3 ways your ABA provider should support academics

education therapies Mar 20, 2019

Tosh is making tremendous academic progress this year, and a lot of the credit goes to cooperation among his therapy and education providers.
Autism support services aren’t as effective when they’re served ala carte. Each service should dove tail the others and work together to achieve shared goals.
In particular, if your child receives outside ABA or other behavioral therapy, like RDI or sensory integration, these providers should work with your child’s teacher to address behavioral problems at school. At a minimum, someone from your ABA provider should attend IEP meetings to provide input regarding goals and how to address behavioral issues.

We are fortunate that the Center for Autism and Related Disorders (CARD), our ABA provider, is all in when it comes to supporting Tosh’s educational and speech goals. Since he spends 20 hours a week there, that’s a must. Otherwise, there wouldn’t be enough time in the day for ABA, school,...

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How to ignore rude comments

self care Mar 12, 2019

"It's too bad some parents are too lazy to discipline their kids!"

Oh, those rude, ignorant comments you get from strangers when you take your autistic child out in public. We've all been there. 

Whether your tendency is to react with anger, embarrassment or tears, who wouldn't like to get to a place where those comments don't bother you one bit?

I've got a two-step process that can help you achieve that. It requires a healthy dose of empathy and the willingness to do a little deep diving into some painful experiences in your past, but the results are totally worth it.

1. Realize that rude comments have nothing to do with you.
What comes out of peoples' mouths (yours included) is a reflection of how they feel about themselves on the inside. Judgmental people are telling the world they have a million faults. Intolerant people are telling the world how much they hate themselves. Sarcastic people or those who say something mean followed by, "just kidding," are telling the...

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Autism parents should brag, too!

I'm a member of a special needs parenting group on Facebook, and last week another parent posted something that was so relatable. 

She wrote that while she normally just scrolls past and ignores posts by parents of neurotypical kids, bragging about their achievements, there seem to be more of them lately. All the dance recitals, awards and other accomplishments and milestones made her want to scream for them to shut up already, and appreciate how lucky they are. 

The response from the group was overwhelmingly supportive because we've all been there, right? Especially in the beginning. I remember back when Tosh was a toddler, and I'd see all the cute little Facebook videos of first words, the happy birthday song, preschool holiday programs and the comedy of three-year-olds playing soccer.

Tosh couldn't do any of that then, and still can't do most of it now.

Back it what I call my dark days, when he was about four years old, just one video of a toddler saying something cute was...

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Rewire your mental immune system

I don’t know about your family, but this has been a tough year for us so far when it comes to health. Both Tosh and I rarely get sick, but so far this year we’ve had a hard time shaking a flu bug that gave us bad coughs plus some stomach cramps and vomiting. As they say, it’s going around.

We know a lot about the immune system when it comes to fighting colds and flu, but did you know scientists believe our brains have an immune defense system that fights our attempts to make positive changes in our lives?

According to Harvard researchers Robert Kegan and Lisa Laskow Lahey, our mental immune system fights to maintain our status quo. Like everything else that holds us back, the push for consistent behavior is a key part of our evolution. Our daily routines keep us fed, sheltered and safe.

However, even when patients suffer a heart attack and are told that if they don’t quit smoking or lose weight, they’re going to die, they struggle to make those changes....

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I told him to F off. Then I realized he was right.

About three years ago I was in a pretty dark place.

I was feeling down and defeated. Autism was kicking my ass. Being a single mom was kicking my ass. My job was kicking my ass. Life was kicking my ass.

So naturally, I turned to my boyfriend for support and encouragement.

He did not respond as I had hoped.

"You know what your real problem is? You need to stop feeling sorry for yourself and do something about it," he said.

Wrong answer. His insensitive reply prompted me to unleash a tirade of f-bombs so brutal that we didn't speak for a couple of days.

But during that time, I thought long and hard about what happened, because he wasn't your average dude who didn't have a clue about what it's like to raise a special needs child.

He had his own special needs child with spectrum issues, an intellectual disability and health issues. His son is verbal, but overall, he probably has more challenges than Tosh does. Yet at the time, his son was attending college - COLLEGE! - at a school across...

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Dave Ramsey's Snowball Method can help you with autism

Parenting a child with autism comes with the longest to-do list in the history of forever. There are IEPs and educational issues, behavioral issues, health issues, diet, sleep and it goes on and on and on and on (and on).

I've spent almost my entire career in credit unions, most recently producing financial education content. One day, while reviewing an article about strategies to get out of debt, it hit me: autism is kind of like being buried in debt.

It's overwhelming, exhausting, depressing and you don't even know where to begin.

Which is why financial management guru Dave Ramsey can offer the perfect advice to autism parents. When it comes to tackling your child's laundry list of challenges, treat it like debt and use Dave's Snowball Method.

If you're not familiar with Dave Ramsey, here's how it works: tackle the easiest thing first, so you gain a feeling of accomplishment. Plus, with every problem solved you gain more time and energy.

Without realizing it, I've applied the Snowball...

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3 reasons to stop worrying about the future

positive mindset Jan 15, 2019

If you're like most parents of autistic children, you've spent a lot of sleepless nights worrying about your child's future. I know I have.

There's the obvious worry: what will happen to them when you're gone?

And then there are the myriad other worries. Will my nonverbal child ever communicate? Will they ever learn how to drive? Will they ever have a job? What happens when they age out of the educational system? 

These are all legit concerns. However, you are probably worrying far more than you should. Here are three reasons why.

There will be more services in the future.

Ask any parent of an autistic adult - these days, there are sooooo many more services for autistic children and their families than 20 years ago. Why is that? Because these families blazed the trail for everyone else, raising awareness of the need. I know it may seem like our country is becoming less empathetic, but if you don't allow yourself to get caught up in the political drama du jour, and look at the...

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Elopers need more freedom

Uncategorized Dec 11, 2018

I've been working on a course to help parents teach their autistic kids how to go out in public successfully, and researched one of the main reasons families stay home: eloping.

If you don't know what eloping is as it pertains to autism, consider yourself very lucky. Like the traditional definition of eloping, in which people run away to get married, eloping in autism means a child or adult runs away from school, home or elsewhere without a caregiver. It happens every damn day and it's rarely the fault of teachers, aides, parents or caregivers being careless or inattentive. Oftentimes, the child is very clever and sneaky about it, and disappear in a matter of seconds.

Because people with autism have an impaired sense of danger, elopement is dangerous and sometimes even fatal. Because people with autism may not respond to commands from law enforcement, they're even at risk of being killed by police. If they're nonverbal, they may not be able to communicate who they are if...

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Healthy chicken nuggets

autism diet Nov 27, 2018

If your kid is like Tosh, he eats the same 10 things over and over again. And chances are, one of those things is chicken nuggets.

The problem is, very few processed chicken nuggets are safe for any kid to eat, much less kids with autism. And they're gross. Not surprisingly, McDonalds chicken McNuggets are among the worst. They contain MSG, which will keep your child up at night, and TBHQ (tertiary butylhydroquinone) which is a petroleum-based food preservative that is a cause of ADHD and neurological damage. Plus, the dipping sauces also contain MSG and food dyes, which also cause neurological damage.

I don't know about you, but Tosh doesn't need any more neurological damage. We've had our quota for a lifetime, thank you.

McDonalds is easy to pick on, but chicken nuggets from Jack in the Box, Burger King, Wendy's, Popeyes and the popular Chick-fil-A aren't good options, either. Chick-fil-A removed TBHQ but still uses a lot of MSG (which is probably why their sauce is so amazing and...

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Autism and air travel: know your rights

Flying with an autistic family member can be stressful enough. But these days, it seems like every week there’s a news story about an airline that kicked a passenger off an airplane for no good reason. Too often, it seems like a case of discrimination.

As the parent of a child who screeches, kicks seats and has meltdowns, you can’t help but wonder if you might be the next national headline, like the Beegle family after they were escorted off a United flight by police in 2015.

You shouldn’t let this fear stop you from traveling. But it’s important to know your rights.

The Department of Transportation has specific regulations governing air travelers with developmental disabilities. The DOT defines an individual with a disability as anyone who has a physical or mental impairment that substantially limits one or more major life acitvities, has a record of such an impairment, or is regarded as having such an impairment.

The regulation also specifically...

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