Awareness for all Autism

 

Autism awareness month is coming to an end for 2017. Each year I struggle a little with what I am supposed to do to represent awareness month. Most of my days of the year are spent working with children, adolescents, adults and their families who are affected by autism spectrum disorder. I facilitate several trainings a year related to autism, participate in resource fairs, attend meetings, participate on boards and in groups related to autism and write books, book chapters, and articles on the subject. I find that I am well integrated into awareness, education, and providing services every month of the year, not just April.

As I reflect this year, I am feeling a bit downhearted for the side of autism that is rarely addressed, talked about, or represented during awareness month or any month of the year. I have worked with countless children who are severely impaired regarding the manifestation of their autism disorder. These are the children who schools (neither public or private) can’t or won’t educate, professionals will not work with due to not wanting to or not feeling competent enough, and extended family members and friends cannot understand or feel comfortable around resulting in little to no respite care.

Every child on the spectrum faces real challenges but there is a sad reality I often see for those children who face a greater impairment; a reality where therapists, educators, organizations, friends and families are rejecting these children. I hear many reasons for this rejection – “He is not a good fit here,” “We are not equipped to handle her issues and behavior,” It is not safe for the other children here,” “This isn’t what he needs,” etc. I’m not saying that some of these reasons are not legitimate for certain situations, but legitimate or not, where then is the place? Where is the educator or the professional or the friend to help these children? So many parents are facing an unimaginable level of stress, anxiety, and isolation and so many of their children are experiencing the same.

I nor any one person can solve all these issues and make everything better for these children and families, but we can all strive to be more aware, more empathetic, more understanding, and in whatever way we are gifted, make better efforts to serve these children and their families.

Dr. Robert Jason Grant
Registered Play Therapist Supervisor
Certified Autism Specialist
www.autplaytherapy.com

AutPlay Therapy Collaborative Conference

This two-daAutPlayConference2y conference infuses play therapy and autism for professionals, students, and parents through trainings, presentations, and networking opportunities. A truly unique experience that aims to increase participant’s knowledge and expertise in autism and developmental disorders. This year’s collaborative will feature five speakers, four trainings, exhibitors, and several networking opportunities. Topics to be presented include:

* Using Sandtrays with Children and Adolescents with Autism Spectrum Disorder
*
It Just Makes Sense! Neurosensory and Sensory Based Play Therapy Techniques
*
Engaging Parents of Children with Autism Spectrum Disorder

* Play Therapy Interventions to Decrease Anxiety in Children with Neurodevelopmental
Disorders.

The conference is open to professionals, students and parents and offers CE Hrs for professionals. Students and parents receive a special discounted registration fee. For more information and to register for the conference visit the conference page on the AutPlay® Therapy website – www.autplaytherapy.com.

Location: CC Counseling Clinic, Nixa, MO.
Date: September 18th & 19th, 2015, 9:00am – 4:00pm
Contact: info@autplaytherapy.com

Self Care for Parents with a Child with Autism: Is This Even a Reality?

accredited-autism-consultation_web

Self care is a term used to imply the deliberate and consistent exercise of attuning to one’s self in ways that provide nurturing, renewal, and a replenishment of energy needed to attend to the tasks and life demands that one may be experiencing. The term has long been popular in mental health fields in regard to promoting proper self care initiatives for mental health practitioners. The idea being that the drain and demand that can accompany being a mental health professional requires the professional to consistently participate in self care activities so that he or she can be operating at his or her best.

The same philosophy can be applied to parents of children with Autism. Most people are familiar with the popular study published in Journal of Autism and Developmental Disorders that indicated that Mothers of children with Autism experience chronic stress comparable to combat soldiers and struggle with frequent fatigue, work interruptions, and spend significantly more time care giving than mothers of neurotypical children. No parent of a child with Autism reading this article needs to be educated on the demands, drain, and constant energy and focus it requires raising a child with Autism. This realty makes the proposition of self care for parents even more critical.

In my work with parents, I have found that most can appreciate the concept of self care but feel at a loss when it comes to actual implementation of self care strategies. Recent studies have shown that overwhelmingly parents state that lack of time is the greatest obstacle for their deficit in participating in any type of self care. Other often cited obstacles include: financial difficulties, lack of support from others, guilt, and attending to other responsibilities when not attending to their child with Autism.

So is self care a reality for parents with a child with Autism? The answer is yes, but for many the process may involve reframing their reality. To begin with, we need to reframe the value we put on self care, not be looked at as an optional luxury, instead it should be viewed as it truly is – an essential component for preventing stress, burnout, and providing much needed rejuvenation to attend to the many demands that typically accompany parenting a child with Autism. It is just as important as that Occupational Therapy (O.T.) appointment on Wednesday night.

Additional, we need to reframe what self care looks like on an individual basis. Self care strategies may involve doing something for 5 minutes out of a day. It will certainly look differently for each person and does not have to be thought of as something large like a weeklong trip to a beach. That is great if you can do it but that is not how self care exists for most people on a day to day, week to week basis. Some popular self care ideas include: respite care (even if it is a short time such as 30 minutes), joining a support group, investing in a hobby (reading, journaling, gardening, taking walks, sports), exercising, sleeping, and eating at a healthy level, and trying some of those O.T. and relaxation techniques you have be learning to use with your child on yourself.

Some additional reading for self care ideas can be found at www.autismconsortium.org, check out their May 2, 2014 blog post – Self-Care is not Selfish: Finding a Way to Take Care of yourself. Remember that self care strategies are whatever works for you. Reframe the way you look at the time you need and the time you have and make some effort to purposely plan and implement self care as if it were required. You will likely find the benefits are worth it!

About the Author:
Dr Robert Jason Grant owns a private practice clinic in Nixa, MO and specializes in working with children and adolescents with Autism Spectrum Disorder. He is the creator of AutPlay® Therapy and the author of four books related to Autism. www.robertjasongrant.com

Navigating the Holidays with Children with Autism

 

The Holiday season is in full swing, and December brings some of the busiest and biggest holiday activities. The holiday season can be an especially challenging time for children with Autism Spectrum Disorder. There are more activities to do and many of those activities are not a part of the typical schedule (such as brother or sisters school play). There are usually more people coming into a child’s life, and some of those people may be individuals the child only sees during the holiday season. There are also presents; giving and receiving, and typically a break from school. What this can create for a child with Autism is a significant disruption in his or her schedule and routine, being exposed to situations that are going to be anxiety producing, and experiencing dysregulation for a variety of reasons.

Helping your child with Autism navigate the Holidays not only helps them, but also provides the opportunity for everyone to experience a more relaxed and enjoyable season. Try some of the following suggestions that may help make things go a bit more smoothly:

1) Plan ahead for events by creating a visual calendar and preparing your child at least a week in advance for activities that he or she will be participating in.

2) When attending an event, party, or even Christmas shopping, don’t forget to bring aids to help your child such as a fidget toy, headphones, etc. The big family get together or little sisters Christmas concert are not the times to try to work on social and sensory improvement.  Instead, try to set up the situation to be enjoyed by everyone even if that means your child with Autism is on the iPad for an hour.

3) For especially busy days, create a schedule of the events for that day that your child can take with him or her and check off events as each one is completed.

4) If possible, solicit help and assistance from relatives. Having an extra person who understands your child’s Autism issues can be very valuable.

5) Be wary of and try to avoid any relatives who might, for whatever reason, trigger a meltdown in your child. Unfortunately not all family members understand and some even make matters worse. You may discover that avoiding such relatives (even if it makes them unhappy) creates a more peaceful holiday experience for you and your child.

6) Be mindful of times or places that may be particularly chaotic and plan accordingly. Simply taking 5-10 minutes to stop and think about what you are about to do and how your child might best be guided through the experience will go a long way in making the experience more successful.

7) Remember quality not quantity. Your child may not last as long at a holiday event as you would but good quality time is more important than the quantity of time spent.

8) Try to have fun and let your child have fun. Most of the things you will be doing are meant to be enjoyable, keep that philosophy in mind. I’m wishing for you that your holidays are the best ever and that you create some wonderful memories for you and your family!

Robert Jason Grant Ed.D, LPC, RPT-S, CAS
www.robertjasongrant.com
www.autplaytherapy.com

Social Communication Card Game

IMG_4296

Happy to announce that the AutPlay Social Communication Card Game is now available! We have been working on the child and teen versions of this card game for several months. If you work with children or teens with Autism or any social skill/communication struggles, this game is perfect for you!

The SC Card Game is designed for children and  teens with Autism Spectrum Disorder, social skill difficulties,and communication struggles. Neurotypical children and teen clients can benefit from playing the SC Card Game as well. The cards are designed to work on social skills,communication skills, and relationship development. The Card Game can also be used as an assessment tool and to help build rapport with clients. The card deck comprises four categories of cards: answer the question, top 3, what if, and complete the sentence. The SC Card Game comes with 100 cards, a carrying bag, one dice, and instructions on how to play three different games using the SC Cards. The SC Card Game can be ordered through the AutPlay Therapy website at www.autplaytherapy.com.

AutPlay® Intensive Parent Training

AutPlayConference2We are proud to announce our Intensive AutPlay Therapy Parent Trainings for parents who have a child or adolescent with Autism Spectrum Disorder. Parents can attend a two-day intensive training covering the AutPlay Therapy protocol and learn how to implement AutPlay techniques at home with their child. Trainings are designed for one set of parents to attend at a time. The whole two-day intensive is individualized just for you and your child!

More and more research is supporting parent training as an effective treatment approach for children and adolescents with Autism Spectrum Disorder. AutPlay Intensive Parent Trainings are designed to teach and empower parents to work with their child at home to help him or her gain in skill ability. Parents can schedule a Friday/Saturday date that works best for their schedule and work one on one with one of our trained AutPlay Therapy providers.

Visit the AutPlay Therapy website to learn more about our intensive parent trainings, www.autplaytherapy.com.

New Group of Certified AutPlay Providers!

IMG_3910Congratulations to our new group of Certified AutPlay Therapy Providers! There were individuals from 6 different states that participated in the latest two-day intensive training. We also added a new state – Alaska! There are Certified AutPlay Providers across the United States and internationally. A full list is available on the AutPlay Therapy website. Our next certification training will be February 27th and 28th, 2015. You can register for the training on the AutPlay Therapy website. If you are unfamiliar with AutPlay, it is a play therapy and behavioral therapy based treatment approach to working with children and adolescents with autism and other developmental disorders. You can learn more on our website and don’t forget to follow AutPlay on our Facebook and Pinterest pages!

2014 Training Schedule!

All trainings are approved for continuing education credits by the Association for Play Therapy and the National Board for Certified Counselors.
IMG_7151Hope to see you at a training!

February 21st and 22nd – AutPlay Certification Training
March 15th – Play Therapy Supervision: An Expressive Process
June 27th and 28th – AutPlay Certification Training
August 30th – Top 10 Play Therapy Interventions for Divorce Issues
September 27th – Using Play Therapy Interventions with Families

REGISTRATION: www.autplaytherapy.com 

Plan to attend the AutPlay® Collaborative Conference in Springfield, MO, September 22-23, 2017Learn more
+