Parents

Stepping outside our comfort zone can be too much to bare at times for all of us. But not stepping out can be worse.

Often we say as parents " I don't want to push him/ her " why? What is going to happen ? What is it that we as parents are ultimately afraid of?

We hated the" melt down" when they were little but as they've grown so has it.

Is it the embarrassment of others watching or the fear of explosive rage, or the incomprehensible crying and screaming, The dropping to the ground with the emotional and physical exhaustion apparent for the world to see.

Is it the utter turmoil as the individual can withdraw and become lost behind unseeing eyes as they recoil in their comatose state.

I don't know, but I do know that the biggest challenge as a parent is watching your teen become lost, watching them become isolated as they start to regress in the social / emotional steps they have walked before. They regress back to the safer behaviors of their past, they hide from the world and its oh so many challenges.

We hear often as parents "I can't do this", " I don't want to go" but sometimes scarily we hear "I don't want to be here anymore". " I want to die".

Our hearts rip apart, our lives change forever. We stop pushing we stop challenging. We wrap them up in cotton wool and we hold hem as close as we can. We watch, we listen and we pray.

We look for Help, we scream for it, although so many times we have to wait, we're told to be patient. We're told they're on the waiting list or according to the " charts" they're not a risk yet as the haven't done anything and to come back when or if it gets worse.

So we sit, we wait, we watch as our child becomes more isolated, we read everything we can get our hands on and yet everyone says get the out there, but nobody ever tells me how.

So I go back to The Beginning.

I know what the reaction will be if I push or I challenge, I know how much inner turmoil this causes my child. I know how scared they are, how unsure of the situation they are. I know because I'm the parent, I know my child, I can not only see their pain. I feel their pain. How do we do this ? How do we expect them to grow socially and emotionally when everything is causing them pain?

We break each thing down
We show them how
We tell them we believe in them
We walk the journey with them

Because the alternative of a life locked away in a room isn't the answer

 

Diagnosis

A diagnosis of ASD is determined by a group of specialised physicians which generally are composed of a paediatrician, psychologist, speech therapist and occupational therapist. This collective decision is based on several areas including challenges in areas of communication, social relationships in addition to what appears to be obsessive, compulsive, or passionate behaviour about a particular area of interest.

Most individuals find it difficult to multi-task and / or follow a "bunch" of instructions and tasks at the one time.

Those with an ASD usually take things literally and many of their behaviours can be misinterpreted as being "Know - it all" for want of a better phrase. By taking things literally it can lead to the individual not understanding the "social customs" or "nuances" of language or in laments terms the social hidden curricular.

Many individuals with a diagnosis of an Asperger Syndrome or High Functioning Autism are extremely bright and very willing to learn especially if you find their obsessions or passions. We can utilise their passions to encourage learning whilst giving them the tools to help them learn. What a wonderful way to engage a student on the Autism Spectrum. You will see their passion and their willingness to learn.

Sensory Demands within the workforce

It is important to determine a match between the communication, sensory, social, and organizational demands of the job and the needs of the individual with ASD.

The match between the demands of the environment and the needs of the individual does not have to be perfect. It is possible to introduce accommodations and instructions that will help create a better fit between the employee with ASD and the employment environment.Many individuals on the spectrum experience sensory processing difficulties of some kind within the workplace some of these may be apparent in the form of:

  • Sight
  • Audio
  • Smell
  • Touch
  • Textures

Certain noise, smells or feelings can cause extreme stress on the ASD employee, causing them to have trouble concentrating and coping with the employment environment. For this reason it is important to have a good sensory employment match for the individual and or good reflective accommodations and or reasonable workplace adjustments.

By identifying the personal sensory triggers matched against the employment environmental triggers you can ensure that this is a good job match for the individual. It is more beneficial for the person on the spectrum to have a work environment free from unnecessary distractors.

Some of the strategies and solutions to help individual's combat moderate sensory issues are:

  • Modifying the work area by clearing up clutter or adding dividers that block out distractions,
  • Moving the work station to a quieter location,
  • Wearing sunglasses or other tinted glasses,
  • Using head phones or ear plugs,
  • Pairing visual prompts with verbal ones, and
  • Encouraging slow introductions to environments that might be over stimulating.

Primary/Secondary Students Tools and Strategies

Many diagnosed with ASD can find their educational years a nightmare, mainly due to miscommunication and lack of understanding. Repploy advocates and assist both families and schools and teachers to work out an effective Individual Behaviour Plan applicable to your student.

We believe that working together and bringing a "third Party approach "to the Advocacy brings with it an unbiased informative and constructive negotiation between Family expectations and school reasonable adjustments; Supporting both parties to work towards the common goal of identifying inappropriate behaviours and challenges of the student and replacing those with appropriate positive behaviours.

Positive behaviour supports and IBP's can be very beneficial to both primary and Secondary students, they promote independence whilst the student learns , recognise and implements positive changes to improve behaviours and social expectations.

Some of the skills that need to be taught are:

  •  Self-care
  •  Self-awareness
  •  Choice / decision making
  •  Environmental modification skills
  •  Behaviour modification
  •  Build self-esteem
  •  Coping with Anxiety

The Individual Behaviour Plans help and educate teachers/ schools on the best ways to support your child so they can achieve and cope with situations or challenges that arise by

  •  Give sufficient warnings about changes or transitions coming up
  •  Provide visual cues and aids whenever possible
  •  Prompt positive behaviours prior to entering into new situations
  •  Give choices (1-2) only within a set topic, activity or action.
  •  Set up a compatible environment to the individual
  •  Minimise disruptive behaviour sensory issues
  •  Strong and consistent routine
  •  Maintain a constant approach to inappropriate behaviour
  •  Keep good clear communication between parents, carer's, support staff and educators
  •  Remember" Threatening / Lecturing/ Isolation has a negative impact and does not work!

Contact Repploy today to discuss how our Individual Behavioural Plans (IBP) and how advocacy can support your teachers in addressing the individual needs of students with ASD.

Please note: A Behaviour support Plan is a legal requirement under the following circumstances:

  •  When a person is over the age of 18 yrs and taking prescribed "behaviour modifying medication"
  •  Is being subject to restraint and or seclusion
  •  Using a registered Disability service (i.e. day program respite or supported accommodation).
  •  The person must have a Behavioural Support Plan

The Plan is written collaboratively by the person's family, support staff and any other relevant parties and is lodged with the Office of the Senior Practioner as per the Disability Act 2006. For more information see Legislation.

Pushing or Encouraging?

Stepping outside our comfort zone can be too much to bare at times for all of us. But not stepping out can be worse.

Often we say as parents " I don't want to push him/ her " why? What is going to happen ? What is it that we as parents are ultimately afraid of?

We hated the" melt down" when they were little but as they've grown so has it .

Is it the embarrassment of others watching or the fear of explosive rage, or the incomprehensible crying and screaming, The dropping to the ground with the emotional and physical exhaustion apparent for the world to see.

Is it the utter turmoil as the individual can withdraw and become lost behind unseeing eyes as they recoil in their comatose state.

I don't know but I do know that the biggest challenge as a parent is watching your teen become lost, watching them become isolated as they start to regress in the social / emotional steps they have walked before. They regress back to the safer behaviors of their past, they hide from the world and its oh so many challenges.

 

We hear often as parents "I can't do this", " I don't want to go" but sometimes scarily we hear "I don't want to be here anymore". " I want to die".

Our hearts rip apart, our lives change forever. We stop pushing we stop challenging. We wrap them up in cotton wool and we hold hem as close as we can. We watch, we listen and we pray.

We look for Help, we scream for it, although so many times we have to wait, we're told to be patient.

We're told they're on the waiting list or according to the " charts" they're not a risk yet as the haven't done anything and to come back when or if it gets worse.

So we sit, we wait, we watch as our child becomes more isolated, we read everything we can get our hands on and yet everyone says get the out there, but nobody ever tells me HOW.

So I go back to The Beginning

I know what the reaction will be if I push or I challenge, I know how much inner turmoil this causes my child. I know how scared they are, how unsure of the situation they are. I know because I'm the parent, I know my child, I can not only see their pain. I feel their pain. How do we do this ? How do we expect them to grow socially and emotionally when everything is causing them pain?

We break each thing down
We show them how
We tell them we believe in them
We walk the journey with them

Because the alternative of a life locked away in a room isn't the answer.

Meltdowns and Escalations

Meltdowns in an individual with ASD are very different to a tantrum. I am sure you have all been there, your child has become overwhelmed or over stimulated, everybody else is looking at you as you frantically try to decode exactly what it is that is triggering him/her.

Remember this can happen due to many reasons which are extremely impacted by the individual's personal diagnostic triggers.

A tantrum is usually from the age of 1-5 years where as a meltdown can happen all the way through to adulthood. So what is the difference between the two?

In short tantrums in most children are due to a child wanting a particular item, thing, activity and when they are refused by the adult in charge they will scream, cry fall to the ground kicking and screaming, On many of these occasions the supervising adult will give in and give the child what they were after and low and behold the tantrum behaviour stops immediately and they move on.

If the supervising adult sticks to their guns and continues to ignore the behaviour and still say "NO", the child will usually become bored or distracted from their behaviour relatively quickly and the tantrum will cease.

Tantrums are usually

  •  Goal/control driven
  •  Audience performance orientated
  •  Checks the engagement
  •  Protective mechanisms
  •  Resolves when outcome is achieved.

During a Meltdown

There is nothing that can get a child with ASD to calm down, once they have escalated it is for most too late and they must complete the cycle, they really are unable to just STOP!

So what does this look like to the untrained eye

That wonderful shopping centre experience.

  •  The child gets overwhelmed or overstimulated by sensory, environment or too many people at the store.
  •  The parent tries to talk calmly and quietly, distracting the child.
  •  The child quickly becomes out of control, screaming and falling to the floor.
  •  The parent gives the child toys, books, anything that might calm the child down for a minute.
  •  The child shuts down, closing their eyes and covering their ears.
  •  The parent recognizes that the child is not able to handle shopping today and heads for the door with the child. Or the parent has to finish shopping so rushes while the child continues screaming and throwing himself around.
  •  The child screams all the way home and it takes a while for him to calm down once at home. Or the child immediately calms down once out of the crowded store and away from all of the stimulating lights and odours.

Things to Remember

An Autistic Meltdown is

  •  Over stressed/over whelmed
  •  Reactive mechanism
  •  Continues without attention
  •  Safety may be compromised
  •  Non goal dependant
  •  Fatigue
  •  May need assistance to gain control
  •  A child in a meltdown has no interest or involvement in the social situation.
  •  A child in the middle of a meltdown does not consider his/her own safety.
  •  A melt down conveys the feeling that no one is in control.
  •  Escalation is an involuntary increase in tantrum-like behaviours usually in response to one or more stresses
  •  During a meltdown individuals with Aspergers do not look, care, if those around him/her are reacting to their behaviour.
  •  Melt downs will usually continue as though they are moving under their own power and will wind down slowly.

Physical signs are:

  •  Screaming
  •  Swearing
  •  Stomping
  •  Throwing objects
  •  Hitting/Kicking people/objects
  •  Pushing/biting
  •  Shutting down
  •  Withdrawal
  •  Comatose behaviour

Some causes of stress are:

Over stimulation

  •  Cognitive
  •  Sensory
  •  Emotional
  •  Social skills deficit
  •  Excessive demands
  •  Interrupted stereotype

Situations that are:

  •  Unexpected
  •  Unpredictable
  •  New or unfamiliar

Changes to:

  •  Routines
  •  The expected (minor changes can cause as much stress as major change).

Remember Melt downs are way that those with ASD communicate that something is wrong and they don't know how to convey this to others. Meltdowns can either explode and or implode both types are extremely debilitating for the individual.

Calming Melt downs

  •  Remove demands and lower stimulation
  •  Slow down and lower your voice
  •  If possible remove child to a" safe area"
  •  Stay supportive, "it's OK, you are safe".
  •  Mirroring behaviour of calm stature and voice helps the other person to mimic without realising they are doing so
  •  If receptive, calm with deep pressure, or rhythmic patterns
  •  If Not receptive, back off and allow the child to rebound naturally, Give plenty of space for the child top do this in.
  •  Remember rebounding will be gradual, immediately following a meltdown the child is very vulnerable to recommencing the meltdown cycle.

Pre-teen and teens

 

Pre-teen and teens on the spectrum often have trouble with their negotiating skills. So it is very important that we teach them this skill, as it is one of the most common social strategies needed to interact and survive the social expectations of those teenage years leading into adult hood.

We all use negotiation as a way of working out how best to achieve the results and outcomes in situations. It is widely used in social, family, school and employment environments.

Individuals on the spectrum have the same hormones and need for independence as those neuro - typical teens do.

They will challenge boundaries, want more space, become moody, frustrated, challenging and defiant (any of this sound familiar yet?), the difference is those on the spectrum have trouble identifying, verbalising and negotiating what and how they are feeling and how their needs will be met. Thus leading to non-compliance ... Many of the strategies and social skills trigger identification and positive behaviour tools can be very beneficial to both teen and family.

Contact us today to see how we can help you

School Shadowing

How do we know what is working and what isn't, whether you are a parent or teacher of students on the spectrum; it is important to grab fast with both hands to everything that works and quickly change all that isn't. Just hoping for the best outcomes isn't the only way to go.

By using a specialist service that offer s an independent snapshot of a child's school life can be the difference between school failure and success . There is nothing like being there when it is really happening witnessing exactly what triggers and barriers each individual is facing.

Giving teachers, parents and staff insight into what is happening is the biggest key to the often hidden factors that both our children and educators face on a daily basis. That said it is better to witness just one day of realism then trying to succeed on hearsay.

The Art of Advocacy

Schools

University

Tafe

Registered Training Organisations

Professional

Work environment

How it works

Many individuals with a diagnosis on the Autism Spectrum, their families, carers and educators can benefit from advocacy.
Quite often, communication between schools, workplaces, families etc can break down. It is so imperative to have an open line of communication and a third party with a non biased interest can help communicate the wants and needs of all parties.

Advocacy can help to help build and implement reasonable adjustments to help those with ASD to cope with the challenging effects of their individual diagnosis.

Advocacy can support and assist those who are working/ teaching and / or interacting with individuals on the spectrum to understand and implement positive adjustments required for the individual diagnosis of each person.

Many times it can be simply a case of implementing classroom adjustment and environmental adjustments to help those with ASD to build the social skills required to adjust their personal triggers into a more positive outcome.

Primary/Teens Tools and strategies

Many diagnosed with ASD can find their educational years a nightmare, mainly due to miscommunication and lack of understanding. Repploy advocates and assist both families and schools and teachers to work out an effective Individual Behaviour Plan applicable to your child.

Positive behaviour supports can be very beneficial to both primary age and teens. They promote independence whilst they learn, recognise and implement positive changes to improve behaviours and social expectations.

Some of the skills that need to be taught are:

  •  Self-care
  •  Self-awareness
  •  Choice / decision making
  •  Environmental modification skills
  •  Behaviour modification
  •  Build self-esteem
  •  Coping with Anxiety

The Individual Behaviour Plans help and educate teachers/ schools on the best ways to support your child so they can achieve and cope with situations or challenges that arise by:

  •  Give sufficient warnings about changes or transitions coming up
  •  Provide visual cues and aids whenever possible
  •  Prompt positive behaviours prior to entering into new situations
  •  Give choices (1-2) only within a set topic, activity or action.
  •  Set up a compatible environment to the individual
  •  Minimise disruptive behaviour sensory issues
  •  Strong and consistent routine
  •  Maintain a constant approach to inappropriate behaviour
  •  Keep good clear communication between parents, carer's, support staff and educators
  •  Remember" Threatening / Lecturing/ Isolation has a negative impact and does not work!

Contact Repploy today to discuss how our Individual Behavioural Plans (IBP) and how Advocacy can support you and your child to cope with educational requirements and the individual diagnosis needs of your loved one

 

I contacted Repploy  to see if I could get some advice , like I have with so many other places/ services to have no help what so ever all I received was sorry can't help you.


Trudy was at my place within days and at the school getting the assistance needed of a 16 year old with AS and ADHD . I have been asking the school for a little consideration for 4 years and not once did they, but after Repploy spoke to them all has changed.

 

Not only does he receive help at school but in so many ways it would take me all day to tell you , if you need help with a child with AS or ADHD ring Repploy , I promise you won't be sorry, I will never be able to thank Repploy enough. Life is so much better for him now, (not to mention me) THANK YOU REPPLOY again.

- Carol M.

Thinking outside the Box

outside-theboxDuring an interesting conversation I was engaged in with an employer earlier this week concerning an applicant that had been interviewed for a position within their company previously. It had got me thinking.

What was it that had gone against this person? What in particular was it that had made this individual suddenly unqualified?

On paper according to the employer the applicants skills, attributes and experience were paramount to the position, he was well presented and a good match for the job order..................But didn't interview well

Through further discussion it became apparent to me that candidate could have possibly had Asperger's.

Why would this make a difference? I hear you ask.

Well people who have Asperger's can find the interview process very difficult (more than others) due to the fact that they find it difficult to embrace the simplicities of conversation that is so paramount to the interview process.

They have trouble understanding exactly what we as interviewers are asking of them especially through the behavioural interview questions. You know the ones where we will ask similar questions looking for different insights into a person's behavioural response.

Where as a person with Asperger's will look at you and most likely give you the same answer to all, let's face it by the end of that line of questioning they will probably be thinking "Do you not understand my answer? Why do you keep asking me the same thing over and over"? This then leads them to start concentrating on trying to work out more of what "your problem" is rather than concentrating on the situation at hand.

Candidates with Asperger's can easily be seen by interviewers as "unengaging", a true "aspie" trait is that they don't like to hold eye contact; they may fidget, and have trouble interpreting facial expressions.

They will give you Yes or No answers unless you make it clear that you are looking for more. They can be very literal in their answers as well ....

Sensory Demands within the Classroom

It is important to determine a match between the communication, sensory, social, and organisational demands of the classroom environment and the needs of the individual with ASD.

You may have noticed that your students display some or all of the following and they are:

  •  Highly intelligent or cognitively delayed;
  •  Highly verbal or functionally nonverbal;
  •  "Oddly" sociable or have no social interactions whatsoever;
  •  Singularly, almost obsessively, focused on one interest or appear to have no interest at all in their environment;
  •  Either over- or under- reactive to sensory input.

The match between the demands of the environment and the needs of the individual does not have to be perfect. It is possible to introduce accommodations and instructions that will help create a better fit between the student with ASD and the class room environment.

Many individuals on the spectrum experience sensory processing difficulties of some kind within the workplace some of these may be apparent in the form of:

  • Sight
  • Audio
  • Smell
  • Touch
  • Textures

Certain noise, smells or feelings can cause extreme stress on the ASD employee, causing them to have trouble concentrating and coping with the classroom environment. For this reason it is important to have a good sensory classroom match for the individual and or good reflective accommodations and or reasonable classroom adjustments.

By identifying the personal sensory triggers matched against the classroom environmental triggers you can ensure that this is a good sensory match for the individual. It is more beneficial for the person on the spectrum to have a classroom environment free from unnecessary distractors.

Some of the strategies and solutions to help individual's combat moderate sensory issues are:

  • Modifying the work area by clearing up clutter or adding dividers that block out distractions,
  • Moving the work station to a quieter location,
  • Wearing sunglasses or other tinted glasses,
  • Using head phones or ear plugs,
  • Pairing visual prompts with verbal ones, and
  • Encouraging slow introductions to environments that might be over-stimulating.

Who conducts assessment for diagnosis

This will vary from country to country. Health professionals involved may include:

  • Family doctor who can make a referral
  • Paediatrician
  • Psychiatrist
  • Child psychologist
  • Speech therapist
  • Multidisciplinary team (combination of the above).

We always say that parents know their child better than anyone that is why it is so important that you be the person whose unique insight is used to predetermine the ongoing understanding and exploration of your child's emotional and physical development. Although the professionals will take every opportunity to observe and monitor your child's behaviours, responses etc. they are only privy to a small snapshot of your child's world on your child's terms.

This is why as parents and family we are an integral part of the support network that you will accumulate to assist in your child's progression and development.

For the most part the process may start with a screening. This can range from questionnaires, a discussion of parental concerns and or observation of the individual. The screening process requires a lot of information on many aspects of the child's developmentation.

Such as:

  • Personality
  • Eating habits
  • Sleep patterns
  • School performance
  • Interactive play (playing with other children)
  • Physical and emotional development

Although screening does not result in a diagnosis it can reveal the need for further investigation and so the journey begins.

Most diagnosis will be carried out by multidisciplinary team.

On occasion there may be the need for additional medical testing required to eliminate a comparative diagnosis. Autism Spectrum, High Functioning Autism and Aspergers can have very similar traits; many professionals may also include the observational research of watching how the individual interacts with family members, playing with various toys, games etc. On occasion it may also require a professional to evaluate the individual in the home environment.

Accurate diagnosis may take time but is imperative so that the individual can receive appropriate interventions and support.

How to Protect Teens: Safe Guarding your "Aspie"

It is so important that we teach individuals diagnosed with an ASD how to say" No" and that it is ok to do so.... So often when we set about teaching social skills we teach them to co-operate with the "social norms" or what we think they should know or be taught to cope with the social community.

The most important tool we can give our aspies is to recognise and make positive decisions and when it is appropriate to safe guard themselves and say "No."

By building the decision making skill they are learning to take responsibility for the choices they make through both positive and negative outcomes, thus allowing them to recognize appropriate and safe decision and protecting themselves from being easy prey.

Many teachers and educators are receptive to practical information to help them learn and understand an individual's diagnosis and the behaviours and triggers that are associated with it. It is also important to help them to reach and build a positive rapport with your child/ teen.

 

Repploy ASD Independent Living Program

Independent-living2Repploy ASD independent living program

The uncertainties of future events can leave many of us in a serious state of panic, whilst so often we have spent the majority of our ASD childhood being supported and shielded from what needed to be done, having our parents and others advocate on our behalf. Then one day we wake up to the seriousness to the future "what ifs"!

A lot of these fears can be dispelled by empowering with the skills, strategies and tools to obtain independent living.
Learning how to achieve the tasks that we take for granted each day.
Some of these may include:

  • Washing
  • Shopping
  • Cleaning
  • Cooking
  • Household chores
  • Comparison shopping
  • Transport
  • Individual independence
  • Finding / utilising relevant support networks

Contact Us today to find how our programs can meet your individual needs.

Life skills the untold social norm.

We often hear when people talk about Autism Spectrum; about the challenges presented through the lack of social skills, cognitive thinking and pragmatic communication, yet many fail to recognize the enormous challenges that individuals on the spectrum face through daily life skills.

If as parents and carers these skills are not taught step by step or mastered at an early age then the barriers tend to increase for many individuals on the spectrum thus making it more difficult to form successful strategies to support the individual to become the productive, functioning member of society that we all wish for our children to be regardless of NT or ASD.

 

These barriers for many can seem incomprehensible at times and yet to most of us NT (neuro typical) they are skills that we don't even have to think about to perform, really when actually asked to break tasks down into steps we struggle to do this).

By breaking everything down into step by step actions we allow the individual on the spectrum to see the processing thoughts, communication and behavior required to successfully complete the task. Adding to this the opportunities for practice, repitition and to perform trial and error we can form the first stage of supporting individuals on the spectrum.

The second stage of support is then incorporating and teaching the art of " flexible thinking " which then enables the individual on the spectrum to be able to adapt the tools and strategies taught to many different situations.

 

Parents