Teaching Siblings of Children with Autism to be Disability Advocates

girls-946288_1280Parents want their children to grow into confident, caring, and capable adults who respect everyone, including those with disabilities. In families with a disabled sibling, parents often additionally encourage acceptance of differences in a more personal and immersive way than those without one. The challenges of devoting individual time to each child’s personal development is coupled with extraordinary opportunities to teach disability acceptance and advocacy. This article discusses the unique power siblings have as disability advocates and outlines 6 tips for helping your other children learn to advocate for their siblings and others on the spectrum.

Feeding Aversion Part 2: Feeding Strategies for Children with Oral Sensory Issues

feeding strategies, chocolate sandwich

Jalapeño Pringles, chocolate chips, and Pediasure. This was my son’s breakfast, lunch and dinner for weeks at a time. Every couple weeks it might change to one specific type of dry cereal and chocolate or saltine crackers. And that was it. Nothing else. As I detailed in my previous post, My son had a complicated medical history that led up to severe oral aversion and oral sensory difficulties. But we have seen significant progress since his first solid feeding attempts.

This post contains a variety of different feeding strategies that might help children with oral sensory issues. I am not a doctor or therapist, and this shouldn’t replace medical advice. I am writing based on anecdotal experiences I’ve had from the past nine years of working with my son and my own personal research. Some of these topics are specific feeding strategies for different ways to help your child interact with food. Other suggestions illustrate how to communicate a positive attitude during meals. I hope some of this information will help you to safely encourage your picky eater to gain more confidence in eating skills.

Understanding Feeding Aversion Part 1: One Family’s Story

feeding aversion, jalapeno chips

It’s a gross understatement to say my son is a picky eater. The eating progress I could brag about would horrify the typical parent. I am grateful for each of his successes and his potential to continue improving. Many individuals on the autism spectrum have feeding challenges; however, they differ in their specific difficulties and needs. This is my son’s story and a summary of what I want other parents to know about their own feeding journey.

Autism Interview #5: Dr. Stephen Shore on Autism and Education Part 2

Stephen NYU Citibikes PhotoThis week’s post is a continuation of Part One on autism and education based on the advice from autistic professor, author and international speaker Dr. Stephen Shore. In this week’s post, Dr. Shore emphasizes the importance of identifying and developing a student’s strengths in order to achieve academic and personal success and how best to go about accomplishing this.

Eye Contact and Autism: Reflecting on Your Agenda for Your Child

Eye contact and autism

One of the first signs of autism in infancy is a lack of eye contact, and autism spectrum individuals may experience this difficulty as a result of neurological differences in visual processing.

Do you remember your parents telling you, “Look at me when I’m talking to you!” demanding you show them respect? Eye contact and autism is a controversial and complex issue. Therapists, educators, and parents often insist autistic people make eye contact with them. They assume that people cannot listen and understand what they are trying to say unless they are making eye contact. Since communication breakdown is a central issue to autism spectrum disorders, parents and professionals naturally feel that eye contact is an important first step to teaching. But anyone who has talked to autistic individuals understands that this issue is more complex than we realize.

7 Autism Myths: “High-Functioning Autism” and Asperger’s Syndrome

“He’s a little autistic, but he’s fine.” You may have heard someone describe an individual with “high-functioning autism,” Asperger’s Syndrome, or PDD-NOS in this way, actually believing they are being complimentary (See how Ben describes this label in my earlier post). The language used to describe verbal autistics (in terms of how they compare to neurotypicals) leads to some common misunderstandings about autism. Individuals with what some refer to as “high-functioning autism” (See Autism Language Mistakes download for why not to use this term), Asperger’s Syndrome, or PDD-NOS often experience regular discrimination due to these misunderstandings.

Autism ABA and NET Part 2: Our Family’s Story

In my last post, I discussed some of the controversy surrounding Applied Behavior Analysis therapy (ABA) and how Natural Environment Training (NET) might be a nice compromise for parents who want to try the therapy but are apprehensive about its intensity. In this post, I’ll explain our family’s experience with both therapies. While our story isn’t necessarily representative of either mode of therapy, it may offer some useful information for families considering these interventions for their children.