Monthly Archives: January 2015

Advice to Parents from a Young Adult with Autism

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I have 27 years of experience with Autism, because I was born with it. To be able to truly help others with Autism, you have to be able to understand where the Autistic people you are trying to help – are coming from and their point of view.

I am passionate about sharing my story and offering what has helped me be successful as well as what did not work so well. To begin with, let me state that nothing I am about to say has been tested or proven to work, but then neither has it been disproven. This comes from my unique insight, hindsight, my personal experience, observations and knowledge. I think of myself as a protector of people with challenges of all types, shapes and sizes.

To be a successful parent to your children, here are my recommendations:

Relate to Your Child & Listen
Walking in your child’s shoes is key, as is patience, imagination and lots of love. In order to help your children you need to be able to relate to them, and in order to do that well, you need to pretend you are them, observe them intensely, notice everything and communicate properly. This is the only way you can make them feel good, important, needed, happy, and productive–these feelings are crucial!

Be Flexible
More than likely, you deal with behaviors that are unfamiliar and unpredictable, often with no pattern whatsoever. Keep in mind and remember that each disability is very different and has dissimilar levels, forms, and considerations, and thus requires varied approaches to counter each behavioral issue.

Don’t: Use Force
Here is something that never works with anyone- force of any kind, shape, or practice! Using force is unquestionably the wrong approach and will make everything much, much, worse for everyone involved.

Do: Be Creative
Here’s a better way: let’s say your child loves music. In the beginning, instead of as a reward, use their chosen music to motivate them. For example, if you are trying to make the bed, you can explain how neat their favorite singer is and how they truly care about making their own bed every morning. Be creative and talk to your child with expression, making your case immensely believable. Or pretend that making the bed will make the bed happy! You could do this by making it seem as though the covers, sheets and the bed have feelings and that they need your help. They want to be with each other very closely. The bed is freezing and needs the covers and sheets to keep it warm.

Alternatively, turn the task into a challenge or test. Make it as though it is an NBA game, each player tries their very best because they want to win. Use that analogy to make them believe that making the bed is a very hard thing to do. And challenge them to accomplish that feat. Hopefully they will want to prove you wrong.

I hope my suggestions can help someone with autism in your life by providing powerful and useful keys to unlock the doors and shackles that restrain them. The important thing is the tactic, the strategy, the plan and the communication you use.

A wise person once said, “You get more flies with honey than with vinegar.” This may be especially true when you’re dealing with the challenges of parenting children with autism.

Thank You and Happy Parenting!

Sean has a passion for sharing his story and aspires to educate, inform, inspire, and most of all teach others with autism (including their friends and family) how to rise above the condition to be your best self! Find out more at his website: iknowautism.org/  

Click here to hear Sean’s interview on All Autism Talk

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Autism 2015: 365 Days to Make Progress

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Autism is in the news, social media, and even old fashioned print more than ever.  The increasing awareness is great.  The influx of research and funding options is even better!  The heartwarming stories are nice, the success stories are inspiring.  Still, misinformation and slanted headlines annoyingly abound.   Such is this strange, complicated, passionate and ultimately very special autism community.  We are glad to be a part of it, and do our best to honor and respect the many contributing voices.  As a community we are making progress in many ways and we continue to have optimism that together and individually we can make great strides.  But we have no doubt, the most important person to each and every parent, day-in and day-out is your child with autism.

So what will this year’s 365 days mean for you?  We suggest this simple but powerful idea: Progress.  When your past the notion that there may be a quick fix and come to terms that the pursuit of cure won’t help you with today’s challenges, progress is the name of the game.  Forget quantum leaps, each milestone met will offer its own reward.  Know there will be set backs and rough patches, and keep moving forward.

BE PRESENT: There are lots of amazing therapists, doctors and teachers in the world.  These are brilliant folks that have taught me so much about development and parenting.  But you are the one that is with your child every day and for real progress to take place, you gotta be in the game.  And don’t forget to take time to just BE with your child, to appreciate all the beautiful, unique ways he expresses himself and what he enjoys.

BE CONSISTENT: What is the 12 step motto…”the more you work it, the more it works”?  Working consistently with your child’s team to implement strategies and teach him…even when it is hard or inconvenient, propels the process.

BE A FRIEND/SPOUSE/PERSON: You can’t focus on autism 24 hours a day.  You just can’t.  Make time for yourself, your friends and your family.  When you do, life just makes more sense, has more balance and you will likely have more stamina for the work ahead.

BE GRATEFUL: Count those blessings, celebrate the wins and enjoy every single bit of progress.  This is the real juice of life that makes it all worth it. No one else will feel the joy quite the way you will.  It’s awesome.

Of course we will keep reading the headlines, keeping up to date is valuable and research is exciting.  In 2015 we will continue to be moved, enlightened and sometimes annoyed by it all.  Stick to the plan that works for you and your family and know that come December 31, 2015 you will be able to look at another year passed – and call it good.

For great news and information, visit All Autism News and All Autism Talk.

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