Martial Arts Therapy for Autism and related Spectrum Disorders
We are always looking into alternative forms of therapy to help manage issues relating to autism. Some common issues someone with autism may exhibit include repetitive movements, sounds or activities. Studies are showing traditional martial arts training as a great alternative therapy for individuals on the autism spectrum since the skills learned require repetitive movements and focused discipline, plus it is a therapeutic exercise.
A study conducted by the University of Wisconsin Physical Therapy Department showed trend with individuals and families turning to martial arts therapists, who have experience working with those who have neurodevelopmental and sensory challenges.
Not only are there benefits of improved eye contact, coordination and motor skills, but the study also indicated marked improvement in communication and self esteem. Children with autism essentially came out of their shells and grew more socially assertive and cooperative.
Ways Martial arts therapy can help an individual with autism include:
- One-on-one training may keep their attention for longer periods of time
- Repetitive movements inherent in martial arts may reduce dependence on certain unwanted behaviors
- Learning and practicing new body positions may increase motor learning
- The physicality of the sport itself can improve strength, conditioning, and agility
- Social interaction during classes may improve communication and confidence
- Physical activity can reduce disruptive behavior
The use of martial arts as a therapy for autism will provide encouragement, sets attainable goals through the levels of progress, provides structure, and the intensity of martial arts translate into other areas of the individual’s life.
As with any new therapy approach, please to talk to your doctor before starting any martial arts therapy program.
For more information about alternative therapies for autism, please visit. http://blog.hear-our-voices.org/category/therapy-2/
Posted in Therapy
Tagged asd, autism, Fitness, Karate, Martial Arts, motor skills, Physical Activity, Sensory disorder, Spectrum Issues, Structure, University of Wisconsin Physical Therapy Department
Logan Pearson, and police officer friend at his 12th Birthday Bash
Logan Pearson is turning 12 on February 24th and for the first time in his life, with the help of Facebook friends and area police; he celebrated his birthday in a grand style.
As reported by CBS Boston, this past Saturday, Logan, a severely autistic and non-verbal boy from Andover got the birthday bash any twelve year old would love.
Logan’s Sister, Cloey said ”In the past we’d like take him out to ice cream or something. But now it’s like the big day for him.”
“As far as his birthdays in the past, they’ve always been a sad quiet day,” Logan’s said Logan’s mom, Catherine. She indicated throwing a traditional party was never really possible, but she decided to do something different to mark his twelfth birthday.
Turning to Facebook the post went viral when she asked for birthday cards and wishes. Logan wound up not only with thousands of messages and buckets of cards , but a very big admirer at the Cambridge Police Department.
Cambridge police officer Steven Bikofsky said “(The post) was brought to my attention by my better half, my girlfriend. When I realized he was in Andover, I knew he was a special boy and I figured we’d do something special for him.”
Officer Bikofsky planned a surprise birthday celebration for Logan at the North Andover Fuddruckers with cake, gifts, and Police from 10 different departments across Massachusetts joining in to celebrate.
Andover police Lt. Edward Guy said, “If it didn’t tug at your heart strings, you didn’t have a heart.”
Logan was given the VIP treatment of police cruisers in a motorcade escort to the celebration.
“It just exploded into this police escort to just show Logan how important he is,” beamed Catherine. “I just can’t believe it.”
“Logan is loved around the world, so it’s not a sad birthday anymore,” said Catherine, who was humbled by the generosity and the birthday party for her son which was 12 years in the making.
To see video of Logan’s party click here.
For more human interest stories about autism and the community, please visit http://blog.hear-our-voices.org/category/community/
Posted in Community
Tagged Andover, asd, autism, birthday bash, Birthday Cake, Cambridge Police, Cambridge police officer Steven Bikofsky, Catherine Pearson, CBS Boston, CLoey Pearson, Facebook, February 24, Logan Pearson, non-verbal, North Andover Fuddruckers, Surprise Birthday Party, VIP Police Motorcade escort
There are many common tasks these four-legged companions utilize in their day-to-day services.
In earlier blog posts we touched upon animal assisted therapy for autism and have even reported a time or two about service dogs and the individuals they assist.
As an ongoing look at the benefits of animal assisted therapies, we would like to touch upon in a little more detail the some of the techniques and tasks Autism Service Dogs can be taught in order to assist a child with Autism.
There are many common tasks these four-legged companions utilize in their day-to-day services they provide ranging from being trained to track a child’s scent, should the child become lost to tethering & anchoring to prevent a child from suddenly bolting off into traffic or wandering off in a crowd to having the ability to detect gluten, a filled diaper, or even stop repetitive behaviors.
But did you know they are also taught to utilize Deep Pressure Therapy? Studies have shown that deep pressure therapy and massages is a successful way to manage issues that might trigger stress by soothing the individual calming their meltdowns, and other behavioral outburst enabling them to re-focus and transition.
The dog is trained to use their body weight to lean into or provide compression to the child’s or individual’s joints.
It is pretty amazing because over time as the dog and child develop a bond, the dog can start to sense an impending meltdown long before it escalates and becomes a crisis. In most cases, the anxiety and/or meltdown is lessened or completely diminished before it even has a chance to accelerate because the dog senses child’s stress level and offers the relief of deep pressure.
Most parents report once their child begins dog therapy with an autism service dog trained in deep pressure techniques, they see a significant decrease in behavioral issues. Some even find tantrums and outbursts stop all together.
Deep Pressure Therapy is just another truly miraculous way autism services dogs are proving to be man’s best friend and showing the positive benefits of animal assisted therapy for autism and related spectrum issues.
To read more about animal assisted therapy, please visit http://blog.hear-our-voices.org/category/therapy-2/
Bryan, who has autism and his therapy dog, Freddie
We know about assistance dogs aiding blind people and therapy dogs assisting people with diabetes, epilepsy and mobility issues
But did you know there are programs across the country that provide assistance dogs to children and young adults with autism and other disabilities?
Freddie, a friendly lovable chocolate lab and Bryan Harker have been together since last year.
Freddie is an assistance dog and partner for Bryan, who has autism. Along with being a fun and playful pet, Freddie is specifically trained to assist Bryan with managing his autism. “One of my favorite things is all the fun we can have,” Bryan said.
Paula, Bryan’s mom says the relationship is “fantastic.”
Bryan does not sleep through the night so Freddie sleeps with him to watch over him. Freddie sleeps with Bryan and now Bryan is managing to sleep through the night. Bryan rarely got a full nights sleep and would pace and wander. According to trainer, Mary Green, Freddie helps Bryan stay grounded.
“A person with autism might need the dog to provide some grounding techniques,” said Mary Green, K9 Manners and More in Broken Arrow, the folks who do the training. Training can last a year or two.
She witnessed first hand how Freddie positioned himself between Bryan and something that might trigger stress. It this case it was the came and she.
Freddie will climb on and lie in Bryan’s lap when he becomes agitates or upset
This forces Bryan to re-focus. It’s an amazing thing to see. Another thing that is truly amazing is the non-profit, Aim High, provides the therapy dogs for free.
Families have enough to worry about and Lisa Bycroft of High Aim said “We take care of all expenses,”
Bryan a student at TCC takes Freddie everywhere, even class. Bryans mom said they have a special and incredible relationship.
“Having Freddie has made all the difference,” Paula said.
Bryan hopes to be a video game designer and is currently studying history, philosophy, and physics at TCC this semester.
For more human interest stories about living with autism, please visit http://blog.hear-our-voices.org/category/community/
- Children’s Book “Mikey” Reveals Autism Through the Eyes of a Child
A mother and daughter, along with illustrator Mark Fairbanks have teamed up to take a unique look at autism with “Mikey”, a book that details how a young boy with autism sees, hears, and feels the world around him in his school environment.
Authors Judy Cohen and Mindee Pinto, both teachers, seeing the difficulties children with autism and spectrum disorders were encountering in the classroom, decided to write the book to help children understand and become aware of how a classmate with autism experiences the classroom. The book also aims to promote success in the classroom because many children with autism now attend standard classrooms for some of their school day. It is common for these children to struggle socially and be at risk of being isolated or bullied.
“They’re sensory processing is very hyper-vigilant and they have this inability to separate that. So it impacts how they see the world and they act in the classroom,” said Cohen.
Mikey’s story gives an accurate depiction of what we see with many autistic children. He looks like many of his non-autistic peers, has the same needs and feelings, but unlike his peers, he processes information, learns, and reacts differently to the world around him.
“Right now, many adults and children in our schools understand very little how even the littlest noise, as a furnace humming or a school bell, can quickly disrupt this child’s day,” says Cohen.
“With Mikey there is a part in the book where he uses visuals, where it shows him it’s okay to have a picture of what will happen next in his day that’s another tool that teachers need to implement in their classrooms,” said Pinto.
With more and more children being diagnosed with Autism, “Mikey’s” story is being used in classrooms worldwide to help educate and provide an understanding about the disorder whilst promoting autism awareness and acceptance.
“Statistics have said one in 84 children will be diagnosed, possibly one in 50 boys. So we have increase of almost 40% of children,” “This book needs to be in every classroom in every city, state and country. We must continue to teach children and adults about acceptance and tolerance for children with autism,” says Cohen.
Cohen and Pinto are working to turn “Mikey” into a children’s book series. “Mikey” is available on Amazon and Barnes and Nobel online.
For more information about the autism, please visit http://blog.hear-our-voices.org/category/autism/
Posted in Community, Education
Tagged asd, autism, autism advocacy, autism awareness, Children's Book Autism, illustrator Mark Fairbanks, Judy Cohen, Mikey, Mindee Pinto, Sensory issues, Sprectrum Disorder
- Happy Birthday Colin!
Colin’s 11th birthday is March 9. He loves the playing with his Nintendo Ds, watching the show “Dr. Who”, recording videos of humorous observations and aspires to be a comedian someday. But unlike most 5th graders, he was not excited when his mother asked him if he wanted to have a birthday party. Instead he said he had no friends to invite and there was no point in having a party.
Broken hearted, this Kalamazoo, Michigan mom, Jennifer, was determined to show her son that people cared for him on his birthday and she turned to Facebook to create “Happy Birthday Colin”, a page with the intention of showing him on his birthday.
“Because of Colin’s disabilities, social skills are not easy for him, and he often acts out in school, and the other kids don’t like him,” Jennifer wrote on the Facebook page. “So I thought, if I could create a page where people could send him positive thoughts and encouraging words, that would be better than any birthday party.”
As reported by Wood TV, Colin was diagnosed with sensory processing disorders to Aspergers Syndrome and another about a year ago. Because of his disorder, Colin has difficulty socializing with others and tends to act out in certain situations. In the interview, Jennifer stated “Things like lights and sound and changes will cause him to melt down”. “When you put a bunch of 10 year olds and one who acts like that, and they are all going, “What’s wrong with that kid?” You know, it’s hard.”
She was hoping to get about 50 responses from family and friends, but in the first week alone she received not only an overwhelming outpouring of love and support from all over the world for her son, but the Facebook page had garnered over 50,000 likes. The page has gone viral and now “Happy Birthday Colin” have over 1 million likes
Colin has no idea of the page’s existence and his mom is planning to keep the secret for almost another month until his birthday. She plans to post a video recording to the Facebook page to share his reaction with all of his new friends.
“He’s going to have a lot of friends after this,” Jennifer said. “They may not live by him, but he’s going to have a lot of friends.”
Jennifer also posted a mailing address for those who would like to send their birthday wishes to Colin. If you would like to send Colin a birthday wish, you can write to:
Richland, MI 49083-0756
Please visit us at http://blog.hear-our-voices.org/category/community/ for more stories from around the globe.
Tips for Hair Styling
Haircuts and even simple hair brushing can become a problem when caring for a child with autism or other sensory related disorders. Behaviors such as tantrums, screaming, biting, hitting, and meltdowns that leave a parent exhausted, frustrated, and begging for a moment’s mercy are often the result of simply mentioning doing something to the hair.
So what can you do?
Being autistic children are hypersensitive, you may even have a child who experiences syneasthasia, the sensory occurrence where their senses mix up and an event or happening becomes too much for them. Many children dislike a deviation from their norms and familiar environments where they feel they have control are what they often need. Autism, accentuated by environmental factor is a very interesting and complex genetic disorder.
As a side note, as reported in a 2012 study regarding the prevalence of hair toxic metal concentrations seeming to be more common in children diagnosed with moderate to severe ASD, there is no evidence to state whether this is why autistic children are adverse to having their hair cared for, but it is something to be considered.
How to accomplish hassle-free brushed and styled hair?
Stimulate the scalp beforehand. A head massage, ruffling the hair, or anything that has nothing to do with brushing or styling at the hair will help you transition into the brushing and styling process.
Instead of heavy clips or thin elastics that can tug, grab or get the hair caught/tangles, use soft hair accessories like a scrunchie, soft-tipped clips or any other accessories that do not tug as much.
Use a blunt-tipped brush/comb: as it is recommended for detangling hair by beauty salons, a wide-tooth comb works well. Stay away from brushes unless they are blunt-tipped and necessary for styling.
How to get the hair cut meltdown-free?
- Ready them with a detailed descriptions of the hair cutting process
- Show them a picture of how their hair might look after the haircut.
- Demonstrate how it might look by cutting a bit of your own hair or a doll’s
- Make sure the haircut is scheduled for when your child is at his or her calmest
- Ask the barber to use a sensitive shampoo as their scalps might respond differently than expected
- Develop a routine for haircuts. Mark the first of each month (or any other day depending on how often you need it) for a trim/cut/etc.
- If there is a sensitivity to the sound of scissors or buzzers near the ear, try using ear plugs
As long as you explain and account for every detail/step of the process you can ease any anxiety that may occur when it comes to hair cutting and styling an autistic child’s hair.
For more information about autism, please visit http://blog.hear-our-voices.org/category/autism-spectrum-disorder/
Posted in Parents
Tagged asd, aspergers, autism, children, Grooming, hair brushing, Haircut, Hassle-Free Hair Care, hypersensitive, styling, syneasthasia, tips
Many autistic children seem to be withdrawn from their surroundings, a place they are perfectly happy to be in, living in their own worlds.
Many autistic children seem to be withdrawn from their surroundings, a place they are perfectly happy to be in, living in their own worlds. Many are also hyperactive have and trouble sleeping. Even for a moment, it seems to be impossible to shut off their brains. They cannot shut it all off. According to the latest findings in a University of Toronto and Case Western Reserve University joint study, the truth of the matter is the brain of the autistic mind working an average of 42% more. What does this mean?
Autism is an interesting disorder. Many specialists might prefer to use the word “condition”. Some even call it a disorder, because with different neurons firing about the brain’s structure becomes disordered. Twin studies have shown autism as a genetic disorder aggravated by environmental aspects due to an extremely high prevalence among identical twins, compared with fraternal or siblings of different ages.
The brain of an autistic child seems to never stop. This might account the manifestation of savantism or high-functioning gifted attributes as well as their behavior. It does not mean a child diagnosed with a spectrum disorder has a low IQ. They may simply be misunderstood and one of the smartest in their classroom.
Following up on a previous discovery, according to lead investigator Dr. Roberto Fernández Galán, the brains of autistic children were unique, with different connections made within. “Our results suggest that autistic children are not interested in social interactions because their brains generate more information at rest, which we interpret as more introspection in line with early descriptions of the disorder.”
What was discovered is that the “Intense World Theory”, referring to the autistic mind as the result of the hyper-functioning of brain circuitry leading to over-stimulation, is quite certainly correct because the brain is a complex structure in itself. This means the daily norm for the autistic individual; including hyper-perception, hyper-attention, hyper-memory and hyper-emotionality is absolutely impossible for the neurotypical individual to comprehend. The theory proposes the autistic individual becomes trapped in a highly secure, but limited internal world with minimal surprises and extremes. An increase in average brain activity of 42% during rest is not a little number. It is absolutely fascinating and mind-boggling when one begins to explore the most minuscule details, only to find something as magnanimous as this study’s findings. In order to recuperate, the brain needs rest. It appears it is almost an impossible feat for an autistic child. In order to find the rest that they require so desperately we should probably allow our children to enter their own worlds from time to time.
An autistic brain is astonishing in its abilities. Understanding in how to teach, parent and work with those diagnosed to be on the spectrum, high or low will ensure better techniques and awareness.
For more information about behavior and psychological aspect of autism, please visit http://blog.hear-our-voices.org/category/psychology/
Posted in Psychology
Tagged asd, autism, autism spectrum disorder, Brain Activity, Brain of an autistic mind, Case Western Reserve University, Condition, disorder, high-functioning gifted attributes, living in their own worlds, low IQ, Mystery, neurotypical individual, savantism, University of Toronto