About me

I am a wife and mother to 3 beautiful children. I work full time as an Instructor Therapist teaching children diagnosed with ASD.
This blog came to life after repeated requests from many of my clients to design a blog about Autism.
I hope that you find some inspiration, lessons and thoughts to help you through this journey with your beautiful child.

Sunday, January 22, 2012

Autism Diagnosis Revisions

The American Psychiatric Association is updating the current diagnosis requirements for Autism Spectrum Disorders. This update will be completed this year and will be implemented for 2013.

Below is the DSM-5 Development Tool that is used for practitioners to diagnose children on the spectrum.

This seems to be causing some controversy within the industry for parents with children on the spectrum and for those of us that treat these children. The cost of these therapies is a great concern for the governments in North America, and so this is a way for them to try and narrow these requirements for expenditures.


Tuesday, November 22, 2011


Eating for children with Autism is usually an extremely difficult task. Often sensory, tactile and oral motor control plays a huge factor in eating preferences and choices for children with ASD. Sensory means: taste, texture, visual, smell/odor, color, shape. Some children with ASD will only eat beige crunchy foods. While other's will only eat wet sweet foods. If they eat a "variety" of different foods, then there is often a ritual that goes with it.

 I had a client that only liked Pizza Hut pizza. The parents actually brought the boxes home and tried to put a different pizza inside and then would pretend to have it delivered! Guess what? He knew and would not touch it! It was still peperoni with cheese, but not what he was used too!

Tactile: this means the feeling of it in their fingers. Many children with Autism have tactile sensitivity that can make touching items a very negative and aversive experience.

Oral Motor: this is muscle tone in the mouth. Many children with Autism have low muscle tone in the mouth which contributes to eating and trouble with speech. The sucking, chewing and working the mouth muscle's and tongue can be very challenging. This becomes too much work for the child, and so they choose not to eat those foods.

Parents with children with Autism have a great deal of difficulty stepping away from the stomach. As parents, we want our children to eat and be healthy, so this often tears at our heart strings. Often times too, behaviours and tantrums can be directly related to nutrition and lack there of. If a non-verbal child is hungry but can't tell you this, that may "act out" as a way of communication.

Introducing new foods can be a huge challenge and cause behaviours to occur as well. Because of this, many parents will continue to feed the child what is "comfortable" and preferred so that they will eat. Without a negative intent from the parents...this can continue to cause and reinforce the child's rigid eating patterns.

Having a child with Autism has many challenges. Offering new foods and exposing children to these at a very young age is often the best approach, for any child. This doesn't work with every child though, and so you may need some assistance with eating-nutrition from a team of specialists including: behaviour therapist, occupational therapist, doctor, nutritionist and family and friends.

Monday, October 24, 2011

Autism Apps

So today I am talking about Autism Apps!!

 I LOVE the fact that these amazing tools are available to assist our children to learn. Many children (typical or not) find these devices extremely motivating.They can become a very necessary tool across many domains and allow non-verbal people to be able to communicate more effectively through the help of these apps.

I have put together a number of great apps from itunes. We know that there are a ton of fantastic apps out there for you to choose from. Here is just a list of some that are available through itunes.


 Fist Then Visual Schedule
MyTalk Mobile icomm
Word SLapPs
Model me going places
First words
SLP Field Kit
ABA Therapy Images
Choice Board Maker
Communicating Basic Needs App
Dance Party Zoo
Grace Picture Xchange for non-verbal people
Speech with Milo:verbs
Splingo's Language Universe
Talking Cards for iPad
TapSpeak choice for iPad
Touch and say
Touch talking
Visual Prompts board
Augie AAC

Some other amazing Autism Apps:

Thursday, October 20, 2011

Understanding unspoken language

I am writing today about understanding, reading and observing unspoken language. This means pre-verbal communication skills: Gestures, facial expressions, posture, behaviour, verbal utterances or approximations.

Throughout my career as an Instructor Therapist I have seen my fair share of behaviours with children diagnosed with ASD. Melt-downs, screaming, kicking, biting, spitting, hitting, punching, scratching, flopping, head banging, crying, pushing and self injurious behaviours. I have been taken down by behavioural 3 year old and suffered black eyes, bruises, cuts and scrapes and a sore body to go along with it!

Now there are two ways of looking at this. The first one is the behavioural approach. This is when we just deal with the behaviour that is presented. So for example the child starts hitting another child, then we would correct that behaviour. Behaviour intervention is a huge part of what we do from day to day. Teaching these children to handle these situations in a better way. For some children, this might mean removing them from the situation, as it becomes a safety issue for the people around. For others, we use special techniques to help the child to stop acting out. Sometimes, we have to simply ignore that behaviour because it is attention seeking.

The second and almost more important approach is the antecedent. What happened to cause this? What does it mean? What is the child trying to tell us? How do I help them?
This part for me...is much more important. Most often a child will demonstrate some sort of "sign" through pre-verbal skills that something is wrong. Their body language changes, they start to get agitated, eyes change, their focus becomes clouded. The hardest part for most people is "seeing" this and being aware that something is not right...before the behaviour occurs.

We all need to remember that for many of these more behavioural children, verbal communication is limited. They don't have the verbal skills to communicate their frustrations, feelings, thoughts or desires. For these children, they are communicating the best way that they know how to. It has worked for them up to now, and so they continue.

For a therapist, we have to "read" and try to figure out what is going on with the child...and hopefully prevent violent behaviours before they occur. This can be a huge challenge if you have not connected with the child. Even if you have connected and paired with the child and built a solid relationship...this can still be difficult. Paying attention, reading the non-verbal cues and observing is critical for some success to occur.

Even with all of this, behaviours will likely still occur. The hope is that they decrease, or become less intense as the child better learns to cope and communicate.

Monday, October 17, 2011


Affect is such an important part of teaching children diagnosed with Autism. Affect is tapping into the child's interests and desires and using them to teach and build engagement. Affect builds excitement and interest for the child, keeping them motivated and interested.

Children with Autism most often have challenges with human connections and social situations and communication. We first need to be interested in what the child is interested in...if we want to somehow get them involved in our world.

We need to observe.

We need to join. Join the child in the activity that the child is interested in.

Find out what items or activities bring happiness and joy. Make note of it.

Knowing the child and what makes them happy, is what will help them to learn. If the child loves dinosaurs...then use dinosaurs to teach. If the child loves balls...then use balls to teach skills.

Embedding skills and tasks with these materials helps to keep the child motivated and having fun.

 An increase of engagement, social interactions, vocal communication, requests, imitation, eye contact and play based activities and appropriate behaviours can be achieved using affect.

Building affect into your child's day will increase your child's enjoyment and yours! 

Wednesday, October 12, 2011


I hope that you all took the opportunity to be thankful for all of the special people in your lives.

Despite the sometimes crazy and overwhelming days, we need to stop and take a well deserved breath and be thankful!

The people that are in our lives are here for a reason. We will learn magical lessons and receive gifts from each one...if you allow your heart to be open.

I am Thankful!