Author: Matt Wiseman

Winter Break Camp

Come join our camp-within-a-camp for kids with ASD. Kids go to the regular YMCA camp and check in with SPAP where we will have specially trainined counselors and volunteers. Kids participate in the main camp as much as they like, then come to the sensory area for some laid back fun. Kids can bring their electronic devices and comfort items and leave them in the sensory area. Cost is $110 a week. For information, call 727-483-1305.

What is Autism Spectrum Disorder?

Autism Spectrum Disorder affects 1 in 68 children born today. Among boys, the number is 1 in 42. ASD is a developmental disorder that presents with impaired social function and impaired communication. ASD affects information processing. People diagnosed with ASD display impairments in how their brain’s nerve cells and synapses connect and organize.

Too Much Information: ASD and Sensory Overload

After a good night’s sleep, most people with ASD start off fine. As the day wears on and fatigue sets in, they experience more and more sensory overload. Think of it like rubbing your arm. It’s okay at first, but keep it up long enough and it will become painful. Rub your arm every day for a long enough time and you might become so sensitive that even a light touch causes pain. To avoid pain, you develop Avoidance Behaviors and Resistance Behaviors to escape the discomfort. When it becomes too much, you have a Meltdown.

Source: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Lr4_dOorquQ

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Resistance Behavior Video

Resistance Behavior is common among kids with Autism Spectrum Disorder. A child displaying Resistance Behavior can become violent, injuring himself or herself, or a caregiver. Some Kids displaying Resistance Behavior will “Bolt,” meaning they will run away without regard for their safety. Bolting is very dangerous near traffic or in other places with safety hazards. Resistance Behavior and Avoidance Behavior are two sides of the same coin


Source: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=pNYkS-2hDMw

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Stimming Behavior Video

Stimming is a way for a person with Autism Spectrum Disorder to focus on a single activity when his or her senses are under assault. One way to think of it is when you are feeling scared or seasick on a boat in rough seas, you might pick a point on land to stare at. Becoming hyper focused on a single point reduces the chaos pouring into your senses and calms you down.


Source: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=4ALy6I1J1uo

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Meltdown Video

A “Meltdown” is the common term used by parents and therapists to describe the fight-or-flight moments when a person with Autism Spectrum Disorder displays behavior that goes well beyond a tantrum. A meltdown is not bad behavior or pouting because the child did not get his or her way — those things can trigger a meltdown. An Autism Meltdown is a whole other thing.

A Meltdown can be frightening for the child and others. A Meltdown can actually cause PTSD in both the child and people affected. Meltdowns are one reason some parents are fearful about taking their children out in public. The fear of injury and stress discourages parents. Sadly, people who see Meltdowns often make unhelpful comments about the parent or the child. (Those people are idiots!)

Helping a person in Meltdown is like trying to save a panicked swimmer. They will grab anything or do anything to be safe, and they may not realize they are in shallow water. They can hurt themselves and they can hurt others. Parents of kids with ASD find it puzzling why people will make unhelpful comments in these moment. They would not say something like “well, my kid never drowned.” Or, “They need to take him home and whip him.”

If you see a child with in distress, one of the best things you can do is watch the area around him or her to make sure there are no safety issues like traffic. If a child bolts, grab him or her if you can. It’s often helpful if you ask the parent “how can I help?”

Sometimes, getting a security guard or a police officer helps.

Sometimes talking to the child helps.

Ask a question like “I see you have a Tampa Bay Rays shirt on. Do you like Baseball?”

If you have other tips, please leave them in the comments below.

Source: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=rlNCz-SF-5I

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