Apa Newsletter - Issue 20 (November 2016)

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Autism Parent’s Association

APA Newsletter November 2016

Message from Omar!

Inside this issue: Message from Omar!


Up Coming Events


Summer 2016 events


Holiday tips for kids with Autism IYAC Programme

coming Christmas activities. Our team is working really hard to organise several events targeted for the young one’s and youths. I would like to take this

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Autism Europe Interna- 7 tional Congress 2016 Book review AON: 2016 Volunteer Service Awards

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Dear Parents,

Hoping you are well.

opportunity to wish you and your loved ones all the

very best and hope to see you in our activities.

Here we are, with another issue of our popular News-

Wish you all a very well

letter. As always , we guar-

deserved Christmas break.

antee you will find a lot of

Christmas Craft


information, highlights, up-

APA Contacts


dates and most of all valuable tips for the upcoming season. In this issue you will find great emphasis on the up-

Until next time, take care.

APA Newsletter


Truly Accessible University 25th November 2016

APA Youth Programme More information regarding this programme may be found on page 5.

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Committee member Valerie Brincat will be representing the parents at a conference organized by the University of Malta, with the aim of identifying the barriers that students with Autism and other learning difficulties face in Tertiary Education.

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APA End of Summer B.B.Q.

APA Day by the Pool

Families enjoyed a relaxing evening at Buccaneers Lido.

APA Information talk and APA talk for parents and professionals: Looking beyond the behaviour

Guest speakers for the evening were Donna Sharland and Alistaire De Gaetano.

discussion with Catechists in Goz

APA representative Valerie Brincat helped catechists to understand Autism and to find better ways of supporting children during their lessons.

Autism Europe International Congress 2016 APA has represented it’s members at the XI International Autism-Europe Congress in Scotland. More information on page 7.

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Holiday Tips for Kids with Autism The holiday season is a joyful time of the year, but it also can be stressful for kids with autism spectrum disorders (ASD). Preparing and planning early for the holidays can help you relieve some of the holiday stress. Here are some ideas to help you and your child enjoy the holidays this year and every year.

Before a Holiday Event 

Practice sitting at the table with the plates, lighting and music before the holiday gathering.

Draw pictures about the holiday to help your child prepare for the events.

Eat holiday foods in advance to determine what your child does or does not like. Help them become

more comfortable with the food selection. Reflect on your holiday traditions and your child’s sensory and behavioral profile and how your child

will interact with these traditions. Prepare for the family environment. Will you be at grandma’s house? Another family member? Con-

sider preparing an area for your child to play, or a space for your child to decompress if they become overwhelmed by the sensory stimulation. Encourage other children or adults to join your child. Prepare an activity for your child, if you know they have an aversion to a particular holiday tradition.

Your child may not like loud noises, so take your child outside to play or have the children play games in another room. Talk to your occupational therapist for recommendations on how to prepare your child to handle the

noise of the holiday season. Take your child to a small holiday-themed store so they can look at lights prior to setting up a Christmas tree. Here are some things to think about: Are they attracted to the lights? Do they have an aversion to the lights? If so, do not use lights and add ribbons, paper chains and other festive touches. What is an alternative to having lights on your tree if your child has an aversion? Do you have glass ornaments and is your child safe with these? If not, consider only plastic ornaments.

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If your child doesn’t have fine motor skills, practice opening gifts. For example, have your child

wrap little fun objects and open them. Put pictures on the gifts instead of names because your child might not recognize everyone’s

names. Make a calendar so your child knows when the tree is coming and going to be packed up.

Count down when the gifts will be opened, “Ten days until we open gifts!”

Consider hiding gifts until it’s time to open.

Practice any expected behaviors in advance, like shaking hands with a guest, placing a napkin in a lap, etc.

Day-of Holiday Events 

Prepare your child’s favorite foods and snacks in case the child doesn’t like the holiday meal. If

you are going to another home, take your child’s favorite foods, music and snacks with you. Schedule an early dinner or eat in advance to a family get-together.

Reward your child throughout the event and reinforce positive behaviors.

Use ABA/floor time techniques: “First, we will do this,” “Second, we will do this,” etc.

Assign tasks that you feel your child can manage, so they can participate on some level.

Keep your eye on your child for signs of anxiety or distress. If your child is very active take them

to the park or a place where they can freely move to help them calm down. Take great care to be sensitive to your children’s sensory issues.

Creating a visual story (a series of pictures or drawings) before each holiday can help your child prepare for the day’s activities.

We hope this helps! All the very best for a peaceful Christmas from APA. Page 5

APA Newsletter


In Malta carers and guardians of children, adolescents and youths with an Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD) still find barriers when it comes to integrating their children in community activities. This is mostly due to false and negative stereotypes regarding persons with ASD, which in turn perpetuate inaccessibility and exclusion. The youths’ motivation to integrate is also affected by previous rejections and failures; thus, most prefer to remain in their comfort zone instead of looking forward to integration. In light of this, the Autism Parents Association (APA), in collaboration with St. Jean Antide Foundation, developed the programme Integrating Youths with Autism in the Community (IYAC), as part of the St. Jean Antide’s project: A Package of Outreach Services for Wellbeing. The programme targets youths with ASD, and its main aim is to provide a wide range of specific community activities so that youths can discover their options in society. Thus, twenty-five youths, with an ASD diagnosis and of whom the parents have applied by submitting a registration form, will benefit from the said program. The youths whose ages range from 14-27 were assessed by two psychologists using the Vineland-II Adaptive Behaviour Scales – Parent/Caregiver rating form on communication, living skills, socialisation and maladaptive behaviour. Following the psychologists’ suggestions, the youths were then divided in three groups: 1. Community Integration; 2. Community Exposure; 3. Community Skills. The programme shall run from October 2016 till June 2017. Youths in the community integration group will participate in activities together with other non-ASD individuals. The aim is to provide exposure to a wide range of activities while integrating with other persons/ youths in the community. In our programme, the word ‘integrating’ implies that a person interacts with someone else who does not have an ASD diagnoses. Therefore, other persons, who are not in the IYAC programme, would be participating together with the youths diagnosed with ASD during our planned activities. Such an intervention is also meant to target persons running activities and non ASD diagnosed youth in expanding their knowledge about ASD whilst reducing internalized stereotypes. The community exposure group aims to provide a variety of experiences in different settings but in contrast to the community integration group, participants are not engaged in an activity with other Non-ASD individuals. The community skills group main aim is to teach a number of community and social skills to youths with ASD while they are prepared for community exposure. Later in the programme, they will be exposed to some activities as well. A number of activity facilitators and professional volunteers will be assisting once every fortnight on Saturdays in the running of each activity, and where props related to each activity will be provided. This programme will definitely support the youths’ interests in a variety of community activities by increasing their options and possibilities both presently and in the future. Josnef Agius B.Psy (Hons) IYAC Youth Programme Coordinator

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Autism-Europe International congress 2016 Autism Europe in collaboration with the National Autistic Society proudly held an X1 international congress 2016 from the 16th to the 18th September in Edinburgh, UK. Sandra Borg and Valerie Brincat were the two parent committee members selected to represent the Autism Parents Association for this event which takes place every 3 years. On this occasion, people from all over the world come together to share the most recent developments across the field of Autism including diagnosis, early intervention, education, support, employment, rights and policies.

Sandra and Valerie were extremely overwhelmed with the abundance of information to their avail. Their

passion and willingness to transpose this information to Malta lead them to select the seminars and workshops they felt were most beneficial to Malta. Most of the workshops and oral posters presented were focusing mainly on how we can improve physical and mental health outcomes for individuals on the Autism spectrum. Following are a few highlights of the conference. A document with further information from the seminars and workshops experienced have been forwarded to APA by our parent representatives.

General: Autism today: what we do and don’t know; Building a participatory framework towards Autism research.

Education and Training: Autism training for educators; Helping ASD students progress in school; University provisions for students who have Autism; Mainstream schools strategies for teaching a Student who has Autism.

Employment: Making employment work.

Early intervention: The importance of early intervention; Settings for early intervention.

Parent training, Peer and family support: Experience of siblings; Parental empowerment; Parental stress and family support.

Well being and transitions: Sex education and relationship skills; Transitions to adulthood; People with Autism in police custody; Early death in Autism; Females with Autism and eating disorders; Managing eating difficulties in Autism.

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The Reason I Jump by Naoki Higashida (Author) You’ve never read a book like The Reason I Jump. Written by Naoki Higashida, a very smart, very self-aware, and very charming thirteen-year-old boy with autism, it is a one-of-a-kind memoir that demonstrates how an autistic mind thinks, feels, perceives, and responds in ways few of us can imagine. Parents and family members who never thought they could get inside the head of their autistic loved one at last have a way to break through to the curious, subtle, and complex life within. Using an alphabet grid to painstakingly construct words, sentences, and thoughts that he is unable to speak out loud, Naoki answers even the most delicate questions that people want to know. Questions such as: “Why do people with autism talk so loudly and weirdly?” “Why do you line up your toy cars and blocks?” “Why don’t you make eye contact when you’re talking?” and “What’s the reason you jump?” (Naoki’s answer: “When I’m jumping, it’s as if my feelings are going upward to the sky.”) With disarming honesty and a generous heart, Naoki shares his unique point of view on not only autism but life itself. His insights— into the mystery of words, the wonders of laughter, and the elusiveness of memory—are so startling, so strange, and so powerful that you will never look at the world the same way again. In his introduction, bestselling novelist David Mitchell writes that Naoki’s words allowed him to feel, for the first time, as if his own autistic child was explaining what was happening in his mind. “It is no exaggeration to say that The Reason I Jump allowed me to round a corner in our relationship.” This translation was a labor of love by David and his wife, KA Yoshida, so they’d be able to share that feeling with friends, the wider autism community, and beyond. Naoki’s book, in its beauty, truthfulness, and simplicity, is a gift to be shared.

Aon’s 2016 Volunteer Service Awards Sandra Borg from the Aon Captive and Insurance Management office in Malta is one of the five winners of Aon’s 2016 Volunteer Service Awards. Following a call for submissions on Aon Avenue earlier this year, the Malta team agreed to nominate Sandra for her hard work in setting up the Autism Parents Association – Malta. Sandra is the founder of the Association in Malta and was the Association’s President until 2013. Through her work and skill at Aon, Sandra ensures

that the Aon value provided to clients is transposed within the organization. On winning the award, Sandra said 'I made it my mission to help other parents understand the diagnosis, and help remove the barriers that people with autism face in society. I was extremely pleased that my local colleagues appreciated the voluntary work I was doing locally; and even more honoured when I received the email to say I was one of the winners. I will be donating the cash prize to the Autism Parents Association -Malta during one of our events.

APA would like to thank Rational Gaming Europe Ltd. for sponsoring a parent representative to attend the Autism Europe International Congress 2016,through their global corporate giving program “Helping Hands”.

Mini Christmas Wreath 1.

Cut out a circle out of cardboard. Place a few of the pegs around the circle and trace the inside circle. Take the pegs off and cut out the center of the wreath.


If you need to paint and/or glitter your pegs, do that now. Once your pegs are ready, have your child place them around the wreath.


Cut a piece of ribbon for the bow and hook to attach the ornament to the tree. Use a glue gun to attack the bow to the front of the wreath. Make a loop from the other piece of ribbon and attach to the back of the wreath for a hook.

Your kids will have so much fun making these, they won’t notice that they are building their fine motor skills by squeezing open the pegs!

Contacts: Parent Support Aides Autism: (General)

Mrs. Valerie Brincat

7928 5438

Autism: (Youths)

Ms Alexandra Borg

9942 7839 (After 5pm)

Ms Marica Saliba

7906 0300

Mrs Joanne Sciberras

9955 1337

Autism: (Gozo)

Autism Parent’s Association P.O. Box 30 Marsa

Visit our WEBSITE!

Mob: + 356 7928 5438

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Memberships For those of you who haven’t sent in their renewal or if you would like to become a new member, we kindly ask you to fill the application form (www.autismparentsassociation.com) and send it to the address noted in the form together with €10 for your membership. All money collected from memberships and donations received go towards the Association’s expenses, which include the printing of leaflets and the organization of activities for parents and children. Financial statements, outlining all income and expenses for the past years will be presented at the Annual General Meeting, and published on the APA website.

Parents with lots of experience and brilliant ideas are ready to answer your questions!! Hope to see you

Donations Donations are welcome and appreciated. You can help us by sending cheques payable to Autism Parent’s Association

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