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A budding author!

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Everyone has to start somewhere and Logan Wideman has taken his first big step.  This young author is on the autism spectrum and his creative mind has led him to publish his first in what he hopes to be a series of chapter books. Tapping into your child’s interests at an early age and finding ways to express them is the best thing any parent/caregiver can do for any child. Bravo to Logan’s parents, and especially his grandmother who helped direct him on this path! Here is my review of Bo Jackson and the Extremely Mean Boxers.

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Bo Jackson and the Extremely Mean Boxers by Logan Wideman is a very creative attempt for a budding new author. His first chapter book addresses the universal issue of bullying – something that many young readers can relate to. Told from the point of view of man’s best friend, a family of dogs sticks together to ward off the bullies that are bothering them.

In telling his tale, this young author shares some wise and important strategies with his readers. While banding together to help their friend, Bo Jackson, deal with this conflict the dogs learn the value of friendship and compassion. Can making friends with your enemies really work? Find out for yourself in Logan Wideman’s first publication of what promises to be a series of chapter books. A great author in the making!

—- Logan is eleven years old and lives in California with his parents, younger sister and their dogs.

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As parents, we all want to do what we can to reduce any type of school related anxiety for our children and minimize the possible stress it can bring into our households. As a parent coach, I’ve guided many parents to discover ways that will make school a positive experience for their child.

The distribution of report cards is one of those events that can trigger anxiety in many children. Here is an excerpt from my newly published book Autism Parenting: Practical Strategies for a Positive School Experience with the first five pages and six of my many tips to make this time as stress-free as possible for all.

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Chapter 6—Report Cards report card

All academic institutions utilize some type of evaluative measurement that is intended to quantify the knowledge of their students. Although grading systems may vary from school to school, most use report cards, or school accountability reports, as some call them, as a means of informing parents about their child’s academic progress.

Report card formats vary, depending on the student’s grade level. There tends to be a different or more informal format from Kindergarten through fifth grade. Middle school uses a more formal layout, which is when report cards begin to take on more meaning. Middle school typically begins in sixth grade, but depending on the educational institution your child attends it could begin in fifth grade.

Regardless of the reporting system used, or the grade your child is in, responding to a report card effectively is something you would be wise to practice early on. Don’t wait for your child to come home with a poor grade in middle school when the course work is more challenging. Good or bad, your reaction will have an impact on your child’s progress, so the sooner you become more mindful about how you react, the better.

Responding to a poor report card is always a difficult task for both parent and child. If you find yourself in such a situation, try not to dwell on the negative, and think of it as a wonderful opportunity for quality time that shows you trust in your child’s ability to do better.

There are many ways to help alleviate the stress that may ensue from a poor report. Following are some strategies to help you and your child make the most of this event. Keep in mind that implementing some of these suggestions will depend on where you child is on the autism spectrum.

  • Honor all realities. Report card time is never experienced the same by everyone. Ask yourself, “When was the last time I was evaluated for anything I did, and how did it feel?” For some it can be a very satisfying and joyful occasion, and for others a very anxious and stressful time. Depending on the spoken or unspoken academic expectations, your child may be worried that she has let you down, and may be feeling embarrassed or very disappointed in herself. On the other hand, you might feel as if you are not being a “good enough” parent, and begin to harbor a sense of failure.
  • Take control. You hold the power to turn report card time into a constructive learning experience instead of a choice between a positive or negative encounter. When report card time arrives, it is important to keep your response in check. Whether your child brings home very good grades or poor ones, your reaction may have a greater impact on your child than you realize. How you react has the potential to determine continued school success, or ongoing educational struggles for you and your child.
  • Shift your focus. Pay attention to the things that matter most when your child shares his report card with you. If you only focus on the letter or number grades he receives, it will only accentuate evaluation and competition. A better alternative is to concentrate on the learning process and ask questions such as:

What did you learn this grading period (in science, math, art, etc.)?

What was most enjoyable to you?

What came easy to you this time?

What do you think you could have changed or done differently?

What will your strategy be for the next grading period?

What assistance do you need to accomplish these goals?

Fueling a conversation such as this will encourage your child to become more mindful about his learning experience, and better able to identify what works so he can duplicate it for continued success.

  • Stop and think. Prior to any response, remind yourself to take a deep breath and choose your words carefully before you speak. When first presented with a poor report card, it may be too overwhelming and unreasonable for you to take it in all at once. Take the time to deliberately review each grade individually, and discuss it calmly, to help both of you digest the information in small bites.
  • Ask questions. Inquiring if your child truly understands why she got a particular grade can provide you with valuable insight. It’s very possible she may say she has no idea why, or something like, “The teacher doesn’t like me.” if she feels she has to defend herself. Once you recognize her level of comprehension about what led to this point, you can more easily determine the next step to take. Some students are very slow to process the cause and effect of their study habits on their grades. A plausible next step in this case might be to plan an opportunity to discuss study habits with your child.
  • Engage your child.  Invite your child to become a more engaged participant in managing his academics, because it will encourage him to develop ownership in his learning process. Ask him what he thinks about his grades, and if he has any idea what he needs to do to improve the lower ones. Students who are given an opportunity to discuss their performance, and become actively involved in making decisions, are more likely to become internally motivated, and lifelong learners. If he displays confusion on how to proceed, simply offer your guidance in developing a plan that has specific, realistic, and achievable goals.

On the other hand, if your child has done well academically, then responding to a good report card should be pretty straight forward, right? You may think this is an easier task, but there are many things to consider in order to avoid the development of unrealistic expectations, and unnecessary pressure. …

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To read the rest of this chapter about responding to your child’s report card as well as all other school related topics – school anxiety, bullies, homework, making friends, special education meetings, morning routines, study skills, school vacation, etc. – you can access Autism Parenting: Practical Strategies for a Positive School ExperienceOver 300 tips to help parents enhance their child’s school success here  https://www.amazon.com/dp/B01KKM7PQE in print or Kindle format. For more details and information about the book before you buy simply click here.

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bullyingBeing a friend and being a bully are two very different things.

Can your child tell them apart?

Learning the difference between a friend and a bully can be difficult for the autism brain to comprehend but not impossible. It is vitally important because children with an Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD) are especially vulnerable to mistreatment from a bully. Research shows that children with special needs such as autism are two to three times more likely to be bullied than kids that are not autistic.

Why is that?

I can think of various reasons – under-developed social skills, difficulty communicating, and inadequate supervision all play a part. But the one factor I want to focus on in this article is an inaccurate understanding of friendship.

Many children, on or off the autism spectrum, lack an accurate understanding of what constitutes a true friendship. This is a very important piece that is often overlooked and puts any child at high risk of being bullied.

Children who really understand the concept of friendship will not easily be duped into a manipulative or abusive relationship. Protect your child on the autism spectrum from being bullied by helping him develop a clear picture of what constitutes a healthy friendship. Implementing these strategies will also reduce your child’s social anxiety and enhance her ability to make friends. All in all, these seven tips will make school a more pleasant experience.

– Assess your child’s definition. Never assume your child’s definition of a friend is accurate. Teaching your child what a healthy relationship looks like is a great way to prevent her from becoming a target. Once she comprehends what a wholesome relationship consists of, it makes it easier for her to identify bullies. True friends never try to manipulate, degrade or abuse others.

– Create a clear definition. Spend lots of time describing what a real friend is like – what they look like, act like, talk like, and how they treat you. Make a distinction between a best friend, playmate and acquaintance. It’s never too early to begin shaping your child’s perception of friendship.

– Use the word often. Make the word friend a daily part of your vocabulary, and take every opportunity to describe what a friend is and does. Opportunities to do this are everywhere. You can discuss your own friendships, those you see on TV/in movies, or anywhere you observe friendships in daily life. 

– Discuss the recipe for friendship. Having similar interests, feeling comfortable and safe, are important ingredients necessary to create a friendship. Ask your child to consider what they want to give and receive from a friendship. If your child has no idea, brainstorm friendship traits together.

– Define bullies. Unfortunately it’s not always easy to identify a bully. Some are easy to detect because they are mean and nasty from the very start and some have a well-known reputation. Others are what are called good con-artists. These individuals are harder to detect because they often disguise their attempts to relate with others in a false form of friendship. Once they use their charm to gain a child’s trust they begin to manipulate them for their own personal gain.

– Remain alert and know your child’s friends. Having an ongoing and open conversation with your child about so called ‘friends’/classmates is important to establish early on. Talk to your child’s teacher as well asking her to be watchful and communicate what she observes. Assessing the dynamics of your child’s relationships and keeping track of how each one develops as time passes is useful information to have. That way you will be able to spot a red flag when you see one. Then you can give your child the support and skills to deal with the situation before it becomes a bigger issue.

– Educate yourself. It’s very important to inform yourself about the policies and procedures your child’s school has in place for dealing with bullies. Then create a simple step by step flow-chart (visual is best) for your child so he can be prepared to act accordingly if he begins to be bothered by a bully. Role playing or actually practicing these steps will help your child even more.

Protecting your child from bullying requires a proactive approach. Never wait for your child to be abused by a bully before taking action. Begin early to bully-proof your child because the confidence you build over the years will never be wasted. Your guidance will benefit your child in all other social situations throughout his life. Find someone knowledgeable about bullying to help you create a customized plan and begin instructing your child today.

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Humor is a wonderful skill reserved for the human race and telling jokes is a great way to spread it around. Many studies have shown that laughing is good for your health. It reduces anxiety and stress which most individuals with autism experience on a daily basis.

Unfortunately not everyone is adept at telling jokes or comprehending them. An individual on the autism spectrum whose brain processes information in a very literal manner will often misinterpret the punch line.

There is an art to telling jokes – an art that is difficult for many to master. At a minimum, telling a funny joke requires a good memory, perfect timing and a controlled delivery. Understanding a joke calls for certain skills as well. It requires knowledge about the topic and an ability to connect the dots between the ideas presented. A concrete mind will have trouble connection those associations especially when idioms or some type of word play is involved.

To truly understand a joke it involves two levels of communication – one level takes in the literal meaning and the other evaluates it. The second part of this process is usually where children with autism get stuck. Coming to realize that the intent of a statement can differ from what is actually being said is a hurdle that most children with ASD struggle with.

Studies show that these two levels of communication come from different areas in the brain. The left hemisphere of the brain helps a person understand the literal meaning of a joke or idiom. The right side of the brain, the frontal lobe in particular, is responsible for interpreting context and double meanings.

For children with autism this part of their brain is typically not making the necessary connections it needs to understand the abstract language of jokes and idioms. Therefore, jokes and idioms are often lost in translation.

The more complex humor is, the more it requires an understanding of context, metaphor and the contradictory meaning of words. Anything ambiguous, such as an idiom, often leaves a child with ASD scratching their head in confusion or accepting the statement as fact yet denying the possibility.

Idioms are word combinations that suggest something different than their actual meanings. They are non-literal phrases that imply the unexpected. It can sound like a foreign language to a child with autism.  How does curiosity kill cats? Why would anyone want to take ‘a bitter pill’? Why would someone ‘cut a rug’? And the list continues.

  • A drop in the bucket
  • Pull the plug
  • Wearing your heart on your sleeve
  • Ace in the hole
  • Bite your tongue
  • Spitting image
  • A piece of cake
  • Break an arm and a leg
  • Barking up the wrong tree

Humor is important to your child’s social development because being able to tell a joke and laugh with others will help her interact socially and create new connections. So what can a parent do to trigger and create the neural pathways necessary to help expand your child’s sense of humor and understanding of jokes and idioms. Here are five strategies to implement.

  1. Intentionally teach idioms. Gradually expose your child to idioms and explain their meaning. Make it a point to use them or instruct your child directly by using homemade flashcards. This will force the neurons in her brains to make new connections that will help her develop a better understanding.
  2. Train your child to seek clarifying information when he is confused. The trick is to get him to realize when something doesn’t make sense rather than accepting the information as fact . Then you can teach him to take it to the next step by asking an adult to explain.
  3. Focus on visual humor when possible. If your child is a visual learner, sticking with slapstick comedy, cartoons and comic books that are read aloud while your child follows the pictures. This is a good place to start before proceeding to the telling of jokes and more abstract humor.
  4. Teach your child one or two jokes he can share socially. Simple knock-knock jokes are a good place to start. After a while your child will start creating his own jokes but will require guidance to make sure the punch lines are headed in the right direction. The goal is to ensure that his schoolmates will laugh with him and not at him.
  5. Practice, practice, practice. Never think this task is complete. As your child gains more experience in stretching her brain to create new neural pathways, you can raise your efforts to a more sophisticated type of humor. Remember, a family that laughs together, has less stress and grows together in amazing ways.

Never forget that in addition to nurturing and caring for your child’s basic needs, parenting involves teaching as well. Focusing on the tactics mentioned above makes it possible for your child with autism to expand the neural connections necessary to understand jokes. And depending on your child’s unique autism blueprint it may also help him develop the neural pathways to tell a joke appropriately within a social situation. As your child matures this will get easier for her but taking the steps above will help accelerate the process.

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potty trainingJust like a pilot runs through a checklist before he is ready to fly, it’s always a good idea for any parent thinking about potty training their child to run through a similar checklist before they begin. This will help you verify that you have the proper equipment and are prepared for any obstacle or circumstance you might run in to.  You always want to tackle the job with confidence and being proactive is a smart way to approach the teaching of any new skill.

Below you will find a partial checklist designed help you identify some of the things you need to consider before you start the toilet training process. Depending on all the qualities that make your child unique and where your child falls on the autism spectrum, the preparation will differ for each and every parent but this is a good place to start.

  • The bathroom environment. Is your bathroom environment user-friendly for your child and if not, what accommodations can you make? You need to make sure the important articles are accessible such as towels, towel racks, step-stool, and soap. It’s important to identify any barriers that might be in the way of success such as doors, light switches and water that is too hot.  As silly as it sounds, consider mood music and lighting because a relaxing, calm and inviting atmosphere will go far in reducing anxiety and producing the results you desire. Consider minimizing possible distractions such as decorations, fancy soaps, toys, windows, toilet paper so your child can concentrate on the task at hand.
  • Clothing considerations. Will the clothing you use help your child independently care of his/her toileting needs? Forget cute and go functional! Restrictive clothing increases risk for accidents because it is too timely to remove. Consider loose fitting, easy-on/easy-off, knit wear. It may not look that great but is user friendly. Skirts and dresses are OK but you may want to avoid long shirts.
  • Diapers vs. underpants. Children need to feel wetness when accidents occur and diapers pull wetness from the body which defeats the purpose. You need to make accidents uncomfortable! Consider regular underpants with a diaper or plastic cover over it. This catches the excess but still allows for wetness on their skin. To avoid sensory sensitivities from interfering with the potty training process, consider what your child’s sensitivities might be to fabrics and textures, pressure of elastic, tags and/or seams in advance.
  • Training equipment. What equipment will be the most user friendly to your child? What accommodations will work best to lessen any potential for anxiety? Will a standalone potty chair or a commode with adaptor help your child feel most safe, secure and comfortable? A simple step-stool is extremely useful for reaching the sink to wash hands and to create a safe and stable platform for sitting properly on the commode to support legs at a 45 degree angle which will facilitate pushing /straining for bowel movements.
  • Reward systems. Specific, verbal praise from someone that loves you is often very effective but sometimes is not enough. For learning a new and challenging task such as potty training, you may have to use an additional type of reward. Whichever you decide to use, make sure the item is enticing and highly preferred. Make sure you only use this item for success in the bathroom and nothing else in order to reinforce the toileting behaviors you want to see. Your choice of reward needs to be determined in advance, used consistently and given only after the entire toileting routine is completed.
  • Timing. Timing can be everything is crucial. When approaching any new task it is important to shoot for a time where you have normalcy in your regular routine. Starting a potty training routine for your autistic child is stressful for all and adding it to a situation that might already be filled with tension is not a good idea. Potty training is not a wise thing to introduce if you are going on vacation, in the process of moving, or the birth of another child is approaching.
  • Communication. A key component! Is your autistic child verbal or non-verbal? A visual or auditory learner? Does your child think best in pictures? Are alternative forms of communication necessary? Your answers to these questions will determine if there is a need for spoken or visual cues such as a printed word check-off list or a picture schedule. If you have a child who is a concrete black-and-white thinker you need to specify your prompts. Saying pull your pants/underwear down to your knees vs. undress is better because literal thinkers will remove all clothing when given the term undress.

All of this may sound excessive but a successful potty training program demands it. Let’s face it, the training process is going to interfere with your established and comfortable routine as well as your child’s. The best way to make the transition easier for both of you is by making sure you have all your ducks in a row.  Once you feel prepared the next step is to effectively and clearly communicate what the new toilet training schedule will look like to your child. If you would like more strategies to guide your potty training efforts you can email me at connie@parentcoachingforautism.com to schedule your free 20 minute consultation.

 

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school vacationIf you are a working mom I know you look forward to your vacation time. The change of pace is always refreshing and often reboots your energy for the return. Unfortunately, the time off is temporary and sometimes just not long enough. If returning to work is a difficult transition for you to make just think about what it is like for your child to return to school after a vacation break.

Whether it’s a long or short reprieve for your child it’s important to empathize with the reluctance he or she may express to “go back to work”. Many children, with or without autism, do not like their ‘job’ of going to school. And there are two things that can make vacation even more difficult – transitions and anxiety.

Transitions: Children on the autism spectrum take longer to adjust to a change in schedule. Your child may just be getting comfortable with the ‘all day at home’ schedule when suddenly it’s time to make yet another shift in routine. Recurring change is the enemy of most autistic children and can cause stress levels to rise and anxieties to increase causing much friction and unrest in their households.

On the other hand, there are a few children who actually look forward to going back to school after a vacation break. Many can transition well despite having to adjust to another new schedule. Regardless of the category your child falls into, the following suggestions will help facilitate a smooth vacation transition.

– If the school break is a short one, try not to relax the rules around bedtime. Making smooth adjustments to an established bedtime routine in the course of one week may be an unrealistic expectation. Consider the time your child requires to make a stress free transition and honor it.

– Hold a family meeting before school begins again to discuss and plan for the transition. If you’ve never held a family meeting before this is a great time to start.

– If screen machine privileges have been increased during a school vacation make sure you give fair warning about when they will end. And once you re-establish the TV, video and computer use rules make sure you stick to them. Children thrive on predictability.

– Relay a positive attitude when discussing the return to school. If your child isn’t enthused about returning, focus on the events they find the most interesting such as, sports, computer or music.

Anxiety: Many children can harbor anxiety about school. Be it issues with friends, bullying, challenging class work, sensory over-stimulation, or a new teacher, it’s important to address the culprit.   When dealing with a child who is very resistant about returning to school after a vacation break ask her to express her worries and concerns. This may be difficult if your child is non-verbal or struggles to communicate.

– If your child has difficulty expressing himself try a different tactic. Drawing, looking at pictures, reading books etc may be helpful tools to help you identify the things that cause your child anxiety.

– Sometimes all you can do is anticipate what the anxieties might be based on past experience and good detective work. Then you can address each possibility with a plan of action.

– Touching base with your child’s teacher is always a good idea. Email, call or make an appointment to talk to your child’s teacher. Ask if she has observed differences in your child’s behavior or any behavior of other peers towards your child at school.

If you are a parent of an autistic child (or any child) who is showing signs of anxiety about returning to school you can find extra support and ideas for making the transition more manageable in my new book – Autism Parenting: Practical Strategies for a Positive School Experience. Available on Amazon Kindle.

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schedule for kids with AutismDon’t let the upcoming time change upset your child. The shift to Daylight Saving Time doesn’t have to have a negative impact on your household. Adjusting the clocks forward or backward can a big adjustment for anyone. When you have a child with an Autism Spectrum Disorder who thrives on routine it can be disruptive.

Question: How can you help your child spring forward happily along with the clocks?

Answer: Stick to a schedule.

Why? Schedules and routines are an extremely important part of any child’s life. Having a schedule and sticking to it in times like these will help your child with special needs feel a sense of stability despite the loss of an hour. Even though they may not realize an hour has vanished, their body’s internal clock will detect it. Depending on the child, springing forward can have a significant impact on a child with autism.

Question: What are the benefits of maintaining a schedule?

Answer: It will diminish your child’s anxiety.

How? Anxiety is normally an issue for most children on the spectrum and switching to Daylight Saving Time has the potential for triggering a state of worry or stress. When the timing of things like bedtime, getting up and getting ready for school typically happened in the light or dark and suddenly this is different, it can easily create anxiety or resistance in a child with autism. Maintaining the same routine in all other respects will help prevent anxiety levels from increasing further because it will reassure your child that everything else is staying the same. Knowing what to expect makes life more predictable and therefore less stressful.

Children with autism often have many appointments with therapists, doctors and other professionals – sometimes there will be more than one appointment in a day. Keeping a schedule will not only help you and your child anticipate appointments but will ensure you don’t miss them as well.

Schedules can be extremely helpful when trying to get a child to do something they do not want to do. Let’s face it – going to the doctor’s is not much fun but simply showing a child that after they do one thing they will get to move onto something else can help motivate them from one task to the next.

Some children on the autism spectrum will benefit from having a visual schedule. Having pictures for all the daily activities allows them to see what is coming next and will help avoid some emotional breakdowns. Keeping the schedule posted where your child can refer to it often is helpful. If you ever have to make a change in the schedule explain the shift to your child as soon as possible and transfer the pictures on the calendar to the newly designated date and time.

There will always be things that come up on occasion and have the potential to throw a child’s world out of whack, day or night. When troublemakers like Daylight Saving Time show up and get you off track, the best thing to do is to try to get back on it as soon as you can.

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sensesColor my Senses: The Sensory Detective Coloring Book by Paula Aquilla BSc, OT, DOMP is a wonderful educational tool for any child to explore all eight of their senses! Factual descriptions are provided with the practical example of waiting for a school bus to help the reader understand how their entire sensory system works. It begins with an explanation of how our sensory system depends on our nervous system and how information is carried throughout the body – to and from the brain.

The book will appeal to children young and old, as it presents options for both. Younger children can activate their senses through the process of coloring while a parent reads the text to them. Older children can easily read the book to themselves, with or without a little help, because the descriptive visuals help boost comprehension. The author has done a wonderful job of illustrating the bigger words that name the various parts of the sensory system. Even the term sensory modulation is described in such a way that will make sense to most children.

Of course, one is never too old to color as the popularity of adult coloring books testify too. The act of coloring itself has the capacity to calm the nervous system and soothe the senses. It’s also a fun and appealing way to learn!

The author, Paula Aquilla, has been an occupational therapist for more than thirty years and her understanding of children with sensory issues is evident.

Color my Senses: The Sensory Detective Coloring Book is published and available in paperback from Future Horizons, as well as Amazon and Goodreads.

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depressionWe often fear what we can’t control or don’t understand. Fortunately, education is a powerful antidote and the information Dr. Wilkinson presents in his book, Overcoming Anxiety and Depression on the Autism Spectrum: A Self-Help Guide Using CBT, definitely delivers. Not only does it equip the reader with a better understanding of the processes involved with anxiety and depression but it offers therapeutic strategies that will increase a person’s feeling of control as well. What more could one ask for?

This self-help guide is for individuals in early to mid adulthood that may possess autistic traits, whether officially diagnosed with an Autism Spectrum Disorder or not. It is an effective tool for individuals challenged by anxiety and depression who want to improve their psychological wellbeing. The book itself is extremely helpful on it’s own but can always be combined with personal therapy sessions to make larger strides at a faster pace.

Dr. Wilkinson starts by slowly encouraging the reader to begin a journey into a better understanding of who they are, how they (their brain) functions and what they can do to manage their feelings. Each chapter takes them one step forward to acquiring new ways of thinking and doing.

The focus of this book is strength based and in no way does it attempt to eliminate, cure or change a person’s autistic traits. Instead it concentrates on empowering the individual with Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT) skills. CBT addresses cognitive dysfunction by challenging irrational beliefs and thoughts and replacing them with positive thoughts, feelings and beliefs for better emotional health. The result being that one can live life with the confidence and knowledge that they can manage these destructive thoughts and feelings whenever they appear.

Other highlights worthy of mention:

– I always like a book that explains how it is set up. The author clarifies what to expect in each chapter beyond the one to five words in the Chapter Title. Dr. Wilkinson wrote the book to build upon itself. The foundation he sets in the earlier chapters help facilitates a better understanding of the information in latter chapters.

– The book also provides many user-friendly, evidence-based tools – the Adult Autism Quotient, Empathy Quotient, and Systemizing Quotient – that will enhance self-awareness and self-acceptance. These are located in the back of the book and many of these forms are also available in downloadable format that can be printed.

– Best of all, the author introduces us to new terminology with the term/acronym ASC, Autism Spectrum Condition, as opposed to ASD, Autism Spectrum Disorder. Other experts have previously introduced this particular language in an attempt to emphasize a condition that includes strengths as well as challenges. Describing autism as a condition has a more positive connotation and normalizes it to a set of attributes shared by ALL individuals in the general population.

All in all, this book provides hope – a beacon of light at the end of the tunnel that will gently guide the reader to the other side. It functions as a road map, affirming there is a way out that will lead to better decision making skills and management of thoughts and emotions.

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I saw this article on the National Institute of Environmental Health Science website that thought I would share it.

Do you worry about the long-term impact of all the chemicals and environmental toxins that have been invented in the last century? Do you wonder if they contributed to your child’s diagnosis of ASD or not?

To be fair, we do have government agencies that try to protect us from harm. They test new products, medications, food etc in an attempt to keep us safe.

Unfortunately, as careful as they are we sometimes hear the following, “Environmental health officials say . . . and other chemicals that were once thought to be safe in small amounts may have a profound effect on . . . .”

I have decided not to wait for the scientists to make definitive conclusions. Instead, I choose to ask myself, “What can I do to protect my children, my self, and other loved ones from the possible ill effects of exposure to toxic substances?”

That was about ten years ago and I have been making my own non-toxic cleaning products ever since. You can begin doing the same, with a few basic (and relatively cheap) ingredients: baking soda, vinegar, borax, castile soap, glycerin and essential oils.

If you need convincing that a more organic lifestyle makes sense for you environmentor if you want some great ideas on how to clean your house in an eco-friendly, non-toxic manner, let me point you to this amazing resource – Tabletop TUTORSTM. These are very affordable educational tools, developed by a colleague of mine. These info-graphics can be posted on your refrigerator door, or inside of a bathroom cabinet, for handy reference.  Click here to access these two cleaning related posters:

clean environmentWhy to Green Clean Your Home!

How to Make Your Own Green Cleaning Aids

… but there are lots more Tabletop TUTORSTM to choose from. Click here to access all 90+ posters.

Why not use them on your dining room table and get the whole family talking about eco-intelligent eating, cookware, personal care, laundry and lifestyle too!

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