Author: Emily Rastall, PhD

Safety Resources for Children with Autism

Given that children with autism spectrum disorders often present with limited awareness of their surroundings and/or insight into the dangers in their environments, it can be helpful to provide interventions that work to keep kids safe.

Below are some resources and ideas regarding common safety tools for families:

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Autism and Preparing for the Holidays

It’s the Most _____ [add your own adjective here] Time of the Year

When you think about “the holidays,” what comes to mind? Some may experience fond memories of families coming together, homes dressed in their holiday best and the magic of doing for others. For others, the holidays evoke feelings of dread and anxiety associated with the endless chores, tasks, activities, and family time that comes along with the last two months of the calendar year. Even more stressful for some, while preparing for the holiday celebrations and attempting to complete work of your own, there are children with two weeks of winter vacation to referee and keep entertained.

Given that the holidays can be stressful for parents and kids, alike, here are some tips for getting through the holidays:

Start Planning in Advance. Lists are your best friend; make lists for meals, snacks, activities, gifts, and things to do. When it comes to prioritizing activities, work as a family to create a list of activities/tasks that are most important (e.g., gift shopping, volunteering, baking, seeing a play). For holiday tasks, assign one or more family members to each task and identify a time when this will occur (e.g., “Dad and Johnny will put up the lights on Saturday.”). Keep this information in writing and post it on a calendar where all family members can access it. Try not to over-load the schedule with too many activities; give yourself permission to leave some days open as “re-charge days.”

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Sleeping, Eating, Toileting, and Autism

The Big Three.

Discussions regarding sleeping, eating and toileting are among the most common in the autism spectrum treatment community. It is no surprise as to why this occurs, as these three functions are imperative to survival and impact our daily lives in countless ways; for example, hunger, fatigue, and physical discomfort are unpleasant, hinder our ability to positively interact with the world, decrease our tolerance for stress, and when chronically present, can negatively impact overall quality-of-life.

If you are a parent of a child with an autism spectrum disorder, you have likely faced challenges in at least one of these three areas. Over the next three weeks, we will provide information regarding methods for tackling these highly-important, and at times exceedingly difficult, tasks. Today we will start with sleep. Read full post »

CBT and ASD- What Does it Spell for Me?

Cognitive-behavior therapy (CBT) was developed in the 1960’s by Dr. Aaron Beck for the treatment of depression. However, since then, CBT has been proven effective in the treatment of a wide variety of psychiatric conditions in which emotion and/or behavior dysregulation is a core symptom (e.g., anxiety, disruptive behavior disorders, eating disorders, personality disorders, substance use/abuse). CBT has proven effective for a wide variety of age groups (i.e., children, teens, adults, and the elderly). In children, it is helpful in treating the disorders mentioned above, as well as non-compliance, aggression, self-harm, social isolation, risk-taking behaviors, and inactivity. Read full post »