Sharing the disorder can foster a more positive and effective work environment. One example of this is an individual was having a hard time working with some coworkers for years. It is likely that there was miscommunication occurring with nonsocial cues. After I wrote a letter to be shared with this individual’s supervisor and coworkers communication at work improved. There was an increased understanding, acceptance, and support that was not there previously. In fact, the coworker that had started off with the most rocky relationship actually brought in something special to celebrate Autism Awareness Day.
By Dr. Liz Gaebler
How was school? How are you? How was your day?
These are questions that as parents, we ask our children everyday. And for most of us, we seem almost hardwired to use this strategy to check in with others. After a long day apart, we genuinely wonder: How was my child’s day? The difficulty comes when this approach does not result in an answer. Or worse, it serves as a trigger. For some children and young people with ASD, answering this type of open-ended abstract question can be extremely difficult. Many young people with- and without- ASD have difficulty recognizing and expressing their feelings or lack the emotional vocabulary to explain those feelings. As a result, they may find this type of question very anxiety provoking. Parents may find their child appears to ignore this type of question, provides a nonverbal response, or gives a predictable, but vague answer (e.g., OK). This is particularly hard for parents without ASD who view this as a positive opportunity to connect with their child and a chance to express caring and empathy.
When open-ended check-ins do not seem to work for your child, regardless of whether or not he or she is diagnosed with ASD, sometimes a more “scientific” approach can be effective. One powerful
By Dr. Heather Hurd
I have been asked many of times, how should I tell my child he/she has a disability? Should I tell them or keep it from them? Around age 8 many children begin to realize that they are different from others. Point blank, without any explanation of why things are hard for them, and are not hard for others they can be at risk for low self-esteem and even some symptoms of depression.
For many children, if they have been to see mental health professionals or have an Individual Education Plan it is highly likely that they already know something is up. And if children have already overheard the word “disability” or another label it is better that they be able to ask questions and receive the
information you want to share with them.
By Dr. Heather Hurd
Kids with Autism and Social Skills Deficits are especially at risk for being bullied. Bam. They have trouble enough with things already, but being bullied on top of it all? Darn it, but yes.
A common misperception about children, teens, and adults with Autism is that they do not pick up on social cues, so they do not understand or feel bullying. It is just the opposite, actually. An adult with Autism reported to me a few years back that he had been at a party in which the other men were laughing at his expense. He did not realize it at the time. But when it dawned on him later it was devastating. Even as adults words can sting us.
By Dr. Heather Hurd
Bullying is no joke these days. Bullying used to be a big kid taking a little kid’s lunch money, or knocking them down. That bullying still happens. But today there is another kind of bullying, bullying with words. Examples include telling everyone in the class not to be friends with a child or teen, or texting the class that they should post mean things about a child or teen on facebook. Enough of these actions piled on and it can lead to significant depression symptoms or even worse.
This “new” kind of bullying is also called relational aggression. You may think of the movie “Mean Girls” and while it sort of hits the mark, unfortunately it can be mild compared with what some children/teens live through. If children/teens are unique in some way this can unfortunately make them easy targets for bullies. Children and teens that dress, act differently, have unique viewpoints, and have problems in learning or social areas are especially at risk for being