All parents worry about their child’s future. Many of us wonder what our children will be like when they grow up. Will they go to college, join the military, find a good job and be financially independent? Will they have healthy relationships and become parents themselves?Are the concerns of a parent of a child with an Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD) any different? Except for some young adults who come back home to live with mom and dad (temporarily one hopes), parents of neuro-typical children don’t usually worry if their child will be able to live independently. Unfortunately, worrying that your child will be able to live an independent life as an adult is a very big concern for parents with children on the Autism spectrum.How will my child transition to adulthood?How do I make sure my daughter can manage on her own when she is an adult?What will happen to my son when I am not around anymore?These are not the cries of parents whose children have ordinary needs but those of moms and dads whose children have the special needs that come with a diagnosis of an Autism Spectrum Disorder.Our assignment as parents is to prepare our children for a life of independence, regardless of our child’s level of ability. This is not a job that we can or should postpone. This is a task that should begin early on, like the bank account or college fund some parents are able to set up at birth. But we all know that every child’s independence extends beyond the financial aspect and has more to do with acquiring basic life skills and mastering daily living tasks.This journey begins with having a positive vision for your child’s future.What kind of person do you want your son to be as an adult?What opportunities would you like to make available to your daughter?Seeing your child as capable of all possibilities is an important mindset to have because what we focus on grows.Once a dream for your child’s future is drafted in your mind, the next and most important step is to determine how you are going to help your child get from point A to point B as you focus on your child’s unique talents. This is a process that can begin at birth and will be tweaked along the way as your child helps you shape it.Here are some things parents need to pay attention to when planning and working towards an independent future for their child.- Start now to expand your child’s social skills. Knowing how to relate to others is a better indicator of success then a person’s IQ according to Daniel Goleman, author of Emotional Intelligence: Why It Can Matter More Than IQ. Social skills groups and social thinking classes are great for children with Autism but never underestimate the power you have as a parent to enhance your child’s ability to socialize appropriately.- Help your child develop self-advocacy skills. When our children are young we need to be their advocate but as they grow the balance needs to shift into their court as much as possible if they are to achieve and maintain independence. Every day provides numerous opportunities for teaching self-advocacy skills and it begins with encouraging your child to make choices – choices for dressing, meals, play activities, and even choices for which chores to do around the house. Role modeling advocacy skills for your children will also help.- Educate your child about Autism Spectrum Disorders and where he falls on the continuum. The more informed your child is about her uniqueness, the more empowering it is – especially when done in an empathic manner, always being mindful of where she is developmentally and what she is able to understand. If you start taking baby steps in this direction now your child will grow to be better able to embrace herself as is and access the amazing potential that exists beyond the label that has been given to her.- Get to know the laws inside and out. If your child receives special education services don’t wait until she is in high school to familiarize yourself with the laws that can empower her. There are three laws that overlap to protect you and your child with an ASD that you need to become familiar with right away: Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA), Section 504 of the Vocational Rehabilitation Act, and the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA). You also want to stay informed of the No Child Left Behind Act of 2001, signed into law by President Bush on Jan. 8, 2002, which expands the federal role in education by improving the educational lot of disadvantaged students.If nothing else, remember to hold on to hope. Don’t judge or make assumptions about your child’s potential to live independently based on other children with Autism. As the saying goes, “Once you have met one child with Autism, you have met ‘one’ child with Autism.” Your child is unique and his journey to adulthood should be customized to his abilities, not his disabilities.
Are you the parent of a child, receiving special education services,
that thinks your child may benefit from functional skill training?
Would you like to know what the Individuals with Disabilities
Education Act (IDEA) requires in relation to functional skills? Would
you like parenting tips on using IDEA requirements to help your child
receive functional skill training? This article is for you; it will
discuss IDEA requirements, and how you can use them to advocate for
functional skills training for your child.The purpose of IDEA is to ensure that all children with disabilities
have available to them a free appropriate public education that
emphasizes special education and related services designed to meet
their unique needs and prepare them for further education, employment,
and independent living. Education is more than reading, writing, and
math; it also includes functional skills to help children with
disabilities live a full and rewarding life.IDEA requires each child’s IEP to contain a statement of present
levels of academic achievement and functional performance. School
personnel should give you objective information (testing) each year,
about your child’s academic and functional performance. Do not accept
teacher subjective observations and grades (also subjective), to
determine if your child is making academic and functional progress.
Around Christmas time ask that testing be performed in the areas of
academics and functional skills, in January, so that these results can
be used at the annual IEP meeting. Also ask for copies of the testing
at least 14 days before the meeting, so that you will be able to be an
equal participant in the meeting.IDEA also requires that the IEP contains a statement of measurable
annual goals, including academic and functional goals. Since you asked
for testing at Christmas time, and hopefully have received the results
before the IEP meeting, you will have some knowledge of your child’s
academic and functional needs. Write a few academic and functional
goals, and make sure they are measurable. In other words, how will you
know when your child has made the goal? Bring the list with you to
your child’s IEP meeting. Share your input on annual academic and
functional goals with the IEP team.By understanding what the federal law IDEA states about functional
skills, you can use the information to ensure that your child is
tested in this area, and has annual goals developed for their IEP, if
needed. Functional skills will help your child become as independent
as possible as an adult, and live a more fulfilled life!
An important part of a child growing up is learning to pretend play. It is a great way for them to develop their imagination. An active imagination is also an important part of a child’s developmental growth. Young boys and girls both enjoy this form of play even with a play kitchen. It allows them to dream about doing things like a grown up. If you watch them for a little while, you will be able to see how their imagination changes as they grow.Girls and boys love children’s kitchen sets. This allows them to pretend that they are cooking meals for the whole family. While a child is playing, they often will talk to themselves. This can help with their language development. Try to make sure to turn the television off for the majority of the day just so your child does not sit in front of the television and miss out on active play.Education suppliers will also have pretend toys that are great for teachers to have in their classroom. With the right education supplies, a child can learn so much because they actually get to pretend they are performing the task themselves. Pretend play can even happen on school equipment. There are many different types of school equipment that will let a child’s imagination run wild. Active play is important because a child really needs activity in their early life as well. Exercise helps them to grow and be a healthy child.Whether it is education supplies or a play kitchen, each little resource that can help build a child’s imagination is a great tool in learning. Children’s kitchen sets are something that once a child plays with they will be begging for you to buy them one, if they do not already have one at home. You will need to make sure that you have plenty of play food and dishes, so their imagination can let them cook all kinds of amazing meals.Active play and imagination play are an important part of any young child’s development. If they did not get to pretend play, then they would not be able to develop a great imagination that will help them throughout their life.A day care centre would need to make sure they have plenty of things that a child can pretend with and nursery school furniture for them to sit on. This way your child will be comfortable and be able to learn new and important things in a safe environment, while you are away at work.If it seems like your child is a little reluctant to start using their imagination, you could always try playing with them for a while. This will give them a little encouragement without actually pushing them into it. It also helps to have other children for your child to play with. If your child primarily stays at home without going to day care, you may want to see if there is any kind of children’s play group around that maybe you could put your child in.