April is more commonly known as Autism Awareness month, but I want to support Autism Acceptance month. I know that we always need to bring awareness to others about autism and how to support people with autism, but I want it to go a step father and bring about acceptance with autism. I want to be able to talk about autism in a positive light and share all the wonderful things about autism.
When I think about my brother I want others to see him for who he is as a person and how wonderful and amazing he is! Because he truly is an amazing person!! I love how his brain works with how good he is with computer skills, science, and history. He has an amazing memory and remembers things that I have a hard time remembering. He has so many strengths and I want people to see those things about him.
I wanted to share this with you all because I would love for you to share with me some positives that you feel about autism and what you wish other people would know about autism. This month let us bring love, joy, and happiness to autism and share why we love someone with autism! I would love to hear what you have to say! Please let me know in the comments below!
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Here are some great posts about Autism Acceptance and helpful posts about Autism.
Here is a list of some of our families favorite books about Autism!
The Reason I jump: The Inner Voice of a Thirteen Year old Boy with Autism by Naoki Higashida
The Spark: A Mother’s Story of Nurturing, Genius, and Autism by Kristine Barnett
NeuroTribes: The Legacy of Autism and the Future of Neurodiversity by Steve Silberman
Ten Things Every Child with Autism Wishes you Knew: Updated and Expanded Edition by Ellen Notbohm
Uniquely Human: A Different Way of Seeing Autism by Barry M. Prizant
In a Different Key: the Story of Autism by John Donvan & Caren Zucker
Carly’s Voice: Breaking Through Autism by Arthur & Carly Fleishmann
A Parent’s Guide to High-Functioning Autism Spectrum Disorder: How to Meet the Challenges and Help your Child Thrive by Sally Ozonoff, Geraldine Dawson, & James C. McPartland
The Anti-Romantic Child: A Memoir of Unexpected Joy by Priscilla Gilman
Autism Every Day: Over 150 Strategies Lived and Learned by a Professional Autism Consultant with 3 Sons on the Spectrum by Alyson Beytien
Somewhere Over the Sea: A Father’s Letter to his Autistic Son by Halfdan W. Freihow
The Autistic Brain: Helping Different Kinds of Minds Succeed by Temple Grandin
Autism Spectrum Disorder (revised): The Complete Guide to Understanding Autism by Chantal Sicile-Kira
The Obsessive Joy of Autism by Julia Bascom
Kids Beyond Limits: The Anat Baniel Method for Awakening the Brain and Transforming the Life of your Child with Special Needs by Anat Baniel
The Social Skills Picture Book: Teaching Play, Emotion, and Communication to Children with Autism by Jed Baker
The Social Skills Picture Book for High School and Beyond by Jed Baker
I See Things Differently: A First Look at Autism by Pat Thomas
It’s Raining Cats and Dogs: An Autism Spectrum Guide to the Confusing World of Idioms, Metaphors, and Everyday Expressions by Michael Barton
Motivate to Communicate!: 300 Games and Activities for your Child with Autism by Simone Griffin
All My Stripes: A Story for Children with Autism by Shaina Rudolph & Danielle Royer
Your Words Matter When Talking to Children and Teens with Autism
I am always fascinated when talking with my younger brother about different social situations he has experienced. One that always stands out to me is that he apologized for the way he acted in Kindergarten when he would run out of the classroom or other behaviors he would experience as a 15 year old! He can vividly remember certain actions or behaviors he did when he was in kindergarten, but was unable to talk to us at that time to understand why he was acting a certain way.
Fast forward 10 years and now he is able to verbally tell us and explain to us why he acted a certain way or what he can vividly remember from that time in his life. I am so blown away by my brother and what he is able to accomplish. He is truly an amazing person.
I wanted to share this story with you, because sometimes I think we forget that everyone has the ability to understand what we are saying or what they are doing, but they may not have the ability to communicate that with you at that time. That does not mean they do not understand you or the situation though.
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Be Mindful of what you say to EVERYONE!
We need to be mindful of what we say and how we talk to EVERYONE, but especially people who are non verbal or have limited communication skills. Even though someone may have difficulty verbally communicating with you, does not mean they do not understand what you are saying to them. They can very well understand if you are calling them bad names or even using a harsh tone when you are speaking with them.
Instead of using negative language, make sure you are ALWAYS talking to them as you would any other person. Please use positive language with them and talk with them as they are your best friend. Please do not change your tone of voice or how you word something to someone with autism.
Our Thoughts can become our Actions
When working as an occupational therapist and interacting with many children and parents I have learned how powerful our thoughts can be. When we start to use negative thoughts with things, we can start to treat those things worse than if we spoke positively about them. This can be true towards people, ourselves, or situations. If we start to think bad thoughts about a person or that they are stupid we will treat them as such. The relationship can begin to become negative when we think negative thoughts about someone.
Become Aware of your Thoughts
We need to become aware of when we are using these negative thoughts in order to make change. When you are working with a child or in a situation that you are frustrated with take the time to listen to your inner thoughts. How are you thinking about the child or the situation? Are you thinking negatively or positively? My guess is that you are thinking negatively.
How can we change our thoughts?
Reframe your way of thinking…
Think about different situations with the kids or teens you are working with.
“The child is not giving me a hard time. They are having a hard time.”
Give respect to the people in your life. Speak to them in a respectful manner. If I would not say it to a group of people than I should not say it to an individual.
Sometimes we need to Vent
I understand that there are times in our lives when we are overworked and frustrated and we need to be able to vent and talk through these situations to allow us to move on. I am a new parent and a therapist that has been in different situations that I just need to talk to someone about to help me get through the situations.
Be Mindful of who you Vent to
We need to be mindful of who we vent to. Please do not vent in public places where strangers could overhear your conversations. Find a safe person who knows you and knows your kids or a co-worker if it is a job related situation. Find someone who won’t judge you and can be supportive of you.
Also how you vent is important too. Do not resort to name calling when talking about a person. There is a big difference when talking negatively about a child vs. talking about the behaviors a child is showing us. When we resort to name calling we are chaining our thoughts about the child and this in turn can continue the cycle of negative ways of thinking. If we can focus on the behaviors this can help us to get productive advice and guidance about how to help change a situation for the child to help them.
When venting, please make sure the child or teen that you are talking about are not around! This can devastate a relationship if a child or teen feels that you are talking negatively about them. Always remember, if you can’t say it out loud in a group of people, you should never say it to the individual. We never want to label a child, especially a negative label.
“The way we talk to our children becomes their inner voice”-Peggy O’Mara
In conclusion, what I am trying to say here is be respectful of EVERYONE, but especially children and teens on the autism spectrum. Please be mindful of how you speak to them and never assume they are not listening to you or do not understand you.
Please never talk negatively to someone and we all could work a little harder at using positive words and phrases when talking with people. Here is a list of some positive phrases you can use when working with children and teens with autism. Grab your copy below!
This is not a comprehensive list of positive phrases, but it will give you a start and some ideas of phrases to use. Please be mindful of what you say when working with children and teens with autism. Your words can have a long lasting affect on them. Your words matter when talking and working with children and teens with autism.
The Positives of Autism
Today I wanted to share with you the positive aspects of autism, and how we can celebrate differences in everyone’s unique abilities. While working as an occupational therapist and being a big sister of a sibling with autism, I have been able to see many positive attributes of autism.
Focus on the Positives
While watching my brother grow up, it was so much fun to see him excel in certain areas of his life. Things that come easy to him are things dealing with science, computers, and anything technical. He’s very interested in building things with legos, and he’s very good at following step-by-step directions with concrete directions.
He is able to focus for hours on end if he wants to, on activities that he is good at. He is one of the most kind-hearted and honest people that I have been able to meet. Every person is unique, and we all have unique abilities and differences, but I feel like we need to always make sure we focus on the positives aspects of their lives.
We Can Lose Sight of the the Positives
When someone has a diagnosis, I feel like we can sometimes lose sight of the positives, and we focus on the struggles too much. The child goes through evaluations and assessments to show deficits and sometimes we focus so much on what they can’t do that we forget what they CAN do! By focusing on the child’s strengths and the things that come easy to them, we can help them excel in some other areas of their life as well. For example, if we can focus on what they’re good at, we can incorporate that with some areas that they struggle with.
We can focus on their strengths to help them excel in other areas of their lives
If they do well with visual cues, we can add visual cues to other areas of their life that maybe they are struggling with. For example, we could provide them with a visual schedule or a visual checklist to help them accomplish tasks that don’t come easy to them, or maybe they really enjoy music and auditory situations, and so we can include that with situations that are hard for them, to help make that easier and ease their mind.
How can we help them excel as they transition into adulthood?
When we think about our teenagers and young adults with autism, how are we going to be able to help them excel as they transition into adulthood? One way to help them is to help them focus on the positives in their life, and what are their strengths. What are they really good at? How can we help them find those skills that they are really good at, and keep pursuing them to find skills and abilities that they are good at?
Think about specific skills. There are specific skills that you and I are all good at, and in other areas that we do struggle at. We seek out jobs and activities that we are strong at, to help us succeed and excel. We need to help our loved ones with autism find these strengths as well, and guide them to opportunities that will help them excel in these areas.
Check out our list of positives of autism to help you find the strengths for your loved one. What are your loved ones’ unique capabilities and strengths? We would love to hear about it in the comments below.
Each person is an individual
Remember each person is an individual. Not every person with autism is the same and will each have their own set of skills and strengths unique to them. No one person will identify with every feature of autism. Each person will have their own characteristics that make them who they are as a person. This is the power of neurodiversity.
Life Can Feel Lonely Sometimes…
There are times in our lives when we feel like we are alone or nobody else has to go through this, why do I? Sometimes we can go through life feeling sad, mad, happy, excited, stressed, or (fill in any emotion). I feel like when we have a child with special needs our highs can be really high and our lows can be really low. Living in rural Iowa it can be difficult to find families who are in similar situations as us who we can talk to and relate experiences with. Not only just for special needs situations, but since my mother has started to homeschool, that has been hard for her to find other families around us who are also home schooling. Just this last year is when we have discovered support through online groups whether it be through Facebook groups or following blogs.
Our family has found these various Facebook groups about general special needs, groups about Autism, groups about sensory needs, groups about homeschooling, and then miscellaneous groups. We were even able to find a local group around our rural town and a special needs group in Iowa! It has been wonderful to be able to reach out to other families going through similar situations as us who we can relate to and ask questions of!
Since starting this blogging journey for my brother I have constantly searching for other bloggers, especially people who blog about their journey with special needs. It gives us the sense that we are not alone. By having all of these groups and experiences we are able to grow more as a family and be able to think outside of the box to figure out ways to help my brother as best as we can. We just want to feel accepted and want to do what is best for our family.
If you are someone that is struggling or feeling alone in this world we invite you to download these tables to be able to join an online group or follow a blog that hopefully you can relate to in the hopes of bringing you hope and happiness. Whether you are a fly on the wall or you want to reach out to others and form friendships these groups can be an amazing resource for you! Here is a preview of what you will get when you click the link down below!
Life doesn’t have to be lonely…we can make the choice to reach out to others whether it be for help or just to listen. Our family is here to listen as well. If you would like to join our Facebook group, where you can be apart of an uplifting and positive group of people for support and encouragement for whatever stage of life you are, download the FREE resources below! This blog is meant to uplift and inspire and bring people together. We hope to continue to provide you with valuable resources!
Is there a group or blog you would like us to add?
We know there are so many more online support groups and blogs out there, we cannot find them all ourselves. If you would like to add a group to our compiled list please fill out this FORM HERE and we will gladly continue to update our groups to be able to reach as many people and populations as possible!
Let us know in the comments below if you like the groups!