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A whole new way to engage autism

Welcome parents, caregivers, and professionals! Our new nonprofit invites your engagement in services that provide support, guidance, and education. We’re here to empower young families living with autism.

Your relationship with your child is so important to his social and emotional well being — now and throughout his lifetime. You spend the most time living with and loving your child. You have the greatest commitment to his development and lifelong happiness. But autism can make it hard to connect with your child. And because each child expresses autism in an individual way, it can be a confusing, frustrating, and time consuming process to find ways to support your child’s specific needs. We know. We’re there too.

We believe that parents are the key to lifelong success for children living with autism. It is, after all, a diagnosis that involves the whole family. Our volunteer board of directors, our writers and our presenters are all personally engaged with autism. It is this personal connection that fuels our passion for sharing, with you, what we know. We are dedicated to building bridges between research, practice and everyday life. It is at this center that engagement, true engagement, begins.

Here, families are the center. We offer education from experts,  how the latest research affects your family, and strategies that benefit your child. And we’re always looking for ways to grow. Explore with us the many possibilities of living with autism.

We’re here to help foster your child’s growth and development – and realize the joy of nurturing your child. Join our blog where we provide a place for everyone to learn and grow.

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Toilet Training for Families Living with Autism

The room was packed with parents and information at our toilet training class last week. Anne Dudley shared her tried and true methods for toilet training with parents. And the parents shared with each other their challenges. Everyone left feeling ready to try at least one of the practical strategies that Anne shared, the most popular being understanding and using reinforcers. Reinforcers are areas of high interest which can motivate kids to try something new.

But laying the foundation for success is critical: establishing good toileting habits by changing in the bathroom and learning how to change your child while standing up are strategies that prepare children to begin the toilet training journey. Everyone was helped by learning the signs of toilet training readiness. Specific tips for establishing a schedule that is manageable to parents and children were explained. Only after this foundation is established should families begin the daily training techniques.These included Social Stories, visual supports, visual schedules, establishing a toileting sequence, using and finding reinforcers, iPad apps, and videos.

Resources shared

Join us at our next Lecture Series on April 16, What, Exactly, is Going on Here? with Sheila Merzer!

Helping Gifted Children with Autism Succeed

Maureen Neihart, PsyD, shared a lot of information with us at our Lecture Series devoted to 2E (twice exceptional) children on the autism spectrum. Using the latest research in the field, she highlighted the areas in which these children typically struggle. It was no surprise that the two most impacted areas are social/emotional skills and adaptive functioning. Yet, seeing the huge disparity between these kids’ cognitive profiles and  other skill areas is illuminating. Gifted kids with autism fit the following profile:

  • Overall reasoning scores fell in the 99%
  • Daily living skills fell in the 20%
  • Functional communication skills fell in the 33%

So we focused most of the night’s discussion on how to address these areas of need. The guiding principle for supporting these kids, according to Neihart, is developing social competency while providing academic challenge. To achieve this overall goal, Neihart shared the Seven Skills Needed for Success:

  • Learning strategies that enhance ability
  • Working harder
  • Use of technological aids
  • Use of other people as role models and support
  • Persistance
  • Risk-taking
  • Developing a will to succeed

Given that gifted kids with autism often struggle with social anxiety, Neihart shared specific tips for helping these kids cope in a school setting: 1. Learn to breathe (specifically belly breathing), 2. Learn how to relax (progressive relaxation of the body), 3. Keep moving toward the things that scare you

Additionally, she recommended Russell Barkley’s books as a framework for teaching social skills, and the Circle of Friends model for supporting these kids socially throughout their academic career. Finally she reminded everyone that the most effective intervention for gifted students is acceleration. Establishing the right social supports opens up this option for gifted children on the spectrum.

Resources shared

Watch the video of Helping Gifted Children on the Autism Spectrum Succeed

Don’t miss our next Lecture Series on February 12 – Engaging Autism: The Serious Business of Fun

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