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cherry1959's blog

Fitting into a Defined Box - or Not

As I sit here in attendance of the Future Horizons Autism and Aspergers Conference in Charlotte, NC, I reflect on the years of being a mother of an autistic child and the enlightening things I have learned through the difficult journey of raising our son to the wonderful adult he has become. I hear the stories of challenges and trials from young mothers and recognize that they are at the beginning of the journey. I am wanting to gift them with the vision of each of the many days to come of trying to fit their child into the box.

The Autistic Child Riding the Bus

Our autistic child, soon to turn 19, rocks when he sits and can't see in front of him. From 6th grade to 10th grade, he rode a school bus for an hour each way. Within the first year, I was sure that his poor mood when he got home was impacted by his rocking for an hour. Wouldn't you feel sick too if you swung your body to your knees for 60 minutes?

Time-out or "Resource" Rooms

At times, students with autism may require a visit to a time-out or "resource" room to allow the child to regain self-control during periods of outburst or frustration. What should these rooms be like in our schools if they must be there? Obviously, they must be durable and sound-isolated. However, most significantly for me as a design professional, these spaces should be separated from the public areas so as to provide the isolated child with greater dignity. Some designers must think our ASD kids do not have awareness or feelings.

Words of Wisdom for new parents receiving the ASD diagnosis for their child

When diagnosis of ASD first arrives, there is incredible confusion as to what it means. You question what you need to do to change it. You struggle with the realities of what it means to live with it for the rest of your life. You seek all kinds of interventions and even possible cures. As I will call myself a "senior parent", I can advise one thing... use humor though the journey you are about to live. Figure out the ways to reduce the stress of your family. Figure out ways to relieve your stress.

Designing a Music Therapy Room for Greater Success

As students on the Autism Spectrum are easily distracted, it is important to orient a music therapy room to reduce distraction. Architects and music therapists should be fully aware of the student environment when designing for any new music therapy room. Ceiling fans are great for air movement. The floor surface should be carpet or rubber flooring for sound absorption and have no level change or platform. A hard surface area should be provided for dancing to music as it is easier for a student to move on this type of surface.

Poor Choices of your ASD teen

Hi. I am the mother of a soon to be 19 year old ASD adult who came home for the weekend from his residential school. By day two, he had picked up and played his father's very good and expensive guitar, and then, when caught, he scrambled up to his room and proceeded to climb out his second floor bedroom window. His 11 year old sister caught him hanging out the sill. Why would he do this? Because he knew he never should have touched the guitar, and he knew he had made a poor choice so he decided he would run.

Personal Space Conflict and Strategies for ASD Children and their Siblings

The greatest conflict in our home was our ASD son's invasion of personal and physical spaces of his siblings and parents. He either invaded the personal space surrounding his siblings or he violated their rooms to take things that did not belong to him. He clearly knew he should not do this because when he hid them in his room, he hid them incredibly well. Thus, I learned how to become a master sleuth.

Developing independence

When our high-functioning ASD son was 16, we realized that we needed to begin to support him for adulthood and needed to provide him opporunities for independence. Given that our home was tucked back on a private road shared by 7 homes, we were comfortable with his being alone for short periods of time (up to one hour). Our goal for our son since he was about 14 was to help him develop living and vocational skills towards his future indepenence.

The impact on younger children of a sibling with autism

Hi. I am an architect and mother of three children. My firm is passionate for designing environments for children and adults with special needs. This is my heart.