By Elayne Pearson, Special Needs Preparedness Specialist, CAS
Most children love Halloween, but it can be tricky―and downright scary for some. This holiday can be problematic for people with sensory issues―from the intense sights, sounds, smells, tastes, and textures bombarding them each October. If you have a child affected by a special-need, especially autism, Halloween can be a complex time. It can conjure a cauldron of concerns―resulting in amplified anxiety, increased impulsivity, deeper withdrawal, and even insomnia and nightmares. Yikes!
Over the many years with Heidi Ann (our little pumpkin with Down syndrome and autism) I learned several strategies to make this crazy/creepy holiday not only a happier one for her, but a sane one for us. My acronym “HALLOWEEN” offers options, cautions, and examples to help set a better tone. Continue Reading →
By Taveesha Guyton, Social Worker & soon-to-be CAS
I am a social work professional whose expertise is working with the intellectually-disabled and population of individuals with autism. I really love my job and who I work for. My sole purpose in my position is to provide resources, education and advocacy for this steady growing population, which affects 1 in 68 births in the United States.
1. Listen to you clients.What I want for my clients is very different from what they want for themselves. Many times in the field, professionals who work with clients look at the end result versus looking at the here and now. I have learned to listen what is being said and sometimes what is not being said.
2. Provide Choices.Providing choices. It is important to exercise the ability to choose. Providing options are the best way for people to find out what they like and do not like and it also helps create more conversation about many other things. Choice making is a skill I feel is not exercised enough with this population. (Check out great visual support ideas here.)
3. Ensure proper supports are in place.What is needed for this individual with autism to maintain a ” normal” life is usually the question asked and how do we as a professionally supportive community help create this world for this individual? Will the individual need vocational rehabilitation because their goal is to earn competitive wages? If the individual’s goal is to live alone, will this person need the assistance of a Supported Living Coach? Will this individual need guidance for activities of daily living such as medication management, making doctor’s appointments, meal preparation and grocery shopping? What about socialization and community-based outings? Will the individual need someone to help integrate them into the community?
In assisting in the coordination and maintenance of services for the individual with special needs or autism, social workers are able to make the lives of individuals with autism a little better.
By Elayne Pearson, Special Needs Preparedness Specialist, Author, and National Speaker
July is great for recalling our amazing heritage in this choice land. I adore the patriotic music, programs, and parades. However, there were many years when even attending a local July 4th parade with Miss Heidi, our cute daughter with Down syndrome and autism, was very stressful. Personally, I loved the spirit of patriotism, the scalloped star-spangled bunting, and creating parade floats. Our four daughters in their crisp red, white, and blue outfits (and matching hair bows) undoubtedly felt the excitement in the air too, but our youngest, Heidi (who craved peace, quiet, and predictability) probably felt like she was entering a war zone, with random firecrackers, flashing police lights directing the excited mobs, smoke and BBQ odors from vendors, and bands playing with true vigor. More than once, Heidi darted off in a “parade panic” and our family (also in a panic) thankfully always found her.