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Thursday, November 3, 2011

So Your 17 Year Old Son With Aspergers Wants to Drive a Car; Applied Behavior Analysis to be Covered by Insurance in NY State; Airway Abnormalities May Point To Autism; Those 7 Important Things Every Parent Should Know; Parents You Have Legal Rights

"I may have been born different and misunderstood from birth, but I know there is a place for me, somewhere in the universe."---Alyson Bradley

Learning To Drive A Car

Your 17 year old son with Aspergers wants to learn how to drive a car. Where do you start?

Learning to drive, as every driver knows, takes a unique set of skills. The demands of learning to drive with someone with Aspergers take on added dimension. The sensory demands alone make learning to drive a challenge for any young person. As someone who has faced this issue on the professional level, allow me to offer some suggestions:

  • Bring the issue up to your child's interdisciplinary team. Your child will need to be assessed by the team. The IDT's assessment should include, but not be limited to, fine and gross motor skills, a hearing assessment, and a visual assessment. In other words, the team should determine if your child has the ability to drive a vehicle.
  • If the IDT determines your child is ready to take driving lessons, it's time to find a qualified driving instructor or driving school. Check to see if your school offers driver's training (I would discourage any family member to try to teach driving. Leave this to the professionals).
  • Apply for a driver's permit, depending on the state in which you reside.
  • It's important the driving instructor or school know about Aspergers even if you have to teach them (unless, of course, you are fortunate to find an instructor or school that specializes in teaching people with Aspergers). For example, the instructor will also need to be told that more driving practice will be needed. The instructor will need to be told to break down the teaching modules into smaller modules. In other words, more step-by-step teaching is essential. You should accompany your child in the vehicle throughout the driver's training.
  • After your child completes driver's training, I would strongly suggest you return to the IDT team with the results of the training. Allow the team to assess the training. Just as important,  the driving instructor should attend this meeting to answer any questions team members might have.
  • Good luck with the driver's test. Remember, it's a written test as well as a road test.

NY State Mandates Insurance Coverage For Autism

On Nov. 1, 2011, NY Gov. Andrew Cuomo signed a bill authorizing insurance companies to cover Applied Behavior Analysis (ABA) in the treatment for children with autism. New York State becomes the 29th state to mandate such insurance coverage.

The law takes effect November 1, 2012. ABA treatment will be covered up to $45,000.00 a year regardless of age.

Airway Abnormalities And Autism

Dr. Barbara Stewart, a pediatric pulmonologist at Nemours Children's Clinic in Pensacola, Florida, reported the finding of abnormalities in the airways of children with autism. Instead of the usual random, asymmetrical branches in the airway, she found "doubled up" symmetrical branches in children with autism. In addition, the branches were smaller. She found this condition in all 43 children with autism in her research. None of the 300 children without autism had this condition. At this early date in the study, researchers do not know what to make of this condition. But they do now know that autism must be treated as a "whole-body" phenomena. ---USA Today

7 Things Every Parent Should Know After Getting A Diagnoses of Autism

Special Education Advisor ran an excellent piece entitled, "Seven Things I Wish Someone Had Told Me When My Daughter Was First Diagnosed With Autism" by Bobbi Sheahan and Kathy DeOrnellas, Ph.D. They list the all important 7 items as:

  1. You are not alone considering 1 in about 110 individuals are diagnosed with autism.
  2. Don't worry about the wrong stuff. Sensory challenges and not understanding danger take precedence over inappropriate behavior, lack of eye contact, and social immaturity.
  3. Nobody knows your child as well as you do.
  4. Don't take garbage from anybody.
  5. You will find nice people in the most unexpected places.
  6. You are parenting a child, not a diagnosis.
  7. If you've seen one child with autism; you've seen one child with autism. Every child with autism is an individual. The possibilities are endless.

Parents, You Have Legal Rights Too

These include:
  • Total and active involvement in your child's IEP or IHP. This also includes others you want to invite, such as your personal physician, a behaviorist or psychologist, or even another relative.
  • Yes, you can disagree with the school's recommendations. But don't stop there---present recommendations of your own.
  • You can and should seek outside evaluations of your child.
  • You can request an IEP at any time if you feel there is a need to have one.
  • If you can't come to an agreement with the school, you can seek legal advice at a low cost.
Having said all of this, know that most teachers and other school representatives have the best interest of your child in mind. They know your child well. In most cases, the IDT (Interdisciplinary Team) and the parents will come to agreed upon goals and strategies. But you also need to be aware of your legal rights as a parent.
(Some of the above sourced from: Helpguide).