Rules, by Cynthia Lord, is the top of my Autism resource list for:

  1. siblings
  2. fiction
  3. Grade 4-7

Read my review here.
Other resources I use regularly are listed here.

Linking Together 2013/14

September 18 marks the beginning of a new year of Linking Together: Parents and Community.

This year we are introducing registration for individual sessions. While participants are welcome and encouraged to sign up for each session, we know that for some schedules regular attendance isn't possible. Since space is limited to 12 participants per session we encourage early registration to ensure your spot. The group is open to family members, including grandparents, caring for a child on, or likely on, the Autism Spectrum Disorder. That means even if you are waiting for a diagnosis or other Autism supports, the group is immediately accessible.

The Medicine Hat News highlighted the success of Linking Together's first year here.

Whether you are new to the world of Autism or a veteran ASD parent ongoing access to information is vital as needs and supports change as children grow. Linking Together provides timely resources through hands on presentations by professionals working in the field.

To register call 403-580-3804.

Finding Balance?

Time to register for fall activities. My son is taking the fall season off as he adjusts to grade nine. His idea. As a Mom it is great to know he understands his needs and chooses to create time and space for self regulating. Knowing how much he loves soccer, it is hard to see him give up a preferred activity to make it through the demands of school. It is not about the academics as he is a 90% and above student in most subjects. It is about managing the transitions of a new school year. It is not a new school and he knows most of the other students. Yet his anxiety remains and interferes with other aspects of life.

He will likely be ready to play soccer in January. My heart is grieving this soccer season stolen by Autism.

The Importance of Empathy

"It’s all about having empathy as a first reaction as opposed to frustration or annoyance," captured a key theme shared with staff in Westwind School Division during two days of professional development I offered in May. The division capitalized on my time there by hosting a community awareness presentation. Picture and details here. Fortunately I no longer need the crutches.

Barrier Free Healthcare Access

Just like the narrator of this video, I also have a broken foot and crutches. This clip highlights the need for medical services to be accessible to people regardless of the medical challenges they face. 1:54 of the video asks the question, "Wouldn't it make sense if doctor's offices and labs and medical equipment were accessible to . . people who have mobility problems?"

The Sting of Social Skills

Alex Anlicker / Foter.com / CC BY-SA
Do I agree with the definition of "good social skills"? After attending the annual Children's Autism Services of Edmonton conference earlier this month, I'm not so sure. Renee Attaway from Michelle Garcia Winner's team started the day long session with a description of good social skills. "The ability to adapt your behavior effectively based on the situation and what you know about the people in the situation for them to react and respond to you in the manner you had hoped." (italics mine)
I feel uneasy with the last phrase. Is the ultimate goal of using social skills essentially to get what I want? Where does genuine concern for others fit in this description?
Attaway mentioned the preteen girl who rises to the position of "Queen Bee" in the classroom as a master of social skills. My experience of queen bees, both as a student and now as a parent, is not positive. Excluding others. Overt putdowns. Yet always surrounded by other girls who choose to be her friend by copying her exclusions and putdowns. I've seen the queen bee become the main reason a student with Autism differences gets sent to social skills group. Shouldn't the queen bee get sent to bullying awareness?
I appreciate the Social Thinking vocabulary and actively use it in ASDreams. Winner's book Social Behavior Mapping is on my list of recommended resources. However I'd like to see a working definition of social skills that doesn't sound like a synonym for manipulation.
What is important to you in a definition of social skills?