Tag Archives: independent living

OC Autism Center Gets Tangled in Red Tape

So disappointing. Here’s an entrepreneur trying to make a difference and local officials are only putting up roadblocks.

Woman’s Dream of Autism Center Doused by Officials – Voice of OC | Orange County’s Nonprofit Investigative News Agency: Health News.

He’s His Own Man—Already (No, mom’s not ready)

ARM recently returned from a family vacation and it was wonderful in so many ways. A change of scenery and some R&R is always heavenly; then we sprinkled in several growth opportunities for an overall spectacular time.

My teen possesses [an interesting mix of] anticipatory anxiety seasoned with a love of travel. Figure that one out. He’s a homebody who enjoys visiting new places, staying at hotels “with room service and a concierge” and ordering surf and turf in fine restaurants. What kind of human have I created?

As we approached our downtown hotel, my son excitedly announced that an AMC movie theater was two blocks away and a Barnes&Noble was one block away. The wheels started turning. And from that moment, the rest of the trip [heck, it had barely begun!] centered around AMC and B&N. For him, anyway.

I’m writing this after the fact, with valuable perspective. I so wish I’d had this perspective while on our trip because it probably would have helped calm at least some of his concerns and uneasiness as we went about our planned sightseeing itinerary. An itinerary that did not include AMC or B&N. [But all was not lost.]

After the first day, we realized he wasn’t as excited as we were about some of the plans we’d made—even though he was in on the decisions. And he kept asking when we could go to B&N. So one evening, my husband and I went across the street for a nightcap and our son went to the bookstore. Alone. Relax! The city has great police presence, he has a phone, it was just one block away, he’s almost 17, he stands 6’2”, do I have to continue?

I texted once, got no response and figured he was deeply immersed in some film book. As we left the restaurant, we decided to swing by the bookstore to peek in but it was 5 minutes until closing time. I called his phone, which went right to voicemail. I knew he’d turned it off. Oh great! Well, he wasn’t in the store so we were pretty sure he had returned to the room. In the meantime, we ran a quick errand and then went back to the hotel. At the door to our room I could hear the TV blasting, and I sighed a huge sigh!

We entered the room to find him sprawled out on the bed, arms behind his head, watching some world destruction movie. Phew! I was so relieved, so proud, so happy—yet so angry that he had turned off his phone. I tempered my anger by ducking into the bathroom first and getting a drink of water.

After I had re-grouped, I joined the guys and asked my son if he saw any good books at the store. After he told me about a new book that he absolutely needed, I mentioned that I tried to call him but his phone was off. Then he explained that he turned it off when he got back to the room. [Just as I suspected.] So I nonchalantly suggested, “Hey bud, when we’re away from home and you’re not with one of us, your phone must remain on until we’re back together again. Barely tearing his eyes from the TV, he uttered, “Oh, yeah, sure mom. Sorry about that.”

The next night he wanted to go to the movies, so building on the bookstore success, we said sure. He wanted to see it badly enough, so he decided it would be fine to go alone. Again. What a big guy! And what a relief to me because I did not want to go to a sci-fi movie on my vacation. I guess I just don’t roll that way. And besides, he needs to get used to doing things without his parents [at least that’s what our therapist advises].

So off he ventured, knowing the rules about his phone and general personal safety. He seems to really enjoy his independence, which is great. But all evening I kept looking at my watch. I guess I’m not totally enjoying his independence, but that’s probably pretty typical. As it started to rain I urged my husband to go and meet our son. Besides, it was very late. So his dad was there as he walked out of the theater. They strolled around a bit in the light Seattle rain, then returned to our hotel.

These adventures allowed my son to recharge and have energy to indulge us and cooperate with our sightseeing. I think the sweet liberation even put him in a better mood. A learning experience for all of us.

By the time we flew back home, got unpacked and finally settled at home following the trip, my son was somewhat changed—and so was I. He was doing more and more things without us, many times at our urging. But each time he was triumphant, and, well, success builds on success.

I feel like an empty-nester each evening that he goes out. This new experience is helping to grease the skids for when my husband and I are truly living in a nest that’s empty and echoing.


10 Ways to Prepare Your Child for Independent Life After High School | SKILL #9

Teach Your Child Basic Rules for Living
When an individual picks up after himself, he shows the world he’s responsible. Period.
And let’s face it, whether he goes off to college and lives in the dorms with strangers or
gets a job and shares his workspace or lunch room with co-workers, they will expect him
to tidy up after himself because they sure as heck won’t. And at this point, no parent
can be waiting in the wings to save him.   Image
I came across this list years ago and I freely post it throughout the house. I like to think
it’s made a difference. I added #16 and #17. They’re my favorites. Or maybe they’re just
the ones I find myself barking the most!
1.       If you open it, CLOSE IT!
Image2.       If you turn it onTURN IT OFF!
3.       If you unlock it, LOCK IT!      Image
4.       If you break it, ADMIT IT and REPAIR IT!
5.       If you can’t fix it, CALL IN SOMEONE WHO CAN!
6.       If you borrow it, RETURN IT!
7.       If you use it, TAKE CARE OF IT!
Image8.       If you make a messCLEAN IT UP!
9.       If you move it, PUT IT BACK!
10.     If it belongs to someone else, GET PERMISSION TO USE IT!
11.     If you don’t know how to operate it, LEAVE IT ALONE!
12.     If it doesn’t concern youDON’T MESS WITH IT! Or, if it’s none of your business,DON’T ASK QUESTIONS!
13.     If it’s not brokenDON’T FIX IT!
14.     If it will brighten someone’s day, SAY IT!
15.     If it will tarnish someone’s reputation [or hurt someone’s feelings], KEEP IT TO YOURSELF!
16.     If you see something on the floorPICK IT UP!
17.     If you empty it, REFILL IT!    Image
~~ Author Unknown ~~
And, my friends, if all else fails, just set a good example
As the mother of a son with autism, I’ve committed myself over the years to learning, understanding and sharing the most effective ways to nurture, protect and prepare a child with autism. Strategies with the potential to reap great rewards for our kids. Strategies for transitions and more, which I’ll gladly share with you.
And right now I’m offering speaking engagements to parent groups, educators, autism support groups, government agencies and community organizations.
Call 714-501-8735. The talk is free. The information is priceless. 

If you’ve missed any of my earlier messages you can find them on my blog by clicking here. Follow me!

For more ideas, contact me today at Debora@autismresourcemom.com. Be sure to like ARM on Facebook.

10 Ways to Prepare Your Child for Independent Life After High School | SKILL #8



If you’re anything like me, you don’t want to be fluffing and folding your child’s laundry for the rest of your life. So start instruction early. Be prepared for repetition. Only with practice will these new skills be mastered.
This can be one of the easier chores to teach kids on the spectrum, since it involves activities they often enjoy—sorting [whites, colors, towels] and repetitive tasks. My son is our official “towel folder” and I find great comfort in knowing he’s mastered this skill.
So continue to prepare your child for life after high school and transition to independent adult life by teaching basic laundry skills. Wash, dry, fold, repeat. 
SKILL #8 – Teach Your Child To Do His Own Laundry. 
·         SORT
a.      Whites, colors, towels
·         LOAD WASHER
a.      Teach how to load your machine
b.      Measure out the soap, fabric softener
c.       Set the settings and turn on
·         LOAD DRYER
a.      Transfer clothes to dryer
b.      Check/clean the lint filter
c.       Set the settings and turn on
a.      Some items may be difficult for some kids to fold—especially if they
         have fine or gross motor issues. If so, make it a team effort.
b.      Then put the folded clothes away.     Image
And just remember, it all comes out in the wash!

If you’ve missed any of my earlier messages you can find them on my blog by clicking here. Follow me!

For more ideas, contact me today at Debora@autismresourcemom.com. Be sure to like ARM on Facebook. 

10 Ways to Prepare Your Child for Independent Life After High School | SKILL #5

We continue our discussion of independent living skills with the fifth item—the ability to go places on their own. Sure, they may need our chauffeuring services for a while, but the goal is for them to make this happen without us.
I remember going bowling with my son when he was little. Then taking him to the bowling alley and watching while he bowled with friends. Eventually I was able to drop him off at the door. Of course, this doesn’t happen overnight—in some cases it’ll take years until the child is ready to be cut loose–but plenty of preparation results in lasting benefits.
SKILL #5 – Teach your child to go places independently.
Certainly we don’t want our child to be afraid of exploring his or her own community. Starting when they’re young makes it easier so you can build on mastered skills. Gradually you’ll want to extend the distances. Trust me, your child will be ready for this far before you will be!
Child:             Get the mail, walk to a neighbor’s
                      house, etc.
Pre-teen:        Walk to and from school, a friend’s
                      house, park, library, post office, rec
                      center, etc.
Teen:             Learn how to use public
                            – Be familiar with routes and
                            – Know what the fare is and how
                               to pay it
                            – Know how to buy a pass and
                               request/use a transfer
                       Walk to a nearby store, library,
                       restaurant, cinema, after-school  
The ultimate goal is to create a comfort zone of mobility within the community for your child. Starting early will set you both on the path to success.




The self-reliant individual is a self-confident person. For more strategy ideas, contact me today at Debora@autismresourcemom.com.



Building and Teaching Skills: There’s More Than One Way

I’ve come to understand that autism is not a disability in the strictest sense of the word, but rather a different kind of ability. As such, traditional approaches to teaching must give way to more creative, more focused, more knowing approaches. And in doing so, we can help individuals on the spectrum integrate into community life and live independently.

Peter Gerhardt Ed.D. and the Autism Consortium have some great steps for teaching and building skills.

  1. IF YOU CAN TEACH THE SKILL, TEACH IT.  If you can teach a teen to buy something at a store using money, teach her to do it.
  2. IF YOU CAN’T TEACH THE SKILL, ADAPT IT.  If the teen can’t count change–but can use a debit card–have her use the debit card.   Image
  3. IF YOU CAN’T ADAPT THE SKILL, CAN YOU FIND A WAY AROUND IT?  If the teen cannot use a debit card, can she use a gift card or pre-paid card at a specific store?
  4. IF YOU CAN’T FIND A WAY AROUND IT, TEACH THE ‘TYPICAL’ WORLD HOW TO DEAL WITH IT.  If Steps 1-3 aren’t possible, visit the store and introduce yourself to management and staff. Better yet, use a store you shop at often. Explain that you’re working on your teen’s skills–maybe even explain your child’s struggles/diagnosis. With this valuable input, along with some suggestions for supportive prompts, they can help the process. For example, they could prompt your teen, “Suzi, you need to take your change. Thanks!” This type of exchange allows the teen to have an interaction with the cashier, while teaching her how to buy things from a store.   Image


A dear friend just shared this link with me. We both have teenage boys roughly the same age [15-16] and we’ve known each other since pre-school. It seems almost impossible that our boys are now in high school, as I thought it was just a year or two ago when they were racing around the playground on scooters. Time does fly, doesn’t it?


Kids grow up too fast these days. Make the most of every moment.

I remember different landmarks of my angst along the way. The angst of raising my child; the angst of my child who is on the autism spectrum. For me, the circuitous path went this way: The first big fright was the transition from pre-school to public school kindergarten. But it was seamless for my son–no hiccups. Then came Outdoor Education in 5th grade. The week away from home in the mountains. And he was to fly solo–no paraeducator, no mom, no nothing. Just him, his schoolmates, teachers and camp staff. I wanted him to go, but I worried the school wouldn’t allow it. Plus, he eats GFCF, so that would make it prohibitive. That’s why I started laying the groundwork for this when he was in 3rd grade. [Yes, I like to plan ahead!] Come to find out the cook in the camp’s kitchen had a grandson with the exact same dietary restrictions, so she was more than happy to help me. [Huge sigh of relief comes in here.] She sent me the menu for the week and I simply marked which foods he could eat. And I supplied the rest. This dear woman offered to prepare the GFCF food I provided. That sure took a load off my mind. So my kid went off to camp with a suitcase and two large coolers of food! What a sight. He had a great time and it was seamless for my son–no hiccups.

Next along the path of transitions for my son was moving to middle school. I guess we complicated matters further by also moving to a new home in a different school zone, but my son didn’t mind. “I’ll make new friends, mom.” Again, it was seamless for my son–no hiccups.

Three quick years and then he’s in high school. Wait! Slow down! Again they told us to prepare for some rocky times because such transitions aren’t easy for our kids. But it was seamless for my son–no hiccups.

Last year I began preparing for his college, but I don’t know if I can work fast enough. I’m researching colleges and programs that can accommodate students with Asperger’s and High-Functioning Autism. And that also brings up the issue of housing.

Listen, I want the most, the best for my son. I want him to live on his own and benefit from all that that teaches him. I want him to be independent. But I’m also his mom. And I worry. [My eyes are getting misty at this point.] Most of all, I want it to be seamless for my son–no hiccups.

That’s why all along the way I’ve been teaching him independent living skills. He thinks of them as chores or jobs but in reality they are life lessons. Folding the towels. Emptying the dishwasher. Setting/clearing the table. Food shopping. Planning/cooking Sunday dinner. Managing time. And more.

So finally, the reason for this post is to share this housing link with you.  http://capecodvillage.org/  I’m adding it to my list. Let’s hope all your transitions are seamless, too! Thank you, Susie, for sharing. 


A place to call home. It does a lot for one’s self-esteem and self-confidence.