Can I help?

Erin - posted on 05/03/2010 ( 55 moms have responded )

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Hello all! I am actually writing with somewhat of a confession: I do not have a child with Autism. I am a teacher for children with Autism and I love it! I don't think there is a better pursuit, well for me anyway. I joined this community because I am finding parents who have questions and are unsupported. Basically I was writing to see if I could help anyone or if I could be of use in any way. God knows how hard it must be for you, and I am hoping that there is something I can do to help. Please don't misunderstand my intent, I certainly don't know what you're going through, but if I can shed any insight I'd love to!

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Tina - posted on 08/26/2010

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Thanks so much for the offer! Have you ever seen a child who harms themselves? If so, anything work to stop it? My 10 yr. old daughter was just diagnosed as "moderate-severe autism". Partially verbal. My biggest concern is that she bites herself (a lot) the skin on her arms is scarring probably beyond help... and she "picks". Creates sores on her body- face, legs, fingers (mostly). We have tried multiple meds, nothing really works unless she is just "snowed". We are restraining her arms (at night, and any time she starts it) right now because she has had several staph infections in these sores she makes.... any input greatly appreciated!

Erin - posted on 07/05/2010

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Melanie,

Actually, one of my students uses a harness and he, like your son, is very lean. That is actually fairly typical for children on the Autism Spectrum; many are either skinny and petite or big and solid for their age group- kind of funny huh? The harness purchased for him is actually similar to a harness used for mountain climbing or rock repelling- it has two straps that go around his sides and two coming up the front that are all attached by a strap that goes between his legs and wraps up to his lower back and from there it is all attached by a heavy duty zipper that has multiple settings for various sizes. This harness also requires a set of clips that are attached to loops at the top of his shoulders and at his hips to ensure that even if the worst happens, he is secured. I should mention these are heavy duty pressure clips- it takes a full grown adult, sometimes using 2 hands, to release the metal loop from the clip- anything less will not be worth your money if your son is excitable or aggressive. I can tell you personally I have strapped my student in while he has had 2 hand fulls of my hair and once in he continued to tantrum but to this day-many years later is unable to free himself from the harness in the seat.

Ok, about the reading program, there are many different computerized programs, and like many items in children's curriculum, it is all dependent on what they have. I can tell you several things that I hope help you. First, the school cannot with hold that information from you. I am not particularly familiar with your specific laws, but I very much doubt that at any given time it is ok for the school to keep the parents in the dark. I know in the United States it is actually illeagal, and I would like to think it would be for your country as well! I found a website that might help (parentadvocates.org) give it a shot and see if that is of any help to you. If not, let me know I will keep looking! I also wanted to recommend 2 reading websites to you. The first is AIMSWEB. This is actually a paid site that has lessons and practice work in ALL areas of education for children-we use it at my school and I love it. But as many of us don't have the money for THAT, I also love www.pbskids.org . It has reading games and comprehension for all types of readers! Give it a try and let me know what you think!

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Erin - posted on 10/09/2010

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Tina,
Hi, sorry my response is so late! I actually kicked myself out of facebook! Yeah-I know! OK, actually its amazing you're asking me about this as all of my students have Self Injurious Behaviors (SIB's). Like any behavior, each has its own function, one of my kids does this to get a demand taken away, one does it so we will touch him to block him from hitting/ biting himself, and the other does it to keep those that he doesn't like away from him. The question is now what makes your kid SIB? What does she get out of it? It sounds to me just from what you wrote that her picking is almost like a stim for her. Do you think buying something like a leotard/body suit to put on under her clothing would help keep her from it? From the other side of this, I know I keep layers of clothing on because some of the kids try to get us to bleed and react to behaviors- see if this helps and let me know! In the meantime, I am going to ask a Behavioral Specialist friend of mine-she's much wiser than I am! Good luck!!!!

Erin - posted on 08/09/2010

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Amina,

My deepest apologies! I must have missed your entry! Speech is a common problem with most children with Autism. The first piece of advise I would extend to you is to start with things he wants and make sure he asks for them-always. Sometimes kids get used to parents just knowing what they want. Therefore it is necessary to get him to use his words for everything. You can start by letting him use his own form of the word, but after he says it, prompt him again using the correct word and drag it out so he can hear each syllable. Do this until he makes the effort to correct himself. Once he does immediately give him what he wants. It will take a while for this alone to produce improvement, but you will see him slowly progress as he sees that he needs to use proper language to get what he wants. Ok, as far as holding a pencil, which is also why he doesn't like coloring since they both require the same type of activity-holding on to an object to scribe something. The important thing to do is to not use writing as a punishment ever. Start with fun activities with pencils or crayons like allowing him to trace pieces of his puzzles or try to trace the picture on a completed puzzle to pair writing with something he loves already. The important thing to remember is that this is a task, therefore it should always come before a reward, like finishing a puzzle. It is important to start with these tasks as being short. Once he is done, he is done. Increase the frequency of the tasks at first before the length so that he does not feel overwhelmed in the activity. Also make sure to switch up what he is using a pencil or crayon for so that he does not get bored with the medium you are using. Final bit of advice, which you may have already done, start him off with a fatter pencil or crayon to make sure he is able to hold it as his fine motor skills may not be as developed. Another fun activity may be to cover the surface of a table with shaving cream, get it foamy with him, and then have him draw puzzle pieces, his puzzle pictures, or other fun images in the shaving cream using a pencil-eraser side down. Make this fun so writing and the pencil are not so awful for him. Then begin to have him write using materials he chooses- not on homework, but on scrap paper. To assist him with homework, I would break it down into sections providing him short 2-5 minute breaks between each. As he completes homework sections, you may give him 1 or more puzzle pieces to add to a puzzle that will only be completed as he finishes his work. As far as counting goes, use the puzzle pieces as counters. For example, if he is doing 5 x 3 take puzzle pieces and let him count out 5.Then tell him that he has one group of five but he needs 3. So have him count out 5 two more times setting each group apart from each other. Now have him count the total pieces he has for the answer, you can put the groups together to show him that they are all together if you want. Let me know if this works or if you need anything else!!! Thanks for being so patient!

Amina - posted on 06/30/2010

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hi erin! my son is now 10 years old & he is autistic,he having a speech problem & writing problem he cant hold pencil,he loves puzzles & other games but not good in study activities like coloring or numbering! i am very thankful to u if u sugest some tips.we r in dubai & here not good schools! so last 5 years he going to school but no improvement.he is my elder son &2 younger kids both kids r really helps to me.he is starting speech 2 years back but only some words or repetative..thanks dear i really want my kid starts acadmic life! amina asad!.

Melanie - posted on 06/30/2010

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First off, Erin, thank you for the support.

Does the school you work at use a particular brand of safety equipment.My austie son is 7 but very skinny and a little petite. Particularly for runners and children who won't stay buckled in/seated in a moving vehicle? We rarely go anywhere as a family because it is so difficult to get him to sit and stasy buckled up in the car. And when we finally get that done both of us need to hold his hand and he often still manages to break free because he is so strong. We have been looking for a child sized harness to more easily keep him with us but have had no luck so far. (The harness is becasue he liked the teddy bear harness that he has outgrown, we still sometimes catch him trying to wear it.)



Also, his school has started him on a computerized reading program but hasn't given us the name of the program or provided the promised overview. Have you heard of any programs like this and their effectiveness?



Thank you for any help you can provide.



Melanie

Erin - posted on 06/26/2010

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Many children on the spectrum like things that don't seem to make any particular sense to us but for some reason it just speaks to them in the same way that others like a painting or a song. That is why they are so unique and certainly why they should be encouraged to follow their interests in a functional way! Please keep in touch with me; frankly it infuriates me when I think that the school is taking advantage of a caring parent! I can tell you right now that I've seen plenty of burn out in parents, too! When they give up on their kids its simply heartbreaking! So, stick to your guns and good luck!!!

Anita - posted on 06/20/2010

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hi erin
the funny thing with the program i brought they have it at the school,my oldest son is also meant to be doing it three times a week but he only does it once.thanx for the web site.do you have any ideas for programs to teach him.he seems to do alright with different lanuages like japaneese and spanish he also taslks like americans do sometimes but i dont know why

Erin - posted on 06/13/2010

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Anita,
I have no idea what the laws are in Australia, but I am fairly sure that there is not a 'well if its hard to teach its the parent's problem' clause to any educational law. It is the school's responsibility to teach him to read, and total parental points to you for buying a program for him! You need to be almost belligerent with the school and tell them that the 'just let him fail' method of education is not a possibility. The more versed you are in the laws the less they will push you around. Most school staff know that parents do not know their rights and there for try to make anything they don't want to deal with the parent's problem. One website that I found helpful was:
http://www.aussieeducator.org.au/educati...

Contact these people and do not let your school tell you that its your responsibility to teach him-its not! Also, you can offer to make them copies of the curriculum you bought to assist him, but again stand up for yourself and your son! Good luck and stay in touch!

Erin - posted on 06/13/2010

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Karen,
So just to be clear, your son's school has been complaining about his writing and not one thought it might be beneficial to hand the boy a computer and section out a portion of his day to work on hand writing at school?!?! I think its a good idea for you to do the scribing during homework because even though he is not working on the handwriting during that time, he is doing the work, which is vital. If he has to do the work and the handwriting it will take hours, you and he will become frustrated and it will become a family battle and will end poorly for everyone. The point of the homework is to get the practice, let him get that. If he answers a question wrong on the homework, do not correct him, treat it like you would if he were doing it. If you would wait until the end to check his homework and then correct it, do that. You want to make sure he is doing his own work and making his own mistakes so that he is not a "six hour kid" (a child who does not perform well in the 6 hours he's at school). I'm sure you know this, but it clears my conscious to say it! Continue your work at home with the hand writing, but it cannot rely on you and make sure the school knows that the 'wit for him to fail' method or the 'throw it back on the parent' method is not acceptable!

Erin - posted on 06/13/2010

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Annam, sorry it took me so long! I got bogged down with end of the year and grad school stuff!!! The best way to teach social lessons are in his natural environment! As you interact with others in your life and as he does the same with his you can use these as teachable experiences. This trumps social stories as things we learn better from things we do than things we read about. Social stories about how to deal with social situations will help, but if you are able to help model appropriate conversations,that will be the the most beneficial to him!

Anita - posted on 06/04/2010

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my son is 8 and has aspergers .we live in Australia my problem is i go to this place that has all the specialist in one place stay for a week and they give us help on how to help in class and things that would make it easier on him but when we go back to his school and they get the reports they don't even read them half the time i will go up to speak to them about it and they don't have any idea what i am talking about.he is in 2nd class and is doing very well in maths but the teacher said that he can't excell in maths if he can't read but the school doesn't have the resourses to teach him that i have to. i thought that is why kids go to school to be taught these things. i brought a program for him but it isn't going real well, do you have any ideas

Karen - posted on 06/04/2010

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God Bless you Erin......ALL OF my sons teachers get aggravated because he doesnt write well and has a scribe for his work and they have all felt he was smart enough to be in regular classes "if I could just get him writting" I thought since he was in a Autism/Aspie program they would understand how smart he was, and that he would have these issues or am I really not doing something I could be doing (He does a page of letters and numbers every day but I scribe his H/W because of the HOURS it saves) what do you think?????

Annam - posted on 06/03/2010

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wow erin r u an angel? sorry i loved your opening line!

ive a 13 yr old son who was diagnosed as asperges syndrome when he was 12 years old. he has been going to a mainstream school all this time. he is now in the secondary school with much bigger boys and im worried he might get into trouble. he says things directly and bluntly!

im jus worried how he is going to cope with lessons and peers.

Erin - posted on 05/17/2010

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Marian, Thank you so much! I love my students and once I had my son, I realized that I was having problems finding support for my child, who doesn't have disabilities. What is it like for parents who have children that require special care??

Heidi,
Where do you live? I know that we had a wonderful program here called "Birds and Bees" that discussed all of those topics and was divided into ability groups for the kids so that children like your son would be getting the information most pertinent to them. Also, does your son know sign or does he use a device? How does he communicate with you?

Jackie - posted on 05/16/2010

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Hi Erin, I would like a social story on 1 going in the car, 2 changing teacherrs 3. going abroad

kind regards
Jackie

Heidi - posted on 05/15/2010

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okay, here goes nothing. My oldest son was recently diagnosed with a Non Verbal Learning Disability. It is part of the Autism Spectrum Disorders. Can you shed some light on how we as a family can support him? He is 11 years old and I am concerned with him heading into puberty what this may mean for him regarding dating, girlfriends and all the "social" stuff that he just really doesn't get. Suggestions?

Marian - posted on 05/15/2010

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My son is 16 now and through out the years has had some fabulous teachers, I always pay close attention to what they tell me cause they do spend 8 hrs. a day with my son. Its great to have you on here, Welcome!!

Erin - posted on 05/15/2010

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Carolyn,

The problem is that they are only paying attention to him when he exhibits negative behaviors. Let me guess, he is allowed to have the bunny all the time and it is only taken away when he is disruptive. This is not rewarding him at all for any positive behaviors! He needs a 3 strike system to let him know that he has varying degrees of good and bad, otherwise he is either being ok or bad, he never feels successful-set up a system that he can actually GET something for being a productive student! This will deffinately help increase his positive behaviors! Let me know how it goes!

Erin - posted on 05/15/2010

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Jackie,

Yep! Behavior Mod definitely works, I use it with my son- as much as I can, he's only 5m. If you have any questions I can help! Also social stories are used a lot in my school, and can be very effective. It is a story that gives a scenario and then describes the socially appropriate behavior that should happen within the scenario. Do you need one in particular?

Erin - posted on 05/15/2010

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Ramona,

Your instincts are right! If your son has done a 180 in a year, that is not all due to a diagnosis-this is exactly why some parents are so against getting their children tested to begin with. Ok, here's the deal until the social aspects of this situation change- the bullying and bitchy teachers/staff- the academic will remain the same. The school administration needs to get the bullying under control and I would, if necessary consider hiring legal council to act in your best interest, if the students see the teacher treating your son differently, guess what they are going to do and even though he does have Asperger's Syndrome, that doesn't make it ok to pick on him. He has PDD, the need to get over it! Once his stressors are released, his grades will improve, but right now he is so afraid to do anything he cannot be himself or answer a question without ridicule. Also doing his home work at home with him will help because you can put it into terms that will make more sense to him. Also include short 5-7 minute breaks between work tasks to make it not seem so horrible. Let me know how it goes!

Erin - posted on 05/15/2010

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***Thanks to all of you who said such nice things, I truly appreciate it and to Shasta and Michelle H. Thanks for the advice! Whether they admit it or not you all are invaluable resources of knowledge!!! Don't let the school staff make you think otherwise!

Misti,

Good for you!!! Let them know that they are morons!!! And the dr. that doesnt know what Asperger's is is too out of date to be testing your son. YOUR RIGHTS SAY THAT IF YOU DON'T AGREE WITH THE TESTING YOU CAN GET ANOTHER OPINION FROM A DR OF YOUR CHOICE AT THEIR EXPENSE! I urge you to look up your rights in IDEA 2004-They are taking advantage of you. They should know that anything your son needs is paid for by the state, they need to shut up about the money and put your son first. For sixth grade, I suggest helping him academically by making copies of his work for light practice to do with him. Socially, I would say try social stories, I would try asking him about past social blunders and then switch rolls (you be him and him act out like the other kid(s)) play out the scenario again giving the correct response, then do it one more time switching the rolls back. If he has anxiety too, try a picture schedule at home but simply do it with picture icons that are movable as to help adjust for changes from night to night. Once comfortable with it, titrate him off of it by hacking off one or two items at the beginning or end of the night based off of which section of his night is easier for him. Let me know if this helps!!

CAROLYN - posted on 05/14/2010

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hi Erin
i have a 5 year old son with Autistic Spectrum disorder. He is in mainstream school (northern ireland) and in year 1. He is very bright and is ahead of the others in his reading and maths. His behaviour has become increasingly hard to deal with,especially when he does not get his own way. When someone hits him even accidentily he has started to take revenge hitting out and getting very distressed. he has starting being very disruptive in class and not doing what he is told. the school have been giving him timeouts and we have been trying to talk to him at home about it and taking away his favourite 'toy bunny' but nothing seams to work. we have tried social stories but are not sure how to get through to him. as he is quite smart he always has an answer for everything we put to him. if you have any ideas how to deal with this behaviour i would appreciate it greatly.
ps. the school have been very good with him and he has a classroom assistant 2 hours a day.

Jackie - posted on 05/13/2010

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Dear Erin, you are doing a great job here. Thank you very much for the reassuring posts, do you have another website where we can reach you. I live in GB but originally from Botswana. My son has Aspergers, I have been to hell and back with problems relating to schools. Thanks a lot and my God bless you for your good works, I Am particularly interested in social stories, i have a few books on it. How effective do you think they are for behaviour modification? Kind regards
Jackie

Erin - posted on 05/13/2010

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Stephanie,

Please emphasize to the school staff that getting into power struggles is making him think he is equal or superior to the staff- don't worry most of the time they don't listen to us until its too late either! I try to tell them if you said "no" and they argue, you arguing in return means that you don't believe you're in charge either. You said "no", move on.

As for your other questions, 1. No, you cannot make them be more reinforcing. The fact of it is if the staff chooses to be reinforcing then you can make suggestions for edibles or preferred activities for your son to engage with them in, however, they need to have the desire to want to reinforce his behavior. So many kids are only addressed when they behave negatively, and that is how their negative behaviors are shaped. 2. Check out the Help Group, AHEAD with Horses is another one,BCR a Place to Grow. These are some that I found that seemed to fit. 3. Reading is a tough on, but the first thing to start with is very basic reading (under his ability level) and books that are of high interest to him. Right now it sounds like reading is not an enjoyable activity for him, so you have to show him that all reading is not bad. I would even start by you reading to him so he can enjoy the story, then titrate off by asking him to fill in words from the sentences like, "Then Max said, Let the wild rumpus...." and let him say "start". Then gradually increase the difficulty level and let him take on more responsibility. As he learns that books are not always such an awful task, he will be more susceptible to reading them. Sight words are stressful for any child. If you google Dolch sight words, there are a set of work sheets that allow him to write them and have some word games with the words that will make it more fun for him to learn. Especially word finds! I love word finds because it forces them to identify each and every letter in order! Try these and let me know how it goes!!!

Lorraine - posted on 05/12/2010

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Hi Erin
Wow.. wish we had more teachers like you around! (sure there are, just wonder where they are hiding) I am from South Africa and have a 12 year old Aspie. He is high functioning and mainstreamed! Oh how i wish the parents of the "normal" boys in our school could just understand!! Wouldnt it be wonderful if parents could teach their children to accept all different kinds of boys. my child gets ridiculed on a daily basis and although he plays it down at school, he comes home VERY hurt! Keep up the good work! Any South African moms out there??

Michelle - posted on 05/12/2010

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By the way I forgoit to state that my has been diagnosed with Asperger's, ADHD, OCD, and ODD.

Michelle - posted on 05/12/2010

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Oh yeah. To the mom who wondered about reinforcing school behavior at home yes you can. I voluntered at my son's school every week and we worked out a system. I worked on fri. so if I got a good report from his teacher we would stop for ice cream on the way home over the course of the year we drop the treats donw less and less. Smaller treats longer time. There are also alot of other things you can do. If you have a teacher who is willing we had a daily journal that was hand placed in his back pack by the teacher. She would write a brief synopsis of behavior and accomplishments. We had our own program of rewards and consequences in place at home.
Hope this helps if you have any other ?'s please ask. I love to help other parents try to prevent alot of the head and heartache we have had to go through.
Michelle

Michelle - posted on 05/12/2010

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Hi Erin.
I too would like to thank-you. My son is almost 15 now but when he was younger he was miss diagnosed and we had HORRIBLE trouble with the school system. I have been blessed to be able to home school him now for 3 years. That has been extremly challenging at times but totally worth it. My son's kinder. teacher was excellent but after that it became awful. I could share countless stories of miss treatment by teachers and alot of other school professionals. Anyway I have said all this to say I really appreciate your willness to help as well as listen. We need more people like you, especially educators. So thank-you very much. Michelle

Erin - posted on 05/12/2010

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Michelle,

I would suggest starting by trying to get him to ask for things he wants, then the motivation to ask for it is there. Start by breaking up whatever it is into small pieces for food or allowing only 1-2 minute breaks with it if it is a toy. Sit him at the table or floor and present the item with its name (for this example, I'll use cookie). Give him the cookie pieces this way 3-5 times, each time saying its name while pointing to your mouth. Now its his turn hold up the piece of cookie with one hand point to your mouth, and now touch his if he even makes an attempt to talk GIVE HIM THE COOKIE. We want him to understand that even through trying language and making the effort is appreciated and therefore valuable. Once he gets comfortable at that level, when you touch his mouth make the "kuh" sound for him and touch it again, indicating that he should do the same. You must wait for him to be comfortable beginning each sound until moving up the level of difficulty! Also as the difficulty increases, he is going to try to get away with just saying "kuh" when he was saying "koo"-DO NOT GIVE HIM THE OBJECT UNTIL A SUFFICIENT EFFORT IS MADE- although obviously this effort may vary on days where he is not doing so well, but be sure to get him back to where he was even if you start back at square one. Hang in there! It does get easier!

Erin - posted on 05/12/2010

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Tiffany,

Actually I live in york,too!!! My school is located there! There are plenty of programs here to help your daughter! I would suggest a head start program to begin with or even a TSS to get you started. I also know that the Lincoln Intermediate Unit #12 has a preschool program that one of my children was highly successful in! Start there and let me know how it goes! Also don't forget to apply for medical assistance to pay for all of the costs of these services-no one wants that bill!

Cathie - posted on 05/12/2010

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Hi Erin. I don't have a question right now, but I'm sure I will in the very near future! I just want to thank you with ALL MY HEART!!! There are not enough teachers like you in the special needs/ASD category. I'm very glad I saw your posts on here, and I'm going to add you on my "circle of Moms" site. Thank you again, and God bless you!!!!

Ramona - posted on 05/11/2010

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Hi Erin, thanks for being a teacher who is willing to help. My son is 9 years old and has Asperger's, ADHD, anxiety and depression problems, and CAPD. He did well from preschool to first grade. The teacher's were willing to work with him and didn't have too much trouble with him. When he was entering second grade, we got the AS diagnosis. Things have gone down hill since then. He has had a lot of problems with bullying but they say it is his fault because he doesn't try to get along and misbehaves. He was in an inclusion class in second grade but we had to fight to move him because the teacher stressed him out so much that he had meltdown's every day and even did head banging. I feel that the school doesn't believe he has problems and can't cope with all the things that happen at school. He gets so overwhelmed that he looses it. We had to move him back to an inclusion class this year due to the problems he was having. We were told that this year would be the start of his having more problems understanding materials and such that are taught and that has come to pass. He has break downs about not understanding and not being understood.

Sometimes, he does things that are socially unacceptable and is chastised for them. He has even said that the teacher told him we weren't teaching him manner's at home. We do try to teach him how to act properly. It just doesn't sink in. He is supposed to be on a rewards system but never gets rewarded that we see. One teacher, in particular, gives him marks every single day for talking. We are at our wits end on what to do. There are no special schools in our area and we can't afford to take him out of school. We can't get any help with meds or doctor's visits because of income limits. I feel as though we are failing him and we aren't protecting him from the bad things enough. We take him to the psychologist and psychiatrist and can't afford OT and ST but the school certainly won't help with it. The only way we got him into Special Ed. is his grades started dropping. We live in Georgia and just got his CRCT report and he barely passed parts of it and failed his favorite subject which is Science. Do you have any suggestions to help?

Misty - posted on 05/11/2010

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I have identical 11 yr old boys, one has Asperger's. He was diagnosed in 2007 by a Licensed Psychologist. The school district we live in is a CO-OP & they refused to accept the diagnosis from the LP. I was so upset, when I was done with that ARD's meeting last year, everyone was almost in tears. I let them have it. They did their OWN testing & said oh no, he has severe ADHD, anxiety, prefers to sit alone, doesn't have many "friends" I asked her if she was an idiot. I said do you not know what the signs & symptoms of Asperger's are? I asked her if she was an LP, she said no, but she had been trained by one. I said well, apparently you need to go research Asperger's because everything you just told me is a sign & symptom. Here it is 2 yrs later, got a letter stating we were having our end of yr ARD's meeting. I wrote on there I did not want the lady that had been working with us for the last 3 yrs to be apart of ANY services that ANY of my children might need, including this ARD's meeting. So I get there & I'm telling the CO-OP lady that her employee refused to accept the diagnosis from the LP & that he had just had another done, but I hadn't gotten the results back yet. She said, oh no we will definately take all that into consideration. I got his results back & I just died laughing...3 yrs later the same LP, says he has ASPERGER'S!!!! So I faxed the CO-OP a copy of it!!! The problem now is, that we are moving into middle school & I hear from other mothers with children in special ed that it only gets worse as they get older. So I am just going to sit back & see what they do the 1st 6 wks. I have been told in the past that the teachers are not allowed to tell parents about services that would actually help their children to succeed in school. The worse part of all of this is, that this school district is VERY RICH, so they don't get much state funding, if any. Any advice for 6th grade?

Thanks,
Misty

Stephanie - posted on 05/11/2010

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you are great- my son's classroom doesn't get that along with the strictness you need over the top encouragement ( he is understimulated) they get into power battles all of the time where he just gets angry and kicks. I have a few questions. 1. Have you found a good way for a parent to reinforce classroom behavior from home ( I know teachers can be limited). 2. Looking desperately for a special needs camp in the san fernando valley since LA unified just cut another week off school. 3. Any suggestions on how to get him to read. He is 7 and can memorize site words under duress. I bought the plastic reading aids but he doesn't want to look at the page/ word.

Melissa - posted on 05/11/2010

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Thank you for the advice. My son is just now beginning to identify emotions based on facial expressions and has been able to apply that to how he is feeling at various times.



We haven't started with any complicated social stories yet, just short ones to help him transition through changes in his schedule (which he seems to find very stressful). A few times, he has answered with his name when a child has asked at the park, but he is otherwise completely disinterested in playing “with” others. He engages in a lot of parallel play, such as running in circles around the equipment when kids near him are playing tag, but we haven't been able to take it a step further yet.



His speech therapist and teachers have been very helpful in keeping me abreast of the activities and products that he has been working with at school. After talking more with them, I plan to continue those activities as we move into summer.

Erin - posted on 05/11/2010

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Melissa G,
Thank you so much for writing in! First, the theraputic methods I use are very diverse! I have had children on the spectrum who are very high functioning to those who are not, including ages 4-19, so it works differently for every student! The methods I use most for a child like your son, (i think, anyway) are modeling/practicing social skills with him (i.e. identifying emotions, talking about solutions for social problems [when i need help, when a friend is mean, when i don't know whats going on, etc.] social stories (its a story that tells you what to do in social situations), and also go to a park or some where you don't normally go and have him practice these skills on children that he is likely to not see again unless the effort is made. Review with him that if he feels like it is not going well, then he doesn't have to see them again! As far as ESY goes, I recomend asking the teachers for many copies of the work he is going to review with him at home. Be sure to give him a mental break when returning from ESY but see if you can keep to the same work! Repetition is key!!!

Michelle - posted on 05/11/2010

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please help what can i do 2 try to get my 3 1/2 year old to start talkin he used 2 talk and then he stopped he is autistic.

Tiffaney - posted on 05/09/2010

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Erin where in PA are you located? We are getting ready to move to York. My daughter has not been disgnosed with autism or any spectrum disorder yet, she is 16 months old. We are in Infants and Toddlers for a delay in eating and immature speech articulation. We do have a special education teacher at the moment. We live in Baltimore at the moment but the school systems down here are horrible. They have not helped us at all in helping my daughter communicate. She lost her speech 4 times so far and gets very frustrated.

Melissa - posted on 05/08/2010

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Hi, Erin, thanks for offering to answer questions. My son is 4. He has classic autism and is verbal. He is academically advanced, but socially and communicationally behind. I have a few questions for you. First, which theraputic methods have you used and found to be most helpful? Second, what is the best thing I can do for my son while he's out of school for the summer? [He is doing ESY, but it's only a few days.]

Shasta - posted on 05/07/2010

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You go gurl! I am so glad there are teachers out there like you. Keep it up and thanx. And feel free to ask us, well me, any thing as well. Who knows we may have some tricks from the trenches you might like to try in the classroom. :)

Erin - posted on 05/07/2010

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Stephanie,
My advice for her is to first have the teacher take a typical day and carry a pad of paper to write down what type of questions is he asking- is he unsure of the procedure, does he need clarification on what format she wants something in, or is he really not understanding the material she's teaching. From there she can diagnose the problem and make supplementary materials. One thing that might help her is to make a picture schedule of the task-if the task is to cut out a triangle, she will hand him a piece of paper that has a picture of the materials and the steps to make it easy for him to follow along and know what she expects from him next. Let me know how it goes!

Stephanie - posted on 05/07/2010

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I'm in Australia with a 5 yr old boy in his first year of mainstream school. His teacher is lovely and is trying very hard with him but is finding his meltdowns distressing and is finding herself with not enough time for her other students. My boy is only doing half days and has and aide for 2 of the 3 hours he is there each day. I am wondering if you have any advice for his teacher?

Erin - posted on 05/06/2010

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If you have any concerns or problems, feel free to ask! I hope it goes well for you!!! Let me know!!!

Erin - posted on 05/06/2010

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Erica,
Sadly, no, I am in PA. I work at a school that helps children at all ends of the spectrum, but if you want I can investigate for you!

Erin - posted on 05/06/2010

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Chantelle,
I have honestly seen the gluten/casin free diet work, so personally I am a supporter of giving it a shot, but your financial situation is like SO many others and personally speaking, I have several members of my family with Celiac Disease (intolerance to wheat) and it is horribly expensive! You could check with your department of Welfare and see if there is any support, I heard a rumor at my school that one parent (who isnt poor or anything) was able to get some help. But I'm inPA and its all different from state to state. There really ought to be a program for such things!
Oh, just to clarify, I like the G/C free diet because its easier to digest than milk and wheat and more stomach comfort can mean less behaviors, but thats only if your son is having problems digesting them in the first place. Check things out and let me know what you find!

Elizabeth - posted on 05/06/2010

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Thank you Erin. We are lucky that the school personnel are willing to work with us. We have a transition meeting at the end of the month where I will be able to meet his teacher for next year and they will also be introducing him to her. We will also be able to go in before school starts to look at the classrooms and pick out his seat in the classroom as well as in the cafeteria. His current teacher will also be talking with the 4th grade teachers to prepare them so that they will know what to except and what has worked well for her with him. I will definitely try the social stories to help him prepare for all the changes he'll face. Thank you again for all of your help.

Erica - posted on 05/06/2010

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Hi Erin, are you located in TX? Are you familiar with any facilities that cater to children with Asperger's?

Chantelle - posted on 05/05/2010

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Thanx Erin for your honest opinion. I haven't personally been to the Thoughtful House, I googled it after hearing about it over the internet after reading about Dr Andrew Wakefield whom I'm a supporter of. I sent my son to a facility which sounds similar in Queensland, Australia but after 8 weeks I pulled him out as his behaviour became worse and he was being bullied. My son is 7 with aspergers syndrome.
I had been thinking about the gluten/casein free diet for him to try but at this point in time I have limited funds and he has an extremely restricted diet due to his sensory side of things.
All he eats is pancakes, garlic bread, plain breadrolls (with no fillings), pepperoni pizza (home-made), and pastry with cheese and olives on it. Basically that's it. He will snack on plain biscuits and crackers too. What on earth could I do about this???
Thank you for your help, it's nice to come across someone who actually does care and isn't in it for the money.

Erin - posted on 05/05/2010

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Chantelle,
I personally cannot definitively say whether or not they are connected, but I will say this, I am spacing my son's vaccines out as to not have them overlapped on top of each other. Some vaccines are already a mix of several vaccinations in one 'cocktail'. This is supposedly not a harm to children, but I am personally worried about the effects of so many drugs on little growing bodies. But I am not a doctor. I looked up the Thoughtful House you mentioned, and it reminds me of Kennedy Krieger, a CARD facility near where I live. I actually have a student that 'graduated' from there and now is in my class. There is much to work with, but it is SO worth it to see how he has progressed in a year! What is your take on facilities like the Thoughtful House?

Erin - posted on 05/05/2010

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Hey Liz! Those are some awesome questions! 1-4. I suggest a 'social story' it is a short story that plays out the scenario with the appropriate behavior. It would sort of go something like this: "We go to school and in June we get a summer break. When we come back to school in August, we will have a new teacher. She will not know who we are and what we like, so we use our words to tell her things about ourselves. It is ok to miss our teacher from last year, and we can talk about it with our family. But we need to be a good student and get to know our new teacher, too! "
"We will also have more friends in our class this year. Sometimes I might feel crowded or afraid of so many new people, but that is ok. I can talk about how I feel with my family and my teacher but I need to remember to be patient and use my words to tell others what I need and how I feel."
"This year I will have a new school, a new class, and new friends. I will also be walking from different classrooms to other different classrooms to learn from different teachers. I might get confused or scared of all these new changes. I need to tell my teachers and my family how I feel. They will help me get used to all these new things!"
I would also suggest meeting with his current teacher and asking her about how she manages his behaviors, write them down, and then present them to the teachers next year explaining that this was a way to help your son succeed in school. Also, see if its possible to go into the school and practice making the transitions from class to class and possibly meet the new staff before school begins. These are behavioral safeguards that will relieve his anxiety about transitions. If you are able to go on the tour, take a camera and get a picture of the different places he goes so that you can make a picture schedule for him of where he will go from class to class and in between (be sure to get the teacher in the pictures of the classrooms and once they are printed out, write the number of the classroom numbers on the bottom of the picture so he is not stuck in the hallway desperately looking for a face or specific class as some of them might look very similar. Let me know how it goes!!

Erin - posted on 05/05/2010

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Thank you very much! I honestly just wanted to be helpful, but I really appreciate the compliment! I think some teachers get caught up in what books, classes, and seminars and forget that these are CHILDREN. They need love, nurturing, and support and, yes, they might punch, bite, and say nasty things, but I think if someone cut off my communication with others and I had no way to share my wants and needs with anyone I might resort to such things as well! Also, make sure to get your procedural safe guards that explain your rights as a parent! They can't do anything without your permission, and, I have to admit, I have seen school districts and teachers push the limits on what needs to be done for their students- it makes me sick. We need to be working as a team for these children, God knows their lives are hard enough without adults adding to the insanity! Keep me updated! I love hearing stories! How is your daughter treated at school?

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