Posts Tagged ‘ autism ’

5 Tips for Traveling By Plane with Your Special Needs Child

Wednesday, May 21st, 2014

This is a post in the weekly Autism Hopes series by Lisa Quinones-Fontanez, a mom who blogs  over at Atypical Familia.

In a few weeks, we’ll be on our way to the Most Magical Place on Earth. It will be Norrin’s second time on an air plane. Unlike the first time taking a plane together, I am not nervous. The first time we flew, I was frantic even though I prepped for months. But there was no need to worry. Norrin really surprised me and I was so proud of him.

Traveling with special needs children requires careful planning. If your child has never been on a plane and you’re thinking of planning a vacation – here are some tips that can help.

Prepare. Even if you don’t have any immediate plans for a trip, start talking about planes and pointing them out to your kids. Talk about the kind of places or family/friends you can visit by taking a plane. Many kids with autism and other special needs, require social stories to help them through new experiences or teach everyday skills. Carol Gray has written two books that may help: My Social Stories Book and The New Social Story Book

There’s also a really cool app by Avril Webster called Off We Go: Going on a Plane. The app prepares special needs children and also includes “some of the typical sounds that they would hear during their journey.” The Going on a Plane app is $3.99 and compatible with iPad, iPhone or iPod touch.

Do Your Homework. Think about the airlines and airports you’ve traveled with in the past – which ones gave you the best experience? If you have friends that have traveled with their special needs children – ask for suggestions. Call airlines and see what accommodations can be made for your special needs child before making your final decision.

Another thing to consider is the duration of the flight. If your child has never flown before, don’t book a 5 hour plane ride or one with multiple layovers. Keeping it under 3 hours is probably ideal.

Pack Light (if you can). Traveling by plane requires a lot of waiting and long lines. If you can manage to do carry-on luggage only – go for it! That way you avoid the checking in your bag line and waiting to claim your bag after.

Prepare some more. You want to keep your kid occupied for a significant amount of time so a bag of goodies is a must! Load up the iPad or tablet with new apps or buy a new toy or activity book for the ride. Bring candy or a special treat for your child to enjoy. And don’t forget to pack any other special items like noise-cancelling headphones or favorite comfort item, pillow or blankie. It could be the thing that prevents a meltdown.

And Speaking of Meltdowns. A mom wrote to me and expressed concern about her child having a meltdown on the plane. “Prepare for the worst, hope for the best” as the saying goes. If a meltdown occurs, deal with it the best way you can and forget about if people stare – just focus on your child. If you anticipate a meltdown prior to boarding the plane – talk to the flight attendants. They want to ensure you have a pleasant experience, so do not be afraid to ask for help if you need it.

From my other blog:

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Strangers Pay A Restaurant Bill For Students With Autism: Good Deed Alert!

Thursday, May 15th, 2014

Last week, a class of New Jersey elementary school students had lunch at Jose Tejas, a local Mexican restaurant. They were there to celebrate Cinco de Mayo—but also to learn how to behave in a social setting. All 25 of the kids have autism. Accompanying them were 21 teachers, speech therapists and paraprofessionals, as reported by NBC News. When they finished their meal, they got a big surprise: their bill was being paid.

A couple dining at Jose Tejas had noticed the group. They’re regulars at the restaurant who have a grandchild with special needs. They also wanted to celebrate national Teacher Appreciation Day. “The manager came up to us and said, ‘I just want to let you know that a fellow patron wants to pay your bill,’” said teacher Jeannette Gruskowski. “We were speechless. We were all crying.”

The couple wished to remain anonymous. So the students made a big card for them and got it posted in the restaurant, in the hopes the couple would see it. It read, “There are no words to express how touched and grateful we are to you. Your act of generosity will be embedded in our hearts.”

I love this story, but particularly appreciate that the couple behind the gesture have a grandkid with special needs. On the surface, this about the kindness of strangers—but it’s also about how having a family member with special needs connects you with that community. When you have a child with disabilities, at times you feel alienated from the world. Acts of kindness like this are a heartening reminder: We are not alone.

From my other blog:

15 superpowers of special needs moms

Win a $100 Lands’ End shopping spree 

For ways to help friends and family understand Autism, download Autism Speaks Family Support Took Kit.

A Test for Autism Risk: Head Lag
A Test for Autism Risk: Head Lag
A Test for Autism Risk: Head Lag

Image: Screen-grab/ video

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Nighttime Potty Training: UPDATE

Wednesday, May 14th, 2014

This is a post in the weekly Autism Hopes series by Lisa Quinones-Fontanez, a mom who blogs  over at Atypical Familia.

Back in January, I shared that we were about to begin Nighttime Potty Training and I thought I’d give you an update.

Yeah. We’re not done yet. Not. Even. Close.

I’m going to be completely honest. My husband and I are at odds about it. I am ready to quit and just go back to diapers/Pull-Ups at night. And my husband is determined we stick to it.

I knew that it was going to take time and that I needed to be patient, but I am exhausted. I have washed sheets, blankets and pajamas almost every day since January. We are going on vacation in a few weeks. Is nighttime potty training something I want to deal with while at the most magical place on earth?

We’ve tried rewards, alarms, limiting liquids close to bedtime and waking up in the middle of the night. He’s just not getting it. Day time potty training and nighttime potty are two totally different things. And being successful during the day, isn’t always a guarantee for nighttime dryness. Going back to diapers at night doesn’t mean I’m giving up on my son. It just means I’m giving him more time.

Would love to hear your nighttime potty training updates!

From my other blog:


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Birdhouse For Autism: An App To Make Autism Parents Life Easier

Wednesday, April 30th, 2014

This is a post in the weekly Autism Hopes series by Lisa Quinones-Fontanez, a mom who blogs  over at Atypical Familia.

I bet you have a calendar where you write everything down. Phonebooks, memo pads, notebooks or scraps of paper with scribble on it. When you’re an autism parent, your life is all about keeping track of progress, meltdowns, bowel movements and sleep cycles. You have countless appointments and therapists numbers to remember. I know I do and no matter how organized I try to be, I still don’t have everything in one place. As a mom constantly on the go, it’s impossible to have Norrin’s information accessible to me at all times. And to be really honest, I can barely remember  the  passcode to  my iPhone –  I need everything written down or else I’ll forget.

I just downloaded Birdhouse for Autism; it’s an app that “keep[s] a running, searchable log of your child’s daily activities and behaviors, so that you can figure out what’s working and what needs to be changed.” The app was created by autism parents, Ben Chutz and Dani Gillman.

“We needed a better way to manage and organize all this stuff, and it was apparent to us that many, many other families needed a better way as well,” said Ben.

Unlike any other app, Birdhouse for Autism you can monitor your child’s day-to-day progress. Accessible via iPhone, Android or the web, parents can view and track their child’s sleep cycles, diet, bowl movement, moods, medications and any other information you’d like to note. You can also keep track of your therapists information, including how long they have worked with your child.

“In its current version, Birdhouse works best for families who are already in the habit of keeping some type of notes on their child’s day to day progress, or who have something that they are paying special attention to in their child. For example, one family was able to get a referral to a neurologist from her child’s pediatrician by tracking her sleep cycles. Another family used Birdhouse with their son’s special education teacher to build a case for the IEP meeting that her son be relocated to a classroom better designed to suit his needs.”

There are two types of memberships: free and premium. You’ll need to create an account on a full size (desktop/laptop) browser prior too using Birdhouse app. The free membership only allows you to log/track the current day but weekly progress must be viewed via web. The premium membership allows you to have all your child’s information on your phone and allows you to share the information with up to 3 other individuals. What makes premium membership especially unique is that it’s a “name your own price.” Families pay either $1 to $20 per month for the Birdhouse for Autism app.

I am excited about the Birdhouse for Autism app because I’ve been thinking about medication for Norrin. I know the app will make it easier to monitor. All of my information will be neatly and safely stored in one place that I will be able to access any time I need it.

Have you used the Birdhouse for Autism app? Would love to hear what you use it for?

From my other blog:

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5 Autism “Cures” That Make False Claims

Tuesday, April 29th, 2014

The U.S. Food and Drug Administration is cracking down on companies making false claims about products to cure autism. According to Gary Coody, the FDA’s national health fraud coordinator, the agency has warned a number of companies that they are facing possible legal action if they continue to make false or misleading claims about therapies and products that treat or “cure” autism—including ones that carry major healthy risks.

As parents of kids with special needs, we are typically willing to try anything and everything we can to help our children. But we also need to make sure our kids don’t fall victim to quackery—and companies trying to take advantage of desperate parents. The FDA has approved medications that can help with symptoms of autism spectrum disorder, including risperidone and aripripazole to treat kids five and up who have severe tantrums, aggression and self-injurious behavior. The treatments it cautions against:

Chelation therapies. These products—which come in sprays, capsules, liquid drops, suppositories and clay baths—promise to “cleanse” the body of toxic chemicals and heavy metals. While they are approved for the treatment of lead poisoning and iron overload, under medical supervision, they can drain the body of important minerals.

Hyperbaric oxygen treatment. This treatment involves breathing oxygen in a pressurized chamber. Again, while the FDA has cleared it for certain medical uses (like decompression sickness suffered by divers) it has not been cleared for autism, among other conditions.

Miracle mineral solution. The FDA says it has received reports from consumers who experienced nausea, severe vomiting and low blood pressure after drinking this and a citrus juice mixture.

Detoxifying clay baths. Manufacturers claim that if you add these products to bath water, they will “draw out” toxins, pollutants and heavy metals and improve atuism system. The FDA says they DON’T.

CocoKefir probiotics products. The FDA notes that product claims including being a “major key” to recovery from autism, but they are not proven safe or effective for that advertised use.

Always, always, always check with your doctor before you try alternative treatments. Meanwhile, Coody offers tips for identifying misleading claims:

• Be wary of products that claim to treat a wide range of diseases.

• Also be suspicious of any that offer a “quick fix” or “miracle cure.”

• Remember: Personal testimonials are no substitute for scientific evidence.


From my other blog

Finding a caregiver for a child with special needs: 12 key tips

When kids with special needs know their limitations…and don’t care

Does the punishment fit the crime for this special needs bully?


Image of open bottle of pills via Shutterstock

Early Signs of Autism
Early Signs of Autism
Early Signs of Autism

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