How to Enjoy Thanksgiving with Your Child with Autism

Thanksgiving Day lets us know the Christmas season is near and along with it, many new experiences for your child. Each special date may bring us joy and some moments of concern for our family.

But there’s no need to worry. The key is choosing carefully the activities in which they will participate. Here are some tips on how to make Thanksgiving a pleasant, enjoyable, and bonding experience for all, especially for your child within the spectrum.

Attend the event early

In case you’re not the host, arriving early to the event will allow your child to adapt faster and easier to the environment. During that time, you can explore the place so you can get familiarized with it. This will make you feel both more calm and confident.

The idea is that your son or daughter feels comfortable in this new space. It is also important that you visualize a quiet place where your child can stay in if he or she starts feeling overwhelmed.

Bring your food if necessary

If your child has problems with certain foods or doesn’t like some textures, carry an additional meal according to his or her taste. You could also tell the host what your child prefers to eat in advance.

Eating what he or she likes will help them cope with any stressful situation they might go through.

Create your own traditions

List all your child’s needs and try to adjust your family traditions according to the things that make him or her feel comfortable. On Thanksgiving, for example, everyone may sit at the table in casual clothes or pajamas so everyone can feel more relaxed.

Remind your child about the good experiences of previous years using photos or videos of the activities you did together. These special memories will help them feel better during this celebration.

Talk to your family about the occasion

Let your family know about your kid’s taste and preferences, so they have them in mind during both the initial activities and the celebration.

For example, if your child likes to play Minecraft, someone that likes it too can play with him or her. From there, they may discover other things they have in common. These details are important for developing social skills.

Teach and encourage positive behaviors

Explain to your child how to behave during Thanksgiving and the rules your family follows on this special day. Walk him or her through the whole process: everyone sits at the table, greet each other with a smile or a hug, and then start to eat.

Try to rehearse the event if possible. This way, your child will know how to act, and you can identify which situations could be particularly stressful. Also, you need to reinforce their good behavior.




Thanksgiving can be difficult for them, but wit these tips it can be a great time with family.

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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.

father and daughter

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


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LGBT and Autism | How is it Like to Be Part of Both Communities

Expressing a sexual inclination, different orientation, or identifying yourself as a person with autism and LGBT at the same time can be difficult for anyone.

Although progress in recent years regarding the rights of the LGBT community is evident, members still suffer discrimination, stigma, and political challenges. The challenge increases when it comes to people with autism because it is a permanent condition that affects the way a person perceives the world, as well as his/her behavior, communication and social interaction with others.

The causes are still unknown, not to mention the informational vacuum that exists about the biological characteristics of sexuality and the approach to gender identity. There are people who accept who they are and feel satisfied with it, but there are others who constantly seek to understand their identity.

Undoubtedly, having autism, and being part of the LGBT community can bring about social complexities, presenting a variety of challenges.

Fight for adaptation

For people with autism, everyday life can be overwhelming and involves a constant struggle to adapt to today’s world. According to the National Autism Society, “they see, hear and feel the world differently from neurotypical people.”

Generally, individuals within the spectrum have difficulties in communicating, expressing feelings, understanding social signs and interacting with others. For them to conform to social rules takes time and effort. This allows them to develop a unique identity.

A reality that seeks social claim and visibility

Sexual diversity and gender identity are part of a reality that seeks social claim and visibility, extending to people with autism.

On June 28, 2017, thousands of people gathered for a week in Madrid, Spain, to celebrate International LGBTI Pride Day (lesbians, gays, bisexuals, transexuals, among others) and develop activities to discuss and show diversity.

This global event focused its attention on people with disabilities through the Spanish Committee of Representatives of People with Disabilities (CERMI) and the Cermi Women Foundation (FCM), among other institutions, under the slogan “sexual diversity, human diversity,” promoted for the disability movement.

The representatives of CERMI, an organization of which Autismo Spain is a part, met in 2016 to form a Technical Commission to provide support and attention to persons with disabilities in matters of sexual orientation and gender identity.

United Nations (2016) considers that:

“The guarantee of equality and non-discrimination offered by international human rights standards applies to all persons, regardless of their sexual orientation and their gender identity or other condition.”

However, despite rights achievements, when other variables such as sexuality and non-normative gender identity are added to a disability, the problem becomes more complex because exclusion and discrimination come into play.

Autism and exercising rights for sexual diversity and gender identity

Autismo Spain has prioritized the promotion and effective exercise of the rights of people with autism, with the aim of improving their quality of life and granting them equal opportunities. To achieve this, it is important to include the different realities in the field of sexual orientation in a transversal way.

Sexual diversity and gender identity is a pulsating reality that demands a change of vision

about sexuality in the world. Fortunately, in recent years it has been more vindicated, observing a greater visibility from the social point of view, which also has an impact on the group of people with autism.

Expressing sexuality and gender

The difficulty in developing in the social environment and interacting with others complicate relationships with people with ASD.

There are manifestations such as repeating phrases and words, repetitive movements, talking about their own interests, inability to understand emotions, isolation, little eye contact and rejection of physical contact are determining behaviors at the time of consolidating a friendship or romantic relationship.

The above does not mean that a person with autism cannot live a normal life, but it requires greater tolerance and compassion on the part of family members, partners, and friends.

Be yourself

Jack Whitfield, a member of the Ambitious About Autism Youth Council and a Plymouth poet, says: “it can be difficult to express two different identities.”

“Many more of us are adopting different sexualities and gender fluency independently and with relative confidence,” says Jack.

By having contact with like-minded people, Jack says he “has been able to better understand his autism and sexuality.”

“The Last Pride Festival in Plymouth was fantastic in meeting many other autistic people being very open with both, which helps me as I learn more about my possible biromantic or asexual traits.”

“The two movements [autism and LGBT] always seemed to work well together, challenging the convention but with a view to equity and integration, rather than attacking those who are not autistic or LGBTQ,” he said.

“I am grateful because the awkward social encounters that I had previously attributed to my autism are becoming more complex to analyze, by contemplating and questioning my sexuality within it.”

He goes on to say: “As I see my autistic colleagues as brothers and sisters, regardless of where they are on the spectrum, the parallel values ​​of patience and welcome that I see in the Pride movement reassure me of being able to talk about how to navigate this new terrain for me.”

Not always visible

There are different types of autism and levels, and sometimes it is not easy to identify so many call it “silent disability.”

Jonathan Andrews, 24, who has expressed being LGBT and is on the spectrum, says that “both his sexuality and his disability are not immediately visible to people.”

“I don’t announce it when I meet people for the first time, unless it’s something natural in a conversation or if the other person realizes on their own.”

“With sexuality, people often assume that you must be” secretly gay “or similar. With autism, people assume that you are not really autistic, saying: ‘you don’t look autistic’, ‘you look good’ or variants, or assuming that because I’m smart, nothing else matters, or set a lower bar for you, often called “soft fanaticism of low expectations,” he says.

“That said, I would not say that my experience has been mostly negative: in general, I have worked and I am friends with people who accept me for who I am and recognize the advantage of diversity.”

The most important thing to keep in mind is that each individual with autism is different.

Testimony of a beneficiary of the Autism Federation of Andalusia who tells us his personal experience.

To know this reality a little better, we wanted to show the testimony of a person who receives the support of the Autonomous Federation of Andalusia and who wanted to tell us about his personal experience.

Tell us a little about yourself, how would you describe yourself beyond labels?

Personally, the labels cause me a certain rejection, beyond “person with ASD” or “LGBT person,” I am simply a person. In my opinion, the fact of putting so many labels excludes us more than it includes us. We would have to do more to see the person as a human being and not classify them according to their disability, sexuality, religion or color.

Have you ever felt discriminated against or invisible? Can you explain to us?

Everyone feels that way sometimes. I have been discriminated against, tried and rejected for being gay and for having Asperger’s until I discovered that no one has the power to insult you if you don’t give it. With Asperger’s, I felt invisible and displaced almost daily.

What has helped you overcome possible difficulties in this regard?

The power is within each and every one of us. To access it, we have to eliminate fears, complexes, and insecurities. You have to fight and not let yourself fall; never respond with anger (anger feeds anger) and bring out the good that we have inside so that others can appreciate it.

What is required of the society in general or the political class so that diversity ceases to be a barrier to total inclusion?

I don’t expect anything. I fear nothing. I am free.

How do you see yourself in the future?

Shining and giving light to those around me. That is my goal in life.



Never think less of yourself because you are a person with autism and also part of the LGBT community.


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Causes of Insomnia in Children with Autism

Autism consists of persistent neurodevelopmental disorders that present dysfunctions in communication and social interaction. Children with autism often have sleep disorders that significantly affect social interaction, daily life, and good academic development.

In general, they tend to suffer from insomnia, which is perceived as a difficulty in falling asleep. Unlike people without neurological conditions, kids within the spectrum are about 11 minutes longer than the population getting to sleep.

These kids usually wake up at night, and many of them get to suffer from sleep apnea. They only spend 15% of their sleep time in the REM phase (rapid eye movement), which is fundamental for learning and memory. But what are the causes of insomnia in them? Discover them in this article.

Causes of insomnia in children with autism spectrum disorder (ASD)

The incidence of insomnia in children with autism spectrum disorder is quite high, due to the confluence of other conditions that interrupt the normal sleep cycle such as gastrointestinal problems, attention deficit, hyperactivity, anxiety.

On the other hand, most of them are treated with stimulant medications. Other findings suggest that it may be caused by genetic mutations that govern sleep cycles and alter melatonin levels, a condition that doubly affects people within the spectrum.

Most of them are especially susceptible to sleep problems; consequently, they have nocturnal awakenings that impact on the processes of focus and attention, memory, behavior and moods.

Many factors affect insomnia, so researchers are increasingly studying this phenomenon. Recent studies have developed a typology of the possible causes.

Intrinsic causes

Disorders in the development and organization of the central nervous system: researchers report that an abnormality in the maturity and development of the central nervous system has a significant impact on the quality of sleep and its duration, causing problems in sleeping or parasomnia.

Irregular production of melatonin: deficiency of this hormone can cause insomnia as well as night awakenings and complications to sleep.

Hyperactivation and alterations of sensory integration: cognitive or physiological hyperactivity cause insomnia.

In fact, it has been observed that people with autism and insomnia problems have greater cognitive and sympathetic nervous system activity, as well as an increase in heart rate, body temperature and elevated levels of noradrenaline. The anguish resulting from this condition can cause insomnia.

Extrinsic causes

Among the external causes are usually mentioned:

Stress due to changes in the environment: changes in the sleep routine, stimuli, the need to comply with certain rules, or unusual practices promote insomnia.

Psychological stress: caused by mental as well as physical pressures, changes in moods lead to the onset of insomnia.

Physical stress: the various pathologies or any condition suffered by the kid can affect the quality of sleep.

As mentioned in previous sections, the child with ASD is more susceptible to being affected by internal and external factors which, when dealing with insomnia, are many causes that intervene simultaneously in the loss of sleep.

Insomnia impacts and harms all people of any condition, but in the case of the autism spectrum, lack of rest can alter the features; for example, it can result in greater difficulty in social interaction with other children.

In summary, those who have low quality sleep generally show severe or violent repetitive behavior and greater difficulties in establishing friendships with other people.



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The Good Doctor: ¡tienes que ver esta serie!

The Good Doctor (El buen doctor) es una serie estadounidense, estrenada en septiembre de 2017. Es una adaptación de la serie coreana del mismo nombre transmitida en el año 2013. Ambas, evidentemente, son de drama médico, desarrollado entre hospitales y cirugías.

Las críticas han sido variadas pero, en general, ha tenido buena aceptación. Ha sensibilizado a los espectadores y tocado su vulnerabilidad. La primera temporada sobrepasó las expectativas, logrando conseguir una segunda y tercera temporada.

Freddie Highmore encarna al Dr. Shaun Murphy y su actuación ha sido uno de los atractivos principales. De hecho, ha recibido elogios por parte de la crítica.

¿Cuál es el mensaje central?

El Dr. Shaun Murphy posee autismo y síndrome de Savant (síndrome del Sabio). Es una persona con talentos y habilidades que le permiten sacar el mayor provecho de las diferentes disciplinas de su interés. Sin embargo, tiene inconvenientes para socializar, un gran reto en su profesión.

Murphy trabaja como pediatra, es alegre y positivo (una característica que ha creado empatía en los seguidores de la serie). En ocasiones es subestimado por sus compañeros, pero suele sorprenderlos gratamente. Tiene la mentalidad de un niño de diez años aunque con habilidades especiales y fuera de lo común.

En esta serie se muestran las características resaltantes del autismo; gracias a esto, se habla acerca del deseo de la producción de sumarse a las campañas mundiales de inclusión; se busca mostrar estas condiciones desde diferentes ángulos. Las diferencias no son malas, simplemente, son diferencias. Además, el desconocimiento crea falsas expectativas de una determinada situación; en este caso, de lo que pueden lograr las personas con autismo.

En The Good Doctor se muestra cómo esas “diferencias” pueden ser la pieza clave para solventar diversas situaciones médicas. Asimismo, se evidencia el lado más humano y sensible de sus personajes. Las habilidades de Murphy marcan la diferencia. Su manera de ver las cosas terminan dando otro rumbo a las distintas historias. Es extremadamente meticuloso -otra de las características de personas con autismo-, lo que facilita su trabajo al hallar detalles difíciles de percibir por otros especialistas. Por otro lado, la serie es bastante informativa, sirve de instructivo para quienes conocen poco sobre el autismo.

Datos curiosos

Aunque nos parezca una adaptación interesante y con mucho potencial, algunas cadenas no apostaron por el proyecto. Los primeros guiones no despertaron el interés de los inversionistas. Debieron pasar algunos años para que volviera a ver la luz, de la mano de Sony Pictures y ABC.

Los productores no creían ciegamente en Freddie Highmore para interpretar el papel principal. Gracias a sus actuaciones anteriores, se creía que luciría demasiado joven. Sin embargo, su edad coincidía con la requerida para encarnar al personaje (25 años).

The Good Doctor rompió récord en sus primeros episodios. En sus inicios superó a un monstruo de la televisión estadounidense, The Big Bang Theory, dejando boquiabiertos a expertos en la materia.

Han sido felicitados por padres de niños y adultos con autismo. La aceptación ha sido muy buena: constantemente reciben correos, cartas, publicaciones en las diferentes redes sociales y elogios de quienes se sienten identificados con la serie. Para ellos, es un gran paso y celebran cómo se siguen abriendo puertas a sus familiares. Es una forma de eliminar los mitos en torno a ellos y darles voz.

The Good Doctor ha recibido diferentes premios y nominaciones, entre ellos, The Awareness Award (premio a la concienciación) de la asociación Autism Speaks. En un principio, se transmitía a través de AXN pero, actualmente, otras cadenas se han visto en la necesidad de adquirir sus derechos y presentarla a sus televidentes. Telecinco (España) lo transmite en televisión abierta. Se espera el estreno de la tercera temporada para el mes de septiembre.

En definitiva, cada vez se abren más espacios para individuos con TEA. Las iniciativas de este tipo son dignas de admirar y recomendar. ¡Seguimos avanzando!

Hombre viendo una serie

El buen doctor


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