Sharing the obstacles I encounter as an advocate for my son with severe medical issues is done with the hope that people will begin to experience a bit about what I, and many others, deal with on a regular basis. My objective is that if people know and empathize with our tribulations, change will be more likely to occur.
When my son was a toddler, I remember a few events that I declined to attend simply because it was too complicated -- I just didn't have it in me. Looking back at the earlier years, I realize just how little people new about my son and his autism. I think our experience would have been different had others been more aware.
Ah, that first visit to Santa. Remember how your little one cried and was scared, clinging to you? But you knew that this was temporary. Next year, he/she would be fine with the Santa visit, a rite of passage for most North American children today. But what if your child is not like all the other children?
Last year at this time, I was helping Jacob settle in to his new school, working closely with his teacher and the school's Vice-Principal to ensure a smooth transition. This year, instead of arranging Jacob's uneventful passage to grade seven, my energy is focused on ensuring that Jacob remains healthy and strong.
Watching my son take off at top speed down our small street yesterday filled me with a feeling of awe that I can't explain. You see, he struggles with gross motor skills a lot, though he does with fine motor skills. Lots of kids with autism do. And though he has always been interested in learning to ride a bike, it came slowly.
By keeping our kids back from activities, we don't only do them harm by not exposing them to different experiences, we also deprive ourselves and the rest of our family from good, old-fashioned family fun. I used to be one of those overprotective parents when it came to my special needs son. Not anymore. I have to say that our adventures as a family have gotten better for the most part.
My son is one of those kids that doesn't like learning in school. His anxiety is way up about reading and math, and he wanted to stay home from school the other day. He is very smart, and when challenged in a fun way or in a way that engages him one-on-one, he will sit and learn. But it's hard to find that combination when teaching him in a classroom with other children.
These five tips can be taught to children and adults. At this time of year, as children and their parents are frazzled with back to school, multiple extra-curricular activity schedules and homework, I think this can be especially helpful. It can be a family's lifesaver in our ever increasingly fast-paced and stressful world.
I think all parents are frazzled at this time of year, particularly special needs parents whose children take anxiety for school to a new level. What can we do as parents to make the first day of school easier? Well, I have found out that the following five things have helped me survive that first day.
No kid comes with a guidebook. Kids with developmental disabilities of all kinds, both physical and neurological, are as diverse in thought, behaviour, strengths and weaknesses as their neuro-typical peers. With the added anxiety of raising very different children from what is expected, stress levels are higher, parenting is harder and divorce runs rampant among special needs parents. That is why it is so important for them to remain on the same side.
Many organizations and affected families across the country have been calling for a national autism strategy. The wide range in disparity of publicly funded services for autism across the country has even generated a kind of "medical migration" with several published accounts of families leaving their home provinces (most commonly, Atlantic provinces, Ontario and Quebec) to move to Alberta or British Columbia where autism services are more readily available and/or more flexible. It is also no longer uncommon to find Canadian families using crowdsourcing campaigns to fund their children's autism and related therapies.
Entering into the workforce is a milestone in one's life; a rite of passage that is often identified as the beginning of their journey into adulthood. But for so many young adults with autism, this transition can be the most difficult and stressful time in their lives. Here are 10 tips to help young adults with autism transition into the workforce.