ASA's 37th National Conference on Autism Spectrum Disorders (July 13-15, 2006)

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Thursday, July 13, 2006: 11:00 AM-12:15 PM
#2328- Creating a Supportive Home and Community for the ASD Family
The child with ASD does not live in a bubble. His diagnosis affects every aspect of home, school and community. This presentation will focus on providing practical tools for outings, transitions and daily life activities, and how to implement them in multiple settings. Families also often feel isolated, but in reaching out to others we can create a richer, more vibrant community of support for all. This presentation will provide multiple strategies for seeking out and creating that crucial support.

Presenters:Kristi Sakai, Parent, Author, Mother - Kristi Sakai, author of Finding Our Way: Practical Solutions for Creating a Supportive Home and Community for the Asperger Syndrome Family, is the mother of three children with Asperger Syndrome. She serves on the board for Mighty Oaks Children's Therapy Center and is the editor of the online newsletter for the Autism Asperger Publishing Company "AAPC Community of Support for Parents, Professionals and People on the Spectrum". Kristi presented in ASA Nashville, at Focus on Autism Vancouver 2004 and 2005, as well as doing ongoing training presentations throughout Oregon.

Lisa A. Lieberman, MSW, LCSW, ASD, parent, clinical social worker and speaker - Lisa is a popular national speaker with 29 years of experience. Some conference presentations include ASA, MAAP, International Parent to Parent, Autism Society of LA, Best in the Northwest and TEACCH. Along with a private counseling practice specializing in living with disability in the family, she has authored a comprehensive book that details how to hire workers to support people with ASD. Married for 27 years to a man with multiple sclerosis, together they parent Jordan, an 18 year old son with ASD. Having hired over 50 in-home providers during the past 18 years, Lisa has invaluable information to share.

Learner Outcome Objectives:

1. Families will be learn concrete tools they can immediately implement to support their children in a variety of settings and situations, including family outings, errands and while enjoying community activities. 2. Families will be provided with tools and strategies they can use to support their child in transitions, such as from school to home, and for daily situations such as grooming, mealtimes and bedtime. 3. Families will hear a variety of strategies, and an array of options to inspire them to create their own community of support. These include education, medical, faith-based and general community based supports., among others. 4. Community members will gain insight into the various challenges faced by families of children with ASD, as well as practical strategies to support them.

The family who has a child with autism faces unique challenges at home and in the community. It affects every aspect of their daily lives: meals, shopping, holidays, family gatherings and community outings. In our presentation we will give concrete tools from Kristi Sakai's book, such as: Priming, Predicting, Countdown, Wrap-up and Reward to support the child with ASD in family outings, family gatherings and community events. These same tools are wonderfully supportive for helping families with transitions of all kinds, such as school to home; and daily life activities like matters of hygiene and getting to sleep, among many others. In addition, we will provide helpful strategies for dealing with potentially difficult moments, such as mealtimes and bedtimes.

Every family is different and although many strategies are broadly applicable, there will be a strong emphasis on encouraging families to make choices that work best for them despite the judgment of others. We strive to give families permission to acknowledge the painful aspect of living with autism, but at the same time passionately embrace their uniqueness. Finding your funny bone in response to criticism, even if one keeps it to themselves (or giggles about it later with like-minded friends), is a strong survival mechanism and this strategy will be encouraged as well.

Families often feel isolated and alone, overwhelmed and exhausted. An extremely important component in flourishing in spite of the challenges for families living with autism is having a strong community of support. Many members of the community wish to support families who face these joys and challenges, but they are not aware of their needs or how to meet them. A variety of options will be offered about where to seek out support, and how to create it where none exists through advocacy, outreach and community education. In return, community members will be provided with practical ideas about how to reach out to the autism community and realistically meet their needs and lend support.

Although not everyone has the experience of the joys and difficulties of raising a child with autism, each person has their own challenges in life. Communicating needs and expressing feelings provides opportunities for individuals to come together in a spirit of acceptance and warmth. We can create a richer, more vibrant community through recognizing each individual's gifts and challenges, bearing witness to each others' lives and responding with compassion. This is interdependence at its finest.

See more of The ASA's 37th National Conference on Autism Spectrum Disorders (July 13-15, 2006)