Oxford Consulting Services

Thursday, March 15, 2018

Vacationing with a Child with Autism

Whether by air, land, or sea, traveling can be especially stressful with a family member on the autism spectrum. Preparation is the key element to a happy and memorable vacation. The following are some tips for traveling and vacationing with a child with autism.
Be Prepared! Call ahead to the place you are staying and check for any special accommodations they make for children with special needs. If you are attending an amusement park, visiting guest services to inquire about a special needs pass for your child should be the first thing you do. It is also helpful to bring a physician’s note detailing your child’s disorder. Be sure to bring items your child may need, like headphones to drown out large crowd noise or special snacks to accommodate any specific diet needs.

Take Sensory Breaks. It may help your child with autism, and your family as a whole, to have built in mid-day breaks to wind down from the morning activities and to gear up for the night’s adventures. Your child may get overwhelmed spending too much time with crowds and loud noises regardless of the coping strategies you implement.

Include Every Member of the Family. Remember, this isn’t just your vacation, it belongs to everybody. Provide your family members with a variety of different types of destinations and activities to determine that there is something for everybody.

Cruising with Autism
. If your family is searching for adventure on the high seas, then look no further than Autism on the Seas. Since 2007, the organization has been dedicated to assisting the cruise industry in providing cruise vacations for individuals and families’ with special needs.

Autism in Flight.
A growing number of airlines are offering mock airplane simulations that allow for your child to experience what it’s like to visit the airport. Your child can experience every aspect of flight without ever leaving the ground. The TSA has a helpful list of specific information for passengers with special needs. The Smart Fish: Frequent Flyer app offers another way of introducing your child to the airport experience.

Provided by the National Autism Network www.NationalAutismNetwork.com

Wednesday, February 28, 2018

What is Sensory Processing Disorder?

Educators and parents are more cognizant today about the various needs of their students and children. The lines between certain learning disabilities and conditions are not always easy to decipher, and this is especially true with a condition known as sensory processing disorder.
Sensory processing disorder, sometimes referred to as sensory integration dysfunction, involves the way the nervous system receives messages from the senses and transforms them into appropriate motor functions and behavioral responses. When a child has SPD, his or her sensory signals are not organized into appropriate responses. This can present challenges when performing everyday tasks, says the Sensory Processing Disorder Foundation. Clumsinesss with regard to motor skills, behavioral problems, difficulties in school and anxiety are just some of the conditions that may result from SPD if no treatment is sought.

A person with SPD may find clothing, physical contact or some sort of sensory input, like light or sound, to be uncomfortable, while another may underrespond to certain stimulation, such as not reacting quickly enough to pain. Others with SPD may not have adequate motor skills, leading them to consistently fall or trip. Some people with SPD overly seek out stimulation and sensation to a point where they are often misdiagnosed with ADHD.

Identifying and understanding SPD is essential, as such an understanding can mean the difference between getting the right treatment or being misdiagnosed. Some people with SPD are medicated for other issues, when SPD really is the cause of their problems.

SPD is most common in children, although it can occur in adults. The exact cause of the condition, and other neurodevelopmental disorders, have not been entirely identified. Doctors believe SPD is often inherited and SPD causes are ingrained in DNA. Prenatal and birth complications also have been implicated, and environmental factors may be involved. However, researchers believe SPD is the result of factors that are both genetic and environmental.

An accurate diagnosis of SPD means that most children will be treated with some form of occupational therapy. Listening therapy and other therapies may be combined. Therapy may take place in a sensory-rich location that is challenging but fun. Additional support may be needed in the classroom for school-aged children. Because kids with SPD have brains that are wired differently, they may require different approaches to learn their lessons. The disorder does not make them any less intelligent; it just means lessons need to be tailored to meet their needs.

The best course of action is to ask a doctor to conduct tests to determine if a child has SPD. Research shows that families who work together with educators, therapists and other family members have the highest levels of success with regard to making life easier for someone with sensory processing disorder. Furthermore, parents who suspect their child has SPD can refer to this checklist, which is available at www.sensory-processing-disorder.com/sensory-processing-disorder-checklist.html. A child may not exhibit all signs of SPD, but the list can be a good starting point for conversations with a doctor.

Friday, February 9, 2018

Autism at Home

Autism is a wide-ranging spectrum of disorders that can affect children from all walks of life. Symptoms vary from one individual to another, but sometimes they overlap, making each autism spectrum unique. Often parents have to work alongside developmental and behavioral needs specialists to address the symptoms and to prepare the individual for what lies ahead. To maximize results, however, certain home activities can be infused into the procedures and build on exercises done during therapy.

Responsible Parenting
As responsible parents, continuing the activities being taught and done during formal therapy sessions can be of great help. This requires a certain degree of keen observation and focus on the child’s core deficits. Three of the most common sources of frustration among children with autism are language impairment, over-sensitivity or lack thereof, and behavioral dilemmas. Learning what “triggers” their meltdowns and what makes them “happy” and calm can tremendously enhance progress. The key is to work closely with professionals and keep your line of communication open with them to expand the highway of possibilities for your child.
Here are a few delightful and educational activities to try:

Let’s Get Physical
Gross motor skills development is essential to children with autism. Some fun activities that will help them develop such skills include: playing in a pool; maneuvering through a simple obstacle course; having a disco party; sandbox playing; and working out or aerobics for children. The key here is for you (and perhaps other siblings) to join in the fun to help keep them safe while also developing social integration.

Unleashing the Artist Within
Some children with autism possess latent artistic talents waiting to be tapped. Your “little fidgety worm” might be the next Michelangelo or Van Gogh. Engaging him in activities like finger painting, clay sculpting, drawing with dry-erase markers, photography, collage, and working with mosaics. These will help themlearn about colors, textures, and other art elements and encourage more active sensory integration development.

Hit the Floor
 Floor-time activities such as reading books, listening to music, playing with toys, working with play dough, crumpling and tearing of paper, playing in a sandbox or a ball pool, are not just fun and entertaining but can also teach children with autism certain life skills and can improve behavioral, communication, and social issues. Subsequently, keeping their focus on these activities will lessen emotional triggers as they can easily get “fixated” on the “fun” side of the activity. The key here is to infuse story-telling and create meaningful interactions while having fun.

A Beautiful Mind
Mind games allow a child with ASD to think and grow. Guessing games, puppet shows, trivia, I-spy games, box o’ beans, and many more are just some of the usual games that both parent and child can enjoy. Visiting museums and places of interest can also make your child expand his knowledge of the world in which he’s living. With a hi-tech society, finding apps and software programs such as Starfall, Super Why!, Pop Math, Agnitus, Fruit Ninja, and many more can also prove helpful in shaping your child’s beautiful mind.