children with autism


The Challenges of Finding the Right School for My 7-Year-Old Autistic Son in Germany

When my husband suggested relocating to Germany in 2018, I thought my biggest challenges would be the language barrier and starting a new career. I was excited, nervous, and scared, but my biggest motivation was my children. Insecurity was becoming an issue in Nigeria, and my son was showing signs of being on the autism spectrum. We thought Germany would be a great place to get the support we couldn’t find in Nigeria. Don’t get me wrong—Germany is a fantastic country with excellent education, one of the best healthcare systems, and substantial social benefits. To top it all off, we don’t have to worry about insecurity. But when it comes to raising a child with special needs, especially autism, Germany is surprisingly far behind for such a highly developed country. The school system in Germany is particularly challenging for children on the spectrum because it is very inflexible. In Germany, it is compulsory to send your child to the Grundschule (the equivalent of primary school), and you could be fined if you do otherwise. Homeschooling is illegal except under extraordinary circumstances. At six, your child must be registered at the community elementary school, where they will stay for the next four years. My son is seven years old, almost eight, and we have yet to find a school for him. Why? The Grundschule is not structured to accommodate children with any form of disability, whether physical, mental, or intellectual. The teachers and most of the staff have zero training when it comes to children with special needs. The lack of awareness is astounding. My son’s first four days at the Grundschule were disastrous and traumatizing. You might wonder why I took my son to the Grundschule instead of a specialized school. We searched for a school for a whole year, and every school we applied to rejected us. My son is non-verbal autistic with high intellectual and learning abilities, but most special needs schools (Förderzentrum) take only children with learning disabilities. Therefore, they have no capacity for children with an IQ above 60. And because it is against the law in Germany to keep your child at home, we had to take him to the Grundschule, despite knowing it wouldn’t work. The main issues with finding a school for kids with autism are: Limited Schools:  There are few schools for children who need emotional and social support like my son. If your child has Down syndrome, cerebral palsy, or a learning disability, you might find a school. However, the system does not cater to the needs of children with neurodevelopmental disabilities like autism without a learning disability. Lack of Special Needs Teachers:  There is a significant lack of special needs teachers or trained school accompaniment (Schulbegleiter) who can assist your child in a regular classroom. Most Grundschule teachers have not interacted with children with special needs and have no idea what to do. My son’s class teacher, despite having a Ph.D., is constantly panicking around him. Parental Influence:  Parents of other children have significant influence over the school. If a parent is uncomfortable with your special needs child being in the classroom, your child has to leave. Long Waiting Lists:  Even if you find the right school, the waiting list is so long that your child might be ready for high school by the time a spot opens up. The waiting list can take as long as two years or more. Unhelpful Government Bodies:  The government body in charge of special education is ineffective, offering no sound advice and providing little assistance. Language Barrier:  If you are a foreigner struggling with the German language, your frustration doubles. School officials and government bodies primarily communicate in German, and finding English speakers is rare. It’s either you find a school or no school; there is no alternative, which is why my son has been home for the last eight months. The bureaucracy is tedious, requiring many forms and conversations in German with no real results. We have applied to all the schools in my city and have either been rejected or placed on a waiting list. This will be our ninth month without school for my son. I had to quit my job to be home with him. It has not been easy, but God is faithful. If you have a child with special needs and you plan to relocate to Germany, I advise you to make all your findings before taking the leap. If you are in a similar situation, write to me in the comment section. If you have any questions, I will be happy to respond. Cheers! Read more


Neurodiversity and Autism: Embracing Differences

Neurodiversity and Autism: Embracing Differences In a world that thrives on diversity, it’s essential to recognize and celebrate the uniqueness of every individual.  Neurodiversity, a term gaining momentum, champions the idea that neurological differences are a natural part of human variation.  At the heart of neurodiversity lies autism, a complex spectrum of experiences and abilities.  In this journey of understanding and acceptance, we invite you to explore the profound concept of “Neurodiversity and Autism: Embracing Differences.” Let’s dive in! Defining Neurodiversity and Autism Neurodiversity is a concept that encourages us to view neurological differences, including autism, as variations of the human experience rather than deficits.  Autism, a neurological condition, is characterized by various traits and characteristics that vary from person to person.  It’s not a one-size-fits-all condition but rather a rich tapestry of experiences. Understanding the Spectrum The autism spectrum is a spectrum of possibilities where individuals may find themselves at different points.  Some may require extensive support, while others may lead independent lives. This diversity challenges us to rethink our preconceived notions and stereotypes about autism. Common Traits and Characteristics Autism often manifests in distinct traits such as social communication challenges, sensory sensitivities, and repetitive behaviors.  However, it’s crucial to remember that these characteristics don’t define the entirety of an individual’s identity.  Each person with autism has unique strengths, talents, and interests that go beyond these traits. The Importance of Embracing Differences Fostering Inclusion and Acceptance Embracing neurodiversity is about fostering a culture of inclusion and acceptance.  When we embrace differences, we create an environment where everyone feels valued, regardless of their neurological makeup.  This inclusivity enriches our communities and workplaces, driving innovation and creativity. Challenging Stigmas and Stereotypes Autism has often been shrouded in stigmas and stereotypes.  Challenging these misconceptions can break down barriers and promote a more accurate understanding of autism.  Real stories of individuals thriving on the autism spectrum serve as powerful tools for debunking myths. Supporting Neurodiversity Education and Awareness Education and awareness are essential pillars of support for neurodiversity.  By educating ourselves about autism and neurodiversity, we can better advocate for inclusion and acceptance.  Numerous resources are available to expand your knowledge, from books to online courses. Creating Inclusive Environments Creating inclusive environments means making spaces accessible and comfortable for neurodiverse individuals.  Simple adjustments like providing sensory-friendly accommodations or implementing clear communication strategies can make a significant difference.  Remember, it’s about creating an atmosphere where everyone can flourish. Personal Stories and Perspectives To truly grasp the essence of neurodiversity, it’s valuable to hear personal stories and perspectives.  Jack’s Journey: An Autistic Advocate Jack, a passionate advocate for autism acceptance, shares his journey. “Autism isn’t something to be ‘fixed.’ It’s a part of who I am, and it’s given me unique strengths.  When society accepts us for who we are, incredible things happen.” Parenting an Autistic Child: Layo’s Story Layo, a mother of an autistic child, reflects on her journey. “Understanding my child’s neurodiversity has been a beautiful journey.  It’s not without challenges but also filled with moments of profound connection and joy.” Resources and Support Community and Advocacy Organizations If you’re seeking to get involved and support neurodiversity, many organizations are dedicated to this cause.  The Autism Self Advocacy Network (ASAN) and the National Autistic Society are excellent starting points for advocacy and resources. Recommended Reading and Films If you are interested in delving deeper into the world of neurodiversity and autism, here are some recommended reading materials and films: – “NeuroTribes: The Legacy of Autism and the Future of Neurodiversity” by Steve Silberman – “The Reason I Jump: The Inner Voice of a Thirteen-Year-Old Boy with Autism” by Naoki Higashida – “Life, Animated  (a documentary film) – Directed by Roger Ross Williams  Conclusion As we conclude our journey into the realm of “Neurodiversity and Autism:  Embracing Differences,” we carry with us the understanding that every individual, regardless of their neurology, has a unique contribution.  By embracing neurodiversity, challenging stereotypes, and fostering inclusive environments, we create a world where differences are celebrated, and every person is valued for their distinct abilities and perspectives. It’s a world where we move beyond tolerance and into acceptance, where we understand that diversity is not just a concept; it’s the heartbeat of humanity.  So, as you step into the world with this newfound knowledge, remember that by embracing differences, you’re not just making a difference—you’re shaping a more compassionate and inclusive future for us all. *Additional Resources and References* – Autism Speaks – Neurodiversity: Some Basic Terms & Definitions by Nick Walker Read more on unlocking your child’s potential with these 14 strategies


The Ultimate Guide: How to Support Your Child with Autism

As a parent, one of the most fulfilling and challenging experiences is raising a child with autism.  This neurodevelopmental disorder affects individuals uniquely, and understanding their needs is essential for providing the best support possible.  In this blog post, we will explore various aspects of autism and share valuable insights and strategies to help you navigate this journey with confidence and compassion. Let’s dive in. Understanding  Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD) and Its Impact Autism spectrum disorder (ASD) is a complex condition that impacts an individual’s social interaction, communication, and behavior.  It is characterized by a broad range of symptoms and varying degrees of severity.  By understanding the core characteristics of ASD, you can better comprehend your child’s experiences and tailor your approach to their specific needs. Identifying  Early Signs of Autism: A Path to Early Intervention Recognizing the early signs of autism is crucial for early intervention and support.  While each child is unique, there are common signs and symptoms to look out for, such as delays in speech and language development, repetitive behaviors, and difficulties with social interaction.  Timely diagnosis through comprehensive evaluations by healthcare professionals can pave the way for early intervention services and therapies, giving your child the best opportunities for growth and development. Supporting Your Child’s Development Create a Supportive Environment A supportive and nurturing environment is paramount for a child with autism to thrive.  This includes creating a safe, structured space that minimizes sensory overload, providing clear and consistent expectations, and incorporating visual supports to aid communication. Establishing a positive and accepting environment can foster your child’s self-esteem, independence, and overall well-being. Establish a Structured Routine A structured routine provides predictability and stability for children with autism, helping them feel secure and reducing anxiety.  Incorporating visual schedules, setting consistent daily routines, and using transition strategies can create a sense of order and facilitate smoother transitions between activities.  This promotes a sense of control and helps your child navigate their day more efficiently. Promoting Communication and Social Skills  Tackle Communication Challenges Individuals with autism often face challenges in verbal and non-verbal communication.  These challenges can include difficulties with language comprehension, limited speech, and struggles with social cues.  Implementing visual supports, augmentative and alternative communication systems, and social stories can enhance communication and bridge the gap between their thoughts and expression. Foster Social Skills Social interactions can be challenging for individuals with autism due to difficulties in understanding social cues and nuances.  By incorporating social skills training, structured playdates, and opportunities for peer interactions, you can support your child in developing meaningful relationships and navigating social situations more confidently. Individualized Education Plans (IEPs) and Special Education Services The Importance of IEPs Individualized Education Plans (IEPs) are crucial tools for supporting the educational journey of children with autism.  These plans outline specific goals, accommodations, and interventions to address your child’s unique strengths and challenges.  By working collaboratively with educators and school professionals, you can develop an effective IEP that ensures your child receives the necessary educational support and services. Accessing Special Education Services Alongside IEPs, various special education services and accommodations are available to cater to your child’s specific needs.  These may include speech therapy, occupational therapy, and specialized classroom settings. It is essential to understand the available services, collaborate with professionals, and advocate for your child’s rights to ensure they receive the education they deserve. Navigating Healthcare and Therapeutic Services Role of Healthcare Providers Healthcare providers play a vital role in diagnosing, managing, and overall well-being of individuals with autism.  Regular check-ups, developmental screenings, and consultations with pediatricians, neurologists, and other specialists can provide valuable insights and guidance. Collaborating with healthcare professionals ensures a comprehensive approach to your child’s healthcare needs. Therapeutic Services Therapeutic services, such as occupational therapy, applied behavior analysis (ABA), and speech therapy, can significantly benefit children with autism.  These interventions focus on developing essential skills, improving communication, and addressing challenging behaviors.  Researching qualified professionals, maximizing healthcare benefits, and seeking recommendations can help you find the most appropriate therapeutic services for your child. Addressing Challenging Behaviors Challenging behaviors are common in individuals with autism and can arise due to sensory sensitivities, communication difficulties, or changes in routine.  By understanding the underlying causes, implementing positive behavior support strategies, and utilizing techniques like visual schedules, social stories, and sensory regulation, you can effectively manage and address challenging behaviors in a supportive and constructive manner. Check out our blog post on 9 Critical Strategies to Unlocking Successful Behavior in Children With Autism. Finding Support and Resources Importance of Support Seeking support and connecting with relevant resources is essential for parents of children with autism.  Joining support groups, both in-person and online, provides opportunities to share experiences, gain valuable insights, and find a sense of community.  Additionally, accessing reputable websites, books, and organizations dedicated to autism can provide further knowledge, guidance, and assistance. Check out our blog post on 12 Essential Websites for Immigrant Families Navigating Autism in Germany.             Support Groups and Online Communities Support groups and online communities specifically catered to parents of children with autism offer a wealth of support, encouragement, and practical advice.  These platforms create spaces for sharing experiences, asking questions, and connecting with individuals who understand the unique challenges and triumphs of raising a child with autism. Taking Care of Yourself as a Parent Importance of Self-Care As a parent, taking care of yourself is not only essential but necessary.  Prioritizing self-care replenishes your energy, reduces stress, and enhances your ability to navigate the challenges of parenting a child with autism effectively.  Recognize that your own physical, emotional, and mental health matters. Managing Stress and Prioritizing Self-Care To manage stress and prioritize self-care, implement practical strategies into your daily life. Practice stress-management techniques such as deep breathing exercises, meditation, or engaging in hobbies that bring joy.  Establish boundaries, seek respite, delegate tasks, and ask for help from family, friends, or support networks. Moving forward In conclusion, parenting a child with autism requires understanding, support, and dedication.  By embracing the uniqueness of autism,

Neurodiversity and autism

Unlocking Your Child’s Potential: 14 Autism Thriving Strategies

Are you a parent or caregiver of a child with autism? Unlocking your child’s full potential can be challenging, but it is absolutely possible with the right strategies. This article will explore 14 autism-thriving strategies that can help your child thrive and reach their fullest potential. From creating a supportive environment to fostering communication skills, these strategies have been proven to make a significant difference in the lives of children with autism. Whether you’re just starting this journey or seeking new ways to support your child’s growth, this article will provide practical tips and insights. Join us as we delve into the world of autism-thriving strategies and discover the transformative power they hold for your child’s development. Let’s embark on this journey together and unlock your child’s potential! 1. Provide Structure and Routine:  Children with autism may feel overwhelmed by changes in routine and may benefit from a structured and predictable environment. You can provide this structure by creating a predictable schedule for your child, including structured activities, meals, and sleep. 2. Use Visual Aids:  If your child is non-verbal, your child may benefit from visual aids such as pictures, diagrams, and charts. You can use these aids to help them understand routines, schedules, and expectations. 3. Modify the Environment To Promote Communication:  Children with autism may have difficulty communicating their needs and wants. As a parent, you can modify your child’s environment to promote communication by using visual aids, simplifying language and gestures. 4. Use Positive Reinforcement:  Children with autism may respond well to positive reinforcement. You can use this technique with your child by rewarding good behavior and praising your child when they achieve a goal. For example, you can use words like “well done,” “you did it,” “you can do it,” and “good job.” 5. Create a Safe and Sensory-Friendly Environment:  Children with autism may have unique sensory needs and be sensitive to certain stimuli. As a parent, you can create a safe and sensory-friendly environment for your child by minimizing noise, providing comfortable seating and lighting, and reducing clutter. 6. Get an Official Diagnosis:  To access the benefits and aid offered by the government and various support systems for children with autism, it is necessary to obtain an official diagnosis. 7.  Research School System:   You should research the schools in your area to find those that offer specialized programs for students with special needs and inclusion. This may include classes specifically designed for children with autism or schools with trained staff and resources to support these children. Visiting the school, meeting with teachers and administrators, and asking questions is essential to ensure the school is a good fit for your child. 8. Take Advantage of Early Intervention Programs:  Early intervention programs can be a critical part of your child’s development. These programs are designed to support children with developmental delays, including autism, before they enter school. Many countries have early intervention programs that provide services to children from birth to school, such as speech therapy, occupational therapy, and physical therapy. 9. Stay Informed on Government Aid Support Systems/Disability Rights:  Families of children with autism may be eligible for various government aid programs. These programs can help cover the cost of medical care, therapy, and other vital services for children with autism. You should be aware of your child’s legal rights and the resources available to your child. In the United state, The Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA) protects children with disabilities, including the right to free and appropriate education. Advocacy organizations can also provide support and resources for you and your child. 10. Seek Help and Support:  Don’t hesitate to ask for help from family, friends, or professionals. Raising a child with autism can be challenging, and you need all the help you can get. Connect with other parents of children with autism. You can join support groups, attend conferences or workshops, or find online communities to share your experiences and get advice from other parents. 12. Take Care of Your Health:  Make sure to eat well, exercise regularly, and get enough sleep. Taking care of your physical health can help you manage stress and stay mentally healthy. Consider seeing a therapist to help you deal with the emotional challenges of raising a child with autism. Therapy can help you manage your emotions and provide you with coping strategies.  13. Take a Break:  It is essential to take time for yourself, whether going for a walk, reading a book, or relaxing. Taking a break can help you recharge and reduce stress. 14. Stay Informed:  Stay up-to-date on the latest research, therapies, and interventions for autism. This can help you make informed decisions about your child’s care and treatment. In conclusion, raising a child with autism can be challenging, but it can also be gratifying. With patience, understanding, and a willingness to learn, you can create an environment that allows your child to thrive and reach their full potential. Remember to be kind to yourself and give yourself credit for the hard work you do every day. You are doing the best you can, and it’s okay to make mistakes. Celebrate your child’s successes, no matter how small they may be. Recognize your accomplishments and take pride in your hard work and dedication to your child’s well-being. While there may be difficult moments, the love and joy of raising a child with autism are immeasurable. You can do it! Read more The Ultimate Guide: How to Support Your Child with Autism

child with autism

9 Effective Strategies for Successful Behavior in Autism.

Imagine living in a world where every sensation is amplified; every sound, every touch, and every movement can feel overwhelming and chaotic.  For children with Autism, this is often their reality, and it is a significant contributor to challenging behaviors. What do you do when your child’s behavior is beginning to negatively impact their life, your life, and those around you?  As parents, you can help unlock successful behavior in your child by using creative and empathetic strategies.  In this post, I will teach you some creative and empathy-based effective strategies for successful behavior in Autism. Join me on this journey towards a more empathetic and inclusive world for children with Autism. Let’s dive in. 1. Understand the Behavior: Understanding why your child is displaying challenging behavior is essential. Is there a trigger, or is your child trying to communicate a need or want? Finding out the underlying cause of the behavior can help you develop strategies to manage or prevent it. 2. Use Positive Reinforcement: Children with Autism often respond well to positive reinforcement. Praise and reward your child when they display positive behavior, such as following a routine or using appropriate language, which increases the possibility of that behavior repeating itself. Over time, your child learns to associate positive behavior with positive outcomes and will engage in those behaviors. Children with Autism often respond well to positive reinforcement.  Praise and reward your child when they display positive behavior, such as following a routine or using appropriate language, which increases the possibility of that behavior repeating itself.  Over time, your child learns to associate positive behavior with positive outcomes and will engage in those behaviors. 3. Implement Visual Supports:  Visual aids such as picture schedules and social stories can help your child understand what is expected of them and reduce anxiety.  Using visual supports can also help your child anticipate changes in routine or environment, reducing challenging behaviors and increasing positive behaviors. To find out more about visual aid, click here 4. Provide Sensory Input: Many children with Autism have sensory sensitivities that can contribute to challenging behaviors.  Providing sensory input, such as a weighted blanket, fidget toy, or stress ball, and sensory activities like hand and foot painting, playdough, mud, or water beads can help your child regulate their sensory system and reduce anxiety. 5. Use Calming Techniques: When your child displays challenging behavior, calming techniques such as deep breathing or progressive muscle relaxation can help reduce their anxiety and de-escalate the situation. To find out more about calming techniques, click on the link 6. Breaking Down Tasks Into Smaller Steps:  Children with Autism may become overwhelmed when presented with complex tasks.  When introducing a new task or skill to your child, break them down into smaller steps, making them more manageable and achievable for the child.  This strategy can reduce frustration and increase the likelihood of successful completion. 7. Teach a Replacing Behavior:  It is sometimes productive to replace your child’s challenging behavior with a more appropriate behavior rather than focusing on the negative one.  Teach the new behavior you want your child to learn through modeling and positive reinforcement, and monitor progress, adjusting the approach as necessary.  8. Encourage Positive Practice: Reinforcement to encourage the desired behavior and help the child feel motivated to continue practicing.  Unlike correcting unwanted behaviors, positive practice involves practicing a desired behavior repeatedly until it becomes a habit. Help your child repeatedly practice a desired behavior rather than correcting an unwanted behavior.  It’s important to note that positive practice should always be accompanied by positive. 9. Seek Professional Support Seek professional support if you struggle to manage your child’s challenging behaviors.  A behavior therapist can provide additional strategies and support tailored to your child’s specific needs. You can do it. Handling challenging behavior in Autism can be a complex and emotional journey.  Being patient, flexible, and empathetic towards yourself and your child is essential. Remember to take care of yourself as you try different strategies and techniques.  Whether taking a break, seeking support from loved ones, or practicing self-care, remember that you are doing your best; every step forward is a victory. With time, effort, and lots of love, you can help your child overcome challenges and reach their full potential.  Keep on keeping on! To learn more about Autism, read our post on Unlocking Your Child’s Potential: 14 Autism Thriving Strategies The Ultimate Guide: How to Support Your Child with Autism 12 Essential Websites for Immigrant Families Navigating Autism in Germany