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Like any warm-blooded parent, my friend flushed with delight when her daughter handed her a lovely crayon-inscribed homemade card. On the front, it read “Happy Mother’s Day, Mommy! Even though . . .” But my friend’s warm-blooded glow cooled to mortification when she opened the card: “. . . your breath smells really bad in [...]

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 A therapist asks: I’m a family therapist offering in-home sessions. I have a client with a three year old boy with autism. Each time he sees me, he throws a screaming autistic tantrum, hitting his head with his fist and raking his fingers across his face until red.  There’s no outward reason for the tantrums. They aren’t typical [...]

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Smarts and Crafts: Message in a Birdhouse

Published on June 25, 2015 by in News

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“How much do children with autism comprehend?” This is the time of year I get a lot of inquiries about how to interact with our kids in summer camp settings. I welcome the questions because I have the fondest memories of the lengths to which our Park Bureau’s summer camp programs went to accommodate our [...]

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Just be a grandma

Published on June 1, 2015 by in News

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A grandparent asks: I have a beautiful 4-year-old grandchild who may be on the spectrum somewhere.  His parents do not want to have him tested.  I need to get this child potty trained and he seems to be resisting their efforts.  He reads and does math on the 4th grade level, can spell words that [...]

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A reader asks: What levels, if any, are the autistic adults able to experience and process the concept and feelings of spirituality?  And why? Ellen answers:  “The autistic adults” are not a monolithic, homogenous block; they are individuals, each as unique and complex any of “the non-autistic adults.” The experiences of people with autism range [...]

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We Walk Before We Run

Published on April 15, 2015 by in News

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Any parent who ever waited with anticipatory joy for their child to take his first steps understanda how I felt. Connor was eleven months old and on the verge of those first steps when I was called away on business. The director of the day care center assured me, “Don’t worry! We see this all [...]

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Squelching echolalia—or not

Published on April 8, 2015 by in News

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A parent asks: We’re just learning about echolalia and find it fascinating. Our child has always done it, and we call it parroting.  How do you think children with autism match an appropriate phrase to the situation so quickly and smoothly?  What kinds of things did you employ to try to stop your child from using [...]

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Autism awareness is not enough

Published on April 2, 2015 by in News

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What does autism “awareness” mean to you? Better question—what does it mean to those who think autism doesn’t touch them? “Awareness” may be another one of those words I have to consign to quotation marks, along with “normal” and “typical.” Awareness was an ambitious goal ten years ago, and still is in many countries, but [...]

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Is our child suffering from autism?

Published on February 6, 2015 by in News

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Dear Ellen: We have a preschooler who is otherwise perfect, normal and talks a lot at home, but is very shy with outside folks. Unlike other kids who are carefree and casual, she takes a long time to come out of her shell and play. She prefers playing with one friend, doesn’t like to be [...]

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Dear Ellen, We are proud parents of a child affected by autism. We feel very uninformed on the subject. We’re planning to read “Ten Things Every Child with Autism Wishes You Knew” in hopes of being able to better understand her world and become a larger part of the same. She enriches our life as [...]

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