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The purpose of this blog

Children and young people who are on the autism spectrum are likely to find the current disruption to their usual school routine challenging. We are all anxious about the situation we find ourselves in and our children are likely to experience heightened anxiety and stress. Many children and young people will not be attending school and many parents and carers are trying to find ways to help their children to learn whilst at home.Lots of children have been provided with work from school, but may resist doing 'school work' at home, therefore I suggest 'home learning' may be more acceptable to your child. 

The purpose of this blog is to provide suggestions of strategies and resources which you may find useful whilst your child is home learning. As each child is an individual, some ideas may work for your child and others will not. Strategies and resources suggested in this blog will need to be personalised for your child, but hopefully these suggestions will generate idea…

Summertime tips: Staying Positive

Summertime can be exhausting, enjoyable but exhausting. It can be hard to keep yourself motivated, so this post offers some tips for keeping things positive at those times when you are feeling tired and energy levels are low. No matter how enjoyable summertime might be it can still be tiring and mentally draining, especially after months of home-learning. So, how do you stay positive when you are feeling worn out and your mood is low? Try some of these tips - hope something works for you!

Positive planning
Keep it as easy as possible! Plan 1 activity a day and keep it simple and enjoyable for you and your child/ren. Like this:

Plan for exercise
When we are tired, worn down and lack motivation, one of the best activities we can plan is exercise! Physical activity and exercise releases 'feel good' chemicals which give us a lift and can energise us. I have to say that when you are tired and worn down, exercise can feel like the last thing you want to do, but give it a go and see how i…

Summertime tips: Siblings struggling to share?

The summertime break from school gives your children more time to play. However, it is not always easy for siblings to play together and to share play activities and resources. 
A common concern and frustration for families is lack of sharing and co-operation between siblings, especially when one (or more) are autistic. There are simple steps you can take to help your child(ren) to develop skills which are precursors to sharing and which may result in greater enjoyment of activities. 

Social skills and play typically develop in stages. Children move through these stages as they develop. Note the stages which come before children start to share:

Great emphasis is often placed upon sharing and taking turns in schools and other settings as these are necessary social skills in the learning environment. However, sharing and following social rules can be difficult if a child is at an earlier stage of development. If you are experiencing difficulties in getting your autistic child and siblings …

Summertime tips: Keep it simple!

Prolonged lock-down and closure of schools may mean that this year's summer break feels overwhelming. Structuring the day and planning activities may feel more challenging than usual. My next series of posts offer some summer tips which will hopefully help to make the summer more manageable and enjoyable. The summer break can feel overwhelming at the best of times, but when the summer follows on from months of home-learning it is not surprising if you feel anxious, stressed and not knowing where to start. This first tip focuses on how to structure summertime days, with an emphasis on keeping it simple. The secret is to try to find the right balance between providing the structure your son or daughter needs and at the same time making this manageable so that you can have some time to get on with chores, or dare I say to take a break!

You son or daughter may already use a schedule at home, or have been using one during home-learning. It may well be that they need the same level of sc…

Preparing for a COVID-19 test

If your son or daughter needs to have a COVID-19 test, preparation is essential. This is an important time to use a visual schedule, providing clear information about the sequence of activities and indicating what will follow when the test is finished. In this example the young person can see that they can take their stress balls to squeeze during the test.

TEACCH Tip #17  provides some good suggestions for how you might explain the process,find it here:Preparing for COVID test and includes how to use:
visual step by step instructionssocial narrative or social storydistraction toys or activityvisual countdown for the test

This TEACCH tip includesDownloadable stories for testing at home, at the doctor's and at a drive-through. These can be adapted according to the situation and your son's or daughter's needs.

Finally, make sure there is a clear finished and your son or daughter knows what's next - preferably an activity which they enjoy and/or which helps them to self-sooth…

Time for Change - Final Post (not quite!)

I began this blog at the start of a lengthy period of lockdown in our homes. Schools closed and many children and young people experienced significant change regarding their education. Recognising the scale of the challenge for families of autistic children and young people, I embarked on this blog as a way of sharing my knowledge and experience to suggest home-learning strategies and resources. Whilst lockdown eases, the 'big school holiday' looms and yet more change is likely for the foreseeable future.

As we gradually move towards children and young people returning to school or college, so begins the 'new normal'. There are many uncertainties that will cause anxiety, but one thing is certain: change is the new normal. As a result, many autistic children and young people will have to cope with further changes which they may find challenging, not least the concept of 'bubbles' and new ways of working at school.   

The need to prepare for, and cope with, change …

Behaviour (5) To do or not to do…. Strategies for Everyday

Behaviours which feel challenging can be frustrating and upsetting. Pause and give yourself a break. It is important to have some everyday strategies to maintain wellbeing which in turn may reduce difficult behaviour.This post offers some tips for everyday strategies, some suggestions for what you might do and what it is better not to do, which may help to prevent behaviours from escalating. 

Always consider structure and routines as part of your everyday strategies. We all need structure and routine in our daily lives. For autistic children and young people, structure and routines are essential to provide information in a meaningful way and to reduce anxiety. The use of structure is empowering. Structured Teaching (TEACCH) strategies increase independence, raise self-esteem and as a result can reduce difficult behaviours. For example, a visual schedule provides vital information about the structure of the day: what, when, where, who. This is not that far removed from our own…