Philadelphia children with autism practice traveling on ‘mock’ flights

At 8 p.m. Saturday, Southwest Airlines Flight 2149 was poised to push back from the gate. Flight attendants gave fasten-seat-belt instructions, and First Officer Peter Hayes announced, “There’s 25 minutes of flight time until we touch down in Philadelphia.”

Capt. Todd Siems said the Boeing airliner was cruising at 37,000 feet. And after he turned off the seat-belt sign, the young passengers were served complimentary Sprite, cranberry-apple juice, and airplane-shaped crackers.

Flight 2149 never left the gate at Philadelphia International Airport, though. It was no ordinary flight, but rather a practice for children with autism and their families to become familiar with travel at the airport – bags, getting boarding passes, going through security, waiting at the gate, and sitting on the plane to experience the lights and sounds.

via Children with autism practice traveling on ‘mock’ flights | Philadelphia Inquirer | 11/16/2010.

Spinning toys and autism

Bonnie at Cafe Bonnie, blogs here about the pros and cons of spinning toys for autistic children. Follow the link to see some of her favorites.

Many children with autism love spinning toys. However parents are concerned about giving their children spinning toys because they don’t want to encourage self stimulatory behavior. If you’ve ever watched your child’s stare at a fan for an hour it can be heartbreaking.

However, I do feel there is a place for spinning toys and autism. Spinning toys can be great reinforcers in an ABA program. Or spinning toys can be a very enjoyable Christmas gift or birthday gift. When supervised properly spinning toys can actually be helpful for children with autism. For example, having a spinning toy that the child really enjoys in your purse can be really helpful when you need to get some last-minute grocery shopping done. Or letting the child play with the spinning toy may allow the whole family to go out to dinner.

As you can probably tell, I’m from the standpoint that nothing is black-and-white. Anything can be used as a tool to help a child with autism or to help a family make it through the day.

via CAFE Bonnie: Coffee Autism Faith Explored: Spinning Toys and Autism.

Florida program puts homes within reach for children with autism and other disabilities

Ten-year-old Brandon freely calls the man he has lived with for three months Dad. It’s a potent word for a child in foster care.

His birth family’s history with the system stretches back to when he was a toddler; the fourth-grader came into care most recently in 2008. He has moved six times since.

“If I have to leave, I be sad,” said Brandon, a polite, lanky boy with glasses. “Then, they don’t like me anymore. My mom and dad now, they like me.”

A new agreement between state agencies seeks to make it more likely for children such as Brandon, many of whom had been seen as unadoptable, to join a family for good.

The Department of Children and Families, and the Agency for Persons with Disabilities are linking foster children with developmental disabilities such as autism or cognitive impairment to a Medicaid waiver.

Many had been waiting for the program for years.

via Florida program puts homes within reach for disabled youngsters | news-press.com | The News-Press.

Moms write book about autism with humor and wisdom

Two mothers with four autistic children between them have written a book on the humorous side of parenting a child with autism. Sandy Hallett and Nikki Wisor’s How our Children With Autism Raised Us As Parents; The Ninety-Nine Jobs Needed to Raise Kids With Autism includes 99 jobs a parent needs – two of the jobs are barber and plumber!

Raising children with autism can be challenging, but a local woman teamed up with a friend to write a book that is helping parents worldwide.

So far the book has been sold to people on three continents. Sandy Hallett and her husband live in Seneca County. They have a nine year old son with autism. Her best friend has three children with autism and together they’ve written a humorous account of their lives with the kids.

It’s called How Our Children with Autism Raised us as Parents; The 99 jobs needed to raise children with autism.

via Local mom teams with friend; writes book on autism | 13abc.com.

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.

Why the holidays are so difficult for families with autism and what can help

It’s that time of year! If you have an autistic child and are already feeling the stress of the holidays and its added sensory inputs, social gatherings and expectations, read this blog post from Psychology Today by author Chantal Sicile-Kira.  It’s an excerpt from her book, 41 Things to Know About Autism. Make sure to share it with friends and family.

Often parents in the autism community will joke that we become more religious during the holiday season that begins with Thanksgiving: we pray our children will behave while we are visiting relatives, we pray they will show interest in their gifts (and not just the ribbon), we pray they will sit at the dinner table, we pray they won’t hit the relative who tries to kiss them, and above all – we pray that we will have the strength to politely ignore the judgments passed upon us and our ‘misbehaving’ children.

via Why the holidays are so difficult for families with autism and what can help | Psychology Today.

Massachusetts school for autistic helps make Halloween less frightful

Autistic children may find Halloween extra stressful with its expected “Trick or Treat” communications, odd costumes and scary atmosphere. Here’s how a Boston-area school for children with autism helped kids prepare for the holiday.

Have a fun, safe night, everyone!

After ringing the front doorbell, 7-year-old Jack Carfarelli stood by silently, holding a plastic pumpkin while tugging nervously on his skeleton costume. The door opened into a darkened classroom, where a scary-looking witch knelt, candy bowl in hand.

“Happy Halloween,’’ said the witch.

Jack, a child with autism, appeared anxious yet still said nothing. Around his neck hung a small touch-screen computer. He hesitated, then activated the machine’s vocalization app to say “Trick or treat!’’ on his behalf.

via School for autistic helps make Halloween less frightful – The Boston Globe.

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.

The difficult task of treating autism

The impact of autism varies for those diagnosed with the developmental disorder.

Some might be completely non-verbal or have obsessive interests. Others, although they may have good language skills, might avoid eye contact or have trouble with depth perception, among numerous other social or behavioral challenges. And, given the different symptoms, the severity also differs for each individual.This is why there isn’t one road map for treatment, researchers say.

“That’s what makes things so hard with autism spectrum disorders,” said Kathleen Koenig, an associate research scientist at the Yale School of Medicine Child Study Center. “They’re so different — each kid is different.”

Koenig, who works on a number of studies with Yale’s autism clinical and research group, said there isn’t one autism treatment that works for everyone.”

It just doesn’t exist,” she said.

via LIVING IN THE SPECTRUM: The difficult task of treating autism – Norwalk News – The Hour – Norwalk’s Newspaper.

Autistic children are not good at covering up their lies

Children with autism will tell white lies to protect other people’s feelings and they are not very good at covering up their lies, according to a Queen’s University study.

The study, conducted by psychology professor Beth Kelley and developmental psychology PhD student Annie Li, is one of the first scientific studies of lying and autism.

“The results are surprising because there is a notion that children with autism have difficulty appreciating the thoughts and feelings of other people, so we didn’t expect them to lie to avoid saying things that may hurt others,” says Dr. Kelley.

In one test, children with autism were told they were going to get a great gift, and were then handed a bar of soap. When asked if they liked their gift, most nodded or said yes instead of saying they were disappointed to get soap.

Researchers refer to this as pro-social lies told to maintain good relations with others.

In a second test, children were given audio clues and asked to guess a hidden object. Most guessed the easy clues, a chicken when they heard a chicken clucking — but an intentionally difficult clue (Christmas music and an Elmo doll) – was used as a test for lying.

After the Christmas music was played, the tester left the room. The tester returned and asked the children if they had peeked at the object. Both autistic and non- autistic children were equally likely to lie that they had not peeked. But when asked what they thought the object was, children without autism realized giving the correct answer would reveal they peeked so they were more likely to lie and say “Santa” or “Christmas tree.”

via Autistic children are not good at covering up their lies: Queen’s University study.