Stories From the Heart: “C” is for Caitlyn

When I think back to my internship I always think about one student. Caitlyn, with a ‘C’, not a ‘K’.  She was this little 7 year old girl who was moderately mentally handicapped.  She came from a low income family.  Her hand-me-down clothes were permanently stained by red Kool-Aid.  Her hair was once long, but her parents in frustration, cut it off all short and uneven.  Obviously an at home trim. Her lips were always chapped because she had the uncontrollable urge to lick her lips all the time.  Her hands were permanently stained by markers, because she loved to draw. Wherever she went, she ran. Her speech was broken and hard to understand. In other words, she was a complete mess, but she was sweet and innocent, and never without a smile.

One of the objectives on her individual education plan was to independently write her name.  My intern teacher I worked under decided that a good mission for me to accomplish while I was in her class was to teach Caitlyn to write her name.

“Easy” I thought to myself. After the four years of training I had, this was going to be a breeze. I went home that night and prepared materials for Caitlyn to use to learn to write her name.  In my cockiness I only planned for one day of materials because I was sure that I could teach Caitlyn to write her name in one day. You know that saying, “Don’t count your chickens before they hatch…” They should make one for teachers that says “Don’t count your materials before you actually teach the lesson.”

I began Caitlyn’s lesson with a worksheet that had her name on it. Caitlyn was supposed to trace the letters of her name as practice and then copy them on the line below. Easy right? WRONG! From the moment I put the #2 pencil in her marker stained hand it was complete and utter chaos. It was as if another child emerged from within her and began uncontrollably writing on everything in sight.  I desperately grabbed for the sharpened pencil she was wielding like a dagger.

Finally my hand clasped hers and I yanked the pencil away. I remember feeling exhausted and sitting their realizing I was way over my head.  My cockiness fled the room like the children do when there is a fire drill. All four years of my education had been sucked from my mind and I know longer had confidence.  In that brief moment I doubted everything I thought I knew.

In bewilderment I stared at Caitlyn and she just smiled back. I remember thinking, this isn’t that hard, just try again. All you have to do is to get her to copy letters. I decided to try again, only this time I would use more caution. I would hold the pencil too. “Yeah, that will work.” I thought to myself and tried it again.  I placed the pencil into Caitlyn’s hand and quickly wrapped my hand around hers. I tried to steer her hand over the letters on the page, but my attempts were in vain.

She fought every move trying desperately to move the pencil to her desk, to her lap, to her ear, to my ear, to the floor, to her shoe, to the back of her chair. Well, you get it. There was no way that that child was going to sit still and independently write her name in one day. I felt defeated.

I worked with Caitkyn everyday for nine weeks.  Every day I would sit and battle that girl to hold her pencil and write. Eventually the battle was less physical, but still un uphill one.  On the last day of my internship, my teacher threw a small good bye party and before Caitlyn left for the bus she walked up to me with a folded piece of red construction paper. It was folded all weird and at different angles.  I thought it was a piece of trash and was about to throw it away for her.  She protested and in her broken way of talking conveyed that I was to open the paper.  So I looked down and opened the paper.

At first I thought it was a bunch of squiggly lines, but I soon realized that she had written the letter ‘C’ over and over again. They were all different sizes and some looked more like an ‘O’ but this card represented nine weeks of one-on-one work.  I could have cried, but knew she wouldn’t understand tears of joy.  I laughed and in that one single moment understood how much harder special needs kids have to work to get something as simple as independently writing the letter C.

Author Unknown

* Stories From the Heart is an ongoing series of user contributed heart warming stories, that shine light on the Autism experience.

Stories From the Heart: The Vet

Bubba, 14 years old, who has Asperger Syndrome, was not diagnosed until he was 13 years old. I wondered if this was a bad thing until an encounter he had with a Vietnam vet in our local Burger King.  I must tell you that one of Bub’s specialty topics is military so when he sees someone who could be a veteran he isn’t shy to ask.

I had gone to wash my hands before we ate and Bub was supposed to do the same. Of course he beat me to the counter and as I approached the conversation I heard the man say “I’ve tried to put all that behind me.” I’m now thinking “Oh no! What has this kid said now?” I see Bub turn the conversation around to the aircraft that moved people during that war.  The veteran was happy to tell Bub that he was very familiar with that!

Bubba goes into his little professor mode and told him all the stats on it.  The man turned to me and said, “This young man is very smart!”  I told him, “Yes, this is one of his specialty topics.”  This was to let him know that Bub has an advantage over most people because it is so easy for him to learn, but only if it’s in his specialty range.

I didn’t get to process what the man said right away, but when I did I was floored. He said to me, “You know, nobody has ever asked me about my time over there.”

Who am I to say that this isn’t God’s will that this young man, who doesn’t have the same boundaries that most have, affirms others who haven’t gotten that before?

It still gives me chills when I think of it.  I felt the presence of God among the people at Burger King that day.

By Alissa Tschetter-Siedschlaw

* Stories From the Heart is an ongoing series of user contributed heart warming stories, that shine light on the Autism experience.

Sports Games Boosts Tim Mather’s Quality of Life – By John M. Williams

Tim Mather sits in front of a computer. He waits patiently for the alarm clock near his desk to ring. His daily routine is to wait until the alarm rings ay 9:00 a.m. When the alarm goes off, he puts on his headphones, turns on the computer and waits for it to boot up. When it does, he clicks on the My Football icon and stares at the screen until he hears, ‘EA Sports. It’s in the game.”A smile appears on his face as the picture of a football player appears. He can choose to play either a child’s version or an adult’s version of My Football Game.

“I love action,” says Tim.

“Tim will sit for hours every day and play My Football. My Golf Game, and other computer games with movement,” says his father, Michael.

Tim’s father is overwhelmed with joy that Tim has found an activity that occupies many hours of his time during the day. Tim is autistic. Autism is a neurological disorder characterized by impaired social interaction as well as repetitive behavior.

Tim is looking at a picture of a football player. “Big and strong,” he says. He clicks on the adult version button. He is looking at buttons numbered levels 1, 2, 3 and the words Championship ring.  Each level gives him a different activity.

“Tim has never clicked on Championship ring,” said Lucifer, Tim’s 20-year-old brother.

Tom loves clicking because it brings him new pictures. He clicks on Level 1. Lucifer then clicks on a button and now Tim is staring at eight football icons. The icons are drills for rookies and cover kicking, trench fight, ground attack, QB pocket reserve, passing, tackling, punting and swat ball. Tim clicks on the kicking icon. He says, “I kick far.”

There’s an expression of joy on his face as he practices kicking. He loves seeing the kicker kick and the ball soaring through the air.

“Watch the ball,” Tim says as the ball soars through the goal post uprights.

Except for moments like these, Tim seldom shows any emotional feelings, his father says.

Tim’s IQ is about 75. When speaking to people he seldom looks at them. He rarely starts a conversation. He prefers being alone. His sentences seldom are more than five words, and if you sit him in front of a computer chess board he stares at the board and never makes a move. However after someone has moved a piece he becomes engaged and starts moving his pieces. Sometimes he wins.

When it comes to playing computer games with movement, Tim is proactive. He is a fanatic for repetition.

Fifteen minutes after he starts My Football Game, an alarm goes off. Tim knows it is time to go to another activity. Lucifer picks passing. Tim’s face lights up as he practices the quarterback passing to different receivers. He does this by pressing the following keys S, R, F. He points to the football in the air and says, “I throw the ball.” There is a triumphant look on his face.

“Tim can associate causal relationships. I believe he thinks that since the ball can only be thrown when he pushes a key that he’s the one throwing,” says Lucifer who is certain that the different activities the game offers improves Tim’s hand-eye coordination and concentration. Tim plays two different drills daily. He is good at pushing the keys to produce action.

Fifteen  minutes after starting this exercise an alarm goes off, and Lucifer shows Tim how to exit this activity and skipping level 2, they proceed to Level 3 which is a 20 minute game, comprised of four five minute quarters, between opposing teams. Today the teams are the Chicago Sailors and the Indianapolis Romans. Tim’s favorite is the Eagles and then the Tigers.  He owns a parakeet and has a picture of a white tiger on his bedroom wall. As Tim and Lucifer prepare to start the game, Tim’s demeanor changes. He removes his headphones and listens to the crowd’s noise. He is often disturbed by loud, continuous noises. The simulated crowd noises don’t bother him.

“Listen,” he said as he diligently watches the coin flip. “Yes” he barely shouts while pumping his arm in the air. His team has won the coin toss and will receive the foot ball.

Tim watches closely as Lucifer sets up his defense against a run back. The football is kicked off. Tim’s team receives it and returns it 20 yards. On the first offensive play, the Sailors run the ball wide left and the runner scores a touchdown. Realizing what has happened; Tim turns to Lucifer and says, “Touchdown for me.”

An instant replay of the game produces this comment from Tim. “My runner.”

As Tim’s team prepares to kickoff, by pressing the S key, he selects one of three defenses appearing on the screen.

“I don’t know how he does it, but Tim appears to understand these different defenses,” says his father.

Lucifer says, “Computer games such as My Football Game helps improve Tim’s hand-eye coordination and thinking skills.”

For 20 minutes, Tim is alert. He watches, thinks and responds to plays. When the game is over, he has won. He is proud of his victory and points to his chest and says, “I won.” Sometimes he says, “The winner.”

Tim plays a second football game. This time against his father. Tim wins 24 to 17. The second win increases his confidence to the point that he seems as though he is bragging.  “Bring it on,” Tim says with defiance.

Tim plays other football games on the computer. They are by Tiger Woods and Microsoft… His father says, “Tim prefers My Football Game. He spends three hours daily playing the football game.”     Meanwhile Tim’s interest in computer golf games is rising.”

Three years ago, Tim played his first game of Putt, Putt golf. Since then he has become a fanatic and plays the game weekly with his father, Lucifer and his 14-year-old brother Thomas. He affectionately calls Thomas “little brother.” He sometimes calls him Tom, but never Thomas.

When playing Putt-Putt golf, Tim takes a lot of time studying each hole. He is limited to 60 seconds a shot. He takes the full 60 seconds always. He seldom goes over par on each hole. Last year, Tim started playing computer golf games. Recently Tim and Thomas set up, My Golf Game. One of the activities of My Golf Game is practicing putting. Tim loves putting and putts, and putts and putts for 30 minutes… He goes to that activity first when playing,

Tim enjoys the chip shot exercise. There are five opportunities to put the ball in the hole. While he fails most of the time, the failures don’t deter him. When he puts the ball in the hole, he congratulates himself by clapping.

Tim is enthralled by My Golf Game’s create your own golf character feature. As a result, he created a youthful golfer in his image. Tim uses his image all the time.. He calls his avatar, “Tim. That’s me.”

“My brother thinks he is on a putt-putt gold course when playing My Golf Game,” Thomas says. He putts with Tim.

My Football Game and My Golf Game were created so people with disabilities could be included in social activities that enrich their lives.

“I am so happy to learn about Tim’s success with the games,” said Chuck Bergen, president of VTree, LLC, and creator of both games.

To learn more about My Golf Game and My Football Game visit and

John M. Williams can b reached at His web site is

Stories From the Heart: Four Perfect Children

My whole life has felt destined.  Even the parts that have been rough.  As the proud mother of four perfect children, three of which have special needs, I have had many tear filled moments. We have had moments that are heartbreaking, for what trials their lives may bring them, and profound, through the many lessons that they teach me every day.  I have always been very pleased with my kids, but we have chosen to follow a challenging and often difficult path.  Two of our children, Breanna and Noah were born to us. Two of our children, Madilyn and Tyler, are adopted.

Breanna is a delight and a huge helper, and Noah has Pervasive Developmental Disorder-NOS which is in the Autistic Spectrum.  My husband Sean and I had always talked about adopting a child that would have a hard time finding a good home. We prayed every night that if this was the path for us that God would bring us the children.  It was that simple. Okay, it wasn’t that simple, but very worthwhile. When people ask me, “Which ones are yours?”  The answer is very clear: They are all mine!

We chose to adopt our children through the bursting at the seams foster system, which tends to be way too short on loving homes. Madilyn was born three months premature, meth and alcohol affected, with a severe brain bleed, hydrocephalus with a shunt, among many other issues.  Since this was a very faith lead decision for us, there really was no decision.  We had already made a deal with God. She was as much mine and if she had come from my body.

Madilyn faced and continues to face obstacles with boundless energy.  Adjusting to Madilyn, as anyone can imagine, was very trying for Noah, who has a hard time with his environment being disrupted.  All in all though we did pretty well.  But very unexpectedly we received a call about Tyler.  He was almost eight months old and had already been in four homes and was Failure to Thrive as well as neglected and meth exposed.  He would need a G-tube for feeding.  We thought we would have him for one week, but as God had designed, he would stay forever.

When this was all coming to fruition I was worried about poor Noah, who at one point claimed to be “allergic and terrified of babies”.  We talked as openly as we could about Tyler needing love and a family and how worried we were about him.

A couple of days later I found Noah in his bed in tears.  I asked him what was wrong, expecting the answer to be something like, “I lost Mario’s hat in my Nintendo game” or “My Pokémon is missing”, since he tends to think primarily about computer stuff.

Noah’s depth permanently resonated in my soul.  He said to me, with huge tears rolling down his sweet cheeks, “Mom, I thought that everyone knew the number one rule.”  I was still pondering whether or not he was referring to something real or imagined. “What is the number one rule Noah?”

Noah tends to have a look on his face like it is his first moment on this planet and he looked straight into my eyes, which he rarely does, and said with conviction and clarity, “The number one rule is: Everyone deserves a home.”  He went on to tell me how worried he was about Tyler, and that he thought that he should be in our family forever.

Sometimes Noah’s special needs are a great gift.  He sees a lot clearer and with less shades of gray than most, and he will tell you very openly exactly what he believes in.

When I think of the miracles and blessings that I have been fortunate enough to experience, I have no doubts of God.  I have felt the hand of God reach into my life and trust me with gifts like no others.  I just look around and it is obvious.  I have plenty of proof in the messes in my house.

Author Unknown

* Stories From the Heart is an ongoing series of user contributed heart warming stories, that shine light on the Autism experience.

Top 10 Positive Autism Techniques for Managing Challenging Behavior

Autistic children have behaviors that are not pleasing for other people. However, an autistic child should not be scolded too much by parents. It is always better to follow pleasant ways to improve the child’s behavior. This will definitely result to positive changes if the strategy is done carefully to the child. The behavior of the child depends on your responses. For instance, if you keep scolding him or do the other way around such as rewarding him, you are reinforcing the recurrence of his or her improper behavior.

For better understanding about this matter, I will give you the top 10 positive autism techniques to manage the behavior of your autistic child or student.

Reinforce Positive Behavior Through Choice


When you look at a child through a child-centered lens, what do you see?

Children with special needs often express challenging behavior, and we’re just as often caught up in what we see on the surface, focusing on stopping the disruption before it goes any further. Yet in order to address negative behavior, we first need to look at it from the child’s point of view—and understand why it occurs.

In “Changing Challenging Behavior,” Paul Holland details five main reasons why people behave in disruptive or difficult ways, and how “[b]ehaviour does not exist in a vacuum; it sits within a three part contingency whereby behaviours are triggered by antecedents and are maintained by consequences.”

For more details about this positive behavior strategy, visit

Positive Behaviour Support for Autistic Children 


Many people with learning disabilities may, due to psychological, biological or social reasons, exhibit challenging behaviour. Challenging behaviour is contextual, varies in frequency or duration, and can be disruptive, aggressive, violent, or destructive behaviour. Kicking, spitting, headbutting and repetitive behaviours such as elective incontinence or rocking can all be described as examples of challenging behaviour.

Challenging behaviour can lead to self-harm or injury of others, and may cause a delay in access to ordinary community services and facilities. For this reason, challenging behaviour, if not addressed, can lead to social exclusion and difficulties in realising self centred planning.

If you want to learn more about positive behavior support, visit

Autism Tool for Social Skills


Social Play Skills with Peers

They say 28% of 12-24 year olds check their Facebook account before they get out of bed in the morning.  Now I knew Facebook was popular . . . . but when you are still in bed????

What does this have to do with children with autism?

Did you know that parents request social skills training for their children with Autism Spectrum Disorders more than any other service?  In a California survey of parents of children with autism or Asperger’s Syndrome, more than half reported that their children played with NO ONE outside of school.  Parents are identifying a significant need for those students on the autism spectrum.

How are their peers socializing?

Teaching or treatment for children with autism needs to include information about what their same age peers are doing.  Here’s the important question.  What social world are we preparing our students with autism for?  Who are they going to be socializing with?  How do their peers socialize now?

Visit for more information.

 What One Ought To Know About Autism


This blog post will help you understand what is autism and what are the tools which can you use to improve the communication skills of your autistic child.

Autism is a brain disorder that limits a person’s ability to communicate and relate to other people. It first appears in young children, who fall along a spectrum from mild to severe. Some people can navigate their world, some have exceptional abilities, while others struggle to speak. Autism spectrum disorders (ASDs) affect about one child in 88, striking nearly five times as many boys as girls.

For more details, visit

Positive Thinking and Behavior for Autistic People 


That’s a pretty powerful statement. It resonates emotionally, even if it doesn’t have a shred of evidentiary support. “The Secret” promises a universe that will deliver on the desires of those who occupy it, so long as they stay optimistic, determined, and of course, follow the simple steps laid out in its pages.

The power of positive thinking movement is the cornerstone upon which countless American self-help empires have been built. But does it really have the power it so often promises? Dr. James Coyne, director of the Behavioral Oncology Program at UPenn is skeptical. So am I.

If you want to learn more about some positive techniques to manage behavior, visit

Positive Strategies for Managing and Preventing Out-of-Control Behavior


autism-todayHow many behavioral therapies have we tried? How many therapists have we consulted, asked to observe our families, give us their opinions, techniques and chores while they promise that this will be the answer? Consider the number and variety of books we’ve read, audio listened to, online sites scoured looking for answers that sounded…right. Think of the reward charts, PECS schedules, rules and ‘regulations’ we’ve placed in our homes hoping to thwart the meltdowns that in the end are inevitable, leaving us to feel a failure and our children to feel unsafe, uncomfortable, confused and angry.

What therapists have we found that are grounded in reality, sensible in their conclusions, reasonable in their processes? Who has been willing to say, “Since we cannot control everything, we will have meltdowns?” I counted none. Until I listened to Jed Baker, Ph.D.

To learn more about this positive strategy to prevent out of control behavior, visit

Behavioral Therapy for Autistic Children 


autism-todayBehavioral therapies are among the most commonly applied intervention methods for autism and the most studied. Many of the intensive behavioral therapies (or Early Intensive Behavioral Interventions — EIBIs) that have been studied are based on the concepts of Applied Behavioral Analysis (ABA).

Applied behavior analysis is a science that involves using modern behavioral learning theory to modify behaviors. Behavior analysts focus on the observable relationship of behavior to the environment. By functionally assessing the relationship between a targeted behavior and the environment, the methods of ABA can be used to change that behavior. Though highly effective for large numbers of children at early ages and later, ABA therapies are not for everyone. Some individuals are put off by the perception of a highly robotic intervention in a disorder characterized by difficult social interactions.

Visit for more details about behavioral therapy.

Promising Drug to Treat Autism Behaviors


autism-todayScientists say they have used an experimental compound to reverse two autism-like behaviors in mice.  Experts say there’s no guarantee the drug would work to help children with autism, a neural developmental brain disorder marked by communication and social impairments beginning in early childhood. But they say it’s a step in the right direction.

Researchers with the U.S. National Institute of Mental Health and the Pfizer pharmaceutical company tested the drug called GRN-529 in mice that normally display autistic-like activities – in particular, social isolation and repetitive behaviors.  NIMH co-investigator Jill Silverman says that after being injected with the experimental compound, the mice reduced two of their repetitive behaviors – obsessive grooming and jumping – and the normally asocial rodents engaged more with other mice.

This blog post will give you an in-depth understanding about this promising drug. Visit for more details.

Treat Imitation, an Autism Behavior


autism-todayStudents with autism lack the early development of their mirror neurons. These mirror neurons allow us to “mirror” or copy what another person is doing. It is this that enables babies to imitate actions that adults around them are doing. Thus, a student exhibiting autism behavior may struggle to copy or imitate the actions that a teacher demonstrates.

This can also show up in classroom situations where the student may have trouble copying others.

Note that once people on the autism spectrum learn to copy, they may have trouble developing original learning patterns.

If you want to learn more about autism behaviors and how to manage them, visit

Antidepressants for Repetitive Behaviors of Autism



Two new studies may offer clues to the mystery of what factors lead to the development of autism.

Literature suggests that there is strikingly lack of good data to support the use of pharmacological agents in general for autism. Recent data also suggests that tricyclic antidepressants are not of much help in autism. No wonder, some studies indicate that use of micronutrients is superior to pharmacological treatment.

Antidepressant medications particularly selective serotonin receptor inhibitors (SSRIs) are commonly used for treatment of behavioral problems including and not limited to the treatment of repetitive behaviors in autism spectrum disorders (ASD).

Visit for more details.


Top 10 Autism Strategies for Encouraging Better Social Skills

In this article, I am going to teach you the top 10 strategies on how to help your autistic child develop social skills. With the right strategies, you can help your child reach his or her full potential when it comes to communicating with others.

In our everyday lives, we get in touch with a lot of people. The same goes with your child. He or she needs a meaningful way to interact with others. In this post, I included the top 10 autism strategies which can help you teach your child the best way to keep his conversations going.

Make sure that you will share your own autism strategy by giving your comments at the end of this post. And as you read other blog posts which will be mentioned in this article, leave your comments at the end of their posts.

Visual strategies for autism social skills: People Points


This blog entry describes a social skills training method I developed for kids with autism called “People Points.” I sell it as a curriculum kit on my website.  Here, I will provide enough basic information and downloads for you to give it a try on your own with your students/clients on the autism spectrum.

In the first four parts of this series, I described how to incorporate various visual elements (toy balance, magnets, etc) when doing teaching and psychotherapy for kids on the topic of social skills and relationships.  Young people with autism learn much better when meaningful and engaging visuals are built into the social skills lesson.  Here, I describe how you can employ another visual device, “People Points.” Below you will find basic instructions for this social skills activity.  Way at the bottom, you will find the People Points Money that you can print out to make this social skills lesson more like a social skills game.  Print out the People Points Score Board as well and leave it hanging up in your classroom/office.

For more details about People Points strategy, visit

Now You Can Improve Your Communication on the Autism Spectrum


photo credit: tayweilong

According to Wikipedia, theory of mind is the ability to attribute mental states—beliefs, intents, desires, pretending, knowledge, etc.—to oneself and others and to understand that others have beliefs, desires and intentions that are different from one’s own

This autism fact leads to an unintended tendency for an individual on the autism spectrum to appear very Me Centered. In other words, it often does not dawn on the person with autism Asperger’s that relationship includes being curious and interested about others’ thoughts and feelings. Additionally, individuals with autism spectrum conditions are often not aware of the effects that people’s physical gestures have on understanding and maintaining communication.

Today, I’m sharing a vital concept contributed by Michelle Garcia Winner, author of Thinking About You, Thinking About Me : it’s the concept and skill of Whole Body Listening.

If you want to learn more about Autism Spectrum, visit

Behavioral therapies can help someone with autism


Jeffrey Wood, Ph.D.

Today’s “Got Questions?” answer comes from clinical psychologist Jeffrey Wood, Ph.D., of the Center for Autism Research and Treatment at the University of California, Los Angeles. The recipient of three Autism Speaks grants, Wood has extensively studied anxiety in elementary school and adolescent children with autism.

Several types of cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT) have been developed to address anxiety in children with ASD, with promising results from several clinical research centers. Techniques include challenging negative thoughts with logic, role-play and modeling courageous behavior, and hierarchical (step by step) exposure to feared situations.

Visit for more details about cognitive behavioral therapy.

Destination Friendship – Developing Social Skills for Individuals with Autism 


What is Destination Friendship?

At Destination Friendship, we believe that friendships are one of the most vital aspects of the human experience. Research tells us that individuals who have friends are likely to be happier, healthier and live longer than those who do not. Additionally, friendships are critical in helping us learn and polish important skills like cooperation, negotiation, and conflict resolution. These skills remain crucial across our entire lifespan and eventually impact success in areas such as employment and independent living.

If want to know about the best autism strategy to develop the social skills of your autistic child, visit

Overcoming Challenges Associated with Autism in the Classroom


This blog post reveals a lot of ways on how to overcome challenges in autism such as Cognitive Processing Delays, Sensory Perception Issue and Social Skill Deficits.

Graduate student Arlene Bradley-Lester works with autistic child at his home.

Social skill deficits can make a student with Autism, the odd child out. Without training and sufficient mindfulness, even well meaning teachers might slip into intimidating and sometimes even bullying behavior with the child who is always lagging behind and just odd.

Teachers need to understand that the emotional affect that comes naturally to most of us may need to be taught to children with Autism. Teenagers with Asperger’s, especially girls, will often talk about how they learned how to react to and engage others by imitating what they refer to as neurotypical behavior. And like anything learned by rote rather than intuited, those behaviors may at times feel forced and not especially fluid or natural.

If you want your autistic child to overcome social challenges, learn from the expert by reading through her post at

Summer Break: What Zak Will Be Doing and Ideas for Other Children with Autism


School is almost out which means summer break is fast approaching.  I wanted to share what Zak will be doing this summer to hopefully help you get some good ideas on what to do with your kiddos.  Summer is a time for fun, but it is a great time to continue to work towards your child’s goals towards improvement.  You do not need to sacrifice fun for working towards goals.  Zak will continue with his regular therapies (see the What We are Doing page) but with school out, he has more time in his schedule to allow him to really focus on an area of weakness for him and most all children with Autism:  Social Skills.  This is an area we continue to put a great portion of our focus.  Social skills are critical to function in society & Zak struggles with components of social interaction, especially self regulation

Learn how this Zac, an autistic child overcome his weakness in social skills. Visit

Early Detection of Autism Encouraged


Marcus Yam/The Spectrum

Read through this blog post and learn how an early detection of autism can help a person develop his or her social skills in the beginning.

CHICAGO (AP) — At 18 months, Cristina Astacio spoke only a few words, wouldn’t respond to her name and shunned other kids in her day care group. Last October, her worried parents found out why. She has a mild form of autism, a diagnosis being given to more U.S. children than ever before, largely because of more awareness and better diagnosis.

According to new government statistics, the rate is about 1 in 88. That means autism is nearly twice as common as it appeared in data the government gathered 10 years ago. The largest increases are in Hispanic kids like Cristina.

Visit and know more about autism strategies.

He Doesn’t Allow His Autism To Define Him


Learn and understand how early-intervention therapy can help improve social skills of an autistic child.

Autism Today

Tristan Braverman,

Lawrence Woodmere Academy junior Tristan Braverman, center, who has autism, credited his parents, Steve and Stacy, for providing him with early-intervention therapy as a child, which greatly improved his social skills. Tristan Braverman, a junior and a varsity basketball player at Lawrence Woodmere Academy, used to blend in with the rest of the student body, but after being featured in the May/June issue of ESPNHS magazine, his teammates and fellow classmates learned something about him they didn’t know.

When Braverman, now 16, was 15 months old, his parents, Stacy and Steve, would call his name but he wouldn’t respond. “The doctor told me to put his high chair in the kitchen, facing away from me, and to go up behind him and slam pot covers together to see if he would respond — and he didn’t move,” Stacy recalled. “We thought he was deaf.”

For more details about his strategy on how to overcome difficulties in social skills, visit

Social Skills and Autism


People on the autism spectrum often have issues with social interactions. Often, a person on the spectrum has difficulty with basic social skills. How do you work on your social skills or the skills of your child? What tips do you have and what strategies do you use to improve this skill set?

Learn more about autism spectrum and how it improves social skills of the person with autism. Visit

Solution Chart for Social Difficulties for Autistic People


This chart identifies issues with social and communication skills for people on the autism spectrum and strategies to help the person. It is important to give consideration to the unique learning characteristics of a person, to provide support when needed, and to build on the person’s many strengths. Also, if you are unsure of the process of how to teach a concept to a person on the autism spectrum, it would be helpful to read the article The Steps in the Process of Learning for a Person on the Autism Spectrum.

For more details about this solution chart, visit



Stories From the Heart: The Adventures of Elizabeth and Joseph

This is a recap of a day between me and my five year old son Joseph, with profound Autism.

My sweetie Joseph woke up shortly after five, but feeling refreshed no doubt after a long healthy 11 hour snooze. I myself slept nicely, having him sleep all night, not something to take for granted.

I speed cooked his ten slices of bacon, hard and crunchy, the only way he eats it, while he waited patiently. Then he gobbled it down with about four cups of juice like a ravished caveman. I like to see him enjoy his food, he gets so excited, jumping up and down (on his chair, no less) as I pull it out of the microwave.

After breakfast I scurried him downstairs so his little noises would not wake his older brother. Playing peek-a-boo under the blanket, both of us giggling, sometimes I was under with him, other times I was on the outside He was most often squealing with delight as he gave me intense eye contact.

I realized not the first time, how after five years he still can look at me as if what I am doing is the most amazing thing he has ever seen. He looks deep into my eyes as if he is looking into my soul. He looks at my mouth moving, as if it is truly spectacular what I am doing.

Sometimes as he pulled me closer to him for some “sugars” I thought how lucky I am to have him, his innocence, forever. I wished, as I have in the past, that I could feel this way all the time.

The morning progressed as usual until I suspected he was up to something (in his pants) I started upstairs and as he walked I could tell he was carrying a load. Straight to the bathroom we went and as he climbed on the toilet I could instantly see a bath was in order. While he bathed I ran downstairs to throw the clothes into the washing machine. I followed a path of evidence down the carpeted stairs, not missing a step or the horrible smell.

I proceeded to clean the stairs. After his bath we worked through the rocky adjustment in change in schedule.  He never takes a bath in the morning, always at night, and he thought it was time for bed instead of time for school. I spoke to him softly and simply about the reason for the bath and then broke out into his “going to school” song I have been singing since school began. The transition was falling into place for him.

As I went to drain the water from the tub, I had the crappie (no pun intended) realization that the switch to let out the water was broken.

After Joseph and Jacob where gone to school I went into the bathroom with a screwdriver and took the plate off the wall, emptied the drain by pulling some very long ‘thing’ right out of the wall. Hubbie dearest would probably have a heart attack if he saw that one, but it worked like a charm. I screwed the plate back on.

As I was washing my hands after fixing the tub, I glanced in the mirror only to see I had poopy-doopy on my chin. I laughed. I had put both my boy on the bus, like that.

I sat down to write this story. It was ridiculous and extremely gross! I had feces on my face!

But my morning, for the most part, had been filled with pure enjoyment with the tender, precious moments with Joseph. I never once lost my cool, cried or raised my voice. Is it always like this? No, but I wish it were.

The bottom line; I believe all children are Gods greatest gift. I have “had my children and lost my mind, but found my soul”. My son may never be like other children, but I am blessed to be his Mother, and it is these special moments that keeps me appreciating him.

By Elizabeth Owen

* Stories From the Heart is an ongoing series of user contributed heart warming stories, that shine light on the Autism experience.

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