I recently reviewed The Anti-Romantic Child, by Priscilla Gilman. She will be speaking in the Bay Area this week. Please check with the venue to ensure that the details haven’t changed.
Tonight, Thursday July 21, 2011 at 7 pm, Gilman will be speaking at Kepler's in Menlo Park. On Wednesday, July 27, 6 pm Gilman will be speaking at Book Passage, 1 Ferry Building in San Francisco. Finally, on Thursday, July 28, 2011, 7:00pm, she’ll be at Books Inc in San Francisco, CA .
The Anti-Romantic Child is a fascinating and well written book, and I expect that Gilman will be an equally interesting speaker.
It's time to sign up for summer camps! Summer is a great chance for special needs kids and teens to wind down, relax and have some time to themselves. But, it's also a chance for them to catch up on social and emotional skills. Summer camps are a great way to do that.
I was excited to hear about the camp at Twenty Acre Wood Retreat. This residential camp program in the Truckee/Tahoe area is for teens and young adults age 13 and up, especially transitioning older teens, with Asperger's and NLD (Nonverbal Learning Disorder). Older campers can participate in a Counselor in Training program. I'm talking today with camp founder Dr. Meg Fields.
PR: Meg, Thanks for talking with me about the camp. Can you tell me a bit about what your program offers?
MF: Yes, Thank you. Our retreat is a fabulous, small group experience for youth with Aspergers/NLD to grow and thrive in the beautiful outdoors. We have a fabulous mountain retreat, beautiful and elegant and we go backpacking, the best of both worlds. We take full advantage of the opportunities the Tahoe-Truckee area offers: boating, hiking, climbing, white water rafting, games, campfires, art, music, camp stuff that is really fun (and carefully geared to our population, moderate, self esteem building levels not scary or overwhelming).
Our staff is a very interesting group of trained individuals who are thinking about creating a safe environment, safe enough that individual may begin to trust and discover more “internal space” for trying new experiences and taking in the possibilities for themselves. We have many great role models on our staff.
PR: What campers are best suited to your program?
MF: Campers who are wanting to develop new aspects of themselves (possibly unknown to themselves, not yet named). Youth who have desires for more but aren’t sure how to move in those directions. Youth who just want to play and have fun are welcome!! But most of our campers have deep important wants that they aren’t quite sure how to accomplish; we want to help them stretch (a bit at a time).
PR: What skills do you expect campers to come away from camp with?
MF: Backpacking and bonding is an amazing unusual and rewarding experience. I expect they will feel proud and accomplished and I know they will feel very acknowledged for who they are and what they contributed, whatever their special attribute may be. People need acknowledgment and appreciation.
PR: What about campers who have never been away from family before?
MF:If you’ve never been away you may feel homesick. It won’t surprise us and “transitional objects” we understand (things that may help with the difficulty of not having your regular support available). We have worked with individuals who feel sadness and fear, that’s what we do. (It is helpful if parents don’t begin by saying “if you don’t like it you can come home”). Let us do our work and we will call if we need home support, we don’t want a traumatized camper, we will intervene as needed. We believe it is a big experience and we honor it as such.
PR:Meg, thanks for sharing for about the camp! To sign your camper up, please visit the website at http://www.aspergersretreat.com/
The Center of Attention and Learning, in Albany, California, offers ADHD coaching, Executive Function support, and Educational Therapy. The Center, founded last year by Educational Therapist Linda Lawton, is now offering their first working group for adults with ADHD. The group will meet three times per month, and each month will focus on a different issue, starting with procrastination.
Group coaching is an excellent way to get both professional and peer support, and it is more cost effective than individual treatment. If you’re interested in more information, visit the Center’s website, or their Working Group information page.
And, for Middle School and High School Students, check out the Center’s Supervised Study Hall. Author's note: 2/13/12, the Supervised Study Hall is no longer offered, but I will be posting about a new program soon.
Post high school transition planning is an important step for any student with special needs, and it's vital to begin the process early. I encourage parents to attend transition events as a first step in planning, and it pays to start early, well before your child's senior year. Most events are only held annually, and many programs are limited in size.
In March, Orion Academy is conducting their 5th Annual Seminar on Post-High-School Transition Planning. Orion Academy is a college-preparatory program for secondary students on the Autistic Spectrum with neurocognitive disabilities such as Aspergers syndrome, or NLD (Non-verbal Learning Disorder). From their flier:
Seminar-Social Issues Facing Teens on the Spectrum
March 26, 2011
8:30 AM - 4:00 PM
Renaissance Club Sport Hotel, Walnut Creek, CA
$95 -Lunch and resource binder included
Orion Academy's 5th annual ASD ''Transitions Seminar'' will take a bold look at the issues facing today's teens on the spectrum and what parents should know but may be afraid to face. Topics will include social networking, dating and attractions, and sexual safety. Speakers will also summarize the legal issues parents should be aware of and post high school options for their teen.
Exhibitors for various post-high school programs will be available at lunch to meet with parents.
For information call (925) 377-0789 or go to www.orionacademy.org
Setting up a special needs trust for your child is a complex situation requiring expert advice. I am not that expert! However, I did hear about an upcoming event, and since I’m not affiliated with this group, I’m pulling directly from the flier they sent me.
The event takes place on June 9, 2010, from 6:30 to 8:30 PM, to be held at Fremont Bank’s Bankers Building, 7611 Niles Blvd., Fremont, CA 94536. Topics to be discussed include:
• The Benefits of a Special Needs Trust
• What assets can be used to fund the Trust
• Choosing the right Trustee
• How California’s Budget Crisis will affect our Special Needs
The speaker for this event, Stephen Dale, received his law degree in 1982 and teaches courses on special needs trusts and trust administration to the public, financial professionals and other attorneys. He is a national member of the “Special Needs Alliance” of attorneys and has written several publications related to special needs planning.
For more information on this presentation, call (800) 504-4721.
My upstate New York family may be getting snowed on, but here in the Bay Area, it's spring, with daffodils and cherry blossoms, and that means it's not too early to starting thinking about summer activities for your kids. There are many summer camp programs and a lot of them are geared toward kids and teens with special needs, like autism, Asperger’s, ADHD or other social or emotional issues. Many of these programs fill up quickly, especially those for older campers and the counselor in training programs, and some camps offer a discount for early sign up. Here is a list of just a few, those I’ve heard about that might be worth checking into for your child. Please do your own research since I’m only reporting what others have told me, I’m not professionally or personally involved in any of them. And, if you are aware of other East Bay programs for the summer, please let me know. I’ll edit the post to include anything else I hear of.
Thanks to the members of email@example.com for your ideas. If you're ever trying to solve a problem and can’t quite come up with the right resource, this group is the place to go. Someone in this group of very helpful people always knows the answers.
Strawberry Canyon Blue Camp's Social Skills camp, on the UC Berkeley campus offers a program for kids with social skills deficits, grades 3 to 12. Younger kids are in groups with a leader, but take part in their activities along with the typical kids from the larger daycamp. For teenagers with special needs, the camp offers a counselor in training program, with focus on social skills as they relate to job skills.
Quest Camps in Alamo offers programs for campers from ages 6 to 18, with special responsibilities and programs for teen campers. They have daily activities, field trips and therapy.
Trails to Success offers their summer camp programs in Orinda. They also have a counselor in training program for teenagers.
Walnut Creek offers a summer therapeutic program through the city parks and recreation. We Care in Concord has also offered an autism summer camp, although I only found online information on the 2009 program. The Easter Seals Kaleidoscope program in Dublin offers an after school program, and I'm told they extend their schedule to longer days over the summer.
Sarah’s Science “This Land Is Your Land” camp is not designed specifically for special needs children, but the science and nature themes may be of interest to many kids. A mom told me that her son with Asperger’s really enjoyed the camp. Older campers can do more challenging projects, and there is a counselor in training program. The camp is located in San Ramon, Berkeley, and Oakland.
Tech Know How offers camps on computers, Legos and game design. Again, this camp is not designed specifically for kids with special needs, but it does match well with the interests of many kids on the spectrum, and a mom reported her child with Asperger's enjoyed it. They have locations throughout the Bay Area.
A few posts ago, I talked about transition planning for teens and how important it is to start planning early. At that time, I wasn’t sure when the Transition Conference for Contra Costa County was being held. But now you can download a copy of the Conference Brochure. It’s being held at Diablo Valley College in Pleasant Hill, California on Tuesday January 5, 2010. This conference is a great resource for adults and parents of teens, with a full day of presentations on living options, employment, financial needs, sexual issues, disability services at community colleges.There is also a resource room for more info about services. Download the Conference Flyer Here.
Special education and the legal issues surrounding it are very complex topics. Parents need to know their rights and responsibilities, and what their child is entitled to. For parents in the San Francisco Bay Area, the Leigh Law Group is presenting a workshop for parents and professionals on Special Education: Rights to Related Services in the Public Schools. The training event is November 14th, 2009, in San Francisco, and it’s only $10.00.
I’ll state right up front that I’m not familiar with this group, and I don’t know the presenters, but the topic is so crucial, I’m guessing this could be a valuable morning. I think they run these regularly, so you might want to get on the mailing list. If you do attend, please send me a note and let me know how the presentation was.
I know it's short notice, but this training sounded so interesting I'm posting it here. The Creekside School in San Jose, California is offer a free one day DIR/Floortime workshop for parents, tomorrow, 2/28/09. They'll have speakers from ICDL, Creekside and other organizations. DIR/Floortime is Standley Greenspan's program which I've written about several times on this blog. Please check out their website for more info.
My final comments on the STAR parent conference on Autism 2008, which I’ve discussed in the previous two posts, is about the presentation on current research findings on autism, presented by Judith Grether, PhD. Dr Grether is a Perinatal Epidemiologist with the California Department of Health Services in Richmond, California, a part of Centers for Autism and Developmental Disabilities Research and Epidemiology (CADDRE).
The presentation began with a summary of “what we think we know”, as Dr. Grether termed it, such as a prevalence rate of about 1 in 160, the fact that it is much more common in males, and that 30% to 60% of the cases include seizures and 20% to 30% of the cases involved regression. Dr. Grether defined Autistic Spectrum Disorders as a process that “typically starts during gestation.”
The presentation then moved to a discussion of vaccines and autism. This was fascinating, because she discussed theories involving antigen concentration as well as Thimerosal use. I know this topic can be very controversial, so I’m not going to attempt an amateur replication of Dr. Grether’s statements. If this is a topic of interest to you, I urge you to go to the CADDRE website and sign up for the autism newsletter.
The presentation moved to other areas that are being studied, including immune issues, maternal factors including parental age, and environmental issues such as toxins and pesticides. I found the parental age issues most interesting, especially the studies that attempt to tease out the cause and effect of the issue. Dr. Grether stated that “the risk of ASD is increased with increasing age of mothers and, independently, with increasing age of fathers.” She then discussed at length the studies that have been performed in an attempt to determine what this correlation really means as far as what precise factors are actually causing this increased risk. As is typical in autism research, there are many questions and few definite answers. Dr. Grether concluded the presentation with a discussion of current studies that are being performed and how parents can help with research.
My opinion about this presentation is heavily influenced by my own engineering background. Prior to becoming a therapist, I was an engineer and I spent many years doing research and experiments. My area of study was Materials Engineering and semiconductors, very different than epidemiology and autism. However, I learned two things as an engineer that I think are applicable.
First, it’s very rare to find absolutes in science: “always”, “never”, “the best”, “we know for sure”. I appreciate that this presentation was so carefully presented. We got to hear of studies that aren’t complete, facts that aren’t fully understood and theories that are only being considered. Dr. Grether took care to state when there were uncertainties, yet at the same time presented research that is still in progress.
Second, I’ve found that the best science is performed when the researchers go into the experiment being open minded about what the data will show. This seems to be a real strength for Dr. Grether and was one of the factors that made this presentation so interesting.
Patricia Robinson MFT
I'm a licensed therapist in Danville, California and a coach for Asperger's and ADHD nationwide. I work with individuals of all ages who have special needs, like Autism Spectrum Disorders, ADD, ADHD, and the family members and partners of special needs individuals.