As a mother, I will never give up on my child. As a mother of a child who has autism, I will never give up hope.
I look into his eyes and I see all the potential that he has to offer to this beautiful world and I just know that one day the world can see what I see.

Follow my blog as I share my life and my experiences as a person who loves someone with autism.

Showing posts with label advice. Show all posts
Showing posts with label advice. Show all posts

Saturday, April 4, 2015

Don’t #Vaccinate Your Child

The ‘vaccines cause autism’ controversy continues and R. Alan Ingalls is trying to put a stop to it with this simple message: Don’t Vaccinate Your Child

Don't #Vaccinate Your Child

As a father of a child with Autism, I am highly offended by people who claim they are not vaccinating their child because they are afraid it could result in their child having Autism. As a filmmaker, I decided to do something about it.

Why would someone choose to leave their children vulnerable to a potentially deadly disease just to prevent their child from being like mine? I happen to think my son is pretty awesome! In a twist of reverse psychology, the video simply contains a list of reasons why you shouldn’t vaccinate your child in hopes of empowering people to realize how silly (and ultimately dangerous) the thought of not vaccinating their child for a fear of Autism really is. I hope to urge parents to make a smart choice by choosing to protect their children from a deadly disease and take the risk of their child becoming a very special person.

For more information about R. Alan Ingalls and his PSA on the controversy around vaccinations, please visit his website.

Friday, January 31, 2014

Navigating Puberty and Adolescence presented by Joy Becker

Let’s talk autism and puberty! *cringes* Yup... it’s that time in a mother’s life where she either tears up in joy, or tears up in fear!! I haven’t decided which one yet, but I’m very excited to be attending this workshop today as a volunteer for Vancouver Walk Now for Autism Speaks Walk Committee.

Special thanks to Anya Walsh, British Columbia’s Events Manager for Autism Speaks Canada, for the invite.

Thanks for reading,

Autism Community Training ACT BC

This workshop is designed to give parents, caregivers, and professionals a foundation for teaching individuals with ASD and/or other special needs about sexuality. It will include information about the sexual development of children and the information they understand at various stages of their development.

The information is geared to moderate to high functioning individuals who are able to communicate through words and pictures including line drawings, magazine pictures and photographs. Joy Becker is a registered nurse, an experienced health educator and the mother of two sons with Autism Spectrum Disorder. Her dynamic presentations have encouraged very positive responses to this sensitive topic from Autism Community Training (ACT) audiences!

Workshop objectives are to:

  • enhance basic knowledge by presenting factual information on human sexuality and related subjects with special emphasis on how the knowledge may be applied to individuals with ASD and other special needs
  • be involved in the process of self-evaluation with regard to attitudes and feelings about sexuality in general and the sexuality of people with ASD. This is to build comfort in relating to colleagues, students, clients, and children realistically.
  • stimulate thinking, share problems and suggest solutions that will prepare a base for your endeavours in sex education and counselling.
  • provide an opportunity to develop skills in teaching and communicating with others about sexuality.
  • provide information and resource materials with an evaluation of their authenticity and value.

About the Presenter:

Joy Becker is a nurse educator who draws on many years of experience in educating teenagers with special needs. She emphasizes the importance of parents as the primary sexuality educators of their children. In addition to speaking to numerous parent groups, she has delivered courses and workshops to students, teachers, social workers, nurses, and special needs individuals of various ages. Ms. Becker has two teenage sons on the autism spectrum and lives in Nanaimo.

For more information or to see upcoming events and workshops, please visit the ACT Community.

Wednesday, May 15, 2013

An #Autism Guide to Playland

I will admit that Playland isn’t the first place I think of when I think ‘autism friendly’ environments for my child, who can easily be overwhelmed by all the sights and sounds that this amusement park usually is full of, but in lighter crowds and familiar faces, it’s not too bad!

Playland at the PNE Vancouver

Bryce’s school had a Playland Day. Playland Day is when Playland is only opened to certain elementary schools and closed to the general public. The crowds are smaller, the lineups for rides are shorter, and while there are still people running around and screaming, it feels a lot calmer.

Tip 1: If Playland Day is coming up and you have a child with special needs and large crowds are a concern, take advantage of Playland Day! If you don’t have a Playland Day in your neighbourhood, try going to the amusement park during the week to avoid chaotic line ups and heavy crowds as most people are busy or at work during the week.

Daniel and I decided to tag along for the school field trip and make some memories. We have all been to Playland before, but never together as a family. It’s mostly because I’m scared of fast rides and heights (something I’d conquer one day.) Bryce was a little hesitant when we entered the gates. I mean, who wouldn’t be? It’s PLAYLAND! There’s a LOT to take in! It’s the oldest amusement park in Canada with over 30 rides and attractions!

Tip 2: If you have a child with special needs you can go to the Guest Services in Playland and request a free ‘Exit Pass’. This allows you to skip the lineups for rides and enter them from the exit side giving you priority seating and time to get on the ride without feeling rushed. This is especially great if you have a child that can handle the rides but not the wait. Most amusement parks have this perk. (Thank you Ms. S for sharing this information with us!)

Speaking of rides, Daniel and I argued about what rides Bryce could and couldn’t go onto. Of course, I was anti-almost all of the rides worried that Bryce would get scared despite being accompanied by Daniel each time and Daniel wanted Bryce to be a go on whatever rides he wanted and said to me to “let him be a kid”. You could imagine the expression on my face when Bryce ran past a few rides and went directly to the Merry Go Round. Yes! Go be a kid on that ride! I can handle that ride!

Tip 3: “Let him be a kid.” I’m the last person to say when my husband is right, but by letting Bryce be “a kid” and not “a kid with autism” I was able to enjoy myself more. Bryce was able to enjoy himself more. I hope that makes sense.

I guess Bryce had a thirst for more adventure after the Merry Go Round because he went on the Scrambler, Wave Swinger, Flume (log water ride), Breakdance, Gladiator, Music Express, Wooden Roller Coaster, Pirate, Westcoast Wheel (ferris wheel) and Super Slide. I nearly had a heart attack when he lead us to the Wave Swinger which was the only ‘non-accompanied by an adult’ ride Bryce went on (but Daniel was right behind him). He was so brave. He was on top of the world! Check out the video I made of Bryce going to Playland!

Thanks for reading,

PS So if you’ve watched the video you may of noticed that I went on a couple rides too. I don’t know if I conquered the ‘fast rides and heights’ fear but at least I poked it.

Oh, and here’s a picture I took of Daniel and Bryce at the very top of the Westcoast Wheel. Yup! I took the picture. THAT was super scary! Swaying so high in the sky. Gives me chills just looking at the picture. Baby steps.

Monday, May 13, 2013

Welcome to Holland. #ILoveSomeoneWithAutism

“Welcome to Holland” is an essay, written in 1987 by Emily Perl Kingsley, about having a child with a disability. The piece is given by many organizations to new parents of children with special-needs.

The essay, written in the second person, employs a metaphor of excitement for a vacation to Italy that becomes a disappointment when the plane lands instead in Holland.

“Holland?!?” you say. “What do you mean Holland?? I signed up for Italy! I'm supposed to be in Italy. All my life I've dreamed of going to Italy.”

The metaphor is that the trip to Italy is a typical birth and child-raising experience, and that the trip to Holland is the experiencing of having and raising a child with special-needs.

But everyone you know is busy coming and going from Italy... and they’re all bragging about what a wonderful time they had there. And for the rest of your life, you will say “Yes, that’s where I was supposed to go. That’s what I had planned.”

In the end, however, the reader sees that the “trip” is still well worth it:

But... if you spend your life mourning the fact that you didn’t get to Italy, you may never be free to enjoy the very special, the very lovely things... about Holland.

Here’s the essay:

Welcome to Holland
by Emily Perl Kingsley

When you’re going to have a baby, it’s like planning a fabulous vacation trip – to Italy. You buy a bunch of guide books and make your wonderful plans. The coliseum. The Michelangelo David. The gondolas in Venice. You may learn some handy phrases in Italian. It’s all very exciting.

After months of eager anticipation, the day finally arrives. You pack your bags and off you go. Several hours later, the plane lands. The stewardess comes in and says, “Welcome To Holland”.

“Holland?!?” you say, “What do you mean “Holland”??? I signed up for Italy! I’m supposed to be in Italy. All my life I’ve dreamed of going to Italy”

But there’s been a change in the flight plan. They’ve landed in Holland and there you must stay.

The important thing is that they haven’t taken you to a horrible, disgusting, filthy place, full of pestilence, famine and disease. It’s just a different place.

So you must go and buy new guide books. And you must learn a whole new language. And you will meet a whole new group of people you would never have met.

It’s just a different place. It’s slower-paced than Italy, less flashy than Italy. But after you’ve been there for a while and you catch your breath, you look around... and you begin to notice that Holland has windmills... Holland has tulips. Holland even has Rembrandts.

But everyone you know is busy coming and going from Italy... and they’re all bragging about what a wonderful time they had there. And for the rest of your life, you will say “Yes that’s where I was supposed to go. That’s what I had planned.”

And the pain of that will never, ever, ever, ever go away... because the loss of that dream is a very significant loss.

But... if you spend your life mourning the fact that you didn’t get to Italy, you may never be free to enjoy the very special, the very lovely things... about Holland.

Thanks for reading,
Tanaya, Daniel, and Bryce

PS Special thanks to Jackie V. for sharing this with me.

Wednesday, April 24, 2013

How to Raise #Autism Awareness in Schools

Every April we’ve done something to raise awareness for autism in Bryce’s school. In past years it’s been a little mention in the school newsletter outlining some basic facts about autism and how April is National Autism Awareness month. I loved that the school listened and it shined a little light on autism.

So it’s April again, and here we are in a new school. To be honest I was a little hesitant to bring up the idea of raising autism awareness at his new school because I’m not a big fan of labeling my son as a child who has autism. I’m aware, the people that matter are aware, the staff at the school are aware, and his friends are aware, so I felt that putting it out there just emphasizes it even more and I just didn’t want to bring him too much attention or be in that kind of spotlight. I hope that makes sense. Don’t get me wrong... I am my child’s biggest advocate, but sometimes I just want him to be a kid as much as he can be.

I put all of that doubt aside and carried on.

And with a new school came a new idea.

Ok, so how to raise autism awareness in Bryce’s school this year? A colouring contest! Students voluntarily colour our autism awareness ribbon printout, drop there name slip in a box, and have a chance to win 1 of 12 of our bubble blowers that we’re giving away! I came up with this idea crossing my fingers it would be approved by the principal. So thrilled when it was and she even went one step further saying she was going to get the teachers talking about autism with their students, and it would just be a dandy time.

I checked in today to see how the contest was going and all I can say is, “WOW!”

Insanely awesome, right? Just walking into the school and seeing all of this down the hallway next to the office, it was so emotionally overwhelming. They completely welcomed my idea with open arms and huge, huge, HUGE hearts! Absolutely love it! We love this school!

Please, please, PLEASE steal these ideas! Talk to your child’s principal to get something written up in the newsletter or a hand out. Have a colouring contest with fun little prizes. Get people talking. The more people are aware, the more they understand, the more accepting they will be. Autism awareness starts with you! (And don’t forget, it doesn’t have to be just in April...)

Want to have your own colouring contest? Feel free to click on the graphic below to save or print ‘Autism Awareness Ribbon Colouring Contest Printout’ for your own use. (png file)

Autism awareness ribbon colouring contest printout

Thanks for reading,

Tuesday, July 6, 2010

98 Ways to Say “Very Good”

If a child lives with encouragement, he learns confidence.
If a child lives with praise, he learns to appreciate.
If a child lives with approval, he learns to like himself.
If a child lives with acceptance and friendship,
he learns to find love in the world.

  1. You’ve got it made.
  2. You’re on the right track now!
  3. You are very good at that.
  4. That’s very much better!
  5. I’m happy to see you working like that.
  6. You’re doing a good job.
  7. That’s the best you’ve ever done.
  8. I knew you could do it.
  9. Now you’ve figured it out.
  10. Now you have it.
  11. GREAT!
  12. Keep working – you’re getting better.
  13. You make it look easy.
  14. That’s the right way to do it.
  15. You’re getting better every day.
  16. You’re really growing up!
  17. Nice going.
  19. That’s the way to do it.
  20. That’s better.
  21. Best yet.
  22. PERFECT!
  23. You’re really going to town!
  25. Much better!
  26. You’ve just about mastered that!
  28. You did that very well.
  30. You’re really improving.
  31. SUPERB!
  32. Keep it up!
  33. You’ve got that down pat!
  35. Good thinking!
  36. Keep on trying!
  37. I’ve never seen anyone do it better.
  38. I like that.
  39. I’m very proud of you.
  40. I think you’ve got it now.
  41. You figured that out fast.
  42. That’s really nice.
  43. You’re right.
  44. CLEVER!
  45. That’s great!
  46. Way to go.
  47. Now you have the hang of it!
  48. You’ve done a great job.
  49. Congratulations, you got it right.
  50. You’re beautiful.
  51. That’s RIGHT!
  52. That’s GOOD!
  53. When I’m with you I feel like singing!
  54. GOOD WORK!
  55. I’m proud of the way you worked today.
  56. You’re really working hard today.
  57. You’ve just about got it.
  58. THAT’S IT!
  59. Congratulations!
  60. That’s quite an improvement.
  61. You are doing that much better today.
  62. I sure am happy you’re my daughter/son/student, etc.
  63. You’re learning fast.
  64. Good for you!
  65. Couldn’t have done it better myself!
  66. You really make being a parent/teacher/caregiver fun.
  67. One more time and you’ll have it.
  68. You did it that time!
  69. That’s the way!
  71. You haven’t missed a thing.
  72. Keep up the good work.
  73. Nothing can stop you now!
  75. That’s the best ever.
  76. FINE!
  77. Wonderful!
  78. That’s better than ever.
  79. I appreciate your hard work.
  80. Now that’s what I call a fine job!
  81. You must have been practicing!
  82. You’re doing beautifully.
  83. Right on!
  84. Good remembering!
  85. You did a lot of work today!
  86. You certainly did well today.
  87. You’re doing fine.
  88. You are really learning a lot.
  89. You outdid yourself today!
  91. Good going!
  93. You’re doing the best you can!
  94. Good job.
  95. You remembered.
  96. That gives me a happy feeling.
  97. Well, look at you go!

Feel free to click on the graphic below to save or print ‘98 Ways To Say “Very Good”’ for your own use. (PDF file)

98 Ways To Say "Very Good" Thanks for reading,

Information provided by our Behavioural Consultant

Monday, April 19, 2010

Everybody Poops!

If I had to see another diaper again, I was going to scream. Toilet training had to of been our hardest challenge with Bryce. Children are so confused when it comes to this. All a child’s early life they are supposed to pee and poop in a diaper, and then out of no where they’re supposed to forget everything they have learned and use a toilet. It must be so frustrating.

Bryce was almost 6 and still not toilet trained. We had done everything you could possibly imagine and then some. We even went to a seminar hosted by ACT BC (Autism Community Training) called Toilet Training for Everyone: It’s Never Too Late! (available on a their website to purchase as a webcast). In the days event we learned a ton of techniques and tricks to apply in our daily life to help us achieve our goal.

Their are six phases of toilet training, and I’m going to talk about the urination phases, but I highly recommend anybody to invest the time and money and watch the webcast. It is great for people of all ages, stages, phases, autism or not.

Two words: Trip Training.

It involves some math and a lot of patience. First we had to figure out how often to take Bryce to the toilet. For about a week we calculated every time he had a wet diaper/pull ups and then calculate the average length of time that he could stay dry. From that we could determine roughly how often he had to use the washroom and manually take him their every X amount of time. With the support of Bryce’s daycare and school we determined he had to be taken to the washroom every hour and a half. This was a great opportunity to introduce him to saying ‘bathroom’ or ‘pee pee time’ so he could associate going to the washroom with the keywords we used. Based on how often he should have to use the washroom we’d have him sit on the toilet for 5-10 minutes and if he didn’t go, we’d take him off for 5 minutes and continue that until he went.

When he did pee we celebrated like it was the best thing on Earth (which it was) and this embedded in his head as ‘Oh when I go pee, good things happen’. Their was the occausional time where Bryce would be wet in-between times, and we were taught from the seminar to not talk, scold, explain, lecture, to not spend a long time on cleaning him up and to just make a notice of him being wet because he had an accident. This is mostly to not destroy his confidence. Nobody wants to think they failed.

Eventually we decided that Bryce had mastered trip training and moved onto self-initiation where he could pee in the toilet without somebody taking him. This is when you discover the ‘pee-pee dance’ or your child grabbing themselves. The biggest lesson we learned was never to ask “Do you have to go to the bathroom/pee/toilet?” instead acknowledge their behaviour and say something like “Oh, I see you need to go bathroom/pee/toilet!” and just go.

It wasn’t until Bryce was almost 7 years old where he said ‘pee’, went to the bathroom, went pee, and came out. He skipped flushing the toilet and washing his hands, but this was a huge breakthrough. It was one of the most rewarding experiences I ever had. That night we went and bought his first pair of underwear as a reward and ever since that day he never wore a diaper again.

Experts say setting a potty schedule helps teach your child to use the toilet. But how do you keep to that schedule - and minimize conflict between yourself and a stubborn child? Answer: Pull-Ups iGo Potty app.

Here’s a couple of suggestions that are great for any children (mostly boys) for toilet training:

  • Drop some Cheerios in the toilet and have your child try to sink them when they go to the washroom
  • Put an aluminum pie pan into the toilet and when your child goes to the washroom, it makes a fun sound
  • Add one of those 2000 Flushes bar into the toilet tank which dyes the toilet water blue, and when your child pees in it, it changes it to green
  • Monkey-see, monkey-do. It is not inappropriate for mom or dad to show their child how to use the bathroom, in fact a lot of children will feel more comfortable with the idea if ‘mommy does it’ or ‘daddy does it’
  • Use visual aids to help with the process of using the toilet. Feel free to click on the graphic below to save or print ‘Using the Toilet’ for your own use. .jpg"" target="_blank"> Using the Toilet

    Have any tips or tricks you want to share? Did you use any of the suggestions and have success? Leave us a comment!

    Thanks for reading,

Friday, April 16, 2010

The Naughty Step

I am a huge fan of The Super Nanny and if it wasn’t for her creative ways of handling temper tantrums and time outs, I have no idea what we would of done. Advice for everything you could think of and even the things you didn’t think of. I absolutely love her! One of my favourite little trademarks of hers is The Naughty Step. It’s a place that the child goes when they have been misbehaving or being unreasonable or frustrating, needs a time out, or whatever you consider to be ‘naughty’.

Now I know you’re thinking, how could my innocent, little, baby Bee ever know what a naughty step is… trust me, he’s not always cute and innocent. He throws a tantrum just like any other kid, especially if he doesn’t get his way. He screams, he kicks, he throws things, he pours things, he stomps, he does it all. He’s very aware of his feelings when it comes to emotions like excitement and anger.

We found that sometimes it’s hard to punish Bryce. You tend to think to yourself ‘Oh he’s just doing that cause he doesn’t understand’ but I really hate making excuses for things that he does. Having autism doesn’t mean it’s a get out of jail free card, but at the same time, you have to handle everything a lot more delicately. You can’t just say, ‘Go to your room cause you did this’ he’ll go to his room, but it doesn’t mean he knows why. Daniel and I tried that approach, but when it came to bedtime, and we sent him to his bedroom, he’d confuse that as punishment and would get upset and frustrated. He associated his bedroom as the place he goes when he is in trouble, so we had to find a different solution.

The Naughty Step Technique:

  • Bryce gets 1 warning when he misbehaves, and he is informed that the next time he does it he will sit on the step. He usually replies ‘No no no no’ in a whimpering voice, knowing what the step represents.
  • After the warning, if he misbehaves or needs a time out, we take him to the naughty step.
  • We designated the bottom stair on our stairs as the place to go when Bryce needs a time out, or is being punished. It is a very quiet place in the house facing a wall and a bathroom, so it’s not the most pleasant place to be.
  • We come down to his level and in a firm voice explain why he is there. We don’t go into huge details on the reason he is sitting on the stair, we make it very brief and as little interaction as possible.
  • We tell him how long he has to sit there. The Super Nanny recommends 1 minute per year (so 8 years old would be 8 minutes) however, we have always done 5 minutes.
  • If he leaves the naughty step at any point before the time is up, we bring him back to the step again, being very calm and not interactive. If he keeps getting up, we just sit him back down, and reset the timer until he’s sat there the whole time.
  • When the timer is up we go to him, get to his level, and again in a firm voice remind him why he was sitting on the naughty step and we ask him to apologize for what he did.
  • Bryce usually says ‘Sorry mommy’ or ‘Sorry daddy’ and we accept that. We then say ‘Thank you’ acknowledging his apology and then we hug so he knows we’re not evil parents and we do this because we love him. :)

A couple of key things that are important to know:

  • A firm voice is very important. If you’re laughing, or if your child hears you in your normal voice, they may not associate this as something different than every other day you talk. It needs to stay consistently firm.
  • If you do not have a stair to use as a naughty step, you can use any part of the house. Personally, I’d say stay away from corners. Designate a little area in your house strictly for the naughty step.

What about when I’m not at home, like at school or in public areas?

Hopefully you have a great supportive team at school, and you can discuss with the people who work with your child to implement the same techniques at school as you do at home. I’d recommend a quiet place where their would be limited distractions, not in a closet, or behind a closed door, but somewhere in the school where your child can be supervised like an empty classroom.

Everywhere you go in the public is now your giant naughty step. At that park you go to after school, or the grocery store you do your grocery shopping, you can designate a spot in each location and if your child needs to go there, you can bring them to the spot you thought of and they can have their time out there.

Now I am no Super Nanny, but have implemented this technique for a couple months and I find it has really decreased the amount of time out’s Bryce needs because he is not a fan of the stair at all.

Let me know if you use this technique, or tell me what techniques you use.

Thanks for reading,

Sunday, April 4, 2010

Counting for Tickles

One of Bryce's favourite activities to do when we're at home relaxing is tickling! He enjoys the stimulation and the sensation of being tickled.

We've found a way to turn one of his favourite activities into a learning & development experience.

We're currently teaching him the numbers, 1 through 10. Bryce knows that in order to get tickles, he needs to count from 1 to 10. He doesn't have it perfect yet, but he'll continue to learn because he enjoys the tickling.

Once he masters his numbers we can always change the learning experience.


Sunday, March 21, 2010

Bedtime Routine

Many children with autism require a structured approach to completing the day-to-day tasks that each of us do without thinking about them.

Bryce does too.

In his earlier years, we were forced to use non-verbal instructions to assist Bryce in managing his day. He had to use sign language to tell us things he wanted and needed. We posted picture schedule boards around the house and at school for activities like going to the washroom, or transitioning between activities at school.

Now that Bryce is older, and is able to verbally let us know what he wants and need, we've still found that without a specific structure around activities it can often derail him or negatively effect his mood.

Today's post is about the bedtime routine that we've found Bryce enjoys and helps us get him to sleep.

1) Say goodnight to mommy/daddy depending on whose assisting him in getting ready
2) Find & bring his blanket upstairs to his bedroom
3) Start the bathtub & put the bubbles in (Bryce loves bubbles)
5) Brush teeth & getting ready for the bath
6) Bath time
7) Story time
8) Pajamas
9) Kiss & hugs & lights out

Bedtime was always challenging and in his younger years he would always find his way to our bedroom in the middle of the night, now, he looks forward to his bedtime routine and story time and is able to sleep throughout the night, most nights.
We find by sticking with this structure, Bryce is happier and easier to get to sleep.