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Peer-Led Intervention Helps Moms of Kids with Autism.

That’s what we do here at the Autism Center of Pittsburgh. We have parents of kids with autism ready to help. Dr. John Carosso – Executive Director Peer-led interventions that target parental well-being can significantly reduce stress, depression and anxiety in mothers of children with disabilities, according to new findings released in the journal Pediatrics. In a first-of-its-kind study, researchers from Vanderbilt University examined two treatment programs in a large number of primary caregivers of a child with a disability. Participants in both groups experienced improvements in mental health, sleep and overall life satisfaction and showed less dysfunctional parent-child interactions. “The well-being of this population is critically important because, compared to parents of typically developing children, parents of children with developmental disabilities experience substantially higher levels of stress, anxiety and depression, and as they age, physical and medical problems,” said lead author Elisabeth Dykens, Ph.D., Annette Schaffer Eskind Professor and ...

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Self-Advocacy: Lets Listen to Our Kids

Self advocacy is something we try to teach our children with autism. Stand up for yourself ,make your wants, thoughts and needs known. Often times our children have problems with anxiety and are in fear of speaking their minds or they can’t find the right words. School is a place that should encourage this life skill that is so very important for them to succeed. Lets face it, school is stressful for many of our children. When a child is verbal enough to say this bothers me, or that sound or smell is just too much for me, maybe people should listen to them? I could be wrong here, it just might help prevent a total meltdown. No, I’m not saying that *John* should get out of doing his math homework because he does not feel like it.  John should not be forced to sit next to another child that ...

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DSM-V and the Autism Diagnosis: Is the Change Hurting Children?

Fuss There has been lots of fuss about the DSM-V and the autism diagnosis; will it result in less children meeting diagnostic criteria and therefore less children getting the services they need? Is this concern legitimate? I’ve written about this in prior posts, but here I’ll provide further elaboration. What’s the problem, and what is the diagnostic criteria? Is the DSM-V Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD) diagnosis the issue at hand, or is it another DSM-V diagnosis that might be a “problem”? First let’s take a brief look at the ASD, the criteria includes: 1.   “Deficits in social communication and social interaction” manifesting in, for example, poor back-and-forth communication, deficient eye contact, and absence in an interest in peers or inability to sustain the relationship/interaction.   2.   “Restricted, repetitive patterns of behavior, interests, or activities, and/or hyper or hypo-sensitivities. There are also specifiers for severity of the social and verbal deficit, ...

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Do Weighted Blankets Improve Sleep in Children and Teens with Autism? See If You Are Correct.

Study finds that kids and parents like them, but weighted blankets don’t increase sleep time or decrease time it takes to fall asleep Photo courtesy Cozy Comforter New research finds that weighted blankets don’t significantly improve sleep in children and teens who have autism. Overall, however, the families who completed the study preferred the weighted blanket over a nonweighted one that otherwise resembled it. The findings appear today in the journal Pediatrics. Weighted blankets have long been popular for calming individuals with autism spectrum disorder (ASD). Typically the blankets contain metal or plastic beads sewn into quilted layers. The idea is that the weight provides gentle, deep pressure that addresses the sensory-integration issues often associated with ASD. These sensory issues, in turn, may add to the sleep disturbances that are likewise common among those who have autism. Studies suggest that 40 to 80 percent of individuals with ASD have significant ...

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Autism + Intense Interest = Career?

Matthew was just one year old when I noticed his intense interest in wheels at a Gymboree class. “He’ll probably be an engineer someday!” I told my husband. A few months later, a friend noticed Matthew’s fascination with lights. “Maybe he’ll be an electrician some day!” Over time, there were the drains,(“Plumbing!) the cows (“Farming!), the gates and the airplanes. These cycles of intense interests came and went, but the one that stuck was lawn and garden maintenance. Matthew watched with great interest while garden crews in our neighborhood mowed, trimmed, pruned, raked and edged. He smiled and jumped gleefully for the finale as gardeners strapped on their gas-powered leaf blowers and cleared any stray grass , dirt or leaf trimmings before loading up their trucks and driving away. Matthew got his first gas powered mower when he was eleven, and now, at 28, he works nearly every day maintaining ...

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