Top five tips for parents on developing resilience in their autistic child

All children need help to bounce back from life’s challenges, but having autism can sometimes make this more difficult. Building resilience and independence in children with autism can be hugely beneficial in helping them live an independent and rewarding life. Dr Emma Goodall and Jeanette Purkis have written The Parents’ Practical Guide to Resilience for Children aged 2-10 on the Autism Spectrum to help parents, teachers and carers support and empower the young people in their lives. 

autistic children

Parents of autistic children can worry about their child’s future. Parents are often given a long list of the barriers to their autistic child’s potential, or even told that their child will not finish school, get a job or live the kind of life parents tend to want for their children. Whilst well supported autistic adults usually achieve a happy and fulfilled life, many autistic people can struggle to find their confidence and resilience to respond to every day events.

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The making of Robin and the White Rabbit

Emma Lindström

Illustrator Emma Lindström talks us through how Robin and the White Rabbit came to be, and shares her process for creating the striking water colour and photo imagery that adorn the book.

Under a tree in the schoolyard, a lone child is sitting. They sit there looking at the others… all the while turning further and further away. The feelings are piling up around the child, but no one’s there to help the child reach through the wall of feelings that separates them from the other children. The child is told that they must play with the other children, that they should be involved in the world around them. But how do you do that? The only thing the child knows right now is that it is fairly safe to sit under the tree… But what if a white rabbit would show up? A soft and kind rabbit who you can hug and play with…

Hello, my name is Emma Lindström. I am a preschool teacher with several years of experience supporting children with special needs, now specialising in visual aid.

In the summer of 2015, I sat at a café with my new-found friend Åse. We met only a few days earlier, by chance at a picnic. Åse talked about her experiences with people in need of visual communication, and soon we started to discuss the importance of understanding the need for people to communicate in ways other than spoken language. I related to my experiences as a support teacher in preschool and Åse talked about the various projects she participated in and her experiences from Konstfack College of Arts. After a while we considered what it would be like to create a picture book that highlights visual communication. Continue reading

Our bodies’ hidden strengths – Resilience and love

This blog was written by Hidden Strength’s Children’s Series co-author C.C. Alicia Hu. The books are available November 21, 2017 for therapeutic use with children ages 4-10 who have experienced trauma or a frightening situation. Read more about each title and pre-order below:

How Little Coyote Found His Secret Strength

Bomji and Spotty’s Frightening Adventure

How Sprinkle the Pig Escaped the River of Tears

by C.C. Alicia Hu

Before we can say “no,” our legs kick and set boundaries.

Before we can say “more,” our hands pull and grab for what we need.

Reclaiming our bodies’ hidden strengths empowers all of us.

Nevertheless, in our modern society, we are often disconnected from our bodies. We turn our body-mind into a machine, like a “car” or a “computer,” so we can control or manage our self for performance enhancement. Maybe we “perform” well, yet, we pay a price.

In the field of psychiatry and psychotherapy, for a long time, we labeled many of the body’s innate defense strategies as “symptoms” or “problems” – our capacity to disconnect and dull the pain, a symptom of “dissociation.” Our ability to quiver and shake to discharge the muscle intensity is a sign of weakness or anxiety.

Bring our bodies’ hidden strengths to enhance our resilience

In the Hidden Strengths Therapeutic Storybooks, three intertwined stories and four major animal characters show how our bodies’ possess the hidden strengths to protect our self. In addition, three adult-like characters demonstrate how to provide companionship that won’t overwhelm the major animal characters’ vulnerable nervous system that resulted from traumatic stress.

In each book, after the therapeutic story, there are two sections designed to provide structural prompts for adults to engage in dialogue and exploration with the child. This “expressive phase” is the key to facilitating the child in communicating their own feelings and creating their own stories. What makes our books unique is that we include embodied play activities to help the child process the stories on the basic sensory-motor level.

Using the metaphorical animal characters for teens and adults

These stories are not only therapeutic tools for children ages 4 to 10. These stories can also be used as metaphors to communicate with teens and adults.

Last week, I was presenting part of the story, “Bomji and Spotty’s Frightening Adventure” at a local grassroots, peer-support recovery center. Adult audiences in recovery from mental illness and substance abuse intuitively got the idea that, inside, we are Bomji the Rabbit, who tend to freeze, as well as Spotty the Cat, who tends to fight.

One participant shared that “sit on ready” is an important coping skill in African American culture. The capacity to be vigilant without moving helped her to survive her childhood.

The metaphorical animal characters made it easy for teens and adults to develop compassion toward their inner child. As children, we oftentimes act without thinking like Spotty the Cat. We are still and invisible to avoid danger like Bomji the Rabbit. We cry like Sprinkle the Pig and we overwhelm our caregivers. We submit like Wimpy the Coyote in order to fly under the radar.

Love: self-compassion toward our hidden strengths

From children to teens to adults, one key element in recovery is to cultivate self-compassion. In the Hidden Strengths Therapeutic Storybooks, we hope to help all readers embrace their bodies’ hidden strengths as a way to enhance self-compassion.

Once, I shared a draft of Bomji the Rabbit and Spotty the Cat with a Vietnam veteran who still suffered from the shame of freezing and wanting to run away in a major battle. In reality, he successfully executed his duty; however, he had a hard time forgiving the “weak” part of him. Understanding that motionless defense (e.g., freeze and collapse) is just as natural and valuable as active defense (e.g., fight and flight) brought him a tremendous sense of relief.

Another time, I shared the same story with a teen girl who engaged in self-cutting as a way to cope with inner turbulence. She was able to identify how she also froze when her external environment became too overwhelming and out of control. She was then able to find her own metaphor for her own fearful, vulnerable part without engaging in blaming.

Helping the reader to accept all the different parts of themselves is what we want these books to achieve, through revelation of the development of self-compassion. Before we can accept our angry fighting part as well as our frozen fearful part, it is helpful if we start seeing these natural capacities as our bodies’ hidden strengths. The act of self-compassion includes recognizing the diverse, creative survival strategies in our bodies. Yes, we are fundamentally resilient, even when we are young and small. Our bodies have always possessed these hidden strengths!

For more information, author events, and to follow the Hidden Strengths Series, check out the authors’ Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/AnneWestcottandAliciaHu/

 

 

 

 

A Best Practice Guide to Assessment and Intervention for Autism Spectrum Disorder in Schools

The number of children identified with autism has more than doubled over the last decade. School-based professionals are now asked to participate in the screening, assessment, and educational planning for children and youth on the spectrum more than at any other time in the recent past. Moreover, the call for greater use of evidence-based practice has increased demands that school personnel be prepared to recognize the presence of risk factors, engage in case finding, and be knowledgeable about “best practice” guidelines in assessment and intervention for autism spectrum disorder (ASD). Continue reading

Take a look inside The Illustrated Guide to Dyslexia and Its Amazing People

illustrated guide dyslexiaFilled with gentle humour and colourful imagery, The Illustrated Guide to Dyslexia and Its Amazing People uses visual content to bring dyslexia to life. Suitable for all age groups, this Guardian Bookshop and Amazon bestseller explains what dyslexia means, how it feels, what to do about it, and how to learn to embrace it.

Click here to look inside the book

   Or if you would like to purchase a copy, please click here.

If you would like to read more articles on dyslexia and get the latest news and offers on our Education books, why not join our mailing list? We can send information by email or post as you prefer. You may also be interested in liking our Special Education, PSHE and Early Years Resources Facebook page.

I don’t like reading!

dyslexiaLisabeth Emlyn Clark talks about her experience of growing up with dyslexia and how she wishes she’d received the correct support at a younger age to help her manage it.  Her personal story has inspired her to write a children’s book about a boy named Harry with dyslexia called I Don’t Like Reading.

As a child I loved looking at books and enjoyed having them read to me. Often with my favourite stories I would stare at the pages for an age, looking at every part of the picture so I could memorize the details while I listened to the words being spoken. When the pages were turned I would look at the picture and hear the first few words, and could finish the sentence before the reader did.

I remember being around 6 or 7 years old when I started to realise that my friends and class mates seemed to finish reading their books so much faster than I did. They all seemed to be on the harder stage books than me and some even on the ‘pupil choice’ stage. I left primary school having never been able to choose my own reading book!

It’s not that I couldn’t read then, or can’t read now; my issue has always been that I try so hard to read the text that it becomes harder to remember what I have just read and this makes books difficult to understand. Continue reading

Request a free Education and/or Autism catalogue this September

education resources

As part of our back to school promotion, we’re giving away free copies of our Autism and Education catalogues until the end of the month to all UK school staff. Just email hello@JKP.com, stating your address and the catalogue which you’d like, and we’ll send it in the post to you that same day.

Our education resources offer valuable guidance on important school issues such as mental health, special educational needs, bullying and peer pressure, safeguarding, restorative justice, sex education, trauma and attachment, gender diversity and more.

Tips to help children with ADHD develop self-control, concentration and problem-solving skills

ADHD supportSusan Young, author of The STAR Program, talks about the innovative methods she has developed to help children with ADHD  develop their self-control, concentration and problem-solving skills.

I started working with young people with Attention Deficit/Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD) over 20 years ago. The clinical picture has changed over these years due to research, which has considerably advanced our scientific knowledge and understanding about the aetiology, presentation, treatment and prognosis of ADHD. ADHD is now recognised to be a lifespan condition yet, despite international guidelines on the assessment, treatment and management of ADHD, too many young people reach adulthood with undiagnosed ADHD. As a psychologist, I am less concerned with a “clinical” diagnosis than the functional problems associated with inattention and the immediate or longer-term effects on a child’s development and life satisfaction. As a mother I know how worrying this can be and, as a clinician, I know that steps can be taken to help and support a child in overcoming these difficulties. I know how important it is for everyone to work together to help children effect change in their lives, so I wanted to develop an intervention that may involve teachers, parents/carers and the children themselves. We do not often intervene directly with children and treatments: we usually aim to make change by teaching those who interact with them to change the environment around them in some way. I think this underestimates our children’s abilities and misses an important opportunity. Why can we teach children academic skills but not life skills? I wrote the STAR Intervention to provide these life skills to children, their parents/carers and, hopefully, others involved in their care. Continue reading

Take a look at our new Pastoral Care and Special Educational Needs catalogue

Our education resources offer valuable guidance on important school issues such as mental health, special educational needs, autism, bullying and peer pressure, safeguarding, restorative justice, sex education, trauma and attachment, gender diversity and more.

If you would like to request a free print copy of the catalogue, please email hello@JKP.com.

If you would like to find out more about our Education books and receive the latest news and offers on them, why not join our mailing list? We can send information by email or post as you prefer. You can unsubscribe at any time. You may also be interested in liking our Special Educational, PSHE and Early Years Resources Facebook page.

Strategies in Supporting Children with Special Needs around Death and Dying

“My grandma isn’t a dinosaur. Why are the dinosaurs in this book teaching about death?”

“My dad’s not a leaf. I don’t understand what falling leaves have to do with him dying.”

“My aunt died. Why is everyone saying she’s in a better place?”

Metaphors, symbolic language, euphemisms. These all present challenges for many children with special needs who process information in a concrete manner. The quotes above encapsulate some of the feedback we have heard during our work in hospice care and in special education, as parents describe their struggle with explaining death and dying to their children. We wrote I Have a Question about Death: A Book for Children with Autism Spectrum Disorder or Other Special Needs to address these challenges, and to create a book that parents and caregivers can read with all children. Continue reading