain over and over again what Jonny’s unique gifts and challenges were all about. I looked for some sort of book I could just pass on to everyone, but there wasn’t any, so I decided to write my own. This eventually became Little Rainman, autism through the eyes of a child, which bridged relationships between Jonny, his teachers, and his siblings and eventually, helped him understand himself. Some of his idiosyncrasies in the book include spinning in circles, repeating the same thing over and over, watching and memorizing movies repeatedly, and his lack of fear.
Told in the first person from Jonny’s perspective, it starts out, “My name is Jonathan. I have autism (aw-tis-um). My nose looks the same as other people’s and my ears and eyes do too. Except that I can see and hear a lot better than most people. My brain thinks different. Some things I do better, like reading and copying; other things I do worse, like making friends.”
This was the rhyme and rhythm of Jonny’s thinking in those days. I sent it off to one publisher and 6 months later it was published as one of the first real looks into the truth about autism. The truth I came to share with you today.

“Little Rainman” – The full review

Announcing the “Hope, Healing & Possibilities” Conference in Edmonton, AB

The conference features some of the world’s foremost autism experts speaking on a wide range of topics featuring the latest research on the treatment of Autism Spectrum Disorders. This conference is an excellent opportunity for those seeking evidence to support the use of various biomedical treatment options. It will provide a comprehensive overview of latest biomedical breakthroughs and research in the treatment for Autism Spectrum Disorders.

Discussions will include the role of nutritional deficiencies and supplements, special dietary interventions, food allergies, heavy metal toxins, enzyme deficiencies, inborn errors of metabolism, immune deficiencies, the role of microorganisms in the gastrointestinal tract, and much more. The goal at this conference is to provide an opportunity for those with autism spectrum disorders to reach their fullest potential. This will be one of the most comprehensive autism conferences in 2010. Details are at http://bit.ly/4N7Pb9

Contact Info

Toll Free: 1-866-9AUTISM (928-8476)

New York Office: 244 5th Avenue New York, NY 10001 Fax: 1-780-416-4330,

Canadian Office: 11007 Jaspar Ave Edmonton, Alberta T5K 0K6

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