Tuesday, January 31, 2012

My Baby's Birthday

My baby turned 5 years old today.  As he was clapping, laughing and I think what you might call dancing in Autisilandia while blowing out his candles, I couldn’t stop the tears from coming down after having a quick flashback of his previous birthdays and his progress.

At 1 he was also clapping singing “to you, to you” and spitting all over the cake trying to blow out the candle.

At 2 years old he couldn’t blow them out and that was a big red flag that something was wrong with my son.  Of course I had been seeing other signs but didn’t want to admit it, and that’s why I made everyone wait forever, trying to make him blow them out, until my husband went ahead and did it because everyone was starting to get bored.

Three was torture for him; while everyone was enjoying themselves, he was just sitting in the corner banging his head against the wall and crying…  We sang to his brother instead and made him blow the candles out.

Finally by 4 I had learned that a party wasn’t a good idea and that we should just celebrate by ourselves with a cake at home, when he shocked us all by blowing the candles out and clapping at the end of the song.   The next week we threw the biggest birthday party for him and yes, he did it again!

Today, not only did he blow out the candles, clap and dance, but you could see the joy and happiness in his eyes.  And for the first time, he was more interested in the gifts themselves than the wrapping paper they came in.

My point in all this is to never lose the hope.  Yes, the results might be slow but as long as it’s happening we should never give up and always be thankful.

Monday, January 30, 2012

Charity Event

There is a charity event planned by Autism Trust happening on Saturday the 4th of Feb from 9:00am- 3:00pm at the Desert Palm Polo Club.
It should be lots of fun and a great way to meet other families.
If interested please let me know to email you the PDF file about it.

Wednesday, January 25, 2012

Thank You For Thanking Me

Today all my work for the next 10 years at minimum paid off.

I got a phone call from a friend today telling me that someone who had noticed we were Facebook friends had called her asking who I was. When my friend asked her why, the woman replied that one of her close friends had just found out that her son is autistic and was devastated, but of course no one knew what to tell her or how to begin helping her until one of her friends shared this blog with her on Facebook.

Apparently it helped her a lot, not just because of the information it contained, but more by helping her realize that she was not alone in feeling the way she does, and that one day she will be able to outgrow her pain and go back to what you might call her normal life again.

She asked her friend to thank me on her behalf and requested to remain anonymous, which I understand.

We know we’ve all been there, and let’s just say it’s not the most pleasant phase or period of our lives. So why not help others by making their experience a bit less painful?

If I could only make you feel the joy and happiness I felt today after receiving that phone call, you would understand what I’m talking about.

I ask you to please help share this blog with as many people as you can. Even though some of the news on it might be old to you, for parents newly dealing with this it is not, and the information can be very helpful.

I’m not sure if this mum ended up subscribing or not, but if she did and is reading this right now, I also thank you for making me feel the way you did today and I wish you all the best. Please feel free to contact me for anything you need.

Tuesday, January 24, 2012

Free Slots At AutismUAE (By Zeba Khan)

We have good news for parents of children within the early intervention age group.  We have four slots available for early intervention cases, as younger children are given priority on the waiting list and we are adding three new senior therapists to the AutismUAE team.

Option 1: Intensive Morning Intervention

Cost AED 10,000 per month
Includes program creation and management, use all material and toys required, in-house therapy (4.5 hours, 5 days a week with a senior therapist), weekly in-office service day for program planning, reporting and materials, bi-monthly on-site case management in two home-visits (9 hours) with a Case Manager, as well as full transportation within metropolitan Dubai, Sharjah and Ajman.

Option 2: Afternoon ABA Intervention
Cost AED 8,000 per month
Includes program creation and management, all materials/toys included, in-house therapy (3.5 hours, 5 days a senior therapist), weekly in-office service day for program, planning, reporting and materials, bi-monthly on-site case management in two home visits (7 hours) with a Case Manager, as well as full transportation within metropolitan Dubai, Sharjah and Ajman.

Our Therapists for both these programs provide ABA therapy, Activities of Daily Living (ADL) Training, Natural Environment Training (NET), support for existing speech programs, support for existing OT programs and support for Social Skills Training.

If you would like your child to be awarded a place on the Early Intervention Pathway beginning this February, please contact us as slots will be awarded on a first-come, first serve basis to children under the age of five.

Best Regards,
Zeba Khan
Director, AutismUAE
Dubai, United Arab Emirates

Sunday, January 22, 2012

A Good Assessment Place? (From Gill)

Hi there,

My 5 year old has recently been diagnosed with Aspergers (back home in NZ at Xmas time). There is very little available in the way of support in Doha, so I was thinking of bringing him over to Dubai for two days for further assessments and OT support, but not sure which is the best centre to contact.

Do you have any idea what the best centres are with respect to aspergers?

Thanks in advance

Saturday, January 21, 2012

How Could the New Science Help In Autism?


WHEN: February 8, 2012
WHERE: Synergy Integrated Medical Centre
TIME: 7- 8 P.M.

To Book Call Tel No.: 04 348 5452

To find out more about Dr Parviz please visit:


Thursday, January 19, 2012

How Do We Manage In Dubai? (From Tracy)


We are looking at moving out this summer due to my husband relocating!  Starting to think he will have to hand in his notice and find another job!!!

Our son (10) has a mild/moderate learning delay with traits of autistic behaviour. However, he interacts in normal school life and seems to be doing really well with that side of things.  Struggles terribly academically, so much so that they have kept him back a year, and he is still the bottom of the class.

We do have some friends out there, but they are feeding back only negative reports of living out there with a child who is not deemed as normal!!! 

At this time he is in a u.k mainstream school with support from a 1-1 for 20 hrs a week.

My question is... How do you manage with a child who is not your average Joe out there.  I have heard that no school will take them, there is no external support, i.e speech therapy etc. 

I simply cant believe that all those expats living in UAE all have perfect kids??


Tuesday, January 17, 2012

Technology Helps Autistic Children with Social Skills

A new research project suggests virtual worlds can help autistic children develop social skills beyond their anticipated levels.

In the study, called the Echoes Project, scientists developed an interactive environment that uses multi-touch screen technology to project scenarios to children.

The technology allows researchers to study a child’s actions to new situations in real time.

During sessions in the virtual environment, primary school children experiment with different social scenarios, allowing the researchers to compare their reactions with those they display in real-world situations.

“Discussions of the data with teachers suggest a fascinating possibility,” said project leader Kaska Porayska-Pomsta, Ph.D.

“Learning environments such as Echoes may allow some children to exceed their potential, behaving and achieving in ways that even teachers who knew them well could not have anticipated.”

“A teacher observing a child interacting in such a virtual environment may gain access to a range of behaviors from individual children that would otherwise be difficult or impossible to observe in a classroom,” she added.

Early findings from this research show that practice with various scenarios has improved the quality of the interaction for some of the children.

Researchers believe the virtual environment and an increased ability to manage their own behavior enables a child to concentrate on following a virtual character’s gaze or to focus on a pointing gesture, thus developing the skills vital for good communication and effective learning.

The findings could prove particularly useful in helping children with autism to develop skills they normally find difficult.

Porayska-Pomsta said: “Since autistic children have a particular affinity with computers, our research shows it may be possible to use digital technology to help develop their social skills.

“The beauty of it is that there are no real-world consequences, so children can afford to experiment with different social scenarios without real-world risks,” she added.

“In the longer term, virtual platforms such as the ones developed in the Echoes project could help young children to realize their potential in new and unexpected ways,” Porayska-Pomsta said.

Monday, January 16, 2012

Gluten-Free/ Casein- Free Diet

A gluten-free/casein-free diet is also known as the GFCF diet. It is one of several alternative treatments for children with autism. When following this strict elimination diet, all foods containing gluten and casein are removed from the child's daily food intake.

Some parents of children with autism believe their children are allergic or sensitive to the components found in these foods. Some seek allergy testing for confirmation. Yet even when no allergy is confirmed, many parents of autistic children still choose to offer the GFCF diet. Among the benefits they report are changes in speech and behavior.

How does a gluten-free/casein-free diet for autism work?
The gluten-free/casein-free diet is based on the theory that children with autism may have an allergy or high sensitivity to certain foods. In particular, the theory targets foods that contain gluten and casein. Children with autism, according to the theory, process peptides and proteins in foods containing gluten and casein differently than other people do. Hypothetically, this difference in processing may exacerbate autistic symptoms. Some believe that the brain treats these proteins like false opiate-type chemicals. The reaction to these chemicals, they say, leads a child to act in a certain way.

Based on this theory, diets free of gluten and casein are given to children with autism. The intent is to reduce symptoms and improve social and cognitive behaviors and speech.

There may be some scientific merit to the reasoning behind a gluten-free/casein-free diet. Researchers have found abnormal levels of peptides in bodily fluids of some people who have symptoms of autism. Still, the effectiveness of a GFCF diet for autism has not been scientifically substantiated in randomized clinical trials. In fact, a review of recent and past studies concluded there is a lack of scientific evidence to say whether this diet can be helpful or not.

Sunday, January 15, 2012

Autism Effect On Siblings

My friend was out of town and I promised to take her kids, who are the same age as mine, to Karate with "Z" while she was away.

            When they got in the car they said hi to "Z", then did the same with "J", but of course they didn’t get a reply.  So the first question that was directed to "Z" was, “Why doesn’t your brother talk?”.  So he answered in a very confident way that made me super proud of him, “Some children take longer than others to talk and he is getting people at home to help him.”

The second question was, “Why isn’t he wearing his Karate clothes?”

So again he answered, “Well, because he is too young.”

The younger boy tells him, “But he is my age and I go to karate class.”

That was when I interrupted the conversation and started talking about something else, when I realized "Z" didn’t know what to say anymore.

Of course the next time I had to pass by and pick them up, "Z" asked me not to bring "J" with us and to leave him at home so he wouldn’t bother the other boys. Instead I made it a point to take him and told "Z" that if they were going to be bothered by his brother then they were not welcome in our car anymore.  I further explained that "J" will always be part of our family and not them, and he should care more about his brother than others.

     Was that the right call? Is there a right call? Was I too tough on a 7 year old child, trying to teach him how life may not be fair sometimes?

    What would you have done in my place?

Tuesday, January 3, 2012

What IS APP? (By Pulse Center)

APP stands for Audio-Psycho-Phonology.

It’s a method aiming to stimulate listening skills.

It has been firstly created and developed by the ENT French doctor Alfred Tomatis in the years 1960.

This method consists in listening to specific music and other audio supports, which are treated by a complex digital mechanism called “DIGITAL EAR”, to create optimal listening process.

The music is transmitted by a special high quality headphone incorporating a vibrator placed on the top of the head, in case of autism this is an interesting particularity as it permits to address sound stimulation even to those who are low tolerant or hypersensitive to sound and correct it.