Apa newsletter august 2014 issue 15

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Autism Parent‟s Association

APA Newsletter August 2014

Inside this issue: Message from Omar!


Up Coming Events


Events So far


Back to School 4 for Children with Autism.

A real life story from a person with autism








Book Review - 6 The Reason I Jump: One Boy‟s Voice from the Silence of Autism.

Message from Omar!

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take this opportunity to encourage you to attend. As you can see, we are trying our best to push this forward, however, “We need your support” to achieve our objectives.

Dear Parents,

Enjoy this newsletter and as always "Help Us Help You"

Here we go again...

All the very best.

We are delighted to bring you another issue full of information, activities and much more…

Omar Farrugia

Since the previous update, the committee has working tirelessly to make sure “Awareness & Support come first”, this is why we have decided to include a resume of monthly activities. We would like to bring to your attention, that attendance during the talks have been decreasing and would like to

President - APA

APA Newsletter

Up Coming Events Playgrounds

We are please to announce that the playgrounds are open and running. All except that of Fgura due to some minor works in progress. Invite your friends and families to join you while your children are playing in a safe area. Bring your toys, bikes, pets, etc... The hours are the following: St. Paul's Bay Primary School Fridays 6pm - 9pm and Saturdays 9am till noon

Channel: Favorite Channel Speakers: Dr. Rita Micallef, Valerie Brincat & Dr. Paul Bartolo. „Indigo u Dizabilta‟ Program When: Thursday 21st August, 2014. Time: 5:40pm to 7:15pm Channel: One Productions Discussion and points of view from parents and family members of ASD children. Mum‟s Night Out

Attard, Marsaxlokk Primary Schools Fridays 6pm - 9pm, Saturdays 6pm to 9pm, Sundays and Public Holidays 9am to noon Xewkija Primary School (Gozo) Fridays 6pm - 9pm and Saturdays 9am till noon Sensory Friendly Cinema Screening

Gozo Seminars Topic: “IEP Goal Banking for the Student with Autism.” When: Friday 12th September, 2014. Time: from 5:00pm to 8:00pm Where: Multimedia Room, Victoria Boys Secondary School. Speakers: Dr. Rita Micallef, Mrs. Connie Magro and VIPs. ---------Topic: “Disability Information GOZO.” When: Saturday 20th September, 2014. MLSA Meeting When: Wednesday 13th August, 2014. “Bejnietna l-Hbieb” Program When: Wednesday 20th August, 2014.

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Time: 8:30pm

Where: Victoria Boys Secondary School. Events - Dates to be Advised * Walk for Autism * Inspire Talk


* Sibling Psychology

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Events So Far…. April to August

15/05/2014 - „l-Familja Fis-Socjeta: Sfidi u Opportunitajiet‟ conference at Verdala Palace (APA attend01/04/2014 - Dr Carlo Ricci Seminar in collabora- ed to express their concerns, opinions and suggestions); tion with APA and Equal Partners; April Events

02/04/2014 - Meeting with Parliamentary Secretary Justyn Caruana;

16/05/14 - Homepathy Talk; 22/05/2014 - APA Committee Meeting. June Events

03/06/2014 - Autism Awareness at Zejtun Secondary School for Staff Members; 02/04/2014 Light It Up Blue Ceremony;

13/06/2014 - Autism Europe Meeting, Brussels;

25/04/2014 - Handaq Boys Secondary School Au25/06/2014 - ESF3.105 Promoting the Social Inclusion tism Awareness Talk; of Disabled Persons with Challenging Behaviour Closing Conference (APA attended to express their concerns, opinions and suggestions). July Events

01/07/2014 - Press Conference at Xewkija Gozo Playground : Re-Opening of Playgrounds and Promotion of hours; 10/07/2014 - APA Committee Meeting; 27/04/2014 - Autism Fun Day at Mdina Pitch. May Events

31/07/2014 - Recording of „Indigo u Dizabilita‟ Program on One Productions. August Events

02/08/2014 - Day by the Pool.

06/05/2014 - Marigold presentation of APA donation for Autism Europe Membership, Valletta;

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APA Newsletter

Back to School for Children with Autism

Tips for Reducing the Stress associated with Back to School By Dr. Peter Faustino, School Psychologist The summer can be an opportunity to recharge and break from school routines, which is why September is often viewed as a mixed blessing. Parents of children with ASD are always trying to plan and prepare ahead of time. Unfortunately, we can‟t account for every detail but here are a few tips for reducing the stress associated with back to school. Tip#1: Say Hello to the School Again Greetings are such a big focus of the work we all do with children on the spectrum. And yet, it is the very thing we sometimes take for granted ourselves. Make time to meet and greet the key people in your child‟s school for the upcoming year. Regular communication with the school is essential, so be sure to say hello again. Start by seeing if a school professional can help you with just the little things at first: a visit to the school before it opens, practicing the combination of the lockers, a schedule of the times that things will happen at school, or some guidance on the key things to be learned in that year. It is best to start with small requests before you ask for the big favors as the year progresses (things like helping with the school bus, setting up some peer buddies, or managing a bully). Once you find a school professional that is a good listener then you can begin to explain the nuances of your child. Help them understand who your son or daughter is beyond what can be gleamed from an IEP. Tip#2: Begin the Adjustment Try to adjust your child‟s environment to resemble the back to school schedule. Start by highlighting a calendar to show your child when school starts. Then begin to adjust your bedtime and morning routines slowly so that they mimic the school schedule. This will help you avoid a September shock. Even if your child wakes, gets dressed and then falls asleep again – the rehearsal of the morning routine should save you stress when the first day arrives. Also try to plan lunch and snack time activities similar to the school schedule. If your body physically adjusts, then it will be easier to adjust emotionally as well. Think of it as jet lag for school – you will need a few days or weeks to completely acclimate, so start now. Also if there is time, select some educational topics that your child might be

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covering this year. Whether it be the IEP goals that will be addressed or some „curriculum‟ related topics. Exposing your child to these things ahead of time can be of great benefit. Just don‟t get frustrated or upset if your child is having difficulty at first. The learning curve is the steepest upon first exposure, so just remind yourself that you are making the task easier for when he/she starts school – there is no need to master the activity in August. Tip#3: The Schoolyard Hook All developmental age ranges and genders have what I call a “Social Skills Hook.” This is something or several things that other boys and girls are interested in that your child can use as a connection to others. Opportunities are everywhere but we need to maximize those windows of social connections. While most children with ASD have varying degrees of restricted interests, you can still find a way to meld their particular interest into something social - then you have the hook. If possible, visit the playground or recess area of the school (if it is a high school then the cafeteria or commons area where young adults hang out), to practice and rehearse the hook. If you are having a hard time finding a connection to peers then ask one of the school professionals for some guidance. They can sometimes facilitate an interaction and then offer you some advice on the best ways to maintain those interactions throughout the school year. And finally… Tip #4: Stay Positive Living with autism can be overwhelming; it is all too easy to think about past trials and worry about „another‟ school year. Back to school is an adjustment for everyone in the house, especially caregivers. But you can keep up hope if you stay optimistic. Find something that your child can look forward to and become excited about in September. This might help associate change with something positive. If you look for strengths then you will see what is possible and perhaps you just might recognize something that wasn‟t there before…a learned skill, a different smile, or a new friendship.

Article: http://www.autismspeaks.org/sites/default/files/ documents/family-services/tips_peter.pdf

A real life story from a person with autism Asperger syndrome: suddenly everything made sense! By Simon. I'd always found the world a bit confusing. I never understood why people behave the way they do and why I never really seemed to fit in. I'd done well at school, but had found it difficult to relate to people and to make friends. I always tried to avoid social occasions but when I couldn't get out of them I'd end up sitting in a corner, lost in a world of my own. I did well at university, though and married my fantastic (and extremely patient) wife. After graduating, I got a good job that I enjoyed. But I still couldn't help feeling that I was an observer on the outside, as if there was a big secret that everybody in the world knew but me. Then, about two years ago, my wife watched a documentary about Asperger syndrome and instantly recognised that it was describing me. Suddenly everything made sense. I realised why I find some things difficult, when they seem to come naturally to everyone else. I realised why I don't always understand what people are saying or feeling. And I realised why I sometimes feel isolated and alone. Since then, I've tried to learn more about things, such as understanding body language and facial expressions, which had previously eluded me. I've read book after book on social interaction and communication, which have helped me to build up my own set of rules for dealing with people. Although this doesn't yet put me on a par with 'neurotypicals' who understand these things automatically, it does make it easier for me to socialise and to develop relationships with friends and colleagues. For instance, I'd always found it difficult to make small talk until I read that the aim of such conversations is merely to pass the time, and that it's OK to drift from topic to topic without reaching any specific conclusions. If only I'd known that it was that simple! I've also realised that there are some things that come easily to me that other people find difficult. For example, I've found that I'm able to understand complex ideas and then explain them to others, and that I can see patterns or trends in numbers and other infor-

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mation that other people can't. I find it easy to learn foreign languages: I speak French, German and Russian, and am learning Dutch and Chinese. I'm also fairly bright academically and enjoy learning new things, even though I find it difficult sometimes to concentrate and to understand things that I have read. Learning about Asperger syndrome has taught me that I have many talents but that I need to nurture these rather than try to pretend that I'm 'normal' like everybody else. So I've made a few changes to my life. I still work in my old job, though now part-time for three days a week. This means that I can focus on solving technical financial and organisational problems for my clients, which I enjoy and am good at, rather than on managing staff. In my two 'extra' days, I'm doing a degree in physics with the Open University, which not only challenges me intellectually but also feeds my passion for learning and knowledge. Since my optician diagnosed me with visual dyslexia, I'm now the proud wearer of a pair of bluetinted spectacles, which means that I now find it much easier to read and to recall what I've read. In the small amount of spare time that remains, I'm trying to learn more about my Asperger syndrome and to write about my experiences and the many other things that interest me. I do this just for fun at the moment, but hope to get some of my articles published one day. Although, given the length of time it's taken me to write this, I'm glad I have another source of income! These may not sound like momentous changes, but to me they represent a fundamental shift in what I want to do with my life. I've realised that it's not about doing what everybody else does, but about doing what I want to do. It's about following my own path, living my own life and finding my own definition of success. I'm still not sure whether having Asperger syndrome is a good or a bad thing, but what I do know is that it's part of what makes me who I am. And I'm OK with that. By Simon Editor's note: since writing this article, Simon has become the author of Body language and communication: a guide for people with autism spectrum disorders, published by The National Autistic Society. Article: The National Autistic Society -Living with Autism - Real Life Stories from People with Autism.

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Autism Parent’s Association P.O.Box 30 Marsa Mob: +356 79285438 autismparentsassociation@gmail.com

Visit our WEBSITE! Follow our website on www.autismparentsassociation.com

Book Review The Reason I Jump: One Boy’s Voice from the Silence of Autism.

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

Contacts Carmen Abela - Parent Support Aide 99464269 Vira Bonavia - Parent Support Aide (Teenagers) 79030687 Tania Scopazzi - Parent Support Aide (Adolescents & Adults) 79337712

by Naoki Higashida (Author), David Mitchell (Translator), Keiko Yoshida (Translator).

Written by Naoki Higashida when he was only thirteen, this remarkable book provides a rare insight into the often baffling behaviour of autistic children. Using a question & answer format, Naoki explains things like why he talks loudly or repeats the same questions, what causes him to have panic attacks, & why he likes to jump. He also shows the way he thinks & feels about his world - other people, nature, time & beauty, & himself. Abundantly proving that people with autism do possess imagination, humour & empathy, he also makes clear how badly they need our compassion, patience & understanding.

2014 Memberships are due!

David Mitchell & his wife have translated Naoki's book so that it might help others dealing with autism & generally Membership renewals are due every January. So for those illuminate a little-understood condition. It gives us an exof you who haven‟t sent in their renewal or if you would ceptional chance to enter the mind of another & see the like to become a new member, we kindly ask you to fill world from a strange & fascinating perspective. the application form that is being sent with this newslet-

ter and send it to the address noted in the form together The book also features eleven original illustrations, inspired by Naoki's words, by the artistic duo Kai & Sunny. with €10 for your 2014 membership.


All money collected from memberships and donations received go towards the Association‟s expenses, which Donations are welcome and appreciated. You can help include the printing of leaflets and the organization of acus by sending cheques payable to tivities for parents and children. Financial statements, outAutism Parent’s Association lining all income and expenses for the past years will be presented at the Annual General Meeting, and published P.O.Box 30 on the APA website. Marsa

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