Tuesday, November 30, 2010

Top 5 Tips to Help your Child Avoid Bullying

Avoiding bullying can take a toll on not just your child but the entire family.  Kids with autism spectrum disorder (ASD) can be especially vulnerable to bullying, so beginning the bullying talk early can be beneficial to making sure your child can advocate for himself and is not be prey to the bully.  Here are five tips to help your child dodge the bully:

Give Examples.  Explain to your child about what it looks like when people are making fun of your child or being mean.  If you witness someone teasing or being cruel to your child point-it-out to your child.  For example:  “When Joey said you are a nerd that was not nice.”  Often children with ASD don’t know when people are being unkind to them, so you need to teach what callous behavior looks like and then you can start with the next step.
Open the communication lines.   Have frequent conversations with your child about what is teasing, what is bullying, and what is a friend, and then ask questions like “Did anyone get in trouble today?” or “Who are your favorite friends?”
Help Your Kid Find His Group.  When kids have friends and travel in a group they are less likely to be targeted by a bully, so encourage your child to find his cliché.  Join clubs or sports that your child likes and try to establish friendships. 
Teach You Child How-to Stand-Up to the Bully.  Teach your child how to leave the situation without too much harm. 
·         First don’t engage (no talking or physical behavior, it will just encourage the bully).
·         Walk quickly away (don’t run, they will chase).
·         Find a trusted adult to tell
Talk to other parents and teachers.  Avoid potential problems by talking your son/daughter’s teacher and other parents at your child’s school.  Knowing the potential bully or his parents can help prepare your child to stay clear of the path of the bully or help you defuse the situation.   What is the climate at school?  Who are the kids that are the aggressors?  

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

Stay Fit while Getting Centered

“What happened to Tristan yesterday?” asked his case manager at school. 

I tilted my head with a dash of confusion and slight terror as Tristan has gotten himself into some tricky social situations recently and said, “What do you mean?” 

As her eyes widened, she said, “Well, Tristan was so focused during our sessions today.  No flopping on the floor or fidgeting in his seat.”

Suddenly I knew what she was talking about; Tristan had swum the night before.  Not dawdling around the pool with us, but swim team.  Seventy-five minutes of working on strokes and swimming laps. 

Often kids on the spectrum (my kid included) prefer play a video game to getting their heart pumping.  The rules can be difficult to follow and interacting with peers— well, is tough and most youth activities that keep you “lean and cute” are team sports.  All kids (rather all people) need regular exercise to stay healthy mentally and physically, so here is a list of some sports/activities that kids on the spectrum have enjoyed:

·        Swimming:  Try a local non-competitive swim team to learn different stokes and to get your body moving.
·        Ice Skating:  Take a US Figure Skating group lesson.  Some kids love the gliding on the ice and feeling the wind on their faces.
·        Downhill Skiing: Again the wind on the face is loved by all that crave sensory stimulation.  Schedule a private lesson on a beginner slope to learn how-to turn and stop.
·        Biking:  Once you get the technique down, biking can be freedom while working your muscles.
·        Martial Arts:  Discipline and moving your body are pieces to martial arts.
·        Quidditch:  This is a team game, but for Harry Potter fans (like Tristan) it can be trilling.  Check your local Parks and Recreation for Quidditch teams in your area.

Last tip:  inform the instructor that your child has autism and tell them how best your child learns or what to do with unwanted behaviors.  Remember they might not know what autism is or how to help your child, so give them some clues and help.