Tuesday, September 27, 2011

Balance (Really?)

Is balance really possible? For most adults, finding balance is the journey between work and home, kids and self, or the discovery of true meaning in ones life. I believe the shift of balance changes daily. What is important one day, is put on the back burner the next. I suppose it is by design that we spread the weight of responsibilities and, with some effort, find balance.

Here's the thing, there is one area of my life that is never put on the back burner. For me, my autistic sons struggle to integrate with his peers, his academic potential, and what he can ultimately do in his life is foremost in my mind. As I clean my house, go grocery shopping, volunteer at school, even during my sleeping hours, the weight of trying to balance out my son's life is too important to make most other things matter.

What do I do to try to get some balance in this area of my life? I advocate (at least try), I question, I have play dates, and I worry if I am doing enough. Will I ever feel like I have done enough? The dreaded realization is occurring. As I talk with the school about my son's progress and the need to see a more defined measurement (with progress monitoring and graphing models), the teacher gingerly walks a line trying to instruct me to be proud of what he can do, not what he can't. The message was clear and was this, "your son is a gentle and kind person. Love him for those qualities. Your son's quality of life depends upon you coming to terms with his abilities. Measuring progress won't help him when he simply can't do the same things his peers can". I understand what her words of wisdom were suggesting. I appreciate that she is walking the rope with me and trying to direct me while I am feeling so lost. What do I do with this information? How do I find the balance for my child so that he can work up to his potential, but not expect him to do, be or learn something that is just too difficult for him? Where is the balance for my son?

So, I struggle with these questions today. As my eye twitches from the stress, I do not believe that my son needs to settle. That I need to settle. I will still expect accountability from the school in progress monitoring. Additionally, I can tell you this: What is in the best interest of my son is to realize his limited capabilities, but expect him to be able to adapt and overcome them. I believe there is a way to get him from A to Z. It may not be the same course as other parents take with their children, but there is a way.

For now, balance isn't really an option. How about you? Do you believe balance is possible?

Friday, February 25, 2011

Winter Break

Thank God winter break is close to over. It has not been the best run of my life. The stress of creating successful play dates through a morning of bowling, a "double play" (date) the next afternoon , and tunes blaring from the television (repeatedly), as the kids practice their moves through the Wii game, "Just Dance 2", was just the beginning. Wii was in high demand and constant refereeing created a huge amount of family disharmony. The bait and switch technique was deployed to no avail. No matter what plans were made, there always seemed to be a problem and "mom!" was squealed throughout the house.

"Let's go to the library and Friendly's for a vacation lunch," I suggested. That should help keep me sane and the kids happy, I thought. It did. Until each child received a different color balloon. Sure enough, my typical child was unhappy with her color selection. It wasn't a "girl" color. I was beginning to feel myself getting a bit crazed. Didn't we just go to Friendly's? These kids should be happier than ever. As a parent, most of us know the ingenious saying, "you get what you get, and you don't get upset," which was exactly what I told her. Not buying the philosophy completely, she decided that she was going to paint her balloon. I like to give my children creative freedom, so painting the balloon, it is. Have you ever painted a balloon with tempura paint?

As the kids painted, the balloon lost it "lift". The paint weighed it down and the helium couldn't do its job. Aside from the dilemma of the paint drying, my son (with PDD-NOS) believed he had washed his hands after the project. I was still trying to figure out the drying spot so that my whole house wouldn't get paint all over it and I see my son jumping and leaning on our couch pillow....red painted hand prints decorated the complete throw pillow. The next morning, I find the balloons on the ground only to notice that all the paint had chipped completely off and was, now lying on my hard wood and rugs.

After feeling guilty for my inappropriately yelling at my son for the pillow (as he didn't knowingly ruin my pillow and, in his mind, felt his hands were washed) and other moments this past week, I knew I was sure to be dropped from the running for mother of the year award. Then I read this posting from MOM- Not Otherwise Specified (click here to go to post). It provided me with a little validation. Here is an excerpt from the post:
"you are a reasonable person who has been living with unreasonable demands without reasonable support for an unreasonable length of time".

That about sums it up.

Friday, January 21, 2011

Autism - Learning Style is Important

Autism - Learning Styles and Life/Educational Skills Attainment


Louise Page


Autism - Learning Styles and Life/Educational Skills Attainment

When ascertaining what may be the best ways to help your child with autism to learn various educational, social, behavioural and emotional (etc.) skills; gaining accurate knowledge of what may be your child’s learning style will greatly enhance and promote a higher success or achievement in your child’s learning of such skills.

Understanding their particular learning style/s is imperative too in respecting the unique individual that they are.

Imagine if someone was trying to teach you a skill in a language you didn’t understand and they expected you to get it? This would place an unnecessary stress on you in trying to understand what you were being asked to ‘get’; you would feel frustrated; possibly even feel inadequate or saddened that you can’t understand the method/s or message and misunderstood as an individual.

Also, the ‘deliverer’ of the skills ‘training’ may become frustrated or perhaps believe that the child may not be capable of being able to learn effectively, in other words the child may be perceived as being ‘low functioning’ when in fact they are not and haven’t been provided with the opportunity to learn a skill according to their particular learning style and needs. 

Yet, if the ‘deliverer’ of the skills training understood the particular learning style of the autistic child, they will then tailor the learning method of the skill to be acquired to suit that child, and thus give the greatest potential of a successful outcome.

Some individuals, for example, truly believe that pictorial methods (such as social stories for learning social skills) are the only way to go with autistic children. But some autistic children have difficulty in understanding a visual concept. Some people believe that the only way to deliver skills training is by utilizing words, when perhaps for that child a repertoire of pictures may produce the best results.

What are the predominant learning styles?

Physical (kinesthetic/tactile) – learning by touch, hands, body, movement etc.,

Aural (auditory) – learning with sounds and/or music (rhythm?),

Visual (spatial) – learning via pictures, symbols and spatial awareness,

Verbal (linguistic) – learning by the use of words, written and oral,

Social – learning via group efforts or with another,

Solitary (by self) – learning by doing things alone, by self, for self,

Logical - learning through reasoning, using systems, logic (a mathematical style)

So, depending on an individual’s, or child’s, learning style/s (which could be a combination of two or more), their receptiveness and abilities to process the information being provided in the skills ‘teaching’ or ‘training’ will depend on, e.g. the mode of the information delivery. Retention of the information will depend on many things, such as; quality of the information, appropriate skill level of the information, the teacher/deliverer of the info., the disposition of the child (e.g. health, intellectual abilities, present emotional state, environmental distractions etc.), etc..

Another dynamic which will impact on the autistic child’s learning of various skills, will be their innate temperament. Their temperament will also dictate how they will react to what they are being taught or how they interact with another; and have an effect on how they will respond to others and skill acquisition.

Their temperament will also possibly help determine how receptive they will be to learning a new skill. If, on the day of being offered a new skill, the autistic child is feeling upset by something or someone, they may not be very receptive to listening or ‘joining’ with the person trying to ‘teach’ them a new skill.

So when it comes to helping our autistic children to enjoy learning, (and achieve such successfully), about the world they live in; lessons at school or any other educational, social (etc.) situation, we need to understand how our autistic children ‘tick’, what helps them learn and what works for them.

There is no one-size-fits-all approach for autistic children. Each child is uniquely individual and many different dynamics inherent or acquired, regarding their being, will determine what are the best ways to respectfully help them to acquire or fine tune many life and educational skills and achieve such successfully.

Article Source: http://www.articlesbase.com/disabilities-articles/autism-learning-styles-and-lifeeducational-skills-attainment-1150688.html

About the Author

Louise Page
My career involves Professional Counselling (Diploma, A.I.P.C.), majored in Child Development and Effective Parenting, Youth and Career counselling. I am also professionally trained Autism Therapist , author, Integration Aide, Literacy Tutor, children\'s story writer and professional illustrator.
The Heart and Soul of Autism www.heartandsoulofautism.blogspot.com/