A group from Washington
University in St. Louis reports that upon finishing high school, many children with autism spectrum disorders (ASDs) are left without
the proper supportive or health services that they previous had access to. According to the
report, nearly 40 percent of youths with ASDs from among the more than 400 surveyed participants enrolled in special
education failed to receive any speech therapy, case management, mental health services or other health services after they
There’s been little research as to what happens to adolescents with autism once they reach young adulthood. Because of their challenges with communication and social
interaction, as well as their greater reliance on others for aid and high rates of co-morbid medical problems, youths are
particularly vulnerable during this time.
This period is known as “Transition."
Transition is the process that takes young people with special needs from childhood to
adulthood, usually occurs between the ages of 14 and 22 and must promote
movement from school to post-school activities.
All children, whether or not they have a disability, have rights, talents and dreams. For students with special
needs, the key to a smooth transition to adulthood lies in recognizing their
unique gifts, abilities and goals. Transition can be much more successful if a student has access to all the supports and services that permit
him or her to live as independently as possible.
Under the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA) and the Rehabilitation Act, students with disabilities have the right to substantial assistance in making the most of their transition years. Students covered by IDEA are required to begin transition
planning at age 14, with at least a statement in their education plan (IEP) of the supports and services that they’ll need during their high school years. By age 16, students
covered by IDEA are legally required to have a transition services plan (TIEP) covering all their needs to move toward successful adulthood.
However, they don’t always get the services they’re entitled to. That can be because the law and regulations are not well
understood, because providers are short on money or time or because the student’s transition team lacks an energetic, knowledgeable and determined leader.
The student and his or her team select goals for adulthood. The activities and services in the plan are designed to reach those goals. The outcome must be based on the
student’s needs, preferences and interests.
Some goals and services to be considered during the transition are:
• vocational rehabilitation
• vocational counseling
• vocational training
• career, trade or profession
• integrated employment (alongside non-disabled colleagues)
• supported employment
• self employment
• continuing and adult education
• adult services
• assistive technology
• independent living
• community participation (experiences such as attending church, taking public transportation, using the library)
Because not a lot of emphasis is placed on meeting the needs of individuals with
special needs once they finish high school, families can turn to The National Disability Rights Network (NDRN) for assistance and advocacy.
The National Disability Rights Network is a federally mandated, non-profit membership organization created to protect and advocate for basic rights for individuals with a wide range of disabilities,
including, but not limited to, those with cognitive, mental, sensory and physical disabilities. The NDRN members ensure accountability in education, health care, employment, housing, transportation and within the juvenile and criminal justice systems. They also investigate reports of abuse and neglect, and seek systemic change to prevent further incidents.
Well-managed transition years can be a time to prepare for adulthood, make workable living
arrangements and line up the services and technology that can supply freedom,
competence and mastery of life for a young adult with autism..
Temple Grandin was thrust into the national spotlight
nearly one year ago year after the release of HBO’s critically acclaimed movie, Temple
Grandin. She then became a near-household name last month after Claire
Danes, who portrayed her in the film, took home a Golden Globe award for her
However, few are aware that prior to the hit HBO film,
Temple Grandin was featured in a 2006 BBC
Horizon documentary, giving a fascinating glimpse
into her life and mind.
The Woman Who Thinks Like A Cow tells the true-life story of Dr. Grandin, who has autism and is a professor at Colorado
State University, specializing in the field of animal science.
In addition to the Golden Globes award, Grandin’s HBO movie was also nominated in 15
Emmy categories and received 5 awards, including Outstanding Made for Television
Movie and Best Actress in a Drama for Danes.
Grandin’s story has single-handedly shattered the misconceptions and
expectations of what people with autism can achieve in their lives and has
become an inspiration to many.
The Woman Who Thinks Like A Cow, differs from its HBO counterpart because
it shows the real Temple Grandin at work and in her element. As a
result, the viewer feels like they are getting a glimpse into what the world is
like from the vantage point of someone who grew up with and conquered autism.
Temple Grandin has a highly controversial and
groundbreaking theory that the autistic mind is closer to the animal mind when
it comes to perceptions of the world around us.She describes these minds like that of a prey animal, frightened and highly sensitive to outside stimuli. This includes being easily
startled by strange sights and sounds and constantly feeling alert and anxious.
Temple uses her intuition to understand the animal mind and associates it with
her own struggles with constant anxiety. This has enabled her to make a major
impact on animal welfare, in particular, the treatment of cows. She has been
instrumental in modifying the ways these animals are held, moved and slaughtered
and has developed numerous innovations in the humane treatment of beef
cattle. In fact, it has been reported that
nearly half of the cattle in the United States now go to slaughter in humane equipment designed by Temple Grandin.
The Woman Who Thinks Like A Cow is more than just
the story of Temple Grandin.This
short film also tries to address how our understanding of autism has progressed.For many years, during the fifties and sixties, many psychologists and
doctors were of the opinion that autism was an emotional disorder,
brought on by a disturbed childhood.Psychologist
Bruno Bettelheim believed that children developed autism because their mothers
had consciously or subconsciously rejected them as babies, and he consequently
believed that children with autism could be cured with psychotherapy.
When Temple Grandin was a baby, autism research was in its
infancy and many doctors didn’t even have a name for her condition.In her own words, as a young child Temple demonstrated “all the
full-blown symptoms of autism.”Many
children like her were even institutionalized.
With intensive tutoring and special care, it still took her many years to learn
basic skills.To this day, social
situations are still a struggle for her.But
approximately twenty years ago, Temple did something no one with autism had ever
done before — she wrote an autobiography entitled, "Emergence: Labeled
Autistic," which was her story of what it was like to grow up with
autism.Since then, she has written
several other books on autism and her life has been a revelation for parents
and scientists, providing much-needed understanding and insight into the inner
workings of the autistic mind.
Labeled "mentally retarded" when she was just three years old, Temple
is now an associate professor of animal science, a best-selling author and now
arguably the most famous person with autism in the world.
The much-overlooked 2006 BBC documentary is available for viewing below and is highly
The International Day of Prayer for Autism and Asperger’s Syndrome aka
"Autism Sunday," will be observed this
Sunday, February 13, 2011. The annual event, which was originally started in 2002 by
residents Ivan and Charika Corea, has since grown into a worldwide phenomena and is observed on the second Sunday in February. Churches of all denominations around the world have
been asked to pray for the autism community and others affected by the disorder.
Additionally, autism advocates have called others to participate in an
"Autism Sunday Twitter Storm," which will be held on the same day.
Everyone with a Twitter account has been asked to tweet as much as possible
about autism, using the hash tags #Autism and #AutismSunday.
If your church does not have plans to participate in Autism Sunday, we encourage
you to send an email or make a phone call asking them to mention Sunday’s event
during service or directly participate in it. Additionally, a note in your
church’s weekly newsletter or bulletin would also help a great deal in raising
awareness about this important event.
Meaningful, heartfelt prayer is a powerful way to establish intimacy with
God. More importantly, corporate prayer (collective prayers from a group) can go
a long way in making an impact in other people’s lives.
Please spread the word about this Sunday and help make an eternal difference for those with
autism, which is estimated to directly affect 67 million people around the
The University of Rochester Medical School recently
published a report entitled, ¨Popular Autism Diet Does Not Demonstrate Behavioral Improvement." The small, tightly controlled study on the effects of a gluten-free, casein-free (GFCF) diet found that it made no appreciable difference in the behavior, sleeping, or digestive habits of twenty-two children aged two-and-a-half to five-years-old. Results of this study were presented in the tone that desperate parents of children with autism will believe anything when it comes to cures.
A significant aside was that the study did not address a subset of children with autism – those with gastrointestinal problems. But a
2010 study conducted by the Autism Treatment Network shows that GI symptoms occur in nearly
one-half of children with autism spectrum disorders and the prevalence increases as children get
older (calling into question the age group of the study’s subjects). Children with GI problems suffer from more stomach problems, sleep disorders, behavior disturbances, and generally have a poorer quality of life.
Researchers are focusing more and more on the gastrointestinal symptoms specific to children with autism. The Autism Network For Dietary Intervention features an array of scientific studies on the topic and Dr. Arthur Krigsman, GI specialist and autism expert, has testified before Congress on the prevalence of this phenomenon
known as ¨autistic enterocolitis" (This is the area that the much-maligned Dr.
Andrew Wakefield focused on and an issue that should not be cast aside with his
The prevailing wisdom is that some people with autism spectrum disorders cannot properly digest gluten and casein, which form
peptides or substances that act like opiates in their bodies. The peptides then alter the person’s behavior, perceptions, and responses to his
or her environment. Some scientists now believe that these peptides trigger an unusual immune system response in a significant number of children with autism.
Additionally, a large number of children on the autism spectrum also have
underlying allergy issues, which can be exacerbated by certain foods, including
those containing dairy, wheat, and soy.
Gluten is a protein found in wheat and other grains, including oats, rye, barley, bulgar, and spelt. It’s also found in food starches, semolina, couscous, malt, some vinegars, soy sauce, teriyaki sauce, flavorings, artificial colors, and hydrolyzed vegetable proteins.
Casein is a protein found in milk and foods containing milk. It also may be added to non-milk products such as soy cheese and hot dogs in the form of caseinate.
Eliminating these proteins from the diet of a child with autism has been
reported by many parents to show mild to even dramatic results.
Before starting a GFCF diet, it is essential to consult a doctor who should screen your child with an IgG Elisa food allergy test. A blood sample sent to a lab will reveal what foods your child should limit and what foods your child should avoid altogether.
For some children, the GFCF diet isn’t enough. The Specific Carbohydrate Diet (SCD) eliminates all starch and has an exhaustive list of permissible and non-permissible foods.
Augmenting these diets with doctor recommended vitamins and supplements ensures your
child’s nutritional well being and lays the foundation for their improvement.
It’s amazing that the scientific community will often make sweeping assertions based upon a single
study and as a result, end up throwing the baby out with the bath water.
An appropriate diet for a child on the
autism spectrum is something that should at least be considered as a potential
treatment option, assuming it is done with the consultation and oversight of a
licensed medical physician.
With the autism rate now "officially" at 1 in 110 (the unofficial
rate is much higher), many find it surprising that so many around us are
affected. Autism is a "spectrum disorder," meaning there are varying
degrees and severity to the condition, with a number of cases going undetected.
Awareness and screening have greatly improved in the last ten years, but we
still have a long way to go.
I have often used Daryl Hannah as an example to battle those who stand on the platform that
autism is not "curable." I contend that by "cure," I mean a functional and
happy life, without requiring institutions or drugs, while still needing protection and
support from family, friends, and caregivers. There are MANY "typical"
persons in our society that need protection and support, but who are completely dysfunctional. They are called typical
only because they are undiagnosed.
I would use Temple Grandin to prove my case, but unfortunately, many of those same persons who are self-proclaimed
autism experts aren’t even familiar with who Dr. Temple Grandin is or what her achievements are.
There is the argument that Temple Grandin has high functioning autism. High functioning means an IQ
of 80 or above. This supports the notion that most of the people diagnosed with
ASD (which includes Asperger’s Syndrome), are in fact, high functioning. The bottom line is that great results should be expected of, and provided for, all
of those on the autism spectrum.
In past generations, people often kept journals or diaries so it’s easy to compare their characteristics with those that would be diagnosed with
autism today. The dark label of autism and the stigma that goes with it are devastating to
the healing process. Once we embrace the beauty and innocence of autism so that people no longer
fear the label, we will all begin to look objectively through the branches of our own family trees. We should recognize the idiosyncrasies in our own genetics
are directly tied to the titles our children now have.
With a significant amount of research under my belt, I now find myself wondering about three of my own immediate family members, as well as myself. It would certainly justify the
issues in all of our lives.
It would also connect the misunderstandings, relationship patterns, and eccentric histories of a large number of my ancestors. My family tree encompasses members of the Magna Charta, various different countries’
royalty (both well remembered and notorious), religious crusaders, and many more who led anything but typical lifestyles.
Finding someone to sit down to hash all of this through who possesses the credentials to give appropriate labels to my colorful ancestors is another story. I would feel selfish in knowing I took up anyone’s time while a tremendous portion of our population remains undiagnosed and falling through the cracks on waiting
lists for proper services.
Even if we were all diagnosed with autism, is our culture ready for the tsunami of mental, emotional, and neurological accommodations?
Awareness, acceptance, treatment, funding, education, compassion, understanding, laws, facilities, accommodating school programs,
and transportation services all need quick re-evaluations and autism must be
a top priority. Our children are here now and deserve a higher quality of life.
Perhaps if we would all seek out our own diagnosis, when our children are labeled, they would not be
alone. I consider myself fortunate to be a part of an autistic child’s world. Life is enhanced, miracles are witnessed and I learn about my own abilities and disabilities
each day. I am a much better person for being a part of autism and I am thankful
My son is part of a pivotal influence group that has already changed the course of history for the better. I am teaching him to have pride in his
autism label and demonstrating that there is no shame in it.
By no means do I intend to marginalize or dimish the challenges of autism, particularly those associated with “lower-functioning” individuals. However, autism is autism and those who have it are all in the hurricane. Some just happen to be in the eye-wall, while others experience the outer feeder bands.
It’s important to note that until the 1940s, autism was mistakenly categorized as various other disorders such as
schizophrenia. Dr. Leo Kanner noted the uniquely distinct patterns of behaviors, while at the same time, Dr. Hans Asperger came up with the name
I have compiled a list of my own, comprised of those who have, or are suspected
of having some form of ASD. My hope is that the negative stigma associated with our
children’s diagnoses would be lifted once and for all and those who are still here would come forward and speak out until our kids are able to.
In no particular order, here they are:
Daryl Hannah, Peter Howson, Luke Jackson, Heather Kuzmich, Virginia Woolf, William Shakespeare, Hans Christian Anderson, Goethe, Isaac Asimov, Craig Nicholls, Alexander Graham Bell, Gary Numan, Tim Page, Dawn Prince-Hughes, Vernon L. Smith, Satoshi Tajiri, Raymond Thompson, Liane Holliday Willey, Michelle Dawson, Temple Grandin, Caiseal Mor, Hikari Oe, Dylan Scott Pierce, Jim Sinclair, Amanda Baggs, Lucy Blackman, Alonzo Clemons, Tony DeBlois, Christopher Knowles, Leslie Lemke, Jonathan Lerman, Jason McElwain, Thristan Mendoza, Tito Mukhopadhyay, Derek Paravicini, Kim Peek, James Henry Pullen, Matt Savage, Birger Sellin, Henriett Seth, Daniel Tammet, Richard Wawro, Stephen Wiltshire, Napoleon Bonaparte, George Washington, John Quincy Adams, Andrew Jackson, Andrew Johnson, Abraham Lincoln, Teddy Roosevelt, William Taft, Harry Truman, Ludwig Van Beethoven, Elvis Presley, Peter the Great, Wilhelm II, Alexander the Great, Isaac Newton, Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart, Jeremy Bentham, Socrates, Henry Ford, Bill Gates, Robin Williams, Marilyn Monroe, Clark Gable, Charles Dickinson, Jane Austen, Béla Bartók, Ludwig von Beethoven, Anton Bruckner, Henry Cavendish, Emily Dickinson, Thomas Edison, Albert Einstein, Henry Ford, Kaspar Hauser, Oliver Heaviside, Thomas Jefferson, Carl Jung, Franz Kafka, Wasily Kandinsky, H P Lovecraft, Ludwig
II, Charles Rennie Mackintosh, Gustav Mahler, Friedrich Nietzsche, Bertrand Russell, George Bernard Shaw, Richard Strauss, Nikola Tesla, Henry Thoreau, Alan Turing, Mark Twain, Vincent Van Gogh, Matthew Laborteaux, Ludwig Wittgenstein, Isaac Asimov, Hans Asperger, John Denver, Glenn Gould, Jim Henson, Alfred Hitchcock, Howard Hughes, Andy Kaufman, L S Lowry, Charles Schulz, Andy Warhol, Woody Allen, Tony Bennett, Bob Dylan, Joseph Erber, Bobby Fischer, Bill Gates, Al Gore, Jeff Greenfield. David Helfgott, Garrison Keillor, John Motson, John Nash, Michael Palin, Keanu Reeves, Oliver Sacks, James Taylor, Dezi Carden, Dan Aykroyd, Shannon Bull, Louis IV of France, Catherine the Great, Leonardo da Vinci,
and Peter Tork.
If being diagnosed with autism would put me in such great company, PLEASE, label me
Parents of children with autism will invariably face difficult decisions regarding their
children’s best course of treatment. Among the most agonizing of these, is the decision to use prescription
drugs to treat their condition. Against the backdrop of spiraling cases of autism, anti-psychotic medications, once reserved for schizophrenia and other major mental illnesses, are being used more and more to treat autism.
recently reports that an emerging study conducted at Stanford University School of Medicine and University of Chicago confirms long held suspicions
– that atypical anti-psychotic medications such as, Seroquel, Abilify, Zyprexa, and Risperdal are
not proven to work and can even lead to serious side effects, including substantial weight gain in the first three months of
use and a much higher incidence of diabetes and heart disease. Involuntary and permanent muscle spasms are also common after prolonged use.
And an article in The New York Times
states that federally financed drug research reveals that children covered by Medicaid are given powerful anti-psychotic medicines at a rate four-times higher than children whose parents have private insurance. Medicaid children are also more likely to receive the drugs for less severe conditions in lieu of individual and family therapy. Anti-psychotics are extremely expensive and Medicaid reimbursement rates are much higher
than traditional therapies.
Every major drug company selling atypical anti-psychotics has settled lawsuits in the hundreds of millions of dollars. Anti-psychotics also garner the single most complaints for false claims. But as anti-psychotics are one of their top grossing category of drugs, pharmaceutical companies obviously consider them well worth it.
When weighing the risks of anti-psychotics for autism versus the benefits, it is difficult to see
the value. And from someone who was lead down the garden path of consenting to a Risperdal trial for my son with autism, my advice is to avoid them altogether.
Standing in stark contrast to anti-psychotics is low-dose naltrexone (LDN). LDN was pioneered by the neurologist Bernard Bihari in the early 1980s, when he was studying medications used for drug and alcohol withdrawal. Naltrexone is an opiate antagonist, which means that it blocks opioid receptors in the brain and thus eliminates the feeling of pleasure caused by the addictive substance.
But Bihari noticed that very small doses of naltrexone (initially 3 mg, a fraction of the normal dose of at least 50 mg) taken at bedtime only blocked the opioid receptors temporarily, which stimulated the body to produce more of its endogenous opioids,
while producing no significant side effects.
The diseases treated with LDN typically involve abnormally low levels of endorphins. Restoration of normal levels of endorphins by LDN have the effect of reducing pain and increasing mood, energy and an individual’s general sense of well-being.
Additionally, studies conducted by Dr. Jaak Panksepp of Washington State
University and Bowling Green State University have found that over half of
children with autism treated with LDN increased their social skills as a result.
Since 1985, low-dose naltrexone has been used “off-label” to treat a range of conditions sharing immunity dysfunction such as multiple sclerosis, Crohn’s disease, cancer, chronic fatigue syndrome,
fibromyalgia, irritable bowel syndrome, AIDS and autism.
LDN is currently not FDA approved because only pharmaceutical companies can afford the
multi-million costs of drug trials, and those companies are not interested in marketing a drug that costs only forty-dollars a month.
Dr. Jacqueline McCandless, famed autism expert, recommends LDN to her patients on the autism spectrum for immune system
modulation as well as social, cognitive, and language enhancement. Non-toxic, non-addictive, non-expensive, LDN can be taken orally or as a transdermal cream. Common side effects are initial sleeplessness and hyperactivity, which can be addressed by taking it just before bed in an already drowsy state or rubbing it into your
child’s skin as they sleep. In a small percentage of cases, children develop cold symptoms when beginning LDN, but
then recover quickly.
At a time when over 7 million children are on Ritalin and psychotropics, and Electroshock Therapy
is being promoted for wider use among youngsters on the spectrum, LDN is a ray of sunshine cutting through dark
clouds of medical treatments for autism.
I’m not impartial on the subject. My son has been using LDN for over a year now. Coupled with diet, supplements, and anti-inflammatory medicine, it
has sent his Crohn´s Disease into remission and markedly improved his symptoms of autism.
His physician, prescribed it for him through a compounding pharmacy.
A Google search will render LDN providers in your area.
In a recent one-on-one interview with CNN’s Dr. Sanjay Gupta, Bill Gates discussed his foundation’s $10 billion pledge over the next ten years to develop and deliver vaccinations to children worldwide. When the recent Andrew Wakefield scandal was brought up by Dr. Gupta, Gates re-affirmed the charge that Dr. Wakefield used fraudulent data for his 1998 study, mainly due to financial interests in lawsuits at the time. Additionally, Gates went on to say that people who engage in anti-vaccination efforts “kill children.”
While there is no doubt reduced vaccinations levels over the last ten years has led to many preventable diseases and even some deaths, Gates’ statement is a bit misleading.
Most responsible “anti-vaccine people” are not running around discouraging parents from vaccinating their children. And in fact, the term “anti-vaccine” is a
mischaracterization as most people on the other side of the debate are not
advocating for the elimination of vaccines, as Gates implies.
In realty, vaccine awareness groups (a more applicable term) such as Safe Minds and Generation Rescue have been pushing for education and awareness of potential dangers and safety concerns. Furthermore, there has been a strong
effort by these types of organizations to revise the current CDC vaccination schedule, not eliminate it altogether.
Obviously, the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation is doing significant work in helping to improve the health and safety of children around the world. However, as with most involved in the vaccine-autism
debate, there is typically no middle ground when it comes to this issue. Opposing groups are always convinced that the other side is wrong, leaving very little room for compromise. As a result, sweeping and sensational accusations are made, which include
“anti-vaccine groups kill children” from one side and “pharmaceutical companies poison children” from the other.
It would be nice to see a little more objectivity in this continuing debate. However, don’t expect it from Bill Gates, particularly since he is so heavily vested in the pro-vaccine movement — to the tune of ten-billion dollars.
It should also be worth noting that Gates himself has been suspected to have Asperger’s Syndrome, which would further throw any objectivity out the Windows.
to the Washington Post, Electroconvulsive
Therapy Machines (ECT) will soon be required to undergo the same rigorous
testing as other medical equipment currently on the market.A 1974 law mandating the
close scrutiny of new medical devices allowed ECT to be grandfathered in and
escape scrutiny.Now, this momentous
decision will have far-reaching consequences for ECT use in the future,
particularly when it applies to those with autism.
As a treatment for severe depression and other mental disorders, ECT or ¨Shock Treatment,¨
as it is commonly referred to, delivers an electrical current to the brain,
which induces a seizure.This
seizure causes the patient to temporarily lose consciousness.Scientists don’t understand why the clinically-induced seizures relieve
psychiatric symptoms in some patients, though they think it that it is somehow
linked with the brain’s neurotransmitters.
Like chemotherapy, the patient must adhere to a maintenance schedule of further
Serious memory loss is a big side-effect of ECT.Others report hallucinations and the inability to engage in creative
activities they once enjoyed.Proponents
describe the therapy as life saving, while others contend it is barbaric and unconscionable,
sending medical science back to the Middle Ages.
ECT has been around for seventy years but recently has been used to treat
children with autism, particularly those who are self-injurious.Apparently, in some cases, incidents of self-harm by these children are
significantly reduced by ECT therapy.
Parents of children who injure themselves most likely turn to ECT treatment as a
last resort and are understandably relieved to see their child’s self
destructive behaviors diminished.However,
no studies have been done on the long-term effects of ECT use on children with
autism, and that remains a major concern.Certainly,
using it in extreme cases should not open the door to more widespread autism
There are recent speculations that certain types of autism may be the earliest
expression of catatonia and that both disorders have identical risk factors.
Therefore, ECT may improve autism and, if started early enough, may prevent
further development of autistic symptoms in some children.
The study goes on to say that no assessments of the use of ECT in children have
been done since the 1940´s when it was decreed safe and effective for people of
all ages, and the prejudice against it is the biggest obstacle that must be
Fortunately, the FDA mandating a complete review of ECT machines will help put
on the brakes on their widespread use before discovering the potential long-term
A federal judge in West Palm Beach, Florida has
finalized a settlement, awarding a mother of a child with autism $427,000
for an incident that took place nearly three years ago, when her son was voted
out of kindergarten by his classmates. In May of 2008, teacher Wendy Portillo
brought Alex Barton to the front of the class and took a vote from his peers
whether or not he should remain in class. The youngster lost 14-2.
As upsetting as this case is, the lawsuit award may be equally as
On a daily basis, many children with autism incur bullying, teasing, harassment
or even worse. I can recall multiple incidents over the years where my son with
autism has been made to feel like an outcast and humiliated by the cruel actions
of others, including adults. Does this mean he is entitled to a six-figure
lawsuit settlement as well? Granted, the Barton incident was exceptionally
cruel and insensitive, but did it really warrant a half-million dollar payout,
which will eventually be funded by taxpayer dollars?
While I can sympathize with what the Barton family has endured, I’m afraid this
is another example of just how litigious our society has become. It also sets a
very poor precedent for other parents who will be looking for a payday in the
future when their children are treated in unfair or mean-spirited ways.
Even worse, it sets a poor example for our children on how to
resolve bullying, which will inevitably come their way throughout their lives.
Routines and schedules are the mantra for those with autism and their families.
If fact, they are so important to a child on the spectrum, any change in their daily
habits can cause much anxiety or stress.
A big “change” that is currently affecting a lot of families is related to
the relentless winter weather. And while the thought of a snow day sends neurotypical kids into stratospheric realms of giddiness and glee, children on the
autism spectrum usually have a hard time coping with the breach in their daily
So what is a parent to do?
For starters, patience is of the utmost importance. Additionally, here’s a
few ideas, taken from other parents in the snowed-in trenches, that will help
ease the stress of disrupted schedules from the winter weather:
1. Talk about the possibility of school closing before it happens.
As soon as it looks like a bad weather closing is a possibility, begin to talk with your child. Explain that the snow makes it dangerous to drive or walk to school and that its safer to stay home. Use pictures, if necessary, and talk up the fun activities that can be done instead of going to school. When the actual snow day occurs, knowing that
alternative activities exist will most likely keep your child’s anxieties to a minimum.
2. Go out and play in the snow.
For kids with sensory systems that don’t mind the cold temperatures and the
extra layers of clothing, go out and play in the snow (weather permitting). Snow play has an endless list of activities. With fellow neighborhood kids out playing too, social skills can be
practiced and developed as well. Sledding is not only physically challenging
but pulling a sled, while trudging up a snowy hill helps to work on balance and coordination.
This is an OT exercise in disguise! For younger children, practice counting snowballs, then work on gross motor skills by stomping on the snowballs. And who can forget making snow
angels? Make a whole angel family and practice identifying emotions by finger drawing different facial
3. If your child prefers to stay indoors, have a special container of new and fun things to do just on snow days.
This special, plastic storage container might include movies, music, books and toys that are used only on bad weather days. You might even include special snacks or
treats as well. Make sure that the container’s items and activities are only used on days when the schedule changes abruptly. And take out only one item at a time to avoid
4. If you’re not intimidated by snow on the roads (and the roads are indeed safe to drive on) go out for a
Drive to the nearest indoor play center . Chances are that the snow has deterred most people and those indoor playgrounds won’t be as crowded.
5. Go along with the theme of the snow day and make snowflakes.
Using coffee filters, create paper snowflakes. Fold them in fourths and cut small shapes from the folds to make snowflakes. Drizzle on glue and sprinkle with glitter for a sparkly effect. Once dry, use scotch tape to hang
on windows and around the room. For more details, visit “Make-a-Flake”
to create virtual snowflakes and save them to the snowflake gallery. You
can also make edible snowflakes by folding flour tortillas in fourths and then
using scissors to cut shapes out of the folds, just like when you cut a paper
snowflake. Brush with melted butter, sprinkle on some cinnamon sugar and bake at 350 degrees until crispy.
Sudden changes in a child’s schedule can be difficult, but with a focused effort on communication and a few treats,
the disruption in routine and subsequent day off can turn into a lot of fun for all involved.
All information in this site is presented for support and educational purposes only. It is not intended to substitute for medical treatment or visiting a licensed medical physician. Visitors who desire to apply or use any information listed herein are urged to consult with licensed healthcare professionals first. All information is deemed reliable but its accuracy can't be guaranteed.
Autism strikes a family’s heart, soul and wallet. Estimates by The Autism Society puts a lifetime of care for an autistic child at $3.2 million. Autism parents know firsthand the brutal toll to the family coffers of therapies that can run $40,000 to $50,00 per year. Families tangle with insurance companies, invariably ending up with […]