Iep Transitions And Approaching The Autism Cliff
Like many autistic students in the United States, my sons educational journey from pre-school to high school graduation was mapped out with an Individualized Educational Program . An IEP is a legally binding document developed and instituted when a child meets the public schools criteria for specialized education.
This document outlines the childs needs and designs an educational program to meet those needs best, whether through speech and language therapy, occupational therapy, or the addition of support people like paraprofessionals to assist the child throughout the day.
With an IEP in place, a childs educational journey does not have to end at 18. Instead, the young person and their parents can decide to continue attending school up to age 21.
This 1821 period is considered one of transitions and is designed to shift the young person from educational-centered to adult-oriented learning. Much of this includes teaching independent living and job skills.
In the United States, statistics suggest that 500,000 young adults with autism will transition into adulthood over the next 5 years.
Unfortunately, many schools dont have the resources to develop transitions programs that fully address the needs of autistic students entering the adult world.
Furthermore, even if a transitions program exists, it may not cover all the gaps in services that suddenly occur when the child reaches 18 years old. Parents often refer to this sudden loss of services as the autism cliff.
When You Change Your Expectations The World Will Grow
I wish we knew that autism just means different, not less. Instead of baseball games in elementary school we would have sensory integration programs. I wish we knew then that it will be OK some days will be hard, some days will be beautiful and at the end of each of them when we tuck our son into bed, the most important thing we can do is make sure he knows he is loved.
Tabatha and Tony Rainwater, Knoxville, Tennessee
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Know That Medical Issues Can Be Involved
I wish I had known about the invisible medical issues of autism right from the start. For years, I had no idea that gastrointestinal dysfunction, including constipation, acid reflux, inflammation and pain, could dramatically affect my sons sleep patterns, mood, irritability, aggression, attention, and even communication. Our son had to power through those problems all by himself on a daily basis, and it breaks my heart that we never suspected the cause of many of his struggles.
Janet Lintala, West Virginia
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Theres No Need To Tag Us In Every Facebook Article About Autism
Parents of children on the Autism Spectrum are research junkies, and do their best to stay up-to-date with each and every advancement in the autism community. Certainly, they know more than the average person. As one parent put it, Theres literally no Facebook article we havent seen. So, before you share it and tag us because were that friend with the child with autism, take that into account.
Children On The Autism Spectrum Are Not Dumb
Kids with autism have the potential to be absolutely brilliant. Theyre also talented, philosophical, kind, and creative. This is something much of society fails to see, but in truth, the autistic mind is simply wired differently than those not on the Autism Spectrum. Hans Christian Andersen, Emily Dickinson, Albert Einstein, Bill Gates, Michelangelo, Mozart, and Sir Isaac Newton all are said to have exhibited autistic tendencies.
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My Child May Be Nonverbal But She Has A Lot To Say
We live in a very verbal society that is ill-equipped for those in our population who are nonverbal. Its estimated that about one-third of those on the Autism Spectrum are unable to speak. Still, it would be a mistake to assume these people do not have ideas, opinions, and other things to say. Some autistic children learn sign language to communicate, while others type or use other tools.
Make Them Feel Safe And Loved
Sometimes our children are so lost in their emotions that they cant hear us. In these situations, all we need to do is simply sit with or be near them.
Many times, we try to talk them down from their panic, but its often a waste of breath when a child is in the throes of a meltdown.
What we can do is let them know that theyre safe and loved. We do this by staying as near to them as theyre comfortable with.
Ive lost track of the times that Ive witnessed a crying child be told that they can only come out of a secluded space once they stop melting down.
This can send the message to the child that they dont deserve to be around the people that love them when theyre having a hard time. Obviously, this isnt our intended message to our kids.
So, we can show them were there for them by staying close.
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Dont Assume Nonverbal Children Cant Communicate
Many children with autism dont speak at all. But never assume that they dont have something to say.
For children with autism, behavior is a form of communication. That includes:
- Walking away
Listen to what the child is trying to say. Ignore it, and the behavior may escalate until the child gets the point across.
Living With Adult Autism Tip : Improve Communication And Relationships
If other people have a hard time reading and understanding youand you themyoull likely have difficulty with relationships. But you can still find ways to nurture a healthy social life.
Consider disclosing your diagnosis. Talking about your diagnosis can be difficult and the social stigma attached to ASD may make you shy away from doing so. While disclosure is entirely up to you and your comfort level, it may help improve some relationships. Letting close friends and family know about your diagnosis can help them understand why you have a hard time interpreting their sarcastic comments, for example, or why youre distressed by sounds that seem normal to everyone else.
Note when youre experiencing sensory overload. Perhaps you find it difficult to keep up with everything thats going on in an intense group conversation. Or maybe something as simple as loud traffic or a barking dog is bothering you. Do what you can to minimize distractions. This might involve switching rooms or leaving a larger group for a one-on-one chat.
Look for common ground with the person youre talking to. Establishing commonalities can lead to more relaxed and enjoyable conversations. If you have similar hobbies, thats, of course, great news. Otherwise, you can look for other things you both like or dislike. This could be anything from a shared interest in cars to a shared dislike for loud noises.
Support groups for adults with autism
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Become Familiar With Gross And Fine
Children with autism sometimes have motor coordination issues that need to be addressed. There are two main types of motor functions: gross and fine.
Gross motor skills involve big body movements and muscles. Physical therapy tends to work on these skills, such as crawling, walking, jumping, and navigating stairs.
Fine motor skills, on the other hand, are small, delicate movements, such as writing, zipping up a jacket, or buttoning a shirt. For these, your child will work with an occupational therapist. These skills tend to take a good deal of motor skill and hand-eye coordination, and they often need extra practice.
Try to think of fine motor skills the same way you would think about teaching someone algebra. There are a number of complex movements and motor planning strategies that go into learning each activity, and much like algebra, they need to be taught and mastered in order.
Providing A Soothing Environment
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Positive And Negative Consequences For Behaviour
A consequence is something that happens after your child behaves in a particular way. Consequences can be:
- positive for example, your child gets more time at the park if they get ready to leave the house
- negative for example, the toy is put away for 10 minutes if your child is throwing it.
You can use both positive and negative consequences to guide your childs behaviour. But its always best to focus more on giving your child positive attention for behaving in ways that you like. This usually means youll need to use negative consequences less.
Time-outQuiet time and time-out are useful consequences. Both involve taking your child away from interesting activities and not giving them attention for a short period of time.
Time-out might not work if your child tends to be withdrawn. It could end up being a reward rather than a negative consequence if it gives your child time alone.
Just Because My Kid Doesnt Look Like Another Kid With Autism Doesnt Mean Hes Not On The Autism Spectrum
As one parent wrote on the popular Autism Speaks blog, Knowing one child with autism doesnt mean anything really theyre all so different. Please dont tell me my son doesnt have because he looks so different from the other kid you know on the Spectrum.
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What To Put In A Calm Down Box
Children can begin to understand the concept of calm boxes when theyre toddlers and continue using their calm boxes into adulthood. Please note: as your child grows older, you will need to help them adapt the contents of their box as our interests change overtime. Here are some suggestions for every age group.
My Autistic Child Has Feelings
A common challenge children on the Autism Spectrum and their parents face is the assumption that because an autistic child cannot verbalize or express their feelings like a neurotypical child might, those feelings must not exist. But nothing could be further from the truth. As one parent bluntly describes, Even children who dont speak can still hear you. Dont talk to me over my children like they arent there, especially if youre going to sympathetically tell me what a saint I am for dealing with a horrible situation every day. Im not a saint. Im their mother. And she HEARS YOU and understands that youre saying shes a burden to me.
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Tip : Find Help And Support
Caring for a child with ASD can demand a lot of energy and time. There may be days when you feel overwhelmed, stressed, or discouraged. Parenting isnt ever easy, and raising a child with special needs is even more challenging. In order to be the best parent you can be, its essential that you take care of yourself.
Dont try to do everything on your own. You dont have to! There are many places that families of children with ASD can turn to for advice, a helping hand, advocacy, and support:
ADS support groups Joining an ASD support group is a great way to meet other families dealing with the same challenges you are. Parents can share information, get advice, and lean on each other for emotional support. Just being around others in the same boat and sharing their experience can go a long way toward reducing the isolation many parents feel after receiving a childs diagnosis.
Respite care Every parent needs a break now and again. And for parents coping with the added stress of ASD, this is especially true. In respite care, another caregiver takes over temporarily, giving you a break for a few hours, days, or even weeks.
Affordable Online Therapy for Help and Support
Get professional help from BetterHelps network of licensed therapists.
First Off Take A Deep Breath
A diagnosis of autism doesnt change who your child is or what they can accomplish. Research has grown exponentially over the past few decades, and there are always new support ideas and strategies being studied at colleges and research institutes across the country. Researchers have developed effective programs to help children with autism develop their communication, social skills, academics, motor skills, and vocational training so they can live long, healthy, productive lives. All of this starts with you, and the sooner it starts, the better.
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How To Help Your Autistic Child
This article was co-authored by Hilya Tehrani, PsyD. Dr. Hilya Tehrani is a Licensed Clinical Psychologist with over twenty years of experience. She specializes in working with children and adolescents. Dr. Tehrani also has expertise in supporting individuals with autism, ADHD, anxiety, behavioral challenges, and learning and processing differences. She holds a BA in Psychology from The University of California, Los Angeles, an MA in Clinical Psychology from California State University, Northridge, and a PsyD in Clinical Psychology from Pepperdine University.There are 9 references cited in this article, which can be found at the bottom of the page.wikiHow marks an article as reader-approved once it receives enough positive feedback. In this case, 83% of readers who voted found the article helpful, earning it our reader-approved status. This article has been viewed 75,689 times.
You can help your child with an ASD cope with the world, or even with the house. Use these tools to assist your child to live in a healthy and growth-oriented environment. Here are some of those strategies for helping.
Dont Wait For A Diagnosis
As the parent of a child with ASD or related developmental delays, the best thing you can do is to start treatment right away. Seek help as soon as you suspect somethings wrong. Dont wait to see if your child will catch up later or outgrow the problem. Dont even wait for an official diagnosis. The earlier children with autism spectrum disorder get help, the greater their chance of treatment success. Early intervention is the most effective way to speed up your childs development and reduce the symptoms of autism over the lifespan.
When your child has autism
Learn about autism. The more you know about autism spectrum disorder, the better equipped youll be to make informed decisions for your child. Educate yourself about the treatment options, ask questions, and participate in all treatment decisions.
Become an expert on your child. Figure out what triggers your kids challenging or disruptive behaviors and what elicits a positive response. What does your child find stressful or frightening? Calming? Uncomfortable? Enjoyable? If you understand what affects your child, youll be better at troubleshooting problems and preventing or modifying situations that cause difficulties.
Dont give up. Its impossible to predict the course of autism spectrum disorder. Dont jump to conclusions about what life is going to be like for your child. Like everyone else, people with autism have an entire lifetime to grow and develop their abilities.
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Know That Its Not A Cure But It Is A Start
There is no cure for autism. But helping your child understand social skills is a great starting point for a rewarding life. Keep in mind that, with progress, you should use rewards for good behavior less frequently over time. Work with a therapist on the best timetable for this tapering. The idea is that as a child gets better and better at a skill such as conversation, the behavior itself becomes more natural.
When a child has a successful conversation or makes a new friend, the success is its own kind of reward for that child and for the parent who gets to witness it.
Common Signs Of Autism Spectrum Disorder:
- Difficulty socializing with others, responding to social cues, and understanding feelings
- Difficulty communicating, including speaking and understanding
- Unusual reactions to the way things sound, smell, taste, look, or feel
- Avoiding or resisting physical contact
- Discomfort when regular routines are disrupted
- Repetitive physical behaviors
“It’s important for parents to help their child understand there are children who are different than they are. Parents can teach their child some simple tools and tips for communicating with children with autism,” says McQuivey.
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