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Category Archives: Advice for Parents of Autistic Children

My Child & Autism: Finding Community

When facing the challenges of parenting a child with autism, it’s important for caregivers to understand they are not alone. With 1 in 61 children diagnosed with autism, there are many parents and caregivers going through the same struggles. At Lighthouse, we understand the importance of these caregivers finding a supportive community with others who are experiencing the same daily tasks, challenges and joys that they are.

LAC encourages families to get to know each other, as no one better understands what you are going through than other families going through the same thing. Parents dropping off and picking up their children often get to know each other, and can get together for play dates, coffee, or even just for a quick conversation before picking their kids up from the center. We pride ourselves on creating an atmosphere where families can support each other and their children.

Looking for support for your child with autism? Contact LAC today!

Top Autism Podcasts for Parents

An autism diagnosis does not just affect the individual diagnosed, but the family, caregivers, and friends that interact with that individual or child. It is often challenging to find other people who understand what you are going through, or the daily challenges you may face caring for someone with autism. These top podcasts provide information as well as practical experiences of those who live, work and interact with those who have autism.

Joyriding in Autismland: Autism Podcast with Kid Gigawatt

“Launched by parents of an infectiously funny and mostly happy boy on the spectrum, the Joyriding in Autismland podcast chats with ASD parents, kiddos, therapists, writers, and artists about the unexpected, charming, and funny moments with Autism. Because laughing is the best vacation.”

Listen here:

All Autism Talk

“Connecting the Autism Community One Podcast at a Time — Our podcast offers a friendly conversation with inspiring individuals in the autism community. Our aim is to provide valuable insights and information as well as access to support in communities throughout the United States. Join us!”

Listen here:

Autism Spectrum Radio

“Our show offers a great weekly conversation to inspire, inform and support families and individuals living with autism. We offer practical information for parents of children of all ages. The show explores treatment topics and recent research. We have a variety of guests to share their expertise, experience and resources.”

Listen here:

To learn more about available autism resources, contact LAC today!

Is My Child Showing Signs of Autism?

As a parent, it is our goal to love and protect our children. This means doing everything in our power to make sure our child is loved, happy, and healthy. While it may be difficult to admit your child may have a problem, when it comes to an autism diagnosis, every minute matters. The best thing you could do for your child with autism is identify it early and enroll them in ABA therapy as soon as possible.

So, what is autism and how do you know if your child may have it?

Autism spectrum disorder is a spectrum of closely related disorders with shared core symptoms. Autism generally appears in infancy and early childhood, causing a delay in basic areas of development such as talking, playing and interacting with others.

As a parent, it is important to look for early signs of autism in your child. Symptoms can appear as early as six months of age and ideally, autism should be identified and treated beginning by 18 months of age. This will provide your child with the best opportunity for treatment.

What are the early signs of autism you should look for in your child and what steps should you take if you think your child has autism?

  • Developmental Delays – autism involves a variety of developmental delays including: no social smiling, lack of eye contact, poor visual tracking, unexpected reactions to sounds, lack of social babbling, not responding to name, lack of interest in interacting, not meeting verbal milestones, etc…
  • Trust your instinct – as a parent, you know your child best. Sometimes, even well-meaning doctors can miss signs of autism. If your gut is telling you something is wrong, take action and be persistent.
  • Don’t “wait and see” – some parents may want to “wait and see” if their child hasn’t reached certain developmental milestones. If you suspect something may be wrong, take action. The best thing you can do for your child with autism is identify the diagnosis early and begin treatment.

Do you suspect your child may have autism? Contact Lighthouse today!

6 Questions Parents of a Child with Autism May Have

Here are 6 questions (and answers!) a parent of a child with autism might find themselves asking

How can I make doctor/dentist appointments easier on my child, so there aren’t tantrums?

There are a number of things parents can do to make these necessary visits as easy as possible. Simply things such as buying play stethoscopes or creating picture books can go a long way. If you own an iPad or iPhone, you guessed it “There’s an app for that,” it is called iPrompts a visual program for people with autism.

Walk your child through what is going to happen at the visit, so they understand what to expect before getting there. The same is true for dental visits. It may take multiple visits before your child will actually sit in the dental chair, but you can help them get comfortable enough to tolerate most of these visits.

How can I tell when something is hurting my child, he/she is nonverbal?

According to Rebecca Landa, the director of the Center for Autism and Related Disorders at the Kennedy Krieger Institute located in Baltimore, “We know that autism is a multisystem disorder. When it’s not evident that there’s a certain body system not working as it should, we have to look to other indicators. Any time there’s an alteration in a child’s behavioral pattern; this could tell us something we need to be paying attention to medically.” This is why it is important that you know if your doctor works with other patients that have autism.

How do I know which support groups to join, there are so many out there?

Your doctor should at least know of a few support groups that are nearby to recommend. The key to joining a support group, of any type, is to make sure you are joining a group of people that have accepted the issue (in this case the diagnosis of autism) and are making an effort to move forward. The goal of a support group is to do just that, offer support, offer different perspectives on how to handle issues as they happen. You want to be able to get insight from parents that have been where you are so that they can offer tips on how to get through the phase you are in.

You also want to be careful of people who tell you that they have the “cure” for autism. At this moment in time, there isn’t a cure for autism. There are therapies available that if done properly can help minimize certain behaviors. There are people on the spectrum whose symptoms are so subtle that if you didn’t know they were diagnosed with autism, you wouldn’t know they had autism.

Autism is not a battle that one can do alone. Autism is pervasive within the child and it is pervasive within the family. Support groups and support networks are important. Your doctor should be able to offer you a list of local support groups.

How can I learn all I can about autism to help my child? There is so much information on the internet these days, what are some trusted sources?

While it is impossible for any individual to know about all the content on the internet or have a list of every reliable source out there, there are a few sources that are credible that your doctor should be able to direct you to. These reliable sources will undoubtedly lead you to other trusted sites.

If you were to sit down and type in “autism” into Google you are going to get more than 76 million results. Out of the first 100, a third of them are going to do one of two things: selling you something or offering you a cure.

The most reliable websites are those that are government sites or educational sites. For example, PubMed Health and Autism Society are credible sites that offer resources to parents and people with autism.

How can I keep everyone that is involved in my child’s care on the same page?

Communication is important, because it is very much a team effort when it comes to making sure that the therapists, doctors and educators are all working together. There are websites out there that allow parents to set up an account and have the doctors, therapists, teachers, caregivers all logon to talk about the child. You can also keep a journal. You can also ask one of the persons involved to be the “case manager” but make sure you chose someone that understands your child’s condition and treatment plan and is respected by the other people on the “team.”

How do I help my other children understand their sibling who has autism?

Your doctor should encourage you to have your child’s siblings be a part of the therapy sessions. Often times resentment or anger can build because your other child/children does/do not understand the behavior of their sibling who has autism. This is normal. The way that you can help all of your children is to seek out therapy that involves all of your kids. This will help your child with autism learn appropriate social cues through the example of their sibling(s) and it helps your other children feel as though they are a part of child’s care.

Come see Caring Santa at the UP Mall!

Ho Ho Ho! Autism Speaks is thrilled to be partnering withSimon Property Group, Inc. and the Noerr Programs Corporation on their Caring Santa program! Caring Santa is an opportunity to connect with multitudes of families that have children with autism and other special needs, providing a more controlled and welcoming environment to visit Noerr’s Santa Photo Experience!

On Sunday, December 7, for two hours prior to the mall opening, 120 Simon Malls across the country will be offering the Caring Santa Program! Register today to schedule an appointment with Santa in a fun and sensory-friendly environment at this private event just for families with special needs!

Click here to schedule a time to see Santa at the UP Mall!