Halloween Made Easier

Tips for Halloween

  1. Prime your child for what Halloween is like. Use pictures and drawings to illustrate costumes, knocking on the door, saying “Trick or Treat” or holding out their bucket. You may even want to make a little book to read at night. If you use Microsoft or Apple, Powerpoint or Pages are easy ways to make them. There are also some apps that are helpful. Here is a Pinterest page that lists them: https://www.pinterest.com/trcmarin/aac-apps-story-writing/.  I use Pictello. This will reduce anxiety and fears. 
  2. Check and make sure your child is comfortable with walking in the dark outside with you. 
  3. Have a friend help you and have your child practice knocking on the door and getting candy. 
  4. When picking out a costume, think about sensory issues. Halloween costumes can be itchy, heavy, or block their vision.  Make sure to put the costume on in the house several times to check it out before the big day. This will help them get used to it. 
  5. Don’t insist on the child wearing a costume. Think about some things in his/her own wardrobe that are familiar and comfortable. 
  6. When the big day arrives, go over the pictures and drawings or story again before you go. 
  7. Make small plans. Do not overdo. Go to familiar houses first. You may want to go with a friend.
  8. Consider a school or familiar venue for your Halloween celebrations.
  9. If your child is on a special diet, think about a small home holiday party and have your child give out the candy. Another idea is to have them “trade” for the healthier choice.  If all else fails, give a few neighbors a safe treat for your child. Have them give them the safe treat when the child comes to the door. 
  10. Make a plan about how much candy they can have. Make a visual guide. 

Tips for July 4th

Planning A Little Helps So Much!

5 Tips to Help Children with Autism on July 4th!

  1. Read a story or write information about what 4th a July is about.  This helps children understand what is going on. The story should explain why we celebrate and information about the experience the child will have. For example, “July 4th celebrates the first birthday of America’s independence. Our leaders wanted it to be full of beautiful lights to attract everyone to be happy for America. Fireworks make beautiful lights that can be seen from far away! The lights are all different colors. In order to make the lights go up in the sky, people use little rockets which make a loud noise.  The little rocket helps people see the fireworks from far away. If I don’t like the noise, I can put on my headphones. This will let me see the lights but not hear the noise.”  This is just an example. Make sure your story makes sense to your child and their experience.
  2. Let the child get used to what fireworks look like and sound like. Look at videos of fireworks with the volume way down. Talk about which is the child’s favorite color. Draw pictures of the fireworks.
  3. There are many ways to dampen the firework noise in the house if you stay inside. You can shut windows, play favorite music or favorite television shows. Let them put on a headset and play video games. If all else fails, the bathroom is usually a quiet room. You can put on the shower to add to the calm atmosphere.
  4. You may want to celebrate at home like a birthday party. You may want to have a cupcake for the country. Try watching fireworks from far away with family.  
  5. Talk about the experience before and after. Make a family story with photographs of the celebration. This will help them look forward to the holiday next year!

The Need To Stop And Think When Considering Treatments

Let's be thoughtful! By Dr. Sylvia Diehl


I am writing this blog post to encourage us all to be thoughtful when choosing treatments. I started getting worried about this after reading a headline today: AUTISM SYMPTOMS CAN BE REDUCED BY 50% WITH FECAL TRANSPLANTS. Following this headline was a description of a study that had seen improvements in 18 children with autism even after 2 years. Sounds great doesn’t it? 

Well, let’s investigate a little further. Generally, studies that are more dependable have a large group of subjects.  This study had only 18. Studies that are dependable also have control groups. In other words, one group that gets a treatment and one group that doesn’t. This study doesn’t. After two years, the researchers brought the children back and gave them the same series of tests that they gave the first time. The researchers found many of their GI symptoms were improved and that their autism symptoms were less prominent.  I am not a medical doctor so I can not speak to the GI symptoms, but I can speak to the autism symptoms. Children with autism get better with Evidence Based intervention. This study does not say what those 18 kids were doing for the past 2 years. How would we know whether the children improved because of evidence based intervention and age or because of their fecal process? This is why we must be thoughtful about reacting to these headlines and find out the whole story before going forward. 

For example, a family who is close to me, has a child with autism. He also has severe allergies and asthma. When their child with autism was 6, secretin was being advertised as a wonderful intervention for autism that targeted language and behavior improvements. Secretin was only approved to treat pancreatic insufficiency at that time and now. A well-meaning but misinformed doctor was willing to take their child and give him a series of intravenous injections in the doctor’s office. The doctor had no resuscitation equipment in his office and no plan if there was an allergic reaction. This unproven process could have killed their child! Thank goodness this fine young man had a thoughtful family that saw the red flags. When studies with control groups were used, it was shown that there was NO effectiveness in using Secretin to treat autism. 

Our children are not Guinea pigs and should not be treated like this! I urge you all to get the full picture when considering treatments for your children so they can continue to thrive and are not put through treatments that are not needed and even dangerous. I am always happy to help you with this! Feel free to email me with questions at knowledgecountsonline@gmail.com

Great News for Families of Children with Autism

Vacation News! By Dr. Sylvia Diehl

There is a new service that helps families of children with Autism Spectrum Disorder find friendly vacation rentals! According to the April, 2019 American Speech-Language-Hearing Association  (ASHA) Leader, a company called Villa Key has launched a new online platform. 

It showcases homes that should be comfortable for people with autism. These homes have soft or neutral colors, soft lighting, and items fragrance free products. The site also gives information about traveling with people with autism along with a vacation traveling checklist. Visit the site at bit.ly/asd-vacay to see available homes in several cities.

Learn how to prepare your child for new or changing activities with our Knowledge Counts Online "Priming" Course: www.knowledgecountsonline.com/courses/priming

5 Strategies To Use During Autism Meltdowns By Dr. Sylvia Diehl

Help for overwhelming times!

1. A meltdown is usually a sign of distress.  The reason for the meltdown may not be immediately obvious but the warning signs are typically able to be detected. The warning signs will be different for each child. Some common alerts include asking to go, high pitched repeated language, covering ears, rocking, pacing, trying to leave, hitting things or themselves, biting hands, or picking at clothes. 

2. Avoiding the meltdown is much easier than when it has progressed to a full blown meltdown. Observing your child when he/she gets upset is really helpful. It will tell you situations that can trigger a meltdown and it will tell you what behaviors are warning signs before a meltdown. Make two columns on a piece of paper. One column is for things that are disturbing for your child and could act as triggers for a meltdown. The other column is for behaviors that are warning signs. This paper can be used to remind others. Keep it handy. 

3.  Put together stress toolbox. Keep it in your car. It could include things like a favorite toy, sensory calmers like koosh balls, a 'happy book' (a book with pictures that they enjoy), weighted blanket, earphones, and music.  These things can be calming and distract the child from the situation.

4. Your reaction is really important. Children with autism are often challenged when  trying to regulate their emotions. This is even harder for them if you are modeling upset or angry emotions. It can be difficult but it is important to remain calm. Being prepared by knowing the triggers, the warning signs, and having the stress toolbox really helps to keep you calm which will help your child calm down too. 

5. If a meltdown happens, this is time to go into safe mode. This is not a teachable moment. This is a calm down and keep safe moment. Stay safe by removing dangerous objects and making the environment as calming as you can. Ask people who may be 'trying' to help to nicely move on. Too many people giving commands or orders are a recipe for disaster. Assure them that you and your child are fine. If they persist, tell them your child has autism and you are working on self-regulation and you have a plan. You can even have cards made up that educate people. If you need help, ask for what you need specifically (i.e., "Please get that cart for me."). It is important to remember when the meltdown is over that there is teaching to be done at the right time.  Teaching self-regulation and self- management should be only be done when the child is calm. You can find how to do this in our self-management course.