Hands on with Music Therapy

Special guest Lisa Waites brings music therapy to Linking Together participants today. Her thoughts as she prepared:
I just finished assembling my materials for the "Linking Together" workshop that I'm giving twice tomorrow (12:30-2:30pm and 6:30-8:30pm), and now I'm too excited about it to go to sleep. It feels like Christmas Eve, for goodness sake! This isn't going to be a typical lecture format, and I can't wait to share some highly technical music therapy mumbo-jumbo in an accessible, creative fusion of methodological scaffolding, theoretical insights, and practical musico-behavioural applications.
The combination of practical, hands on strategies combined with the expertise of local professionals makes Linking Together a valuable resource and support for parents raising their Autistic children.

Preparing for an Autism Diagnosis Appointment

There is nothing easy about wondering if your child is on the Autism Spectrum. Since Autism is a medical diagnosis, your family doctor is the place to start. Then a referral can be made to a paediatrician. The blog "Autism Medicine Hat" lists the names of local paediatricians here.

Documenting difficult behaviours prepares you for describing the problems your child is facing.
For each difficult behaviour ask yourself:
  1. What seems to trigger the behaviour?
  2. How long does it last?
  3. How often does is happen?
Since tests for Autism are observational, be prepared for multiple appointments and possible referrals to other specialists. Receiving a diagnosis is more of a journey rather than an event.

Red Deer and Edmonton: I'm coming!

With multiple bookings in the Edmonton - Red Deer corridor the first week of February, 2013, I've decided to stay for the week. If you live or work in this are and have been wondering about booking Spectrum Educational Services for your organization or school now is a great time to book.

Prevention: Time and Space

As an adult with Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD) self regulation is vital to my participation in society. Two supports that greatly increase my success are time and space.

  • physical space to be by myself when I need to be
  • emotional space to not require me to respond like you at the same speed as you
  • cognitive space to prepare for change and gather my thoughts after a difficult task
  • social space to observe until I am ready to enter with your help
Does having more time enable you engage in situations you would otherwise avoid? What other types of space do you seek to regulate yourself?

ASDreams Expansion

Tired of waiting until you are a teenager? Now you don't have to wait! ASDreams is offering two groups on Monday evenings at CORE.

4:15-5:45 for grades 4-6/7
6:30-8:00 for grades 7/8-12

Family consultation will help place participants in grades 6 and 7 into the most appropriate group with the flexibility to switch groups to achieve success.

Session One starts October 15. To register, call Judy at 403-527-3302 ex 129

New Approach for ASD Parents

Monthly practical sessions to better equip parents in raising their children on the Autism spectrum. I'll be the parent facilitator with great guest presentations from community partners. More information here. What other topics would you like to see covered? Click here to comment.

Ross Glen Waterpark Rededication

It is a privilege to represent the Advisory Committee on Disability Issues at the ceremony on Wednesday.

Each link below takes you to a picture of the features of the waterpark and playground. It has been designed to be accessible and fun for children, parents, and caregivers with and without disabilities (Braille clock, drums, teeter totter, swings). Surfacing - is a resilient recycled tire solid surface that is level with the walkway.  The surface is firm, stable, slip-resistant, and provides outstanding shock absorption. Equipment - offers a mix of both accessible and more demanding features that will appeal to and challenge a variety of children and abilities.  The ramps, accessible stairs and platforms use colour to indicate elevation changes.  The safari bus allows children using a mobility device to experience the movement and bounce of a safari bus trip with their peers.  Water Playground- Seasonal (May long weekend - September long weekend).  Fully accessible offering a variety of spray features (Big bucket, waterspray guns) for all ages. Accessible Parking - In addition to street parking, there is a parking lot with a curb ramp and paved path to access the playground. Picnic Area - The public is encouraged to bring a picnic or snack and enjoy the park.  Picnic tables and benches are located around the playground.

Check out the playground on "Accessible Medicine Hat" for directions and bus information.

Autism Parenting While Eating Out

     As a parent with children on the Autism spectrum, I've been both commended and scolded for how my children behave at restaurants. I'm so thankful my identity is not tied to the varying and variable opinions of others. Impatience by a waiter over a child who (again) needs more time to decide. Strange looks for allowing an older child to sit under the booth to escape the noise. Compassion for a child who believes is independent enough to find the washroom, but needs and receives redirection away from the doors to the kitchen. Congratulations from a table nearby for the excellent manners of my son who adds "thank you" to almost every verbal exchange with strangers. I don't, however, remember any incidents where patrons argued about my parenting right in front of me.
     This video, using hidden cameras and actors, addresses the responses of bystanders who witness a man verbally chew out parents of an Autistic boy. While some of the supportive responses seem equally rude, it is encouraging to see other take action to support this family.
     Have you seen someone take action to support an Autistic family in public? What reactions have you experienced while eating out? What would you do?

Spectrum Educational Services at Spectrum

This weekend Medicine Hat blocks downtown to traffic for Spectrum Festival, A Sunshine Celebration. Kitty Corner from Dairy Queen there will be an Autism resource fair designed for parents and kids. While parents can explore the variety of services available in Medicine Hat, children can explore sensory toys. The set up is designed to keep the kids lovingly corralled so parents can focus on their conversations. So be sure to head into the CORE building. In the parking lot there will also be the Drag Racing car show, a pitch burst, and BBQ. SpectrumES will be there on Saturday from 10-4. Come say hello.

spectrum.egg  on Aviary

Video Contest Update

ASDreamers Logan Murray and Micah Sudom planned, wrote, acted, directed and submitted a video for the Learning Disabilities Association of Alberta contest. While the two did not win, a shortened clip can be seen here. Be sure to "like" it. Submitted in February, both Dreamers showed teamwork, perseverance and patience while waiting for the judges to make their decision.

Get Your Game On

Spring arrived and the ASDreamers headed outside. After three types of soccer relays the Dreamers chose to either play soccer or enjoy the playground. The outdoor area provided enough space to burn off some pent up winter energy. Two Dreamers are preparing our outdoor activity for next week. We agreed to bring water bottles and one staff has hinted at bringing some home baked treats for a picnic in the park. That's the stuff dreams are made of.

No longer an Aspie?

In the New York Times an article entitled, "I had Asperger Syndrome. Briefly." asserts that the definition of Autism Spectrum Disorder should be narrowed. I agree.

The proposed change to the DSM V diagnostic criteria for Autism Spectrum Disorder includes, "Symptoms together limit and impair everyday functioning." I hope this clause will separate out from the rest of those with ASD the group of people currently diagnosed who assert that the only thing wrong with  having ASD is how other people treat them. If a person is fine with the way life is working, then why seek a diagnosis? Or try and keep the label while at the same time advocating that supports are not needed, just understanding? Requiring support is part of the new criteria.

Autism is a diagnosis, not an identity.

Good for the author for moving on to explore his potential.
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How to Create a Behaviour Problem

Demand someone with Autism Spectrum Disorder:

  • do something your way
  • right now
  • while overstimulated
  • without explanation as to
  • how this will benefit them.

A little teaser from my February teachers' conventions presentations.
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Improved Efficiency?

Another government agency has changed its policy to be more efficient. An AISH client can no longer email their worker. For example, instead of forwarding an appointment confirmation email from my specialist in Calgary, I now have to print it off and hand deliver it to the AISH office downtown. This adds many layers of cost:
  • paper and ink
  • travel
  • my time to deliver
  • another level of AISH administration
Unfortunately arriving at the office does not simplify the process. Or personalize it. Previously I wrote about ways staff can humanize the experience of needing to access support services. As I was waiting for an appointment, a man went to the counter and asked to see his worker.

PAD (person at desk): She isn't available. You can see the walk in worker.
Man: When will my worker be available?
PAD: I don't know. You need to make an appointment to see her. You can see the walk in worker.
Man: How do I make an appointment?
PAD: She makes her own appointments. You'll need to call her. I can give you her card.
Man: So I can't make an appointment here?
PAD: No. You need to call her. You can see the walk in worker.
Man: How long will that take?
PAD: I need your name.
Man: How long will that take?
PAD: Please give me your name.
Man: (louder) What part of "How long will it take?" do you not understand?

PAD sits down as front line workers don't need to take verbal harassment from clients. Man leaves office.

I wonder if he has access to a cell phone.
I wonder how he travelled downtown and how long it took him.
I wonder if he will need to travel home to make the phone call to set up the appointment.
I wonder if he took the card.

If the email policy can't be changed, what about having a telephone at the desk for making appointments?
It seems there is a PADlock on accessing services.

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