Tuesday, May 27, 2014

When is the right time to tell your child he has Autism?

Don't ask me because I haven't had the conversation with Joey yet. I've been told by colleagues that I should and I've even started the conversation when I thought it was a good time, such as when he spoke about having a hard time making friends. But he told me he didn't want to talk about it anymore and I respected his wishes.

Here is a great article with some tips on when and how to start that conversation.

Link:  http://www.washingtonpost.com/news/parenting/wp/2014/05/27/your-child-has-autism-how-and-when-do-you-tell-him/

Your child has autism. How (and when) do you tell him?

Max Burkholder, left, plays a teen with Asperger syndrome on NBC's "Parenthood." A 2011 episode explored how his parents talked to him about his diagnosis.(Jordin Althaus/NBC)
Max Burkholder, left, plays a teen with Asperger syndrome on NBC’s “Parenthood.” A 2011 episode explored how his parents talked to him about his diagnosis.
(Jordin Althaus/NBC)

It’s a conversation that requires  more thought and planning than talks about sex, money, religion or drugs. For parents of a child who has an autism spectrum disorder, discussing what makes him different and why is a delicate matter.

When do you need to have the talk, and how do you do it so your child comes away feeling good about himself (and doesn’t start using it as an excuse for every little thing he doesn’t want to do)?

NBC’s “Parenthood” tackled this beautifully in a 2011 episode called “Qualities and Difficulties.”
After Max, who has Asperger syndrome, overhears his father and uncle talking (okay, shouting)
about his diagnosis, his parents Adam and Kristina, seek advice from a therapist on how to discuss it with Max. The answer? Emphasize his strengths and talk about how, just like anyone else, he has challenges too:

Link for Parenthood clip:  http://www.nbc.com/parenthood/video/the-runners-stumble/n2302

I recently spoke with Jim Ball, the executive chairman of the National Board for the Autism Society, and Amy Keefer, a clinical psychologist at Kennedy Krieger Institute’s Center for Autism and Related Disorders. They agreed with the approach advocated in the show: Emphasize that everyone, every single person, is good at some things and struggles with others.

“Most families aren’t uncomfortable with having the talk, they just question when to do it and struggle with whether he or she has to know,” Ball said. “For a lot of our individuals, they see the world differently and they just go about their business, so why throw a wrench in it? That’s just how they see the world. It’s more about should I or shouldn’t I, as opposed to being afraid.”

It also helps to remember that even if you are really nervous about the conversation, most kids have either a neutral or a positive response to the news, Keefer said, and go about their day after the talk.

Sunday, May 11, 2014

Mother's Day

Twelve days before I found out I was finally pregnant, I found out that I could lose my Mom. Miraculously, she is still with us 10 years later. I know our days with "Neema" may be numbered, but I am thankful for the long warning that she would be leaving us earlier than she should. Some people don't get that warning. Happy Mother's Day, Mom. I'm so glad that Joey has had a chance to create some fabulous and long lasting memories with you.

Saturday, May 3, 2014

Reading Success

On April 24th, I had Joey's annual IEP meeting. I was nervous, but with so much other stuff going on in my life, I felt like it was going to be another letdown. Usually the meetings start with how poorly Joey pays attention, how he can't focus, how he is behind grade level, etc.

Well I was in for quite a surprise.

Some parents would be upset to hear the word "average" be used to describe their child, but other parents would feel it was a dream come true. Today, I was told that Joey is "an average reader on a 3rd grade level." I wanted to cry tears of joy. He entered 3rd grade at a 1st grade reading level.

Miracles happen! Yes, I feel it's a miracle. Not only has he progressed, but his team, who weren't his biggest supporters, actually had positive things to say.

Of course Joey's response was, "Can I quit Kumon now?"

Speaking of Kumon, he received a Rising Star medal this week for being on grade level.

I am so proud of my boy!