On the 5th of September, we held our last Sibling Day for the year. We saw 6 children from 4 different families come together for a day of bonding and fun-filled activities. From fun games to sharing time, it is without a doubt that the children left with a assurance that they were not alone in this journey.
Just like any typical children, children with autism love getting involved, getting messy, and getting creative in their own ways. After all, that is what childhood is all about! There are many ways a child with autism can learn and have fun at the same time, and one of the ways we can get creative with our kids include paint! Did you know that with just your hands and paint, you can create over a hundred different handprint art, including animals, characters and greeting cards?
Raising a child with autism places some extraordinary demands on a family as a whole (Autism Society, n.d.). Parents are not the only ones affected. In fact, a child’s siblings are just as much affected, if not more. It is without doubt that every child’s dream is to have a sibling or siblings to play with, to grow up with and to share their childhood with. However, children with autism may not be able to play or interact with their siblings just like typical children would. Furthermore, they require more attention and care from their parents and this may affect their siblings. Sometimes, their siblings may suffer in silence, feeling neglected and less loved, or even feel the pressure for the need to be a role model.
On the 15th August, last Saturday, EAP Malaysia held our first ever (but definitely not last!) EAP Family Day to celebrate all the families of our kids. It was a carnival themed event, with a bouncy castle and pinwheels, special booths for ring toss, count the candy, face painting and tattoos! It was a huge success as we saw families come together on a Saturday morning to see their kids perform, dance, sing and act on stage. There was pride and love on every single face throughout the kids’ performances. These are the moments we work for, the moments we look forward to. We also had an honour moment, where we specially honoured one family for the incredible sacrifice they make to make sure their child receives 35 full hours of therapy as recommended.
Once you have chosen a school for your child with Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD), the next step will be getting your child ready to start. It is natural to have extra concerns about preparing your child for the transition to school. For instance, you might be worried about how he’ll go about learning a new set of routines and activities. However, with the right planning, you can help your child start school successfully (Raising Children Network, 2013).
Education can make a real difference for children with autism spectrum disorders (ASD) (The National Autistic Society, 2014). Your child with ASD has the right to the same educational opportunities as all other children (Raising Children Network, 2013). Preparing for school is a complex process when you have a child with Autism Spectrum Disorder and planning for the transition to school should start as early as possible (Autism Victoria, 2015).
According to research done published in the Journal of the American Academy of Paediatrics, nearly half of children with autism are at risk of wandering or eloping from their present, safe environment. Children with autism go missing under a variety of circumstances. They may seek out small or enclosed spaces. They may wander toward places of special interest or may try to escape overwhelming stimuli such as sights, sounds, surroundings or activities of others (National Center for Missing & Exploited Children, 2015). Sadly, with the spike in stories of individuals with autism going missing in the past year, we’ve come to realise that many children with autism are not emphasized with safety skills as part of their integral curriculum enough.
Drowning is one of the leading causes of death for children with autism. That statistic is certainly startling. But what makes it even more devastating is that with the right measures in place drowning deaths can be prevented. To understand how to prevent these drownings, it’s important that parents and caregivers understand why children with autism are at such high risk.
In this day and age, it often seems like our world revolves around the internet. Everywhere we turn, there are teens and tweens “Google-ing it”, “Friend-ing someone”, or “Tweeting” about the latest news updates. Technology and the internet offer great opportunities for learning and equipping young people with tools to learn, communicate, and play. Individuals with autism, just like other typical teenagers, are equally as interested in using the internet as a portal to mass information or connection to millions of people.
As we discussed last week, puberty is one of the most challenging developmental states both for the child and also the parents. Many parents fear approaching the subject and are worried on how to relate the information to a child with autism. Individuals on the spectrum often need longer to adjust and understand the process of puberty.
Most individuals with autism have a difficult time with changes and are very comfortable with familiarity and sameness. So one can imagine the stressfulness and uncertainty that occurs when their physical appearance start to change drastically and rapidly. It is not enough that they have a terrible time with changes, but that the changes are happening to themselves personally and that they have no control over the changes.
Grooming skills and personal hygiene is something we all take for granted as a simple routine everyday. It is not until we become guardians of a child with autism that we understand how a simple routine can overwhelm one’s senses and the act of grooming is truly a combination of various skills put together to make one large complex skill.