Mission Statement: This blog was created to provide information on getting help for autism in general while focussing on locally available resources for families with newly diagnosed children in Belleville and Quinte area.

Please browse the blog at your leisure. You are welcome to comment on the posts. If you are a parent, an autism consultant, counselor, teacher with information on autism resources available in our area, please email your information to benziesangma@gmail.com. Your information will be added within 24 hours.

Local Autism Support Groups

Parents Engaging Autism Quinte (PEAQ), an autism parent support group, meets once a month on the first Tuesday of the month (no meetings in January, July and August) at Kerry's Place, 189 Victoria Avenue, Belleville at 6:30 to 8 p.m. If you have questions or suggestions for autism topics that are important to you so that we can invite appropriate autism professionals to speak at these meetings. Next PEAQ meeting is on June 5.

Autism parent support group meeting hosted by Mental Health Agency, Trenton and Military Family Resource Centre (MFRC) meeting is on the Second Thursday of the month from 6 to 7:30 p.m. If you have require any further information please contact Marya Peters for more information at 613 392-2811 ext 3953 or email marya.p@trentonmfrc.ca

For info on Community Living Prince Edward County Parent Support group, contact Resource Consultants @ 613 476 6038

Central Hastings Autism Support Group meets in Madoc at the Recreation Centre. Contact Renee O’Hara, Family Resource & Support, 613-966-7413 or Tammy Kavanagh, Family Resource & Support, 613-332-3227

Transition planning for elementary school students with autism

Friday, February 4, 2011

Social skills and early intervention

One of the three core skills noted to be deficient in children with autism is their apparent lack of social skills. I've come to know from my own experience with my son, who's on the spectrum, that this deficiency goes a lot deeper than what the average person understands of the definition of social skills. It is not merely about saying hello, making small talk with another person or about manners such as saying please and thank you – courteous behaviour parents of young and typically developing children encourage in their offsprings. When we are talking social skills in children with autism we are looking at difficulties in making basic social connections such as eye contact, joint attention (e.g. pointing to direct someone's attention to something, following the direction of the object pointed at or holding something up to show) before learning to take turns or share or join in. Each of these steps is a learning goal for that child and need extended period of actual training before moving on to the next skill. When these skills are somewhat in place, he/she is ready to begin practising the learned skills with peers. This again would have to be practised repeatedly in a contrived or controlled environment such as a social skills program before the child is able to internalize the steps to making basic social connections that would allow him to form relationships.
Participating in a social skills program involves a huge amount of repeated exercises of the skills, which are then extended to the home environment to maintain memory retention and easy retrieval of required steps.
Then there's the generalization skill that he/she will have to learn. Generalization is a skill that allows a child to practice what he/she has learned in one situation, environment or with one individual and extend it to a whole new situation/environment (school, home, homes of extended families and friends, place of worship, shopping malls, grocery stores among others) individual (e.g. group of people, young, old, family members, friends, neighbours, community agents - teachers, therapists etc.) and others. This is a skill that comes easily to most typically developing children but each one of those components throw a challenge in the life of an asd child who might be able to learn and execute the skills step by step in one situation but may not be able to apply it to another at all. Bridging that connection is a whole different ballgame requiring patience, endurance and thorough understanding of the way the mind of the child with autism works. According to a study, funded by the National Institute of Mental Health (NIMH), part of the National Institutes of Health and published online in the Journal of Child Psychology and Psychiatry, early intervention programs for children with autism that include targeting deficits in social skills show improved results in social and communication skills.
To read more on this topic go to: http://www.medicalnewstoday.com/articles/210914.php

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In it for the long haul...

I created this blog with my sincere wish that those of you reading this will want to share your own stories, both good and bad, what worked for you and what didn't and together, we can make it easier for the next family beginning their own journey of discovery. By posting what you know, where you have recieved certain services, who you have talked to, whose expertise you trust, how you navigated the school education services and by responding to questions in the discussion thread, know that you have helped a family in need. So, parents, experts in the field, counsellors, teachers and everyone who has any information on resources available, please feel free to post on this blog.