Dr. Temple Grandin: Discipline is Key

Dr. Temple Grandin on DISCIPLINE

“I cannot emphasize the importB9315403164Z.1_20141208230949_000_GLQ9BRDPJ.1-0ance of consistency.  When I was in elementary school, the penalty for having a tantrum was to have no TV for one night.  That was the rule and it was always enforced.  It is essential for the rules to be consistent at BOTH home and school. Parents and teachers must work together otherwise the child may manipulate the parent against the teacher and vice versa.  Kids need to learn that “No” means No and be rewarded when they do things right.  You also need to determine if a behavior problem is caused by pain or sensory over sensitivity.  Hidden painful medical problems must be ruled out.  Some common ones are – acid reflex (heartburn), constipation, yeast infections, toothaches, and earaches.  A child may fear going into a room where a smoke alarm had previously gone off, because it hurt his/hear ears.  After these biological causes of behavior problems are ruled out, then the behavioral motivation can be figured out.

The three main behavioral causes of tantrums and other problems behaviors are:

  • Get attention
  • Frustration because communication is difficult
  • Escape from a task

Each one of these motivators needs to be handled in a different way.  Often the best way to handle behaviors motivated for attention getting is to ignore it.  If a non-verbal child is frustrated because he/she cannot communicate, he/she should be given a means to communicate, such as a picture board or picture exchange.  There are many new apps available for I Pads and other tablets for communication.  If the child is trying to escape from a task, you need to make sure the task is not stupid.  An example of a stupid task would be making a brilliant 8-year-old do baby math drills.  He/she should be given the more advanced math book.

All children in the autism spectrum should be expected to do daily living tasks that they are capable of doing.  Some examples are making their bed, being on time for the school bus or helping with household chores.  When I was a child, I was expected to have good table manners and to say “please” and “thank you.”  When I made a mistake with table manners, mother did not say No. She told me the correct behavior.  For example if I ate mashed potatoes with my fingers, she said, “No, use your fork.”  She gave me the instruction, instead of just saying NO.”

-Dr. Temple Grandin

The above and other Q & A from Dr. Temple Grandin was provided by is posted at:  http://www.templegrandin.com/faq.html 

Choosing Your Child Over the Judgement of Others

Like many times in life, you come upon a fork in the road. One choice leads you down a certain path and the other choice leads you down a very different road. Finding out your child has autism is complex enough, but eventually we all come to the same fork in the road. Do I choose my child or do I choose to please the surrounding neurotypicals, those judgmental people around me?

This sounds simplistic, but parents realize almost immediately after the diagnosis that you are judged, alienated, and sometimes even rejected by your peers and perhaps even family. It hurts because you know your child cannot help the ‘tantrums’ when the baby in the grocery store won’t stop screaming. Or that your child’s complete lack of athletic skills will never match the soccer mom’s expectation of a friendly neighborhood soccer game. So eventually you and your child are excluded.

When these and many, many other similar situations would arise I realized my son would elicit these judgmental looks from people as a certainty because the autism was not going to be going away. So, we chose our child over others’ perceptions of what we should be.

As soon as our family as a unit took that path everything became easier! I no longer worried about others’ lack of knowledge when it comes to sensory issues or brain function. We as a family would have our own fun. Quirky doesn’t bother me anymore, in fact it’s almost cool and definitely a relief.

Together our family is a strong unit accepting and excelling in my son’s unique interests. Our family weekends are no longer with people that make for awkward or unforgiving situations, but we welcome anyone who would like to be with us just as we are! Now, many years later, the same families who alienated us for the differences, have surprisingly praised our strong family unit, ’hiccups’ and all!

By Jennifer Allen

Are You a Visual Thinker? Understanding the Difference between Visual and Auditory Input

Tools to Decrease Neurological Stress

How do we decrease neurological stress?  The following is an excerpt from my recent book titled “Visual Supports for Visual Thinkers: Practical Ideas for Students with ASDs and Other Special Educational Needs”

Visual processing

A research team funded by the National Institutes of Health found that, in people with autism, brain areas normally associated with visual tasks also appear to be active during language-related tasks. This provides evidence to explain a bias towards visual thinking that is common in those with autism.

Try this little activity: the following statement is about neurological processing. “Visual’s a strength, auditory ain’t.” As you say this, make goggles with your hands to cover your eyes. Then try saying it again while cupping your hands to make ear muffs over your ears. This little exercise will help your brain to remember a key statement about the preference for those with ASD for visual versus auditory learning. This understanding is the first step for taking a different course of action when responding to the behavior of those struggling with neurological stress.

Want to be a Friend to Someone with Asperger’s? Be Sure To do These Six Important Things

Too often, neurotypicals expect a perfect useful relationship from a friend. They like friendships to be easygoing with as much similarity between two people as possible. Therefore, they hold higher expectations for the other side, even though the other side shares that same expectation. Due to the absence of fulfillment, neither person makes connections or sometimes people can become unreasonably selective in the friendship process. The reason for this is that both neurotypicals and aspies often feel like outcasts around certain groups of people.

friendship Aspie

If this happens too frequently, the inclination to make friends declines. However, this shared dilemma can actually help to foster the relationship between an aspie and a neurotypical or an aspie and another aspie, if they are willing to give a chance for that to happen. After all, few things feel more reassuring than being able to take up your worst fears and issues with others, knowing that they will not condemn you for them.

Transitioning to Adulthood with Aspergers

Individuals diagnosed with Aspergers or another autism spectrum disorder (ASD) may be presented with many challenges throughout their lives—especially during the transitional periods.

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As the individuals age and learn to use different skills in various environments, families, educators, medical professionals and the individuals themselves begin to anticipate the transition to adolescence and, eventually, to adulthood. Given the differences in abilities and behaviors that many individuals with Aspergers or HFA experience, it can often be overwhelming to plan for tomorrow much less several years later.

Building a Community for College Success with Aspergers: One Student’s Experience

An Asperger Student's Personal Experience

Each summer the West Virginia Autism Training Center, located at Marshall University, conducts a college experience for rising high school seniors interested in learning about the college lifestyle. Students take a typical class, live in dorms, participate in skills groups, and attend study halls.

And in between all that, they try to have some fun.

Significant to the experience is the building of “community” – in both the physical and social sense of the word – in which students can feel safe and connected to others. The college support program strives to create an experience where students can recognize and realize their potential. A large part of realizing one’s potential for higher education is feeling grounded and confident on campus.

For Drivers with ASD A Visual Checklist for Complete Vehicle Maintenance is Critical

The importance of understanding how to maintain your car

Drivers with ASD, especially those who have little experience, often neglect to learn about vehicle maintenance. They do not receive car maintenance information in driver’s education courses and may feel persuaded to initially think that it does not matter.

Car Speedometer Symbols

Unfortunately, when lights come on in their cars or if their cars unexpectedly die on them, they may become confused as to how to deal with such situations. Parents must educate their driving children, especially those with Aspergers, about the various situations that could arise when transportation fails. These issues include schedule changes and a dependency on alternative transportation.

Aspergers and Sensitivity to Color: Interior Designer Focuses on Interiors for Those with Autism

The interior designer who caters to sensory issues

When our youngest son was no more than 6 years old, we would enter a restaurant or someone’s home and he would throw up. He told us it was a picture or something on the wall that made him so ill.

I thought it had to be due to the content of the picture but after years of testing we found out it was the color! Yes, oftentimes those with sensory issues are not just sensitive to sound and noise, but also have a severe sensitivity to loud splashes of color.

The following article discusses an interior designer who takes that sensitivity in mind when decorating. If she can do it, we can too!

-Jennifer Allen

Designer Focuses On Interiors For Those With Autism

With her son Devin’s needs in mind, A.J. Paton-Wildes chose neutral colors for the walls and new flooring in the living room of their Oak Park Heights, Minn., home. As an interior designer, Paton-Wildes incorporates her personal experience with Devin, who has autism, to help create calming spaces for those on the spectrum. (Jeff Wheeler/Minneapolis Star Tribune/TNS)

MINNEAPOLIS — A.J. Paron-Wildes’ home, a walk-out rambler in suburban Oak Park Heights, Minn., is a study in calm — all clean, uncluttered spaces and earthy, neutral hues that echo the autumn leaves framing the view of the St. Croix River. On an autumn afternoon, daughter Eva, 6, is having an after-school snack, while son Devin, 19, sketches intently, seated at the studio desk in his orderly bedroom.

Stimming and Visible Self-Calming Behaviors with Autism

AuTalkz with Nikki J.

Stimming is one of the “stereotypical” autistic behaviors. Many people think of people with autism as folks who constantly flap their hand or rock back and forth. Those behaviors are called “stimming”, which is a motion that interacts with the senses to help calm an autistic person down (self calming) if they feel overwhelmed by the environment.

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Stimming is harmless, and isn’t just hand flapping or rocking. It can manifest in many different ways, but again, is all harmless.

Aspergers Syndrome: The Challenge of Reading Facial Expressions

Top of the Spectrum News

“Social Expectations: The inability to read facial expressions

For neuro-typicals, reading facial expressions comes easy but for those on the spectrum this is near impossible. The difficulty that those with Autism experience in reading facial expressions is due to the different wiring in the frontal lobe of the brain. This Top of the Spectrum News video offers solutions and tools, such as observational learning.