Monday, April 2, 2012

Autism Awareness

Today, Monday April 2nd is the fifth annual World Autism Awareness Day.

Having my son diagnosed with Asperger's syndrome at age 4 was a bit of a relief.  We were  having difficulty disciplining him and he was having difficulty interacting with other children.  When I was told that he thinks differently, I felt relieved.  I no longer felt like a bad parent.  Realizing that the traditional way of doing things just won't work for him made me want to find what does work.  We have been very proactive in getting our son involved in all sorts of programs and working with all sorts of personnel.  I believe it is because of this early intervention that he is so much more social and interactive.  We still have issues, sometimes HUGE issues  but I have hope for his future and love having him as part of our family.  Autism makes Spencer who he is and I love him because of it.

I just wanted to share some things that have been helpful for us.  As the saying goes, "if you've met one kid with autism, you've met one kid with autism."  Each child is different and you have to find what works for you, your child and your family.

One of the very first books that helped in disciplining our son was:

1-2-3 Magic

People with Asperger's tend to be very logical and this put logic into discipline.  We still use it today.

Once he started school and had problems there, we looked at how we could change the environment at school and home to help him have less meltdowns.  I found this book to be helpful.

No More Meltdowns

To teach him how to act in certain social situations we've used this book.

The Social Skills Picture Book

It is nice that it shows the right and wrong way to act.  For a very verbal and intelligent child like my son, this is a great way to spark a conversation about what not to do and why.  It helps him do the right thing when he can understand why the 'wrong' way is wrong.

A great movie about autism and how people can learn to overcome some of their autistic tendencies and use other autistic tendencies to be a great success in life is Temple Grandin.

Temple Grandin

I love the line where she says "different" is not "less."

I first heard about John Elder Robison when a friend suggested I read his book Look Me In The Eye.

Look Me In The Eye

John Elder Robison has Asperger's and was diagnosed later in life.  He tells what it was like to grow up with Asperger's before the diagnosis existed.  This is a harsh, real life look into his life then and now.

More recently John Elder Robison has written a new book called Be Different and I absolutely love it.

Be Different

In this book, he does more than just share stories from his childhood, adolescence, and young adult years.  He gives practical advice for Aspergians on how to improve their communication and social skills so they can take full advantage of their often remarkable gifts.  His stories are entertaining and the advice is from an Aspie's point of view so it's worth a try.  We even got this book on CD so we can listen to it again and again.  Our son who is 9 has heard parts of it and I will be encouraging him to read or listen to it as he gets older and encounters some of the issues that are discussed such as why manners matter, or dating.  This book is different than a psychologist's approach to helping kids with Asperger's.  It is based on Robison's real life experiences and thoughts which he is able to retell with such wit.

Hope this helps someone out there.  If you have found anything that has been a great help to you, I'd love to hear about it.