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Posts Tagged ‘Topic of the Week’

A Grandmother’s Story

September 16, 2011 9 comments

September is National Grandparents Month, and Autism Speaks is Celebrating Grandparents! Below is a blog post by Kay Richardson, the grandmother of a young boy with autism.

I would like to tell my story. My grandson, Hunter, is 9 years old and was diagnosed at 2-1/2 with mild-to-moderate autism. He is the joy of my life.

Even though the initial diagnosis was shocking and somewhat heartbreaking, if I had known then what I know now, it would have made such a difference. This is what I would like other grandparents of newly-diagnosed kids to know. It does get better, especially if your family takes advantage of all the great information and resources available.

I have been so fortunate to be involved with Hunter’s life from the beginning. He has always loved to spend the night at Granny’s house because he gets one-on-one attention. I have the luxury of time to spend with him and we do all kinds of fun and different things his parents don’t have time to do with him.

Early on, when he was 5 or 6, I would take him along to the botanical gardens I volunteered for and he helped me weed, or he played in the dirt, watched bugs and birds. I got him a local, regional bird identification book eventually and he actually memorized it! He has grown to be very respectful and protective of nature and creatures.

Examples of other things we do (besides just hanging out at home):

  • We went for a ride on a rural excursion train. (He has been in love with trains since he was a toddler and has about 150 Thomas train cars!)
  • Our city sponsored a “Get Out and Play Day” where he experienced rock wall climbing, archery and fishing!
  • We go to the library every other Wednesday evening. He now has his own card. His favorite books are non-fiction ones about trains, weather (hurricanes, earthquakes and other disasters), animals and reptiles.
  • We go on bike rides, and bird watching hikes.
  • In a couple weeks I am taking him to a Heritage Festival where he can see old farming equipment at work, shuck corn and watch a pie-eating contest (I can’t wait for his reaction to that).

The possibilities are really endless. You just need to plan and anticipate any circumstances which might upset or confuse, but that becomes second nature as time goes by.

I feel very blessed to have been given the gift of grandmothering Hunter. His perspective is unique and pure and this is the important thing I think grandparents of newly-diagnosed kids need to know. As grandparents, we have the patience we didn’t have the first time around. Mercifully, we get a second chance! Our reward? A relationship like no other. Take it from Hunter who, when asked by a teacher or principal who I am, says, “Oh, that’s my friend Granny!”

I do blog on occasion about our escapades and my thoughts about grandmothering Hunter. Check it out here!

Click here to view A Grandparent’s Guide: Autism Speaks Family Support Tool Kit

Training Staff in Community Programs

July 18, 2011 3 comments

As a result of increased awareness about autism and strong family advocacy many more people with autism are attending community-based summer programs.  An important ingredient to a successful experience is the staff at the community program, their understanding of autism spectrum disorders, and the unique strengths and challenges of your family member with autism.  How have you shared this information with agencies  or  community program staff?  Do you use a formal training program?  A written document?  One-on-one time with the staff?  Share your experience and make it easier for others going into new community settings this summer.

Traveling With Autism

July 11, 2011 32 comments

It is the time of year when we all begin to think about planning some down time – maybe even a vacation! Most families report that PREPARATION is key to a smooth successful vacation. Do you have a “success tip” to share with other families as they prepare to enjoy some summer fun?

Curious to know more about Travel Tips? Check out this Community Connections!

Everyone Deserves Summertime Fun!

June 27, 2011 22 comments

They say, when the sun’s out, the fun is out! But for those living with autism summer can be a challenging time. It often means breaking from routine – no school, new programs, vacations, camp, etc.

Tell us about your child’s successes in a summer community activity, such as summer camp? How did you learn about the activity? How did you plan for success? Suggestions for other parents?

Your responses will be included in July’s Community Connection’s Topic: Community Inclusion Sign up for Community Connections today

Relevant Community Connections

Traveling Tips for Individuals with Autism and Their Families

How to Choose A Summer Camp

Have Some Fun at Summer Camp

Diagnosing Autism Spectrum Disorder

June 20, 2011 48 comments

Parents are usually the first to notice the early signs or “red flags” of autism spectrum disorder.  Maybe it was something different they noticed about their child at birthday party, or the child not developing like a sibling. What was the experience that led you to seek professional advice for your child?

How did you feel when you or your child received an autism diagnosis? What were your initial steps? What advice would you share with someone who has been recently diagnosed? 

The Autism Speaks 100 Day Kit and the Asperger Syndrome and High Functioning Autism Tool Kit were created specifically for newly diagnosed families to make the best possible use of the 100 days following their child’s diagnosis of autism or AS/HFA.

Please join us Wednesday, June 22nd at 5 pm EST for ’100 Day Toolkit’ LIVE Facebook chat with the Family Services Staff. 

Dining Out and Autism

May 31, 2011 71 comments

Welcome to this installment of ‘Topic of the Week.’ These topics stem from submissions from our community. If there is anything in particular that you would like to see featured, please contact us!

The idea of dining out for a person with autism is often daunting. How do you prepare yourself or your child for going to a restaurant? Can you share some positive/negative dining experiences? What strategies do you employ to ensure the best experience possible for you and your family?


Healthy Living

May 23, 2011 17 comments

Welcome to this installment of ‘Topic of the Week.’ These topics stem from submissions from our community. If there is anything in particular that you would like to see featured, please contact us!

Fitness, nutrition, and general health and hygiene are critical components of a full and happy life. Do you have a health and wellness plan? What types of fitness do you or or child engage in? How do you implement health and wellness in the day-to-day?

For more information on Healthy Living, please visit here.

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