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Summer is a great time to get children outside and involved in fun and engaging activities. However, it can be a challenge to find sensory-friendly activities for children on the autism spectrum. Our team has compiled a list of fun community outings and events for the family, including peaceful hiking spots, sensory-friendly movie experience, fun camps for kids, and more. See our list below for several summer hot spots and community events to get on the calendar.

Monthly Sensory Friendly Movies – AMC Barton Creek Square

AMC and the Autism Society have partnered together to bring unique movie showings where guests can feel free to be themselves. AMC turns the lights up and the sound down so kids can feel comfortable and at ease. Movie-goers can get up, dance, sing and walk around! The Sensory Friendly Film program has expanded to four showings per month.

  • The second and fourth Tuesday and Saturday
  • Check your local theatre listings for specific showtimes on these days!

*For questions directed to The Autism Society of North Austin, contact Heather Van Horn at (512) 479-4199 Ext 1.

Dates and Times:

  • Tuesday, June 11, 2019. 7:00 PM – 9:00 PM
  • Saturday, June 22, 2019. 7:00 PM – 9:00 PM
  • Tuesday, June 25, 2019. 7:00 PM – 9:00 PM
  • Tuesday, July 9, 2019. 7:00 PM – 9:00 PM
  • Saturday, July 13, 2019. 7:00 PM – 9:00 PM
  • More on the website

Location:

AMC Barton Creek Square
2901 Capital Of Texas Hwy
Austin, 78746, TX

 

Sensory Storytime – Cedar Park Library

Sensory Storytime is geared for children ages 8 and under who are on the autism spectrum, have sensory overload or sensory integration issues. This class features stories, songs and movement activities along with sensory playtime to enhance cognitive and social development. *Registration is required. Call the Children’s Desk at 512-401-5632 for more information.

Dates and Times:

  • Monday, June 10, 2019. 3:30 PM – 4:30 PM
  • Monday, June 24, 2019. 3:30 PM – 4:30 PM
  • Monday, July 8, 2019. 3:30 PM – 4:30 PM
  • Monday, July 22, 2019. 3:30 PM – 4:30 PM
  • Monday, August 12, 2019. 3:30 PM – 4:30 PM
  • Monday, August 26, 2019. 3:30 PM – 4:30 PM

Location:

Cedar Park Library
450 Cypress Creek Road
Cedar Park, 78613, TX

 

Summer Camp – We Rock The Spectrum Kid’s Gym – Austin

We Rock the Spectrum Austin is an indoor play place for kids and young adults. They host birthday parties, camps, field trips, private playdates, an after school club, and classes. WRTS is committed to providing a safe, nurturing, and fun environment for all children/teens. *Pre-registration for camp is required. Call 512-687–4443 to book or if you have any questions! Contact: Milan Helm or email info@werockthespectrumaustin.com

Dates and Times:

Time: 9:00am-12:00pm

Price: $39/day $175/week

Ages: 2-3 years 4-5 years 6-8 years 9-12 years

Dates by Week:

6/10 – 6/14; 6/17 – 6/21; 6/24 – 6/28; 7/1 – 7/5; 7/8 – 7/12; 7/15 – 7/17; 7/22 – 7/26; 7/29 – 8/2; 8/5 – 8/9

Location:

We Rock the Spectrum Kid’s Gym – Austin

7010 Highway 71 Suite 200

Austin, TX, 78735

 

Jumpstreet Special Needs Hours

Jumpstreet accommodates special needs families with exclusive early hours from 8:30 am – 10:00 am on the FIRST Saturday of each month. This allows children to take their time going through each activity at their own pace. Jumpstreet is open to all ages as well as parents/guardians. Plus, all are invited to stay after doors open to the general public at 10 am!

Activities: Main Trampoline Courts, Trampoline Dodgeball, Earthquake Kids Zone, Arcade Area, Stunt Jump, Walking Sticks, Trampoline Basketball, Mechanical Bull

Cost: Ages 4 and over – $8.00
Ages 3 and under – $4.00
Parents/Guardians are free.

Dates and Times: Starting June 1, 2019 and the first Saturday of each month following
@ 8:30 am – 10:00 am: 6/1, 7/6, 8/3, 9/7

Location:
Jumpstreet
12617 Ridgeline Blvd
Cedar Park, TX 78761

 

Alamo for All – Alamo Drafthouse Cinema

Alamo for All is a movie program for families and guests with special needs.  

All shows starting before 2 pm on Tuesdays follow Alamo for All rules, with more shows on the weekends.  Schedule may vary during the holidays.

  • The most notable features of the program are that the lights are turned up, the sound is turned down, and talking/noise is allowed! All ages are welcome (including infants). Guests are welcome to get up and walk around. Latecomers are also still welcome into the movie. Feel free to bring adaptive technology, but games and iPads must be left at home.

Dates and Times: All shows starting before 2 pm on Tuesdays

Location:

Alamo Drafthouse Cinema 
Check website for location showing times and address.

 

Round Rock Express: Autism Awareness Night

Date and Time: Tuesday, July 23rd – 7:00-10:00 PM

The Round Rock Express and the Autism Society of Texas have teamed up again to bring us a night of fun at Dell Diamond on July 23rd as the Round Rock Express take on the Omaha Storm Chasers! The ticket purchases directly benefit the Autism Society of Texas.

Action Behavior Centers will host a booth with fun prizes, swag bags, and staff will be present to answer any questions!

Purchase tickets HERE. *Purchase deadline: July 22nd at midnight.

Location:

Dell Diamond
3400 East Palm Valley Blvd.
Round Rock, TX

 

Swimming

  • Pace Bend Park
    • Pace Bend Park covers over 1,360 acres and is located on Lake Travis. This park offers a range of outdoor activities including camping, boating, and swimming. There are three designated locations for swimming, and safety rules are in place to help maintain a peaceful environment for all visitors. This large park is perfect for a relaxing day playing in the water or coasting around the lake in a boat.
  • Krause Springs
    • Krause Springs is home to over 30 springs that are great for cooling off and relaxing on a hot summer day. The springs have several trees that offer shade, as well as a beautiful butterfly garden – ideal for a calm walk. To avoid the crowds, it is best to go during the week since weekends are known to be the busiest time.
  • Deep Eddy Pool
    • Deep Eddy Pool is fed by spring water, and it’s a great place to escape the summer heat! The pool is not chlorinated, so it is gentle on the skin. There are separate sections for young kids and lap swimmers, along with shady grass areas for relaxing.

Hiking

  • Mayfield Park and Nature Preserve
    • The Mayfield Nature Preserve includes over 20 acres of plants and wildlife. It is known for being home to several peacocks. There are historical buildings to explore and several walking trails throughout the park. This is a wonderful spot to walk around, explore nature, and get a chance to see some vibrant birds.
  • Wild Basin Wilderness Preserve
    • The Wild Basin Wilderness Preserve includes about 230 acres of land. The 2-mile-long hiking loop is surrounded by trees, plants, and a waterfall. There are no bikes, dogs, or smoking allowed on the trail, which makes it perfect for a leisurely stroll with children. The trail often offers a quiet environment and is not overcrowded with large groups of hikers.
  • McKinney Falls State Park
    • Onion Creek Hike is a mostly-paved trail in McKinney Falls State Park, making it easily accessible for a casual stroll with kids. The park offers a large range of scenic views and spots for fishing and swimming. Arrive at the park early to avoid running into crowds!
  • Walnut Creek Metro Park
    • The bike trail at Walnut Creek Metro Park is a fully paved trail. The trail is great for walking, pushing a stroller, or riding a bike. The trail runs along a small creek and is mostly shaded with trees. There is also a playground along the trail, making it a perfect place for children to take a break and play!

Restaurants

ABC Pro Tips:

  1. Start with a diner or cafe with a calm atmosphere
  2. Look for restaurants that are able to make diet accommodations
  3. Look for restaurants with quiet music and fast service
  4. Check Google Maps for popular times and wait times
  • Napa Flats
    • Napa Flats offers California food with Italian influence. They offer a variety of pizzas, pasta dishes, sandwiches, and grill items as well as a kids’ menu. They offer gluten free options to accommodate most dietary needs. The restaurants are designed to show off lots of natural light and the buildings have acoustic ceiling tiles that are designed to absorb noise.
  • Kerbey Lane Cafe
    • Kerbey Lane Cafe has eight locations throughout Austin and is known for their pancakes and delicious queso. They have a variety of different food options, as well as a kids’ menu and gluten free/vegan options. The cafe can get busy and sometimes there is a wait for a table, so be sure to call ahead to get a wait-time estimate.
  • Brentwood Social House
    • Brentwood Social House offers several different rooms designed to meet the needs of all guests. The restaurant has a quiet area, a family area, and an area for children to play. Guests can enjoy items from the kids menu, vegan options, gluten free options, and many different pastries, sandwiches, coffees, and teas. This location is great for both finding a peaceful place to grab a bite to eat, as well as a place to let children play with others and release some of that energy!
  • Picnik
    • Picnik started out as a food truck and offers wholesome food that’s convenient and nutritious. Picnik began serving gluten-free grab-and-go breakfast and lunch items, butter coffee, and bone broth, all with a focus on sourcing locally and using premium ingredients. The business now has two trailer locations, a brick-and-mortar location in central Austin, and also sells its butter coffee in Whole Foods/Central Market.
    • Their kitchen is gluten, soy, and peanut-free. Additionally, many of their meals can be customized to accommodate vegan eaters. Picnik is perfect for picky eaters or children with dietary restrictions.
    • At the Burnet Road brick & mortar location, Picnik does not take reservations ahead of time, so calling ahead is encouraged.
  • Flower Child
    • Flower Child offers a casual atmosphere with healthy food options for the family to enjoy. Guests can choose from dairy free, gluten free, sugar free, vegetarian, and vegan options. Flower Child has two locations in Austin – one at the Domain and another downtown on 2nd street. The menu consists of a variety of wraps, salads, bowls, and plates. The kids’ menu boasts items such as gluten-free mac-n-cheese, sweet corn and quinoa, fruit, and smashed organic potato.

 

Museums and Entertainment:

  • Austin Zoo
    • The Austin Zoo offers a variety of attractions for children of all ages, including educational programs and a wide range of animals to see. This is a great all-day activity for children because families can walk through the zoo at their own pace, choosing which exhibits they’d like to visit.
    • There is animal feed available for goats, deer, llamas, alpacas, and sheep for sale in the Gift Shop.
    • Check out the list of “Things to know before you visit”
  • Austin Aquarium
    • The Austin Aquarium is open every day from 10:00 am to 7:00 pm. At the aquarium, children can see fish and animals, engage with interactive exhibits, and participate in educational activities. The Aquarium is home to sharks, stingrays, jellyfish, tropical fish, reptiles and birds. Guests are able to feed several animals by purchasing feed throughout the exhibits. If children need to take a break from the animals, there is a playground area where kids can run around and let loose. Snacks, pizza, and popcorn are available for purchase at the concession stand.
  • The Thinkery
    • The Thinkery is certified by the Autism Society as an Autism Friendly Business. This children’s museum has many hands-on exhibits that foster learning and creative problem solving. The Thinkery’s website has a sensory guide that can be used to prepare for a day at the museum. Guests can also check out sensory-friendly packs at the front desk upon arrival. These packs include noise-canceling headphones, light-reducing glasses, and more. There is a playground nearby, as well as Lick ice-cream shop, coffee shops, and restaurants around the corner in the Mueller neighborhood.
  • Zilker Theatre Productions
    • The Zilker Theatre offers free outdoor musical productions. The Zilker Theatre Productions was originally created in 1959 and has remained a non-profit organization since its foundation. In addition to free musical productions, the theatre also offers free audition workshops and entertainment for children before the shows. Families can bring snacks and beverages to enjoy. The Summer 2019 show is Disney’s “The Little Mermaid.”
  • Hill Country Science Mill
    • The Hill Country Science Mill is designed to create an interactive experience for the entire family. Some of the exhibits offered are a colossal robotic hand, a cell phone disco, a 3D theater, and a banana piano. In addition to the regular exhibits, the Science Mill hosts a variety of interactive events. The Bullock Museum is perfect for children who enjoy hands-on learning and playing.
  • Umlauf Sculpture Garden & Museum
    • The Umlauf Sculpture Garden and Museum hosts a variety of events and programs throughout the year. Sculptures are showcased from a variety of artists, which includes a permanent collection of art and rotating temporary exhibits. The museum hosts “family days” once a month that include activities for families and children of all ages. Check out Umlauf’s website for more info.
  • TILT Performance Group
    • TILT Performance Groups casts adults with and without disabilities. They offer a range of different productions suitable for all ages. TILT is proud to offer auditory described, ASL interpreted, and sensory-friendly performances this summer.
    • Auditory described performance – June 6, 2019
    • ASL interpreted performance – June 9th, 2019
    • Sensory friendly performance – June 15th, 2019

 

Haircuts

Cookie Cutters Haircuts for Kids

Cookie Cutters Haircuts for Kids is designed with every child’s needs in mind. Their seats resemble cars, and each spot has a television screen where kids can be entertained with games and videos. The staff members are trained to work with special needs children. Cookie Cutters will do whatever is needed to make the haircut experience enjoyable for the child and their parents.

 

Summer vacations planned? Check out our Autism Travel Guide.

Autism Blogs

Parents of children on the autism spectrum, teachers seeking out new resources, and individuals with ASD can all benefit from the online blogging community. Blogs are a perfect way to research and connect with like-minded individuals on the topic of autism. Finding the best blogs can be quite a challenge, especially when there are over 50 million results on Google for “Autism Blogs” alone! Our team at Action Behavior Centers decided to help with the lengthy search process by highlighting today’s top autism blogs.

Action Behavior Centers is a Texas-based company providing ABA therapy for children on the spectrum. Our goal is to raise autism awareness and educate both local and online communities on ASD. ABC selected the Top 40 Autism Blogs (in no particular order) to help others stay connected and informed. While some of the blogs on our new list are rockstar blogs that made last year’s line-up, we have carefully curated over 20 new resources that are absolutely loved and praised by parents, teachers, and professionals in the autism community.

 

Autism Journey

Recently founded in 2019, Autism Journey has quickly become a “go-to” website for autism blogs and resources. Autism Journey provides both educational blog posts and personal stories from parents all around the country. Autism Journey’s website features a link where parents can submit personal stories and experiences for a chance to be featured.

Autism Daddy

Frank Campagna, dad to a 14-year-old boy with non-verbal autism, blogs about the ups and downs of life with his son. Frank’s blog takes a more comedic spin on the struggles of having a child on the severe end of the spectrum, and he believes in sharing real and raw stories, not just the “sunshine and rainbows.” Autism Daddy also features many guest bloggers and thought provoking stories that will captivate readers for hours.  

Finding Cooper’s Voice

With over 300,000 likes on Facebook, multiple viral videos, and a feature on Jimmy Fallon, Kate Swenson has swept the nation with her blog Finding Cooper’s Voice. You’ll find multiple heartwrenching blog posts, photos, and videos on her easy-to-navigate website. Finding Cooper’s Voice was created by Kate in hopes of establishing a village of people supporting each other within the autism community.

The Autism Blog – Seattle Children’s

Seattle Children’s Autism Center has an active and informative blog that gives parents and caregivers the chance to learn from experts and doctors on topics focused on autism. The blog authors frequently post new research findings, as well as offer a range of relevant topics directly from doctors in the field.

The Autism Dad

Father of three kids on the autism spectrum, Rob Gorski’s blogging journey began in 2010 as a way to share the raw emotions that he faced daily with his boys. Rob does a great job of actively posting blogs every month. His mission is “to show others of similar circumstances that they are not alone, while at the same time, educating the rest of the world as to what Autism families can experience daily.

Atypical Familia

Atypical familia is a continuation of Lisa Quinones-Fontanez’ former blog AutismWonderland which received worldwide recognition and praise a few years back. Today, Lisa continues to blog and update the autism community on her journey with her son Norrin. She also shares a variety of fun meals, crafts, and resources for other parents to enjoy.

GoTeamKate

GoTeamKate is a blog that is booming with passion and creativity (and a bit of colorful language). Shanell and Alex, parents of their daughter Kate who is on the Autism Spectrum, tell their life story featuring an enjoyable writing style and fun pictures with each post. Shanell also includes a fitness section on her blog, motivating other parents with kids on the spectrum who have busy lifestyles to stay active.

Susan Senator

Author of multiple books on autism, Susan Senator is a mom with not only a passion for the topic, but a deep love for her son who is on the spectrum. Susan believes that she needs to share her stories with the world. Her website has many resources including blog posts, books, an advice column, articles, and more. Susan frequently re-posts articles that she’s written for magazines such as Psychology Today.

Faith, Hope, and Love… With Autism

Faith, Hope, and Love… With Autism follows the journey of a non-verbal boy named Phillip who wants to give the world an inside look into the thoughts and ideas of someone on the autism spectrum. Phillip writes about life experiences, poetry, travel, music, and his faith. His blog offers a wonderful firsthand perspective of an individual on the spectrum navigating through life and shares the struggles and accomplishments he faces each day.

Embrace ASD

Embrace ASD is dedicated to support and provides research for high-functioning individuals of all ages. They believe people with ASD have sensory, cognitive, and learning abilities that make them real-life superheroes. Embrace ASD’s website has a fun interface with easy to navigate pages and high-quality graphics which makes for a fun, modern way to read blogs about ASD.

Behavior in Balance

Behavior in Balance was founded by Board Certified Behavior Analyst Erin Tracy, whose dream was to create a website with easily attainable tools and resources for parents and caregivers of kids on the spectrum. On her website, Erin features an educational blog, free training courses, and professional resources for both parents and practitioners.

The Art of Autism

The Art of Autism is an international nonprofit website displaying the creative abilities of those on the autism spectrum. The site offers many great resources for those on the autism spectrum and for those looking to connect with like-minded individuals. The Art of Autism features blog posts, artwork, poetry, events, and many different forms of media.

The Never-Empty Nest

Marguerite Elisofon’s blog, The Never-Empty Nest, tells personal stories of her daughter Samantha, a young adult on the autism spectrum. Samantha’s diagnosis has not kept her from achieving great things, such as a nomination for best actress at the 2017 Tribeca Film Festival. Marguerite publishes weekly blog posts, many of which contain updates on her daughter’s joys and struggles through life.

Thinking Person’s Guide to Autism

Thinking Person’s Guide to Autism is an informative blog with the mission of being a “one-stop source for carefully curated, evidence-based, neurodiversity-steeped information from autistic people, parents, and autism professionals.” Blog posts found on Thinking Person’s Guide to Autism include different sources such as autism seminars, books, and scientific studies.

Velcro Shoes

Full of positivity and hope, Velcro Shoes is about one mom’s journey through life with three boys on the autism spectrum. Alli Baldocchi blogs about what it looks and feels like to be a mom, wife, and career woman, all while facing the everyday joys and struggles of parenting boys with ASD. Alli is also working on a book about how autism changed her life, and she frequently shares updates and information for her followers.

The Journey Through Autism

Back again from last year’s line-up, blogger Ethan Hirschberg shares personal stories of the ups and downs of being a kid on the spectrum. The Journey Through Autism provides a raw and real look into Ethan’s life with high-functioning autism and how he plans to take the world by storm. Ethan is a driven and motivated individual that inspires others to be the best version of themselves, despite any differences that they may have.

Different Brains

Different Brains is a fantastic blog that provides resources for both individuals on the autism spectrum, as well as people with other neurological diagnoses. The website is loaded with blogs, news articles, videos, podcasts, and more. Different Brains is unique in the fact they they are a non-profit organization with a large board of doctors, BCBAs, and psychologists who are constantly providing resources and information.

Dr. Mary Barbera

Dr. Mary Barbera, Board Certified Behavior Analyst and mother to a son with autism, is a huge advocate of Applied Behavior Analysis. Her blog is dedicated to sharing information on ABA therapy each month. Dr. Barbera’s website also contains helpful resources and ABA therapy training tools, such as educational video blogs for parents and caregivers of children on the spectrum.

This Podcast Has Autism

For those who prefer to listen to information rather than read it, This Podcast Has Autism features entertaining and relatable topics discussed in each episode. Each week, a different parent, professional, or individual on the spectrum is interviewed on topics such as transitioning into school, traveling, making friends, and more. This Podcast Has Autism gives listeners the perfect way to access interviews and autism information on the go.

Autistic and Unapologetic

Autistic and Unapologetic is a blogging website created and founded by James Sinclair. Having autism himself, James does a fantastic job of blogging about important topics while also sharing intriguing personal stories and opinions. Autistic and Unapologetic contains four different categories including Understanding Autism, Embracing Autism, Autism in Entertainment, and Autism News.

The Autism Academy

The Autism Academy is an Arizona-based chain of schools for children on the spectrum. The Academy’s website includes a blog that provides many educational resources and helpful articles related to autism. The blog shares many autism events local to Arizona residents, but readers can also find many easy-to-read blog posts such as “How Animals Benefit Kids with Autism” and “Focus on the End Game: Transitioning Into Life After School.”

National Autism Resources Inc.

National Autism Resources Inc. provides cost effective, research-based therapeutic tools, including toys, games, electronics, and books that meet the needs of people on the autism spectrum. The organization also offers an incredible blog filled with important news updates and research that speak to both caregivers, parents, professionals, and those with autism alike.

Kerry Magro

Kerry Magro was diagnosed with PDD-NOS (Pervasive Developmental Disorder-Not Otherwise Specified), a form of autism, at age 4. With years of therapy and family support, Kerry is now an accomplished professional speaker, best-selling author, movie consultant and non-profit founder. His blog features different news articles, current events in the autism world, and updates on his life and journey.

Play Project

The Play Project has a fun and user-friendly website filled with creative resources for parents, educators, and professionals. The Play Project also has a new blog on its website that presents a variety of fun and lighthearted articles from arts and crafts tips to getting your child ready for kindergarten.

American Autism Association

On the American Autism Association’s blog, readers will find captivating new articles published by a variety of different authors. With multiple blog posts each month, the American Autism Association does a fantastic job of posting articles related to current issues and accomplishments in the autism community. The organization also highlights  recreational workshops, educational programs, and volunteer opportunities.

Organization for Autism Research

In 2018, OAR was voted a top non-profit organization by multiple organizations. The Organization for Autism Research is led by parents, autism professionals, and scientists, and strives to produce science-based, community-focused research. Along with an informative blog, the Organization for Autism Research’s website offers research grants, scholarships, and employment opportunities for individuals on the spectrum.

Stories About Autism

A captivating blog from the dad of two non-verbal boys on the Spectrum, Stories About Autism sheds light on author James Hunt’s experience with his sons Tommy and Jude. James does a wonderful job of blogging about the idiosyncrasies that make his boys’ journeys unique and wonderful. Stories About Autism occasionally features guest bloggers as well as a variety of different posts on sleep, parenting, and more.

Starlight and Stories

Victoria of Starlight and Stories is an autism specialist teacher with a degree from Cambridge in English and Education. She has a strong passion for helping teachers and families learn about autism. Not only does Victoria keep up with her blog every month – she is also the founder and coach for Autism Consultancy International.

Carrie Cariello, Exploring the World of Autism

Book writer, blogger, and public speaker Carrie Cariello is taking the autism world by storm. Carrie blogs every Monday about life with her five kids, autism, marriage, and more. She writes with beautiful imagery and heart-wrenching storytelling which is sure to capture a wide variety of audiences interested in family life and autism.

Faithmummy

Mimiam, author of Faithmummy blog, is a Scottish mother, wife, and Christian. Her story is unique in that she had her twin children as a result of IVF treatments after a long 10 year struggle with infertility. She loves sharing the stories of life with her children, all the while staying strong in her faith through the good times and the hard times.

Paul Isaacs’ Blog

Paul Isaacs is a motivational speaker, trainer, blogger, and author. Formally diagnosed with autism at 24 years old, he began a journey of raising awareness and helping others on the spectrum. His blog is full of passionately written stories and information that readers from young adult to mature adult can enjoy.

The AWEnesty of Autism

Kate’s philosophy behind her blog, The AWEnesty of Autism, is to keep it real, raw, and AWEnest while laughing, loving and living. Her blog highlights her life as a mother to 3 children, one of whom is on the autism spectrum. Kate blogs about tons of topics including travel, school, bullying, sports, and more.

ACT Blog

Autism Care Today is a national nonprofit 501(c)(3) organization whose mission is to raise awareness and provide treatment services and support to families with children on the autism spectrum. One of Autism Care Today’s many resources include the ACT blog which features multiple authors, national events, links to autism resources, and therapy tips.

I Love ABA!

Started by a Board Certified Behavior Analyst in Atlanta, Georgia, I Love ABA! shares insider tips and research from a Master’s level practitioner in the field of autism. She blogs about ABA, or Applied Behavior Analysis, in a way that is fun and reader-friendly rather than wordy and intimidating. Parents, as well as individuals on the spectrum, will be sure to find wonderful tips, strategies, and resources on I Love ABA.  

Friendship Circle

Friendship Circle is a non-profit organization that is dedicated to providing resources for a variety of special needs children, including those on the spectrum. The Friendship Circle’s blog features top categories including parenting, education, training, and therapy tips. Many of the blog posts include sensory toys for special needs children as well as activity guides, making the website a one-stop-shop for all special needs families.

Autism Adventures

Melissa, founder of Autism Adventures, taught a handicap class for 8 years before realizing she could help other teachers and caregivers by sharing all her ideas implemented in her classroom. This California gal now has a bright and colorful blog packed with behavioral, communication, and education resources for teachers to easily access and download.

The Mom Kind

The Mom Kind is a blog launched by a mom with four children, all of whom have different diagnoses. The main goal of Alicia’s blog is to bring more awareness to autism and teach others about neurodiversity. From sensory craft ideas to an in-depth look on parenting children with autism, The Mom Kind is a motivational blog for all parents and caregivers to enjoy.

Teach Love Autism

Founded by a teacher with a passion for children with autism, Teach Love Autism gives parents and teachers an inside look into which training techniques, therapies, and crafts are best for children on the spectrum. She is a big believer in teaching children how to be independent all while having fun and expressing their individuality. Teach Love Autism is a beneficial blog for both new teachers and seasoned teachers trying to incorporate new teaching techniques into their classrooms.

Scary Mommy

Scary Mommy is a website dedicated to empower moms all over the world by giving them advice from pregnancy and self-care to raising children. The blog is also a great resource for moms who have children with special needs, including ASD. The website not only has great articles by a variety of different moms going through struggles with their children; it is also jam packed with beauty tips, health tips, a clothing store, and more.

The Autism Cafe

Eileen Lamb, founder of The Autism Cafe, is a writer and photographer. She was born in France but now lives in Austin, Texas with her husband and two sons, Charlie and Jude. On her blog, she shares the ups and downs of raising a child with ASD while being on the spectrum herself. Her blog is not only artistic with beautiful photos she’s taken, but also filled with thought-provoking stories and advice.

To all of our wonderful winners: if you’d like to share this distinguishment on your blog, use the code in the box below:

Action Behavior Centers

 

After a child receives a new diagnosis of Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD), it’s natural for parents to be full of questions. The good news is that the autism community is full of parents who understand ASD and are eager to share their knowledge with those who are new to the community. We compiled 14 expert tips from individuals with autism, autism professionals, special education teachers, and parents of children with autism and special needs:

 

Chris Bonnello – Autistic Not Weird

Chris Bonnello is the owner and author of Autistic Not Weird. He was diagnosed with Asperger Syndrome when he was 25 years-old. Prior to his diagnosis, Chris had experience teaching both primary education and special education. Since receiving his diagnosis, he has become an award winning writer and an international speaker on autism. Chris says:

“I guess that the most important piece of advice I can offer to families is to define their children by their strengths rather than their weaknesses. It’s a very easy trap to focus on just the deficiencies and the struggles when it comes to autism, but if everything a child does is focused on their weaknesses, they’ll never get a chance to develop what they’re really good at. And a child’s self-esteem can rocket once they see themselves being really good at something.

There were plenty of reasons to have been negative about my prospects, going by the developmental report written about me when I was 4. I’m very glad my parents and teachers didn’t spend my childhood years just being sad about all my “bad points, “ and then being surprised when I didn’t reach my potential as a result of not focusing on the good.”

 

Erin Tracy – Behavior in Balance

Erin Tracy is a Board Certified Behavior Analyst and the founder of Behavior in Balance – a website that provides educational resources for parents. She has over 12 years of experience working with both teens and children with autism. Erin says:

“I think the biggest piece of advice I could give parents is to educate themselves.  This is for a couple of reasons.

  1. There is so much noise and inaccurate information out there, that it can be difficult to know what to do or how to best advocate for a child.  Researching reputable organizations and those that promote using evidence based practices is a good place to start.
  2. Sometimes I feel like there’s a perception that we, as clinicians, have it handled.  This may be our own fault for creating that perception or not involving parents enough. The truth is, parents play such an important role in a child’s progress. When we leave, who gets to manage challenging behavior?  

There are a lot of hours in a week outside of therapy time. Using that time to teach a child new skills or manage behavior can be invaluable to progress.  A quality BCBA should be providing this training but supplementing in-session parent training with classes or tutorials can be highly beneficial.

It’s important for parents to learn and understand what evidence based treatments look like, what their child’s rights are for services and in school, and how to carry out behavior techniques and strategies for teaching their child.”

 

Jessica Watson – Four Plus an Angel

Jessica Watson is the author and owner of Four Plus an Angel where she shares stories about her life, parenting, and autism. Jessica has experience raising a child with autism and shares her autism story on her website. Throughout Jessica’s time raising a daughter with autism, she has gained valuable knowledge. Jessica says:

“Appointments or school meetings that involve discussing test results or progress reports related to your child can be emotionally draining. Whether your child made little to no progress or added a new diagnosis to their list, leave that meeting reminding yourself that your child is the exact same, uniquely awesome person they were when you walked into the meeting. No test result or expert opinion will ever change that.”

 

Gina Badalaty – Embracing Imperfect

Embracing Imperfect, created by Gina Badalaty, offers many great resources for healthy eating and autism. Gina has experience raising a daughter with disabilities and autism and has found healthy eating habits can make a major difference in children’s lives. Gina says:

“Kids on the autism spectrum quite frequently suffer from food sensitivities and gut health issues. We have learned, the hard way, that my daughter is reactive to most forms of cow milk. It contains a protein – casein – that disturbs her sleep pattern. For many years, she could not sleep through the night, yet removing products containing cow milk reset her system and she began sleeping through the night in just 2 weeks.

If your child is experiencing behaviors and issues including sleeplessness, eczema, constipation, diarrhea, behavioral outbursts and more, you might want to see if they are reacting to foods that are not good for their system or if their gut is out of balance. A healthy, clean, low sugar diet can make a world of difference to your child!“

 

Mary Winfield – Growing as They Grow

Mary Winfield has experience working in Special Education as well as raising two children with special needs. She is the owner and author of Growing as They Grow. She writes blog posts on a variety of topics and offers advice on many topics relating to parenting. Mary says:

“I think my biggest piece of advice for people wading through the trenches of special needs parenting is to trust yourself. You know your child better than anyone else, and you are their momma for a reason. They need what you have to offer. People will tell you that you are doing it wrong, that you are messing them up, and that if you would just do “insert unsolicited advice here,” that it would be much better. Only listen to advice from a few trusted people, and then weigh it against your heart and what you know about your child. You are not going to mess them up. If you love them and never give up on them, they will have all they need.”

 

Amy H – Taking it Day by Day with Developmental Delays

Amy H is the author of Taking it Day by Day with Developmental Delays (and Autism) and is the mother of a son with autism, physical impairments, and mental impairments. In her blog posts, Amy discusses her adventures through life raising her son and shares helpful information relating to autism and developmental delays. On her website, she writes a letter to special needs parents. In this letter Amy writes:

“Don’t let the stress of raising this child eat you up inside. Don’t let it be the only thing going on in your life. You need distractors, and a chance to get out of your head. Take breaks from your child when you need them. Sometimes we just have to put him in his room and walk away to decompress. It’s okay. Please don’t try to bear the brunt of everything, because you don’t want to trouble anyone else with your child. Let teachers help. Let therapists and social workers help. They will lighten your heavy load. Let them be a part of your child’s life, they will make your journey more enjoyable.

Search your entire county and beyond until you can find a support group, and if you don’t find one, create your own. Seek out a counselor to touch base when you need to. When your child goes to school, get to the gym, or take a walk to combat stress. Get together with friends at least a few times a year. You need to socialize with others and feel normal again. Communicate at all times any stresses you are feeling to your partner/spouse, parents, siblings and don’t keep this stuff inside. Try to stay hydrated, get enough sleep and eat healthy when you can to help your overall well being. His pediatrician used to tell me, “You can’t take care of him, if you don’t take care of yourself.”

 

Tameika Meadows – I Love ABA!

Tameika Meadows is a Board Certified Behavior Analyst and the blog owner of I Love ABA! Her blog posts offer many tips and resources for understanding autism and ABA therapy. One blog post in particular offers excellent advice and strategies for making life easier for both parents and their children. This post is titled “My Top Ten List” and explains what Tameika believes are the essentials to everyday life for a child with autism. Some of the essentials that she discusses are creating structure and routine, creating visual daily schedules, using a choice board, and creating a cool down area. She goes further into detail about each of the top ten essentials and provides examples of how to apply them to everyday life.  

 

Jolene Philo – Different Dream Living

Different Dream Living is a website created by Jolene Philo which offers resources for those who are caring for others with special needs. She has experience raising a son with special needs and has gone on to become a published author and speaker for special needs. Jolene says:

“On the days when parenting your child contains no Hallmark moments, remember one thing. You stand between your child and the big, scary world he can’t understand, but you don’t have to stand alone. By seeking resources, advice, and support for your child you will become a better advocate and protector. So ask for help when you need it and give help when you can.”

 

Kate Hooven – The AWEnesty of Autism

Kate Hooven blogs about her life raising three children, one of whom was diagnosed with autism. Her website, The AWEnesty of Autism is filled with honest accounts of everyday life raising her son with autism, as well as tips to help other parents in similar situations. Kate, along with the help of her son and niece, developed a poster to help others befriend children with autism:


Credit: Kate Hooven. *Disclaimer: Per Kate’s request, no edits may be made to this poster.

 

Erin Hagey – You AUT-a-Know

You AUT-a Know, created by Erin Hagey, shares the knowledge that she has gained from her experience as a Special Education teacher. She bases her classroom on ABA principles and offers many resources for other Special Education teachers. Erin Hagey says:

“Look at your IEP team as just that, a team. Working with multiple service providers can be tough, but the more we can work together, the more benefit our students will receive. I love working alongside families to develop goals and objectives to make our students more successful at school, home, and in their communities. Working together as a team allows all members to share what is important for the growth and development of our students and I find that it makes for greater student achievement. Doing this is not always easy, but I suggest using open, honest communication as a key tool to build a collaborative team that can best support our students.”

 

Rebecca Branstetter – Thriving School Psychologist Collective

Rebecca Branstetter is the founder of Thriving School Psychologist Collective. Thriving School Psychologist Collective is a community of school psychologists who are dedicated to improving mental health services in public schools. Rebecca has over 15 years of experience as a school psychologist. She has written many blog posts and books sharing what she has learned throughout her career and also offers online courses. Rebecca offers advice for families deciding what school support is best for their children:

Getting a diagnosis of Autism can be understandingly overwhelming for parents. One of the first things to do to reduce overwhelm is to build your child’s school support team and find a “guide” in navigating the process for garnering the right supports at school. In the public schools, the school psychologist is a professional who can serve as a guide in the process. It is not always widely known, but public school psychologists are available to support families from ages 3-21, even if your child is not enrolled in a public school. You can contact your child’s local school district to find out who the school psychologist is.

One reason starting your journey in the world of deciding what the best school support options are with your school psychologist is that they are experts in not only diagnostic assessment, but also helping parents navigate the sometimes complex and daunting menu of options for their child. From general education all the way to special schools for students with Autism, the choices and process for getting the “just right” level of support can leave parents feeling overwhelmed and frustrated. Whether a medical professional or the school psychologist provided the initial diagnosis, ask for an appointment to meet to discuss the new-found diagnosis and learn the next steps. The school psychologist may also have knowledge of community agencies that offer ongoing support to parents of children with Autism.”

 

Kara Dedert – Live Better

Kara Dedert is mother to five children and the author of Live Better. One of her sons was born with special needs, and she discusses many topics relating to special needs parenting. She offers wise words and tips for parents in similar situations as her own, as well as a Facebook group for other mothers raising children with special needs. In one of her blog posts titled Your Child Needs Friends Too, Kara writes, “Not only does my son need friends, they need him.” It is important to remember that children on the spectrum and neurotypical children can both benefit from having a friendship with each other.

 

Alicia Trautwein – The Mom Kind

Alicia Trautwein is the author and creator of The Mom Kind. She has experience raising four children with different diagnoses, and she writes blog posts discussing topics relating to autism, special needs, parenting, and managing money. Alicia says:

“Remember, your child is the same child who walked into that office without a diagnosis that walked out with one.

Not only is it okay to grieve, it is normal.  We all have different steps in the cycle of grief (denial, shock, anger, sadness, depression, even relief).  You are not necessarily even grieving your child, but the idea of who your child might have been in your head.  What is important is that you actively move through the cycles of grief into action. As Dr. Rick Solomon of The Play Project says, ‘There is a feeling much worse than grief and that is the guilt of looking back on what you should have done.

You are the expert in your child’s life and their strongest advocate.  Though you may not be a doctor, you’ve known your child since day one. You know what they need and are the only one who is going to fight for your child’s needs. So do not doubt yourself!’”

 

Stephanie DeLussey – Mrs. D’s Corner

Mrs. D’s Corner is a website created by Stephanie DeLussey. On this website, Stephanie writes blog posts and provides resources for teaching Special Education. In her blog posts, she shares knowledge that she has gained from her experience as a Special Education teacher on topics such as disability awareness, parent communication, data collection, schedules, and more. Stephanie says:

My biggest piece of advice for special needs families is for them to 1. Become involved in the community where they live, and 2. For parents to become involved in their child’s education with information from outside of the school district. Do your homework, study up on the laws and what rights you and your child have under IDEA. In my experience, most families don’t know how much power they hold over school districts when it comes to asking for and getting the services their child needs to succeed.”

 

When raising a child with autism, it’s important to remember that many other parents are experiencing the same challenges. Thankfully, the autism community is full of parents and professionals who are happy to help others along the way in their own journeys with ASD.

 

For autism tips, check out our Autism Travel Guide.