For the past few weeks, most of us have been glued to the news and social media to keep ourselves updated on the war in Israel. Some of us have friends and family in Israel, while others are torn by watching young soldiers go off to war.
As I explored the web looking for information about the war, I came across a press release by the IDF that discusses Special Intelligence Unit 9900. This small unit includes soldiers with autism “who have remarkable visual and analytic capabilities. They can detect even the smallest details, undetectable to most people”.
As the end of the school year approaches us, here are some tips for parents of children with autism (or any child who needs support with transitions) when trying to support their son or daughter move from school to summer.
1. Preview - Talk to your kids beforehand about what changes they can expect. Show them pictures of new places and people, like camp counselors. Visit any new locations with your child ahead of time so nothing is a surprise. Skype with friends and family to see where you'll be staying when you go on summertime visits. Check out the websites of summer camp facilities, hotels, attractions or city going to visit. Tour summer day or sleep away camp grounds ahead of time. If that's not possible, you may want to contact places to see if they have any DVDs that depict their facilities.
As we approach the summer, many families are starting to make plans for camp, trips or cruises. Some parents of children with autism may feel as though it would be impossible to take a vacation with their son or daughter because of the child’s difficulty in behavior and communication and inflexibility in new situations (a characteristic of autism).
I recently came across a newspaper article that talked about Royal Caribbean’s first autism-friendly cruise line.
On a regular basis, parents of children who have autism come across numerous possible treatments options. Each child who has autism is unique and presents different behaviors, sensory and communication challenges and each child responds to therapies uniquely. Parents invest time and money finding the therapies that works best for their child and there is a lot of trial and error, energy, hope and frustration involved in the process.
A few weeks ago, I came across an article that talked about the "5 Scariest Autism Treatments," including “Miracle Mineral Solution (MMS).” I had never heard of Miracle Mineral Solution before and after doing some research on it I was shocked.
For the last few months, New York City was filled with posters of a missing teenage boy with autism, Avonte Oquendo. This story affected everyone regardless of race, religion, gender or socio-economic status. A child was missing: A child with severe autism, who was non-verbal. Families of a child with special needs or anyone who works with children with special needs was affected even more.
My recent piece discussing what we could learn from Kellie Stapleton, a mother accused of trying to kill her daughter with autism and herself, inspired me to research other similar cases.
Here is what I found after a brief online search. This list is not comprehensive, and certainly can't begin to quantify the much larger number of caregivers who think about ending either their lives, or the lives of their children, or both.
Research has shown that mothers of children with autism have the highest rate of stress compared to parents of children with any other special needs. Recently, Kelli Stapleton, a mother of a 14-year-old daughter with autism, allegedly tried to kill herself and her child by using carbon monoxide poisoning. The police rescued them and Mrs. Stapleton is expected to be charged with attempted murder. The first question that comes to mind is: What exactly drove this woman to try and kill herself and her child?
I have always looked forward to attending synagogue services on Rosh Hashanah. Hearing the shofar often felt like a spiritual cleansing: a reminder that this was the time of year to think about your wrong doings and ask God for forgiveness.
According to a 2006 Harvard School of Public Health research study, the cost of raising a child with autism can range from $67,000 to $72,000 per year. Over a lifetime, an autistic person’s care will cost between $1.4 million to $3.1 million.