Fun activities for children with autism in new book

CHICAGO — Susan Walton’s son has autism. He was diagnosed at age 2, when she was pregnant with twins. Spontaneity, she learned, would quickly become a thing of the past, as predictability and routine became of the utmost importance.

But the mom of three was determined to keep her family’s life filled with joy.

“The biggest mistake we can make is to put family fun at a low priority,” she writes in her new book, “Coloring Outside Autism’s Lines: 50+ Activities, Adventures and Celebrations for Families with Children with Autism” Sourcebooks, $14.99. “It is easy to be consumed by the role autism forces us to play. We are caretakers, therapists, nutritionists, nurses, taxi drivers and so much more.”But for the sake of your child and your family, having fun needs to form a central part of any intervention and therapy you pursue.”

via The Republic – Fun needs to be on the checklist for a child with autism.

Hockey for kids with autism, Down syndrome

Hockey is big in New England – from the Boston Bruins to youth hockey teams. Boys and girls with autism, Down syndrome and  developmental disabilities get their time on the ice, too.

This news video is about a team in Pawtucket, Rhode Island, part of the Pawtucket Pirates Youth Hockey Association.

The Boston Bear Cubs will host the Special Hockey International 2011 tournament in Marlboro, Massachusetts, April 28-30.

Buddy Up Tennis for Down syndrome

Dozens of children and young adults with Down syndrome participate in an Ohio tennis program just for them — Buddy Up Tennis. The program pairs each young athlete with a volunteer buddy. The athletes play tennis for an hour and work on fitness for a half-hour each week. The program, which began at Columbus’ Wickertree Tennis and Fitness recently expanded to Columbus and The Club at Harper’s Point.

Organizers would like to see Buddy Up Tennis go national. Sounds like a good idea!

YouTube – Buddy Up Tennis for Down Syndrome – NBC 4 News.

World level cup stacker with autism wows crowd in Wisconsin

Wow! Follow the link to watch 13-year-old Jesse’s hands fly as he stacks cups for a crowd in Wisconsin. Sport-stacking has really taken off, as this Wall Street Journal story, which focuses on Steven Purugganan, 13, the three-time world champion, reports.

People at the 2nd Annual Transition Conference in Eau Claire got a special treat Thursday when they were able to watch local teen with a unique talent.

Jesse Horn, 13, is a world level sport stacker who is autistic. He is from Buffalo City here in Wisconsin and was diagnosed with autism when he was 3. He has been competing in sport stacking since March and already has several record times. He says he wants to increase awareness of the sport by competing.

via World level cup stacker in Eau Claire.

Alley-Oop for Autism recruits Illinois basketball team

We love when university athletes and teen-age volunteers make time to share their passion for sports with autistic children. Our bet is that Coach Bruce Weber,  his Fighting Illini, and the other volunteers got as much out of this Alley-Oop for Autism basketball clinic as the younger kids! Follow the link to the photos.

The University of Illinois championship basketball team partnered with the Urbana-Champaign campus’ Chabad Center for Jewish Student Life and the Stuart I. Raskas Friendship Circle of Illinois, a Chabad-Lubavitch program that pairs teenage volunteers with children with special needs, for the annual “Alley-oop for Autism” day of fun at the arena.

via Annual Alley-oop for Autism Enlists Illinois Basketball Team – Photos.

Pediatrician prescribes Special Olympics for children

Dr. Rolanda Maxim encourages parents and doctors to take a different perspective in helping children with developmental challenges improve their social, gross motor and communications skills. And she thinks Special Olympics is a program that doctors and parents can agree on.

That’s exactly why Dr. Maxim, medical director of the Center for Autism Spectrum Disorders at the Knights of Columbus Developmental Center at SSM Cardinal Glennon Children’s Medical Center in St. Louis, wrote a prescription for Special Olympics Missouri for eight-year-old Morgan Davidson.

“We appreciate Special Olympics because, instead of addressing problems with medications, we can use natural ways of improving someone’s life,” Dr. Maxim explains.

via Special Olympics Missouri – Read Inspiring Stories.

Kids With Autism Get Big-Screen Break

Today’s mainstream movie experience can be big, bold and loud — driven by 3-D, IMAX and surround-sound technologies and designed to immerse audiences in a fictional world.

But that can sometimes be too much for children with autism, who can have difficulty communicating, reading social cues and tolerating sensory stimulation others take for granted — everything from attending a birthday party to going to the movies.

Renee Hill says the huge screen, darkened room and loud soundtrack often overwhelm her 4-year-old son, Weston, who otherwise loves watching videos.

“You’ll constantly notice him look uncomfortable and cover his ears, but if he really gets overwhelmed, then he’ll just shut down and have a meltdown and start to cry,” Hill explains.

As the national rate of autism diagnoses climbs, parents and advocates have persuaded some theaters to tone it down.

A number of theaters across the country now hold sensory-friendly movie showings to accommodate those with autism: The house lights stay on, the sound remains low, and there are no ads or previews before films. The screenings are beginning to catch on.

The sensory-friendly trend started two years ago, after a Maryland mother got kicked out of a movie theater when her autistic daughter became overwhelmed and disruptive during a showing of Hairspray. The mom got in touch with the Autism Society, a national advocacy group, which in turn contacted the AMC theaters chain about offering a low-key movie option once a month.

via IMAX’d Out: Kids With Autism Get Big-Screen Break : NPR.

Toys “R” Us launches 2010 edition of Toy Guide for autistic, developmentally disabled and disabled children

Toys “R”Us, Inc. has released the 2010 edition of the Toys”R”Us Toy Guide for Differently-Abled Kids, an easy-to-use toy selection resource that can help parents of children with special needs select toys that develop skills through the power of play.

This year, actress, author, philanthropist and mother of a son with autism, Holly Robinson Peete appears on the cover, along with Tommy Austing, a 6-year-old boy from Los Angeles. Released annually, the guide is available in Toys”R”Us and Babies”R”Us stores nationwide and online, in English and Spanish, at Toysrus.com/DifferentlyAbled. The largest edition ever, this year’s guide has increased to 60 pages and features an expanded assortment of online offerings that are available through the company’s website.

For nearly 20 years the guide has assisted parents, family, friends and caregivers by providing qualified toy recommendations to help aid in the skill development of children who have physical, cognitive or developmental disabilities. To help parents select the perfect playthings for their children, all toys featured in the guide are associated with icons that show parents which skills can be developed during playtime.

via TRU launches 2010 edition of Toy Guide for Differently-Abled Kids – 2010-08-25 13:40:57 | Playthings.

Clownfish Swim Club: A team for kids with autism, Down syndrome and other disabilities

Nine-year-old Abby Bauleke found what she was looking for in a most improbable spot. She had tagged along, following her older brother and sister to their basketball, football and soccer games — waiting for her time to come. Then leukemia and a paralyzing infection threatened to put a damper on this bundle of energy and enthusiasm, who lives in Savage.

On a recent afternoon, Abby slipped effortlessly out of her wheelchair and into an indoor swimming pool tucked into a nondescript industrial maze of warehouses in Eden Prairie.

“I feel free when I’m swimming,” Abby said. “And my teammates are great.”

As she pulled herself through the water, lap after lap, Abby was surrounded by other children swimming, splashing, kickboarding and laughing. The Clownfish Swim Club was at it again, a unique team comprising more than two dozen kids with autism, Down syndrome and other disabilities that all melt away once they break the water’s surface.

via Pooling their resources | StarTribune.com.

Variety Philadelphia’s Disability Awareness Night at Philadelphia’s Please Touch Museum Sponsored SafetyNet

Variety’s Night at Please Touch Museum is now open to children with ALL types of disabilities. The Please Touch Museum is opening its doors to Variety’s children and their families! It will be a night of hands-on and sensory-filled excitement as families explore the museum’s wonderful exhibits! A Resource Fair will also take place at the event with exhibitors from many organizations from all over the Delaware Valley including the event’s Presenting Sponsor SafetyNet!

The event Saturday, August 21 is from 6PM-9PM. All ages are welcome.

Follow the link for parking and registration information.

via Variety Philadelphia