Childproofing Your Home For Your Autistic Child

When you raise an autistic child, especially in the younger years, you really worry about their safety and their whereabouts. The autistic child does not react to normal stimuli nor do they respond to verbal commands as quickly as a non-autistic child. Their curiosity and lack of understanding of danger may put them in harms way more that a normal pre-school child. There are certain things you can do to make your home more autistic child friendly and these few precautions could make your household safer and give you peace of mind.

Locks and latches are the best thing to keep cabinets closed and locked from the curiosity of your autistic child. Chemicals and cleaners need to be kept locked and anytime there are in use, they need to be watched carefully. Lock away anything that could be a source of harm to your child. This could include the knife drawer, your sewing basket, chemical closets, and other things that you could foresee as a possible harm for your child. There should be locks on anything of danger especially gun cabinets and other things that would be a danger to anyone.

Using a cordless or wireless phone is a good idea as you go through the day with your autistic child. Talking on the phone and being restricted to one place during your conversation will take away your concentration on supervision. Another reason you might want to consider a cordless phone is to have the availability to call for assistance if you are your child is in danger. The wireless phone will let you tend to your business and also give you the assurance that help is just a phone call away.

It may not be the greatest danger but you should bind up your cords from your drapes and curtains. A curious mind can conjure all sorts of dangerous activities with a hanging cord. They are in danger of hanging themselves or getting caught in the cord and having a panic attack that could lead to dangerous behavior. If you have pets, an autistic child could innocently injure them by tying them to the cord. Anything that loops and could fit around the next should be put up out of reach or bound so that your child can not use it in a dangerous manner.

Not only does the inside of you house need to be childproofed, but the outside as well. Watch your child around swing sets or tire swings. Again the danger of getting caught in the chains or wrapping a rope around their neck is possible. Watch out for lawnmowers and other dangerous lawn grooming equipment. The curious mind might have watched daddy start and mow the lawn and the danger of the blades might not have stuck in the mind as much as the process of getting it started. If you have a fenced in lawn, make sure there is a latch and a lock on the gate. Autistic children have a skill of disappearing when your back is turned and it would be easier to find them in the backyard than having to search for them down the street.

This information may seem redundant, but the reality is that your child may have different motives than what you perceive. With the lack of communication skills and the lack of social behavior, the child can put themselves into a lot of danger very easily. Just use common sense and make supervision a number one priority.

An Autism Symptoms Checklist

People that suffer from autism seem to live in their own worlds, they reject any contact with other persons and they do not socialize at all. Unfortunately we know so little about this disorder so the only thing we can do for autistic people is to try to understand them and to make them feel good, because there is no known cause or cure for autism. Autism manifests itself soon after the birth of a child, and it’s important that the ones around him, usually the family or the teacher detect the ones affected and seek help for them. The sooner an autistic is discovered the better for him/her, because autistics need special treatment and they need to be supervised, for they are not aware of what is right and what is wrong in most cases.

But autism is a special condition, and it’s pretty hard to determine its symptoms so that you can recognize them. Autism is a term that refers to a wide-area of disorders with many signs and symptoms. We can only hope that in the future a treatment for autism will be found, but until then we need to discover the autistic persons early so that they are treated properly d no problems occur. Here follows an autism symptoms checklist that contains all the signs that were noticed in multiple cases of autism and therefore are the most common:

-autistics have great problems with speaking, they can’t express themselves because their language skills are very poor

-they are avoiding to touch or to be touched by other people; they also avoid any eye contact

-they don’t like the company of others and they like to be alone, they have their own world

-autistic children play very different from the other children and their way of playing seems strange

-they have an increased sensitivity to bright lights and loud noises

-sometimes they seem to be deaf and they don’t even respond to their own name

-they focus at a single object for hours

-they appear to have a reduced sensitivity to pain but they don’t show any fear in some cases, for example if a car travelling at high-speed is heading straight in their direction

-the children who suffer from autism don’t like to cuddle and they don’t smile if they are smiled at

This autism symptoms checklist contains the most encountered symptoms of the disorder but autism manifests differently from case to case so it does not have a certain pattern. But if you see that a child presents at least 3 or 4 signs mentioned above then there are chances that he is autistic.

Treatments For Autism Suffering Children

Beside methods like behavior modification and communication skills development, autistic children and grown-ups must undergo dietary modifications and follow a certain medication as well.

Using dietary methods to treat the autistic disorder is still considered by some physicians controversial as it is surely known that diets cannot whatsoever cause autism. But autistic children may suffer from food allergies or slow digestion just like normally developed children of their age. Therapists may give vitamin supplements or even completely modify diets to conceive an improved intestinal digestion and eliminate food intolerances. Some digestive problems might interact with the patient’s behavior.

Autistic sufferers may present brain functions affected by increased absorption of some substances or insufficient breakdown of others in the intestinal tract. Many autistics have been detected to have high amounts of dairy products protein called casein or of proteins found in cereals like wheat, oats and rye called gluten. In all cases a nutritionist doctor must be consulted before eliminating gluten and casein from the patient’s diet as it may lead to dangerous side-effects.

Recent studies have shown an improvement of behavior, attention, learning skills and eye-contact in autistic children administered with magnesium, vitamin B, vitamin A and vitamin D and cod oil supplements. Vitamin C has also proved its benefic effects on depression and other autism symptoms.

A specific drug medication can be used to deal with some autism symptoms like anxiety or aggressiveness and with possible associated conditions like epilepsy. The obsessive- compressive behavior, anxiety and depression can all be improved by administering antidepressants. These drugs may also decrease irritability and the frequency and intensity of repetitive behavior. Antidepressants will as well decrease tantrums and aggression and improve eye contact and the response to treatment. Such medication is represented by products like Amitriptyline, Bupropion, Clomipramine, Fluvoxamine and Fluoxetine. All this substances may produce side-effects such as headaches, insomnia, dizziness and dryness.

Behavioral problems are treated with benzodiazepines as well, for example Diazepam, Alprazolam and Lorazepam. They cause side-effects like fatigue, ataxia and dizziness; if withdrawn after linger use they cause apparitions like muscular and abdominal pain, sweating, convulsions, tremors and vomiting.

Behavioral problems, withdrawal, hyperactivity and aggression can be well managed by administering antipsychotic medication such as Clozapine, Risperidone, Olanzapine and Quetiapine. Antipsychotics create side-effects like anxiety, headaches, insomnia, sedation and dizziness.

Concentration must be increased and impulsivity or hyperactivity in autistics must be decreased. All these can be accomplished by using methylphenidate, Amphetamine and Dextroamphetamine; all induce drug addiction and withdrawal may influence therapy. Side-effects of administration are hypertension, tachycardia, headaches, insomnia, abdominal pain, nervousness and loss of appetite.

Most of the autistic patients will require a life-long medical care. By proper early care, they might get a certain degree of independence and learn to communicate with others.

The Effects on the Development of Non-Autistic Children When They Have Older Autistic Siblings

Autism is currently affecting 1 in 150 children, but children who suffer from the effects of Autism are much higher. In a family with more than 1 child who have a child with Autism, the effects on the non-autistic sibling can be life long.

For a family whose Autistic sibling is the eldest, it creates an entirely different family structure with the younger non-autistic child either taking on a caregiver or guardianship role or emulating the behaviours of the child with Autism.

Children with Autism take up a lot of the parent’s time and energy often leaving little for the younger non-autistic sibling. Sometimes a non-autistic younger sibling feels that they have to compete for their parents attention and that the extra attention somehow means that the child with Autism is the more loved child. This can lead to resentment of their disabled sibling and sometimes negative behaviour. To these children, any attention is better than no attention – even if it is negative.

On the other side of the coin, a younger non-autistic sibling can sometimes copy their Autistic older brother or sisters mannerisms leading to a concern that this child may have Autism as well. Even in a normal household, this is what would happen. Younger children learn a lot from their older siblings and if the behaviour is not regarded as acceptable, how are they to know.

With early development, the non-autistic child is going to watch and copy what the older child is doing. They will learn their behaviours, the flapping, the stacking of blocks and sometimes, the guttural sounds that replace speech in approximately 50% of children with Autism. Care needs to be taken that the non-autistic sibling does get a chance to socialize with other children to encourage a healthy development. Even something as small as a playdate with a neighbours child or at a daycare with other non-autistic children of a similar age.

The beauty of children is, that unless they are taught to do so, they are going to treat their Autistic sibling like one of the family and accept their behaviours. They may not always like what they do, but, they will understand that the child with Autism is part of the family and will love them as such. They may take on a caregiver role, speaking for them, helping them with things etc and therefore the roles of older and younger sibling will be reversed.

Having children with Autism in the family can also sometimes lead to social isolation. It is difficult at best to take a child with Autism on some outings as sometimes their behaviours are not socially acceptable, e.g. the screaming and the flapping. Despite recent media attention about Autism, there remains quite a large number of the public who still are uneducated and look upon Autistic children as being naughty and undisciplined with bad parents.

For families with little or no outside help, it means less time going out as a family and also, unfortunately, less time that the non-autistic child gets to do things that other children their age are doing.

Educating the younger non-autistic sibling about Autism and how it is affecting their older sibling in an age appropriate manner is a good way of helping the younger child deal with some of the things they may not understand. Explaining to them that the older child is not always in control of what they do and that just because they behave in such a way, it does not make it right. Encourage the non-autistic sibling to discuss their feelings and encourage them to come up with ways that they can help out, thereby freeing up a bit more of their parents time for themselves.

Autism affects the entire family and it is only natural that the non-autistic sibling have some issues with role reversal and development but by communicating and being open, this can all be built on positively enabling the non-autistic child to build a healthy relationship with their Autistic sibling with little detrimental effect to their own development.

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Understanding Autism – Autistic Spectrum Disorder

According to statistics, there are about 400,000 autistic children in the united states!

Early diagnosis of autistic children can aide in the increased development of their social skills and the ability to better take care of themselves on a daily basis. Though autistic children are generally highly intelligent, autism impairs them by affective their communication and interaction with others, and the way they respond to external stimuli. Autistic children can often be identified by their difficulty in expressing themselves, or understanding others

Autism is more commonly known in the medical community as “autism spectrum disorder”. It was not until the middle of the 1900’s that science able to put a lable on something that was affecting so many people, especially children. Although autism is present at birth, signs of this disorder can be difficult to identify during infancy.

Because there is no medical cure for autism, parents of autism children rely on therapies like behavioral modification to help their children. Some children are looking to be reached while others are not. However, most of these children have to be dependent on someone, for their whole life. As if raising an child with autism is not challenging enough in and of itself, many parents of find themselves being made targets for doing everything they can to include their children in as normal a family life as possible.

Autistic children are visual learners and need a structured environment. In recent times a growing interest has been directed to teaching sign language to autistic kids who have failed to develop speech. Another more crucial advantage in teaching sign language is that it would lessen some of the learning problems that these kids face. Some severely autistic children have serious developmental delays, and may never speak.

Just looking at children with autism they seem healthy but in social situations when they “melt down”, outsiders believe they are just badly behaved and blame the parents. Caring for these children can be difficult, yet there are steps and actions that can be taken by parents to help them deal with the situations that will arise.

Most parents of autistic children grow to recognize what situations may cause an outburst. Many children rock back and forth, do the same motion with their hands continually. Autistic children that display outbursts of temper tantrums and anger, may create a challenge to manage them emotionally and physically. Because they cannot communicate, child feels he or she is not getting adequate attention they may act out by behaviors such as head-banging, biting themselves or scratching at body parts, to try getting some of the focus on themselves. Anxiety becomes even worse when there is a change in the autistic childs routine. Even positive and “fun” changes, like a school field trip or a visit to the zoo, can increase anxiety and aggressive behaviors.

Choose toys based on developmental level before choosing toys for autistic children, it is important to know what types of toys the child would benefit from. These experts agree that one important way to reach autistic children and help them in their development is through play.

Activities should be fun, challenging and should aim at their overall progress. Setting up activities for autistic children can help a great deal in their development. Bright colors for pictures can stimulate brain activity in the thinking process. Since children with autism develop at different rates and there are varying levels of autism, toys should be chosen based on developmental level.

Choose balance and movement toys along with playing with toys that require repetitive motion. Autistic children like to move things themselves in a repetitive way. Many look at these motions as strange, however many researchers tell you that repetitive movements help them to regulate their bodies.

Taking them for a visit to the park, a museum or to another child’s house for a party, is an ideal outdoor autistic kid’s activity. Outdoor activities should be conducted with all the necessary preparations and make sure that all precautions are implemented before hand.

Parents of autistic children often struggle to get them to sleep, and therefore struggle with their own sleep as well. The following tips are for parents to help their autistic child get to sleep and stay that way until morning:- set a bedtime and stick to it, including the routines that occur before bedtime. While some children respond well to having a nightlight, others require total darkness with a black out blind over the window for blocking the exterior light as well. Many autistic children sleep better when their bed is pushed up against the wall, as they feel more secure; a corner is even better.

Trying to figure out a puzzling condition like autism can be a lifelong challenge. For many parents, the affection issue may be the biggest. Learn to have fun together, sometimes it is not very easy to have fun with children with autism, but you can love your autistic child unconditionally. With patience and learning to go by the child’s cues and not your own, you will be able to connect with your child in a deep and meaningful way.

I know the heartache of having a child with Autism. My best friends step brother has Autism, and although he is not severe, there are alot of emotional and physical challenges every day. There is alot of information and resources out there to help people further understand and cope with an autistic child along with autistic teens and adults.

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Handspring Puppet Company presents GIPCA’s first lecture for 2012

Adrian Kohler and Basil Jones of the Handspring Puppet Company present GIPCA’s first Great Texts/Big Questions lecture for 2012. With reference to Temple Grandin’s Animals in Translation, these award-winning puppeteers will divulge details of the influences on their work, and the influence that they have had in turn.
Grandin is a high-functioning autistic who has written with great insight into the way animals and autistic people think. She explains how the mal-functioning fore-brain present in animals and autistics can in fact be an advantage, leading to a kind of ‘extreme perception’. Kohler and Jones will talk about the influence Grandin’s book has had on their work, explaining why they enrol their audiences as ‘autistics’ and what the implications of this way of regarding an audience are for their philosophy of the theatre.

Preceded by a short performance, “I love you when you are breathing”, Kohler and Jones will share their ideas on micro-movement and how central breath is to the life of the object. The presentation will culminate with a visual presentation and an interrogation of their production with the National Theatre of Great Britain, War Horse, and the significance of animal characters in a theatrical context.

Touring Southern Africa with a truck

Kohler and Jones met as students at the Michaelis School of Fine Art in 1971. Kohler was already interested in puppetry and followed the art form at the revolutionary Space Theatre, and later as director of a popular theatre program in Botswana, where Jones and Kohler were based in the late ’70s. In 1981 they returned to Cape Town and started the Handspring Puppet Company with two friends, and the four toured Southern Africa with a converted truck, visiting schools, playing for children and staying caravan parks, until the 1985 State of Emergency forced them out of schools.

Kohler and Jones relocated to Johannesburg where they worked in children’s television and, in
time, met and worked with many theatre directors including Barney Simon, Mark Fleishman, Malcolm Purkey and William Kentridge. A decade-long association with Kentridge saw the production of a number of iconic plays, including Woyzeck on the Highveld.

Their return to Cape Town in the late 1990s saw the focus of their work shift towards a portrayal of animals, such as chimpanzees, a giraffe and most recently horses. War Horse, which premièred in 2007, has become the most successful play that the National Theatre of Great Britain has produced, and has recently been made into a film by Steven Spielberg.

Working with the youth

Most recently, Jones and Kohler have formed the Handspring Trust, a non-profit NGO with premises in the Vrygrond informal settlement. The Trust works with youth in Barrydale/Smitsville and, as funding increases, will be collaborating with projects in Masiphumelele and Vrygrond.

Kohler and Jones with Handspring Puppet Company are the recipients of a number of awards including an Olivier Award in London and a Tony Award in New York.

Social media to rescue Jail4Bail campaign?

Gerhard Pieterse, the executive director of Autism Western Cape, has committed himself to voluntary imprisonment as a fund-raising exercise in support of autism. With the goal of reaching R1 000 000 in raised funds, initially, the marketing of Jail4Bail has been much as you would expect: using traditional press releases, and relying on conventional media to spread the word.
Jail4Bail, raising R 1 million for Autism awareness!With about two weeks left in the campaign, the funds were about half way to target. And that is when social media, represented by Rafiq Phillips , stepped in.

Phillips is what can best be explained as “super-connected”. He has even featured as the face of Web 2.0 on Carte Blanche. And he understands new media, specifically its viral opportunities. Phillips believed that if the right social media tools were mobilised, more funds could be raised and the campaign could reach the global market. He seems to be right.

Started small

What started as a couple of twitter messages to the 700-odd people that follow Phillips has culminated in Jail4Bail receiving prominent exposure. Note that some of the social media campaigns (such as the Zoopy videos) were live some time before Phillips began his promotional activity, which simply augmented the attention to those sites:

Google: 6370 entries for search term “jail4Bail”
Social media aggregator Afrigator: Dedicated page and distribution of Jail4Bail badge
Social media sharing sites Zoopy/YouTube: videos relevant to the campaign, including an message from Hellen Zille, hosted on Zoopy and YouTube
Facebook: a Facebook profile for Pieterse
Microblogging service Twitter: Twitter started the main social media campaign around Jail4Bail, and continues the discussion
Blogs: Many individuals have bogged about the campaign. You can find a comprehensive list on the Afrigator page .
Social bookmarking services Muti/Digg
Social media aggregator Friendfeed: A room was set up on Friendfeed to follow the discussion around the champaign
Website: was registered and set up by Wogan May after the launch of the social media campaign
T-shirt competition: Vincent Hofmann of Moral Fibre is having t-shirts printed that will be auctioned off to raise funds for Jail4Bail

Not all is good news, though. You might be tempted to think that because this is in aid of charity, that the new media environment is kinder and more receptive than it would be in other circumstances. But that is not necessarily true. Criticism and slashback are also evident. For instance, Adi, who is an autistic adult blogged her criticism of the campaign:

“I do not want this one-sided, negative view of autism that is reflected in the actions of the organisation to speak for me and other autistics, of all ages – at all. And if the AWC’s message is not sympathetic towards the autistic, then what is it?”

True nature of the social media beast

This exercise shows the true nature of the social media beast:

if there is something worthwhile talking about, the local social media network can come together and independently still work as a team;
you cannot block yourself off from negative criticism, but you can respond to it pro actively;
there are no geographical boundaries to social media campaigns;
a successful social media discussion spreads fast, and on multitude platforms simultaneously
you have to let go of the message, and trust others with it;
getting your audience impassioned is a good tactic to ensure successful reaction;
be transparent when voicing your goals for the campaign

Of course, the best media coverage (new or old) is worth nothing if it doesn’t get results. The Jail4bail campaign will finish at the end of August 2008, and it will be interesting to see what percentage of funds raised will be generated in these last two weeks of heavy social media involvement. Already we know that 500 Euros were sent in from Belgium, local companies have pledged additional funds and that the “SMS for R10” has been used by the online community.

Usually we hear about social media success stories/case studies well after they are over, and we tend to only talk about the successful ones. Now, the campaign is out in the open, there is nowhere to hide, and it will be interesting to see whether this will also be a case study for the books.

Well Rounded Health Practices in Relationships

In today’s world, people are very concerned about their health. This concern extends to the food they eat, the exercise they do (or don’t do) and the work they follow. But one important consideration is sometimes missed – sexual health.

Sexual health in relations is a critical part of any comprehensive health plan, as important as weight, height and carbohydrate count. It is vital in any healthy relationship to discuss with each other their past sexual history and any health issues around it. After all, you talk about your financial and personal history with your partner, do you not? It is equally important to talk through any issues around your sex life before they cause real problems.

We all agree that a visit to the doctor is essential each year for a checkup, just to make sure everything is working well. Continue reading →

How Brain Size Is Related To Autism

A study has revealed that autistics have a comparatively larger brain than children not affected by the same. Today autism is treated with Hyperbaric Therapy , a well known oxygen therapy which helps improve cognitive disorders in children. Growth in brain size takes place prior to 2 years of age. The report has taken us in surprise. Hardly anyone of us had thought that brain size matters when it comes to detecting children with or without autistic traits. A recent study conducted on children revealed a truth that has obviously shocked many of us. The truth revealed an amazing fact; that major differences in sizes of brains were detected between little ones suffering and not suffering from autism.

However these experts didn’t quite understand whether changes in the brain actually leads to cognitive impairment or not. There are still many of them in search of answers to questions such as this. Autism which is often diagnosed as a cognitive impairment which leads to communication and other interactive disorders. As studied by experts from the University of North Carolina, 2 year olds with autistic traits had brains which were 10% larger than those who didn’t actually possess such traits.

On receiving the images of brains of these same children at the age of 4 or 5, they found that the growth in brain size remained almost static; but remained larger than the ones who were non-autistic. There are experts who are trying to seek an answer in detecting the right age when brain alterations take place. Today there are many people suffering from autism. Hyperbaric oxygen therapy has proven to be one of the most efficient treatments for brain disorders. Children caught with autistic traits are readily offered hyperbaric therapy in order to improve their brain functioning. However it is unknown whether the therapy has helped change the size of brains.

HBOT therapy makes use of oxygen whereby the body is supplied with excess oxygen helping the circulatory systems of the body to work optimally. On receiving excess oxygen the circulatory systems of the human body starts working better. This helps the proper dissemination of fluids to the brain cells. Growth in brains is typically found in infants in an age of 1. A study has conducted on autistic children has revealed that children start showing typical autistic traits at a tender age of 6 months only. As they grow the traits total surface area of the organ. Autism which generally detected at the age of 3 is a major problem which the world is fighting against. Those diagnosed at an early stage can show signs of improvements though not completely. Occupational Therapy has also proven its benefits on children receiving it.

HBOT therapy makes use of oxygen whereby the body is supplied with excess oxygen helping the circulatory systems of the body to work optimally. On receiving excess oxygen the circulatory systems of the human body starts working better. This helps the proper dissemination of fluids to the brain cells. Growth in brains is typically found in infants in an age of 1. A study has conducted on autistic children has revealed that children start showing typical autistic traits at a tender age of 6 months only. As they grow the traits total surface area of the organ. Autism which generally detected at the age of 3 is a major problem which the world is fighting against. Those diagnosed at an early stage can show signs of improvements though not completely. Occupational Therapy has also proven its benefits on children receiving it.

Living With Autism: Modern Therapies

Autism is a part of a group of disorders known as �Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD)�. It is a neurobiological disorder that typically lasts throughout a person’s lifetime. Being on this spectrum means that the disease manifests itself in many different forms. Different people with autism can have many different symptoms. When a diagnosis is made, it could range from mild to severe, and could have extreme differences in the condition of the patient. For example, a child may rarely speak and may have difficulty in overall learning, while another child can be hyperactive and able to attend various classes in a normal school set-up.

No two children with autism are alike, and once the diagnosis is made, parents might have a hard time to recover from the shock of learning that their child has a developmental disorder. However, it is not the end of the world and there are ways to cope and deal with the disease. Autism therapies, such as behavioral therapy for autism and autistics speech therapy are constantly being researched and developed to attempt to lessen the deficits and abnormal behaviors associated with autism and other autisms spectrum disorders.

Autism behavioral therapy looks at behavior analysis as an approach in understanding the condition of the patient. Behavioral therapy forums have mentioned that behavioral therapy has been used successfully with many kinds of learners of all ages, with or without disabilities, in many different settings.

Behavioral therapies teach social, motor, and verbal behaviors as well as reasoning skills. It uses careful behavioral observation and positive reinforcement to teach certain behaviors that children may otherwise not pick up on their own. The idea is to reinforce wanted behaviors, and reduce unwanted ones. This is a popular therapy that involves breaking down tasks into individual components, and whenever the child is successful in completing the task, he or she is rewarded. It is believed that this form of therapy has a 47% success rate, and is a therapy that should be explored as one of your many options to helping your autistic child.

While there is no cure for autism there is also no shortage of treatments helping to manage the range of symptoms. Parents and therapists also report success with other commonly used behavioral therapies, including Floortime, Pivotal Response Therapy and Verbal Behavior Therapy. All these are ways to help minimize the symptoms of autism and to maximize learning.

Other ways of getting treatment or assistance for autism is through educational and school-based options. In this set-up, there are typically a team of teachers, caregivers, school psychologists, and other child development specialists working together with the parents to design therapies tailored to the needs of the patient.

When you suspect that there is something is wrong with your child, do not wait. Trust your instincts. Once he or she is diagnosed with autism, it is important that your child gets a reputable healthcare team who is able to respond to his or her shifting needs appropriately.