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Autism Parent’s Association

APA Newsletter January 2015

Inside this issue: Message from Omar!


Up Coming Events


Events So far


Potty Training Your Kid With Autism


A real life story from a person with autism


Message from Omar!

Dear Parents,

35 Sensory Aids 6-7 and Ideas to Aid with SPD Contacts






Book Review - 8 The Horse Boy: A Father’s Miraculous Journey to Heal his Son.

We truly hope you are well. Another year is over and looking at what we managed to achieve this year, we can surely say it was a fun journey on a high speed roller coaster… With the great support of many, we managed to venture in new place we haven't been before, to mention a few, we participated in a conference at the Vatican in Rome and another conference in Turin which was organised by Autism Europe where the main topic was “Promoting Equal rights for people with Autism in the field of employment and education”.

Issue 16 These opportunities help us grow and give us the possibility to share our experience with other foundations and several associations who bring “Autism” on the forefront of their agenda. May we take this opportunity to wish you all the very best for the new year and truly hope, 2015 brings you more love, luck and happiness !! Best wishes from all of us at APA. Thanks and as we say “Help us help you.” Omar Farrugia President - APA.

APA Newsletter

Up Coming Events

Multisensory Storytelling Session at the National Curriculum Centre in Hamrun. * Free of Charge.

Special Diets

Events - Dates to be Advised


New on the Spectrum

Cinema Day

APA Annual

Meetings with KNDP

General Conference Thank You!!!!

Walk for Autism Page 2

A heartfelt thank you goes out to Mrs. Kate Gonzi and Verdala International School for their generous donations.

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Events So Far…. August to December August Events

06/08/14 Meeting with MLSA;

15/10/14 “TVPM” - Discussion on parenting a child with autism. Speakers Antonella Attard, Petra Peel & Valerie Brincat; 15/10/14 Programm on “One Radio” with Claudette Baldacchino. Speakers Dr. Rita Micallef, Carmen Abela & Valerie Brincat;

20/08/14 “Bejnietna lHbieb” - Favorite Channel. Speakers Dr. Rita Micallef, Dr. Paul Bartolo & Valerie Brincat;

22/10/14 Meeting with Mr George Said Zammit, Director of Student Services and his team;

29/08/14 Meeting with Hon. Evarist Bartolo;

25/10/14 “Benchmarks Exams” - Parent’s Meeting at Siggiewi Primary School. November Events

29/08/14 Mum’s Night Out.

30/11/14 Vatican Conference on Autism in Rome;

September Events

01/09/14 Informative meeting about Help Me Learn Social Skills Program; 01/09/14 Donation of 10 Social Story Books in Maltese by Miriam Cassar; 12/09/14 Gozo Seminar at Victoria Boys Secondary School;

28-30/11/14 Autism Europe Conference in Turin. December Events

05/12/14 APA Parent’s Forum at Floriana. Speakers Dr. Rita Micallef & Eng. Henri Curmi; 04/12/14 President’s invite for Disability Day Celebration at San Anton; 18/09/14 Meeting with Josanne Ghirxi (Access Arrangements). October Events

14/12/14 Attended the Public Dialogue “Gvern li Jisma” in Siggiewi; 17/12/14 Meeting with the Private Secretary of Hon Michael Farrugia;.

02/10/14 Mrs Muscat attends Autism Conference in New York;

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APA Newsletter

Potty Training Your Kid With Autism. Norrin was diagnosed with autism when he was 2 years 5 months old – right around the age most kids start potty training. But at the time Norrin was diagnosed, he couldn’t even point his finger.

Or clap his hands. Or wave hello/goodbye. Or speak. While potty training should have been at the bottom of the list of things I wanted Norrin to learn, there was this desire to be like a typical parent – for him to be a typical kid. And I wanted to start potty training Norrin at the age the other parents did. So a few months after the therapists started working with Norrin – we started. And then we stopped. Because potty training a kid who couldn’t speak or have the motor coordination to clap, point, wave can be…difficult (among other things). I realized that with everything else, I needed to take potty training step by step. So if you’re thinking of potty training your kid with autism – here are some things to keep in mind: 1. Ignore what the other kids/parents are doing. Parents of typical kids love to talk about potty training – how they did it and how long it took them. I remember talking to one mom who expressed her frustration with the process because it took a whole two weeks. And I felt like a failure because we had been working on potty training for months (with little success). I couldn’t think about other kids. I had to concentrate on mine. 2. Start when your child is ready. Aside from being emotionally ready, they need to be physically ready. One of the things our Applied Behavior Analysis (ABA) therapist stressed was Norrin learning how to to pull down his pants and underwear. Think about all the physical movement required to use the bathroom especially for boys. Potty training requires a certain amount of independence and if a child cannot remove his undergarments to go to the bathroom then it may be best to hold off until they can.

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3. Everyone needs to be on board. When we started potty training Norrin, we started at home. We communicated with his teachers about potty training and asked for tips. We used to send Norrin to school wearing underwear with a Pull-Up underneath. Once he got to school – the Pull-Up was removed and his teachers took him to the bathroom throughout the day. Pull-Ups that have side openings worked best for potty training as it allowed teachers to remove it without removing all the clothing. It was a collaborative effort. 4. You need to be consistent. Once you determine your child is ready. Once you get everyone on board – teachers, sitters, grandparents – whoever. You need to be consistent. So even when you’re out and about on the weekends, even if your child has a Pull-Up on (just in case), take them to the bathroom – get them accustomed to public restrooms. 5. Be patient. It took us more than two years to potty train Norrin. Don’t think potty training will take a week, two weeks, or a month. Do not put your child (or yourself) on a deadline. Start when you start and finish when you finish. 6. Have a sense of humor. Potty training is messy business (so be sure to stock up on paper towels and cleaning wipes). Accept it. Laugh it off whenever possible. Though I know, sometimes it can be hard. If you want to laugh at one of our potty training adventures, check out this post - Norrin and the Royal Flushing Privies. Norrin is 7-years-old. He’s fully potty trained during the day. Yes he still needs help (with buttons and zippers and cleaning), and he still needs prompting (washing hands). Night time potty training is a whole other ball game. We’re not even trying. And I’m not going stress about it, because I’m sure Norrin will get it. In his own time. If you’d like a resource book on potty training special needs kids, Toilet Training for Individuals with Autism or Other Developmental Issues was really helpful. This is a post in the weekly Autism Hopes series by Lisa Quinones-Fontanez, a mom who blogs over at Atypical Familia. autism/potty-training-your-kid-with-autism/

A real life story from a person with autism

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I can finally say I have success in employment.

pony. When they were eight, nine and ten I decided to go back to college.

By Sienna.

This time I went part-time and graduated magna cum laude. I applied for several jobs but was never successful. I decided more education was needed and went on to graduate school. The hardest thing about that was dealing with the other students, all working adults. I felt like a precocious child amongst them. The studies were easy, though. I got my M.Ed. in counselling psychology.

I have just passed my 47th birthday and can finally say I have success in employment. For me, working from my home computer and interacting with people primarily over the telephone has been the long sought for solution to my difficulty with getting, and then maintaining, employment. This is despite long years of educational preparation and academic success, which I had expected to be the ticket to a career. After all, isn't that the way the formula works? Not if you have Asperger's! I grew up a peer-rejected and severely bullied child in a working-class suburb of Massachusetts. I was an adopted child and I think everyone around me thought that was why I was so odd. School and other children were incomprehensible to me. I got rebuked and punished by my teachers and my parents for just sitting and staring, being in my own world. I was fired from my first job as a cashier because I couldn't reliably count the money. I believe they thought I was stealing, but I was just giving it away. The stress of this typical job was unbearable. I woke in the night hearing the noise of the day and seeing endless faces coming at me. I thought I was crazy. It would be decades before I understood that overstimulating my brain with too many sights and sounds and motion made me sick. Believing that the answer to all of my difficulties was to get an education, I enrolled on a four-year college course against my parents' wishes. They just thought I was a slacker and never wanted to work, and they didn't understand or respect education. I had a nervous breakdown by the end of my first year. After a year off spent living with friends, I finished another year at a different university. The same mental unravelling ensued. Life was agony. What was wrong with me? If only I could have known. I married and had three children. I loved my kids more than anything and they made life worth living. I was a fun-loving mom and enjoyed with them the childhood I never had. We had a hobby farm and tended goats, fowl and rabbits. We took long walks in the woods with our three dogs. I gave them a

Finally, I got a job in a school, albeit one for which I was overqualified. I was supposed to be the private tutor for a girl in an upper class school. She had Asperger's. I saw that the girl, who was in tenth grade, was in emotional agony. I recognised myself. By this time, I had learned about ASDs and knew that was me. Yet it took many more years to reconstruct the story of my life in light of this knowledge. When the girl's parents had a few interviews with me they were appalled at my bluntness and 'oddness'. I was promptly fired over an incident that didn't happen. I tried teaching but that was a disaster. The high school kids bullied me just as badly as my peers had when I was in high school. I tried middle school, but the kids just acted as if there was no adult in the room. I was told I looked around like a frightened child, so they didn't respect me. The noise just shut down my thinking, and that is terrifying. Teaching was not for me. Last January, I started working from home, marketing vacation packages, and helping other people become successful in their own businesses. No-one can tell over the phone if my facial expressions are not quite 'right'. Best of all, I control my physical environment: I take frequent breaks and get to be surrounded by my Pekingese dogs and my parrots. I often speak to people with my Eclectus parrot on my shoulder. She is very quiet, but sometimes surprises someone by say hello in her little parrot voice. I get to be my eccentric self. This is my business, and no-one can fire me. I am at last successful. To all of you who are like me, remember: never give up, no matter what!

Article: The National Autistic Society -Living with Autism - Real Life Stories from People with Autism.

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APA Newsletter

35 Sensory Aids and Ideas to Aid with SPD

Sensory perceptions can be hard to change or even to be aware if your child struggles with the way that their brain processes the information in the world around them. In the KAB team we have a Physical Therapist and a former school teacher… these are tips that we have used in our practices, homes and classrooms to help our kids, both those with sensory processing disorders as well as our other children, to live more full lives. How to create a SPD Friendly Home Create a ball pit with a large drum and plastic balls. You will need hundreds of them, but we promise your kids will love hanging out in their ball cubby.

Your kids can have full-body stimulation and the “wrapped close” feeling with layers of hammocks. Under the hammocks are tumbling mats, making this a great play room. There are a number of essential oils that can help improve moods and attention span. You can add several drops of the oils (ex: Cedarwood, Vetiver or Lavender) to a leather bracelet for your kids to wear all day at school. Sitting on a disc that is not flat, kind of like a ball, is a super easy and discreet way to help your child be “active” even while sitting for long periods of time (like at school). Their core will be active even as they sit. You can use balls to help provide pressure relief to your kids. Putting gentle pressure on the joints can help reset the neurons. Roll a ball on your child as they are laying down. Give your kids some background music to help the kids who need extra auditory stimulation to focus.

Help your kids to recognize their whole bodies with core development. Standing on a stacked exercise ball is a great way to develop both balance awareness and core strength. Use an inner tube and a larger ball. Weighted lap belts (you can also use them across the shoulders) helps a fidgety kid sit more still as their legs are receiving mental stimulation through the pressure. It can help improve your child’s attention span. Crash pad. This is a great safe place for your kids to jump, crash or chill. Don’t want to buy one? Consider making your own Giant crash pillow with giant foam blocks inside of it. Help your kids control their own fears. Make a bottle of Monster spray. Mix water with some drops of essential oil – pick one that can help alleviate anxiety. Pro-tips and hacks for Sensory Kids

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Blow bubbles – for kids who need to work harder to form words with their mouths, blowing bubbles can be a way to help them gain lip and breath control so they will be better able to form words.

Whole Body Integration Therapy – you can do it! Help your kids improve their vestibular balance – to recognize the sensation that means they are about to fall – in a safe manner with this nifty Bilibo Seat Here are a bunch of ways that you can do therapy athome with your kids using an exercise ball. You can also use a bouncing ball. Hammock cubby. Great place for kids to go to get away when they need a sensory break from their pals or family members.

35 Sensory Aids and Ideas to Aid with SPD (cont.) A Bosu can help your kids develop core strength as well as balance. Get a bouncing pad for your kids to stand and jump on when they need to let off steam. There are also a bunch of exercises your kids can do on them to help their bodies develop. Sensory balloon balls. Fill balloons with a variety of textures. You can also develop hand or foot and eye coordination with balloon games. Try kicking the balloon with opposite feet each time you bounce it. Transitions can be hard for kids with sensory challenges. Make naptimes and bedtimes a bit easier with a glowing sensory bottle.

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Scooters can help your kids develop their sense of balance and awareness of where their limbs are as they move. Tactile brushes can be a great tool to use to help connect with and calm your sensory child. Here is a site that explains how to use the brushes. You can also use Body Sox as a way to give your kids all over neurological feedback (and it’s a blast). Rub bubble. Put this on their desk top at school it is perfect for antsy fingers. Geo Twister. A quiet geometircal toy. A fun spatial way to build and create new shapes.

Pressure Pressure, consistent pressure helps relieve a lot of the angst feelings in kids with sensory struggles. The pressure is signalling their brains constantly where they are, helping your kids develop body awareness. Below is a collection of pressure garments and products that you can purchase of make yourself. DIY Velcro vest., DIY Weighted Vest, WEighted blanket that you can sew, No-Sew weighted lap blanket, Weighted Blankets to purchase. Sensory Products for the Classroom Pencil toppers that help kids who get bored in classes. This is the BEST sensory toy. Kids can use it for rubbing, rolling, even chewing. Flavored chewing sticks to help kids who need extra oral stimulation. Teething Necklace – these aren’t just for babies. This necklace could work for an orally stimulated kiddo. This is a great way to attach your kids sensory aid to them. Increase core awareness and strength with a disk chair topper. Weighted pencils help kids develop hand strength and are easier for some kids to control. You can make your own weighted pencils using bolt nuts and rubberbands.

There are a number of products that are great for helping kids who struggle with sensory issues. 3D Tetris blocks for your kids to manipulate and develop their spatial awareness.

Another pencil grip to help kids correct handwriting problems. OCTOBER 20, 2014 BY RACHEL from Kids Activities Blog.

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

Visit our WEBSITE! Follow our website on

Book Review The Horse Boy: A Father’s Miraculous Journey to Heal his Son.

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

Contacts: Parent Support Aides Autism: Valerie Brincat - 7928 5438 Autism (0 to 8 years): Carmen Abela - 9946 4269 Asperger Syndrome: Petra Peel - 9925 8845 Diets & alternative therapies: Vira Bonavia - 7903 0687 Gozo: Charlene Saliba - 9996 6825

2015 Memberships are due! Membership renewals are due every January. So 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 that is being sent with this newsletter and send it to the address noted in the form together with €10 for your 2015 membership.

by Rupert Isaacson.

Rupert Isaacson's The Horse Boy is one family's epic journey to rescue their son. Rupert and Kirstin Isaacson were heartbroken when they learned that their two-year-old son Rowan was autistic. And with each passing day, Rowan's growing isolation, his uncontrollable fits, each failed treatment, filled them with despair. Then one day Rowan escaped and ran into a field of horses. Rupert watched in horror - but saw a miracle occur. The horses responded lovingly to Rowan - and he to them. Could Rowan's affinity with these animals save their son from his condition? The Isaacsons left their home in Texas and travelled to the plains and mountains of Mongolia - the spiritual home of the horse - risking everything - their happiness, future and sanity - on an arduous epic horseback journey in search of a cure for Rowan . . .


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

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Apa newsletter january 2015 issue 16  
Apa newsletter january 2015 issue 16