Autism: C'hele's Story

December 3, 2007

Autism: A Mixed Bag Of Labels And The Challenges Of Working With A Child Who Has Autism and Oppositional Defiance Disorder

Filed under: Aspberger Syndrome, Autism, Special Needs — C'hele @ 00:30

Many autistic children unfortunately do not come into this world with a singular label of autism. Parents and teachers are faced with an incredible challenge when it comes to observing and appropriately dealing with difficult behaviour. If a child is diagnosed with a high functioning autism or Aspergers Syndrome, it becomes even harder to deal with due to the fact that these kids “look” normal or typical. It is common for people to often accidentally overlook the autistic and or other (different) diagnosed characteristics and immediately think that the child is being “spoilt, defiant, difficult or weird.”

As a parent, I have often caught myself misinterpreting negative behaviour. Whatever the case, whether you have been doing this for some time before your child was diagnosed or, you are currently aware of your child’s disability and still catch yourself falling into this trap, don’t beat yourself up over it. Its never too late to change your approach and retrain your thinking. Parents have the incredible challenge and stresses of having to balance and or juggle, the similar yet different characteristics of autism and the additional labels that often accompany this neurological disorder.

To my readers who may not understand how the accompanying labels work, I will include a few examples using my daughter as the first example:

1. My daughter‘s formal diagnose(s): Aspergers Syndrome + ADHD + Mixed Receptive/Expressive Language Disorder + Additional Developmental Delay + Anxiety Disorder.

*Other autistic individuals may have labels that might look like this (and I have personally worked with such people):

2. Moderate (Kanner’s) Autism + Down Syndrome + ODD (Oppositional Defiance Disorder) + ADHD.

3. High functioning autism + Tourettes Syndrome + ADHD + OCD (Obsessive Compulsive Disorder).

4. Low functioning autism + Tourette’s Syndrome + Impaired Language or Language Delay + OCD.

5. High functioning autism or Asperger’s Syndrome + ODD + ADHD + Developmental Delay.

Now, add the child’s personality to this mix! Can you see the challenges a parent or teacher faces when having to split apart all of these combined things to get to the heart of negative behaviour? Its extremely difficult.

These are just a few examples. Many individuals with autism could have quite an interesting mix of different disorders that tag along with their autism. For each child, it is as unique as each individual has their own unique personality.

I am going to do a bit of review here before I go onto the subject I really wanted to tackle today:

So how as a parent do you possibly handle all of these challenges without going insane? I hate to be blunt here, but first realize that stress is now a part of your daily life. But you can help ease it substantially. Depending on the level of autism and their other accompanying labels, many of these kids can become quick learners! Secondly, do not deny your child’s disability or challenges. You do your child no favours doing this and “forcing” them to be “normal.” Today, my child confuses people because she “appears” normal or typical. When people discover the nature of her challenges, they are shocked. She wouldn’t of turned out this way if it wasn’t for me jumping in on early intervention programs to assist her. If your child is diagnosed later in life, depending on the child’s personality and predetermined habits or rituals, it may take longer to retrain their thinking or routines. I have personally witnessed some autistic kids receive help for the first time in their mid-teens. Though they progressed slowly, they did fairly well. Some habits/routines/rituals however, were unable to be redirected to more appropriate behaviours or activities. The earlier you get help for your child, the better.

“And,” routine, routine, routine. I cannot stress enough how much routine, consistency, and predictability reduce most behaviours in these children (in my opinion).

In Canada we are fortunate that many of our children upon receiving a professional diagnoses of autism, can receive funding to provide the essential services to our children. For my American bretheren, I am unsure if all the states or just some of them support autistic children in this manner. For those who are unable to afford such services, refer back to my blog entry from July 16, 2007 (sorry, I haven’t had the time to learn how to link appropriately yet). There will be some wonderful resource materials that you can utilize. However, there will be some things that you will not be able to do (we can only do so much as parents) that a professional can do, such as counselling.

But If you have a close friend or family member that you respect and your child trusts- a person who has common sense and is good at giving guidance, ask them if they can speak to your child to assist them in learning a new appropriate social skill, advice, or teach them a new strategy that your child is unwilling to accept from you.

However, if you can learn how to utilize other strategies such as using language appropriately, this is half the battle. If you have no way to gain access to a Boardmaker program to print out visual symbols and or to make visual schedules, draw some. Seriously. A stickman representing your child or your child in certain situations, will make more sense to them than your words if it means to decrease or avoid any elevated anxiety! Cant afford books? Visit a library and ask them to bring certain books in for you (I have done this).

There are options out there for those who are financially strapped. It may take a little bit more work, but it will help ease the anxieties and negative behaviours in your child’s life by making their life more predictable (autistic kids function better when they know what’s happening next or if they require more detail, what’s happening in the whole day). Your life will be a little bit more saner too of course.

Getting back to the beginning of this post, know the characteristics of each label your child may have. Measure their behaviour: watch out for antecedents (what happened or set the child off before negative behaviour occurred), the type of behaviour that manifested, and what the natural consequence was. If you have the time, carry around a journal and document these targeted behaviours. This information (or knowledge) is power: know your child’s triggers. This will in turn, help to avoid the major melt-downs or as some people may call them, tantrums. I don’t like to use the word tantrum, as to me, it defines negative behaviours in typical children. To me, children with cognitive/neurological challenges have melt-downs that are entirely different from tantrums as they are based on sensory issues, sudden changes, new transitions or other. For most autistic individuals, it is the manifestation of a neurological overload.

What I really wanted to address in this post is the challenge of working with a child or student with high functioning autism, ADHD and a severe case of Non-compliance or Oppositional Defiance Disorder. These kids, in my opinion are the most challenging kids to work with. They will literally send you over the edge. These kids are often medicated, they always try to work on their own agenda’s. They are very low academically, have a low-self esteem and thus show little motivation to learn or try new things for fear of looking “dumb.” Many will holler and or complain most of the time that their parents and or teachers, do not listen to them (its their way, or the highway in their minds). Autistic kids in general have the tendency to become very ego-centric. Mix this with a strong will, ODD or a Non-Compliance disorder, and you now may have a walking time-bomb on your hands.

Here are some strategies that I have found that helps promote a smooth working relationship between parent or teacher, and a child or student with autism, ADHD and ODD:

Know the child’s triggers that will cause negative behaviours.

Attempt to redirect before triggers occur or anger escalates.

Provide a visual or written schedule to make the day predictable for the child.

Understand the effects of the medication the child may be taking.

Use positive language (avoid saying “no, don’t, you can’t, etc). Instead use: “first this, then that, as soon as you do this, we can do that” and so on.

Ask open ended questions when addressing negative behaviour. For example, instead of saying “Why did you punch the locker?” say something more positive such as: “What did you think made you so angry that you had to punch the locker?”

Schedule in regular breaks during stressful or a non-preferred activities.

Determine with your child/student where he/she can go if they need to calm down or require respite time. This will help to avoid negative outbursts and it also gives them a sense of control to self-correct.

Create contracts or goals with your child/student on how to improve/resolve certain negative behaviours. Redirect them back to their contract or goal(s) when they repeat that targeted, negative behaviour.

Respect their space: Allow certain proximity between you and your child/student. Do not touch them if their behaviour/anger is escalating: often this will cause them to melt right down and be prepared that this anger could be unleashed upon you physically.

Praise them and help build their self esteem. At first, if you are unable to praise them for positive behaviour, praise them on one of their strengths and be descriptive. Don’t BS them- they’ll know it in a second. Be sincere but don’t embarrass them! At the end of the day, even if the day totally sucked and it was unsuccessful, I always send the student home with a verbal comment reflecting at least one positive comment about his or her’s day. If I am able, I will always leave one positive comment in their communication book for their guardian or parent to read. I will often read this entry out-loud to my student before they he or she leaves the school.

Use positive reinforcement- avoid punishment. Help the child to become successful by earning a preferred activity or something that they love at the end of the school day (or at home, before they go to bed).

Be calm. Avoid power struggles and avoid being sucked in a verbal fight. This is the hardest of all things to do. They will work hard to know all your trigger points just as you try to understand theirs. What I found helpful when a students anger is escalating, is I like to speak to them in a really quiet, soft, voice. They will focus harder on what you are saying and often this alone will calm them down.

Take a CPI course (Crisis, Prevention, Intervention Course). It will help you to understand the various escalation levels in angry or physically violent children and how to deal with the child humanely.

Actively listen to your child/student! Reflect back what your child or student is saying. Often with ODD children many people will attempt to extinguish behaviour by ignoring them. Many ODD children become extremely angry if they feel they are not being heard. I.e.: Student: “I told you, I’m not doing math.” Parent/Teacher: “I understand that you do not wish to do your math right now. I’m sure its really frustrating for you sometimes. But Mr.(?) put the assignment up on the board for “everybody” in the class to do. If you have any problems with your math you are welcome to ask for help at any time. As soon as you complete your math, we can do (?).”

Pair your child/student up with a buddy. They most often learn faster what is socially acceptable and or learn about the project/subject better without negative behaviour when a peer is role modelling.

Watch your body language: when a student is agitated or their anger is escalating, use non-threatening body language. For children smaller than yourself, talk to them by bending down or sitting at their eye-level.

Acknowledge your child’s/student’s feelings with comments such as: “Wow, you look really upset or, I can see that you are becoming frustrated, how can I help you? Or, Geeze if that happened to me, I would be upset too….”

Respect their dignity. If your child/student is a teenager and requires visual schedules or sensory items that calm them down for example, make sure they have access to them discreetly without it being obvious to others. Try to match, adapt or modify work or activities that are age-appropriate.

Work with their talents and strengths. This will most often become the only avenue towards their success in life.

**Remember: Our goals as parents and educators are to foster independence in our special needs kids.

On a parting thought, I wish to tell you: parent to parent, to be prepared to make many, many mistakes. Allow yourself to be human once in a while even if it means balling your head off to release frustration, anger and or despair. I like to look in the eyes of my child or student and often I reflect: perhaps they have been sent to me to teach me something about myself I never even knew was there, possible or, to teach me something I never knew I was capable of.

For many parents, the challenges of their special needs kids are too overwhelming and too great and many have been forced to consider foster care or place them into care homes. Personally, I think this is o.k. Every parent of a special needs child has an unique situation. Sometimes parents are forced to foster their children into care for the health and well-being of the child and or family (medical needs, violent behaviour are a few examples). But, just because this happens it doesn’t mean that families cannot still be pro-active and advocate for the needs and well being of their child.

One parent and a friend of mine with a child who has low-functioning autism (with of course, other additional labels) immediately comes into my mind. The decision to have their child move into a care home and be schooled in a specialized autism centre over a regular school/resource room, was the best decision for the child and for the family. Their autistic child has blossomed and the family now functions as a normal family does. In fact, they found that they are more successful with their child when they advocate for him whilst he lives outside the family home. Strange, but its true.

Nurture and honour this child for the unique and talented individual that he or she is. I hope this information helps (even if its only just some of you), in your quest to make your child or student a more productive, social, and hopefully more successful human being. Assist and encourage them how to appreciate and love life because when they become adults they will have a hard time to find valid reasons to want to.

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26 Comments »

  1. I was particularly struck by your sensible reaction to the idea of parents of a special needs child placing that child in a more suitable environment if the parents aren’t fully equipped to meet the child’s needs. I think sometimes parents take the unfortunate attitude that “God wouldn’t have given me this challenge if I weren’t up to it,” and the child suffers in consequence.

    Comment by davidrochester — December 3, 2007 @ 22:09

  2. It’s so true David. I have personally witness families breaking down: siblings moving out of the house in thier early teens, grandparents taking over as guardians, and parents divorcing. When families attempt to “stick it out,” for their extremely challenging special needs child, all they have to show for it in the end is a burned out, medicated disposition. For some families, placing their child in a safe, monitored environment is the best thing to do- for all involved.

    Comment by cheles — December 4, 2007 @ 05:10

  3. very interesting, but I don’t agree with you
    Idetrorce

    Comment by Idetrorce — December 15, 2007 @ 21:13

  4. I’m sorry that you dont agree with me Idetrorce. So what part (or is it all of it) that you dont agree with? I would be incredibly interested to find out. Thank you for your comment 🙂

    Comment by cheles — December 16, 2007 @ 21:59

  5. wow this describes my daughter to a T. She is nine and she’s been in an aba program since age 5, but she just goes through the roof and is getting worse with the hand over hand intervention to force compliance. This gives me some hope and great ideas.

    Comment by rachel — August 27, 2008 @ 08:09

  6. This is where things become really challenging rachel. Some autistic kids really repell against any form of human touch whatsoever. When I have encountered this challenge, I attempt to be really on the ball and try to point to the right answer if I see that the child is going to go for the wrong answer without actually touching him/her. I immediately reward with some kind of tangible whether it be an edible or a favorite stimi toy. Some dont agree with this approach however, I try to pick and choose my battles. It is I feel, important to respect personal space especially if the child is very tactile sensitive. Thank you for your comment! 🙂

    Comment by cheles — August 28, 2008 @ 05:32

  7. I teach a 17 year old boy.
    You stated not to touch the child.
    My student likes to be touched.When we walk outside of the classroom.I hold his wrist or we lock arms.I state I like to be escorted by a good looking man. I am not hurting him. I am not phyically hurting him.He is stronger that I am,if he desires he can pull away.This guidance does give him direction. He does not run,kick the doors, knock on the doors,kick,hit any student or teacher.This works for this student.What do you think? Is there something else I should do ? This works I have been doing this for two and half years.I notice the elementary teacher uses this with her little one.It seems to also work for the younger child. Do you think holding the wrist is bad ?

    Comment by lela frieling — March 9, 2009 @ 18:38

  8. Hi Lela-

    First of all, thank you for taking the time to share your opinion/experiences.

    Be very careful about touching. You are working with a child who has a communication/socialization disorder. Just make sure that both the teacher and the child’s parents are o.k. with your touching.

    Touching is unavoidable at times. Especially when it comes to safety concerns. Using CPI for example, for self defense or for restraining the individual to ensure either your or others safety is one example of having to “touch.” The same goes if you have to work on a physiotherapy program for the student.

    My opinion is, if you have to touch- make sure you are touching professionally. Be especially careful to demonstrate appropriate role-modeling. Your student is a teenager. Make sure this student knows that even though you accept his touching, “others” in life most likely will not.

    It is really difficult when the student has a wonderful personality and is naturally affectionate. But please, always be aware that our task with these students is to teach them what is socially “acceptable” and what is not. It is extremely hard at times to be so professional. But we are doing our students no favours if we don’t teach them the necessary replacement behaviours that will help ease thier life, as they get older. Once they retain something, it seems that it never leaves them.

    Thanks for your input!!

    Hugs, C’hele 🙂

    Comment by C'hele — March 10, 2009 @ 09:12

  9. Hallo
    I read your article. Thank you so much for advice. I have been teaching at a school for learners with severe mental disabilities for 23 years. Althouh I did a course at UNISA added to my other teaching certificates, I find my class with 3 children with 2 autism and 1 Cornelia de Lange syndrome this year challenging and still has to learn much more. My heart breaks for Desire. She is 13 yrs old, wears a diaper and unfortunately has optical blindness. She progressed in all her tasks as well as her behaviour since April 2008 to Nov 2008. Since January 2009(after 3 months at home), her behaviour deteriorated gradually. She takes medication for epilepsy(through her nose) and has it very severely, usually at home. I cannot think that we can just sit back, taking her to a psychiatrist for perhaps Risperdal.At school people say “just remember, Autistic children behave like that”. Its hard for me to see how her aggression expanded in school and at home. She cannot speak. Uses few baby words. Has divorced parents and is an only child. She recently changed from nanny, another home environment and mommy has a boyfriend. I think she sleeps in the same room as they do.
    She hardly ever had aggression towards me, but the only one she does not attack is her mother. It breaks my heart. Her mother is taking her to ou school psychiatrist during this week.Please help?

    Thank you so much.

    Comment by Anna-Marie Scholtz — March 15, 2009 @ 22:39

    • Greetings Anna-Marie,

      First of all, kudos goes to you. Make sure you dont burn yourself out. Easier said than done hey? We care so much for our kids……..I too have quite the heavy student ratio this year and find it challenging so I know what you are talking about!

      Desire sounds very much like a student I used to work for and with. What is the program mainly like for Desire? Academic or Life-skills? I’m going to assume life-skills.

      First of all and most importantly, “listen” to her behaviours- both at home and at school. All behaviour is communication, especially when it involves a student who is non-verbal. Mom is doing the right thing and doing her part by taking Desire to a psychiatrist. If it were me working with Desire at school, I would immediately make sure that the program is routine and consistent. Providing the teacher (if you work with one) is on board. Desire is clearly is under alot of stress and anxiety. If home is a bit unstable, it doesn’t have to be at school. Make her day at school “predictable.” Does Desire have a schedule that she can refer to? I understand that she is visually impared. How creative are you? If you have no access to a braille machine so she can “feel” her schedule does she rely on any augumentative communication devices?

      A device such as this will foster her independence so she can access what is going on in her day- all you have to do is program the day in for her. If money/funding is an issue, make a schedule she can “feel.” Make sure you incorporate a “change” sign so if anything suddenly changes within her routine, she will be able to know it immediately and its no surprise. Is she completely blind? I was wondering if “blowing up” a huge visual schedule to place on a wall where she can go to, would help. I’ve done that before. It was pretty strange looking when others saw it but it worked like a charm for my student. I mean, it was like huge- the visual symbols were approximately 6×6 inches in diameter where my student was able to remove them and place them in a “finished” envelope when the task/job was completed.

      Thinking further, you could always verbally remind Desire the next class or task on her schedule and then use an actual “ticking” timer whereby she could hear the timer and the bell go off so she would know that the task is ended. Dont forget to positively reinforce good behaviour or the task completed by rewarding her with a favourite “healthy” treat or a preferred activity for so many minutes until the next task. This works wonders.

      If and when she is on medication (I have a feeling its inevitable)- document! Document every little change in her behaviour and possible adverse reactions for both her professional team and mom.

      My daughter would agress on me but never her teachers or support team. It is not unusual for a sensitive child (or any autistic child really) to “work really hard” for their teachers and then when he/she comes home, “crash.” They unload all the stress and anxiety that he/she experienced during the school day. Remember, home with mom/dad, is a “safe” place for them to release stress. Support mom if/when you can. Mom utilizing a psychiatrist, is not a bad thing.

      Personally, I would never utilize a school psychiatrist. In my opinion, they dont know enough about Autism. All they see is “behaviour.” Have mom if she can afford it, find a psychiatrist who is experienced with the world of autism (unless the psychiatrist in this school is trained in autism). The documentation in the end, will be invaluable if mom is forced to put Desire in a group care home- AND THIS IS NOT A BAD THING in my opinion. I’ve worked along side of these homes in the past and have witnessed HUGE and wonderful progress with many individuals/students/kids with autism as they provide the routine and consistency that autistic individuals need and crave.

      If mom hasn’t already done so, have mom contact a behavioural support therapist that works with Autistic individuals “and” a speech/language pathologist. Speech/language pathologists are AWESOME for supplying alternative communication support for these kids. Mom should also be making a schedule of some sort for her daughter (and a “change” symbol) at home and “stick to it”. I sense that mom has Desire sleeping in the same room because she doesn’t trust Desire- she may wander around the house during the night or, she even may fear her own safety if Desire is aggressing to some larger degree. Sleeping in the same room? No. Not good as you obviously know. Not good for either Desire or Mom’s well being. Trying to change that already established routine is going to be really difficult. You may want to investigate (or mom) the benefits of using Melatonin before bed-time. I personally swear by Melatonin and its not expensive. You only use it an hour before bedtime though. Its not meant to use during the day!

      I would love to know more. If any of this information is not helpful. I have more info/tricks up my sleeve 🙂

      Thank you for contacting me Anna-Marie!

      With much support and love,
      C’hele

      Comment by C'hele — March 17, 2009 @ 22:49

      • P.s – Make sure you incorporate many breaks within her routine at school. Work at (if you are able to), one 2-5 minute break in between tasks or subjects and work your way towards two breaks a day, then one. If Desire is the type whereby she needs many breaks within her day (due to high anxiety or stress issues)- “give them to her.” Pick and choose your battles. Making an autistic individual do anything, is to end up banging your head against a brick wall. Remember, these individuals see and perceive their world very differently and they not only suffer from autism. Many have over-lapping labels such as ADHD, Tourettes, anxiety disorders and so on. Many autistic kids will work so hard for you if they know a break is coming afterwards. So many teachers forget, autistic people work 3 times harder than what we do. “We” take for granted (innocently done of course) that what we perceive is a simple task- is like moving mountains for these kids. Breaks. Many breaks especially if there is alot of negative behaviour happening from our students.

        Cheers,
        C’hele

        Comment by C'hele — March 17, 2009 @ 23:01

  10. Thank you so much for answering me and also with all your help and advice. Many time and happenings have passed since 15 March, but I would love to inform you again and see what your response is. We are still struggling quite a bit, but I would like to tell you how we operate in class in due time.

    Best wishes

    Anna-Marie

    Comment by Anna-Marie Scholtz — March 20, 2009 @ 17:10

  11. Hi

    Just thought that my comments should rather use only my first name in future and when we speak about one of my students, I will only mention “Des” e.g. and you will know it is my 1st mentioned student. Perhaps not all parents would like to see that their children are discussed, even when one seeks help and does it for the well being of the child? Des went to the psychiatrist. He comes from town to our school. Will mention later the outcome. I also would like to mention that Des has a mental age of about 2-3 yrs.

    Thanks so much

    Anna-Marie

    Comment by Anna-Marie — March 21, 2009 @ 00:52

  12. Hi C’hele. I see that my comments of March 21 is still awaiting moderation? That’s OK. Des’s mother phoned today. Des was seen by the psychiatrist and the Risperdal etc works! She says now that her child sleeps right through the night and her behavior much better. We have 2 weeks holidays, so I will only see her progression mid April at school, and address the other problems. I tried the use of an actual “ticking” timer (as you advised) with another very autistic learner. He could hear the timer and the bell go off. I positively reinforce his good behaviour by rewarding him with a playing activity for so many minutes until the next task and does it work! As soon as the bell goes, he drops the toy willingly, hands it to me and does his next tasks! Thanx so much for tips and advice.

    One of our new teachers has a problem with John, a learner with autism. 8 yrs old, well behaved, parents divorced and stays mostly with granny. Concentrates not well. Has Ritalin 10mg in the mornings. He usually went home to granny by schoolbus, but once, about 2 months ago, the driver had to go early. Gran was not informed, not at home, so John was brought back to school. Another driver took him home in a small pick up van later. After that day, John REFUSES to get into the bus. His granny has to bring and fetch him to and from school. (Now and then he has contact with his parents.)
    His interest in activities dropped severely. He only does them before break time. After that he sits by the window and waits for gran to come. His anxiety gets so bad that sometimes he cannot breathe properly. He just says “I’m waiting for my granny to come”, and “I know I have to behave well”. This sounds like fear of seperation? Please give advice and help? Thank you so much, C’hele. Anna-Marie

    Comment by Anna-Marie — March 31, 2009 @ 01:15

  13. Hi Anna-Marie!

    My apologies in the delay replying. I just moved residences and am still in the process of moving my grandfather into a care home. When I come home from work later today- I promise to reply more appropriately! Thanks for your patience!

    Regards,
    C’hele 🙂

    Comment by C'hele — March 31, 2009 @ 18:57

  14. Anna-Marie,

    Thank you for you kind comments and for asking me for advice. John is clearly an autistic individual- typical. No autistic individual likes sudden changes or transitions. Though change in life is inevitable, did anyone ever bother to notify him of the change? Visually? John needs to be taught calm-down routines when his anxiety is high. Most autistic people live with high anxiety and when they have a melt-down then you know its really bad. First mistake: John went alone with a stranger. I would have never of done that. That alone, would make “me” freak. When it comes to working with special needs children, there should always be another person (an E.A/teacher) that accompanies the student. If this is not possible, I would have driven John home myself and brought another EA. Another educated, trained individual would act as witness that John was safely transported home. I have driven students home by myself but always got verbal permission from the guardian/parent first. What if John had a melt-down on the bus due to fear/anxiety and the driver never told you about it?

    Anxiety reducing options would be: lavender oil if the student has no olfactory sensory issues, playing calm music (if John has no auditory sensory issues), letting the child use a sensory item/toy, teaching John breathing techniques.

    Anna-Marie, I understand that you have worked in the field for 23 years. Do you have any autism education and if so, what type? An excellent book to research for information is Tony Attwood and “Asperer’s Syndrome.” I use this with high functioning/low functioning autistic individuals as well.

    Good luck, 🙂

    Comment by C'hele — April 1, 2009 @ 05:35

  15. Chele, thank you so much.Our school opens tomorrow after 3 weeks holidays.Wonder how Des is going to react after medication?I’ll hand over your information about John tomorrow and will definitaly try to buy the T. Attwood book.I will also try to help the new teacher with John.I have a Kindergarten 3yr course, 1 yr music at Stellenbosch University and 3 yr course at UNISA for special education. We attend courses on Autism, seek for advice and information on the internet(!)and has in service training all the time.Our Principal attended an Autism course in Pretoria during the holidays, and then we know: here comes new ideas and work!!Luckily I do not mind working hard on activities etc etc after hours.Not all teachers like the hard work, especially the handmade activities.Our school, especially special schools, in our country,does not have much money.We have to rely very much on either not having the correct activities, making it yourself, or work for fundraising.We do have fundraising events, but not far enough money to buy much.If one does not have real love for our special kids, (most from disadvantaged backgrounds), you do not belong with them.I am 62, and I realise how much my poor(but rich!)upbringing has taught me.I sew, knit, does elementary woodwork, does gardening,etc, etc. I’ll be retiring from school soon, perhaps next year.Sorry for the very long writing, but please be warned: I’ll be asking more in the future. Tomorrow I,m receiving my next little girl at school.Also does not speak.Best wishes for moving your grandfather.Do I still receive an email to inform when I have your answer?Good luck. Anna-Marie

    Comment by Anna-Marie — April 14, 2009 @ 19:39

  16. HiChele, Wonder whether you still publish on your website? Best wishes. Anna-Marie

    Comment by Anna-Marie — May 21, 2009 @ 23:45

    • Yes I still write on this blog. However, life has been busy as of late and I have not had the opportunity to write anything. 🙂

      Comment by C'hele — May 27, 2009 @ 17:39

      • Hi David!

        Its been a while! I’m happy to see you. I find this poetry really challenging for some strange reason, LoL. I’m determined to master it though.

        Hugs,
        C’hele

        Comment by C'hele — May 27, 2009 @ 17:42

  17. Hi, I noticed that you keep mentioning higher functioning autism and Asperger’s Syndrome as though they were synonymous, whereas they are actually quite separate. I myself have been diagnosed with Asperger’s Syndrome, and part of that diagnosis is an above-average IQ. My Uncle (not biologically related) has Higher Functioning Autism, and is child-like in his understanding and approach to the world – well under-developed for his 40 years. Asperger’s, of course, primarily describes a lack of social ability or understanding.

    But quite apart from that, I have enjoyed reading your posts so far and the information you have provided is most excellent. Thanks!

    Comment by biscuitfeatures — July 7, 2009 @ 10:59

    • You know what? You are so right. I confess that I do make it appear that they appear synonymous. That’s because much of the public seems to relate to them as “one.” AS even though it does for the most part manifest in individuals who have a higher I.Q., it can be accompanied along with other labels. My daughter for example has AS along with “other developmental disabilities.” Bizarre, I know. There is a fine line between high functioning autism and AS – but you are right, there is a definite line.

      Thanks for your comment- that is a very important point that you have made 🙂

      C’hele

      Comment by C'hele — July 12, 2009 @ 23:30

    • P.s.

      I forgot to add that due to my daughters other developmental disabilites, it robbed her of her “I.Q.”

      That creates much frustration for both my daughter and I!

      Comment by C'hele — July 12, 2009 @ 23:34

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