'Parents of Children With Autism Feel Guilty' By Jene Aviram

Caroline’s Commentary:

Do you at times feel guilty about not correcting your autistic child’s behavior or mannerisms?  No worries. Here is a great article by a mother of a boy with Aspergers. Jean Aviram co-founded Natural Learning Concepts as a result of helping her son Dean.

‘Parents of Children With Autism Feel Guilty’ By Jene Aviram

If your child is on the autism spectrum, the chances are you suffer from guilt. Paradoxically, parents of autism spectrum kids are one of the most proactive groups that exist. While they commonly feel they’re not doing enough, these parents should be honored and commended. They’re able to cope with more in a day, a month and a year than most can conceive of coping with in a lifetime. Their resilience, creativity and persistence help their children progress and reach potential that nobody thought possible.

The next time the guilt factor sets in, keep it in perspective and remember the following points.

YOU’RE NOT ALONE

You are a great parent. You are your child’s best advocate. You have a lot on your plate. Your days are often filled with a great deal of mental anguish and emotional stress. You help your child through small activities that most parents don’t even think about. You fight for services and the best class placement. It can be tiring. It can be exhausting. As you look around, you often feel that other parents are doing a better job.

Realize they think the same of you. The guilt factor impedes their life too. Parents of autism spectrum kids have a common bond. They understand, they empathize and they spur each other on. If you declare “My 6 year old dressed independently today” they rejoice with you, because they too appreciate every milestone, large or small.

ORGANIZATIONS

Parents of children with autism have been the catalyst of some of the largest and most successful establishments for helping those on the spectrum. This is on a worldwide basis. A large number of autism schools have been driven by parents. Special education distributors and manufacturers often have parents at the helm. Researchers and educators are often parents. Non profit establishments have teams of dedicated parents who are committed to helping those on the spectrum.

You might not be part of one of these establishments but you have made a difference. It’s the combined unity of parents and a strong voice when advocating for your child that calls these organizations into being.

RELATIONSHIPS

When your child is born you are instantly a parent. The role of a parent is to love, educate and support your child. You provide your child with values, teach right from wrong, build their self esteem and guide them to become happy, independent adults.

When you have a child with autism, you become a teacher. The role of a teacher is to educate a child. Whether it’s a small task or a large task, teachers use every opportunity to educate a child. As a parent of a child on the spectrum it’s difficult to maintain a balance. While you want your child to learn as much as possible, you also simply want to be a parent.

The next time the guilt factor sets in because you’re not teaching your child at every moment, release it immediately. Your child loves it when you’re just being a Mom or just being a Dad. While it’s perfectly fine to teach some of the time, a healthy balance leads to a healthy relationship between you and your child. Enjoy those moments with your child. Even if they aren’t typical interactions, they’re certainly fun! Continue reading “'Parents of Children With Autism Feel Guilty' By Jene Aviram”

Mural by members of Friday Friends at Playsense in Guelph by Caroline F. Butson

On January 20, I was invited to facilitate a group of young adults at Playsense in Guelph, called Friday Friends, led by Nicole Jacobs.  After everyone shared their experience in a circle with Nicole, I helped them express themselves with earth rhythm music and clay modelling.  We created a group floor ‘mural’ with everyone participating fully. They loved this new experience.  Here are a few of their bright drawings.  Nicole assisted me with the Creative Art Adventures classes in 2009 and ’10 in her final year of high school.  This experience gave her direction and helped her find her own mission in life working with autistic youth. This is so rewarding for me to know that the volunteers who assist with our students are receiving valuable experience and the direction to help them find their own life path.

'Rowan's First Physics Lesson' by Jenny Lockwood/Teaching Children with Autism

Caroline’s Commentary:

Here is a story from Jenny Lockwood of The New Trails Center in Texas that we thought you might enjoy.  This is another example of making learning fun using the game of chase in the outdoors to learn about mass, volume, force and velocity.  Subsequently Rowan made up his own story incorporating these new words which showed he had understood their meaning and the basic concepts of Physics.

‘Rowan’s First Physics Lesson’ by Jenny Lockwood

Rowan has now reached the fourth grade and according to the national curriculum is ready to learn about measurement. He is already pretty confident with the idea of length, distance and speed – after all it is very important to know exactly how many miles it is to each of his favorite zoos and approximately how long it will take us to get there. However recently we decided that he was ready for us to introduce the concepts of mass, volume, force and velocity – in other words his first physics lesson.

Now, like me, many of you will recoil in horror at the word physics. How many of us sat there in class week after week bored and confused whilst our teachers droned on at us about completely abstract concepts that we considered at the time to be of no importance to our lives whatsoever? We therefore decided it was essential to begin teaching Rowan about physics in a fun and lighthearted way in order to give him the best possible chance to learn.

Rowan is an incredibly intelligent boy who will learn everything there is to know about a subject as long as he is interested in it and motivated to learn about it. The only challenge when teaching him is catching and holding his interest long enough for him to soak up the information you are trying to impart. There are a number of tried and true techniques we use to do this, the first of which is to introduce any new concept to him in a no pressure environment without, at first, expecting anything back. Of equal importance is to spend as much time as possible teaching him outdoors in a natural environment whilst he is moving and to make whatever topic we are covering as fun as possible.

We therefore spent a number of days chasing Rowan through the woods in an ‘evil godzilla style’ whilst simply talking to him about the concepts of mass, volume, force and velocity. It wasn’t long before Rowan had started incorporating these words into his vocabulary and using the concepts in a story that he made up which I have written out for you to read below. Continue reading “'Rowan's First Physics Lesson' by Jenny Lockwood/Teaching Children with Autism”

Self Care is a Priority/ Teaching Children with Autism by Caroline F. Butson

I have not written a new blog post in awhile and I was contemplating about that today.  I’ve decided to write about our need for self care since that is what I have been focused on this new year.  I believe self care is a priority for everyone in 2012. I have become a master at self care in order to overcome all the challenges that came with growing up on the autism spectrum and I wanted to share some of this with you today.  Are you easily stressed out, feeling discouraged and overwhelmed by the demands of parenting these children? I wrote an article last month about 8 steps to help you stay balanced in which I made a point of the need for your own self care when you are parenting or teaching children with autism.

We have to learn to listen to and respect our bodies.  Our body will tell us when we need to rest and recharge.  Today I went for a walk in the forest to recharge.  I do this for myself regularly because I feel mentally rested and renewed afterwards and I enjoy being outdoors in nature even when the snow is falling, it is magical to be in the forest.  I saw numerous wild animal tracks; rabbit, squirrel, deer, to name a few.  There is so much to observe in the woods it takes my mind off my problems.  I get grounded and feel good about breathing in some fresh air and getting some exercise.  Now I have to carry my elderly dog, Emma, as she does not always want to go for a walk anymore. Here is a picture of us.  Even though I am relaxing, at the same time I am absorbing and processing elements for a future painting.  Also I was pondering what I can write to you about in this blog!  When I return to work my mind is free to focus.

What do you like to do to recharge?  Share your experience below.