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, January 3, 2013

12 tips for back-to-school transition after the Christmas Holidays

So, just taking a wild guess, I'd say that we've all enjoyed ourselves immensely over these holidays. We've gone to gatherings, visited loved ones far and near and have carried our tired young ones to bed after staying up late to ring in the new year. It was fun while it all lasted now, wasn't it? But now, as we all know that our children are heading back into the school in a matter of days. Being back in school routine where kids are learning for 6 hours at a stretch is not going to be easy for even our typically developing children but, as parents of children with special needs very well know, it is extremely difficult to persuade our children, for example, with autism, to think in terms of waking up early, dressing up, getting their lunch and backpack ready. They might not even remember what the school routine was like before the holidays. So parents of children with special needs really need to put preparation time into transitioning their children back into the school routine. These parents can do a few simple things to help their child transition through this period by doing the following suggestions: 1. Start talking about school to your child. Have a conversation starting with remember the positive things that happened to him or her at school in the past. If you have pictures of his/her school, classroom teacher, educational assistant in the classroom or previous class pictures, have them out and either show them to your child or have them lying around where he/she can see them. 2. Make a game of looking for his/her backpack and filling it in with stuff he usually takes to school 3. Look at the clock together and discuss what time he/she will go to school and what time will he come back home. 4. Talk about people who will drop him at school and who will pick him up. If going to an after-school program, talk about what it look like and who are the people who usually take care of him/her in the program. 5. If possible, have the child go and play in the schoolyard a couple of days before the school reopens. 6. Call up a friend from school and have them get together for a playdate. 7. If needed, talk about school expectations such as hands off rule, taking turns, sharing, circle time, raising a hand to speak to the teacher, not to talk while the teacher is talking to the class, listen to the teacher, standing in line, going to the gym, music room and assembly etc. 8. On the evening before the day the school reopens, have your child pick out her clothes and if the child can read, make a list or step byt step instruction on what will happen in the morning – wake up at 6:30 a.m., breakfast time, put school clothes on, get backpack to the doorway. Then, the next day when he/she has gone through the list, make a big deal and reward your child with something (I'd say, fairly significant reward) to keep building the positive energy. (You'll have to get up a lot earlier too to set a calm pace to organize yourself. This will not be a time for you to rush this child of yours through a list of tasks he/she needs to complete. This is a morning where you definitely should check yourself when feeling a yelling session coming up.) 9. If there is a new development that you would like your child's teacher to know about your child, get the note ready the day before. If there is something the child would like to show his/her teacher, something that he/she did over the holidays, make sure that's in the backpack and remind him/her about it before she leaves for the day. This will create positive energy that will help to reconnect your child to the classroom teacher. 10. Ask your child what he/she would like for their lunch at school the day before so that you can make sure that the items you need are actually in the house and you won't risk disappointing them in the morning. It would also be a good idea to sneak in something different, a piece of his favourite chocolate, cookie etc., for a neat surprise and comfort, at lunchtime. 11. If the child is used to taking little toys to school in the past, help him/her get ready with it by helping her put it in the backpack making sure you remind your child when he/she can play with it during the day. 12. Finally, try to relax. Remember that how you’re feeling will affect your child. Children pick up on emotions and when their parent is anxious and that will in turn generate more anxiety in them. Social stories, power cards and visuals to recreate familiarity of the child's school are all great ways to help keep the first few days of school less stressful.

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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.