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LAC Blog

Fall Activities in Michiana

It is finally starting to feel like fall and we couldn’t be more excited. We love the colors of the changing leaves, the crisp air, ciders and donuts and of course the pumpkin patches and apple orchards. From u-pick pumpkin patches, to hay rides, corn mazes, and the best apple cider, we have compiled a list of the best fall activities in Michiana.

1.) Thistleberry Farm – this fall activity in South Bend, IN offers a pumpkin patch, bounce houses, a corn mazes and a petting zoo. Children of all ages can find something fun to do at Thistleberry Farms!

2.) Knollbrook Farms – located in Goshen, IN, Knollbrook Farms has a corn maze, giant slide, petting zoo, train rides, pumpkin slingshot and more! This is a real working Dairy Farm that you can tour as well.

3.) Kercher’s Sunrise Orchard – also located in Goshen, Kercher’s offers activities for the apple pickers and pumpkin pickers! Visit the farm for apple picking, pumpkin picking, hay rides, a corn maze and more. The farm is open for various u-picks all year round!

4.) Ashley’s Pumpkin Farm – located on the North side of South Bend near the Michigan line, this small pumpkin patch offers affordable pumpkins, a corn maze and a petting zoo.

5.) Hesston Steam Museum’s Ghost Train – operating the last 3 weekends in October, take a spook-tastic ride aboard the Hesston Ghost Train. Appropriate for children of all ages.

6.) Lehman’s Apple Orchard – located in Niles, Michigan this u-pick orchard has offered apple picking for nearly a hundred years! In the Fall they offer apple picking, pear picking and blackberries!

7.) Potawatomi Zoo – Zoo Boo – each year the Potawatomi Zoo hosts Zoo Boo, a three day event where children can see their favorite animals and trick or treat around the zoo. For this years dates visit their website.

 

 

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!

 

How to Best Advocate for Your Child with Autism

We understand firsthand the struggles that parents and caregivers face when trying to advocate for a child with autism. Believe it or not, children with Autism have unlimited possibilities. The degree of success a child with autism will have depends greatly upon early intervention and appropriate educational support.

Parents and providers should never view any challenge that they are presented with as hopeless. Everyone has hurdles to overcome in both collaboration and communication with the people you trust to treat your child, but it worth the effort.

Here, we want to focus on giving you the tools to effectively advocate for your child, specifically when it comes to their education.

1.) Remember, you are your child’s best advocate! Regardless of the school district, schools are limited as to what they can do for your child because of funding and staffing limitations.

2.) Make sure that your child has an IEP. The Individualized Educational Plan (IEP) is a very powerful document, more powerful than most parents realize. IEPs that are well written can drive your child’s educational program as well as provide the documentation that is needed if a situation happens where your child is not making progress.

3.) Be informed and prepared. Learn as much as you can about autism, treatment, and the rights of your child. Many school districts do have funds for parent education. Inquire about parent training and educational opportunities.

3.) Communicate clearly. Make sure you understand what is being communicated to you by the schools. Try to communicate from a non-emotional place during IEP and other parent meetings and clearly state your child’s needs.

4.) IEP meetings can often become heated. Try to remain calm, clearly state your child’s needs, and focus on the present and future rather than the past. Remember, collaboration is key to your child’s success. All parties must remain calm, focused, and remember that the child’s needs  are what’s most important.

5.) Ask questions. If unfamiliar terms are being used, do not be afraid to ask questions. You need to understand policies and procedures as well as plans and interventions. The more you know, the less frustration there will be.

6.) Be proactive. Take the time to create a list of objectives and items hat you want to cover in the IEP meeting. This will help the meeting stay on track and ensure you do not forget anything you wanted to discuss.

7.) Know what your rights are. Know what alternative options you may have available to you. Remain confident and stay strong, so that you can passionately and persuasively represent your child.

For additional assistance and resources, contact Lighthouse Autism Center at 574-387-4313.

Autism Support Groups

At Lighthouse Autism Center, we understand firsthand the struggles that parents and caregivers face when raising a child with autism. It truly takes a village to care for a child with autism, but we understand that families also need support. We believe it’s important that a support network is in place for not only the individual with autism, but also for those who are helping care for them. Below is a list of local autism support groups. For more information, contact Lighthouse Autism Center at 574-387-4313..

*Lighthouse is not affiliated and does not officially support any of these groups.

Autism Support Groups:

Autism Society of Indiana

the VOICE Elkhart

Autism Support Group of Goshen

Lakes Area Autism Network (LAAN)

For a full list of Indiana Autism Support groups, visit https://www.iidc.indiana.edu/pages/parent-groups

 

 

Elkhart Mayor Tim Neese Visits Lighthouse Autism Center’s Newest ABA Center

On Wednesday, September 25th, Elkhart Mayor Tim Neese visited Lighthouse Autism Center’s newest ABA therapy center in Elkhart, Indiana. The newest center opened in August and is the seventh center opened by Lighthouse Autism Center, which provides ABA therapy services in Mishawaka, Granger, Plymouth, Warsaw and Portage, MI.

Mayor Visits Elkhart ABA Center
Elkhart Mayor meets student at Elkhart’s newest ABA center.

The new center will provide intensive, center-based therapy utilizing the principles of Applied Behavior Analysis (ABA) to nearly twenty-five families in the Elkhart area. The therapy programs are custom made for each child and work on things like social skills, communication skills, living skills and school readiness skills.

During his visit, Mayor Neese had the opportunity to meet with Founder and Executive Director, Gregg Maggioli, who has a son with autism. “My son attended one of the first ABA centers in the state of Indiana. When I saw the impact it had on his life, and the life of my family, I knew I had to find a way to bring this service to other families with autism.”

While touring the facility, Mayor Neese was able to observe children working, playing, participating in a simulated classroom setting, and even spoke with one child as she practiced asking and answering questions. When asked about his time at the center, Mayor Neese said, “I’ve only been at the center a short time, but I can see that the staff at Lighthouse are second to none, genuinely care about the kids and are truly making an impact on the lives of children with autism.”

Lighthouse Autism Center is now enrolling children at their newest center in Elkhart, Indiana. To schedule a tour, call 574-387-4313 or visit www.lighthouseautismcenter.com/autism-treatment-center-elkhart.