Guest Author - Bonnie Sayers
Do you have a tale to tell? I would like to collect snippets from families around the world on various subjects of interest. This article will be updated as the need arises, so please do keep it among your favorites. I will also include the links to this series within the article to highlight those experiences being shared.
While I do have two children on opposites sides of the Autism Spectrum, we do not partake in many therapies, diets or extra curricular activities. This is not to say there is no interest, just no experience at this time.
This is where families from around the world can share positives or negatives based on their experience with specific topics of interest. With the new school year upon us many families might be interested in having their child join a sports team, learn a musical instrument or obtain a pet for their child with special needs.
The following is what I personally am interested in at the moment and would like to hear from anyone around the world who can share related experiences on these topics. Once I have gathered several responses for each one I will compose an article for readers to gain insight into the topic and make their decisions on whether this is something they would like to try for their family.
1. Special Olympics - Matthew is a runner, enjoys jogging around the playground and has exceptional skipping skills. I think he would be a good candidate for Special Olympics - but my research through the local sites has not produced any personal feedback on what this entails.
For this topic I would like to hear from families who have a child who has or is still a part of the Special Olympics. I also welcome any input from an adult who has been involved in Special Olympics as a child or young adult. I would like to know the commitment involved, whether this is year-round and if you need sponsors. I am eager to hear from those who have a non-verbal child in the Special Olympics; any positive or negative feedback relating to the participant and how it has helped with their social skills, academic performance and self-esteem.
2. Service Dogs - Nicholas and I enjoy watching National Geographic and Animal Planet shows like Dogs with Jobs and Animal Cops. Quite often both channels have profiled a child on the Autism Spectrum obtaining a service dog. We have taped some of these segments and researched online for more information. Jane Pauley had a segment on Autism with one child receiving his dog the day of the taping.
There are many organizations across the country that train Service Dogs. There is a monetary requirement in the form of a donation for these services and I believe you need to go to their location for training with the dog. After viewing one such segment with a nonverbal boy make contact after a few days with his dog I started to contemplate this as a possibility for Matthew.
Besides the financial aspect being a drawback, I have asthma and cannot live in the same house with any pet. There are products on the market that might alleviate my allergic responses to a dog so I want to learn more about the steps involved in obtaining a Service Dog.
I am interested in hearing from families and adults who have Service Dogs, especially those who are nonverbal and any family members that might have allergy issues. I would like to know the time frame involved in preparing for this; the travel issue to get the dog; funding examples on how to pay for the services. Long term feedback on the developing relationship between the Service Dog and the child or adult on the Autism Spectrum is worth noting as well. Do all Service Dogs go to school with the child or do some just go to therapy appointments or functions. Any shared experience will help many families in determining if a Service Dog is suitable for their family.
3. Here in California during the summer months we experience Rolling Blackouts. Also at this time of year residents in Florida and neighboring states endure Hurricane season. I am interested in hearing from families that reside in Florida who have had to evacuate and head to shelter during these periods. How does a family with a child on the Autism Spectrum Disorder prepare the child for days without power? What type of plan do you have in place?
I believe that by sharing from those who have lived through these emergency situations other families can gain insight into devising their own emergency kits and plan for these events accordingly. I would like feedback on what you pack for the child on the Autism Spectrum when you are told to leave your home within so many hours. For those that have lived through power outages for hours and days - how did your child do during this time, how did you communicate the events and comfort your child?
For families around the world that have experienced tsunamis, floods, earthquakes and other natural disasters - please do share any related experience from these trying times your family endured. What should families know ahead of time to prepare for disasters? Any snippet of information is worth sharing from someone who has been there and survived.
This is a work in progress, so new interests will be added. I would like to see two articles a month showcasing other experiences from families around the world. Feel free to email me with any ideas you have for this series. Once school officially starts after Labor Day Weekend here in the States I will be seeking feedback from families who have children in sports activities/joining teams and those who play musical instruments and might be members of the school band.
I look forward to hearing from families around the world with their feedback on the topics of interest posted here. This is a positive way to highlight the achievements of children on the Autism Spectrum and learn from the experience of others on how to make life more rewarding for the family member on the Autism Spectrum.
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