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Helping Families of Autistic Children

April 2nd is World Autism Awareness Day and Katy Albert knows a lot about this neurological disorder that effects 1 in 94 children in Canada. Katy is a behaviour consultant at Geneva Centre for Autism, which strives to help build the capacity and skills of indivduals, families, community agencies, and professionals to help indivduals with Autism Spectrum Disorder realize opportunities for successful community enclusion.

Autism is a neurological disorder that impacts 2 core areas.

Social Communication and Interaction and we see Repetitive and Restrictive patterns in Behavuioiurs.

We'll often see indviduals who have a hard time or don't develop language in a typical way. They have a hard time maintaining conversations, reading social cues, or perceiving the emotions of others. Social and Communicative Deficits.

Also you see these repetitive behaviours that can look like flapping or rocking, playing with toys in a repetitive way, lining them up. We see high functioning individuals who have these high intensity special interests that they love to learn and talk about. We see often this insistance and sameness in the world that helps them to cope.

It is called a spectrum disorder because a child can range anywhere from being low functioning to high functioning. Those 2 core areas can manifest so differently depending on the indivdual. We have children who never develop language and then we have people who develop these high vocabularies and have a high level of intelligence but have a hard time maintaining conversations.

How do you find out or pick up some of those cues?

These traits are out there in the population and it's really about, if these things are interferring with your child and getting in the way.

It is when the deficits become such an issue that they are getting in the way of life. If you have concerns with your childs development, your pediatrician is a great person to talk to. They can let you know if you need a further assesment.

At Geneva Centre Katy works with families who children are struggling with quite challenging high risk behaviours. She works in homes to support parents to implement behavioural strategies to try to reduce challenging behaviour and to build new skills.

Having a person to support you as a parent is so important. Autism is a disorder that effects the whole family. Parents need to take care of themselves and reach out to support groups in their communities.

The resources available to families are dependant on where you live and your age. Reach out if you have a child with autism and see what is available.

Alot of people on the spectrum also face mental health issues and with that more resources are open to you.

So many of these people on the spectrum are around all of us and having the sensitivity to these people that are different from us will help them thrive in our communities. Many people feel alone and to embrace these people we need to know something about it.

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