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Category Archives: Advice for Parents of Autistic Children

Tips for House Hunting with Your Child on the Spectrum

Moving is always a stressful and complicated endeavor. But when you have a child on the autism spectrum, the thought of packing up your household and moving somewhere new can seem like a near-impossible task. Parents often worry that their children will get overwhelmed by this major transition, and rightfully so. Children with autism thrive on routine and stability — everything that moving is not!

child and parents moving to new house

Are you looking for guidance? The clinical team at Lighthouse Autism Center presents this informative guide to assist families preparing to move. Whether you’re still in the process of house-hunting or you’re already packing up your home in anticipation of moving day, the following tips will help keep support your child through the process.

Establish Your Home Buying Budget

Raising a child with autism can pose a significant financial challenge for parents, even with the help of Supplemental Security Income (SSI) benefits. It isn’t easy to manage the costs of equipment, supplies, medication, childcare, education, and therapy services.

So are you prepared to handle the additional expenses involved in buying a new home, selling your existing property, and moving? Redfin recommends creating a realistic home-buying budget before you start looking at properties. Calculate how much mortgage you can afford by adding up your ongoing expenses and subtracting these from your household income. The rule of thumb is to keep your housing costs less than 28% of your before-tax income. Once you have a better idea of your home affordability, research home prices in your area to find out what kinds of homes you can afford on your budget.

Look for Specific Home Features Conducive to Your Child’s Needs

Ready to start looking at homes? Get in touch with a local real estate agent who can help you scout properties that will best fit your family. Keep an eye out for features that may appeal to your child and your family’s life style. Things to look for might include making sure there is a fenced backyard, double-pane windows to dampen noise from outside, and even considering if there are pools, ponds or bodies of water nearby.

Making a Moving Day Plan

Moving day will always feel a little hectic, no matter how much planning you do. Help keep your child calm and content amid the mayhem by giving them your full attention. Hire professional movers so you can ensure that all of your possessions make it to your new home safely while you spend time with your child. Some movers offer activity packs for children, so be sure to ask about this when you call for quotes. When you arrive in your new home, unpack your child’s room first so they can start regaining some sense of normalcy right away.

Keep Your Child in the Loop

The most important thing to remember as you prepare for your upcoming move is to keep your child in the loop. Children with autism feel more comfortable when they know what to expect. Parents.com recommends broaching the subject early so your kid has plenty of time to process the idea of moving. Highlight some things that your child can get excited about, like a bigger bedroom or backyard where they can play. Help your child visualize the days leading up to your move by writing down everything on a dedicated moving calendar.

Remember: continuous communication is key! Review your moving schedule every day, read children’s books about moving, and offer plenty of positive reinforcement when your child makes it through a day that deviates from their normal routine.

When it comes to moving, things rarely go smoothly — and that’s okay! Be prepared to go with the flow and respond to issues as they arise. Monitoring your child for signs of stress and anxiety is vital. Do what you can to prepare ahead so you can focus all of your attention on your child before, during, and after your move.

Interested in learning more about therapy resources that can assist your child with autism? Contact  Lighthouse Autism Center at 574-387-4313 or visit www.lighthouseautismcenter.com/contact-us.

Siblings of Children with Autism

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Children with autism experience social delays, trouble communicating and various other developmental delays that can cause a family to experience extra stress and hardship. This can be particularly hard for siblings who may not understand that their brother and sister has autism and that may cause them to act, communicate or express themselves differently.

Below is a list of items a child who has a sibling with autism may experience. While some of them may be unavoidable, it is important parents are aware of these challenges and work to make sure extra care is not only taken for a child with autism but their siblings as well.

Challenges Siblings May Experience

1.) Sibling Rivalry – it is natural to see rivalry’s develop between children in one household. Siblings may fight over toys, attention, or anything to feel like they are “first” or have “won.” This experience can particularly be heightened for a sibling for a child with autism who may be competing for their parents attention.

2.) Feeling Left Out – children with autism require extra care, time and attention from parents. This can leave other siblings feeling left out or not important. Parents should take extra care to make sure other siblings feel loved and cared for. This could take the form of picking an activity to do together each week or going on a special outing with each sibling every month.

3.) Extra Responsibility – siblings may feel like they have to pick up extra work around the house that their parents do not have time for due to the extra work of caring for a child with autism. While there is nothing wrong with siblings pitching in to help the entire family unit, be sure children aren’t taking on too much extra responsibility (or responsibilities that are inappropriate for their age).

4.) Feeling of Rejection – children may want to have a close relationship with their brother or sister with autism that may not be possible. Children with autism often struggle with touch (like hugging) or with social skills (like being able to express joy, sadness, etc…) which can make it challenging to develop a sibling bond or relationship. Be sure to educate fellow siblings that children with autism do not express needs, wants or emotions in the same way as them and that these things may take different forms depending on the child.

The Importance of Parental Involvement

At Lighthouse Autism Center, we believe in a team approach to helping your child reach their fullest potential. While every member of the team (parents, caregivers, therapists, educators, doctors, advocates) play a part in your child’s success, a parents role is arguable the most important.

Support Starts from the Beginning

While the causes of autism are still unknown, it is important to start looking for the signs of autism early. Studies have shown that catching the signs of autism early in a child’s life can lead to better outcomes. Some of these early signs include missing various developmental milestones, no babbling, no eye contact, no response to name, lack of expression (happy, smiling). If you suspect that your child may be exhibiting the signs of autism, it is important you contact your healthcare provider to determine if your child has autism.

Support Through Therapy 

Once a child receives an autism diagnosis, it is crucial that parents and caregivers seek appropriate therapy services for their child, which may include, ABA therapy, Speech therapy, Occupational therapy, or a combination of these and other therapies.

Specifically, ABA therapy is the only therapy recommended by the U.S. Surgeon General for the treatment of autism. With individualized treatment plans designed by Board Certified Behavior Analysts and the work of a trained Registered Behavior Technician, we sees children achieve great outcomes through this type of therapy.

Therapy At Home

It is equally important that parents work to implement the same skills their child is working on in therapy at home. For example, if a child works on using utensils as part of a therapy program, but parents do not work with the child to use utensils at home, that child may learn they only have to use utensils when they go to therapy, but not at home. Consistency and follow through are key to a child’s success and that requires the commitment and work of parents and caregivers to follow through at home.

Lighthouse Autism Center

For parents and children at Lighthouse Autism Center, our Board Certified Behavior Analysts provide parent training’s and will often go into a child’s home to assist parents. We want to make sure that parents have the tools and knowledge to follow through at home and help their child achieve their highest potential.

 

To learn more about Lighthouse Autism Center, call 574-387-4313.

Eating Out with a Child that Has Autism

Something as simple as eating out with your child with autism can often be a stressful and anxiety inducing time for a family and child. Children can become easily over stimulated in the loud and sometimes busy and chaotic environment. Below, we have outlined what we hope will be some helpful and useful tips for taking your child with autism out to eat.

7 Tips for Eating Out with Your Child with Autism

  1. If possible, go at a quiet time of day. Think early dinners around 4:00 or 5:00 pm if your families schedule allows it. Consider a late afternoon lunch if you are going out on the weekends. Early dinners and late lunches tend to be less busy for restaurants and will provide a quieter and less stimulating environment for your child.
  2. Ask to not be seated next to the kitchen, bathrooms or main entrance to help minimize the number of people that are walking by your table. Additionally, if there are any large parties ask to be seated away from them.
  3. Sit in the corner; this will make it so that there are only two walls that are open to sound.
  4. If possible, ask for a booth instead of a table, this will help provide a more contained environment for your child.
  5. Ask your server to give you a heads up if there will be any singing for a birthday at a table close by so that you can take your child outside for a few moments while they sing.
  6. Should your child get overstimulated take your child outside and let him/her walk around for a few moments or go sit in the car so that they can calm down.
  7. Try to keep your child occupied while at dinner. This can mean coloring, playing with an iPad, bringing a favorite toy – whatever your child enjoys!