Halloween for Children with Autism

Halloween scares many children. The themes attract their fear as there are terrifying decorations, costumes, scary movies, and not to mention an increase in the price of sweets.

The most complicated of all is to create the conditions so that this day does not affect our son/daughter with autism, and he/she can understand it in the best way. In this sense, what can we do to make this day not so chilling for them?

Remove the surprise factor

Take the time to talk with your child before Halloween. Explain to him/her in advance to prepare them for the subject. You can display images and videos with kids in disguise and with the usual “trick or treat” sign. Describe the environment and atmosphere you will find on the streets at night.

You can even show photos of previous celebrations and create a social story so that your child does not feel scared, and perceives the celebration as a repetitive event. This builds confidence and greater security.

Check out the neighborhood

Start a night walk through the neighborhood to see the decorations of the houses. Some may be more frightening than others. As a result, you may prefer to prevent your kid from visiting the most terrifying.

It is convenient to talk with the neighbors beforehand to find out what they plan to do, for example, if they plan to receive children with a costume when they get home. These scenes can cause fear in children with autism. For this reason, it is recommended to go to houses, parties, and even Halloween stores before taking your little one.

Teach trick or treat rules

Provide clear and precise instructions to your child about “trick or treat” rules. For example, don’t enter the house, say thanks and visit the next home, etc. Practice with him/her what that experience would be like and the steps you should follow, even when facing an unforeseen event such as if the neighbour is not at home.

One of the things we teach our infants is that they never accept sweets from strangers, so it is difficult to contradict this rule. It is better to explain that it is a party and that it is valid to do it this way, except you are going to shopping centers or stores.

Do a general rehearsal

Kids with sensory difficulties may experience discomfort with the clothing of Halloween. Many may suffer itching if the costume is too tight. The texture of the fabric is also likely to cause discomfort.

For children within the spectrum, makeup on the face may seem sticky. It can even make them feel weird. Besides, masks and accessories can make vision and hearing difficult, which can lead to the child feeling frustrated and forced to participate in Halloween activities.

Encourage your son/daughter to do a simulation of everything put on the costume, ask how they feel with it, and make the appropriate adjustments to make the event fun for the child.

You can also create a costume with everyday clothes. Choose a character that your child loves, but also clarify that it is not mandatory to wear a costume.

Make a candy plan

Be careful with your child’s diet. Remember that on Halloween, kids can exceed the consumption of sweets. In case of a restricted diet, deliver a bag of goodies acceptable to your neighbor beforehand so they can give it to your child.

It is also possible to exchange sweets with his/her sibling. Tell your son/daughter what he/she can and should do with sweets when he/she gets home. Set consumption limits before the party.

Promote the company of friends

Ask one of your little one’s neurotypical friends to accompany you and monitor compliance with the rules of trick or treating.

In turn, that friend can help your child with any eventuality. If you have other children, plan a solution in case your kid with ASD wants to retire before the other children have completed their activities.

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Enjoy this day to the fullest with them, following these tips.

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How Is Family Life Affected by a Kid with Autism?

Receiving the news that their son/daughter suffers ASD causes a great impact and shock not only to the parents but also to the rest of the family members. This first stage causes anxiety and tension due to its multiple repercussions on family life and the social environment.

Having a child with autism entails a series of additional tasks and responsibilities that add to  existing ones. The fulfillment of therapy schedules, expensive treatments, job responsibilities and social commitments increase the levels of family stress progressively affecting married life.

Concern about covering the expenses related to therapy sessions, as well as necessary medication, deepen the difficulties of this challenging stage that the family must face from the moment of diagnosis.

This is when the family must urge everyone to work together to address the situation, leading in many cases to the emergence of fears, irritations, uneasiness, tensions and concerns that can disturb the harmony and stability of the family circle in several ways.

The parents of autistic children must meet the needs of all their children and that of the family. However, this stage is crucial since it can strengthen or weaken the family bond. Once the situation is addressed, it is necessary to create a system of support and to work hard to try to overcome the situation.

How does an ASD diagnosis affect families?

Emotional impact

The diagnosis of an ASD child involves the adoption of a series of typical changes linked to the disorder, thereby generating emotional disorders in the family before and after the diagnosis, indefinitely.

A child with autism consequently brings a significant burden of stress and concern to family members because they have to assume all the elements intrinsic to the condition, that is, everything that it implies.

Family members of people with autism suffer more emotional disorders compared to the rest of the population. In addition to the accumulation of emotions, relatives of children with autism may feel the following:

  • Discomfort due to the behavior of their children in public
  • Social isolation
  • Feeling frustrated at not having the parental experience they expected
  • Feeling guilty for feeling responsible for what their children must overcome
  • Concern and burden for autism being an incurable disorder
  • Irritability and discomfort towards themselves, the specialist, and spouse
  • Impotence for not being able to resolve their child’s condition

Marital impact

The news affects marriage-  causing high levels of stress for many reasons. The parents of a child with autism come to accept the diagnosis in various ways. This can cause problems between the couple since both can perceive and assimilate the situation differently.

Sharing as a couple becomes somewhat complicated due to the commitments and schedules of each one. Usually, getting a person to take care of a child with autism is a somewhat complicated task, since private child care does not have specialists who can cope with this condition.

Children with autism require special attention, therapy, and appropriate treatment. This causes financial depression that alters the family budget and that could bring problems between couples.

Impact on siblings

A child with autism may have neurotypical siblings that are also affected by the restlessness and anguish of the family environment.

They may even feel neglected because the parents cannot provide all the support they require since they’re busy and overwhelmed, trying to meet the needs of their child with autism.

This can cause jealousy and rivalries between siblings. A child with autism demands an investment of time and special attention; often, his/her siblings feel excluded, causing resentment towards them.

However, many families have managed to overcome this stage by detecting and controlling the causes of stress.

Financial impact

The parents of a child with autism should plan their family budget and include additional expenses in consultations, therapies, and treatments prescribed by doctors and autism specialists.

The financial burden that the condition implies can alter and reduce family income. Furthermore, most private insurers do not cover these needs and are very expensive.

The co-payment system can help to level the budget and to cover expenses for the purchase of medicines and frequent office visits that increase the financial debt of the parents, but for this to happen, the parents must have a full-time job.

Full-time work is difficult because one of the parents must resign to devote more time and pay attention to the child with autism, which prevents them from enjoying good health insurance.

The family has to face a large number of expenses that alter their financial situation despite having a limited budget.

The first step that a family should take with a child with ASD is to assimilate and internalize that their life changed. Understanding how this affects them allows them to overcome problems and improve interfamilial relationships.

Going to places where guidance and family counseling is received can be very useful and helpful for parents of children with ASD, especially to improve marital communication between couples, while psychotherapy is used to treat the emotional and psychological part.

Another alternative is support group meetings that you can attend to learn about other experiences of parents with children with autism, who can propose solutions to many of the family’s problems.

It is good to keep in mind that parents must take care of themselves and maintain a comprehensive balance in order to take care of their children with ASD.

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Family is important no matter what, but an autism diagnosis will present challenges and changes that together you must face.

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Things That a Kid with Autism Wants to Tell You

Autism spectrum disorder is not considered a psychosis, but rather a generalized developmental disorder. Kids with autism present some difficulties that make life in society a little more complex.

Deficiencies associated with the disorder generally include: language and communication difficulties, problems interacting socially, and lack of empathy. They feel more comfortable when they are part of a repetitive routine, unlike typical people who do not understand these attitudes or behaviors.

Another impediment of a kid with autism is his/her limitations with motor coordination and the processing of incoming sensory information. Each case is different. Each individual with autism is unique.

There are things that a kid with autism would like to tell you, especially if you are his/her father or mother, teacher, partner, or are related to him/her.

1. I strive to make friends

A kid with autism finds it difficult to have relationships with others, but that does not mean he/she doesn’t like having friends or making friends. However, these children face several types of social interaction deficiencies.

  • Distant: their behavior is indifferent. They act as if the other person does not exist.
  • Passive: accept social approaches but do not initiate them.
  • Active but odd: they try to establish social contact but in a particular way.
  • Formal or artificial: they do not adapt to social norms and their behavior is not the most appropriate.

Although he/she seems distant or disinterested in playing with other children, he/she simply does not know how to start a conversation or enter the game. You should teach him/her to join the game with other children and encourage them to invite him/her to the game.

The best games for children with autism are those that have a clear structure (a beginning and an end), that is, games without surprises or last-minute changes.

2. I interpret language literally

Double meanings, sarcasm, or puns are things that children with autism cannot understand. Other elements of communication, such as metaphors, allusions, or nuances, are complicated for people with this disorder because they interpret all information as it is presented. If you talk to a kid with autism this way, you will confuse him/her.

3. Sometimes I use different intonation from other people

Kids with autism sometimes use different intonation to communicate. The tone of voice can be heard mechanically and even robotic. This is common in children with autism.

4. Even if I have trouble communicating, I like to be heard

Depending on the degree of the disorder, some children with autism learn to speak late in relation to children of the same age, while others never learn to speak.

However, we should not interpret these communicative limitations with not wanting to be heard. A kid with autism will always want to be understood and heard, so we must be attentive to each of his/her signals and value their feelings despite their difficulties in developing expressive language.

5. I don’t like symbolic play

Spontaneous games without a fixed structure are not fun or enjoyable for children with autism. Games where imagination and surprises are part of the rules do not encourage those who suffer from the autistic spectrum.

Children with ASD love predictable, repetitive, and routine games, where they previously know what will happen. What can be something entertaining for neurotypical children, can be unpleasant or annoying for children with ASD.

Since now you know a little more about what children with ASD think, you can create a better environment to contribute to their development, but this is not everything. Maybe you would like to propose other ideas or share them with us? Leave us your comments.

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These kids just want to say lots of things, but they struggle with it.

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Meet the Children with Autism Who Are Excelling

The world is inhabited by exceptional people, geniuses who stand out for their abilities and who have earned our admiration for making a difference. Within the autistic spectrum, there are kids with unique conditions and qualities who never cease to surprise us. Meet the children with autism who are excelling and are true examples of overcoming.

Rafael’s story: the polyglot child with autism spectrum disorder

A story of overcoming that is worth knowing, Rafael is a Brazilian boy who since 2 years of age presented problems to articulate words clearly. He was born with autism and difficulties in learning to speak. Even his relatives came to believe that he suffered from hearing problems.

Today, at just 7 years old, he can communicate in 9 languages: an exceptional case that serves as an example to millions of people. He learned from a tablet, according to his mother, Juliana Lancer Mayer. His story caused worldwide shock and controversy.

 

From the moment the neuro pediatrician diagnosed him with Asperger’s at the age of 2, his mother sought other opinions from specialists, but they all agreed on the same diagnosis. Many doubts invaded her about what they could do to improve socialization and the possibility of communicating better. In this regard, Juliana Lancer Mayer commented to BBC News Brasil:

“My other children developed rapidly, but it took time for Rafael even to learn how to sit when he was little. Until 2 years old, he did not interact, did not look in the eyes and seemed to be deaf. We did tests that showed that he had no hearing problems.”

The kid received therapy to be able to communicate better despite the typical limitations of autistic disorder, but the methods failed to solve anything. Some people recommended the child’s mother to give him a tablet to improve some skills. At first, the family was reluctant but then decided to do so.

“I was worried because, suddenly, he (Rafael) began to speak as if he spoke the language fluently, without having received classes or leaving the country,” said the mother.

 

The device changed Rafael’s life. He focused on its contents until he started learning languages. The first one he learned was English.

Greta Thunberg: the pro-environment girl

These days everyone talks about Greta Thunberg, a 16-year-old Swedish who has been an icon of awareness about climate change since 2017.

This teenage prodigy was nominated for the Nobel Peace Prize for her perseverance in the fight for the environment. If she won this award, she would become the youngest person to receive it, overtaking Malala Yousafzai, winner of the prize at just 17 years old in 2014.

Greta was diagnosed with Asperger’s in 2015. In relation to this disorder, the Aspergers Argentina Association clarifies:

“It is a condition of neurodevelopment, a variation of development that accompanies people throughout their lives. It influences the way they give meaning to the world, processes information and relates to others.”

“Aspergers was included among the Generalized Developmental Disorders (TGD) and is currently incorporated into the Autism Spectrum Disorders (ASD).”

This condition and its difficulties in socialization were not an obstacle for the adolescent activist to work to raise awareness about the damage caused to the environment. On August 31, she added the following text to her Twitter account:

“When those who hate persecute you because of your appearance and differences, it means that they have lost their way… And then you know that you are winning! I have Aspergers and that means that sometimes I am a little different from the norm. And, in certain circumstances, being different is a superpower.”

The passion that moves her for the cause of saving the planet has aroused the admiration and respect of many, even revolutionized the networks when a #AspiePower hashtag went viral, that summoned all those who have the disorder to discover their talent.

The active participation of Greta in the Summit for Climate Action at the UN attracted the attention of the world. It was a very eloquent and passionate speech that greatly moved the attendees.

“They have stolen my dreams and my childhood with their hollow words, and yet I am one of the luckiest. People are suffering, people are dying, entire ecosystems are collapsing. We are at the beginning of a mass extinction, and the only thing you can talk about is money and fairy tales of eternal economic growth. How dare they?”

Everyone in the UN auditorium directed their applause at the defiant young woman, but Greta, with a content cry, long blonde braid and pink cheeks proved that difference can also be a super-power. The activist has become a symbol of the fight against climate change.

Her speech was directed vehemently towards the most powerful political leaders in the world and focused on the request for concrete actions to protect the planet.

“My message is that we will be watching them. All this is wrong. I shouldn’t be up here. I should be back at school, across the ocean. How dare they?”

 

The most important thing is that his message was seen and supported by millions of people around the world, overcoming the limitations of her disorder -which reduces the ability to interact with others-, a worthy example of perseverance and desire to overcome.

Federico García Villegas: Pablo’s voice in Nat Geo

His story is unprecedented. Federico García Villegas is a 10-year-old Colombian boy who dared to write a story to explain to his classmates and friends what his condition is like. He also created a foundation for those children who, like him, have Asperger’s syndrome.

It all started when he accidentally broke a vase at the house of one of his friends. From there, he came up with the idea of writing a story and selling it to get money to be able to replace the vase.

 

According to his mother, Andrea Villegas, the story told of a dinosaur that other animals did not understand, nor wanted. Through the story, Federico was able to express for the first time how he felt in front of others.

After opening up to his parents and exposing all his feelings in an unusual way, Federico said he did not want other children to go through the same thing he did, and proposed to sell his stories and create a foundation.

This is how the idea of ​​the Federico García Villegas Foundation came about in 2017 with the slogan “I am different, I am like you” with the mission of providing support, attention, and guidance to families with children with autism, and achieving true academic and social inclusion.

 

The foundation is financed by the stories of Federico. The first one is called Crylo, of which 500 copies were printed that were already sold out of the showcases.

Federico was diagnosed from a very young age. At the age of 8, he was encouraged to record a YouTube video in which he explained in general everything about his condition, what it was like to live with the syndrome and why he did not feel different. In a short time, the video received thousands of visits.

He has been a victim of bullying from his classmates for suffering from Asperger’s Syndrome. For this reason, he was motivated to transmit it in a video.

The video popularized by the boy caught the attention of the Nat Geo Kids’ producers, who contacted him to propose participation in a television series called Pablo. He was selected to interpret the voice of the protagonist, Pablo, a 5-year-old boy with autism, very ingenious and artistic, whose drawings come to life in the “art world.”

The script was written by talented people with Asperger’s who incorporated original and funny stories about their own everyday experiences.

“I am very happy to give a voice to Pablo! If children see Pablo, they will know what the world of children with autism is like, and then they can learn to have more patience and be a more inclusive generation,” Federico told the local newspaper The Nation.

His participation in the series allows a beautiful message to be transmitted to the world.

Adhara Pérez Sánchez: the genius girl who wants to save the world

A neurotypical kid at the age of 3 is learning to speak or walk, but when this Mexican girl reached that age, he already assembled 100-piece puzzles, began to read and study algebra. She was diagnosed with the Asperger’s but with an IQ of 162, when the average score is 90, which makes her a gifted kid.

She is currently 8 years old and dreams of becoming an astronaut and belonging to NASA, “I want to save the earth,” she said. The CNCI University Cumbres campus awarded her a scholarship to complete her studies, including an English course for his future aspirations.

 

The people tell her “the genius girl” because of her IQ and because she is about to begin her career in Industrial Systems Engineering in Mexico City, and then study Astrophysics in Arizona.

At a conference offered at the CNCI University, Adhara spoke about her diagnosis with ASD and also why he was listed as a genius girl.

“My dream is to be an astronaut. I have an IQ of 162 and I want to be an astronaut to save the earth,” says this scientist, who is a Stephen Hawking’s little fan and his theory of parallel universes.

“I think that one day a very massive black hole can end this planet earth and what the human being has to do? Exploring other planets that have water and build ships seeing it from another point and if we imagine that we enter a hole black and we survive applies the laws of Einstein space time and parallel universes,” said Pérez Sánchez.

The academic institute promised to provide support so she can go to the University of Arizona to finish astrophysics studies, in addition to monetary support for her family nucleus.

If this dream came true, the girl would be the youngest physicist in Mexico and the world. Recently, Adhara was invited to an event at NASA because of her exceptional abilities.

Her high intellectual level and her special condition did not allow him to adapt to the traditional school, so the parents decided that she would study at home. In a short time, she finished elementary and secondary school; then, she was able to pass high-school with a single exam.

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Meet several kids with autism with incredible talents and achievements

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Autumn Activities for Children with Autism

The arrival of autumn brings with it a cold and agreeable atmosphere full of colors and fresh air ideal for going out and enjoying the outdoors. There are many activities perfect for children with special needs this season of the year. Do not miss the opportunity to take advantage of an extraordinary sensory experience!

1. Roll down a hill

Choose a hill and roll downward! This develops large motor coordination, motor planning, and vestibular orientation.

If your child is not interested in rolling, get a square piece of cardboard, and throw yourself with him/her down a grassy hill and the fun begins!

2. Heavy feet

In autumn, gardens are full of dry leaves. Encourage your child to look for leaves, pile them up and jump on them! Sounds and smells stimulate the senses and serve as sensory integration therapy.

3. Heavy work in the garden

Collect leaves from the garden! Take tools like rakes, brooms, and bags and ask your children for collaboration to clean the yard.

Activities such as raking, sweeping, picking up leaves, dragging the branches and placing them in the bag strengthen muscles, activate circulation, and promote good practices in children with autism.

4. Walk

You can not miss a healthy walk through trails. Create the route yourself! You can investigate the trails in the community where you live or nearby areas.

Remember to wear appropriate and comfortable walking shoes, take bottles of water to hydrate, a package with snacks, a mobile device and go on an adventure!

5. Treasure hunt

All kids enjoy the search for treasure. Start the training by developing a list of things to find, such as rocks, red leaves, sticks, and other surprises.

Tell them to tell you where they got them and everything you can think of.

This activity stimulates language, communication and the development of fine motor coordination, as well as encouraging the search for information, research, and organization.

6. Ladder launch

Use the outer ladder to implement a game. Hang the numbers 1 to 5 on each step.Then tell your children to throw balls through the steps. Each time they cross a step, they will accumulate points. This is a great strategy for visual monitoring and progress in visual-motor skills.

7. Carve a face!

October is the month of pumpkins! With great care, you can carve a face or take out the guts in the company of your son or daughter.

It is a sensory activity that stimulates the sense of touch. You can ask for suggestions on where they will place the pumpkins. Ask them to count and separate the seeds. Motivate them with a delicious pumpkin pie at the end of the activity!

8. Camping

Many people think that this activity is exclusive to the summer season, and it is not so! The autumn weather is fantastic for kids with sensory sensitivity. Prepare your tent and sleeping bags, flashlight, hamburgers and choose a nearby and safe camp.

Do not deprive yourself of enjoying one of the best times of the year, the sensations, the joy of sharing with your child, the colors, the smells, and the autumn landscape – an oasis of great sensory activity!

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The new season is here, check these amazing activities for your children.

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Good Practices for Autism

Today, several companies are responsible for providing better service to people with autism, adapting the conditions to create an environment conducive to the tranquility and well-being of children and adults with special needs. These good practices have extended to various areas of society.

In addition, these companies train their employees to face the challenge of including a series of activities in their work in which they must relate to people with ASD.

Discovery Cove: personalized attention for visitors with autism

Discovery Cove is an amusement park, owned by SeaWorld Parks & Entertainment, located in Orlando, Florida, that has a splendid resort and a variety of attractions such as a dolphin pool, a tropical river, and a saltwater pool. Children with autism can interact (talk, play, touch, and swim) with some aquatic animals such as dolphins.

There are also coral reefs where they can swim with tropical fish and a free-flight aviary with over 250 tropical birds. This oasis in the middle of the city was rated as a Certified Autism Center by the Autism Certified Center International Accreditation Board for Continuing Education (IBCCES).

One of the most significant initiatives and good practice to obtain the certificate was the training of employees to obtain greater knowledge about the spectrum as well as integrating the families of these people.

This certification constitutes a true commitment from the water park to keep the preparation and training of personnel up to date in terms of experience, skills, tolerance, and temperament to interact with people with autism and their families.

With the training participation of this center, the Discovery Cove staff intends to communicate how to deal with people on the spectrum to help them and their families enjoy a healthy recreation.

The main objective is to generate the conditions so that their stay and experience within the facilities is the most suitable and as favorable as possible. The park has made a great effort to provide activity plans that allow the inclusion of family members of children with autism and other special needs.

Discovery Cove is distinguished by being the first resort and park for close interaction with animals endorsed by the IBCCES. It is not the first time that a SeaWorld Parks & Entertainment company has received this kind of distinction, as in previous years Sesame Place and Aquatica Orlando had received a similar certificate so this would be the third park with this certification.

As announced by Kyle Miller (2019), president of Discovery Cove in a statement:

“Autism certification is a natural step for us as we continue to create meaningful and safe experience for our visitors.”

By acquiring this certificate, the park seeks to create a more relaxed environment that decreases the sensory recharge of visitors who have autism.

The IBCCES has been a pioneer for almost 20 years in training in the topic of good practices for ASD aimed at health professionals and educators around the world. This organization recognized that many families with children within the spectrum have some limitations in many activities related to travel and lodging.

Visitors on the autism spectrum receive up-to-date information on the different experiences and attractions of the park, as well as accommodation to help plan their stay at the hotel and take advantage of the benefits that suit their individual needs.

“For a long time, Discovery Cove has been recognized for its adventurous and relaxed atmosphere, for its spaces that make our services more accessible,” Miller added.

There are many additional services available to its visitors such as an area equipped with adjustable lights, food and beverage services, comfortable armchairs for rest and a web page with updated information and tools to plan visits on the site.

“Prior planning for the autistic community is very important,” said Myron Pincomb, director of the board of directors of IBCCES.

A waiting room for people with autism

Another novel initiative for the autism community is a place inside the Pittsburgh International Airport in Pennsylvania, dedicated exclusively to those who have this type of sensory disorder. The airport has a special waiting room that looks like the inside of an airplane.

The waiting room is a thematic version of an airplane; that is to say, it corresponds to a replica of the interior of an airplane. This ingenious creation has a purpose in that both children and adults with autism can familiarize themselves with the airplanes before boarding the flight.

The stage is complemented by videos that project some moving images and soft music that promote relaxation.

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These changes are allowing them to go to places that seemed impossible to visit.

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