Posts

Potty Training And Autism | The Complete ‘How To’ Guide

potty training rewarded childParents of children with Autism, especially those with more severe challenges like language and sensory issues, often fret about embarking on toilet training. Questions about when to start and how to do it may linger and create anxiety. Also, as a child develops in personality and behavior, they are also changing physically, so it is important to remember the differences among kids and try not to compare your child to others. Your child’s readiness will depend on their own learned skills as well as developmental abilities such as muscle control.

The other half of the toilet training experience depends on the parent’s readiness. It takes time and energy to begin toilet training and may not always be an easy process. However, with some hard work and consistency from the child and parent, it can be done. Remember your goal; having an independent, happy child will be well worth the effort.

Signs that your child is ready to begin toilet training:

• Stays dry for longer periods of time

• Shows visible signs of urinating or having a bowel movement (e.g. squatting, pulling up pants, touching themselves, crossing legs) Read more

How to Transition Your Special Need’s Child for the New School Year

parent teacher conferenceAs summer comes to a close, the transition back to school can be difficult for just about any child. After three months of fun with no real demands, children now have to attend to teachers for six hours and following a structured routine. Children with special needs and neurodevelopmental concerns are even more likely to face difficulty here, but there are numerous strategies parents and teachers can implement to ensure the transition goes smoothly as possible.

Preparing Your Child For The New School Year

Prior to school starting, it is important to sit down with your children and explain the changes that they will be experiencing soon. Prepare your child for the school year. Explain to him or her what the school routine will look like. Give your child a schedule of what the day will entail.

Getting Your Child Acquainted With The School And New Teacher

Next, bring your child to school to meet his or her new teacher, who should be able to give further preparation and reassurance for the coming year. If your child will be attending a new school, it is recommended that he or she take a tour beforehand in order to get acclimated to the layout and surroundings of the building. Read more

Your Child Has Been Diagnosed With Autism, Now What?

What To Do After Your Child Is Diagnosed With Autism:

Several weeks ago Deborah Michael posted a blog about warning signs that parents should look out for regarding Autism Spectrum Disorders.  That blog article got me thinking about the next steps and how to help prepare parents for those important decisions.  The initial diagnosis is often heart wrecking for parents.  Too many times I have seen parents develop a sense of hopelessness once the diagnosis is given.  Autism is a spectrum disorder.  There are children who are really low functioning and will require one-on-one assistance for the rest of their lives.  Yet, at the same time, there are many children who are really high functioning and will be able to lead normal lives, get married, and live on their own.  I was supposed to write a blog article on a checklist for parents as to what they should do once a diagnosis is given.  After thinking about that, I came to the realization that doing so would be impossible and also act as a disservice towards parents.

Therapies Available For Children With ASD

Hand in HandThere are many therapies available for children with a diagnosis along the Autism spectrum.  Children with the diagnosis often require speech/language therapy to develop their pragmatic and social language skills.  These children often benefit from participating in a social skills group in which they are forced to engage in social activities in a safe, non-judgmental environment.  The children often have difficulties with fine motor functioning and sensory regulation and would benefit from woSchedule A Visit To Our Autism Clinicrking with an occupational therapist to develop those skills.
Additionally, the children often would benefit from participating in behavior therapy to focus on increasing positive, on-task behaviors while extinguishing negative behaviors.  However, due to the fact that Autism is a spectrum set of disorders, one cannot say how many hours a week or even what specific therapies are warranted for any particular child.  As a neuropsychologist, I would work with the individual providers to help develop any particular child’s treatment plan.  So, the only checklist of services parents need to seek for their child with an Autism Spectrum Disorder is:  work with the neuropsychologist who made the initial diagnosis to help develop a treatment plan including speech/language therapy, occupational therapy, behavior therapy, and social work.  Read more

Picky Eating: How Common Is It, And Is It More Prevalent in Children With Autism?

A recent study from The Journal of Pediatrics discovered that children with Autism Spectrum Disorders are more likely to be picky eaters and may be at risk for suboptimal nutrition¹.   Children with Autism Spectrum Disorders were found to have increased occurrences of food refusal and more limited food repertoires.  Other research has estimated that one third of mothers felt their infant had feeding difficulties in the first four months of life and one in four mothers at routine pediatrician visits expressed concerns with their child’s feeding skills².  The statistics show nearly 25% of typically developing children and 80% of developmentally delayed children will demonstrate characteristics of a feeding disorder³.  Read more

Autism Signs Appear in Babies’ First Year: What that means for Parents and Doctors

A Chicago Tribune Article states:

“In its detailed comparison of 50 babies – half of whom would go on to be diagnosed with autism – the researchers in this new study found a steady loss of sociability and responsiveness in the babies who would progress to an autism diagnosis. Those babies’ loss of social skills looked more like regression and less like a slowing of progress that allowed normally developing babies to pull far ahead of them. And that regression was most marked between 6 and 18 months, though it continued more gradually to the 3-year mark, where the study left off. But while the reduced rates of face-gazing, vocalizations and social engagement were evident to researchers who systematically evaluated the babies every six months, 83 percent of the parents did not observe the changes chronicled by researchers – not, at least, in the first year they were happening”.

Autism Checklist

We need to teach parents to look for Sociability and Responsiveness between 6 and 18 months. Pediatricians, you can teach parents to look for these things when the baby is seen at the 6-week check-up!

Here are a few things to start looking out for (feel free to contact us for a more detailed checklist!):

Face gazing

Does he respond to your voice?
Does he smile?
Does she make eye contact?

Vocalizations
Does he coo?
Does he make noises?
Does he cry and keep calm at appropriate times?

Social engagement
Does he smile?
Does she enjoy playing games like peek-a-boo?
Does he want mommy at around 9 months and cry with others?
Does he show interest in other children?
Does she use her index finger to point at people or objects?

A few questions can make the difference between early intervention and a quick jump on learning, versus a wider gap in skills as more time passes without proper awareness and attention. You and your pediatrician need to be watching for signs! Don’t forget- family history is a HUGE piece with autism spectrum disorders. If you have any form of social challenges in the family, start looking for signs very early!

Schedule A Visit To Chicago's Autism Clinic

If you are a parent, what advice would you like your pediatrician to give you at your 6 week check up?

If you are a parent of an ASD child, how would an earlier diagnosis have changed where you are today?