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 please go to our FaceBook account and post your suggestions so that we can invite appropriate autism professionals to speak at these meetings. There won't be any meeting in December but we are taking local families supporting individuals with moderate to severe sensory challenges to the Christmas Event at the Children's Safety Village half an hour prior to the event being opened to the public.

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

Strategies for challenging behaviours

Thursday, November 17, 2011

Hidden Curriculum App

Parents of children on the autism spectrum disorder often spend the early years focussing a great deal of time on teaching them basic independent and early social skills. We fret endlessly on milestones our children were supposed to have reached at their age. We introduce new strategies and methods to try and teach them the basics. We bring in the big guns, the professional therapists, in some cases to do the intervention at home so that our children can attend school in a regular classroom. We become quite an expert on our children. We are attuned to what works for them and what doesn't. What motivates them, what doesn't. We frequently go back to the drawing table and see what old strategies are not working anymore and then introduce some new ones in tandem with the level of functioning we see in them. We hope to reach that point one day where our children would be seamlessly transitioned to the classroom environment and for the most part, accepted and "functioning well" without anxiety attacks, without tears or bewilderment inside the fast pace of constantly changing environment, where new unfamiliar faces pop in, seating arrangement changes, students all talking at once, the bell ringing making a loud din, stern faces of teachers, angry tone of voices, following rules while watching others constantly break them. The possibilities of situations that might be adversely affecting our children are endless. I listed the above based on the experiences of my child at school. Personally, I like to deal with almost all of them with my favourite autism intervention tool: social stories. But what lies ahead of him that I cannot always help him with is the dreaded "hidden curriculum" at school, information on things that most children just seem to pick up on their own and don't need someone to tell them directly that when someone they are talking to rolls their eyes, it means that they are bored and so they need to stop. They are unable to interpret the subtle signs and non-verbal cues (body language) that are obvious to others. Most children generally know what behaviour is expected of them in different situations and they have a good idea of the consequences of violating these social rules and behavioural expectations. Children with autism often unwittingly break social and behavioural rules and they suffer for not knowing the hidden expectations. This, in turn, can result in difficulty making and maintaining friendships. They may become social outcasts and target for bullies. This is an aspect of their life at school that's out of reach of parents or therapists. As a result, they suffer because they simply did not know.
Now, the good news for today's parents with a child on the spectrum is that there's some help available out there for this important and significant aspect of life that constantly surrounds him/her at school or when among his peers. I am very excited to have found an hidden curriculum app for an ipad and iphone that somewhat lets me help prepare my child for his day at school. For those interested, it's available on itunes for 1.99 cdn. There's a lot of room for improvement but it's a good start. As long as people's minds are attuned to the specific needs of our individuals with autism and they keep coming up with similarly creative inventions, the future of these children promises to be a lot brighter than, say, those who've suffered through it in the past.

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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.