Things You Should Know About Autism

Schemas are grouped pieces of information the brain can access quickly to understand a specific event or situation. For example, we may have a preconceived idea of what someone is like simply by the way they dress, how they talk or where they come from. A schema that may dictate to us that a person will be very nice because we already have an understanding that people who we group into the same category are nice too. Chances are this person will be nice also.

Schemas work on a variety of levels. Our brains group together a series of data which it calls upon to understand an environment, ourselves as people and events. For example, you will know that when you go to a restaurant, you wait to be seated at a table, ask for the menu, choose your meal and your drinks and so on. The reason why you know this information about restaurants is because your brain has a schema that tells it how to behave.

We have different schemas which provide our brain with different pieces of information depending on the environment. For example, there are role schemas (which tells us about social occupations of certain people when we see say, uniforms; soldier, policeman and so on.) There are also social schemas which we use to define events. These can related to anything from what to do when we go to the dentist to seeing a news item of war or protest through media like television. We adapt what we see, feel and experience into an understanding of the event.

Of course, we have schemas which define how we feel about other cultures and backgrounds different to our own. In this aspect, the schemas we sometimes have can be based on negative experiences. This can be associated with the anger and frustration people feel against racism, segregation, prejudice and in some parts of the world; religion.

So how does this sit with Autism?

Our brains all work in the same way. In other words, your child’s brain still has schemas for different things, such as eating dinner, getting dressed, going to school and so on. These schemas are defined by previous information of a situation or a memory of a similar event. With Autism, the brain can sometimes not know what is expected of it when faced with a situation where it feels anxious, stressed or confused. When it feels like this, this may be when your child expresses an unusual behaviour. What other people might find surprising is how the child is reacting. This is because they have their own schemas that tell them this behaviour doesn’t fit with their own understanding.

There is a reason why sometimes people don’t readjust their schemas more appropriately. It is because they are triggered by automatic thought. This was one of the elements of CBT which Beck recognised as being a factor in depression, anxiety and stress related conditions. The key is to interrupt the automatic thought and all the brain to connect to the schema a new thought, or a new piece of the puzzle. The essential part of this exercise is to use repetition. Once the piece has been ‘fixed’ into place, then they will be able to adapt to the new schema.

This has been highly successful with my own son who has Autism and who has used these new ideas for social and communication skills, with great effect. It has also been very helpful for stressful situations such as hospital appointments, dentist appointments and exams at school, allowing him to go into the transitions of life, no matter how big, with renewed confidence and less anxiety; the real barrier, I believe, that holds back many people on the spectrum from reaching their true potential.

Step Modeling For Your Kids

Kid models are the most adorable bunch but they are easily the toughest models for photographers and agencies to handle. Modeling definitely takes a toll on the kids themselves as well. To ease that process, we have compiled the top five tips on kids modeling that we believe should be strongly adhered to.

1. Choose the right agency

Choosing the right agency takes the number one priority on the journey to becoming a kid model. The right agency is not one that is just registered but is reputable and credible. Parents/ guardians should be clear on how their child will be treated and what the future growth of their kid will look like. Any credible modeling agency would set up a good website and be very active both on online and offline platforms to market their models. As such, you will be able to see the photo shoots and past projects done by kids, and make a well-informed decision on whether to join the agency.

Most importantly, never fall prey to scams. Setting your kid up with the wrong agency can pose many risks and also destroy your kid’s genuine passion for modeling. Some important signs that will point it out are being located in suspicious areas, calling you for an appointment on irregular hours, poor online presence, requesting for sexually explicit poses and asking kids to come alone to the agency without their parents. Of course, use your wisest judgment in all cases, but parents should always follow their kid to a modeling agency and for all jobs.

2. Wear appropriately to the audition.

Not only should a kid wear simply, he or she should wear age appropriately. Suits or fancy dresses are definitely unnecessary. Solid-colored clothes are enough. Preferably stick to bright color that resemble the vibrancy and energy of a kid and it’s better to wear plain than risk rejection.

3. Set realistic schedules

If your kid looks good and is performing well as a model, there will be many opportunities coming their way. Never forego the most important priorities such as school and family time. You also never want to overstrain your kid at a young age else the result may back fire and they may lose interest in kids modeling due to fatigue or stress caused by a hectic schedule. Modeling should be a fun and unique experience for kids; else it’s not a wise pursuit.

4. Don’t spend too much on photos or clothes

It is likely that parents wishing the best for their kids end up spending a bomb on clothes and expensive photography of their kids to submit to the agency. On the contrary it isn’t necessary to send studio-quality or professional photos to a studio. Ordinary snapshots that are well taken would suffice for the application to an agency. Any good agency will be identifying the talent with ordinary photos and they will anyway take better photographs suited to the style they want to mould your kid into. Hence, save your money and your time.

5. Make sure your kid loves modeling.

Money and fame are the usual reasons why models sign up. However, it is hard to make good money or substantial fame until a model becomes successful and starts doing major projects; this is even more so for a kid. Moreover, at the onset of modeling, there will be sacrifices to make in terms of traveling to different areas of the country for photo shoots, giving up a bit of social life to accommodate modeling and so on. Hence it’s absolutely vital that a kid truly loves modeling in order to excel in it.

Do Not Tell About These To Your Children

Do they mean to keep these things secret, or does it just happen? Does it have to do with protecting themselves, their pride or shame, as the case may be? And if you are a parent, what do you think about sharing these information with your grown-up children? Maybe it is just not necessary. But won’t some children like to know?

Well, different persons will surely have different views to the matter. But my point is, here are things parents don’t get to tell their children. In most cases, the children discover these things from other sources, or after the death of one or both of their parents. As for whether or not it would be better if a child was told, everyone will have to decide for themselves.

Here’s my list.

1. How much they earn

You either snoop that out or you live with a guess work. Most parents will hardly share information on how much they are earning by themselves.

2. How much they are worth

If any of your parents makes it to Forbes’ list, or any of those, then you’d know it from there for the first time. Or wait till the will is read.

3. How much they owe

This is where the problem lies. Many people can easily excuse the previous ones, but what about this? At least for the sake of the direct impact it has on the children once the parents are gone.

4. That they still miss their ex

If you love the other parent very much, you’d feel jealous when one tells you this.

5. That they didn’t plan to have you when you came

You’d feel some sort of rejection if you get to hear this. So you might as well prefer they don’t tell you.

6. That they tried aborting you

This one is a no-go. You’d probably not be able to get over it. Forgiving them will be a big deal. But if you know they tried it, you can as well comfort yourself by reminding yourself ‘you are more than a conqueror.’ Sure! You survived.

7. That they are dying of cancer

You’d think it’s only in the movies; but, no! And the excuse is same: they don’t want to bother you with their problems. So you get to hear it when they are already bedridden, and the doctor insists on it.

8. That they’ve tested positive of HIV

It’s a general fear; but for the sake of family, the ones that should take care of them should know early enough. It is embarrassing, though, especially if this comes from a careless lifestyle.

9. That they’ve cheated and are expecting a baby

This one is more for the men. You only get to see the result of it when you hear much later of a secret son/daughter your dad had, especially after his death. Then there is the paternity test saga.

All About Living With Creative Child

When my youngest child was small she was watching a nature programme when she exclaimed with utter delight that there were glow-in-the-dark monkeys! The rest of the family took a moment before realising what she was seeing. David Attenborough was filming in the jungle at night using a special night vision camera which made the monkeys glow green. We laughed at her for a while but then it became such a charming idea that there might be monkeys in the jungle somewhere on Earth that glow in the dark. The possibility was real enough as there are other glowing creatures on the planet. We kept this idea going as we discussed the benefits of being able to glow in the dark, to hide in trees and frighten the parrots. Although it was nonsense, fostering this level of creative thought is a great skills to learn. If we are to foster creativity in children we need to work through their imaginations and ideas to see if they can develop the ideas. You might consider whether the monkeys can be seen in the day, how do they glow? Is it down to something that they eat? The process of thinking up more ideas is a fun activity and it doesn’t matter that it goes nowhere.

When my child is amusing us with these little mental challenges I am in awe of her mind – she sees the world from a very different viewpoint than the rest of us; and she keeps us on our toes. But there is a but… She rarely sleeps before 10.00 pm despite being under 9 years old. She never stops. There is always something she is working on or trying to create, drawing and sketching, writing novels (yes) and poetry, baking and painting, then she might pick some flowers to put in a display, ask how to make a fabric collage… and I don’t joke when I say this might all have taken place before 8.30 on a Saturday morning.

My child has an insatiable need to create. She has a desire to be in the PROCESS at all times and in more than one PROJECT. At the moment there is the photographic project – we go on walks in the local countryside and photograph the changing season – currently the beautiful change from Summer to Autumn. The walk then takes on a new life of PROJECT; she becomes frustrated that she cannot get the right picture and her ‘creative temprament’ takes over. We have swings of self-loathing, glory, depression, enjoyment and then others. The other ‘one the go’ project at the moment is a series of books that she is writing, she illustrates them and gets them ‘published’ by her grandmother with proper binding and front pieces. She is very proud of this work and often gives herself a critique on the pointers for improvement.

These things are projects that she tends to work on a complete. But her spirit is Creative – and that is where she becomes a bit of a challenge to parent effectively. She needs ‘ponder’ time – and this is a time of complete inactivity where she will simply stare into space or watch a TV screen (or other screen) for quite a while, sometimes a couple of hours, before springing up and spreading herself around the house with paint, or chalk, paper and a camera – or whatever the project requires.

Another feature of this creative spirit is that she can be on a totally different thought thread to all of us – she gets frustrated that we don’t know what she needs or what she is talking about. Her thought processes have been buzzing away for hours and she needs some answers immediately – and when we are scrabbling around our imaginations and brains to find a response, she becomes very upset and angry with us.

When she was tiny I realised that this was a very different spirit – my other two children were equally artistic and enjoyed all the same things – but the little one went further. She NEEDED so much physical stimulation as a toddler that bed time was more like an hour in a playbarn to calm her down. I attended classes at JABADEO and with the INPP to learn about Developmental Movement Play – and applied it to her. She loved it and I learned how much to help her explore her natural state through tumbling, rolling and bouncing – I watched until she simply became satiated then she could settle.

Similarly she now needs so much input in order to keep her on track. She has such varied methods to express this need that we keep her plied with paper and notebooks, pens and paints, a permanent art station in the garage and a white bedroom wall which is her ‘canvas’ – she is allowed to do whatever she likes on that wall either posters or doodles or stickers. With the confines of the one white wall, she can go to explore in her own space and slightly contain her exuberance for art in the home!

I have two other children, both bright, intelligent and artistic but they never needed this intense input that my youngest needs. I have worked for over 25 years in teaching and in particular early years practice – I have seen a few other children with this same drive – they are also the ones given another title usually ADHD or Aspergers. I don’t think it is a simple coincidence that they are so creative – they do think in different ways but rather than be suspicious of those differences, with looking at her from a Creative point of view I can see how she is working through a journey – on a non-prescribed pathway – to an undisclosed end. No wonder she thinks we are all from another planet sometimes!

Dealing with a child who’s creative spirit is so prolific can be an exercise in constant failure to properly support them. I have spoken to other parents who also find this aspect of their child’s development to be a challenge. By indulging this creativity your child settles, fulfilling their need for seeing what else they can achieve. Parents need to remember to pause a little, step back and wait before judging the odd things that their child might be doing – I was concerned about a child in my pre-school who was constantly painting pieces of paper orange – he was almost 5 and the other practitioners thought it was well below his level of development but for 3 days he kept this up. Piece after piece of orange painted A4 paper – at the end of the session on the 3rd day he brought them all to me – he wanted to rip them up into long strips – I let him do this and helped – when we finished he put them all together and used glue to make a bonfire on the display wall. It was November 4th! You just never know what their project is going to be.

When my child is being stifled she is angry, subdued, frustrated, wakeful, weepy and generally miserable. When we can’t give her the total freedom to indulge her creativity she is a different girl. This isn’t indulgence insofar as we don’t just given in to her every whim. She often wants to make up a poem just before bed time, or make a short film early in the morning. Most children want to have just a bit more time and she has to be treated just the same way. She has learned to deal with this concern for herself and now has some strategies to save her being frustrated, she writes down her plans, mind maps before bed time, puts up post-it notes or does mood boards. These little tricks help her to stay focused on her project but work in with the rest of the family.