Tag Archive for: autism


Can Dietary Treatments for Autism Help?

The great debate about dietary treatment for autism continues.  Many parents with children who have autism are moving towards a strict gluten/casein free diet.  Although this diet has not been medically proven to help with the symptoms of autism spectrum disorders (ASD’s), many feel that it does.  Read the following from Autism Speaks to learn more about the debate over whether or not this special diet can help.

Autism Speaks:  How helpful is the casein-gluten-free diet?

We want to hear from you!  Has the Gluten-Free Casein-Free diet worked in your situation?


Autism and the Role of Occupational Therapy

On April 2nd the world “lit it up blue” in support of World Autism Awareness Day.  It is estimated that Autism Spectrum Disorder affects over 3 million individuals in the U.S. and tens of millions worldwide.

Occupational Therapy plays an important role in helping individuals living with autism.  Learn many of the ways an OT can support individuals and their families in the following infographic:


New Ontario Autism Program – Did the Government Get it Wrong?

According to Autism Speaks, Autism now affects 1 in 88 children and 1 in 54 boys. The 2012 numbers reflect a 78% increase in reported prevalence in the last 6 years.  This is a growing problem, impacting more and more families each year.

With growing numbers of affected children, wait times in Ontario for assessment and treatment have increased to an unacceptable level.  Recently, the Ontario Government made changes to its policy on Autism care in hopes to reduce wait times for those families seeking assistance.  While these changes may be beneficial for children aged 2-4 seeking diagnosis and treatment, those 5 and older will no longer be eligible for government funded Intensive Behavioural Intervention services, even if they have been on a wait list for years.

Intensive Behavioural Intervention (IBI) is the application of the principles of Applied Behaviour Analysis (ABA) in an intensive, highly structured format. It is a comprehensive approach that is used to teach a broad range of skills, such as communication, socialization, self-help, pre-academics, and play.   All IBI programs are individualized to the strengths and needs of each child and therapy decisions are based on a comprehensive review of program data. The goal of IBI is to help young children with Autism catch up developmentally to their peers. This means that IBI aims to increase the rate of a child’s learning, to bring their skills closer to those of typically-developing children, to decrease their symptoms, and to prepare them for an appropriate school setting.

The government will be providing a one-time payment of $8000 to families with children 5 and over, however, it is only a drop in the bucket for the amount of money required for this type of vital treatment.

The following from CTV News shows the frustration and abandonment families with Autistic children 5 and over are feeling:

How can you stand up for the rights of the affected families?  Let the Ontario Government know that they have gotten it wrong by signing the petition to Oppose the new Ontario Autism Program’s elimination of IBI eligibility for Children over 5.

To learn more about the changes and how you may be affected please visit the Ontario Autism Program website.

And please, tell us what you think:  did the government get it wrong?



Occupational Therapy and Autism

According to Autism Speaks, Autism now affects 1 in 88 children and 1 in 54 boys. The 2012 numbers reflect a 78% increase in reported prevalence in the last 6 years.  This is a growing problem, impacting more and more families each year.

Autism is a spectrum disorder, meaning that the signs, symptoms and severity can vary, making this difficult to diagnose and sometimes treat.  Yet through therapy, children with Autism can learn to function and communicate as independently as possible at home, school and with their peers.  The following from WebMD discusses the vital role Occupational Therapy plays in helping those with Autism.

This Saturday, April 2nd, is World Autism Day.  Take the pledge to Light it Up Blue for Autism.

WebMD:  Benefits of Occupational Therapy for Autism


Meet The Newest Muppet

Sesame Street has just introduced a new character to their long-running show.  Julia, who has autism, has been introduced as part of the show’s See Amazing in All Children campaign.  Sesame Street is hoping to reduce stigma, promote inclusion and encourage conversations about Autism Spectrum Disorder.  Check out the following from Global News to learn more about Julia and this great initiative!

Global News:  Sesame Street introduces autistic character as part of initiative to reduce stigma


photo courtesy of Autism Speaks



Check out the inspirational story of Connor Yates:  a young boy who’s courageous speech created awareness for autism and  inspired people around the world.


Sensory Friendly Screenings

Going to the movies can be a great way to spend your day or evening, however, the dark and loud environment of a typical theatre may not be suitable for many.  Autism Speaks Canada has teamed up with Cineplex to bring sensory friendly entertainment to individuals on the autism spectrum or those who require this type of environment.

Check out the details of this partnership at


Employment for Autistic Individuals

In celebration of Autism Awareness Month we are thrilled to bring you this guest post from our colleague Bill Wong.  Bill is an Occupational Therapist, speaker and Autism advocate who lives and practices in California.  For more information on Bill please check out his recent Ted Talk: “Fighting On: Overcoming Autism Diagnosis.”

Employment for Autistic Individuals
Guest Blogger:  Bill Wong, OTD, OTR/L

Unlike many occupational therapy experts in autism, my expertise in autism comes from a combination of clinical and theoretical knowledge and my lived experiences as an autistic individual. Since I was diagnosed in 2010, I have been working on trying to understand my lived experiences from an occupational therapy perspective.

Employment can be tough for autistic individuals. There are 3.5 million autistic individuals out there in the United States, myself being one of them.  Of the 3.5 million autistic individuals, 35% have never held a job, and before occupational therapy, I was part of that statistic.

Fast forward to my occupational therapy career, my first occupational therapy job lasted 3 months and I had an unsuccessful attempt at private practice for 8 months. That said, I am now employed for 7+ months in the skilled nursing facility setting and poised for a pretty good performance review if I were to have one today.

What have I really learned?

1.      Networking is really important. Every real connection in your life counts. You never know when will these connections come into play. If you are a parent of a young autistic child, encourage them to learn to play with other children or join extracurricular activities where they can be with others and make friends. If you are a parent of an autistic adolescent or adult, encourage them to make some close friends that they can rely on in the future. As an autistic individual, I understand that making connections spontaneously can be difficult. However, inviting them to participate in social opportunities that interest them can be a good start for facilitating such connections.

2.      It is important for autistic individuals to know about themselves well– from their strengths and weaknesses, to sensory preferences, to their abilities in stress and anxiety management. Unless autistic individuals are in supported employment or sheltered employment, they won’t have access to support workers around them constantly. Understanding such things can help maximize the length of time these individuals are employed, or leave on their own terms if better opportunities come along.

3.      Don’t overlook volunteer opportunities or internships. Autistic individuals can learn about working as a team and many other job related skills. Expectations might be lower than an actual job. However, they can be important job-skill building experiences prior to actual paid employment.

4.      Social media can be a double edged sword for autistic individuals. On one hand, it can be an avenue to develop strong professional networks and support systems. On the other hand, it can be a key reason why autistic individuals might not get employed if their employers study their social media accounts. For autistic individuals, that means they have to be aware of their social interactions online so that they don’t put themselves in disadvantages that they are not aware of.

5.      Once employed, building rapport with colleagues is vital. That can set the tone on whether a job can be a successful and enjoyable one. In order to do so, this means autistic individuals must have at least adequate social communication and rapport building skills. Performance skill development will come with time at any job.

6.      The first paid job can be learning experiences for future jobs. Getting fired or having to resign are not fun feelings. But reflecting upon objectively the reasons why can lead to opportunities to improve and make adjustments for the next job.

7.      Mental flexibility is extremely important in many jobs. Job environments can produce many unpredictable situations. There also may not be enough time for transitioning from one task to another. Training autistic individuals how to deal with such from an early age will go a long way in preparing for their futures.

8.      Working at a paid job doesn’t mean sacrificing all the things that are meaningful to you or can bring balance to your life. Having a job that can pay the bills is important. However, if this comes at an expense of not doing things that autistic individuals can either relax or serve as a change of pace for what they are doing, it may be is time to switch to a better job situation.

9.      Never be ashamed to ask for help on job related matters– from people at the autistic individuals’ current jobs, to those in their social circles who are also working in the same profession. As an autistic individual, I understood it can be tough to ask for help, especially to my peers who have accomplished more than I do. That said, once I realized I was struggling in my current job after I completed my observations, I quickly turned to social media unashamedly asking my peers for help. My proactive actions helped me settled into the flow of my job within two weeks.

In conclusion, maintaining paid employment can be a daunting challenge for autistic individuals when they become adults. However, with great preparation in childhood and helping them learn generalizable skills will carry them a long way to succeed. Even if they have to learn these skills in adulthood like me, being intentional about attacking these problems can increase chances of successful employment.


photo care of:


The Gluten-Free/Casein-Free Diet And Autism

Many parents with children who have autism are moving towards a strict gluten/casein free diet.  Although this diet has not been medically proven to help with the symptoms of autism spectrum disorders (ASD’s), many feel that it does.  The following from Web MD discusses the pros and cons of the gluten/casein free diet and the connection to ASD’s.

Web MD: Gluten-Free/Casein-Free Diets for Autism

We want to hear from you!  Has the Gluten-Free Casein-Free diet worked in your situation?  Would you recommend it to others?