The story of Luke

Although I already had three children and although Matthew was hardly typical, when Luke was born there was no way that I could have ever been prepared for him. Luke was a beautiful baby who was born screaming and screaming and screaming A picture of a rare occasion when he was quiet After the hospital staff decided that given I was an experienced mother, he might settle better at home, I was discharged sooner than was originally planned. Still Luke screamed. The days turned into weeks and the...

School

Whilst the above scenario seems amusing, can you imagine the trouble a child would get into if the conversation were carried out with a teacher rather than a parent Undoubtedly there are some teachers who may indeed understand an autistic child's way of thinking, however I am certain that there are far more who don't and would be forgiven for thinking that a child was merely being cheeky. All parents with an autistic child at any place on the spectrum know far too well the difficulties that...

Family

'No one knows what goes on behind closed doors'. The saying often has negative connotations but in many ways it is relevant to most of our lives. The home is a place where people can be themselves, where masks are dropped and family members can feel secure in the knowledge that they are accepted for who they are and what they are. Obviously there are exceptions to such households and there are many children who have grown up with less than positive input from their parents and family members....

DSMIV and Dsmiv Tr Diagnostic criteria for Reading Disorder Dyslexia

Reading achievement, as measured by individually administered standardized tests of reading accuracy or comprehension, is substantially below that expected given the person's chronological age, measured intelligence, and age-appropriate education. B. The disturbance in Criterion A significantly interferes with academic achievement or activities of daily living that require reading skills. C. If a sensory deficit is present, the reading difficulties are in excess of those usually associated...

Interventions

In my experience, a holistic approach to any difficulty is needed. In order for symptoms to be ameliorated and the child to go on to live a happy and fruitful life, the disabling symptoms of AD HD need to be attacked aggressively. One thing that I am sure of is the need for all those involved with a child or adult with AD HD to work together. The way forward for this growing number of children with such difficulties is for a multi-disciplinary team to be available to families of AD HD children....

Introduction

It's Friday night and it is a rare occasion .none of the teenagers are going out and there are no 'spare' ones either. The house is filled with laughter and all of us are on our hands and knees on the floor, giggling hysterically. The reason We are sniffing around to see where the smell of poo is coming from After each one of us has entered the 'orange' room (Ben insists on colour coding everything) and have baulked at the smell that greets us, we decide to go on a hunt to find the offending...

Are you sitting comfortably

In my humble opinion, the actual seating of the child should be evaluated by an occupational therapist to ensure that the child is sitting with his or her feet flat on the floor and that the desk and chair are at the appropriate height for him or her to work as comfortably as possibly. However it is not merely the size and type of chair on which a child is seated that makes a difference to his or her education but also where a child with AD HD is seated. Most, if not all, children with ADD or...

The story of

Once Joe had come out of hospital and I didn't have to travel for two hours just be able to spend time with him, once it was no longer necessary for me to drag five children, two with difficulties, along with me, life became easier. Joe was still a difficult child, needing regular nebulizers and a nightly feeding pump, and so his father started to take turns with me. Eventually we decided to try again as a family and Ben was conceived - maybe he wasn't planned but, like all of his brothers and...

School and ADHD

While this book focuses primarily on parenting a 'multicoloured household', aiming to help parents to understand and look after each individual child and the family as a whole, I am optimistic enough to hope that there are some teachers out there who want to learn all they can about teaching our multicoloured children. Children with AD HD, maybe more so than any other disorder, have problems at school. Exclusion is all too common, and those of you with children with AD HD will be painfully...

And now a bit more about

Attention Deficit, Hyperactivity Disorder. As much as I can understand why it has been given such a title, it does seem slightly inaccurate. Joe doesn't seem to have a deficit at all but rather an overload The overload may certainly result in an inability to concentrate and attend, and so seems like a deficit, but in reality he has too many thoughts in his head, too many ideas, too much energy. What I have to remind myselfconstantly is that when Joe is fidgeting and tapping and stretching and...

Imagination

Impairment in imagination is another difficult concept to grasp as I yet again wonder what constitutes an impairment and who decides such a thing. I know for certain that Joe, with a predominant diagnosis of AD HD, has a massive impairment in this area but on the surface he could be seen to be the most imaginative boy alive. I write more about that in Chapter 5 I am merely arguing that an impairment in my maybe trivial (after all I am 'only' a parent) opinion is when something hinders the...

Theory of mind

Rita Jordan (1999) stated that 'it is not just that children with autism do not understand what others are thinking and feeling but that they do not understand that they are thinking and feeling' (cited by Cumine, Leach and Stevenson 2000) - they are not capable of putting themselves in someone else's shoes or even of realizing that other people are wearing shoes (This saying would cause my boys to don my shoes and prove me wrong.) This lack of'theory of mind' in autistic children seems to...

Teacch

The TEACCH approach was first developed in North Carolina in 1966. On reading more about TEACCH, many parents realize that they inadvertently adopt the same kind of methods without realizing it. How many of us have set up a working area for our autistic child How many of us use schedules, pictures and social stories to enable our children to make sense of their environment The TEACCH approach aims to help children make sense of their environment thus ameliorating stress and fear rather than...

A change is as good as a rest

Well have I put you off Whilst my diary entries may have sounded as if I was tired and the holiday was too much for me to cope with - that just isn't true. I wrote at the end of a day and not every day. Each day we saw the wonderful sights of Disney World, coped admirably with the heat and I managed to cook for the special dietary needs of the children far more easily than at home. I also made sure that on many of our frequent occasions to the pharmacy, I spoiled myself by buying expensive...

Conclusion to the Chaos

If anyone has one then please let me know Whether you have dipped into this book and merely read chapters that are applicable to your family life and situation, or whether you have read from cover to cover and so taken a peek into our multicoloured mayhem, I can only hope that the experience has been educational, enlightening and entertaining. The experiences of parenting a severely autistic child who smears poo, harms him- or herself and is unhappy with the world cannot be equated with the...

A few more colours

As I have illustrated, Joe seems to fit the criteria for many other 'conditions' though I prefer to think of Joe as having an autistic spectrum 'difference' with a predominant label of AD HD - Joe is simply (well maybe it's not so simple ) Joe. I have written briefly how added extras such as dyspraxia, dyslexia and sensory issues affect us as a household, just as I have written about autism, AD HD and Asperger Syndrome in later chapters. Other colours of the autistic spectrum and labels which...

A time for everything

Most parents are quick to become aware that there is something different about their child and by the time their child has been assessed and a diagnosis has been given, they are often merely expecting the professional to tell them what they already knew and even feel a sense of relief that they have some answers. However to have it confirmed and to see it in writing is very different from knowing in your heart that there is something different about your child. Some parents have battled for...

ADD and ADHD

UK Hyperactive Children's Support Group. http www.addiss.co.uk UK information and support group. US National Attention Deficit Disorder Association. http www.nfgcc.org The US National Foundation for Gifted and Creative Children. http www.chadd.org US website for children and adults with ADD and AD HD.

And now time to eat

Many of us have images, either from our past or from the television, of family dinners. All the children sit around a table, behaving impeccably, not an argument to be heard. Mother smiles sweetly as she serves delicious looking meals to her grateful children and all sit down to eat and exchange family news.in your dreams If any of you with autistic children or even with more than one child experience anything remotely resembling this then I really must hear of your secret Mealtimes are one...

Applied Behavioural Analysis ABA Lovaas Institute for Early Intervention

ABA is intensive behavioural intervention based on the premise that all behaviours can be learned through a series of small steps which can then be built upon and positive reinforcement given. ABA programmes are usually for up to forty hours a week after baseline skills have been identified and a programme then drawn up accordingly. Whilst some criticize ABA for being narrow and controlling, others report significant gains after following their approach. Are you left scratching your head and...

Asperger Syndrome a mild form of autism

Before you all cry out in horror at this subtitle, let me tell you that it was written with much sarcasm Those of you parenting, teaching or caring for someone with Asperger Syndrome or with AS yourself will know only too well that the difficulties that come along with being 'differently wired' are far from mild. However, a simple definition is needed in order to explain the group of symptoms which, when found together, are called Asperger Syndrome. AS is a form ofautism, part of the autistic...

Asperger Syndrome in adolescence

Whilst Luke is one of five teenagers living in the Jackson household, having AS means that he dances to a rather different tune to the rest of the children, so although I have written a chapter later on about 'typically developing' adolescents (Chapter 9), I thought it necessary to write a separate brief section about AS and adolescence. The book Asperger Syndrome in Adolescence, edited by Liane Holliday-Willey, is an excellent read and co-written by many authors (myselfbeing one of them) it...

Asperger Syndrome in the family

I truly believe that the best way to discover the depths and intricacies of the AS mind is to listen to what an AS person has to say for him- or herself (stating the obvious rather ). It is therefore for that reason (and a little bit of motherly pride) that I have quoted from and mentioned Luke's book Freaks, Geeks and Asperger Syndrome many times already in earlier chapters. Luke gives a valuable insight into how he thinks, feels and views the world and so I am, in the main, going to write...

Autism

As I have just written about the cocktail of different kinds of autism both within my family and in each of my boys, I apologize for the fact that I am now going to write mainly about Ben. The main reason for this is because although Luke has Asperger Syndrome, a form of autism, although Joe has AD HD and a kaleidoscope of different autistic spectrum 'differences' and Matthew has many autistic ways, woven into the dyspraxia and dyslexia, autism is Ben's main diagnosis and his endearing (and not...

Awaiting a diagnosis

How often have you heard Well they all do that or He looks fine to me Most parents of AS children already have a pretty good idea that something is different about their child so to be 'reassured' can be infuriating. Whilst many children do have their funny little ways and many children may indeed have characteristics of autism but not enough to impair them sufficiently to warrant a diagnosis, there are also numerous children who could benefit from support in school and understanding from...

Behaviour Modification

Whilst medication can play a part in providing 'windows' of attention in order for children with AD HD to learn, these are crutches rather than cures and need to be used alongside some form of behavioural intervention. Personally I dislike the terms 'behaviour modification' or 'behavioural intervention'. As parents, we naturally and automatically carry out these 'interventions' daily - and not only with our AD HD children. However, children with AD HD have often received a diagnosis after...

Calming the chaos tips for mealtimes

For those of you experiencing mealtime madness either because of your autistic children and their restrictions and rigidity, because of the need to cater for special diets or, like me, because of a mixed household I am afraid I can give no definitive answers to the problems you have. You can rest assured however that you are not alone (not much consolation I know ). I will however, gladly share those tips that in our household go some way to calming the chaos. For those of you with children...

Count your blessings

After a gruelling parents' evening at which I struggled to maintain my teenage daughters' flagging confidence and self-esteem in the face ofa slating from her teachers, I drove her home, all the while maintaining a balance between firm and advisory, and supportive and sympathetic. I listened to poor Rachel's tales of woe and whilst I truly feel for the teenagers, under so much stress with work and peer pressure, I still arrived home tired and weary of being an emotional prop, and feeling just a...

Different is cool

Whilst I have written deliberately about AS from my perspective and what it is like living with Luke, one thing he makes perfectly clear throughout his book is the fact that he doesn't see Asperger Syndrome as a disorder. His motto is 'different is cool' and although he says that when things get tough, he sometimes has to use that as his mantra and repeat it over and over to himself in a bid to convince himself of its accuracy, all in all he wouldn't change the way he is one iota not many of us...

Dyslexia

Many children on the autistic spectrum also have dyslexia. Dyslexia comes from the Greek meaning 'difficulty with words' and is a difference in the brain area that deals with language. Again, like dyspraxia, there is no 'only' about dyslexia - it pervades many areas of life. Interestingly, dyslexia and dyspraxia often go hand in hand and many difficulties that are present in one are also present in the other. As with a dyspraxia child, a dyslexic child may be clumsy, often tripping, have...

Eating disorders

Whilst preparing a mass of different meals for myriad picky eaters including those with special dietary needs can be stressful, it pales into insignificance in comparison to the worries about the emotional and mental well-being of the children. It seems, as parents, that there are some areas over which we have very little or even no control and as our children reach their adolescent years these areas increase. One such area is indeed exactly what and how much our children eat. The media,...

Food for thought

Any kind of writing on family life would not be complete without mentioning mealtimes. In mine and maybe all other large families, mealtimes, and indeed anything relating to food, seem to be one area that causes even the most placid ofchildren to sharpen their claws and fight. Maybe in a large family it really is seen as survival of the fittest. Regardless of the size of the family however, the presence of autism, AD HD or any related difference can cause an explosion of colour that is blinding

Further biological interventions

For Ben, Joe and Luke to get to the stage they are at now, I have researched and tried many forms of intervention, some of them biological. The Sunderland Protocol (Shattock and Whitely 2000) details a logical sequence of biological interventions, and many places, including the autism research unit in Sunderland and the Autism Research Centre in San Diego, continue to research the biological differences in autistic people, producing a growing amount of evidence that shows that autism is more...

Inattention

The inability to concentrate or sustain attention for any length oftime is undoubtedly the most disabling part of AD HD or ADD. It often appears that children with AD HD or ADD have associated learning difficulties and whilst this is true in some cases, in many others it is the inability to concentrate long enough to learn that causes the difficulties. These difficulties have far reaching consequences and can spread into every area of life and indeed, throughout the whole of someone's life....

Life with Luke

After Luke was diagnosed, I felt relieved that at last I had a name for the collection of differences that made Luke so special but yet so unusual. However .although I knew what was different about Luke, although it had been given a name, I have to say that I still didn't quite take it on board. I read up on AS, I talked to the school about how best they could help him, I liaised with the autism team and tried hard not to overload Luke with sensory experiences and unpredictability. With others...

Looking on the positive side

Whilst I have included many tips on how to survive (and enjoy) life with our colourful children in Chapter 12, the 'Survival guide', one thing that is vitally important for all parents of children with AD HD is to remember that as much as it may not feel like it sometimes, AD HD does have its positives too. This side is often overlooked. AD HD is present in many highly intuitive, creative people and it is important to recognize that our very special children have a wealth of capabilities and...

On the positive side

Despite the fact that life is often very hard for siblings of children with special needs, when looked at from a different perspective, their brother's or sister's differences can also have a positive impact on the whole family .the main one of course being the fun Who can fail to smile as Ben spins into the room and lights up the room with his beautiful smile and endearing ways Who can keep their faces straight as Joe does impressions, crazy dances and makes up jokes As Matthew, in all...

Put Safety First

Whether on holiday or at home, for any parent or carer of children of any age, safety issues are of the utmost importance. Whether we worry about our teenagers engaging in risk-taking, the lack of forethought in our AD HD children, the lack of awareness in our autistic children or the clumsiness of our dyspraxic children, nothing is surer than the fact that as parents .we worry I feel that I would be neglecting my duty to other parents and children if I didn't write separately about safety...

Repetitive behaviours

Many children with autism engage in some kind of self-stimulatory behaviours. Some children flap their arms or their hands, some spin things in front of their eyes, some flick their fingers .some don't do anything at all. Ben flaps his hands and spins (boy, does he spin) at home and flicks his fingers in front of his eyes. However he now does such things mainly at home, though when he is out he flicks his fingers when stressed. For me, the finger flicking when away from home is a useful...

Routine and change

Most writings on autism state that autistic people do not like change and need routine. Whilst this may be true in most cases, there are always exceptions. In fact a friend ofmine has an undoubtedly autistic son who certainly doesn't seem to show any noticeable difference in his behaviour regardless of where he is taken, how his routine is disrupted or how his environment changes. However he is non verbal and most definitely has the triad of impairments. As I have stated so many times, autism...

Safety suggestions

Whilst all these examples make chilling reading and show exactly what can happen to our children, the following general tips may help all those dealing with a child anywhere on the autistic spectrum and save you a few grey hairs Child proof your house. Don your autism, dyspraxia and AD HD glasses and take a fresh look around your house. Check for any window ledges or balconies that could be beckoning your child and check all windows are safe, preferably double glazed, can only be opened from...

Sensory Integration Dysfunction

You open the fridge only to realize that there is nothing to make for tea. Not a problem for most parents - it's then merely a case of grabbing your child or children, and nipping around the corner shop to buy a few essentials. Easy .I wish For me and many other parents of children with sensory problems the story is very different. Taking two children, both with sensory problems, shopping is akin to performing a military operation. I open the fridge and realize that there is nothing to make for...

Setting boundaries

One of the hardest things, at least for me, as a parent of many teenagers, is to find, set and stick to secure boundaries. The fine line between friend and confidant, parent and disciplinarian is often blurred and the children and all of their friends often step over this. Maybe this is where it is harder to be a single parent. Sometimes I yearn for the support of another adult, I long for someone to step in and tell them that enough is enough and it is time to clear off, tidy up or just leave...

Social interaction

When Ben was younger and before the many interventions and therapies we embarked on in a bid to reach him, it was very obvious that he had difficulties in social situations .he just didn't interact at all. In his own world he laughed and flapped and flicked and lined things up and people were merely objects to be used to gain access to his needs or wants. Now autism is much harder to spot in Ben - in fact I am sure there are those who would dispute the diagnosis (or maybe I am fooling myself)....

Son Rise programme Option approach

The Son-Rise approach is a child centred approach which focuses on unconditional acceptance, whilst encouraging self-motivation and working on the theory that everyone has options in life. With the Son-Rise approach it is believed that if optimum conditions are given (positive attitude and environment), the brain has the capacity to restore itself. It is a home based approach, originally developed in Massachusetts, and necessitates a 'playroom' to provide a suitable environment in which the...

Survival skills

Whilst I endeavour to impart any wisdom I have gained over the years to parents, carers and professionals reading this, I may even attempt to practise what I preach My wonderful online friends are all parents of children with autism or a related condition and try their best to encourage me to take time out for myselfand to learn to relax. That is not something I am good at doing. In fact I find it impossible. Personally I need to be doing a dozen jobs at once otherwise I get bored. Everyone is...

Teenage transformations

It is important to remember too that even though, technically, the term 'adolescence' covers anything from the onset of puberty up till the age of eighteen when someone is classed legally as an adult, adolescent milestones vary according to their age. How a teenager thinks, reacts and behaves in early adolescence is quite different to those in middle adolescence and again different to those in later adolescence. I am lucky enough to have a selection from each group - as I have said, I truly am...

The Parents Survival Guide

Well I don't know about anyone reading this, but I know for sure that I need a pick me up after writing such an important but depressing chapter Today the sun is shining, the birds are singing .and the house is in chaos - nothing new It is Anna's birthday and as usual I am the first one up, having been dragged out of bed by my nose by Ben. He had actually awoken at 2.30am and so I had positioned him in front of a video with a bowl of popcorn and fallen asleep on the settee. Awaking with a start...

The story of Matthew

Matthew was born at twenty-four weeks' gestation. I had a difficult pregnancy and was on bed rest in hospital the whole time because my placenta had started to separate. At eighteen weeks I began an early labour and bled profusely and by twenty-four weeks Matthew decided to make his appearance in the world. He weighed 'less than a bag of sugar'. (How many times have those of you who have had premature babies heard that ) Matthew progressed in much the same way as any premature baby with the...

Therapies and interventions

As a parent of children with special needs, I know far too well how it feels to bombarded with information about 'treatments', therapies and interventions for our children. I also know that our job as parents is to help our children reach their full potential whatever that may be, so each of us needs to research the various methods available and decide on what we think will suit both our child's needs and the family's. In my personal opinion, the difficulties of autism need a multi-pronged...

Maintaining your own identity

As a mother of so many children, one thing that gets me down more than anything else is the fact that I often feel as if I have lost my identity. How many of you meet other parents at the school gates and introduce yourself only as someone's mum When Luke speaks at conferences or does interviews, I often wear a badge saying 'Luke's Mum' on it and inwardly scream that I may be his mum but I am a person in my own right too Shortly after having Anna, I began studying with the Open University in a...

Avoiding conflict

I am asked so many times if my girls help me with the little boys or the housework - in short.the answer is no I can ask one or other of them to put Ben to bed or try to calm Joe down and they do occasionally try, but teenagers are naturally self-absorbed. Each one of them has his or her own personality, worries and difficulties to attend to. Whether it is a spot on their nose, a fall out with a boyfriend or school pal, or just a hormonal mood, the girls and the boys seldom mix. In a large...

An Autism Cocktail

Add a liberal dose of autism, a pinch of Asperger Syndrome, a generous helping of AD HD and a dash of sensory and motor problems to an already frantic family and one may be excused for thinking that it would be a recipe for disaster In fact the situation is quite the opposite .it produces a taste of diversity, a zest for knowledge and a yearning for understanding. Many people object to the use of a spectrum as an analogy to define the many variations of autism. It is considered to be too two...

And a few more visitors

Whilst the children pester me for a pet and I dogmatically say no, I cannot escape the fact that our colourful household seems to attract far more than other children We did at one point have seven birds, one for each of the children, but as these died they were never replaced and I have to say that as much as they were part of the family and I was sorry to see them go, I was not sorry that I didn't need to clean up feathers and bird poo along with the mess and chaos created by the children. My...

ADHD hazards

Those of you who are parents or carers of children with AD HD will be more than aware of these hazards. The combination of inattention, hyperactivity and impulsiveness all add up to a nerve-wracking combination. I am sure I am not alone in the fact that I have so many stories to tell of Joe's antics that I just wouldn't know where to start. Each day I awake with a jolt (as Ben pulls me by the nose at 3.30am ) and my very first thought is 'I wonder what Joe is up to ' I invariably am greeted...

Sibling Situations

Any parent is well aware of the fact that as soon as that tiny bundle enters into your family, you automatically take on the role of nurse, teacher, counsellor, cleaner, chauffeur .the list is endless. Whilst I accept and even enjoy most of these roles (well maybe enjoy is not quite the right word, especially when it comes to the cleaning role ), one I would give up instantly is that of .referee Whilst I have just written about family fun, an aspect of family life that certainly is not fun is...

Language and communication

The impairment in communication in a person with autism can differ in its level of severity. One autistic person may never speak at all whilst another may use language well. Some children bombard people with questions or talk constantly some children have echolalia, merely repeating back what they have heard. Many autistic children simply pick up language they have heard from videos and cartoons. Anyone who knows all of my family knows that much of Ben's language is actually Joe's, copied but...

Intervention programmes

Website for the Lovaas Institute for Early Intervention (Applied Behavioural Analysis). http www.son-rise.org Information on the Son-Rise project. Link to the PECS (Picture Exchange Communication System) website. Information and links regarding TEACHH (Treatment and Education of Autistic and related Communication Handicapped Children). http www.auditoryintegration.net Auditory integration therapy link. Auditory integration therapy link and retailers of 'The Listening Program'.

Special diets

As I have already written in previous chapters, Luke, Ben and Joe are on special diets and I am sure many of you reading this have children who also have special dietary needs for whatever reason. Whilst in an ideal world, families ofchildren on special diets would all eat the same foods and everyone would bake together and eat together in a perfect picture of family harmony and happiness, some things just are not ideal In our household I have Luke, Ben and Joe on the gluten- and casein-free...

Dietary intervention

If I steal stuff like a biscuit, I get really bad tummy ache and feel really mean sometimes and sometimes really silly and I can't stop being angry. - Joe Jackson However despondent I feel at times, however doubtful of my own parenting skills, however much I blame myself, logic usually fights back and tells me that my children are all part of a big family, all parented solely by a mother, all are the recipients of much love and attention and all have a good home life and want for nothing. These...

An unseen guest

Hands up those of you reading this who have an additional extra as a family member .a Mr Nobody Mr Nobody walks mud all over the floor, eats the last piece of cake, wears my make-up, breaks crockery, squirts toothpaste around the bathroom - most problems in this house are laid squarely at the feet of Mr Nobody I have heard all too often that children with autism are not capable of lying. Joe's blurring of fact and fiction throws a slightly different angle on that idea, however all four of the...

Recommended Reading

Blachman, D.R. and Hinshaw, S. (2002) 'Patterns of friendship among girls with and without Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder.' Journal of Abnormal Child Psychology 30, 625-640. Cumine,V., Leach, J. and Stevenson, G. (1998) Asperger Syndrome A Practical Guide for Teachers. London David Fulton Publishers. Cumine,V., Leach, J. and Stevenson, G. (2000) Autism in the Early Years A Practical Guide. London David Fulton Publishers. Dowty, T. and Cowlishaw, K. (2001) Home Educating Our Autistic...

Does my child have ADHD

The diagnosis of AD HD in itself is a contested issue. Many paediatricians feel it is over-diagnosed and is a modern-day label for children with behavioural problems. On the other hand, there are also paediatricians who believe that the disorder is actually under-diagnosed and far more children would benefit from early diagnosis and intervention. Whilst no two children are the same, whether or not they have AD HD, children or indeed adults with AD HD all have a core set of symptoms These three...

Large families

If you are one of these people who, like me, automatically answers when someone shouts Mum regardless of where you are or who is with you, if you have to count your children when you are out, or you go through a few names before you hit on the right one then undoubtedly you have mayhem in your house too As parents ofmore than one child, the difficulties we face and the fun we have will differ from those with only one or maybe even two children, and the presence of any shade of adolescence,...

Language difficulties and siblings

I thought I would include a typical conversation merely as an example of how language difficulties, both receptive and expressive, affect the whole of our household. I am sure those of you with high functioning children can relate to how bizarre these conversations can seem to the outsider. I am sure those of you with children of any colour of the autistic spectrum will sit and smile (or groan ) as you remember similar conversations occurring in your own family. Whilst these conversations can...

Autism nightmares

It is crucial that all parents and professionals recognize that autistic children think differently, feel differently and react differently to typically developing children. It is imperative that we teach their siblings this and that we are confident that others understand just how impor tant safety issues are - particularly for autistic children who often react differently to pain or cannot tell us they are in distress. Eighteen months ago Ben seemed to be locked into his own silent world,...

Autism and Asperger Syndrome

The National Autistic Society website. Tony Attwood's homepage with lots of information about all aspects of Asperger Syndrome. http www.autism-society.org Autism Society of America (ASA). Online Asperger Syndrome Support (OASIS) (American site). http www.autismsociety.on.ca Autism Society Ontario. A site with Winnie the Pooh backdrops, loads of links, PECS pictures and lots of educational stuff. http www.autism.org stories.html A website all about Social Stories. Luke's website with details of...

Home education websites

Http www.he-special.org.uk Home education link for the UK. http www.education-otherwise.org Another home education link. US National Home Education Network (NHEN). Other useful websites Disney World information for disabled travellers. Financial help for UK families caring for children with disabilities (means tested). Advice and information on bullying for parents, teachers and children. www.tapestrylifecentre.com Link to Tapestry Life Centre. Independent assessments by Lisa Blakemore-Brown,...

PECS Picture Exchange Communication System

PECS is a picture exchange communication system whereby the child learns to use pictures in order to initiate communication. Developed within the Delaware Autistic Programme over ten years ago, it is widely used throughout the world. Two adults are needed in order to initiate PECS. Motivators are used such as a dummy, food or favourite toy (Ben was not on the GF CF diet then so toast was a great motivator for him). The motivator is shown to the child by one adult and when the child reaches for...

Language and the ADHD child

All things need to be spelled out clearly to any child, but a child on the autistic spectrum needs things spelling out to them more than most. In a way they are like foreigners. (Jackson 2002) Luke wrote this in his book Freaks, Geeks and Asperger Syndrome and while he wrote the book primarily about Asperger Syndrome, he does live with Joe and is aware of his needs too. As he says, the need to speak clearly and precisely is important for all of our colourful kids. Much misunderstanding and...

Dyspraxia

Over the years, dyspraxia has been given several names. Clumsy child syndrome, developmental coordination disorder, minimal cerebral dysfunction .call it what you will, dyspraxia is a very real problem to many people, children and adults alike. Dyspraxia or developmental coordination disorder is likely to affect many people with autism. It is debatable as to whether dyspraxia is an autistic spectrum disorder in itself or whether it is a co-morbid condition that accompanies another spectrum...

Siblings of children with ADHD

If someone's belongings go missing in our house Joe gets the blame. If food has disappeared Joe gets the blame. If something is broken in our house.Joe gets the blame When the all too familiar screech of Joe reverberates throughout the house, it also serves another purpose.it gives Joe the attention he craves. All of you parents with children with AD HD know there is nothing they like more than attention - whether it is positive or negative, any attention will do Most of the time it is probably...

Treasured memories

Memories are the most treasured gifts we can give our children. When they leave home, their memories go with them. Most families have special events and family gatherings which they can look back on and talk about, smile about and even cringe over in years to come. When children in the family have a special need, particularly one as unpredictable as autism, then there seem to be far more of these occasions to remember - all of them with hilarity (and maybe some embarrassment ). Whilst trips...

Sleeping sickness

There is nothing more guaranteed to make the future seem bleak and life feel pretty unbearable than lack of sleep. Sleep deprivation is not something to be taken lightly. I know far too well exactly how it feels to crawl into bed after spending four hours trying to get one of the children to sleep, only to have another of them wake up. Unfortunately I am in the exhausting position of struggling to get Joe and Ben to sleep for hours, only to have a host of noisy teenagers descend upon the house,...

Anxieties of Asperger Syndrome

Unfortunately the world is fraught with danger for any child. It is a sad fact but we have to teach our children far more than basic safety issues such as safety in the home and road safety. From a very early age both at home and at school, children are taught to say no to strangers, what to do if someone touches them in an unwanted manner.it seems that all sorts of sinister dangers lurk around the corner. For any child these are hard messages to grasp but for a child with Asperger Syndrome...

Sense of self

One area that is particularly problematic for Ben and I am sure many other autistic children, is his sense of self. For many years, I, Portage (the pre-school home education service) and anyone else working with Ben, spent a great deal of time and effort attempting to teach him that he was Ben. When I realized that Ben was not deaf, I very much wanted him to turn to his name or to know that he was the Ben that I was talking to and talking about. Every single day without any exception at all for...

Diet and biological intervention

The Feingold diet for the USA and worldwide. http www.autismmedical.com Allergy-induced autism website with useful links and forum. The website of the Autism Research Unit containing the Sunderland Protocol A logical sequencing of biomedical interventions. The Autistic Research Institute in San Diego. Information about recent research into autism. Organizers of DAN (Defeat Autism Now) conferences.

Multicoloured Mayhem

Parenting the Many Shades of Adolescents and Children with Autism, Asperger Syndrome and AD HI) Freaks, Geeks and Asperger Syndrome A User Guide to Adolescence A User Guide to the GF CF Diet for Autism, Asperger Syndrome and AD HD Foreword by Marilyn Le Breton ISBN 1 84310 055 X Asperger's Syndrome A Guide for Parents and Professionals Tony Attwood Foreword by Lorna Wing ISBN 1 85302 249 9 Living with the Ups, the Downs and Things in Between Edited by Liane Holliday Willey Foreword by Luke...

Siblings of children with autism and AS

Do any of you feel like you are a piece of elastic, being pulled one way and then the other and in danger of snapping I often do. Trying to divide your time, affection and money equally between each sibling is no easy task and try as you might, as parents, to keep things 'fair'. Some things in life just aren't If by some astounding phenomenon, parents manage to create balance and harmony and all family members consider that they are being treated fairly (if so then I truly believe in miracles...

DSMIV Diagnostic criteria for Attention DeficitHyperactivity Disorder

Inattention 6 (or more) of the following symptoms of inattention have persisted for at least 6 months to a degree that is maladaptive and inconsistent with developmental level (a) often fails to give close attention to details or makes careless mistakes in schoolwork, work, or other activities (b) often has difficulty sustaining attention in tasks or play activities (c) often does not seem to listen when spoken to directly (d) often does not follow through on instructions and fails to finish...

Dangers of dyspraxia

Many of you parents reading this will have dyspraxic children, even if dyspraxia is an 'added extra' amidst other shades of autism. You will know all too well how many cups of coffee have been knocked over by your child, how many plates have been smashed and how many bumps and bruises you have nursed over the years. I am no different. Parents or carers ofchildren with dyspraxia should be given automatic passes to the emergency room at the local hospital Here's a quick example of how dyspraxia...

Medication

The Ritalin debate is as controversial in the field of AD HD as the MMR vaccination is in the field of autism. There are few subjects within AD HD more likely to create a heated debate than medication and whether or not we as parents should 'drug' our children. From reports of stunted growth, smaller brains, the likelihood of drug addiction in later life, even death, Ritalin and the use ofmedication for AD HD children has had some bad publicity. The vast majority of people who have AD HD use...

Gluten and caseinfree diet Opiod excess theory

Whilst I love my boys and their differences dearly, I would give the world to ensure they are healthy and happy. For them, that meant eradicating their bowel problems. Many children on the autistic spectrum have bowel problems - not all, but many. Indeed there seems to be a growing number of autistic children who have a combination of autism, food intolerances and bowel disorders. As I have already written in Joe's story, Joe had horrendous and seemingly inexplicable diarrhoea. Luke had always...

A tribute to Emma Jane

I would like to say a big thank you to my lovely, brave friend Sam, who has given me permission to write about what happened to Emma-Jane in the hope that it will make everyone who works with, and cares for, an autistic child be that extra bit vigilant in their watch over him or her. I sit and write this section whilst choking back tears. It is not easy to write but it is important that as many people as possible are made aware of what can happen to our very special children, and just how...

Meet theJdkfoons

Ladies and gentlemen - let me introduce to you the Jacksons. Full of fun and laughter, trials and tribulations, chaos and catastrophes - we could never be described as dull. There is one word which sums up the Jackson household perfectly and that is 'chaotic'. Parenting in itself is no easy task, but when you have adolescents, pre-adolescents and many shades of the autistic spectrum all under one roof, then life can certainly be .colourful I have seven children, all very special, all very much...

Holidays Coping with Change

Disney World diaries 185 A change is as good as a rest 200 Travel tips 201 Disney advice 203 Autism nightmares 205 A tribute to Emma-Jane 207 AD HD hazards 211 Anxieties of Asperger Syndrome 213 Dangers of dyspraxia 217 Safety suggestions 220 12. The Parents' Survival Guide 223 A time for everything 225 Count your blessings 226 Maintaining your own identity 227 Sleeping sickness 228 Survival skills 232 13. A Conclusion to the Chaos 237 Appendix Diagnostic Criteria With apologies to those of you...