Monthly Archives: December 2015

A New Year to Make Progress



We are happy to re-share this blog from last year that received so much wonderful feedback. We wish for everyone a year of great moments, memories and progress.

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. This year, 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, 2016 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.


Holiday Gift Guide for Children with Autism


holidays, presents, childhood and people concept - smiling littl

By Kelly Namanja, Clinical Director for AST Chicago

Selecting suitable toys for a child’s holiday or birthday gifts can be challenging, especially when the recipient is a child with autism. This handy list includes a number of popular, age-appropriate toys for children up to five years of age. Parents should keep in mind, however, that every child is unique and will respond differently to certain toys and teaching materials. You can check with your child’s therapist or teacher to determine what’s most appropriate for your child’s needs and interests.

Under 3 years old:
-Shape sorters
-Puzzles (wooden with a peg on each piece)
-Board books (including touch and feel books)
-Stacking/nesting blocks and cups
-Cause-and-effect toys with buttons, lights, sounds, and music
-Dolls and large action figures

Ages 3-5:
-Games (e.g., Candy Land, Chutes and Ladders, Don’t Break the Ice, Hungry Hungry Hippos, Memory, Hi-Ho Cherry-O, Zingo)
-Puzzles (up to 25 piece jigsaw)
-Action figures/dolls and related accessories
-Dress up items and beads
-Pretend play toys (e.g., kitchen, construction, doctor kit, etc.)
-Art supplies (e.g., markers, crayons, stickers, construction paper, glue)
-Play dough and/or Moon sand
-Small building blocks (e.g., LEGOS)
-Cars, trucks, trains, etc.
-Lacing cards
-Sports sets (e.g., plastic bowling ball and pins, plastic baseball, bat, and tee)

All children 5 and under:
-Large building blocks (e.g., Mega Blocks or Duplo)
-Electronic learning toys (e.g. Leap Frog, V-Tech)
-Fisher Price Little People sets
-Plastic animal figurines
-Musical instruments (e.g. drums, cymbals, maracas, keyboard)

Read Reducing Holiday Stress for Families of Children with Autism

For more tips, check out the Toys R Us Toy Guide for Differently Abled Kids