Tuesday, December 30, 2014

Sensory Book and Video Give away!

One lucky reader will receive all three of these wonderful Sensory Processing resources. 


There are a few different ways to enter the contest. You are able to get up to four entries per person!

~~One entry for leaving a comment here.  Please be sure to include your email address so we can contact you if you win!!

~~One entry for liking us on Facebook: http://www.facebook.com/#!/FamilyMattersPTIC?fref=ts
Just click on that link and hit the 'Like' button.

  (Please mention in a comment on this post that you have liked our FB pageor else I won't know to give you an entry).

~~One entry for blogging about our giveaway. Share your link here in the comments.

~~One entry for sharing this post on Facebook. Share the link in the comments.

***Due to shipping expenses, this giveaway is only for residents of the US.
Giveaway ends on January 9th at midnight.

Tuesday, December 16, 2014

Be Flexible & Reduce the Anxiety of Getting Gifts

Source: autismdigest.com
We assume that everyone enjoys receiving a gift, especially kids. Yet many parents report that getting a gift causes fear and anxiety in their children with autism. Simply put, it just is not fun for them. Rather than bubbling with excitement, they face increasing anxiety over the unknown. They fear opening a gift when they don’t know what’s under the paper. They truly hate surprises, even good ones. They may be uncertain about how to respond to the gift. Or they may worry about disappointment if the gift isn’t their one desired item. It’s more than enough to push our kids on the spectrum over the edge to a meltdown.
Holidays, birthdays, and celebrations … all represent a challenging change in schedules and environment. Do we really want to add more anxiety just because gifts should be wrapped, we want our loved ones to be surprised, or because that’s what tradition dictates? If your child shows stress and difficult behaviors over receiving gifts, maybe this is the year to explore new options. Rather than following traditions or expectations, let’s find ways to help kids with autism learn to enjoy getting gifts. Here are a few ideas to get you started. Use your well-honed parent radar to judge how each idea may/may not be suitable for your child.
Don’t keep secrets.
Let your child know what gifts he is receiving. This may be quite difficult as parents want their children to experience the magical joy of the holiday season, which includes delight as they open unknown presents. However, you can remove a lot of anxiety by telling them what gifts to expect. Giving hints without being specific may be enough for some children, and it can be made into a game. For example, let him guess which “category” a present is from. Simply knowing he’s getting a cartoon-related action figure may be enough to put his mind at ease.

Create a picture board showing the gifts.
Get a large piece of poster board in a color that fits the season or occasion. Cut the poster board into a fun shape, such as a large heart. Print or copy online images of the gifts she will receive and tape or glue them onto the poster board. This visual reminder of what gifts she can expect will remove fear of the unknown. Keep the picture board as a way to build memories and as a tool to remind her of the fun. PS. Surprisingly, some moms who tried this said it did not make their children want the presents right away. They were content to wait for the big day as long as they knew what to expect.

Find alternatives to gift wrap.
Skip the gift wrap or use gift bags without tissue paper. If you do use wrapping, don’t wind ribbon around the box, making it more frustrating to open. Instead of wrapping paper, use a card, picture or even simple shapes cut from construction paper and tape them on the gift. They won’t cover and hide the gift, but they’re fun and give the illusion of being wrapped.
Proactively discuss gifts with family and friends.
Don’t leave the door open to random gifts. Give people a list of items you know your child either likes or expects. Explain about your child’s special interests and assure them it’s ok to buy yet another train, dinosaur or whatever your child collects.

Prepare your child for unexpected gifts.
Write a social story teaching him how to respond and role play until he’s comfortable. Be prepared to deal with resistance to telling socially accepted “little white lies” about gifts he doesn’t like and work together to come up with responses that are truthful yet kind. Talk about what he can do with a gift he doesn’t like.

Consider their interests.
This seems like obvious advice, but holidays and birthdays often become prime time when family and friends think it’s “fun” to experiment with new gifts. While we all want to expand our children’s interests, high-anxiety occasions are not the best time to introduce new topics and toys.
Don’t forget unique events.
It’s easy to overlook the potential anxiety associated with typical yet infrequent events, like various holidays. Be sure to prepare in advance using picture cards, social stories, and schedules.
-Selection reprinted with permission from the 2010 revised edition of 1001 Great Ideas for Teaching and Raising Children with Autism or Asperger’s, by Ellen Notbohm and Veronica Zysk. Future Horizons, Inc., publisher.
This article is taken with permission from autismdigest.com, where readers can go online and, by signing in, can access free copies of the magazine’s eGuide, which is packed full of more information on holidays and gift giving for children on the spectrum. Article amended to fit any gift giving season. 

Wednesday, December 10, 2014

Surviving Holiday Celebrations

In the past, I have dreaded holiday parties. To be honest, I avoided them whenever possible. They were often just too stressful and full of sensory landmines for my kids to enjoy, which made the parties pretty miserable for my husband and me, too. Since I couldn’t very well avoid all holiday festivities, I needed to find ways to cope.
And unless you live in the wilderness far from civilization, chances are you will have to attend at least one holiday party this year, too.
Don’t despair, though! There are many things you can do to prepare yourselves and your kids so that the parties are enjoyable.
Over the years, I have discovered some things that have helped both my son, who is 7, and my daughter, who is 5, cope better with big holiday family parties, and they may help you, too.  Here are my suggestions….
Exercise Beforehand
I try to do some exercise with my children before we go to a party. My son, who is a sensory seeker, responds very well to heavy work. It calms him and makes him much more able to deal with extra sensory input. If the weather is decent, I take him for a bike ride before the party. Otherwise, we set up an indoor obstacle course that includes jumping on the mini-trampoline and crawling through tunnels. Try to incorporate an activity that your child enjoys and ones that tend to calm him down. Extra heavy work will help regulate your child’s senses, so he will be more able to handle the sensory stimuli at the party.
Get the Kids Outside 
I know most of us live in locales where the weather is not very pleasant this time of year. Still, it helps tremendously if, while at a loud party, you are able to get your children outside the house for a while. I typically offer to take all my kids, along with their cousins on a walk around the block. We take the opportunity to get some fresh air and admire all the Christmas decorations. This has multiple benefits. My daughter, who is very sensitive to noise, gets the chance to have a bit of peace and quiet; and my son, who has lots of extra energy, is able to run and let off some steam.
Feed Them Ahead of Time
I don’t know about your children, but mine rarely eat much at big parties with lots of people around. I used to try and fight them, until Mother’s Day a few years ago. At that particular party, my son ate absolutely no dinner. My sister offered him a piece of cake before I realized what she was doing. I was just about to take the cake away from him, when he got up and walked away. He was too wound up to even eat a piece of cake!
When we got home, the kid devoured three sandwiches. Even though he was obviously hungry at the party, he couldn’t calm down enough to eat. Now, I make a habit of feeding my kids before a party. Gatherings with lots of people are not the place, in my opinion, to battle with my kids over food. Also, I imagine it must be very difficult for a child with SPD to regulate his senses in a stressful situation, and even more so when he is very hungry.
Along with that, if your child is a picky eater, be sure to bring food with you. Don’t force your child to try a new food at a party. He is already dealing with enough uncomfortable sensory stimuli! Besides, who wants to fight at a Christmas party?
Secure a Calm Down Spot
When we go to a family party, I always find a quiet, peaceful place my son and daughter can go to if they get overwhelmed. I tell them ahead of time where to go if they need some alone time, and this has prevented so many meltdowns. If your child is too young to remove herself from the overwhelming situation, monitor him closely and take him to the place when you think he is getting over stimulated. Give her some time to regroup before returning to the party.
Ensure Kids are Well Rested 
Dealing with loud, chaotic parties is difficult in the best of times, but if your child is already tired she will have an even tougher time handling all the sensory input. If your child still naps, do what you can to ensure her nap schedule is not interrupted. Also, try to make sure your child gets extra sleep the night before a party.
Schedule Wisely
Most families have many parties and events to attend during the holiday season. With kids who have sensory difficulties, these parties are fraught with potential difficulties. Try not to schedule too many activities in one day. You may also want to eliminate some parties so your child has some down time. I know it is tempting to try to attend all the fun activities you’ve been invited to, but seriously consider what your child can handle. Be realistic; it may mean you will need to decline some invitations, but this will prevent your child from becoming totally over stimulated at the functions you do attend.
Advocate for your Kids 
You know your child better than anyone else. Don’t let family members or friends convince you to do something that you know makes your child uncomfortable. Don’t give in to peer pressure. For example, just because all your nieces and nephews are visiting Santa at the mall doesn’t mean you have to take your child, especially if you know it will scare her. It helps me if I remind myself that the point of these activities is for my kids to have fun. If a particular event will be stressful to my child, the fun is lost.
Have an Escape Plan
Whenever we are going to any kind of function, my husband and I discuss when we should leave the party. We also make what we call our “escape plan.” Basically, we know what behaviors to watch for that tell us the kids have had enough and it’s time to head home. We have a policy that if one of us thinks it’s time to go, the other agrees without argument. We split up and each take charge of certain tasks. Usually, I get the kids dressed in coats, while Bil herds them off to the car where they wait as I gather all our things. It helps if you have a system in place ahead of time.
Bring Calming Tools
My 7-year-old son chews on a blanket to calm himself down; he doesn’t use it all the time, but it definitely helps him when he is stressed. I know this is odd, so I sometimes would prefer if he left the blanket at home. Holiday parties, though, are pretty stressful for him, and they are not the time to try to wean your kid off of a calming, comfort item, no matter how disapproving Aunt Gertrude might be of your son’s blankey. So be sure to bring it–I often keep the blanket in the car and only pull it out when I can see my son needs it.
The holiday season is a very stressful time for most people, even those who do not deal with Sensory Processing Disorder. So, it is not surprising that this time of year can wreak havoc on your kids’ sensory regulation, sleep and behavior. Try your best to keep schedules as consistent as possible and plan ahead when you will be heading out to holiday parties. Do these things and the parties should go much more smoothly.

Wednesday, November 19, 2014

Scooter Board Activities for the Home

scoot1When people come over to our house for the first time, they are usually a little surprised. Our family room looks like a crazy Romper Room, filled with swings, (including a net swingpogo stick swing, and tire swings), and the kids’ favorites: the trapezeballs, and a mini trampoline. My family owns many, many pieces of therapy equipment. Since our children’s occupational therapist is three hours away, she sets up a program for us and we come home and try to replicate all the exercises. This has necessitated that we purchase much in the way of therapy equipment.
We also have many pieces of smaller, less expensive equipment, and of these, I would have to say our scooter boards are the favorites, hands down.
Scooter board are relatively inexpensive, typically under $35, and they are easily stored and transported. Plus, they offer all kinds of therapeutic benefits. Scooter boards are great for building kids’ core muscles, they provide good vestibular and proprioceptive input, and they are really, really fun.
There are so many fun activities you can do with scooter boards. Here are some of my kids’ favorite  games:
  • Races. We have three scooter boards and often have races in the kitchen (where there is no carpeting and plenty of space). The kids often race each other for some imaginary prize, but they like it the best when one of us parents join in the fun.
  • Ski Run. The kids use toilet plungers—ones that we bought exclusively for therapy—like ski poles to pull themselves around the floor while they sit cross-legged on the scooter boards. This is much more difficult than it sounds. We sometimes have them scoot to one side of the room, pick up an object and bring it back, all while “skiing” with the plungers.
  • Bungee Scooting. We hook bungee cords on our kitchen cabinet handles on either side of the room. You could also install hooks on the walls that you could attach the cords to. The kids pull on the bungee cord while they are sitting on the scooter board so that when they let go, they will go racing across the room. They can do this activity while sitting or while lying on their stomachs. Either way, it is a great core strengthener.
  • Tower Crash. Have your child sit on his bottom and use his feet to push the scooter board. When they get to the end of the room, take a big cardboard block or a ball and put it between his legs and then scoot to the other side of the room. Take the blocks and stack them up and after several times, the child can then fly into the tower of blocks, knocking them over.
  • Scooting. Have your child use the scooter board to get around from one place to another or one station in an obstacle course to another. Kids can sit on the scooter and use their feet to propel them, or they can lie on their stomachs and use their hands to scoot. Regardless, it’s a fun way to get around!
Note: Many of these ideas came from Occupational Therapist Linda Kramer of Children’s Therapy Services.

Thursday, November 13, 2014

No Longer a Secret book review

No Longer a Secret: Unique Common Sense Strategies for Children with Sensory or Motor Challenges by Doreit Bialer and Lucy Jane Miller is an invaluable resource for those looking for on-the-spot, practical and cheap solutions and tips for kids with sensory issues.

The book starts out with a chapter dedicated to the eight sensory systems, Sensory Processing, and SPD.  The authors then move on to reveal their "secret" to intervention which they explain as a "process of devising strategies that work to support your child at times when he or she is experiencing sensory challenges."

The method walks you through various causes of the issue you are looking to fix.  For example, is it an attention problem, a sensation issue, or environmental.  Once you ascertain what cause underlies the problem (and the authors provide a handy chart to help you do so) you move on to the chapters which offer practical solutions to try with your child.

The authors provide games and activities for issues like self-regulation, sensory over and/or under-responsivity, among others. 

This is a really valuable resource for anyone who has, or works with, a child with sensory issues.  It provides fun, practical and cheap activity ideas that will help kids develop sensory regulation!

If you would like to borrow a copy of this book and you live in Illinois, please contact Family Matters at 866-436-7842.

Tuesday, November 11, 2014

3 Signs It’s Time to Talk With Your Child’s Teacher

When to Contact Your Child's Teachers: 3 Signs It's Time to Speak Up
originally posted on the National Center for Learning Disabilities

At a Glance
  • Frequent homework issues could be a sign of trouble at school.
  • A change in your child’s attitude about school could be another telltale sign.
  • Communicating your concerns early can sometimes head off bigger problems.

Have you ever wanted to call or email your child’s teacher but were afraid of being a bother? Don’t worry! Gone are the days of waiting for a parent-teacher conference, a PTA meeting or a chance meeting in the school hallway to touch base with the teacher.

School websites, social networks, email and texting have made it easier to stay in contact. And communicating early can sometimes head off bigger problems and enable you to build a solid relationship with the school.

Here are three situations when it’s wise to reach out:

  1. Your child’s attitude changes.

    Maybe your child—who used to like school—now throws a tantrum before getting on the bus. Or maybe he’s been expressing negative feelings about school in other ways. He might be having trouble academically or socially. The teacher can be your eyes and ears at school and help identify what’s going on.

    If the new behavior is evident at school, you and the teacher can talk about whether it happens at certain times of day or during certain subjects. Knowing this mightgive you deeper insight into why your child’s attitude has changed. The teacher can also ask other faculty and staff to keep an eye out.
Click here to read more.....

Monday, November 3, 2014

Child Find: What is it???

Child Find is an ongoing process through which all children, from birth through 21 (through the day before the student’s 22nd birthday), or who may be eligible for early intervention, or who may be in need of special education services are identified, located and evaluated.
Each school district is responsible for actively locating, identifying and evaluating all children who live within the district boundaries who may qualify to receive special education and/or related services.

To read more visit:

If you have questions about your child, contact Family Matters Parent Training and Information Center at 866-436-7842, and speak to one of our Information Specialist!!!

Book and CD giveaway!

Enter our give away to win this book Alex: The Fathering of a Preemie.  If you win, you will also win a copy of a Music Therapy for Children cd.


There are a few different ways to enter the contest. You are able to get up to four entries per person!

~~One entry for leaving a comment here.  Please be sure to include your email address so we can get a hold of you if you win!

~~One entry for liking us on Facebook: http://www.facebook.com/#!/FamilyMattersPTIC?fref=ts
Just click on that link and hit the 'Like' button.
  (Please mention in a comment on this post that you have liked our FB pageor else I won't know to give you an entry).

~~One entry for blogging about our giveaway. Share your link here in the comments.

~~One entry for sharing this post on Facebook. Share the link in the comments.

***Due to shipping expenses, this giveaway is only for residents of the US.

The give away ends on November 10th at midnight.

Friday, October 31, 2014

Asperger’s in Pink: Interview With Author, Julie Clark

Author, Julie Clark interviewed by Patty Porch
What piece of advice would you have for any parents who suspect their child might have Asperger’s Syndrome?
Wow, there’s lots that came to mind, but each family is different. The first thing I would suggest is to make an appointment with your child’s pediatrician. But don’t make it with the child present, as it will be a lot easier to talk openly without them (or other siblings) there. (We scheduled it for when she was in school, so wouldn’t have to worry about getting a sitter for her.) If you suspect your pediatrician may not understand Asperger’s, consider consulting with another one. Also, keep an open mind! Your hunch may be correct, but it could be something else. Likewise, it could be Asperger’s – with something else (ASDs are often co-morbid.)

What specific struggles do you think girls with Asperger’s have compared to boys?
We’re still learning, and one hope of writing “Asperger’s in Pink” was that more families would come forward and share their stories. For one, I personally believe societal pressures of how girls “should be” are still strong, no matter the progress of the womens movement. Girls tend to have a desire to please and fit in, and may, therefore, may mask their Asperger’s – and then fall apart once they get home! On the flip side, if a girl has zero interest in fashion, makeup, etc., believe me, her peers will take note and make life unpleasant for that girl. Not every girl likes pink – or rock stars, even if most do. And, let’s face it, compared to boys, girls can be incredibly caddy. My husband will often remark at something Kristina and I are talking about regarding social life at high school, and he continues to be amazed how girls often treat other girls. Personally, I think they have a tendency for more emotional struggles. (Not that boys don’t struggle, just that girls tend to be more emotional, to begin with.)
Lack of understanding is another area. Consider special interests. Not all, but many girls tend to have special interests that mimic those of her peers (such as animals), which fly under the radar, while the interests of boys tend to stick out a little more as unusual. That plus the fact that so many people still see Asperger’s and Autism as a male’s diagnosis, often cause these super special girls to be perpetually misunderstood.
In some ways, it seems easier to get services and a diagnosis when you have a boy with Asperger’s. Why is that? What challenges do you think face parents of girls with Asperger’s?
With a ratio of about 5:1, it’s very likely those referring children for diagnosis may not have much, if any, experience with girls on the Spectrum. Add to that Asperger’s sometimes presents itself more subtle in them, these young ladies are starting out facing an uphill diagnostic battle. Even with a diagnosis, services can also be another area of frustration. Some girls may need the same services as their male counterparts, but if they present differently, it may be more difficult to secure those services. Back to the example of animals as a special interest, many will look at this and think that the girl in question just loves them a little more than her peers, so what’s the big deal? Then they start making their own judgment calls as to whether the diagnosis is accurate. With that jaded view, it become more difficult for the parents to work with that professional. The end result is that the child either misses out on needed services, or tension arises between the adults, which isn’t good, either.
Aside from the school setting, I think parents of girls with Asperger’s experience the same challenges as most special needs parents. If I were to think of a unique challenge, I’d say it’s currently the lack of understanding of Asperger’s in general. If you mention your child has ADHD, most people have heard of that, and you can proceed from there. Most people still have not heard of Asperger’s, or even non-classical autism, so many parents feel like they are already starting out on the defensive. Throw in the comments like, “I thought boys had autism?” and even more patience is required.
On a personal note, I think one challenge that needs to be met right away is how we see our children. We had to accept that life would be different, and that our daughter is different – and that is OK. We also need to stop comparing our child to the neurotypicals surrounding us everywhere we go. As another AsperMom mentioned to me a few weeks ago, standard advice doesn’t really work for families like ours. I think once we understand and accept this, it makes it easier to move forward and make the best decisions for OUR children, and OUR families. It isn’t easy, but it helps.
You dedicate an entire chapter to “holding the marriage together.” Why do you think this topic important? How are parents of special needs kids more susceptible to marital discord?
Marriage is an area not many want to be open and honest about. I wanted to cover it to let other couples know that they are not alone, that there is at least one other couple out there that is walking the same path. Let’s be blunt, even if your child is an (albeit misunderstood) angel, things such as copays, doctor visits, and working with the school can wear you out, leaving little left for each other. And then there’s another area – extended family stress, which many have. I think it’s important to realize this, and not play the blame game. One thing these kids crave is stability and that extends to the family unit. Marriage isn’t always easy, but it is incredibly important to us that we try to work through all difficulties, for the sake of our daughter. And it is also crucial that these kids never feel responsible for stress in the marriage. Also, remember there are stressed marriages that have nothing to do with having a special needs kid under the roof. And there are incredibly happy ones that do.
At the same time, it’s important to note that in many couples, one partner is not on board with the concept of their daughter being on the Autism Spectrum. I have heard from several moms who now not only find themselves as a single mom, but a single mom with an unsupportive father of their daughter. It just breaks my heart. If we could open up more discussion on relationships of parents of special needs kids, think the potential for good that could be done!
What steps do you and your husband take to ensure your marriage is strong and healthy? 

This is such a good question! When I wrote the book, my husband did not travel much, so it was relatively easy to plan a night in at home, rent a movie, etc. Since we moved, a lot has changed in our personal lives, and so is how we approach together time. He is really good about getting us out of the house, on lunch dates, etc. However, we still have to plan time together, even at home. We also choose to be open and honest with each other, which can be hard when life is crazy. We’ve also looked at our marriage as a commitment that we need to continue to work on. We still look at each other as teammates. For instance, we wound up with an unexpected string of snow days this week. He worked from home.  I needed to keep working from home.  Our daughter was bored to tears. Instead of trying to pit one of our careers over the other’s, we recognized the importance of spending time with Kristina, and the reality of work. Basically, for lack of a better phrase, we tag-teamed. It wasn’t perfect, but it was compromise, and we do need to compromise often. We
tell each other we love each other regularly.
How can a parent more effectively work with the school in getting their child’s needs met?
Probably one of the best things that has worked for us has been to meet with Kristina’s teaching team at the beginning of each school year. This allows us to introduce our daughter to them, as well as Asperger’s. By introduce, I don’t mean an hour long presentation on Asperger’s followed by too much other information. :) We try to choose the parts of Asperger’s that might pose difficulty for Kristina, such as changing classes. We offer information for teachers, such as her “need” to correct others, or how she may talk to herself during tests and not know it, thereby distracting others. We ask them what is the preferred method of communication as well as frequency, and for their input. We offer suggestions of what has worked in the past, but also make an effort to try and show the school that we have a desire to work with them. In unfortunate situations, when things were not going well, we calmly went to the teacher first. If that didn’t work, then and only then, we went to the principal. Many times, some issues were misunderstandings. Unfortunately, not all were. At the end of the day, keep an open mind, and truly listen what the school has to say before jumping to conclusions. Be persistent and patient. But don’t sit back and wait for situations to resolve themselves, either. Probably the worst thing you can do is become antagonistic.
Social skills are especially difficult for children on the spectrum to understand. They are also quite difficult to teach. Do you have any techniques that have worked well in teaching Kristina social skills? What advice would you give to parents who are struggling to teach their child better social skills?
You are so right when you say they are difficult to understand and teach! Kristina is in high school now, and the game continues to change. Some days, we still wonder if we are making any successes. I think that anyone with a teenage daughter would feel the same way at times, right? She may not have much eye contact, but she sure has mastered the eye-roll! When she was younger, we used face cards, given to us by her therapist, and played the “feelings” game, explaining to her what different facial expressions mean and why it is important to understand them. We played games as a family, and practiced turn taking and being a good winner and a good loser. We spent a lot of time teaching her, whether role playing at home, playing together, prompting “thank you” when we’re out, etc., we just kept at it. Persistence is key. Honestly, we worked with her therapist for ways to help her, too. I think that is important to note because some people do not want to involve someone like a therapist in helping their child. But parents who continue to struggle in this area should consider looking into working with a qualified therapist. And it’s ok to start out working with one, then switch to another for a better fit. We did.
Now that she is older, want to know what we do? We do still use social stories. We also watch a few (ahem, “parent approved”) reality TV shows. It may sound funny, but she likes to talk throughout them, so we’ll talk about someone’s facial expression or their body language, and how that might predict how that person is going to act. They are also good to use to discuss “What would you do?” scenarios. It’s like social stories with a twist. COPS (are you cringing yet?) has been a great one for helping her see how people do all sorts of things, then lie like crazy about it. In other words, learning about not trusting others. It’s very important to teach our kids to watch body language, etc., because our super special literal kids need to realize that words do not always equal truth. These poor kids, as blunt as they can be, are also often victimized, seen as easy to take advantage of. I’ve got to admit we’re not really fans of reality TV, but these kids learn by watching and then mimicking others, so why not take advantage of a show or two, and use it as a teaching tool?
How can we help our family better understand our children and their special needs?
This is such a hard, personal question. And by personal, I don’t mean not wanting to discuss it. I mean that families differ so much, don’t they? I think it’s good to be honest, but realistic, too. I wouldn’t drown family in information, but would definitely provide it for them. If books work best for an aunt, maybe loan or buy her one. For a grandparent, a list of links might be ideal. Tailor the information to fit each individual but DO make it available for them. Also remember that Asperger’s (and other special needs, such as SPD) can be hard for many to understand, so be patient, realizing it very well may take longer than you’d like for them to know your child. Above all, don’t be accusatory, but be there for your family to ask honest, direct questions. Our family sometimes felt like they would offend us if they asked this or that. Once we assured them not to worry, it was easier to get dialogue going. And I think that’s another key word: dialogue. Not monologue.
If you are interested in borrowing this book and you live in Illinois, please contact us at 866-436-7842!

Wednesday, October 29, 2014

"Asperger's on the Job" Review

I have an 11 year-old son on the autism spectrum, so when I was asked to read and review Asperger’s onthe Job by Rudy Simone, I wasn’t sure how relevant I would find its contents. After all, Danny is years away from holding a job, so how helpful could the book be? Still, I figured I would glean information that I could refer to at a later date, closer to when my son became a teenager.

I was wrong, though. This book has invaluable advice for anyone who has Asperger’s or who knows someone with it. As soon as I opened Asperger’s on the Job I discovered that the information and advice provided can really be applied to almost any social experience. Much of what I read can be used to help my son in school, church, LEGO Club, and even family celebrations–all activities he participates in now.

So, don’t wait to read this book thinking it won’t be helpful until your child is older, because that would be a mistake.

The author, Rudy Simone, decided to write Asperger’s on the Job when she discovered that there is a very high unemployment rate among people with Asperger’s. As a woman with Asperger’s, Simone offers a unique insight into what it might be like for Aspergerians in the workplace. Additionally, she interviewed over 50 people with Asperger’s as research for this book.

Simone covers a wide variety of topics from why people with Asperger’s are good employees to the many sensory issues Aspergians might face at the workplace. There are chapters on small talk, emotional attachment, rumors/gossip and other social blunders people with Aspergers often fall prey to. One whole chapter is dedicated to whether you should inform employers if you happen to have Aspger’s, and another chapter explains how praise can and should be used by employees to motivate and train their Aspergian employees.

My favorite aspect of this book is that Simone does not blame anyone for the extremely high unemployment rate in this population. She admits that people with Asperger’s can be awkward, put people off, and sometimes be difficult to understand. Still, she notes that Aspergians have many, many strengths that are of great benefit to employers. She encourages employers to note those strengths and to do whatever possible to help their employees be successful in the workplace.

Asperger’s on the Job offers clear explanations for many of the difficulties facing Aspergian employees and gives straightforward advice for workers and employers alike. Often, all it takes for success is a little adjustment and understanding on both sides.

I, for one, am grateful that Simone has shared her insights in this invaluable book. Hopefully, with her help the world will become more aware of the challenges facing people with Asperger’s in the workplace.
Who knows? Maybe by the time my son is old enough to get a job, people will be better educated, and therefore more accepting of him and his difficulties, because of books like this one.

I can only hope.

If you are interested in borrowing a copy of Asperger's on the Job and live in Illinois, please contact Family Matters at 866-436-7842 or leave a comment here; please be sure to leave an email address so we can contact you!

If you would like to buy your own copy of this important resource, go to Future Horizons.  If you use the code PH, you will receive free shipping and 15% off your orders.

Thursday, October 23, 2014

Accommodations & Modifications: Is There a Difference?

 If you are the parent of a child with an IEP you are probably already familiar with the terms, "accommodations and modifications."  You may wonder what the difference is between the two. NICHCY has created a great resource that explains both accommodations and modifications and the differences.


Accommodations and Modifications: Wait, they’re not the same?
 by Kori Hamilton and Elizabeth Kessler, professional special educator and NICHCY advisor
originally posted on NICHCY.com
Being able to provide ample opportunities for success to all students requires a clear understanding of the needs of each individual student. Every student has a unique learning style, and some students require more help than others. Students who receive special education services have a plan in place to identify the type of support(s) that’s needed.
One type of support is an accommodation, which is a change that helps a student overcome or work around the disability. A modification, which is a change in what is being taught to or expected from the student, is another type of support a student with an IEP may receive. Some adaptations might be very simple, like sitting a student in the front of the classroom to ensure the board is easy to see. Others might be more complex, like changing the criteria for an essay to make it achievable for the student.

Supports, accommodations, modifications, oh my! It is not uncommon for these terms to be misused interchangeably; so here is opportunity for clarification. Supports describe both modifications and accommodations. So, what’s the difference between providing a modification and an accommodation?

An easy way to remember the difference between the two is to think of an accommodation as leveling the playing field for students by changing “how” they work through the general education curriculum. Modifications go beyond that, and alter the field (game) entirely. Modifications change “what” is learned and therefore change the content of the grade -specific curriculum.

To read more, please click here....




Thursday, October 16, 2014

Keeping Students with Disabilities Safe from Bullying



Teacher in classroom
As Secretary Duncan has noted, the Department of Education is committed to making sure that all of our young people grow up free of fear, violence, and bullying. Bullying not only threatens a student’s physical and emotional safety at school, but fosters a climate of fear and disrespect, creating conditions that negatively impact learning—undermining students’ ability to achieve to their full potential. Unfortunately, we know that children with disabilities are disproportionately affected by bullying. Continue Reading.

Monday, October 13, 2014

Give away!

Check out our latest give away!  We are giving one lucky reader the following 2 sets of cards. These card sets are designed to teach early conversation skills and increase language repertoire.


There are a few different ways to enter the contest. You are able to get up to four entries per person!

~~One entry for leaving a comment here. Be sure to include your email address, so we can contact you if you win!!

~~One entry for liking us on Facebook: http://www.facebook.com/#!/FamilyMattersPTIC?fref=ts
Just click on that link and hit the 'Like' button.
  (Please mention in a comment on this post that you have liked our FB pageor else I won't know to give you an entry).

~~One entry for blogging about our giveaway. Share your link here in the comments.

~~One entry for sharing this post on Facebook. Share the link in the comments.

***Due to shipping expenses, this giveaway is only for residents of the US.

This giveaway ends October 20th at midnight.

Tuesday, October 7, 2014

Should We File for Due Process?

Should We Threaten Litigation?
students in class with teacher
Never tell a school, or anyone else, that you plan to sue them. Play your cards close to your chest.  Don't initiate a due process hearing until you have exhausted other ways to resolve a problem.
Pete Wright explains why, in most cases, threatening to sue the school makes things worse.

parents at school meetingShould We Sue the School?

NO threats. You should never say anything that you cannot “back up” with data, statistics, or documentation.

"I never say anything in an IEP meeting that I am not prepared to do", says Advocate Susan Bruce. Hereis an option for resolving the dispute.

parent and teacher
File a State Complaint Under IDEA
State Complaints can address both individual and systemic issues and be used to resolve any matter related to violations of:

  • FAPE
  • child find
  • related services
  • ESY (regression and recoupment)
  • Identification
  • Lack of progress
  • Evaluation
  • Educational placement....
Attorney Jim Comstock-Galagan explains effective strategies when filing a state complaint.

If you have a question about due process or mediation, please contact Family Matters at (866)436-7842.