The Best Autism Parenting Books

Being a parent is no easy job, especially when you have an autistic kid. I really enjoy reading the different books that are about autism parenting books. These are all fantastic books that will help you develop a better relationship with your child.

  1. Positive Parenting for Autism: Powerful Strategies to Help Your Child Overcome Challenges and Thrive
  2. Uniquely Human: A Different Way of Seeing Autism 
  3. Ten Things Every Child with Autism Wishes You Knew: Updated and Expanded Edition 
  4. A Parent’s Guide to High-Functioning Autism Spectrum Disorder, Second Edition: How to Meet the Challenges and Help Your Child Thrive 
  5. Autism Spectrum Disorder (revised): The Complete Guide to Understanding Autism 
  6. Autism Breakthrough: The Groundbreaking Method That Has Helped Families All Over the World 

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Autism: Positive Parenting Makes the Difference

Life has a tendency to throw a lot at us. We all are going through some obstacle at one point or another and manage to pull it all together. I see this more and more everyday. When my son was diagnosed with autism, I felt lost and sorry for us. I wanted people to feel sorry for us. I felt like I was alone and no one else could understand.

Then, I started to notice so many people, moms included, going through their own struggles. I witnessed people going through infertility and felt bad for them. I observed moms who’s kids had been sick or in ICU after birth. We all face some hardship in our lives and should not compare each person’s problems. Every issue is so different and unique that we can’t say “oh she doesnt understand what I am going through or even care.”

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People tell me all the time I am so positive. Well, why should we be negative? I try to make the best of a situation whenever I can and stop being so hard on myself and those around me. The truth is that I am so hard on people sometimes. I am so hard on Antonio’s teachers.. my parents.. my husband… even Antonio. All because we can’t get him to talk or make the progress that he needs. So what do I do? I take my frustration out on someone else by being rude, mean, or just thinking I know it all (but I don’t).

Recently, I wasn’t happy with Antonio’s progress. I decided to take matters into my own hands. I literally hold him like a baby and let him watch my lips while I make different noises or sounds. Next, I allow him to imitate me to get the results that I want. I thought, “it can’t be that hard. Why aren’t they doing it at his speech?”

But there is one difference here… I am his mom. I am able to give him that comfort and love. I am his best friend. I am his go to person. He tried so hard to do all the things that I was doing. He made good progress. I again was wondering why they couldn’t get anywhere with him? I knew it was because I had the advantage of being his mom.

The other element I add is to be loud… and I make sure to really be annoying trying to get him to talk. I am silly and loud all the time. I don’t care if people look at us or laugh, etc. It is what works for us. I narrate situations constantly so he can understand and at least try to communicate whenever possible.

See, we all have some challenge and are all hard on one another. Just live in the moment and get excited when some small success happens. When Antonio made the same noise back, I gave hugs and kisses and he was super happy and smiling. Who cares about blaming someone. At the end of the day, we are all trying and have the same goal.

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Parenting is Scary and it Doesn’t Get Easier

They say having a kid changes your whole life and we can never prepare for parenthood. We can raise our kids to be the best or the smartest, but the truth is that once they grow up, they are out of our hands.

My son is only three years old, but I worry about everything. Lately, I couldn’t help but wonder what will come about when he is a teenager or even an adult. Will he understand all the situations he encounters? It is a tough world out there and we try so hard to make sure that they are prepared the best.

How do we prevent our kid from danger or wrong decisions? How do we let them learn and be the best? How do we explain all the rights and wrongs? How do we instruct them on dangerous aspects? How do we teach them about sex? I mean, let’s be honest.

All these questions run through my head. Though we have enough time before we have to worry about these topics, I want to be prepared as a parent when the time comes. I know one thing, being a parent means we go with the flow and surprise ourselves a lot because we know more than we think we do!

Truthfully, we as parents can only do our best. Once our children become adults, we hope that we have taught them everything they need to know to be successful when out on their own in the big, wide world.

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  1. How to Talk So Kids Will Listen & Listen So Kids Will Talk
  2. The Whole-Brain Child: 12 Revolutionary Strategies to Nurture Your Child’s Developing Mind
  3. The Explosive Child: A New Approach for Understanding and Parenting Easily Frustrated, Chronically Inflexible Children

 

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Mom Thoughts About a Nonverbal Child

I wonder all the time, literally all the time, if talking will make it all better?? By that I mean would life be “easier?” Would speaking make our bond even stronger? Would we have better communication? I ponder so many things all day. I wish that I had the answers and the easy way out, but I don’t.

Talking will make everything else go away, right?? That’s what I think. His autism will just be gone and we can be “normal.” But, it will always be there; it will just present itself less and less. Hence why it is so important he gets all the help he can now rather than later.

If he can talk, he can do what other kids are doing and can truly try new things, right? Does that even matter? Will that really help? These are my thoughts… constantly… as I try to fill my head with answers and wonder what ‘talking’ will actually accomplish.

What if he’s able to start talking but doesn’t want to and would rather throw tantrums? Because, let’s be honest, such is the toddler life. Nothing else can be done. But then he talks back and a whole new issue arises, right?

Will he still stim if he can talk? Will he follow directions? What would it be like if he could speak? What really does being verbal achieve?!?

There’s more to it than just talking — that’s what I have to keep telling myself.

It’s a two way communication street. He has to understand and talk in order for it to be successful.

Let’s just live in the moment and focus on what’s in front of us. Let’s stop comparing and questioning. Let’s enjoy those snuggles and giggles that he still loves and hold on to each a little tighter because one day he will be older, he will get a bit embarrassed, and I won’t be able to get those hugs.

Shop some of our favorite autism activities.

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  1. Stages Learning Materials Language Builder Emotion Picture Cards Expressions, Conversation, and Situation Photo Cards for Autism Education, ABA Therapy
  2. Stages Learning Language Builder 9-Box Set Educational Flash Cards
  3. Stages Learning Materials Language Builder Picture Noun Flash Cards Photo Vocabulary Autism Learning Products for ABA Therapy and Speech Articulation

PS Check out these Amazing Cotton Baby Booties!  They are super fun and adorable. Plus they are brand new and are lightweight booties are made from 100% organic cotton. Don’t worry they are perfect for year-round wear. AND did I mention super comfy?!

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Why Your Child Needs a Sport, Activity, or Preschool

People cringe when you say, “My kid is in daycare/preschool.” I don’t understand why. I know some people have grandparents or friends who are able to cut back on expenses and actually make sure the children are cared for and having fun. However, I think that they should have at least three days a week of some sort of school activity.

I have had my son in some sort of program since he was about a year old. I work from home and I still manage to put him into programs just because he needs that socialization. He learns so much from others, he enjoys going, and he actually imitates them!

It makes me happy knowing that I drop him off and he gets to interact with other kids his age. The mingling really does help. People sometimes don’t like their kid being around other kids because they might get sick or whatnot. But it actually builds their immune system. My son used to be sick all the time. We feed him the right foods, clean his hands, and give him vitamins so that he doesn’t get as sick as often.

There is always going to be that chance of them getting sick. I think it’s better for kids to get an early start rather than tackling illness when they are older.

Above all else, children seriously gain so much from daycare, preschool, or an activity. If they participate in a program, they form the habit of a schedule and routine. They also learn from their peers and get to explore things differently than they do at home.

Here are some great items to have when putting your kid into a program. 

Check out some of our favorite autism activities:

 

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How Sign Language Has Helped Us

Since my son has been diagnosed with autism, it has been hard to get through to him. He is nonverbal and has been for most of his life. We have tried everything but end up getting frustrated. Since he joined ABA, we know now that sign language can work; we just have to keep working to learn and know how to use sign language.

That was our biggest problem, or mine rather. I couldn’t follow through because I wanted to give up. I wanted to just get him to talk and thought I could do so by skipping a step. But when I look back on it, I see that this was an important step. In fact, most babies sign before they reach toddler age. So in order to really move forward, we needed to use sign language for him to communicate.

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We tried it for a while, but it didn’t work. When he was in ABA he would pick up on things much better and easier there just because they knew what they were doing and could dedicate time. It’s hard when you are a mother and have a million things going on or just give into your child so you can get other tasks done. It is a constant toss up.

Once we really started to use signs, it made all of our lives so much easier. Whenever someone else watches him, we make sure they are using the signs. Before sign language, there was a lot of frustration and getting mad (from both of us). Now, we can really understand each other. I ask him if he wants more and he shows me the sign for more, please. I mean, that is incredible.

Autistic or not, there are so many great reasons to teach your child sign language and really help them to understand.

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Help Your Nonverbal Child Communicate with PECS

The truth is when you have a kid who isn’t talking, you are beyond frustrated. You see kids his age talking and you just wish you were up to that level. But then you take a step back from this make believe world, and realize all you have is non-verbal communication. Through strategies and time, we will get there.

Antonio’s ABA teacher has given us so many great options for getting him to communicate with us. Every time a new idea is suggested, I get overwhelmed because I wonder if it will be effective and how it is really going to work.

One of the new steps that we have tried is PECS (picture exchange communication system). This has been proven to help children communicate and talk. So, basically what it entails is printing out pictures of items that we use everyday and laminating them.

Whenever he wants to communicate, he has to hand us the card and we say the correlating word and take the card from him. This form of communication has worked incredibly well for food times and daily activities (bath time, vitamins, etc). We even have it down to a pattern now that he knows the correct order each component happens in!

Though he isn’t communicating verbally, this has helped us to keep the frustration at bay because we both know what he wants now. It is a great feeling! At first, I thought this was a dumb idea without much merit. But when I saw great results, I knew that this system was leading us in the right direction.

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When Your Child With Autism Goes to School; Navigating the System and Building Your Team (Part 2: 11 Tips to Team Success)

Keeping the points from my previous post in mind, here are some things you can do to make your school experience with your child with Autism the best possible journey.

  1. Educate yourself.  Before you go into your first meeting with your school, learn about your school district/division, state/province policies, procedures and beliefs around high needs learners. This will allow you to go into the meeting knowing your rights and your limitations regarding what you can expect for your kiddo.  It will guide your questioning, and will let the school team see that you are a savvy parent.
  2. Before meeting with the school team, have conversations with your autism support providers.  Your SLP, OT, PT, Autism Support Worker, medical team… everyone who works with your kiddo.  Some of these services may no longer be able to provide services as there will be people within the school system who will provide services instead.  IF this is the case, ask for a TRANSITION MEETING which INCLUDES you.  Transition meetings ensure that information is passed from one specialist to another.  Your presence at the meeting will give you the advantage of knowledge so that you can continue to support the service and so that you can have input into where changes might be needed.
  3. Talk to the Special Educator, Principal or professional who is designated in charge of special programming.  Find out what you can expect regarding a TEAM approach.  Many schools have mandates for team approaches.  Not all schools follow through with a full team approach.  By knowing what to expect, and by knowing the school district/division expectations, you will be empowered to request the level of team collaboration that you are entitled to and comfortable with.  Team meetings are time consuming to set up and take a great deal of coordination as many professionals have huge case loads.  But don’t let this deter you! Be as flexible and accommodating as you can, but make sure meetings are happening.  Set the next meeting at the end of the current one while everyone is at the table.  Generally there will be a team leader that takes care of this, but if they forget or omit to do it, bring it up!
  4. Ask for notes and  keep a file.  You are entitled to copies of any notes from team meetings, so ask for a copy and take your own notes to be sure you remember discussions.  Sometimes time spans between meetings can be great and people may forget discussions.  Having your own notes empowers you to help keep the team on track.
  5. Get copies of professional reports and assessments for your file. Specialist reports will be available to you at some level. Professionals who do assessments have different protocols regarding sharing of information.  There are also some types of reports where numbers and scores cannot be shared.  (This is to your advantage, so respect it! Sharing of numbers increases the risk that people who aren’t trained to interpret scores might get hold of them and misinterpret them or breach confidentiality!)  But get copies of whatever you can, especially the recommendations for programming!  SIGN whatever sharing agreements are necessary between your current service providers and the school so that they can work collaboratively and make sure that programming continues uninterrupted and confidentiality is respected.
  6. ASK QUESTIONS.  Go into your meetings with questions as opposed to demands.  Questions are less harsh, but still get to the point of your concerns. Your team will be receptive.  Demands have the effect of putting people on the defensive which makes for difficult team dynamics. Asking questions gives you the opportunity to hear what people’s ideas and plans are, and ensures that all team members are hearing what others think, and have the opportunity to give their input.  (See www.empoweredparentplan.com for a downloadable list of questions you can ask or adapt to your needs.)
  7. You will probably be asked to sign a form which outlines your child’s goals and program.  Make sure you understand it, and ask for clarification before signing.  These program plans are mandated in most school districts/divisions and are legal documents.  Please understand that they take a huge amount of time and coordination to put together, and that the person who’s preparing them probably is preparing a lot of them.  There may be mistakes or things left out.  Checking before signing is diligent, and will be helpful in making sure that things are clear.  Going forward, focus your discussions around that plan.  Copies of the plan should be shared with you and with anyone working with your child.  Most of these plans are “living documents” which means they are not written in stone.  If you think something’s not working, have a meeting to change the plan.
  8. IF there is a change in schools because of a move or moving up grades, or if a team member changes within the school, make sure that a transition meeting is held.  There should be a transition process for your child as well so that they understand the change and are not surprised/upset by it.  In my experience, sometimes things happen quickly and the school may not have thought about or had time for a transition.  Feel free to bring up the idea and ask how the change can be eased for your child. Social stories are a great strategy for transitions.
  9. Educational Associates or Teacher Aides, (whatever your school district calls paraprofessionals hired to support your child’s programming), are a great resource for your child, but they are not the teacher. Not all students with high needs will have full paraprofessional support.  It’s not always needed.  Sometimes it is needed, but budgets are tight and the school is unable to provide additional supports.  This can be a touchy subject.  First of all, realize that your child’s primary educator needs to be the teacher.  If other students or a paraprofessional are able to give some additional help that is perfect.  But make sure that decisions are being made and that your communication occurs WITH the teacher.  Some teachers feel inadequate when working with high needs kids because they have little experience or training with the specific special need, and are inclined to give a lot of responsibility to paraprofessionals who have the best of intentions, but may not have any training or experience with Autism. Teachers have a team of other professionals around them who can support and advise them.  Children with Autism often become very attached to and comfortable with a paraprofessional, which is great in so many ways.  Difficulty working with anyone other than the aide is not good for your child.  If they will only work for one particular aide, and there is a change, your child may have difficulty.  Paraprofessionals can also be assigned to work with OTHER students freeing the teacher to work with your child. I would never undervalue the role of the paraprofessional because I know from experience how an Aide in the classroom can be a life saver for the teacher and a huge asset to the child.  But as a parent, as much as you can, encourage your child’s learning flexibility and being given social and learning opportunities with PEERS, and some time with the teacher and perhaps other assistants, not just socializing all day with one particular adult. The paraprofessional should be a facilitator of social interactions, not a replacement for them.
  10. 10.You know your child best.  It’s not a bad idea to remind others of that sometimes.  On the other hand, your child may not behave the same at school as at home for a variety of reasons (another whole blog post for this).  Sometimes parenting kids with ASD can be so exhausting for parents that they slowly, slowly start giving in on more and more things.  It’s easier to give in than to fight, and you’ve got your kiddo 24/7. This is your reality.  It may not hurt to consider how the school is addressing things differently, and to carry that strategy into the home.
  11. 11.In my work with high needs kids, my biggest belief is that if we can give them nothing else, we should at the very least give kids what they want/need most in life, and that is Social Opportunity.  What we all want for our kids is for them to have friends and be loved, valued and included.  This is the gift of inclusion.  In the final analysis, whether or not your kiddo can name the food groups is much less important than whether or not s/he can live, work and play with others peacefully and be truly part of a group.  I could go ON and ON on this point.  In my view peers are not other high needs kids.  Peer groups should be a reflection of everyday society, including people of all abilities and needs.  My personal bias I know, but also the belief of many individuals and groups who work with high needs individuals.  There may be a place for some time in individual program work where life or communication skills can be learned and practiced away from the group.  But in general, your kiddo needs to learn to exist in the world.  And that can only be learned through practice.  We are social beings, and social learners. Even kids with Autism desire social contact because it is innate in all of us!  But they have trouble with it.  Social anxiety is often the underlying cause of this, and there are ways to address this if we try.  But being removed from social situations does not help.  Preparing for social situations is key.

I’ve said so much here and I fear it may be overwhelming.  I’m truly passionate about this topic and believe that children with ASD are a joy and a privilege to know and work with. I also know that they can be very challenging. When you enter the school system and through life, you are your kiddo’s #1 advocate.  Your engaged, informed involvement in his/her education will be a great gift both to your child and to the team working with him/her.  Know your rights, and expect them.  Be gentle but assertive with your team mates (they’re also trying their best!) to make the best possible collaborative work toward your child’s learning.  The value you will gain from everyone putting their efforts into the child (rather than into working against each other or constantly trying to establish a workable team) will pay off greatly.

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FACEBOOK Empowered Parent Plan~ Twitter @MpoweredparNT~ Instagram mpoweredparent ~ Pinterest Roberta Luchinski

Contact roberta@empoweredparentplan.com

BIO- Roberta Luchinski is the Owner/Facilitator of Empowered Parent Plan.  She helps busy parents prevent, respond to and change their kiddo’s difficult behaviours.  Roberta uses positive parenting strategies and brain based methods tried and true from her experience as a Mom, Grandma and 30 years of Educator experience. Roberta holds an MEd in Educational Psychology and has worked with diverse students as a Classroom Teacher, a Diversity Teacher, a Special Educator and a Consultant.

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When Your Child With Autism Goes to School; Navigating the System and Building Your Team (Part 1: Preparing YOU for When Your Child Starts School)

I have had the privilege, and I mean privilege in the most sincere way possible, of working with several children with Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD or Autism in this post) as a special educator, a consultant and classroom teacher in my career.  I say privilege, because these children taught me so much , especially about behaviour and inclusion.

As a special educator, one of the things I learned early in my career is that sometimes, by the time they enter the school system, parents of kids with special needs have spent years fighting for what they need for their child.  They’ve been navigating a system that has not always been easy and accessible, and have not always been listened to or honoured for what they know about their own child’s needs.

Sometimes, when parents have come into the school system, they have come in “swinging”.  They have their hackles raised, ready to fight, even before the process has begun.  This is so sad, and can sometimes start things off on a difficult note.

I’m guessing that if you are reading this, you are already relating on some level.  From an educator’s point of view, I’d like to share a few ideas that will help you gain more power and influence in the school system and in the decisions that will be made regarding your child’s education.

Ok… before I go any further there are a few things I have to clear up.

  1. Please use and ask others to use respectful terminology when referring to your child.  Your child is a child with autism (ASD), not an ASD Child or an Autistic of an Autistic child.  Respectful language puts the child first and the challenge second.  We want our kiddos to be seen as kids, not “disabilities”, and this subtle use of wording can make a difference. I don’t consider this a “labeling” problem as sometimes labeling can be quite useful.  But the label should not define the child.  Politely, with a smile, ask people to use the appropriate wording.
  2. Not all systems are the same.  The policies, procedures and processes in each school district, and even within individual schools, can differ greatly! I don’t claim to know how all schools operate regarding programming for high needs kiddos.  But knowing that all schools can differ is a powerful understanding, and one that can work to your advantage as you begin your education system journey.
  3. You need to know off the start that I’m a huge advocate of inclusion.  This is not the same as “integration”. (This is material for another article)  Inclusion goes further than integration.  Inclusion isn’t a “place” the child is in, it is more of a philosophy for making decisions in a way that does not exclude the child from experiences and opportunities.  And for me the biggest of these is social experiences and opportunities.  AND you need to know right from the get-go that not all educators and certainly not all systems agree with inclusion, or implement it in the same ways, or even fully understand it. So you may have to take a gentle lead if this is what you want.

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FACEBOOK Empowered Parent Plan~ Twitter @MpoweredparNT~ Instagram mpoweredparent ~ Pinterest Roberta Luchinski

Contact roberta@empoweredparentplan.com

BIO- Roberta Luchinski is the Owner/Facilitator of Empowered Parent Plan.  She helps busy parents prevent, respond to and change their kiddo’s difficult behaviours.  Roberta uses positive parenting strategies and brain based methods tried and true from her experience as a Mom, Grandma and 30 years of Educator experience. Roberta holds an MEd in Educational Psychology and has worked with diverse students as a Classroom Teacher, a Diversity Teacher, a Special Educator and a Consultant.

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How ABA Has Helped My Autism Child

With Antonio going to ABA full time now, I find myself seeing some prgression and regression at the same time. I can’t beat myself up about it and I can’t study why or how because it is only natural and will happen. I have to be patient and let things just happen.

All of these small milestones that he has accomplished this week seem like it would be common for kids at a much younger age than Antonio’s age, but we can’t compare kids like this. I like to share our milestones for others who might be going through something similar.

  1. He can brush his teeth!! Without actually hating it!! I still guide his hand a little bit but before we had to literally hold him down. We are now working on adding in new steps soon (like putting it away, etc). This has been a HUGE help!
  2. He does the sign for more then points at what he wants!! This is mega huge he could either do one or the other but never both at once. It is a two step process which is great and is a form of non-verbal communication.
  3. He sits (when asked and for long periods!!!). His attention is is there and he sits when asked, this makes me so happy knowing that her can sit and do some activities together. He can hold attention longer if something new is introduced and is exciting.
  4. He picks up toys and puts them  away when asked. We make him clean up his toys by picking up toys and putting into his toy box. We can do this for a ton of toys and actually be attentive! So we end up turning it into a fun game!!

All of these things we tried to do when he wasn’t in ABA, but it wasn’t consistent. Now, we are able to communicate non verbally! It is amazing how things have progressed and I can’t wait to see more of what will happen!

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