Thursday, June 30, 2011

How to Overcome One of the Classic Symptoms of Autism - Poor Social Skills

One of the symptoms of autism that nearly always need major attention in anyone with autism is that of social skills. As you probably know, people with autism have a lot of difficulty making friends and, later, having romantic relationships. Why is this? There are many reasons.

One of the Classic Symptoms of Autism - Reading Social Cues

People with autism have a lot of trouble reading social cues...and this is one of the most challenging symptoms of autism. They cannot understand, for example, when they have been talking too much and it's time to be quiet and let someone else talk. They can't understand from someone's face if they've said something inappropriate or offensive, or if the other person is bored. This can create a lot of issues with miscommunication.

Another of the Symptoms of Autism - Understanding Social Norms

There are so many social norms that we all take for granted, but that those with autism often have no idea exist. For example, when you first meet someone, you are supposed to engage in small talk with them. You might talk about the weather, or somewhat banal comments about what's going on around you, or neutral current events. It's kind of a way for someone to get a feel for what you're like without diving in too deep.

For those with autism, though, superficiality - which is what small talk is - doesn't come naturally. A person with autism will often come up to a person and start asking deep, intense or personal questions, and drive the other person away. Or they will start reciting facts of some nature. Luckily, there is help to overcome these difficult symptoms of autism.

Improving Social and Communication Skills

The preliminary conversational dance of sorts is something that is hard for those with autism to master. It needs to be modeled for them and practiced with them. You need to come up with a list of acceptable and non-acceptable topics for your loved one with autism, at least until they get to know the person a little better. Role playing works well with a child with autism or even an adult for that matter. Practicing small talk and explaining when they have spoken for too long can be enormously helpful.

Symptoms of Autism - Emotional Blindness

What about picking up on other people's emotions, or showing their own? A lot of people with autism can't do either well. As a result, they may feel genuine empathy for someone, but not be able to show it. They may feel remorse or want to apologize for a mistake that they've made, but don't know how to do it.

There are also difficulties with emotional regulation. People with autism are often overwhelmed by their emotions, and sometimes will have meltdowns. Crying, screaming or temper tantrums also don't go over very well when you're trying to make a friend.

The Need for Routine Can Be a Detriment to One's Social Life

Then there is the matter of the autistic person's need for routines. They generally need to know what will be happening at every moment, and don't do well with surprises. Most kids like to do things at the spur of the moment, so this can be another detriment to the social life of a person with autism.

While social difficulties are some of the more prominent symptoms of autism try not to worry too much - with proper social skills training and therapy, a lot of these issues can be improved.

Hopefully, with early identification and early treatment, life can be a little easier for those with autism and the people who love them. For additional tips and suggestions that can help your loved one live a fulfilling and happy life visit the There you can sign up for their FREE newsletter with tips and info on autism.

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Treating Autism Symptoms In Your Child - Self-Injurious Behavior

One of the hardest autism symptoms in your child to observe is that of self-injurious behavior. What is self-injurious behavior? Well, some kids with autism will bang their head, hit themselves, bite their hands, or otherwise engage in activities that hurt themselves.

Why does an autistic child deliberately hurt himself?

There are many theories to explain these autism symptoms in a child.

For some kids, it may block out other stimuli. They may be overwhelmed and over-stimulated from their environment, and they desperately need to focus on something internal or external. Causing pain to is a way to switch that focus of attention.

A child may have extreme sensory issues and need a lot of tactile feedback. Head banging and other similar behaviors may be ways of trying to get that tactile feedback, although not very good ones. If this is the case, sensory integration therapy should be undertaken, and the child with autism should be given other ways to get the tactile feedback they need.

There is a whole "sensory diet" that can be employed in this case to help these autism symptoms in the child.

For some children, hitting their ears could be evidence of a middle ear infection, and a comprehensive ear examination should be undertaken to rule out this possibility.

Additionally, it is also possible that self-injurious behavior could be caused by a certain type of seizures. The child with autism exhibiting these autistic symptoms should get an EEG done to rule out this possibility.

Frustration May Cause These Autism Symptoms in a Child

Finally, we know that poor communication skills are a common symptom of autism in a child. These self-injurious behaviors are often just the result of extreme frustration.

Here, the child with autism has no better way to communicate his or her frustration - it is both a release and a form of communication. In this case, if the child is not verbal, they should be taught alternative ways to communicate, such as using picture cards, sign language or facilitated communication; having the ability to communicate one's feelings and needs will greatly reduce frustration levels.

Also, if possible, any child with autism should be taught ways to handle and try to lessen their frustration levels, such as through a sensory diet, relaxation exercises, deep pressure and through exercise.

How do you treat self-injurious behavior in a child with autism?

When trying to figure out how to treat these behaviors, it is important to first try to figure out what the source is. Sometimes, there are other medical complaints that are causing pain, and this pain cause the child with autism to act out and exhibit this autism symptom. A careful medical evaluation should be done.

Some drugs, such as Risperdal, have been prescribed to help self-injurious behavior, but not for everyone. Doses should be carefully monitored by a doctor. Detoxification of heavy metals, if this is an issue, can also help. Behavior therapy such as ABA (applied behavior analysis) is a common treatment for these symptoms also.

In time, as you figure out your child's triggers, and find ways to help him function better in his environment, these behaviors should lessen. Self-injurious behavior is a hard autism symptom in your child to deal with, but it can be done.

Hopefully, the treatments and therapies mentioned above can make life a little easier especially for those with autism and the people who love them. For additional tips and suggestions that can help your loved one live a fulfilling and happy life visit the There you can sign up for their FREE newsletter with tips and info on autism.

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How Autism Manifests Itself

As parents and as individuals, we want to fit in with everyone else. We want to feel loved, respected, and to belong.

Life happens, however, and not everyone fits into the mold. But then, think about it. Would you like a million of "you" walking around the planet? The world 'autism' may conjure up all sorts of associations. In older times, it unfortunately had the associations of mental institutions and disability.

I want to do something a little different with this article. Rather than talk about what is wrong with children on the autism spectrum, I want to talk about how they are unique. This uniqueness and particular hardwiring they are born with is what makes them who they are. As a parent, it's your job to become a lifelong student of your child and of his abilities, and of her challenges.

Generally speaking, autism manifests itself first in early childhood, from as early as six months to three years of age. Some children may appear like every other child, then suddenly lose all their speech (this is called regressive autism). Other children have unique patterns that distinguishes autism in them in what has been known as a triad of symptoms.

Social Interaction

Children with autism communicate differently than neurotypical children. They have their own thoughts, feelings, and experiences, but they may have difficulty communicating them in a neurotypical manner. Children with autism typically have difficulty maintaining eye contact, a hard time understanding emotions, and struggle to understand other people's facial expressions and social cues.

As a child gets older it's important that we, as parents, be understanding, compassionate, and respectful of these differences. We need to accommodate our expectations of our children at times, but they will also need to compromise at times in order to learn the "customs" of NT (neurotypical) culture.


This is where the rainbow spectrum of autism manifests itself. On one end of the spectrum are individuals who have no speech, but who are very much alive and attentive to what is going on around them. On the other end of the spectrum are children who can speak and appear to 'fit in' to a group of peers. They can actually be very gifted with vocabulary and memorizing facts. However, all individuals on the spectrum share the difficulty of understanding figurative speech, and non-verbal nuances of communication. Without the help of speech therapy and group skills, it's like you and I, as Americans speaking only English, being dropped off in Japan and told to "fit in". We would need a language helper and a consultant who could help us understand the language, customs, and culture of Japan.

Repetitive Behaviors and Restrictive Interests

Stereotypical movement is a fancy term for hand flapping, rocking, or making certain noises.

Compulsive behavior manifests itself, for example, in a child lying on the ground and watching a wheel turn around and around, or rewinding a videotape of Thomas the Tank Engine over and over to watch the same scene, or lining objects up in a certain manner.

Restricted Behavior may include preoccupation with a narrow range of interests, such as Pokemon cards, or baseball statistics, or any other subject.

Ritualistic Patterns, from my observation, seem to come about from a preference of keeping seems stable and predictable, perhaps dressing the same way every day, or driving a certain route to school every day.

In some children, there autism can manifest in the form of self injury. Some forms of self injury can include skin picking, eye poking, head banging or head biting. Not every child with autism will experience this, but it can occur in up to 30% of children with autism.

Other Ways that Autism Can Manifest

Autism can also manifest itself in unusual talents and abilities, such as an extraordinary grasp of music, or art, or the ability to memorize huge amounts of information. A child with autism may be able to focus and pay attention more than other children.

Sensory issues are common for nearly everyone on the autism spectrum. These issues can manifest in difficulty with eye hand coordination, or fine motor coordination, walking on one's toes, or even walking into things. Individuals with autism may be very sensitive to wearing certain textures, to certain noises, or even certain tastes or smells.

I may have missed some characteristics in this brief article. Please comment and let me know what positive characteristics of the autism spectrum I have missed, or what challenges I may not have listed here.

Steve Borgman is owner of the blog, Prospering With Aspergers, at

He is a licensed psychotherapist with over 14 years of experience, dedicated to bringing insights from the personal development, excellence and positive psychology field to bear on your personal life, so that you can reach your next level of personal excellence.

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Early Days of Autism

Autism is a developmental disorder that, at first, can be difficult for a parent to recognize. Sometimes there are subtle differences in a child that the parents may not notice and sometimes there are dramatic, sweeping changes that take place and can be alarming to behold. This is an account of the differences between my son when I first started noticing that things were different about him, when he first got diagnosed with autism, and finally, how he is doing now that he is almost a teenager.

Brandon, birth to 1 year
Brandon was born a normal, happy baby. A little on the smallish side but full-term, nonetheless. He was smiling most of the time and giggly and gave me almost no problems as far as sleep patterns go. He only cried when he was hungry, needed a diaper change or for some reason, was in pain. The "perfect" baby. Brandon still continued to be happy after he had turned a year old. Back then I had a nurse from our local W.I.C. (Women, Infants and Children) office come by and give Brandon a 1-year evaluation to see how he was developing. She seemed rather pleased with his progress except she noted that it was strange that he wasn't trying to speak yet. He had just turned 1-year old though so she kind of shrugged it off and said "Well, maybe he's just concentrating on all of this other new stuff like learning how to walk and he'll catch up in a month or two." But his "catching up" never came. He learned about 10 words total at that age I think, not much more.

Autism at 1 Year Checklist:

* Little or no eye contact
* Using gibberish and nonsense sounds more than words
* Focusing on part of a toy rather than the toy as a whole
* Does things to soothe himself like rocking, chanting or bouncing for long periods of time

Brandon, 3 years
When Brandon turned 3 years old and had a check up with his pediatrician, I definitely noticed the differences between him and other children his age. These children were talking in full sentences and Brandon was still using gibberish and a strange sing-songy voice with words that no one else understood. I told his doctor "He's not talking right, he's 3 years old and mostly just points at things to get what he wants or just goes and gets them himself." The doctor told me not to worry about it too much. He'd probably catch up when he got into Kindergarten. I, being a first time mother and taking the doctor at his word because, after all, he was the professional; listened to him even though my motherly instincts were screaming at me to look into it further. But both his doctor, and my mother, who had raised not only me but my two brothers as well, didn't seem to think that Brandon's delays were that big of a problem. So, I took them at their word and let things go a couple of more years to see what would happen.

His sleep patterns were messed up by this time too. Brandon would stay up in bed, bouncing on his knees from 9 p.m. until 3 a.m. and finally settle down to sleep at around 4 a.m. I had to be up at 5 a.m. to go to work, I was exhausted. When I brought Brandon home from my mom's house after work, he would pass out in the floor asleep wherever he was standing at the time. He could be in the kitchen floor, the living room, halfway on the couch and halfway off. Whenever he felt tired he would just lay down.

Autism at 3 Years Checklist:

* Still using lots of gibberish instead of real words most of the time
* Obsessively lining objects and toys up in rows instead of playing with them appropriately
* Has a disturbance in his sleep patterns and can seem to fall asleep instantly when tired
* Little or no eye contact or one-on-one communication

Brandon, Kindergarten and Beyond
After I had registered Brandon for Kindergarten and went to the orientation, things got really bad. The other kids were all outside with the aides playing on the playground while the parents were inside talking to the teacher. The aides came inside several times to get me so that I could make my son stop doing things he wasn't supposed to do. Brandon kept throwing the woodchips on the playground floor up into the air and they would fall on the other kids. Then he would get in the other kids' faces and invade their personal space. He would jump off of things he wasn't supposed to jump off of and he started crying hysterically when the aides asked him to stop, he wanted his mommy.

I brought these concerns up with his teacher and she refered me to The Early Childhood Center where he was evaluated by a psychiatrist who determined that Brandon was autistic. Brandon never did go to Kindergarten. He went to the Early Childhood Center, which was a pre-school, for a year and then he was enrolled in a special school that was just for autistic kids called The Illinois Center for Autism. He's been there ever since and is now 12 years old. Brandon is talking in full sentences now, although he still refers to himself in third-person a lot of the time. He asks questions, and makes eye contact and tells me about things that went on in his day; even though he does this in his own way and whenever he feels like it, not when someone asks him.

Autism at 5 Years Checklist:

* Still little or no one-on-one communication or eye contact
* Does strange things like flap his arms or flick his fingers in front of his face
* Points to what he wants or uses other people as "tools" to get things instead of using words to ask for them
* Does not understand the concept of danger and may dart away or wander off unexpectedly

To this day, Brandon still has trouble getting to sleep at night, but it's a problem that almost all autistic people have. One of the doctors that Brandon had seen recommended that I give him 1 mg. or less of melatonin to remedy this problem. He still has trouble figuring out what personal space is and will get right up into a stranger's face, then he doesn't understand why the stranger looks at him funny or gets angry at him. For the most part though, there have been great strides of improvement in Brandon. He can carry on a conversation in his own way that is rather one-sided, but I'd rather hear him talk about whatever is on his mind then the pointing and grunting that he used to do. He can ask me questions and will now answer questions that I ask him. He still doesn't understand the concept of danger but is still being trained everyday about "rules" that he has to follow. This just goes to show you that autism can get better with the proper training and a little time. I expect there will be many more improvements in Brandon's life to look forward to. There is always hope for an autistic person.

It is a challenging thing to have an autistic child, but my child is special and wonderful and I love him for who he is, not who anyone else would want him to be. More About Brandon and Autism

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Wednesday, June 29, 2011

Asperger's Syndrome Treatment - Six Therapies That Can Help Solve Your Child's Sensory Issues

Perhaps one of the most important kinds of treatment for kids diagnosed with Asperger's syndrome, a form of high functioning autism, is sensory integration therapy. What is sensory integration therapy? Well, kids with autism have a lot of sensory processing issues. This means that every kind of stimuli seems too extreme for them. While most people have some kind of filtering system, kids and adults with Asperger's syndrome have a very hard time filtering out extraneous sensory information.

What does a sensory overload look like?

Your child may not want to put on the clothes you laid out for him because they are too scratchy or there's a tag in the back. He may refuse to go into many public places because they are too noisy, or the lights are too bright. He may suddenly have a tantrum because the smell of someone's perfume is overwhelming him.

A Child Who Is Under-Sensitivity To His Surroundings May Also Have Problems

Conversely, there are also kids who are under-sensitive to sensory stimuli and are constantly seeking and craving it. They are the kids who will be tearing around your house, crashing into things and generally on the move all the time. They want to touch everything and experience everything, and can never seem to sit still.

What both of these categories have in common are deficits in the sensory processing system. And there are ways to treat them.

1. Auditory Integration Therapy

An occupational therapist who is trained in helping kids with sensory issues will have a number of tricks up their sleeve. One is auditory integration therapy (AIT). Studies have shown that listening to special CDs of music that have certain frequencies and pitches can actually change the way that the brain processes information. With this therapy, it's changing the way sounds are processed.

The person who is getting AIT listens to a CD made for them for two sessions of 30 minutes each per day, using headphones. Over a period of time, the music can actually change the way the brain hears the music, and make a person less over-reactive to loud noises, and more able to process sounds and language effectively.

2. The Wilbarger Brushing Protocol

The Wilbarger Brushing Protocol is a treatment for Asperger's syndrome when kids have tactile sensitivity issues. In other words, they have problems with touch. Kids with this problem often can't stand the feel of their clothes, can't stand to play outside because they might touch something weird, or jump if someone accidentally touches them.

This method of treatment involves using a surgical brush to brush the person's skin in a very specific way. This is done several times a day at preset intervals. It needs to be done with a trained therapist's supervision. When it is done correctly, it can reduce sensitivity to tactile stimuli.

3. Other Methods

There are many different tools that occupational therapists will use to help a child with Asperger's syndrome who has sensory issues. Many of these will be different for each child. A lot of them may look like playing, but it actually has specific goals and focuses on specific sensory systems in the body to change the way that system processes information.

Here are a few other techniques:

  • Weighted blankets: People with Asperger's often crave deep pressure, as it is calming to them. Weighted blankets provide this. This increases their ability to focus.
  • Trampolines, swing sets, and rocking toys: These can stimulate the vestibular system in a person with Asperger's. This can help either calm them down or stimulate them, depending on their sensitivities. Any activities involving movement can be helpful in this case.
  • Joint compression: This is a treatment an occupational therapist can teach you that can regulate a person's nervous system. It involves manipulating and pulling on joints in a certain way that acts to kind of reset the sensory system.
  • Sensory fidget bag: A sensory fidget bag can be useful to keep on hand. This should include anything that you can find to fill a bag with that your child can fidget with. Some examples are stress balls, koosh balls, feathers, slinkys, and so on. These sensations will give the child something to focus on, thus also having a calming effect.

As you can see, there are many ways that sensory integration issues can be treated. Sensory integration therapy can be a very useful treatment for children who exhibit specific symptoms of Asperger's syndrome.

Hopefully these tips can make life a little easier especially for children with Asperger's and their parents. In addition to these methods, there are many other tips and suggestions that can help your loved one live a fulfilling and happy life. A great site to find information to help children with Asperger's syndrome is the web site There you will be able to sign up for the FREE Asperger's Syndrome Newsletter as well as get additional information to help your loved one be happy and succeed in life.

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Autism Symptoms in Children - Sensory Issues

What are some of the most common autism symptoms in children? Sensory issues. What are sensory issues? Sensory issues are when your child has all his senses turned to high. In other words, he is overly sensitive to noise, smells, lights, crowds, touch, and so on.

How does this autism symptom in children present itself? A child with autism who is sensitive to noise may scream in a crowd, cover his ears, or generally look agitated. He may not be able to concentrate in the classroom because of all the noise. He may get especially agitated at unexpected noises, such as fire alarms, fire trucks, sirens, and so on. The noise from a coffee grinder may even be enough to cause a meltdown (yelling and screaming.)

How to Minimize the Effect of These Autism Symptoms in Children

In these situations, you might try to only bring your child with autism to environments that will be reasonably quiet...when possible...and prepare him for the noise when this is not. iPods or earplugs, or both, can work wonders in this situation to minimize the effects of these autism symptoms.

Shopping Can Be Difficult

Sensitivity to crowds, bright lights or other visual information will become all too apparent when you try to shop in your local supermarket. Most children with autism have an awfully hard time with grocery stores. There is too much activity going on around them and it is hard for them to process it all. People chattering every which way, the noise of shopping carts squeaking, music and announcements over the PA system - these issues all trigger autism symptoms in children

Colors and shapes and so much visual information to take in can be over stimulating. Smells from the meat or fish departments, of perfume on others, or from cleaning materials can cause adverse reactions in some children with autism. If you have to bring your child to a grocery store, try to have something to distract them so that they don't get as overwhelmed.

Identifying these Autism Symptoms in Children

What are some other ways that you can tell if your child has sensory issues, which could be a symptom of autism? A lot of kids with autism have trouble with touch. They won't wear tight, restricting clothes, or clothes that are at all itchy. A lot of times they complain that the fabric just doesn't feel right. They often will need loose cotton clothes to be able to tolerate wearing clothes at all. If you find something that works, you should buy many different colors, because it may be hard to repeat in the future.

Avoidance of Physical Contact is one of the Common Autism Symptoms in Children

Many kids with autism will resist hugs and touching other people. They stiffen and avoid touch of any kind. Their skin is hypersensitive to what it encounters. Often, they will avoid getting dirty or playing outside because they don't like the feel of the dirt and ground on them. Many hate the beach because of the feel of the sand. Sensory integration therapy can help with this.

Sensory issues can be key autism symptoms in children to look out for, so you should take note if you notice any of the above.

Hopefully, with early identification and early treatment, life can be a little easier for those with autism and the people who love them. For additional tips and suggestions that can help your loved one live a fulfilling and happy life visit the There you can sign up for their FREE newsletter with tips and info on autism.

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Tuesday, June 28, 2011

Autism Anxiety Overload

The renowned autism expert Tony Atwood is fond of putting it this way: "Autism is anxiety looking for a target." Autism and anxiety go hand-in-hand. Autism affects a person's ability to communicate with others or to understand the world around him, and that's bound to cause anxiety and panic sometimes.

Anxiety becomes even worse when there is a change in the autistic child's routine. Even positive and "fun" changes, like a school field trip or a visit to the zoo, can increase anxiety and aggressive behaviors.

For parents, the best course of action is to anticipate upcoming changes and help your child prepare for them. Many parents find it helpful to use stories and pictures to prepare children for impending disruptions. If it's a field trip to the zoo, for example, use pictures to show your child what he'll see at the zoo, what the zoo will be like, and what sort of things to expect. Do this each day for three or four days prior to the trip. That way, when the trip actually happens, the child won't be entirely out of his element, but will already understand and appreciate some of what will be happening.

Other changes in the routine are less enjoyable but still necessary. Getting a new teacher can be traumatic, as can moving to a new house. If at all possible, try to spread out the major changes. If you move to a new house, try to do it during the summer, so that your child won't have to deal with the added anxiety of getting a new school and new teacher mid-year.

You can also introduce your child to the concept of "change" in a positive way by practicing with non-negative things. For example, just for practice, give him a little extra TV time instead of homework time one night, to show that changes in the routine can often be fun and good. Then practice with a neutral change (homework after dinner instead of before dinner), then with a negative one (changing play time into chore time). This process can help your child grow accustomed to the idea of change and learn to adapt without becoming anxious.

For continual, ongoing anxiety, many parents have begun using anti-anxiety medications for their autistic children. Usually, the medications are selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRIs), and are also used for obsessive-compulsive disorder and depression. Prozac, Luvox, Zoloft and Anafranil are all common for anxiety in autistic children.

For behavioral problems, antipsychotics such as Haldol, fluphenazine and chlorpromazine can be prescribed. These can reduce aggression in autistic kids, but sometimes also cause sedation and muscle stiffness.

All patients are different. You and your doctor should monitor your child's progress very closely, using the lowest dose of medication possible, to see if what improvements it makes and whether there are any adverse reactions. Medication should be the last resort for autism, not the first one. There are a number of natural remedies available if you don't want to go down the drug route. But try behavioral and dietary modifications first, to see what improvements can be made naturally.

Rachel Evans writes a Free Autism Newsletter. You can sign up here: Free Autism Newsletter. To find out more about the the autism spectrum and for more information on mild autism symptoms.

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Monday, June 27, 2011

Music Therapy for Autism: Setting Rhythms, Creating Spontaneity

Autism is a condition where a person has impaired social skills and communication, as well as having a tendency for extremely compulsive and repetitive behavior. This compulsive behavior makes it difficult for you to be able to deal with the person, since any deviation from the routine will cause an adverse reaction.

Music therapy may help an autistic person get over his condition and alleviate some of the symptoms associated with it. They do this by using music's quality of having a rhythm and at the same time variety, allowing the autistic to adjust gradually

Setting Rhythms

Rhythm is one of the main elements of music. This is one element which creates a certain periodicity and routine to it. This differentiates ordered music from disordered noise. This is definitely something which autistics can pick up and appreciate. It is nearly instinctive for them to be comfortable in set rhythms and patterns, in order to make them feel comfortable. They would definitely understand that order and, in the end, tend to seek that order, enabling them to communicate.

Since they can pick up rhythms easily, it may be a good choice for them to pick up simple yet rhythmic instruments, like drums or other percussions. They may be able to be virtuosos here, allowing them to express themselves more fully and more easily for their audience. This helps them bridge the social divide, allowing them to become more productive members of society while ensuring that they will be able to have some semblance of independent living later on. They can also be very good composers and players for other instruments, like piano or, surprisingly, violin. Their compulsive behavior is actually a boon in this field, since they will definitely want to have a set practice time.

Creating Spontaneity

Music can also help the autistic be guided into understanding spontaneity and the fact that there will always be variations in things. Since there is a rhythm to back him up, he will make the transition more comfortably and more easily, especially due to the fact that there are still patterns in music, albeit used in a more varied manner. It will stimulate the mind of the autistic if he or she will seek the patterns in music. This spontaneity will also help him adjust to situations which are stressful, since he or she can just tune in to the music and "be on familiar ground".

This spontaneity is also an essential part of communication. This distinguishes them from each other. Music can help the autistic communicate due to its structured yet spontaneous structure. The variety of tunes he or she can produce is extremely high. Thus, he or she will never tire out of learning these things.

Here are other advantages of music therapy for autistics:

· Improving language comprehension

· Encouraging the desire to communicate

· Making creative-self expression possible

· Reducing non-communicative speech by decreasing echolalia (incessant repetition of the words spoken by another)

Bay Area Music Therapy strives to help a variety of patient types live stronger and happier lives through music therapy. Find out how we can help you with music therapy in the Bay Area.

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Autism Symptoms - Special Interests and Hyperlexia

There are many different kinds of autism symptoms. Some are more severe than others. Some are less understood than others. Some of the more unique autism symptoms have to do with intellectual quirks, such as hyperlexia and special interests.

Many kids with autism tend to be quite smart. Autistic children with high IQs may be classified as having Asperger's syndrome (a form of high functioning autism). As we know, autism is a spectrum disorder, so there will be kids who have autism and have extremely different abilities and backgrounds and each can exhibit different autism symptoms.

Hyperlexia - a Unique Symptom of Autism

Not everyone will have the autism symptoms described in this article. But many will. Many kids with autism have something called hyperlexia. It means that they can recognize letters and words, and read, by a very early age, often by 2.

Kids who have hyperlexia don't understand what they are reading, but they love reading. They read everything they can get their hands on. They are the type of kids that will read every sign, every label, and every package because of their love of language.

Comprehension is Often a Problem with Hyperlexia

The problem with hyperlexia is that while it looks pretty neat on the outside to have a 2 or 3 year old reading books, it becomes a problem later on when they struggle with the comprehension of what they are reading. This unique ability to read above age level but not comprehend what is being read is a classic autism symptom.

A young child with autism may "read" a book, but they can't break it down into smaller parts or understand the parts of language or rules of grammar that make up it. They can echo lines from the books they read, often long complicated sentences (also called "echolia"), but forming their own original sentences is often much harder.

The autism symptom, Hyperlexia, in many ways is like skipping the basic rules of language to go to the more advanced ones - but without ever mastering the basic ones that you will need for all future lessons.

Special Interests are a Common Autism Symptom

Most kids with autism also have special interests. There are certain subjects that they are fascinated with and will remember every obscure detail about. It might be dinosaurs, fire trucks of World War II - and your child's mind will be a like a sponge for every piece of information out there about this topic.

The autistic child often has a great memory for details. Remembering numbers and dates come easily to them. This amazing ability to remember obscure details is a common symptom of autism. Because of this, some will refer to those who exhibit this autism symptom as "walking encyclopedias."

Kids with autism will often get very absorbed in what they are doing, especially when it pertains to their special interests. They are hard to interrupt and may even seem to lose track of the world around them.

These Autism Symptoms May Help with Future Employment

While these autism symptoms have the unfortunate effect of isolating them from their peers when they are younger, when they are older these traits can be helpful. In the work world, the knowledge, dedication and loyalty people with autism show can be a boon in certain fields and under certain conditions. Special interests, hyperlexia and other intellectual quirks are just some of the many autism symptoms that you may find in your child.

Once we understand exactly which autism symptoms a child or adult with autism exhibits, we can devise treatments and training to help them cope with the world around them.
Hopefully treatments can make life a little easier especially for those with autism and the people who love them. And for additional tips and suggestions that can help your loved one live a fulfilling and happy life visit the There you can sign up for their FREE newsletter with tips and info on autism.

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Dealing With An Autistic Child - Anti-Bullying Strategies

One of the unfortunate parts of dealing with autistic children is that sooner or later, you are going to come across a bully or two, and you're going to need to know how to deal with them. Unfortunately, autistic children are far more susceptible to bullies both because they stand out and because they often can't stand up for themselves. Sometimes, they don't even know they're being bullied.
3 Steps to Stop Autistic Children from Being Bullied
  1. Communicate: In order to help protect autistic children from bullying, you should talk with him or her so that they know what the different kinds of bullying are and how to recognize them. Some are obvious, of course, but others are more subtle.
  2. Report the Bullying: Teach your child to tell a teacher or aide as soon as these things happen. Many autistic children keep the bullying to themselves in fear that either it will get worse if they tell or that nothing will help.
  3. Explain It Is Not Their Fault: Explain to your child that these things are not their fault, that there are some kids with low self-esteem who thrive on putting others down to make themselves feel better.
Recognize the 3 Types of Bullying
  1. Verbal bullying is perhaps the most common kind. Autistic children may be called names or their clothes are ridiculed or their manner of speaking is mocked. The bully will usually pick on some physical or mental aspect of the child that is different in some way.
  2. Physical bullying, such as pushing or shoving or worse, is another kind. Sometimes a kid who is being bullied will not tell anyone out of fear of repercussions from the bully, so it is important to try to keep tabs on autistic children. If they seem more depressed and withdrawn than usual, you may want to investigate further.
  3. Psychological bullying. This type of bullying is more common with girls. This is bullying by means of social exclusion, or psychological bullying. Psychological bullying happens when a group of kids tries to socially exclude the kid with autism from a group. Girls might pretend to invite the autistic child to their house to hang out with them, and when the child with autism becomes excited, cruelly tell them that they would never do such a thing. Kids will do a stunning variety of things to make the girl feel that she is being included and then shut her out, or alternately will be very blatant about excluding her. This can severely affect autistic children.
How do you stop bullying of autistic children?
The first thing to realize is that there are three parts to the bullying cycle:
  • the bully
  • the victim
  • the bystander
The majority of witnesses to bullying will not try to intervene to help autistic children who are the victim. They could feel uncomfortable, or be afraid that if they try to do anything, they will be picked on next. They may also be afraid of seeming somehow uncool.
School Culture Needs to Change to Help Autistic Children
However, the school culture needs to be changed so that it is seen as uncool to bully. Bullies get silent affirmation from bystanders who do nothing. It gives them a message that it's okay. If bystanders began saying "Hey, it's not cool to pick on others," and bullies no longer got this positive reinforcement, they would do it less because they would have less motivation to do so.
School workshops with bullying roleplaying events, where everyone learns and practices the appropriate responses can be helpful for this. Hopefully, as anti-bullying programs get more popular, handling bullies will be one less thing that a parent or teacher will have to contend with when dealing with autistic children.
One great site that has great information on raising happy and self-confident autistic children is the There you can sign up for their FREE newsletter with tips and info on autism.
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Thursday, June 23, 2011

Problems With Autistic Children in School

Chances are an autistic child who is in mainstream education will not require special education, which means they are unlikely to have obvious learning disabilities. But that said they will still have special needs.

The first thing as a teacher you should do is to speak to other members of staff and the SENCO in your school. Make sure that everyone understands what autism is and that they are aware of how this will affect the child's behaviour.

Sometimes it is helpful to explain to the other children within the class about autism. This will help to prepare them for the autistic child starting school. It will be helpful to explain that the new class member may act differently or strangely - for example they may shout out unexpectedly or laugh at inappropriate things.

You ought to explain that although the autistic child may act inappropriately that this is not intentional and they too have feelings like everybody else. This is an important thing to stress as it will be very easy for the autistic child to become, the focus of taunts, bullying and teasing if the other children in the class and school do not understand the autistic child's behavior and mannerisms.

Probably one task you should undertake before the autistic child begins in your class is to take a note of all the classroom accommodations.

Autism classroom accommodations to consider:
Makea note of the autistic child's special need's for example going to the bathroom, with autism going to the bathroom can be an issue, find out how the child copes with this and if necessary add signs at the bathroom, (small picture cards with text) to avoid embarrassment and allow the autistic child to identify the bathroom.

Ask the parents for a meeting and try to identify the autistic child's strengths and weaknesses. You can build on the strengths and encourage these.

Sometimes it may be necessary to appoint a helper (LSA) or classroom assistant, to help the autistic child within the classroom.
The autistic child's helper's role should be to encourage the child to be more independent, work on task's and to mix with other children.

It will probably especially at first to keep an eye on the child at break times and during recess, when they might spend a lot of time on their own.

Autistic children tend to like prefer their own company, however older children and teens may feel left out or lonely. Sometimes it can be helpful to structure breaktimes to avoid any problems.

Try and avoid metaphorical speech, for example "wait a minute", autistic children tend to very literal and will not understand. Avoid sarcastic language, or exaggeration, and nick names, both when you are speaking to the child and to the class as a whole. Always be aware of what you are saying and how it might be misunderstood by the child.

You may need to repeat yourself during lessons and keep checking the autistic child is still listening, their attention span can be short especially when something is not of interest to them.

When you are talking to a group, make sure you have the child's attention. Especially young children they may not understand that they are included in the group, so you may need to include them by talking to them directly ie by saying their name or talk first, then to the whole class.

As with listening to a foreign language or something you really have no interest in, we all tend to shut off to it. An child with autism is no different, as soon as a couple of sentences go over their head they will shut down their auditory system and stop listening reverting back into their own world.

Try using visual aids when teaching a subject that requires abstract thinking. You could maybe use photographs or pictures to help keep the autistic child's attention.

Even at secondary school, it is still possible to use visual aids for example illustrations or diagrams could be added to worksheets.

Visual timetables are used with a great success, the autistic child can quickly recognise what is happening as has a visual cue for the various different times of the day, like break times, recess, pe lessons, hometime etc.

You may want to include time for the bathroom as this is a confusing time for most children with autism.

You may also want to think about the use of autism social stories as a tool for helping the autistic child keep on task and understand what is expected of them throughout the day and what they should expect from other's.

Autism social stories are used with great effect in classrooms and can be like a favorite friend to an autistic child, and teacher a like! Used in conjunction with a visual timetable and set behavior plan, autism social stories will become invaluable.

A good source for social stories is your OT or alternatively you can obtain autism social stories on line at for school related social skills stories, for all other social stories visit their well stocked social stories site.

For detailed information on autism social stories visit us at:

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Tuesday, June 21, 2011

Autism Care For Toddlers

Many parents are frightened upon finding out that their child is autistic. The prospect of raising a child who has autism is intimidating, and having an autistic child is an exercise in patience, certainly. However, it can also be just as rewarding an experience for parents as raising a normal child. Toddlers at any age and of any abilities can be a challenge, but there are some great ways to make it easier on your child as well as yourself.

Do Some Research - With the internet, this is easier than ever. Don't let the internet be the end of your resources, though. While there are many websites and forums online for parents of autistic children - and it is helpful to join some of these to network with other parents - it's also important to pick up a few books. Keep in mind that all children are different and every method suggested will not work for every child.

Get to Know Your Toddler - Autism is not a disorder that is the same from person to person. It is called the 'autism spectrum' because severity and forms vary from minor symptoms to very significant problems. A professional diagnosis can give you an accurate idea of your child's position on the spectrum, but it is up to you to learn who your child is as a person. Keep a Diary This is more for record-keeping than for a sounding board. Write down everything from foods to reactions to certain colours, textures, and environments. You can learn a great deal about which things agitate or upset your child this way. Also make note of any new symptoms you notice. Having a record of symptoms and reactions to environmental factors can help when contacting your child's doctor, as well.

Stay Attentive - It is important to pay attention. Every parent knows this, but it is all the more important when caring for a child with autism because many don't understand or have the ability to express their feelings and emotions. Children who have autism can seem cold, standoffish, and indifferent even to their parents. Don't make the mistake of assuming that they do not have those feelings, though. Many toddlers who have profound autism are unable to hug and kiss their parents and find it distressing when forced to do so. Take your child's feelings into account when considering any activities.

Create a Routine - Routine is everything to an autistic child because it gives them feelings of safety and calm. Most are frustrated very easily by a small change in routine that seems like nothing at all to you. Try to arrange for naps, meals, playtime, and outings to occur at the same time each day. It can also be helpful to create routines for certain times of day, such as bedtime. Many children who have autism are very high-strung. By removing stimulation, such as foods and television, a couple of hours before bed and performing more calming activities can help get an autistic toddler to fall asleep.

Please click here for information on autism care.

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Meltdowns And Tantrums Can They Be Dealt With? Find Out

You are in the grocery store making a purchase and suddenly your child who has autism, displays the loudest tantrum you ever heard. There you stand in shock and with embarrassment from this outburst. Your child needs a meltdown. But how?

Has this ever happened to you? You know you must deal with this tantrum and give your child a meltdown.

Having a child who has the disorder of autism is extremely challenging, when an outburst of a tantrum occurs.

If you have other children or are aware of other children, who are not autistic, a high percentage of those children who are under five years of age, usually have tantrums and outbursts. But, these tantrums usually can be stopped or corrected.

When a child with the disorder of autism, displays tantrums, you want to calm him or her down with a meltdown.

It can be difficult and challenging to calm your autistic child down and control his or her behavior.

Before you decide to take your child out in public places, prepare yourself that tantrums might happen and you must give your child a meltdown to stop the aggression and frustration.

In addition, you need to understand why the tantrums are happening.

If a tantrum happens when you are in public, I found the best thing to do is to solve it. Try and communicate with your child by making firm eye contact and say the word "NO." Be very firm with that word.

If your child does not understand what "NO" means, try to use visual cards with pictures on them or create visual meaning, use expressions of signs and symbols, signals for your child to relate to. Such as the word calm down, quiet, not so noisy, do not push or shove, do not throw objects, no screaming, etc.

I have discovered if you know your child will have an outburst, try to distract your child from that problem.

There may be times when you will want to carry pictures, certain toys, music, books, stuffed animals to offer a diversion from the tantrums and outbursts.

I knew a mother who had a cart full of groceries and her child had a tantrum. She had no choice but remove her child and herself from the premises. She had to discipline and give her child a meltdown.

To solve tantrums and outbursts, you may have to stop what you are doing and let your child know, enough is enough, you as parent(s), caregiver(s), are in charge. His or her behavior must come to a halt. It must stop. A meltdown should be given.

In the future, if you find your child is having the tantrums and meltdowns when you are planning the same routine, evaluate what is causing his or her tantrums?

Try to analyze the cause and solve it before the meltdowns are needed.

Bonita Darula's informational web sight==> is where you SIGN up and RECEIVE your FREE WEEKLY NEWSLETTER with updated topics. Meltdowns and tantrums can be dealt with. Find out how you can solve this challenging problem. Read your New Updated E-Book that is crucial for you and your child. You can order it when you receive your newsletter>>>

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Top 10 Myths About People With Autism

1. Autism is the parents' fault: Theories of what actually causes autism abound these days. Everything from mercury in vaccinations to food allergies to genetics are all theories of how autism came about. No one seems to really know why autism exists. One thing I can tell you is that it is NOT the parent's fault. There was a time, not so long ago that doctors blamed the mother for a child being autistic. The doctors believed that an autistic child had "withdrawn inside himself" due to a lack of affection given by the mother. The mothers used to be deemed "Refrigerator Mothers" because it was believed they were cold and un-affectionate. Now, we know that this is just not true! Many scientists think that autism is a genetic problem but even so, no one can seem to find a cure for it.

2. Autism is caused by a lack of discipline or spoiling: Lots of unknowing people, mostly passers by and looky-loo's are under the impression that kids with autism are just spoiled brats who scream because they don't get their way. Parents are offered lots of advice about how to discipline and set down rules for their child by people who have no idea what it's like to raise someone who is autistic.

Let me set the record straight. If you are in a department store and see a child screaming and squirming against their parents, please don't assume that this child is being a brat. Autistic kids can have some major sensory issues. Common, everyday sounds can literally cause physical pain to some autistic people. The buzzing and flickering of a florescent light can literally drive them insane, and all the distractions and people at a public place like that can scare them because they have no idea what to expect from a stranger. If you want to help, just approach the parent and ask kindly, "I see that you're struggling, what can I do to help you?" You will be most appreciated! There may be nothing you can do, but your kindness will be noted!

3. People with Autism are mentally retarded: Some of them are, but not all. Autistic people are usually not just autistic. More often than not, they are autistic and have another issue like ADHD, OCD, Mental Retardation, Dyslexia or sensory issues. Some can't even speak, some are deaf, some are blind, but this is true with all people in general. This in no way means that ALL autistic people are mentally retarded. A lot of autistic people have average or above average intelligence. It's just that they may have no way to communicate that intelligence sometimes and once they find a way, they are much better and their intelligence is completely evident.

4. People with Autism will never contribute to society: While it may be true that an autistic person may need a mentor or some job coach training, the truth is that with a little help, ANY autistic person can find a way to contribute to society.

5. All Autistic people are like "Rainman": Rainman was a really cool character. When I first found out that my son had autism, I watched Rainman again after not having watched it for about 12 years. I had to giggle at the similarities between my son and the character portrayed on T.V. The mannerisms were almost exactly the same! This myth was true in my case, but what most people don't seem to want to understand is that autistic people are each individuals. Autism is not a cookie-cutter diagnosis. That is why they call it a Spectrum Disorder, because there are so many different symptom and each symptom has varying levels of degree.

6. Autistic people do not have feelings: I cannot speak for all autistic people really because I am not autistic. I know from knowing my son, however, that at least he does have feelings. He feels happy when he is bike riding with me in the evenings and he feels sad after having to leave his grandma and come back home when he takes a trip to go see her. He feels angry when one of his siblings takes a toy away from him and at times he just wants to be alone. I can tell that he definitely has feelings. He also shows affection. He kisses, hugs, and comforts people just like any non-autistic person. Some autistic people don't display emotion much, but it's not a blanket statement that is true of ALL autistic people.

7. People can outgrow Autism: The treatments for autism are getting better and better everyday. Mostly, the parents of autistic people are the ones working for a cure and not so much the doctors and the scientists. Sometimes it's the autistic people themselves who are working to find a cure. But there is really no true "Cure" for autism that has been officially found. The mainstream treatment for autism seems to be ABA therapy or Applied Behavior Analysis. It's kind of a reward program that gives the autistic person what they want if they behave in a certain manner first. I'm not sure how I feel about this therapy. To me, it seems like the therapists are only trying to teach the person with autism how to sit down and shut up, which is not what they need. But there are other treatments out there such as the Son-Rise Program by The Autistic Treatment Center of America that I like. The bottom line is that the symptoms of autism can be diminished, almost to the point of being invisible, but autism is a life-long disorder and people don't grow out of it.

8. All autistics are geniuses: Just like in the statement about autistics being mentally retarded, some are geniuses, and some aren't. Sometimes you will meet a person who is an Autistic Savant. Lots of autistic people have this trait. This is when the person may be a little slow or seemingly unintelligent in some area but their intelligence and comprehension seem to spike in reference to something that they are very interested in or sometimes this happens with one of their 5 senses. Temple Grandin is an example of this with her vision. She has a 3-D photographic memory and is able to move and shift the pictures around in her mind to look at them from different angles like a computer program. She's been able to do this long before computer programs like that even existed! This is not the exception to the rule though, there are many different levels of intelligence in the autistic community.

9. Autistic adults will never be able to live on their own: Again, this is not a blanket statement for autistics as a whole. Autistic kids will always grow up to be autistic adults, but with proper training and a little bit of help from programs and the community, it is entirely possible for an autistic adult to live on their own. Symptoms of autism are many different levels of degree. Some function almost "normally" and can do most tasks all on their own with little help from anyone else. Some just need help with things like money management and social situations, and some may be so severe that they may always live in a place like a group home with other autistic people. It just depends on the person.

10. Autism is a mental illness: Autism is a developmental disability, not a mental illness. There is a difference between a mental illness and a developmental disability. A person with a mental illness is usually very competent and able to care for themselves, but sometimes they have flaws, such as depression or moodiness, that vary from rational to irrational. A person with a developmental disability normally has trouble in areas of life, like self-sufficiency and self-care and may only function up to a certain age level that may be considered far younger than his or her chronological age. A person with a developmental disability may also have a mental illness in addition to their disability but a person with a mental illness does not necessarily have a disability. Another difference between the two is that a developmental disability is permanent whereas a mental illness is treatable.

I hope this has helped to clear up some of the questions people have about autism. I think that the general public really misunderstands autism but with the rising number of people being diagnosed, it seems like there will be more and more encounters with autistic people in the near future. With this in mind, it is good to try to understand this disability as much as possible.

I am a mother of an autistic son who cares very much about the autistic community. I am working hard to help others understand autism better so that we can all live in a more tolerant society. There is more hope for autistic people today than ever before. Here is more information on people with autism.

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Are You Doubting Your Autistic Child Can Hear, Understand, and Communicate With You?

I found myself shouting at my brother who is autistic, because I had my doubts he could not hear, understand, or communicate with me, when I was speaking to him.

Have ever felt you were not being heard, understood, and communication was not present with your autistic child, while you were speaking to him or her?

I remember I could be no less than two feet away from my brother when talking to him. Being that close to him, he was ignoring what I was saying and not giving me a response. I became frustrated.

I was curious why I was not being heard or understood when I spoke to my brother, who has autism. I decided to do research on this subject and I was informed, some children with the disorder of autism might be behaving in a way that you feel they have not heard you, but in reality they did receive your message, and the conversation that was given.

I have experienced, when you think you are not being heard or understood, when speaking to an autistic person, he or she may have a different way of communicating. Their way of communication is not recognizable for you to understand, even though, they have understood your message.

There were times when talking to my brother, I felt he was not interacting with me. There were no signs of understanding, that I was heard. I evaluated and have seen this kind of behavior also occurs in other autistic children. For example:

* The autistic person may not let you know he or she is responding to you.

* What you need from the child who has the disorder of autism is, a sign that you have been heard. Such as, eye contact, a word, a gesture of nodding his or her head for understanding.

Many children with autism have difficulty with communication skills. Therefore, it would be difficult for them to let you know, they are not understanding what you are saying.

If you have doubts your child has heard you, or understood what you have stated, it might be an excellent idea if you have your child repeat back to you what you have told him or her. This can be an easy task if your child can communicate verbally.

Remember, if you do have doubts, that your autistic child is not hearing, understanding and communicating with you, take action and be willing to investigate or use different visual cards, sign language, pictures that you can make to illustrate action and communication, or you could have your child attend a speech or language class.

Bonita Darula's informational web sight==> where you SIGN up and RECEIVE your FREE WEEKLY NEWSLETTER about many Autistic TOPICS. Doubting your autistic child can hear, communicate, understand you. You can solve this challenging problem, that is crucial for your child. Order your updated E-book.

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Saturday, June 18, 2011

Autism Is a Gift!

Too often, we tend to think of autism as a disability. However, the word "disability" is typically defined as "lack of ability." It may be true that people with autism can lack some abilities, such as speech, the ability to potty train, empathy, withstanding touch or emotional control. Additionally, children with autism spectrum disorders often cannot tolerate everyday situations such as shopping, eating out or driving due to the inability to filter sensory input. These issues can be frustrating and downright depressing for parents, family and friends.

We must remember, however, that autism is not a disability. Autism grants its own gifts to those who have it. Those gifts can manifest themselves as stellar mathematical abilities, memory, creative writing, visual arts, or even acting. Some individuals with autism spectrum disorder even make fantastic teachers. In this role, the communication abilities of the individual shine in ways that parents, families and peers initially thought would never happen.

One organization, The Huckleberry Project Foundation in Oklahoma City, aimed to showcase the talents of autistic individuals through animation, storyboarding, voiceover work, and creative writing. Although Huckleberry was unable to maintain funding, the lesson learned was that the talents of autistic people are frequently as creative if not more so than neuro-typical individuals.

Many people with autism -- especially those with Asperger's or other high-functioning forms of autism -- gravitate to the fields of math and/or science. Some think that many of our greatest scientific minds had autism. The autistic brain often thinks of ordinary, mundane things in our world in entirely different ways and also grants extreme focus. These gifts sometimes allow the autistic individual with the ability to grasp the intricacies of physics, engineering and subjects such as quantum mechanics that neuro-typical individuals might find impossibly daunting.

With neuro-typical children, parents have the luxury of focusing on the child's gifts, because the parent is not having to deal with other behavioral issues such as the lack of potty training. As a result, parents of autistic children tend not to have as much time to nurture the gifts that autism bestows on their children. This is tough, and there is no way around that. However, focusing on the remarkable abilities of the autistic child must be done. Doing so is healthier for the child and, quite frankly, for the parents.

People with autism spectrum disorders can be quirky, profane, socially inappropriate, loud, emotionally uncontrolled and absolutely, undoubtedly talented beyond belief. As one autistic young lady put it: "We are NOT retarded. We are autistic, quirky, awesome f***ing people!" Somehow this seems to sum up the issue better than any Ph.d.'s assessment or scholarly paper ever could.

Shawn Garza is founder of and is current president of the Autism Society of Central Oklahoma

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Sensory Diet Ideas For Oral Sensory Seeking

The mouth has many sensory receptors: for taste, texture, temperature, wetness and dryness, movement (in the jaw and in the tongue, for instance), and so on. The information from these receptors is sent to the brain, which organizes and processes the information. When sensory processing is dysfunctional, children typically seek, or avoid, certain sensations around the lips, tongue, and mouth. A child with sensory issues may enjoy sour and chewy Starburst candies or spicy Buffalo wings because he finds these foods stimulating, but sensory seeking that involves the unsanitary and even dangerous habits of licking and biting are socially unacceptable and must be addressed.

A pediatric occupational therapist (OT) or speech/language pathologist (SLP) with the proper training in oral/motor issues can help kids who have oral/motor sensory issues. In the meantime, there is a lot parents and teachers can do to reduce unacceptable oral sensory seeking.

Offer chewy foods and/or sour foods. These give strong input to proprioception receptors around the mouth and can be helpful in preventing licking and biting. If the child's system can handle the sugar and artificial colors or flavors, you can give him gum, licorice, gummy bears, Starburst, Tootsie Rolls, or similar candies. Other chewy foods include dried fruit or sugarless gum. Sour foods that can satisfy oral needs include candies such as SweetTarts, but also lemons, limes, and dill pickles.

Offer chewable jewelry and other items. You don't necessarily need to use a food substance to address the desire for chewing or biting, however. There are many chewable necklaces and bracelets available these days, as well as tubes that you place atop pencils or pens so the child can chew that instead of the writing implement.

Address other sensory issues that are affecting your child. By all means, redirect the child to lick, chew, or bite appropriate items to lick or bite is important, but note that these behaviors often get worse when the child is anxious or frustrated by other sensory challenges. Just as you might find it comforting to chew gum when you are nervous, you may not have a strong desire to do so when you are feeling calm and focused. A good sensory diet can prevent oral sensory seeking behaviors by reducing the child's sensory discomfort overall. Lessening emotional stress on the child can have a similar effect.

Check whether your child is hungry or has a nutritional deficiency. Sometimes, oral/motor sensory seeking is related to being hungry or having a nutritional deficiency. If the sensory seeking persists, consider getting a nutritional consultation to assess whether the child is getting all his nutritional needs met or if supplementation is required. Giving the child a warm bath with a handful of Epsom salts a few days in a row, which causes the body to absorb some magnesium, seems to reduce oral sensory seeking behaviors in some children and is low-cost, safe, and easy to try.

Copyright © 2010 Nancy Peske

Nancy Peske is the coauthor of the book Raising a Sensory Smart Child: The Definitive Handbook for Helping Your Child with Sensory Processing Issues. She sends out a weekly newsletter of practical tips for parents and professionals who work with children who have sensory processing issues, available at You can learn more about sensory issues at

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Monday, June 13, 2011

Reversing Autism and ADD

Having a child born with an abnormality is every parent's worse fear - but what if you knew that problems such as autism, ADD, ADHD and other disorders were actually caused by a breakdown in a biochemical process and could be reversed.

Some Background Information

Several years ago health researchers led by Dr Paula Bickle, made a breakthrough when they found that youngsters with autism all had immune problems, high levels of toxicity and alcohol in their bodies and were lacking in most of the amino acids - especially taurine; they also lacked a number of important vitamins (particularly vitamin B6, B12 and folic acid) and many minerals - particularly magnesium, copper and zinc. These nutrients are essential for the necessary biological reactions (which convert methionine to taurine) which eliminate toxins and, very importantly break down sugar.

It is this sensitivity to sugar (along with a number of other toxins) and toxic build up that leads to hyperactivity and behavioral problems including madness. Another typical sign is the presence of dark circles under the eyes - indicating an allergic reaction.

Remarkably the researchers were able to reverse 14 of the 16 cases of autism through changes to their diet - which involved increasing their protein, fresh fruit and vegetable intake, eliminating sugar and through supplementation with essential nutrients.

This same treatment process can be applied to ADHD and ADD - a milder form of the same problem. Here's a summary of some natural and nutritonal treatments tha can be applied to ADD, ADHD and Autism.


  • Total elimination of sugar - this is for the whole family and not the child - you need to set an example; this includes all forms of refined sugar and processed or simple carbohydrates.
  • Eliminate or significantly reduce dairy and grain - this is a source of allergies that the child will be very sensitive to - use soy as an alternate source of food.
  • Increase the intake of protein to replace the missing amino acids.

Nutritional Supplements

Supplements can help by providing the necessary nutrients to make the biochemical reactions start to work again; they are also needed to repair the damage caused by this toxic build up and to help children absorb nutrients.

Supplements include:

  • Plant derived colloidal minerals - these are over 98% absorbable and provide all of the minerals required for normal functioning.
  • Multi-vitamin / Amino acid formula in liquid or tablet form - vitamins and protein are required for correct metabolism, to replace the amino acid deficiency and to rebuild the body.
  • Digestive enzymes to assist the body in digesting protein; the damage caused by sugar and other toxins will lead to very poor absorption of food.
  • Antioxidants are required to reverse the affects of toxic damage caused to the body by the poor metabolism of sugar.
  • A chromium/vanadium supplement will assist in helping to maintain healthy blood sugar levels.

Drugging Our Youth

There are many other diseases and health challenges that affect children but we focused on these particular issues because they have such devastating affects on family and school life. These diseases can be treated or at least controlled and improved and it doesn't involve getting our children addicted to DRUGS.

Drugs such as Ritalin and Prozac only subdue the child while the problem goes unchecked. They result in drug dependency and significant side effects such as a worsening of the condition when the child is off the drug, drooling, drowsiness and explosive and violent emotions. There have also been no long term studies into the health risks associated with putting young children onto a dangerous drug.


  1. Childhood diseases such as autism, ADD and ADHD result from a biochemical malfunction that results in a toxic build up in the child and their inability to metabolize sugar.
  2. Diet and lifestyle changes require the total elimination of sugar and increase in protein and fresh fruit and vegetables.
  3. Natural treatments involve supplementing with plant derived colloidal minerals, a multivitamin/amino acid, antioxidants and digestive enzymes. These will repair the damage, get the body functioning properly and ensure that the child is receiving good nutrition.

Paul Newland is a health writer, sports training consultant and martial arts instructor and runs the website.
He is the author of numerous health information books and guides, including the Wellness Report, The Ultimate Antioxidant Report, The Selenium Report, The Ultimate Nutrient Guide and The Ultimate Sports Nutrition Guide - available Free (for a limited time) through

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Could Early Signs Of Autism Be An Indicator Of Playing With Unusual Toys?

What are unusual toys? I believe unusual toys are toys that are abnormal, unconventional or anything out-of-the-ordinary. These are toys your child is willing to use and play with as he or she chooses, because they think it is a toy. But is it a toy? Is it an indicator of signs of autism?

I remember when my brother was an infant, pre-school age, he was interested in playing and exploring with unusual toys and objects. Some of them were considered to be dangerous and not wise for his use.

My parents, and our neighbors thought this was out-of-the-ordinary, compared to other children his age.

As my brother developed, probably around his first birthday or later, our family noticed he would rock back and forth, stare into space, do repetitious spins, pace back and forth. He would look out of the corner of his eyes and not have direct eye contact with people. No interaction with baby rattles or toys.

I am now older, I look back on the history of my brother, who was not interested in playing with objects or toys compared to what other children felt they were comfortable with. In addition, playing with toys to fit their personalities and their genders. My brother was gravitating towards unusual toys and objects for his play time.

I have often thought, could this be an indicator of a child having autism, by not associating with the toys or objects that are considered to be the highlight of other children who do not have autism?

I felt I had to know more about this perplexing situation, regarding my brother playing with unusual toys. Could this be an indicator for early signs of autism?

The number of children at the present time being diagnosed with autism, has increased tremendously. I feel it is crucial to find out what the indicators of autism might be and what can be accomplished to assist with the signs.

I have learned, you can identify autism behaviors through the use of your child playing with unusual toys.

This does not necessarily mean that your child has autism because of the use of playing with unusual toys, but it can be an indicator for you to take into consideration.

Remember, researchers are constantly doing more studies on the possibilities that there are indicators pointing to children using unusual toys. These children, may be candidates to have early stages of autism.

You, as parent(s), caregiver(s), want to be on the alert for any suspicious, out-of-the-ordinary, playing with unusual toys or objects. This could be early signs of autism and may be an indicator or clue to have your child examined by a professional who is knowledgeable about autism.

Bonita Darula's informational web sight==> where you SIGN up and RECEIVE your FREE WEEKLY NEWSLETTER about many Autistic TOPICS. Do you believe your child has early signs of autism because of playing with unusual toys? Find out by reading Autism Symptoms & Treatments.

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Parents of Autistic Children - The Challenge of a Nonverbal Child

Parents of autistic children know that there are many challenges to parenting autistic children, especially nonverbal ones.

Nonverbal kids can't express their wants, dislikes, feelings, or anything else about themselves in words. They can't answer questions. It is often quite frustrating for both the parent and the child with autism to have a good relationship without the use of verbal communication.

Parents of autistic children understandably want to know what the child is thinking and feeling - are they happy? Sad? Hurt? Hungry? Lonely? How can I help them? The child wants also to communicate these things, but they can't. A lot of nonverbal autistic kids will act out from the frustration of not having any viable way to communicate. It is a difficult balancing act for all involved.

Fortunately, there are alternative communication forms that have been developed to help nonverbal autistic kids.

Picture Exchange Communication System (PECS)

One very common method is called the Picture Exchange Communication System (PECS). PECS is a method of getting a child to point to pictures to show their wants or needs.

Books of preprinted picture are available, or you can make your own pictures. It is important to make certain the pictures are of things your child is motivated to want to express.

What might these pictures be of? They could be their favorite activities, food they like, toys and books. Also, pictures that show words like "yes," "no," "hurts," and pictures convey emotions are important, too. You can either create your own pictures or use a library of pictures already created for this purpose in a software program like Boardmaker, which you can get at

Using a method like PECS can help an autistic child gain a basic level of functional communication. You can increase the number of pictures used as your child gets older.

Sign Language

A lot of kids who are nonverbal learn sign language in order to help them communicate. Since many autistic kids are visual learners, signing often comes more naturally to them than spoken language.

Two kinds of sign language are used in the US, American Sign Language and something called Pidgin Signed Language. An advantage to PSL is that it has a more intuitive structure, and it can be easier for autistic kids to learn.

Many parents feel that sign language is a good building block for kids to learn language. Even if this does not happen, having a little communication is always better than no communication at all.

Portable TTS (Text-To-Speech) Devices

One other option for children who are nonverbal is a device called an AlphaSmart. The AlphaSmart is used to type out what the person wants to say. It is basically a small, inexpensive battery-powered keyboard with a screen showing what is being typed. Some of these devices have speakers that will then speak the words out loud for the person. With the addition of a speaker these become portable TTS (Text-To-Speech) devices. These can work well with those who can write, but not talk.

Fortunately, there are several creative options for helping parents of autistic children whose children are nonverbal especially if these children have good motor skills.

Parents need to educate themselves on these innovative solutions and keep abreast of new developments. And a great site that has tips and suggestions for helping to raise your autistic child is the There you can sign up for their FREE newsletter with tips and info on autism.

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Parenting Autistic Children - Helping Autistic Children Make Friends

Friendship can be a difficult issue that comes up quite frequently for those who are parenting autistic children. There is no doubt that most children with autism want friends, but they just lack the skills to be able to make them. Friends end up being just one more thing they have to learn; one more thing they have to figure out; one more thing that just doesn't make any sense to them. What comes intuitively to those parenting autistic children comes with a lot of work to autistic children themselves.

Why do children with autism have so many problems making friends?

Well, autistic kids can't read social cues, or easily understand the "street slang" that many neurotypical kids use. Children with autism aren't able to talk casually and easily like other children their age do. As a result, they can be shunned. Autistic kids can't easily enter into conversations. Those parenting autistic children often see their loved ones being isolated, and not fitting in.

For autistic children who want friends but who cannot quite get the hang of how to get them, it can be quite painful. These kids try as best they can to engage other kids. Unfortunately, their way of speaking or the conversation topics they choose rarely matches the interests of other children their age. For those who are parenting autistic children, we stand at the sidelines watching our autistic loved ones fail time and again.

Their peers aren't interested in spaceships, the history of paper clips or Bugs Bunny. No matter how much they might try to emulate the manner and ways that their friends speak and the words they use it comes out sounding reading off of a script. Sadly, most of the kids their age won't make the effort needed to put up with their awkwardness and difference.

Four Roadblocks to Overcome

To make friends those parenting autistic children must first understand the major roadblocks that prevent their autistic children from developing friends. Once we understand these roadblocks we can help our autistic children to overcome these hurdles. When parenting autistic children, the following four issues that often inhibit friendship development:

  1. Odd mannerisms: kids with autism often talk too loudly, and can't modulate their tone of voice. They might interrupt others and not realize it, they might avoid eye contact, and they might violate the physical space of people around them without being aware they are doing it. It also goes without saying that many children with autism will likely talk excessively about their favorite topic.

  2. Rule oriented: Many kids with autism are very rule oriented. This doesn't work always well with other kids, who don't want to be so bound down with following rules (or may not even be aware of what the rules of a particular situation are - many kids like to make up their own rules when playing different games.)

  3. Immature interests: Often kids with autism will have interests that are more typically found in age group several years younger than they are. This makes it harder for them to connect with their peers. Those parenting autistic children may notice that their loved ones tend to get along better with children several years younger than them.

  4. Sensory issues: Kids with autism get overwhelmed very easily by the environment around them. This is another problem that can get in the way of doing things with friends.

Each of these issues is well known to therapists and various methods and treatments can be used to teach your autistic children how to improve their friendship-building skills.

Helping your child to make friends can be difficult, but it can be done, if you understand what the issues to overcome are. Parenting autistic children comes with many challenges, but you can overcome them with time.

And while we briefly touched on some of the teaching methods and autism treatments that can help your autistic child build friends there are many others. Several web sites have useful information. One great site that has detailed information on treatments to help your autistic child is the There you can sign up for their FREE newsletter with tips and info on autism.

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