A Mom Assess Her Role as a Parent of an Autistic Child

Isaac loves his iPad. It is with him from the moment he wakes until the second he goes to sleep. He has a few games he likes and he really enjoys looking through the photos but his all time love is YouTube. He is pretty typical of many 8 year old boys in that sense. […]

via How My Severely Autistic Son Used YouTube To Speak To Me — faithmummy


It’s Almost Back-to-School Time for Children and Tees with Autism, ADHD, and Learning Disabilities. Here Are Some Useful Resources



Back to school can be stressful for most children. For children with a learning disability, ADHD, dyslexia, or autism, these worries are often more severe. Our latest blog piece offers parents tips to make this transition ritual much less stressful.

Last Friday, we posted a link to our latest blog piece for parents of anxious children (often those with a learning disability, ADHD, or autism).

We add another free resource, from Autism Parenting magazine. It was published last year, but it is still available:



Here is another helpful link for parents of a child with autism. This free resource has been around since last year, but it is still available for free. It contains much helpful material. Of course, we have advocacy services for parents in New Jersey.

Helping Individuals with Pica

Most of us are aware that infants like putting small nonfood objects in their mouth.  Some older children and even adults, however, continue the practice.  Then, this activity becomes an eating disorder called pica.  In fact, the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, Fifth Edition (DSM-5) defines pica as the “persistent eating of non-nutritive, nonfood substances for a period of at least one month,” particularly when doing so is not appropriate to the developmental level of the individual.  These substances can even include one’s own hair or finger nails.  Pica is especially dangerous when the individual ingests hazardous or poisonous materials such as paint chips that may contain lead, unsanitary items, or objects rendered sharp when they are broken.

pica magpie

The name Pica comes from the Medieval Latin word for magpie, a bird known to eat many different things.  The earliest known use of the term in medical literature was in 1563. Illustration by Eliza Turck, from Walter Swaysland, Familiar Wild Birds, (London: Cassell & Co., 1883). Public Domain, via Wikimedia Commons.

Pica often occurs in persons who have another mental disorder, such as anorexia, anxiety, or autism.  Among the latter, autistic individuals may enjoy the sensory stimulation this activity may provide.  It is not an effort to gain attention or the result of an inability to communicate needs.  The DSM-5 states that when pica occurs with another condition or disorder, is severe enough to warrant clinical attention.

All people who care for the individual must also be alerted to take the necessary steps to keep him or her safe, including the following:

  • Keep those items out of reach of the individual in the home and places in the community. At home, careful and frequent cleaning are critically important.
  • Communicate what is food and what isn’t and reinforcing those lessons
  • Enrich the individual’s sensory environment in ways that do not involve putting things into one’s mouth, such as activities that keep the hands busy
  • Follow through with established behavior plans (e.g., with Applied Behavior Analysis). This may include a system of rewards or schedule of small snacks of actual food items.

As with any psychological condition, preventing undesirable behaviors with healthy ones takes a great deal of patience, understanding, and being alert.



Important Webinar on Advocacy and Self-Advocacy Now Available

The Christopher and Dana Reeve Foundation have made their recent webinar, “Parenting with a Disability: Know your Rights and Take Action” available on YouTube, and it contains important information on what parents of a child with special needs need to know to advocate and self-advocate.

There’s Assistive Technology, and There’s the Right Assistive Technolgy


Like most girls her age, Mikayla Johnson likes to spend time outdoors.  However, with her cerebral palsy, mobility has been a challenge.  She had a traditional walker, which was adequate for moving about indoors, on smooth surfaces.  As her dad, Bob, explains in a video, he sought a walker that was sturdier and had large wheels to navigate soft ground and the wood chips that cover most playgrounds.  However, most assistive technology is expensive; even finding used equipment that was affordable was a challenge, as insurance would pay only part of the cost.

Through Advancing Opportunities’ Assistive Technology Center, Bob learned of Goodwill Home Medical Equipment, which has its main outlet, which is also located in Ewing, NJ.  This organization accepts donations of gently used medical equipment and toiletries.  Staff clean and refurbish these and offer them at prices most people can afford.  This is particularly useful for children, who quickly outgrow assistive devices.  Goodwill Home Medical is a resource partner of Advancing Opportunities.

Helping people help themselves leads to independence.

Our Most Notable and Favorite Disability Articles for the Week Ending June 17, 2016

At Advancing Opportunities, we excel in providing residential and respite services to people of with all disabilities, along with advocacy and education services for parents and guardians and assistive technology support.  As a leader in the field, we are pleased to share our experience, knowledge, and expertise with the disability community through our social media outlets: Facebook, Google+, LinkedIn, and Pinterest.  In our Disability and Ability Highlights of the Week column, we will select the best of what we found and shared and present them.  Please click on the titles with embedded links to find the full article.

Appalachian Trail Boardwalk

This is the perfect time to discover and enjoy one of New Jersey lesser-known treasures. This section of the Appalachian Trail comprises several boardwalks that travel a scenic and diverse landscape in the northern part of Sussex County, New Jersey. Photo: Daniel L. Berek 2016



Disability in the news (mostly in New Jersey, the population we serve)
A New Jersey mayor recommends centralizing all state supports for people living with disabilities under one state office.

Experts – professionals, academics, and parents – testify at the U.S. Senate on the importance of dyslexia in the workplace and society and the many talents people with dyslexia have.

The US Supreme Court is consulting with the Obama administration on a case involving the definition of a Free and Appropriate Public Education.

UN conference emphasizes the need for the proper diagnosis for people with autism.



For parents of a child with a disability (parenting, special needs):
Blog piece from an autistic writer and advocate:  Autistic behavior and consequences.

A recent study confirms what parents of children with ADHD have known all along:  these children take longer to fall asleep and sleep less.

Visually impaired young golfers have big dreams at New Jersey golf clinic.



Special education (including college for students with disability):
A primer on assistive technology in the classroom for students with special needs.  Digital devices and screen capability have helped countless students overcome communication hurdles and obstacles to class participation.

Using drama to boost social skills among students on the autism spectrum.



Inspirational and Informative (or Both!):
A former Rutgers football player paralyzed in 2010 game asks a friend with cerebral palsy to her prom.



Advocacy and self-advocacy:
Numerous people thought that Jocelyn, who has dyslexia, wasn’t smart.  Her mom knew better and took her story to the U.S. Senate.

A leading UK advocate for people with learning disabilities speaks out.



Assistive technology:
From the Ruderman Family Foundation:  When Mass Production Doesn’t Work: The Story of the Adaptive Design Association

The Apple Watch will enable wheelchair users to track their fitness goals.



People with a disability in the community (disability rights and acceptance):
What started out as therapy, has turned into a business for a young man with Down syndrome in Yukon OK.



Disability awareness:
A deaf person uses “the music of sign language” to express how sound is very much a part of her life.   She chooses to be empowered by embracing sound in her art and her life, leading to the music of ASL.  This is a fascinating and very positive TED Talk on how a person with a disability can use that very disability to explore and enlighten.

Medical news – research:
Research shows that having a first-degree relative with epilepsy significantly increases the risk of being diagnosed with autism; greater similarities in the brain have been identified.

A new study using fMRI finds that the brains of people with dyslexia work differently from those of people with dysgraphia.

A new look at sensory symptoms in autism: is it one or two?



People with disabilities in the arts:
An interesting conference on disability and the arts is scheduled to take place this September in Norway.

Celebrating the Power of Assistive Technology


It’s time to revisit a fine 2014 blog post from Edutopia on what assistive technology can do for students with learning disabilities, offering them access to the wonders and benefits of education.  This blog post is also notable for links to other informative and inspiring videos, well worth watching.

So, here it is:

5-Minute Film Festival: The Power of Assistive Technology