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Autism Parent’s Association

APA Newsletter July 2016

Message from Omar!

Inside this issue: Message from Omar!


Up Coming Events


Events So far


Summer and Sensory Processing Issues


A letter I would have written to my parents


What is Autism according to Siblings and cousins


Book review Recipe: Fruit popsicles

Enjoy a well deserved break �.

Dear Parents,

and make sure you apply protective lotions during the Summer break. Until next time, take care.

Here we are, with another issue of our popular Newsletter. We guarantee you will find a lot of information,



of all valuable tips.



We are sure that many have



already started feeling the climate warming up, but at


ble period which brings along with your families.

highlights, updates and most

Meet the committee

reminder that this is a valuasome time to relax and share

Hoping you are well.


Issue 19

the same time its a fresh

Happy Summer.

APA Newsletter

Up Coming Events Youth Club (14 years to adults) Next activity to be announced soon! Contact: Sandra 9942 7839 (After 5pm) or Valerie 7928 5438 for further information 

 

New on the Spectrum Educational Talk Day by the Pool APA Summer BBQ Dates to be announced soon!

Free Parent sessions by family literacy specialist Marthese Cini for pupils up to six years of age. Closing date: 10th July 2016, Call on 21809011/99960381 to book your place.

Autism Spectrum (Empowerment) Act 2016 The Autism Spectrum (Empowerment) Act 2016 has been published in the Government Gazette on the 17 May 2016. The goal of this Act is to empower persons within the autism spectrum. Set up by the Social Affairs Minister following consultation with the Parliament’s Social Affairs Committee, the council will be responsible to develop the National State Plan on Autism. This plan should aim at raising awareness on the autism spectrum disorder, coordinate programmes and empower persons affected by autism and their families. Other matters to be dealt with by this national plan include family engagement and involvement, early identification and intervention services, educational support and services, access to sports and leisure, adult support and services, training and professional and personal development. The proposed law provides that the advisory council should be composed of 11 members. The directors of the health, education and social welfare departments and the deans of the faculties for social well-being, medicine and surgery, and education at the University of Malta would be ex officio members. The other members of the council should also include three representatives of non-governmental organisations working within the autism spectrum, of which at least one should be an adult with autism. In Malta, 400 children were diagnosed with autism by the Child Development Assessment Unit over the last 10 years, reflecting international statistics. Article adapted from

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April Events: Autism Awareness Month

Issue 19

Light it Up Blue Event: 01st April 2016, organised by The Marigold Foundation which is headed by Mrs. M. Muscat.

Blow a Bubble for Autism: Gozo

APA funday : Fun for all the family!

The Event was held in the Xaghra, Rabat and Xewkija Primary Schools. Thanks to the support of the Parliamentary Secretary for Rights of Persons with Disability and Active Ageing, Dr Justyne Caruana.

Walk for Autism: Promoting Autism Awareness.

Baystreet shopping complex: Autism Awareness Campaign.

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APA Newsletter

Summer and Sensory Processing Issues How to help kids stay comfortable in what can be overstimulating outdoor activities Rae Jacobson

For many kids, summer holidays hold the promise of months of school-free fun. But for children with sensory processing issues, summer can be a challenging time. From the sand on the beach to the fireworks, the season is full of exciting but potentially difficult experiences. An unfamiliar playground, a messy ice cream cone, a visit to the beach: all involve sensory surprises that can be overwhelming or upsetting if a child is unusually sensitive to light, noise, and tactile sensations. But with some preparation and planning parents can help kids with sensory issues get the most out of summertime.

Study your child’s specific needs The first step to helping a child with sensory processing issues enjoy summertime is having a strong understanding of his specific needs. Sensory processing issues come in many shapes and sizes, and no two kids are exactly the same. An activity like going to the beach might be a huge treat for one child and miserable for another, depending on their individual sensitivities. “For children with tactile hypersensitivity something like going to the beach can be a nightmare,” says Lindsey Biel, an occupational therapist who specializes in helping kids with sensory processing issues. “They can’t stand the way the sun feels on their skin, or the sand on their feet.”

The best way to avoid a meltdown at the beach is to tune into what your child’s behavior tells you. Did he refuse to go in the water at the waterpark last summer? Does he have trouble with sticky food like melted icecream? Does he run away when you try to put sunscreen on him? Looking back at what kinds of activities your child has enjoyed—and which have lead to meltdowns—is a great way to get a sense of what he’ll enjoy in the future, and what tools you can use to help potentially difficult activities become less stressful.

Make a schedule—and stick to it When the school year ends, saying goodbye to homework is often cause for celebration, but for kids with sensory issues the loss of an orderly schedule can spell disaster. “One of the difficult things that happens during summer is the loss of structure,” says Biel. “Kids with sensory issues thrive when there’s a predictable schedule and they can more or less tell what’s going to happen each day. When that’s gone the day becomes more stressful, not less.” Unexpected events are disruptive for kids with sensory issues who are more sensitive to changes in environment or activity. Routine helps them feel comfortable and better prepared to handle what’s coming their way.

Consider enrolling kids in activities that help them maintain a schedule. Swimming, art, or other sensory-friendly classes or a summer school that can mimic the structure of school in a fun way. Work with your child to make a calendar of upcoming events. Use stickers or fun doodles to represent activities. A dolphin sticker might represent a day at the beach or a picture of roller skates could mean a visit to the park.

Once you’ve made a schedule, try hard to stick with it. Disorder is very confusing for kids with sensory issues, so consistency is key.

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Issue 19

Avoid surprises by thinking ahead Summer is a great time to try new things but some experiences can be overwhelming for kids with sensory issues. When it comes to going out, careful planning can mean the difference between a happy summer day and a total meltdown. The more prepared they are the less likely they are to be overwhelmed, which means everyone will have a better time.

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Focus on transitions. “Kids with sensory processing issues often struggle with transitions,” says Dr. Matthew Rouse, a clinician at the Child Mind Institute. “So it’s very important to give them plenty of warning when transitioning from one activity to another.” Talk it out. “Prepare kids for potentially overwhelming activities by talking about what the experience will be like in advance,” says Dr. Rouse. “Knowing what’s going to happen takes a lot of the anxiety out of trying new things.” Break it down. “Take any situation that’s potentially problematic and do a sensory analysis of it,” says Biel. If taking your kid to the park overwhelms him, think about what sensory triggers might be behind his reaction. Breaking the experience down to its sensory components—the light touch of long grass, the bugs, the noise—can help you and your child figure out how to manage the more difficult parts of the experience before you arrive. Try a test run. “Once you know your child’s sensory triggers you can begin working to help them manage their sensory arousal,” explains Dr. Rouse. A lot of popular summer activities, especially those that take place outside, are full of intense multi-sensory stimulation. Kids may need to back up and explore the sensory experiences in a less stimulating environment. A great way to do this is to ‘test’ different components of the sensory experience in a non-stressful setting. For example, if you’re heading to the beach try filling a tray with sand at home. This way he’ll have the chance to get used to the tactile experience long before you hit the shore. Another way to prepare for activities ahead of time is to ‘practice’ them at home. For example if you’re thinking of taking a hike, try doing a short test run in the park or the yard. This way, kids can get a preview of the sensations—how their backpack feels when they carry it for a long time, in a safe, comfortable space. Make a sensory go-kit. Put together a backpack of objects that provide sensory relief so kids can carry them even when parents aren’t present. “Try including earmuffs, fidget toys, chewing gum or a weighted lap pad,” suggests Biel. “Anything that kids can use to keep themselves regulated during new or difficult activities.”

Summer tools to know    

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Sunglasses: “Make sure the child has really high quality sunglasses,” says Biel, “A lot of kids with sensory issues are very sensitive to bright light.” Sun-protective hats: For kids who are very sensitive to sun try a soft, comfortable wide-brimmed hat. Good bug spray: When it comes to mosquitos, comfort and safety are important. Many bug sprays are very effective but kids might resist them because they feel sticky or are strong-smelling. Lightweight long pants and long sleeves can be equally effective. You can also try spraying his clothing and hair rather than applying it directly to bare skin. Sunscreen: If you’re spending time outside, sunscreen can be an essential. There are many different kinds, so investigate which works best for your child. Some are less greasy or come unscented or in spray versions. When applying sunscreen use massaging, even strokes. “Deep pressure is calming and organizing for kids.” says Biel. “Instead of using light touch to apply sunblock, use that as an opportunity for a massage. It can be a good way to help desensitize a child before going out. The right bathing suit: “There are different bathing suits that have different sensory qualities to them,” says Biel. “A lot of kids can’t stand an elastic waistband” Finding a sensory-friendly suit will make swimming activities much more fun. Ear protection: Bring noise-cancelling earmuffs. Reducing noise takes intensity out of multisensory experiences. This is especially helpful for kids who are very sensitive to sound, but can be a great way for any child to take a step back and regroup.  Portable shelter: Beaches and parks can be fun but it’s important for kids to have a retreat. An umbrella or beach cabana provides protection from the sun and gives kids a safe space to take a break during outdoor activities.  Protective shoes: If walking on grass or sand is intensely uncomfortable, don’t push kids to go barefoot. Bring along a pair of aqua socks or other comfortable shoes that work well in outdoor conditions.

Finally, remember that the goal is to help kids have a great summer. Focus on

having fun!

Article adapted from

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APA Newsletter

A letter I would have written for my parents when I was nonverbal

Dear Mom and Dad, I know it’s breaking your heart to see me as I am now. Most of the kids we know are starting to talk while I’m just making sounds. I’m lashing out because I’m struggling. I can’t communicate my needs, and things are just not going the way I wish they would. I scream and fight with you every time you try and bathe me because I can’t stand the feeling of water. I cringe anytime I hear thunder, and I don’t like to be touched because of my sensory issues. Even now, as we make all the adorable videos of me dressed up as one of the best looking toddlers of all time, I know things aren’t easy, and we don’t know what my future has in store. I want to tell you, though, to keep fighting for me and believing in me because without you both — my best advocates — I’m not going to be the person I am today. There’s hope, and you both play a huge part in that. Things are going to get better, and without you that wouldn’t be possible. At age two and a half, I’m going to say my first words, and at four you’re going to find out from a doctor that I have something called autism. In 1992, it will be something you would have only heard from some of the leading experts in the field and from the 1988 movie “Rain Man.” The road now is going to be difficult, but we’re going to get through it together.

By fighting for me every day and helping me go through occupational, physical and speech therapy for the next 16 years, while giving me support at home and in school, I’m going to grow into an adult who is a national motivational speaker and gives talks about autism across the country. Because if you fight for me right now and never give up, not only will I be that speaker, but I’ll have the opportunity to write an Amazon Best Seller, consult for a major motion picture that makes 30 million dollars, and be someone who gives you love every single day. I will grow into an adult who embraces affection. Love, Kerry.

I hope for any parent who reads this letter — coming from a now 27-year-old adult on the autism spectrum — that you never give up on your loved ones. The autism spectrum is wide and everyone’s journey is going to be slightly different. We’re learning more and more about autism every day and more and more answers are coming to help our community progress. Most importantly, I hope you take this letter as a sign that all parents of children on the autism spectrum can make a difference. Some days are going to be more difficult than others, but just know that you’re never alone in this community.

Article adapted from

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What is Autism?

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In this issue we will be exploring Autism from the lens of siblings and cousins of children who are on the Spectrum. My brother is brilliant. He is priceless. His brain works in ways that mine never will. He is special. Roxanne (sister) 10 yrs old

Autism is a life changing event for a family as everything evolves around the child with Autism. Autism helped me to build my character and made me a stronger person. Jessica (sister) 16 years old For me, as a cousin to someone with Autism, Autism is making sure to include that person in family gatherings, going to check up on him when he isn't participating in our family games, encouraging him to join in and taking time to listen when he decides to open up...Laura (cousin) 20 years old Having a brother with Autism makes your life more fun, even though it might be frustrating sometimes. It helped me to help others in situations, in general. Lisa (sister) 12 years old When you have a brother with autism you live in another great way because when you share your heart with the person that needs your help, you feel like a hero . Maria (sister) 10 years old For me, having a brother with Autism is an everyday routine and an ongoing task. I grew up with him, share the same space, have the same hobbies and for me he is just a normal individual, like me. Nathan (brother) 14 years old Children with Autism are different because they communicate in a different way. Nik (cousin) 10 years old Don't judge autistic children's behavior. Karl (cousin) 11 years old People with Autism are special because they may not be like me but they have great and amazing talents that you don't always find in others. John Paul (cousin) 8 years old Autism is many things to me. People may take it as if it is a bad thing but Autism isn't always a problem, for example, most people with Autism have an excellent memory . When you meet a person with Autism you cannot understand or accept them until you understand and accept the Autism they are living as it is a part of them. Maria (cousin) 14 years old Sometimes it’s a struggle, but when I see my parents working a lot to give her a normal life , I encourage myself and help them in everything, even in the association. Luca (brother) 9 yrs old

My brother is so much fun, having Autism doesn’t matter. He still has such a good character and he is also so smart. Adam (brother) 13 years old

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Book Review

The Rosie Project

by Graeme Simsion (Author)

‘The Rosie Project’ is an endearing romantic comedy, and the narrator, professor of genetics Don Tillman (39, tall, intelligent and employed, is an undiagnosed Asperger's type who Simsion uses to explore how a grown autistic man might approach a romantic relationship. Friendships are rare enough: Don has a total of two – his colleague at a Melbourne university, Gene, and Gene's psychologist wife, Claudia. Gene and Claudia try to help Don find love but "unfortunately their approach was based on the traditional dating paradigm. And thus is The Wife Project born. To choose a suitable wife, Don designs a detailed questionnaire that filters out unpromising candidates: women who are unpunctual, overweight, vegetarian; who drink or smoke. And then he meets Rosie, who fails on almost every score. Although, on past form, it looks like there is no chance of love blossoming, when Rosie enlists Don's genetic expertise to help find her natural father, otherwise known as The Father Project, the two are thrown into an entertaining series of comic set pieces and occasionally life-threatening situations. Warm-hearted and perfectly pitched, with profound themes that are worn lightly, this very enjoyable read promises to put Don Tillman on the comic literary map. Through his battles to understand and empathise with other humans, Don teaches us to see the funny side of our own often incomprehensible behaviour – and to embrace the differently abled.

All Fruit 4 Ingredient Popsicles Ingredients    


ripe peach, skin removed, diced 1/3 cup fresh or frozen blueberries 3/4 cup mandarin orange segments ~1 cup fresh fruit juice of choice

1. Divide orange segments, blueberries and peaches equally between 7 or 8 cups or 6 popsicle molds.

2. Nestle your popsicle sticks down into the bottom center of the molds and top with juice of your choice. 3. Place close together in a loaf pan or other small pan and freeze until set – at least 4 hours. 4. Remove cup molds and consume immediately. Store leftovers in the freezer in a freezer bag.

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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

Mob: + 356 7928 5438

Visit our WEBSITE! Follow our website on

2016 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 ( and send it to the address noted in the form together with €10 for your 2016 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.

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

Donations are welcome and appreciated. You can help us by sending cheques payable to Autism Parent’s Association P.O.Box 30

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Meet the new Committee for 2016—2017 Omar is a father of 3 children, one of who is on the Spectrum. Omar has held the role of President since 2013 and has successfully maintained the mission of APA. As an Online Sales Director by profession, Omar has used his exceptional skills to keep APA on the very top of Social Media and worked wholeheartedly to push APA onto the very top of the Agenda of Policymakers. He is leading the team with integrity and dedication.


is a mother of 3 children on the Spectrum and needs

no introductions. Valerie is now established in her role as Public Relations Officer in APA and has contributed considerably to pushing APA reach the exposure it has today. She leads the coordination of events, contributes substantially in meetings with government officials and supports parents on a daily basis either through face to face meetings or via the closed Facebook page.


is a father of 2 children on the Spectrum. Brian a qualified account-

ant by profession held the role of Treasurer for APA since 2010. Brian is responsible for maintaining records of all income and expenditure and contributes towards the finance side of projects.


is a mother of 2 children one of who is a 15 year old

youth on the Spectrum. Sandra is the founder of APA and held the position of President from 2008 to 2013. Sandra is an Insurance and Compliance Manager and she oversees professionalism in the operations of APA. She is currently responsible for the management of projects and the development of the 14+ youth group. Sandra brings to the committee a wealth of knowledge through an Autism Certification from University of Birmingham.


is a mother of a 7 year old boy on the spectrum. Em-

ma is a fulltime house wife with lots of energy to give away. Emma is a new member and will take the role of Secretary for the forthcoming year. Her duties will be maintaining minutes of committee meetings, book keeping and coordinating the Annual General Meeting.


is a mother 2 girl’s one of who is a 7 year old on the spec-

trum. Svetlana runs her own hairdressing salon and brings along a can do attitude to APA. During this year since joining APA she has assisted in a number of initiatives being mainly event coordination and fundraising activities.


is a mother of 2 children one of who is a 7 year old

girl on the spectrum. Carmen is a fulltime house wife and during this year she has assisted APA in a number of initiatives being mainly event, fundraising activities, and making herself available to help out on day to day assistance required by the committee.


is a mother of a young boy on the spectrum. Tanya is a new

member in the committee and she brings along a vast array of experience in branding and marketing. She will be taking the role of a market-

ing coordinator and therefore look out for our fresh imagery.

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is a mother of a youth on the Spectrum. Marica contribut-

ed to APA since 2010 and has researched biomedics and diets primarily for her son but also kept the committee members abreast in the area. Marica returns to the committee after a 2 year break as a parent support aide and will be coordinating the 14+ youth group together with Sandra and Valerie.


is a mother of 3 children, one of who is a 14 year

old boy on the Spectrum. Pauline joined APA in May 2015 and assists APA in events and fundraising activities.


is a mother of 3 children, one of who is on the Spectrum.

Maruska joined APA in May 2015 and she is an Early Intervention Practitioner by Profession. Maruska is a humble person willing to contribute wholeheartedly to APA and she is currently assisting Sandra on projects and the coordination of the Newsletter.


is a mother of 2 children, one of who is a boy on the Spectrum. Jane

joined APA in 2011 and held the role of Secretary from 2013-2014. Jane an English Teacher by profession coordinated the publishing of the Newsletter and holding of minutes. For the forthcoming year she will be handing over her role as secretary to the new members and will keep herself available to help out should the need arise.

Profile for Omar Farrugia

APA Newsletter July 2016  

APA Newsletter July 2016

APA Newsletter July 2016  

APA Newsletter July 2016