There are two categories of play activities: structured and unstructured. But what is the difference, and which is more beneficial for children with special needs like autism? Unstructured play is any activity designated as “free play” or “free time.” This category of play is completely child-led, without instruction from an adult. Unstructured play also does

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in Autism Parenting Advice by Liz Talton

The issue of racism has come strongly to the forefront of the news. More individuals are beginning to take a closer look at their own views surrounding issues associated with racism. Here are ten simple tips for explaining racism to your own child with autism: Don’t wait: Begin the conversation early It is not necessary

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in Autism Parenting Advice by Ron Malcolm, EdD

As parents, we want our kids to catch up—“fixing” those parts that will make them stand out or struggle to keep them in the game. We work tirelessly to build those skills that we fear will cause others to exclude them, to weed out those quirks that may make other kids walk away, or to

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in Autism Parenting Advice by Emily Daniels, MSW, RP, Med

Does the idea of holiday travel as an autism parent fill you with dread? Check out these top tips tried and tested by a busy mom. In the autism world of parenting, the worries that accompany holiday travel can be overwhelming; I mean, just traveling in general is stressful, but when you tackle on the holidays,

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in Autism Parenting Advice by JC Ellinger, MBA

Two specialists offer their top tips for parents preparing to tell their child about his/her autism diagnosis. “I think we need to tell our son about his autism, but we aren’t sure what to say.” Does this sentence sound familiar? Parents can be downright terrified of the “talk”—and it’s no wonder.  Autism is complex and the language

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in Autism Parenting Advice by Debby Elley and Tori Houghton

“I loved my middle school years,” said no one I know, ever. Being a teenager is hard, there is no doubt about that. But let’s be real here: the preteen years are even harder. Puberty takes over your body physically and hormonally and, if you’re like me, you have to transition from a traditional elementary

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in Autism Parenting Advice by Claudia Addeo, MS

Find out how offering Structured Choices to your child with autism can lead to easier and happier parent-child interactions. Are you interested in improving engagement and communication with a child with autism? Would you like to learn a specific strategy, or do you prefer a philosophical approach? If you chose a specific strategy, you have

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in Autism Parenting Advice by Colette McNeil, MPsych

Caregivers of children with autism devote so much time and much needed support to their loved ones, they can be susceptible to burnout as a result. This article offers some tips for arranging time for self-care and what to do once you’ve got it.  If you are a caregiver of a child with autism spectrum

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in Autism Parenting Advice by Shazeen Ahmad, MA

A year ago, if you had told me a raging pandemic would sweep across the globe, all schools would be closed, and parents would wind up holding down full-time jobs while simultaneously supervising their kids’ education, all from the comfort of their living rooms, I’d have told you to check the small print on your

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in Autism Parenting Advice by Ruthangela Bernadette

Grandparents are an integral part of family dynamics. Children with autism need to realize the importance grandparents play in their lives. They need to see them as a resource for assistance and advice. Sense of family and belonging The presence of grandparents provides a child with autism a special sense of family and belonging in

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in Autism Parenting Advice by Ron Malcolm, EdD

Anything can happen in one hour. Just imagine what can happen in 8,760 hours. That is one year’s time. We all know that with our ASD kiddos, the smallest accomplishment is nevertheless huge. But how do you keep all of the great feats safe and close to your heart for times to come? How can

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in Autism Parenting Advice by Patricia Wigginton

There is a path less traveled that leads to profound personal and spiritual growth for those who are courageous enough to keep walking—through. I wrote my book, Strong and Courageous: Encouragement for Families Touched by Autism, to help parents and families feel understood and cared for as they begin their journey of parenting a child

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in Autism Parenting Advice by Stephanie Murphy, LMFT

Many children will approach their parents in hopes of getting a pet. Children with autism are no different. Busy parents raising an autistic child may wonder why they would want to introduce an additional responsibility into their home while trying to juggle all of the needs of their child. Here are 11 ways adding a

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in Autism Parenting Advice by Ron Malcolm, EdD

Parenting is the world’s hardest job!  It comes with immense responsibility in which you are on call 24/7, incessantly worrying, and using all your time and energy working at a “real job” without getting a real paycheck. Parenting a child with autism is 100 times more stressful and exhausting because you are not only dealing

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in Autism Parenting Advice by Annette Nuñez, PhD

I will always be grateful to my aunt, an occupational therapist, for being the first one to suggest that a person in my life may be on the autism spectrum. He had no language delay, and a normal IQ, which I incorrectly believed ruled out autism. I was ignorant and in complete denial, which unfortunately,

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in Autism Parenting Advice by Heidi Zuniga, MA, MSLS

Words are powerful! Words affect every aspect of your body from the way you think, to the way you feel, to your actions. From the time you wake up to the time you go to sleep your inner dialogue is on autopilot and you are continuously talking to yourself. The majority of the time we

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in Autism Parenting Advice by Annette Nuñez, PhD

Today I am sitting, once again, deconstructing my own parenting. It’s a common theme—should I have done this? Why didn’t I do that? I feel filled with doubts and questions—I feel pathetic. I am a 45-year-old woman with a degree in psychology; a dissertation written on autism and a job teaching people about self-regulation and

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in Autism Parenting Advice by Rachel Jackson

That moment when you realize your child isn’t the only family member on the spectrum… So, adults can be on the spectrum. And so can women. Two profound sentences that really shouldn’t be quite so profound, but we continue to be amazed when we find women on the spectrum. Here is a typical scenario in

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in Autism Parenting Advice by Rachel Bédard, PhD

All three of us are parents (each of us have two kids) and educators who are aware of the need for guidance when posting about parenting on social media. We have all found social media helpful when attempting to connect with others (e.g., family, friends, other parents) but have also been hurt by posts from

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in Autism Parenting Advice by Margaret M. Quinlan, PhD

After getting a diagnosis, parents often ask me how they should tell their child that they have autism spectrum disorder (ASD). Many struggle with how outsiders will view their child, worry that the information will be confusing or upsetting, fear that their child might use ASD as a crutch, or simply wonder just how useful

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in Autism Parenting Advice by Emily Daniels, MSW, RP, Med

We all know having an autistic child can be a challenge—in fact, it can even be stressful at times. But can it be a gift? Can you use the fact your child has autism to your advantage? Absolutely. By understanding him or her, you can have a better relationship with your child not just as

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in Autism Parenting Advice by Ryan Larson, BChE

Like any technology, electronic devices are a mixed bag of benefits and downsides. While they do offer an endless world of educational resources, their overuse may harm your child’s cognitive health. For example, one recent study found too much screen time shortens the attention spans of teenagers. And for children on the autism spectrum, digital

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in Autism Parenting Advice by Hilary Thompson

When a child is diagnosed with autism, the parents will be asked detailed questions about how their son or daughter is different from other children. In considering their reply, parents may reflect on whether the characteristic being described was apparent in their own childhood. If the behavior, difficulty, or ability was a part of their

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in Autism Parenting Advice by Prof. Tony Attwood, PhD

One wouldn’t think you need superior negotiating skills to plan a family vacation, but that’s the case when dealing with my husband. I suggest beautiful vacation destinations, with hotels that offer childcare services, only to hear “No way!” And why is that? Because Lorenzo, our non-verbal, young adult son has autism and according to Tony,

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in Autism Parenting Advice by Deanna Picon

While a great deal of research can be found on how autism symptoms affect a child diagnosed with autism spectrum disorder (ASD) and interventions to manage these symptoms, there is far less research addressing how autism symptoms affect the marital relationship. What limited research there is on the topic primarily reports negative outcomes for married

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in Autism Parenting Advice by Brook McKay, LLP

Happiness­­–a term notoriously difficult to define. What exactly is happiness? A short-term experience? A longer-term state of mind? Are people born happy or is it something that can be cultivated? It’s a hard-enough question to consider even among the neurotypical population. What might make one person very happy (going to a football match, for example)

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in Autism Parenting Advice by Victoria Honeybourne

The time has come! Summer is winding down, and it is that of year when your kids need to start preparing themselves to go back to school.  As a parent, you have mixed emotions about starting the new school year. On the one hand, you are excited to have some “me” time again.  However, on

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in Autism Parenting Advice by Annette Nuñez, PhD

When most people think of special needs kids and serving, they naturally assume that the recipients of the service are the special needs kids themselves. As history is proof, that is generally the case. People volunteer at Special Olympics. They are a “buddy” to a child at a school or on a sports league geared

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in Autism Parenting Advice by Tara Bertic

Ah, theme parks! Whether it’s Disney World, Universal Studios, or some manifestation of National Lampoon’s Walley World, theme parks are a family vacation hot-spot. But when your child has special needs the crowds, noise, and lines may make this kind of destination seem off limits. Growing up with a younger sister who has severe autism,

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in Autism Parenting Advice by Jenna Kopec

Diagnosis often brings with it clarity of thought. We are given an explanation and often concrete actions in the shape of therapy. A lot of therapy. We take our child to so much therapy that our clarity becomes lost in the fog of scheduling, implementing, analyzing, assessing, researching, changing, and repeating that cycle. Then one

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in Autism Parenting Advice by Rita Roem

Incontinence in autism comes with its own unique set of daily challenges. Comforting and supporting your child, preparing for accidents, and avoiding sensory triggers may leave you exhausted at the end of the day. On top of that, you may soon have travel coming up. However, traveling with incontinence is not impossible, but is actually

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in Autism Parenting Advice by Cheryl Williams

As the end of winter inches closer, just about everyone starts counting down the days until spring break, kids and parents alike. And while there’s excitement about the vacation from school, there are also some very valid reasons why parents of kids on the autism spectrum or with various sensory issues may also have some

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in Autism Parenting Advice by Brit Smart, MEd

My marriage almost ended. The daily stress and energy expended to advocate for and raise my active and unusual child on the autism spectrum led to complete exhaustion and meltdown. There was simply nothing left for anyone else, including my spouse. Hyper-focus on my son’s well-being, coupled with differences between my partner and me in

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in Autism Parenting Advice by Emily Daniels, MSW, RP, Med

Receiving a diagnosis of autism can be so earth-shattering that it’s sometimes hard to see past it. There is so much information to process and so much to do. Your brain is on overdrive, and your child is at the forefront the whole time. It’s so easy to forget yourself—let alone your partner. Your partner,

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in Autism Parenting Advice by Tara Leniston

The phone rings, I pick up, and a dear friend asks if I am coming to the potluck tonight. I say thank you, and I wish I could, but I am terribly swamped tonight and perhaps another time. What I don’t say is, my son is having a bad day, he is on his tenth

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in Autism Parenting Advice by Kimberly Reeves, MEd

It’s the end of the evening and you’re packing your child’s book bag for the next school day, when you notice a medium-sized piece of red construction paper at the bottom of the bag.  As you reach down and pull the paper out, a smile crosses your face because of what you find—a little, heart-shaped

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in Autism Parenting Advice by Deanna Picon

What does your holiday season look like? Does your family participate in a large family gathering far away, or do you prefer something quieter and more personal close to home? Are you relaxed during the festivities or do you spend the whole day stressed out wishing for a few minutes of calm and understanding? As

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in Autism Parenting Advice by Amy KD Tobik

The images show representative neurons from unaffected brains (left) and brains from autistic patients (right); the spines on the neurons indicate the location of synapses. (Image: Guomei Tang and Mark S. Sonders/CUMC) When I began to suspect my son had autism, I had no idea how to connect or communicate with him. I was terrified

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in Autism Parenting Advice by Noelle Shaundel

I have a 13-year-old son with autism and have been trying to learn how to work with him, to understand him, and I just don’t get it.  When I’m at home, he just wants to pick a fight with me, and then when I walk away from him, he wants to follow me. Please help!—Troy

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in Autism Parenting Advice by Angelina M., MS, BCBA, LMFT

Dedicated to Rebecca  My name is Dr. Sharon Link-Wyer. I studied the lived experiences of mothers of children with high functioning autism (HFA) for my dissertation. While some aspects of the autism parenting phenomenon had been highlighted before I wrote my dissertation, none of the studies fully explained the phenomenon of maternal experiences as a

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in Autism Parenting Advice by Sharon Link, PhD