Kids & Family

A community of advocates linked by autism and bound by strength.

Episodes

EPISODE 11:

As many people in the autism community know, inclusion is a large and important topic. Art is also a topic that comes up in many conversations. But what about inclusion in the arts? In today’s episode, we’re speaking with Kelsey Brown. She is a speech-language pathology student, access advocate, and children’s book author. She currently resides in Boston, MA where she is a Master’s candidate in Communication Disorders at Emerson College, and is interning with the Augmentative Communication Program at Boston Children’s Hospital. She has also spent the last year as the Access and Inclusion Apprentice at Imagination Stage.

 

BIO

Kelsey Brown is a speech-language pathology student, access advocate, and children's book author. Originally hailing from Lexington, KY, Kelsey currently resides in Boston, MA where she is a Master's candidate in Communication Disorders (Emerson College). When not studying, writing reports, or promoting her book, Kelsey enjoys seeing theatre, reading, and eating tacos.

A graduate of The University of Georgia with degrees in Theatre and Communication Sciences and Disorders, Kelsey currently interns with the Augmentative Communication Program at Boston Children's Hospital as well as the Access Champions Podcast and spent the last year as the Access and Inclusion Apprentice at Imagination Stage. When she grows up, Kelsey wants to split her time as a practicing Speech-Language Pathologist and Art Access Consultant.

​In addition to her work in communication disorders and arts access, Kelsey has teamed up with her best friend and illustrator Joseph Wrightson to write a book! Come On, Calm! is a whimsical new children's book encouraging readers of all abilities to self soothe through sensory and breathing tasks.

 

CONCLUSION

Inclusion in the arts is so important for artists and performers with disabilities. Every artist, no matter what their background or disability, can share their diverse range of experiences and talents with others. Every artist can be celebrated, and we can all learn about and appreciate their gifts.

 

For more information on Kelsey’s book, please visit: http://kelseyrosebrown.com/comeoncalm.html

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EPISODE 10:

Raising children on the autism spectrum has its challenges, its rewards, good days and bad days. Perhaps, as a parent, you’ve often questioned yourself on what life would be like if your child was not on the spectrum, and if you would even want that. On today’s episode, we’re speaking with Chana Bennett. She’s the mother to twin boys that are on the autism spectrum, and last year she was also diagnosed with Autism Spectrum Disorder. Chana is now advocating for others, and advocating for herself.

 

CHANA’S BIO

There was a time when it was thought by experts that the high-functioning autistic female didn't exist. I am here to tell you that is not the case. I am 38 years old, and I found out that I have Autism Spectrum Disorder last year.

My life has been hard, but my struggles were seemingly imaginary to the world around me, until recently. This discovery, that I am Autistic, came after both of my 2-year-old fraternal twin sons were diagnosed with severe Autism late in the summer of 2016. It was a confusing time. I did tons of research on Autism after the twins were diagnosed, but I was only focused on my boys.

I wasn't aware that Autism presents differently in boys and girls until mid-2017. It was information that changed my life. I recognized myself in the research I was doing about females with Autism. The Mental Health Community had mislabeled me many things over the years, but Autism was never mentioned.

As a matter of fact, no one had ever mentioned Autism to me in any capacity until it was about my kids. When I talked to my mental healthcare team about my concerns that I was Autistic, they pretty much disregarded me.

It took a lot of searching to find someone to see me about an Autism Assessment for myself. It wasn't easy, but I am fairly persistent so in June of 2018 I was tested for Autism Spectrum Disorder. The results were conclusive that I do, indeed, have Autism.

It was upsetting in a way and relieving in another way. I was finally able to focus on getting the proper help.

I was soon to find out that there aren't many women like myself. Most of the professionals I have talked to in the Autism Community have rarely seen anyone like me. This is frustrating, so I have made it my mission to advocate for women like me to help inform people of the gender differences in High-Functioning Autism, mainly because I have had little luck finding information out there with which I can relate that has current relevance.

I hope that this introductory insight into my world can help other women like me, and their families create an accepting environment where talents can be discovered and utilized. I don’t claim to know everything, but I know what it is like to be me, and I am learning to accept it. Not only am I becoming more comfortable with myself, but I am thriving as a mother, partner, and overall human being.

This will benefit my family and the Autism Community as a whole because I am now advocating for changes in the treatment of Autistic People in the Metro-Denver Mental Health System.

 

CONCLUSION

No matter what your journey, and how hard and frustrating it may be, know that there are many people out there on a similar journey. Maybe they’re on a different path. Perhaps they are making different choices. But at the end of the day, isn’t it everyone’s goal to reach the same destination? Happiness. Acceptance. Inclusion. To love and to be loved. Thanks for being a part of My Autism Tribe.

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EPISODE 9:

The Webster’s dictionary definition of “Community” is: a feeling of fellowship with others, as a result of sharing common attitudes, interests, and goals.

 

When building a community in the classroom, students are able to come together as a class to work towards the common goal of learning. It helps students feel valued and connected to the teacher and other students in their class.

 

In today’s episode, we will be speaking with Lynn Shebat, a teacher for over 30 years with a Master’s degree in Special Education. She is the author of soon to be published “Connections: A Journey in Love and Autism” with 1010 Publishers.

 

She is a mother of three daughters, and a new granddaughter. Her youngest was diagnosed with autism after she had been teaching for over 17 years, specializing in ABA and Autism with severe behaviors.

 

Currently, she is a Preschool Special Needs teacher, and was recognized as “Teacher of the Year, 2018”.

  

COMMUNITY IN THE CLASSROOM

What is community in the classroom and what does it look like with our population of children on the spectrum?

 

“In my class, I make a big effort to teach even the " littles", a sense of responsibility as well as inter-personal responsibility. This could look like sharing or turn taking or even clean up time. The secret is in the collective structure of the activity.

 

To a child, turn taking or sharing can be the strategy used to gain access to a preferred item, but as Teachers and caretakers we need to structure this learning moment to be a participation in a shared play opportunity with a peer or family member.

 

In the home it could look like helping out with household chores.  I have my daughter assisting with all the basics of grocery shopping, running errands, and I started this when she was three. Now, she is eighteen so the function and her ability has increased.

 

With household chores, I purposely try to make even loading the washing machine a shared activity followed by a break or fun activity like making a snack. I do this to provide her with a feeling of helping me, participating in life duties, and giving her a part in the makings of our home.

 

If you think about it, all daily activities can be turned into shared activities with a functional purpose.” – Lynn Shebat

 

BENEFITS:

  • Students increase their sense of safety, belong, and self-esteem
  • There is inclusion for all students
  • Children are exposed to lessons in positive values, respect, and responsibility
  • Collaborative learning encourages positive and fulfilling relationships with others
  • A child’s social, emotional, and academic competence is promoted
  • Students tend to be more concerned about others
  • They are more skilled at resolving conflict than others who were not a part of a classroom community
  • Healthy conflict resolution skills results in students learning to cooperate in society in their future
  • Meets their need to bond
  • Creates an anti-bullying environment
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EPISODE 8:

Perhaps you have found that the presence of autism in your life has expanded your mind in ways you never thought possible. Before I was a parent, I thought I knew how it worked. Fast forward just 5 years, and I’m now parenting in a way that I never thought I would. My son, my pride and joy, has taught me a few tricks along the way.

 

On today’s episode, I’m speaking with fellow autism mom Alicia Rasmussen on a few of the traditions she has established on her non-traditional journey. Her journey with autism began in 2006 when her four-year old son was first diagnosed. He is now a thriving teenager, an accomplished musician, who is currently studying Japanese, Korean, and French simultaneously, in addition to learning Danish. He’s travel the world as an exchange student and is planning on attending college to study music or further his language studies.

  

SUMMARY

Everyone deserves to have their gifts developed and nurtured in a way that leads to personal fulfillment and positive outcomes.

Some of the more traditional tips incorporate into your daily lives may include: 

  1. First/Then

    1. Depending on your needs and the skill set of your child, you can do this verbally, or with pictures. “First we clean up, then we can play.”
  2. Timers
    1. Your child may need a 5-minute or even a 1-minute warning before there is a transition to a new activity. This helps a child feel more in control without controlling the parent.
  3. Reward Positive Behavior
    1. It’s really important to recognize behaviors that a child usually struggles with! Sharing, following directions, being quiet. With positive affirmation, you can let the children know their behaviors were noticed.
  4. Focus On “Positive Speak”
    1. Instead of telling your child what you DON’T want them to do, tell them what you DO want them to do.
  5. Lead By Example
    1. They’re looking at you to set the example for behavior. Even if you don’t feel calm, try to make sure that your behavior represents calm in sometimes-difficult situations.
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