As usual, with the mad rush to get the Learn to be Buddies newsletter out, I have neglected my blog for a little while. Now the rush is over, it is time to get back to it ....
About our theme
Because executive functioning is such a complex and important topic, and I didn't get very far with it last month, I will continue writing on this topic this month. But before I start writing on this theme, I thought I would mention two things...
As part of the Learn to be Buddies sponsorship scheme, we are beginning a monthly spotlight on charities or businesses that a particularly relevant to the Learn to be Buddies mission. This month we are spotlighting Rainbowland Autism Services. Make sure you check out their services and support their cause. Shortly Allison will be writing a post for us to tell us all about what these are.
I also wanted to share a little from the workshop by Dr. Lee Sturgeon that I attended recently. I shared some information that related to bullying on my Learning to be Buddies Series blog. But here I just wanted to share some of the answers Lee gave to questions asked by parents in the audience.
Toilet Training Tips
Lee was asked about any tips he could give for a situation where a child was fully toilet-trained at home, but was struggling to use the toilets at preschool. His suggestions included:
- Try giving the child access to a private toilet, such as the staff bathroom. It may be the fact that they have to use a public toilet ("in a fishbowl" was Lee's analogy) that is putting the child off using the toilet at preschool.
- Video the child if/when they do use the toilet, then watch it and praise the child for that behaviour at home (applied behaviour analysis). My note: You as a parent may need to do this as many preschools would be reluctant to tape so intrusive a video. Lee's tip about using video as a teaching tool: Make sure you focus on the positive rather than video-ing something you don't want them to do, watching it and saying "Don't do this."
- When toilet training a child with ASD, make sure you do so with a range of different toilets - not just stick to one. This helps them generalise the skill, or use the skill in a wide range of settings not, as Lee said, "just in the ensuite at home."
There were a number of parents who were asking about how/where they could access services for their children due to the limited availability and long waiting lists for Medicare and FAHCSIA funded services. Lee talked about asking your GP to establish an Enhanced Primary Care Plan or a Mental Health Plan, both options allowing parents to access Medicare refunds for private consultants and therapists.
Another question that came up was the issue of medicating children with Autism Spectrum Disorders. Lee talked about the fact that many children with Autism Spectrum Disorders have a secondary diagnosis. For example, they may also be diagnosed with anxiety disorders or ADHD.
He suggested that it is usually these secondary diagnoses that lead to medication. He stated that he used medication for his clients especially for anxiety in the middle school or adolescent years. His statistic was that 40% of children in transition to high school were on medication to help them deal with anxiety.
However, he had one emphatic warning: Make sure you see a specialist in the field of Autism/Aspergers for the prescribing of medication. The main reason is that children with Autism Spectrum disorders often respond differently to medication than do their peers without these disorders.
As you can tell, this workshop was great. It was also free, thanks to a government initiative. I will keep my eye out and let you all know if there is another on coming up in the future.