For parents of autistic children, more social support means better health

Chronic caregiving stress has also been associated with poorer physical health — more pain, more disruptions from physical-health problems and lower overall health-related quality of life.

One powerful way to reduce their stress: social support. That’s according to a new study published in the journal Family Relations by researchers in Canada.

The study provides additional evidence of the importance of both formal and informal social support for the parents of children with autism. You can read more about the results of this new research on the Concordia University website.


AIR – Helping Families Soar

People Magazine spotlights Pediatrician Wendy Ross. Dr. Ross, founder of Autism Inclusion Resources (AIR) has worked with clinicians and airlines to develop an air-travel program at Philadelphia International Airport. The “Airport Autism Access Program” lets kids with autism practice everything from check-in and security screening to boarding a mock flight.

Read about Devereux parent Amy Kelly’s experience with her daughter Annie.

Annie's First Flight

Annie’s First Flight

How to Talk with Kids About Newtown

How to Talk with Kids About Newtown
An Interview with James Mazza, Ph.D.
Director of the School Psychology Program
Unversity of Washington
(23 minute video available on YouTube)

Statement Regarding Newtown, CT Tragedy

Like the rest of the nation, the Devereux family is heartbroken by the tragic and utterly senseless shooting in Newtown, CT last Friday.  It seems so feeble in the context of such trauma, but our thoughts and prayers are truly with the parents, the children, the school staff and the community.  We so wish that there was something, anything, we could do to comfort them.  In trying to think of something useful to say, something that would provide all of us with a positive way of responding, my thoughts went back to the core protective factors we advocate for in children:

Attachment/Relationships – nothing is more important to all of us, children and adults alike, at this time than knowing that others care for us and about us.  We all know of the need to provide assurance to the children, but let’s also express our compassion for the parents throughout our nation who may be anxious to send their children to school and the school staff who may feel overwhelmed by their responsibility for the children.

Self-Regulation– although we all feel sorrow, it is important not to be overwhelmed by our feelings.  We should all make an extra effort in the coming weeks to take care of ourselves through reflection, meditation, prayer, or the like. We need to acknowledge our feelings, but to stay focused on keeping ourselves together, and maintaining the normal rhythms and routines of life. This is especially important for our children – that they see that the adults that they depend on can acknowledge their feelings, but can cope effectively.

Initiative – Finally, we all have to ask ourselves what we can do as parents, teachers, and community members to make the world safer for children. And then we need to commit to action.

The staff at the Devereux Center for Resilient Children have devoted their careers to helping children build resilience so they can bounce back from adversity, but no child, no family, and no community should ever have to bounce back from events like those in Newtown.

Resources are available to help us best understand how to support children and one and other in these tragic situations.  Following are links to such resources:

Resources for Dealing with Traumatic Events in Schools from CSMH

National Association for School Psychologists

National Child Traumatic Stress Network

Disaster Distress Helpline Offers Immediate Crisis Counseling  Sponsored by the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA), the Helpline immediately connects callers to trained and caring professionals from the closest crisis counseling center in the nationwide network of centers. Helpline staff will provide confidential counseling, referrals, and other needed support services. Call 1-800-985-5990 or text “TalkWithUs” to 66746.

Bring Your Life Into Balance Toolkit

Stress or mood swings rock everyone’s balance from time to time. However, when too much stress, anxiety, depression, or worry interfere with your health, career or personal relationships, it’s time to make a change. No matter how difficult things seem, by learning to harness overwhelming stress and gain emotional awareness, you can bring yourself into balance and have a more positive effect on those around you.  Don’t miss this free self-guided program for becoming a healthier, happier you from Helpguide.

Financial Planning for a Family Member with Special Needs

Interesting article published in the New York Times about the emotional and psychological aspects of financial planning for a family member with special needs that you may want to check out, “The Psychic Toll Paid in a Special Needs House“.

Apps for Students with Autism Spectrum Disorders

Apps for Students with Autism Spectrum DisordersWhen looking for apps for students on the autism spectrum (ASD), it is important to look at all educational apps and not just those that are tagged as autism apps. They have many of the same learning needs that other students have. This list was developed by Mark Coppin to provide apps based on common learning characteristics and traits that are typical for students with ASD.

Mark Coppin is an Apple Distinguished Educator and the Assistive Technology Director for the Anne Carlsen Center.

When you click on the links in the outer gray circle you will be able to view the App description and price in iTunes.  Some are free, others are minimally priced.

Family Checkup: Positive Parenting Prevents Drug Abuse

As part of National Substance Abuse Prevention Month, the National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA) has launched Family Checkup, an online resource that equips parents with research-based skills to help keep their children drug-free.

NIDA-funded research has shown the critical role parents play in preventing their children from using drugs. Family Checkup poses questions for parents to consider as they interact with their children; highlighting parenting skills that are important in preventing the initiation and progression of drug use among youth. The resource incorporates video examples that show parents how-to and how-not-to emulate each skill with their own children. The tools were developed by the Child and Family Center at the University of Oregon.

This available for FREE from the National Institute of Drug Abuse for families.

Dr. Marilyn Benoit’s Letter to the New York Times

Read Dr. Marilyn Benoit’s recently published letter to the New York Times’ editor on what we must do as a nation to reduce children’s psychological barriers to success.