LIGHTING UP FAMILY LAW IN BLUE: AUTISM’S IMPACT ON THE FAMILY AND FAMILY COURTS
By:Ron Payne Ed. Note: This article was authored by Kimberly J. Byrd, Esq
Byrd (2018) tells us that parents often battle with the diagnosis of autism. Instead they may choose isolation from extended family and community. The unpredictability of their child’s behavior when experiencing episodes of ‘sensory overload’, ‘social issues’, ‘cognitive’ and ‘behavioral’ limitations.
Bogdashina & Casanova (2016) tell us that behaviors such as rocking, rhythmic head banging, spinning objects, or perimeter hugging in large spaces can be sensory perception issues.
They go on to say that autism is often considered an ‘obsessional ritualistic behavior’ or unusual interest in their sensory environment. This results in the child heightened fascination with spinning objects, certain sounds, and or lights.
Excessive touching, or smelling objects, as well as other sensory behavior one might find normal with a blind person, can be early signs of sensory issues. Some researchers believe these are often early signs of autism in young children.
Retrieved from: http://senseablekids.com/sensInt.html
Widely recognized is A. Jean Ayres' definition of sensory integration. "Sensory integration is the neurological process that organizes sensations from one's body and from the environment, and makes it possible to use the body to make adaptive responses within the environment.
To do this, the brain must register, select, interpret, compare, and associate sensory information in a flexible, constantly-changing pattern."
Simply said, sensory integration is the relatedness of one to others, one to their environment, and one's ability to adjust oneself to function within the environment with oneself, others, and objects within it.
According to Byrd (2018), researchers typically describe the parenting stress of children with autism as greater for both parents than for other disabilities. Also imposed upon the family are limits on career opportunities and the high likelihood that one or more parents need to remain in the home to care for the autistic child/adult.
< My Thoughts > A story to share… Focused Excerpt from –
Making Peace with Autism: One Family’s Story of Struggle, Discovery & Unexpected Gifts by Susan Senator, eBook 2006 Edition; an Extended Review with < My Thoughts > by Sara Luker
Focused Excerpts from the book – (3% indicates location in the Kindle version of the book, instead of page numbers).
3% We as a family are frequently hamstrung by Nat’s unpredictability, our plans held hostage by autism. We can never simply go to a concert, a movie, a friend’s party without first wondering, “Can Nat Handle it?”
Despite intensive schooling and our Herculean efforts, he still has tantrums, and even when he doesn’t, he can be just plain unpleasant, unhappy, or embarrassing in public.
5% Having Nat has tested our marriage, forcing us to stick together even when we have been tempted to run. My husband Ned has had to adjust his career; he has chosen to be a family man rather than a company man.
He says he’s never looked back, and I believe him.
End of Focused Excerpts from the book.
< My Thoughts > Another story to share… Focused Excerpt from –
101 Tips for the Parents of Boys with Autism (2010) by Ken Siri eBook Edition; Extended Review with < My Thoughts > by Sara Luker
Focused Excerpts from the book – (8% indicates location in the Kindle version of the book, instead of page numbers).
8% In some cases, one or both parents may need to change or adjust their career plans to accommodate the care of a special needs child. As a single parent, the challenge can be daunting. These are not really tips, but have benefits of being on your own.
- You can control your own time
- You do lose ‘security’ in the traditional sense. But let’s face it: a traditional job (in today’s world) only gives the illusion of security.
- Being your own boss means not having to deal with unsavory things or people.
- Socially, you are free. (You don’t have to get along with people you don’t really like.)
- You can use your time wisely and efficiently.
Many parents have remade themselves successfully and found a greater satisfaction in building their own business.
End of Focused Excerpts from the book.
< My Thoughts > Next story to share… Focused Excerpt from –
Building in Circles: The Best of Autism Mom by Elizabeth W. Barnes, eBook 2014 Edition; with < My Thoughts > by Sara Luker
Focused Excerpts from the book – (22% indicates location in the Kindle version of the book, instead of page numbers.
22% Thinking of concentric circles, we want him to be free to push the boundaries of his interests to new arenas when he feels he can, and support his retreat to the familiar and comfortable when he needs.
29% Three Parties – This is the story of three parties and what we learned from them. The First Party: He went to the birthday party of a friend from his second grade class with 10 or so eight and nine-year-old boys.
He said he wanted me to drop him off, instead of me staying there, even though he had never been to the house before. I was OK with that and quietly proud of his bravery.
The first call we received was that he jumped off a retaining wall and hurt his foot. …His foot appeared fine, we oversaw him putting ice on it, and we left…
30% The second call we received was because he got hit in the face during rough-housing with the other boys. …I think it frightened him a little. I decided to stay.
When it was time to leave, he started kicking and hitting things in the backyard. He said that the boys did not like him…I had been there for a while and did not see any signs that the boys did not like my son or that they did not want to play with him.
31% Between the pain in his foot, the shock of being hit in the face (even accidentally) and the stimulus from the noise and activity, I was dragging him out of the house in full meltdown.
Yes, people saw my son melting down and me wrestling with him on the curb next to my car. Did I care? Nope. If they understand they don’t judge and if they judge they don’t understand. Either way, it did not matter to me.
32% A woman came out of the house and I asked her if she could get us some juice… I had not thought to bring some with me.
I think it is the sensory stimulus of the feel of the liquid and the coldness, and the smell and taste of the sweetness, which kind of resets his brain from the meltdown back to where he can be reasoned with.
< My Thoughts > “…resets his brain…”
Often interruption and redirection, during compulsive behavior or social anxiety, can bring a child back from the brink, so to speak.
32% I asked if he was OK and he said “no” but he was not fighting anymore. I got him into the car while his dad went into the house to find my purse and our son’s glasses.
While we were waiting we started talking about how it is hard for him to read people’s facial expressions, and to see that these boys actually did like him and wanted to play with him.
As if to prove my point, one of the boys knocked on the window and as I rolled it down, he said good-bye to my son and “See you on Monday!” I am so grateful to that boy!
< My Thoughts > “…it is hard for him to read people’s facial expressions …”
Grossman & Tager-Flusberg (2012), tell us that there is some correlation between the “degree of social impairment, and the ability to determine what dynamic facial expressions mean.” Their pilot study showed that participants found it most difficult to differentiate between “the properties of surprise and those of a happy expression.”
Participants learned that teen with their mouths in an open position were in a state of high intensity of anger, sadness, and surprise. While teens with closed mouths were experiencing an emotion of lesser intensity.
End of Focused Excerpts from the book.
REFERENCES used in < My Thoughts > are:
Bogdashina, O. & Casanova (2016). Sensory Perceptual Issues in Autism and Asperger Syndrome, Different Sensory Experiences – Different Perceptual Worlds; Second Edition: London; Philadelphia: Jessica Kingsley Publishers.
Byrd, Esq., K. & Payne, R. (2018). Lighting Up Family Law in Blue: Autism’s Impact on the Family & Family Courts. KBYRD.JDWFU2013@gmail.com
Grossman, R., Tager-Flusberg, H. (2012). “Who Said That?” Matching of Low & High Intensity Emotional Prosody to Facial Expressions by Adolescents with ASD. Journal of Autism Developmental Disorders; 42:2546-2557.