Home Depot Offers Free Crafting Workshops for Children With Autism

Home Depot

A well-known home goods giant is helping to provide a welcoming environment for autistic children to create meaningful art. Home Depot stores in certain locations offer free monthly workshops for child and family crafting. The first of these workshops in … Continue reading

University Programs that Help Autistic Children Cope with Anxiety

Drawing made by a child at Temple University's Coping Cat Program | The Philadelphia Inquirer

For an autistic child, all kinds of issues can arise which may seem trite to most; but for them, even pizza bubbles could trigger anxiety. Between 40 and 60 percent of people on the spectrum suffer from at least one … Continue reading

New Program Helps Autistic Students Gain Work Skills

sketchup

The University of Utah and Columbus Community Center are testing a pilot program that hopes to help people on the autism spectrum gain work skills and become an important part of the workforce. The program was started by NeuroVersity, a … Continue reading

The Autism Difference

Shannon Rosa with son Leo (Source: Huffington Post)

May is Mental Health Month and Shannon Rosa shares her experience of being a parent with a 13-year-old autistic son with some very important points on gaining perspective from an autistic child’s point of view. Unlike many people Shannon found the updated statistic from the CDC, which states that 1 in 68 children are autistic, to be a comforting number. For her, it just serves as a confirmation that her son is neither “damaged or broken – he’s an example of human variation, like any kid.” And as CDC’s Dr. Colleen Boyle states, “It may be that we’re getting better at identifying autism,” which simply confirms research that the autism community has been gathering for years.

Shannon admits that her son’s differences used to upset her and it was a part of him that she found hard to accept. However, with more information and support she has come to understand her son’s differences as something to be accepted and getting him the best resources to accommodate his needs was an important part of this. Getting others to understand autistic children is an ongoing effort. For example, Shannon explains that many parents should not just give up hope after their child hits puberty since many autistic people develop skills throughout adolescence and adulthood. We should also be more aware of sensory overload and how they can lead to their child having a meltdown and so on. She leaves us with these points on how to view/interact with her son Leo and children like him on the spectrum, especially if you are not a parent of an autistic child or unfamiliar with autism:

  • Leo isn’t waiting around for other kids to be friends with him. If he is spoken to with respect, then he may or may not interact with you.
  • Just because he cannot communicate as well as you doesn’t mean he is less intelligent. If you talk about him as though he isn’t there he will remember and be unlikely to trust you.
  • Getting both Leo’s attention and eye contact can be overwhelming for him. He makes eye contact on his own terms, but please don’t demand it.
  • Sometimes it takes Leo a minute to process what you’ve said to him, so just give him a moment instead of trying to simplify your language or shout in his ear.
  • Leo finds it calming to have sensory input such as sifting through pebbles, bouncing on a trampoline, or having a heavy blanket on his lap.
  • If Leo is fidgeting, tapping or exhibiting any other repetitive behavior, if it is not an inconvenience for you then just let him be as it serves as a soothing activity for him.
  • Leo is happy. Although autistic children experience frustration sometimes with communication or sensory overload they can be just as happy and joyous as any other child, something we tend to forget when messages about autism center around pity and prevention.

To read the original article, click here

For more resources on how to understand and care for autistic children, check out our International Autism Conference featuring:

Dr. Pamela Wolfberg, who will be presenting on Integrated Play Groups: Guiding Children with Autism in Social and Imaginary Worlds with Typical Peers.

Brian Iwata, who will be holding a workshop on Functional Analysis and Treatment of Severe Problem Behavior.

Marth Herbert, who will be presenting Taking a Fresh Look at Autism: Chronic Dynamic State–not Fixed Trait

To see these presentations/workshops and much more, CLICK HERE!

IMPROV Can Be A Great Resource for Autistic Students

Jen Olenizcak, founder of “The Engaging Educator” recently lead a program over the course of two weeks where six students on the autism spectrum and their families took a one hour class on the Neustadt Collection at Queens Museum, which is a collection of Tiffany lamps, windows, metal-work, flat and pressed-glass “jewels” and much more. What she noticed was that there were many individual successes but also the areas of empathy, eye contact, and imaginative play saw improvements through the whole group.

The students she worked with really liked her exercise in empathy. She would pair people up and while one person’s eyes are closed, their partner connects their fingertips and leads the “blind” person around using only the touch of their fingers. Children with ASD tend to have trouble with empathy, but for this activity, they carefully guided their parents around the gallery space and by week two  were guiding their peers around.

After the end of week one, the group ended with an activity called “Pass the Clap”.  It starts with the first person turning to the person next to them, makes eye contact and then they both try to clap their hands at the same time while maintaining eye contact. The next person then turns to the person next to them, continuing around in a circle to “pass the clap”. Eye contact is something that people on the spectrum in general tend to have a difficult time doing and some student had to be reminded to “see what color eyes” the person next to them had. However, they continued this for a period of time and it was a largely successful activity.

The group also engaged in imaginative activities where they had to try to embody different emotions like “happy” or “sad.” They also tried posing like the people they saw in the photos in the gallery and created their own stories about the plants and flowers design that they observed on the Tiffany lamps. For example Jen Olenizcak’s student partner told her that she was the tulip and then proceeded to act out a story about the wind, a bee getting pollen, and snowflakes falling on the tulip.

She was very excited with the level of engagement from the students and their families and though the results of this very short study was only tried this one time she is hopeful that perhaps if the program could be extended to more than two weeks, more than one class session so that perhaps we can see something really inspiring happen. “Would the empathy move beyond the class and contribute to a better understanding of emotions? Could the eye contact in “Pass the Clap” transfer to everyday life”? We don’t know the answers, but we would sure like to find out.

We will be talking about some emerging and innovative therapeutic practices as well as issues of empathy, specifically on Day 2 of our upcoming International Autism Conference. For more information and ticket registration, CLICK HERE!

Dance/Movement Therapy for Autistic Children

 

We are constantly seeking innovative ways to help autistic children who struggle with communicating and connecting to others in social environments. Dance/movement therapy is quickly becoming recognized as beneficial in helping kids with ASD express themselves.

Therapists are using dance as a way to assess and intervene in your child’s life in a positive way. Unlike a regular dance class this one is not about teaching specific steps or a routine. It is also not specifically an exercise class, however, can achieve similar goals. Depending on the child each dance session can look different. Focusing on the needs of the particular individual or a small group they can work solo or alongside parents and families to help improve the quality of the parent teacher relationship. The goal is to channel communication patterns into dancing.

By asking ourselves how do we speak their language we can create a starting point in which to communicate with an autistic child who processes connections very differently than we do. One therapist, Christina Devereaux, speaks to her experience with dance/movement therapy while working with a little girl who had very limited verbal communication, was very interested in objects opposed to people, and was easily agitated and anxious. It was a small group session where the children were twisting side to side together. Then they began twisting towards each other and then away. The dance became a metaphor for her relationship with the children as they moved closer one moment and further the next. Rejection, Devereux says, is still a form of social communication. Deciding to hold her hand out during the dancing, the girl took it and twisted their way towards each other culminating in a high five where the little girl said, “hi”.

These small moments of connection and verbal communication are important milestones for autistic children as it helps them deal with repetitive and restrictive behaviors. Helping parents experience how to tune into their child in nonverbal ways can establish very warm and satisfying relations for both parent and child. Devereaux adds that feeling understood is a biological imperative and the greatest benefit of dance/movement therapy lies in its ability to provide social relatedness and form relationships.

For the original article, click here

Also check out the Turtle Dance Music Group which offers programs and shows for autistic children http://www.turtledancemusic.com/

Stephen Shore’s Journey with Autism

Stephen Shore is an assistant professor in the Department of Education at Adelphi University and also a member of the ICare4Autism Advisory council. At just 18 months old he was diagnosed with autism spectrum disorder and tomorrow be will be speaking at Clarkson University’s David Walsh ’67 Arts & Sciences Seminar Series in Potsdam, New York. His presentation will be an autobiographical journey, titled “Life on and Slightly to the Right of the Autism Spectrum: An Inside View to Success,” which will cover the challenges he faced with verbal communication as a young child to becoming a professor.

When he was diagnosed, professionals said he had atypical development and was too sick for outpatient treatment, in fact, he was recommended for institutionalization. However, he had great support from his parents and others and began speaking verbally at the age of 4. Now as a professor, his research focuses mainly on figuring out best practices to address the needs of autistic individuals.

His presentation will focus on teaching of musical instruments, classroom accommodations, and issues faces by young adults, such as relationships, higher education, employment, and self-advocacy. He will start the lecture with an activity to demonstrate to his audience how it feels to have autism and the struggles to communicate and socialize.

Apart from his work with children and spreading his story, Shore does presentations and consultations on an international level. He has written a variety of books including Beyond the Wall: Personal Experiences with Autism and Asperger SyndromeAsk and Tell: Self Advocacy and Disclosure, and his critically acclaimed Understanding Autism for Dummies. He is the president emeritus of the Asperger’s Association of New England, and other autism related organizations apart from ICare4Autism.

Stephen Shore will be speaking at our upcoming 2014 International ICare4Autism Conference where he will present on developing employment opportunities for young autistic adults as well as autism as it relates to the Arts and our sensory systems.

For more information on the conference and registration, please click here

For a video on Stephen Shore’s life with autism click here

New York Autistic-Friendly Disney Live Show

We, at Shema Kolainu are very excited about the autism-friendly Disney live show that will take place during Autism Awareness month in New York . The Theater Fund has helped organize autism friendly performances for young children and adults in the past, including famous Broadway shows like “Lion King,”  “Spider-Man: Turn Off the Dark” and “Wicked”. This time Fund created an autism-friendly show by calibrating with Feld Entertainment, Inc. with main focus on younger audience.

Most children with autism cannot attend regular theaters as well as  movie theaters, due to the anxiety they get during the performance or movie. This show is constructed without strobe lights and loud sounds, specifically to make autistic children comfortable. Also, venue will have quiet areas with coloring books, beanbag chairs and autism experts. This calibration will provide a new place where New York  families will be able to engage with their kids. “Disney Junior Live On Tour! Pirate & Princess Adventure” will open doors on April 19, 2014 at the Theater at Madison Square Garden.

 

 

 

 

 

 

“This image released by The Theatre Development Fund shows the cast of ‘Disney Junior Live On Tour! Pirate & Princess Adventure.’ ”

Original story http://www.tdf.org/TDF_SupportPage.aspx?id=137

To learn more about autism please click here http://www.shemakolainu.org/newsite/What is Autism