Helping those around you

I personally don’t have a child in the autism spectrum, but I know people who do.

Families with children on the spectrum already feel overwhelmed and misunderstood, and coming to Church should be a blessing for them, and not somewhere they feel left out.  I was asking my cousin Erin (remember her?) for ways to help children in a Sunday School or Children’s Church type setting.  I found her information interesting, helpful and worthy of sharing.

Erin’s ideas:
- visual learning may be the most helpful. (create ways to help him visual organize and pay attention)
——-this can be done by either coming up with picture references to correspond to the lesson, a miniature visual schedule to help him get through all of Sunday ( stories, play, snack, craft, etc.) and maybe even give him small phrases or putting things to song to help him learn

- possibly create a token system for attention (stickers or token pieces (from a favorite cartoon character or animal etc.) to represent a larger reward he can ‘cash’ in after SS is over)
——-tokens can be earned for staying in our seat, having a quiet body, trying new things, playing with friends, raising our hand etc.(if this is something that interests you all the number of tokens starts out small and increases over time to delay reinforcement, but it has to be clear to him before the day starts (“today we are working for 4 sponge bob tokens. How do we earn tokens?” and have him repeat back different ways)

- make sure he knows the expectations for the day, sometimes a good and bad choice list is helpful (if that isn’t too abstract for him)

- reinforce with praise, tokens or even edibles (small portions of food-piece of a cookie vs a whole cookie, a cut up gummy bear vs. a whole one)

- if distraction and behaviors become a problem create a quiet spot in the room that he can go to to calm down (pillows, bean bag, dark and maybe quiet music) also working for a “break” can be a helpful tool (getting away from others and the overwhelming noise or fluorescent lights)

- intersperse tasks he can complete easily with new tasks or learning (if he can and likes to do a puzzle try a new task first then a mastered task)

- if there is a worksheet or lesson activity that goes along with the weekly Bible story highlight main ideas with a highlighter of his favorite color


God created each and every child in His own image.  Coming to a local church should be a place of love and acceptance for families, especially those with special needs children.  I pray that you can take some of this information and love up on a family in your community. 

Keep in mind that not all the above suggestions will work with every child.  Parents are your ultimate tool to understanding the child.  Ask questions of Mom and Dad to make sure you are using the same reinforcements that they use at home.


Q & A: Autism

I would like to introduce you to someone.

My cousin Erin.

Not only is she amazing, funny, and way smarter than me….  She has a burden, a passion, to come alongside families with Autistic Children.  She has a Masters in Autism and Applied Behavior Analysis, and is waiting to receive certification as a Board Certified Behavior Analyst. 

In her own words she describes her work:

Throughout my experience I have aided families in providing a comprehensive approach for their child in order to ameliorate* deficits in social, academic/pre-academic, daily living and self-help skills (feeding, toileting, meal planning, shopping, self-care, etc), fine and gross motor skills, language/communication and lastly (I feel most importantly!) behaviorally. Each program was tailored to fit the child and family’s direct needs, whether through homework support, making a simple snack, trying a new food, decreasing a maladaptive behavior (tantrum, self-injury, assault, protest, repetitive behavior, etc).

……Ultimately, I believe that parents are the most important component of their child’s success. For many children they spend hours at school and there is not enough support (and lack of funding) to provide them with what they need. The greatest change that I have seen in a child’s life has been because parents/caregivers heeded the advice of professionals and implemented suggestions. While the work is tedious and can be difficult for a parent (seeing their child exhibit unwanted behaviors in the face of change) they will reap the greatest reward with consistency and follow through; and waiting out the unwanted behavior which is often exhibited in a bell curve (must go up before it comes down).

I am confident that the greatest change can come from the home, because this is where a child spends the majority of their time. Many children can exhibit different behaviors and successes in different environments because they are aware that various agents (teachers, peers, siblings, caregivers) have different expectations. Sooooo…this is why home schooled children with ASD can make tremendous strides!!! How exciting! :) Parents just need the right resources. I wish that I had the means to go to each and everyone’s home that need help and consult with them personally. :(

See, I knew you needed to meet her!
As I become more involved in the electronic homeschool community, I see a need;  to answer questions, to provide encouragement, and simply to listen to the struggles that are so much a part of life for families that have children with ASD.  I am not sure where this introduction will take us, but I am excited to find out…

So let’s get to know each other. Tell us about your child, and homeschool experience.  Ask some questions.
How can we encourage you today?

*( ummmm…  I had to look this word up… so I thought maybe I should put the definition :  ameliorate : to make better, or improve upon.  see, I told you she was way smarter than me…)

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