Perseveration… Perseveration… Perseveration…

Many children with severe disabilities, particularly those on the autism spectrum, perseverate. Perseverating means they do certain actions over and over again, like repeating a phrase, shutting a door, twiddling fingers, lining up toys, rubbing hands together, spinning objects, etc. It is almost as if these children are locked into an endless cycle of meaningless, odd behaviors. Why do children perseverate? There are a couple of reasons. First, they might find life to be so chaotic and confusing that they crave some sort of control. The repeated door slamming, for example, gives the child a sense of predictability, order, and … Continue reading

Anxiety: When Meds are OK

My 18 year old daughter just graduated from high school. As we sat and discussed all of the plans for the weekend something jumped out at me: the anxiety she had been dealing with through her teen years was not getting better, and the impact on her day-to-day functioning was going to get worse. I have been noticing symptoms of anxiety in her for years, and spoke openly with her about options. However, as someone who spent years working with adolescents with serious emotional problems, I was leery to start her on medications before she became an adult. I wondered … Continue reading

“My Son Has Juvenile Diabetes and Autism.” A Mother’s Interview

The following interview is with Ammey, a mother whose children have multiple medical and cognitive conditions. Of particular interest to me is her situation with her oldest son, Khy, who has both juvenile diabetes and autism. Ammey responded to my blog, Do You Have BOTH Juvenile Diabetes and Autism in Your Family? Here is her story. 1. Tell us a little about your family. My name is Ammey, and I’ve been married for thirteen years to my husband Mikel. We have three children: Our son Khy is 14, Kaine is 11, and Lilli is four. Khy has autism, asthma, type … Continue reading

The Ladder of Cognitive Skills for Special Needs Kids

It’s often useful to keep in mind the kinds of skills we should be helping our special kids master as they grow and develop. The following steps are general guidelines you can use as you direct your child through floor time play at home, special education in the classroom, and social interactions with friends and family. As you read the following list, try to determine which steps your child has mastered and which ones need additional focus. Often times the child has a mixture of abilities and challenges on every rung of the ladder. And remember that in order for … Continue reading

AUTISM: Are You Aware?

April is autism awareness month, so I’m writing this blog to check your awareness level. Whether you parent a child with autism, know someone who does, or if you just happen to be reading this blog for interest’s sake, understanding certain facts about this condition is extremely important. Autism is no longer an obscure, rare thing. It’s all around us, and we need to be tolerant, supportive, and vigilant in searching for answers so that we can eventually shed some light on what is causing this mysterious disorder. Are you aware that autism has now been deemed a national epidemic? … Continue reading

Ten Ways to Help Your Child with Aspergers Syndrome Succeed in School

Children with high-functioning autism or Aspergers Syndrome have many similarities to their peers. They want to be liked, accepted, and fit in with their classmates. It was once assumed that these children preferred isolation, but this is not usually the case. Instead, many have described that it is their difficulty with social skills and pragmatic language, sensory differences, and restricted interests that make relating to others a challenge. Whenever possible, children with high-functioning autism or Aspergers Syndrome should be mainstreamed into a regular classroom with age-level peers. This is important for their social growth, intellectual stimulation, and the ability to … Continue reading

8 Difficult Autistic Behaviors (And Why They Happen)

Children with autism have numerous challenging behaviors for parents to deal with. Sometimes the behaviors seem to make no sense whatsoever. The child might seem unreachable, temperamental, and impossible to deal with. However, when we take a look at the underlying deficits that contribute to the problems, we can gain a better understanding. And with a little understanding, we are better equipped to find ways to help. The following is a list of eight typical behaviors of an autistic child, and their likely causes. This is not an exhaustive list of all autism symptoms, and some autistic children will only … Continue reading

FLOOR TIME: Be Your Child’s Own Personal Play Therapist!

Children with developmental delays have often missed crucial milestones in cognitive learning. Because of problems like sensory integration disorder or other neuro-processing difficulties, they’ve had “gaps” in their intellectual growth. These gaps can cause further problems as the child is not able to build upon skills which don’t exist. He or she needs intensive, daily therapy to literally start at the beginning and re-learn certain milestones to compensate for the deficiencies. Early intervention programs, therapists, educators, and specialists can all be extremely beneficial. However, it is not enough. These kids need one-on-one concentrated attention to help them climb the developmental … Continue reading

A Couple of Wise Guys…

My two oldest sons are quite a pair. They have an affectionate, hilarious bond, as brothers. Garrett (in sunglasses) is fifteen, a straight A student, and extremely bright. He’s one of those kids that can smooth talk his way out of most anything. I don’t often see him doing much homework, yet he pulls off sensational grades. Tests and quizzes come easily for him. He’s an aspiring musician, and the house is usually filled with the rollicking sounds of his piano tunes in the living room or his voice singing through the closed door of his bedroom. Garrett has juvenile … Continue reading

“How Can We Ever Be Friends?” Katie and Vincent’s Story

I read an article in this weeks PEOPLE magazine that really made me smile. It’s a shining example of how peer tutoring, or mentoring, is a fabulous concept that should be promoted in every school in the nation. The article, written by Richard Jerome and Lori Rozsa (May 29, 2006), highlights a special relationship between two students: Vincent Benito, who is 15 and has autism, and his peer mentor, Katie Davis, 13. The two attend Thomas E. Weightman Middle School in Wesley Chapel, Florida. Before Katie made the decision to be a peer mentor, she thought it would be an … Continue reading