The Hardest Thing About Autism and Alzheimer’s: Six Think-Before-Speaking Kindnesses

People often ask me, what's the hardest part of raising or teaching a special needs child? I always answer: On what day? At what hour? My autistic child is an independent adult now, and this last decade I’ve been responsible for the welfare of a beloved parent going through the bedeviling stages of dementia and physical decline. I saw it [...]

2019-09-30T09:28:10-07:00September 29th, 2019|Non-Fiction|

Ten Tips in 200 Words: Creating Positive Partnerships at IEP Time

Autism, and all learning differences, are very, very complex. That seems so obvious, but I still get questions asking for a “single most important thing” about educating autistic kids. My answer, “as if there could ever be such a thing,” doesn’t satisfy, of course. What I offer instead of “single best” is a more global truth: that it is critical [...]

2019-09-29T13:47:09-07:00April 25th, 2019|Non-Fiction|

Helping our autistic kids choose resilience over rigidity

Do we think of our autistic kids as more rigid than resilient? In that mindset, does it become a self-fulfilling prophecy, a symptom of our own rigidity—or can it become an opportunity for both parent and child, teacher and learner, to understand and grow? “That's it! It's all over! I've just completed my Associate’s Degree. I am officially a college [...]

2019-09-29T13:48:27-07:00April 8th, 2019|Non-Fiction|

A Word About “Normal”

“Normal.” Now there’s a word we’d like to see omitted from your social vocabulary entirely – in not just what you say, but how you think about your child and his autism or Asperger’s. For many parents, emphasis on this two-syllable trip-off-the-tongue utterance can become a handicap of immeasurable dimension. Learning to think social and be social in whatever degree [...]

2019-01-11T07:31:26-08:00January 11th, 2019|Non-Fiction|

Everyone Makes Mistakes: 6 Ways to Help Your Autistic Child Cope with Frustration

Children with autism love absolutes, and one of life’s absolutes is that everyone makes mistakes. It’s the degree, the nuance, the scale, the gradation of these mistakes that confounds the child with autism. But autism is often characterized by the ability to generalize. To this child’s concrete, black-and-white thinking, each mistake or failing stands as his and his alone, and [...]

2018-10-06T09:40:21-07:00October 6th, 2018|Non-Fiction|

“Other parents challenge the way we deal with our daughter’s autism.”

A parent asks: We have an eight-year-old daughter with autism. We’ve always agreed on our approach to parenting her, and we have no trouble loving her just the way she is. She gets speech therapy and other interventions through her school, which have helped her progress in her schoolwork and with interacting with her classmates. We’re new to the community, [...]

2018-05-29T21:11:01-07:00May 29th, 2018|Non-Fiction|

“I’m rattled by our summer program’s lack of support.” Try these tips for smoother summer transitions.

A mother asks: My preschooler has autism. He’s in a summer school program because of concerns about regression. On our first day, he threw a tantrum when we arrived. The teacher said he’d be fine, but the director of the program said that I either had to go in with him, have breakfast with him, and take him to the [...]

2018-05-09T09:05:01-07:00May 9th, 2018|Non-Fiction|

“How can I know that my son’s teachers do right by him?”: Putting your helicopter-parent mindset to rest

A parent asks: My husband and I are working parents of a four-year-old son with autism. When I see videos or read about abuse of autistic kids, I question my son’s school. He’s never shown any signs of abuse or complained about anything. But how can I know that my son’s teachers do right by him and do their jobs [...]

2018-05-04T09:45:18-07:00May 4th, 2018|Non-Fiction|