Guest Writer: Ben Wahl, MSW, is the program director of Aspiring Youth Program
Nowadays it is quite common to hear the CDC statistic that 1 in 88 children (and 1 in 54 boys) in the US have an Autism Spectrum Disorder. There is much debate about whether there is actually an increase in occurrence or whether we have just gotten better at detection. There is similarly loud debate about the new criteria for ASD in the DSM 5. For the young people I work with, though, the debate is beside the point. What they experience is what matters; and that experience is often isolation, confusion, frustration, anxiety, and depression. Read full post »
This past summer, after being asked for years by both parents and colleagues for resources and materials related to sexuality and autism, I decided to offer a skills group covering everything from hygiene to flirting to understanding different types of relationships. Drawing from a number of resources, including the King County FLASH curriculum for special education students as well as resources written directly for youth with ASD, and probing my colleagues, especially those who have children and teens with autism, I developed a 10 week curriculum and embarked on a true adventure in teaching and learning. Read full post »
Like so many other aspects of growing up, bullying is a “typical” challenge this has unique dimensions for children with autistic spectrum disorders (ASD) and their caregivers. Due to a number of high-profile cases in the news and the expansion of bullying into the realm of social media, bullying is getting a lot of media attention and as a result, is now appropriately recognized as a public health issue.
An explosion of research on bullying has identified far-reaching impacts not only on victims and perpetrators, but bystanders as well. Bullying is no longer considered socially normative or tolerable, as it once was. The consequences are too dire and far reaching. Victims experience the direct effects of fear, embarrassment, and vulnerability that can impact social and emotional development and impede learning. Furthermore, children with limited communication skills are at risk of expressing the associated distress in potentially harmful ways including self-injury, escape behaviors (running away from individual or situations) and aggression directed at caregivers. Children who observe bullying and parents who feel helpless to protect their children can experience an erosion of their sense of safety. Read full post »
Guest Writer: Ben Wahl, MSW, is the program director of Aspiring Youth Program, www.aspiringyouth.net
Do children and adolescents with Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD) spend more time on video games and computers than their peers? According to researcher Dr. Paul Shattuck, the answer is ‘yes’.
Dr. Shattuck, of Washington University in St. Louis, sampled 1,000 study participants who had ASD and found that 41% indicated a level of screen time that would qualify as ‘high user’. The results of the study are telling: “Given that only 18 percent of youths in the general population are considered to be high users of video games, it seems reasonable to infer based on the current results, that kids with ASDs are at significantly greater risk of high use of this media than are youths without ASDs” (Shattuck, 2012). Read full post »
At age 18, unless guardianship has been established, all US citizens obtain the legal right to vote. Some 18 year olds pay no attention to elections, while others may have more interest in the process. This is true whether a teen has autism or not. How does a parent know if their teen is ready to vote? As a parent you have supported your child through their first 18 years. Ideally you have provided them the right amount of support to be as successful and independent as possible. Over the years you have learned your son or daughter’s strengths and challenges and will have a pretty good idea if your teen is ready to vote. Some of the questions to consider are, does your son/daughter show any interest in the election process, do they ask questions regarding the candidates or ballot measures? If yes, then you can sit down with your teen once the voter’s pamphlet arrives. You will know how much time your teen will spend reading over the information and how much time you should allot for discussion prior to the election. Obtaining a mail in ballot allows the voter to take their time while casting their vote. Read full post »