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Kids with autism can enjoy Halloween

 

It’s that time again when little ghosts and goblins roam our neighborhoods and homes are decorated with spider webs, skeletons and all things scary. It’s Halloween, which could be an overwhelming time for our children with autism.

Here are tips from Autism Speaks to make Halloween fun for your child with autism:

Before Halloween:

  • Create a visual story about what Halloween may be like for your child using pictures or drawings. This will help your child prepare for the day’s activities.
  • Try on costumes before Halloween. If the costume is uncomfortable or doesn’t fit right, it may cause unnecessary distress and ruin their fun.
  • If your child does not like their costume, don’t make them wear it.
  • Instead, talk about the situation and try to uncover the reason why they don’t like it. After you talk with your child, they may gradually get used to the costume. Have them wear it for short periods of time and at increasing intervals over time.
  • Consider a Halloween costume that fits over your child’s regular clothes, such as butterfly wings or capes.
  • Practice going to a neighbor’s door, ringing the bell or knocking on the door to receive candy.

Halloween Day:

  • Know your child’s limits and do only what he or she can handle. For example, if your child is not comfortable trick-or-treating for long periods, start by going to three houses.
  • Take your child to an activity in the community, such as a school festival or a neighborhood party, where the child is already comfortable and knows people. Partner with family and friends that your child likes.
  • If you are giving out candy at your home, give your child the option to also give a piece of candy. During the day, practice greeting people and giving out candy. If your child is afraid of going out at night, plan indoor or daytime Halloween activities.
  • Remember, Halloween is supposed to be fun. Don’t let it stress out your child or you!

If you have additional questions about preparing your child for Halloween, please contact your child’s Little Star Center program manager. Families not enrolled at Little Star should contact Vince LaMarca, BCBA, Little Star Center clinical director.

Our son found a successful path at Little Star

By Julie Kilpatrick

When my precious little Henry was diagnosed on the autism spectrum just before his third birthday, I was somewhat relieved. Henry had been receiving speech therapy since he was 18 months old. He was making some strides, but still wasn’t where he needed to be at his age. Henry also seemed to be withdrawing from his peers in preschool and, being my first child, I figured he was just shy or would grow out of it.

My husband and I didn’t even want to entertain the idea of autism, but with the thoughtful counsel of his speech language pathologist and a few visits to various pediatric specialists, we received our diagnosis. While it was devastating at first, I finally felt an odd sense of relief because I could begin narrowing in on an action plan.

I found out about Little Star Center from a brochure at The Arc of Indiana.  I also met some of the center’s therapists at the Answers for Autism walk in September 2011. That following week, I called Mary Rosswurm and scheduled an appointment. Our prayers were answered when we met with Mary and toured Little Star. There were lots of happy little ones running around, jumping, verbalizing and even flapping next to their caring therapists. While I didn’t relish the thought of enrolling my precious child in a different childcare setting, I knew immediately that Little Star was the best place for Henry and the staff was more than capable of helping him to excel.

Henry thrived at Little Star, achieving milestone after milestone. His team of therapists provided the support, programming and constant documentation and communication to get Henry where he is today. My husband and I quickly felt comfortable and were respected as part of “Team Henry.”

While Henry has graduated and moved on from Little Star, he often talks about his friends and therapists at the center. We feel very fortunate to have had access to such a wonderful and well-respected facility to help both our little boy and our family thrive. Our sense of relief is ever present as we continue to celebrate each milestone, both great and small, that may not have been possible without Little Star.

Julie Kilpatrick is a mom to three children, including Henry, 5, who transitioned from Little Star Center and now attends a preschool in Carmel.

 

Looking back on a great 2013 for our Indiana autism center

 

By Mary Rosswurm

It has been an exciting time of growth and learning at Little Star Center, an Indiana autism center focused on in-home and center-based ABA therapy for children, teens and young adults. As we settle into the New Year, I wanted to share some of the outstanding accomplishments of 2013. Although there were many, many achievements by our learners and staff last year, we are highlighting 10 of the most memorable:

10) Oh the places we went. We were honored to have been invited to take part in the Council on Autism Services Conference, the Autism Speaks to Washington Rally and a week with Dr. Aubrey Daniels to learn about performance management.

 

9) Autism Awareness Month’s 30 facts over 30 days. We put this on Facebook and it was a lot of fun to see how many people a daily fact reached. We got over 14,000 views on our Facebook page in April!

8) Largest team at Answers for Autism Walk. Once again, Little Star had the largest team at the AAI walk. It was awesome to see over 100 people in LSC shirts at this annual event. Thank you to all of our participants and supporters.

7) Lots of anniversaries. Little Star Carmel celebrated its 11th year, Lafayette center celebrated its third anniversary, our Middle Star building saw its first birthday and our second staff member reached the five-year milestone.

6) ABA Daily on Twitter. We launched ABADaily on Twitter, which posts an ABA fact every day. Follow us.

4) New Bloomington center. We began the process of opening a new center in Bloomington after hearing about the needs in that area of the state. It will open this spring. We are hiring staff and evaluating leaners now.

5) The Melin Fundraiser was a hit. We partnered with the Melin family in honor of their late daughter and raised more than $9,000, which was used to purchase new IT technology to benefit all our centers.

3) Working with team members as they grow and take on more responsibility. Thank you to all our staff who advanced careers at Little Star Center.

2) The new Advisory Board. 2013 marked the formation of our Advisory Board, which brings together nationally known experts in the field of autism and applied behavior analysis. The Little Star Lecture Series also got off the ground. We hosted our second and third talks. The lectures were free and open to all.

Lafayette transition cerermony

1) The success of our learners. By far the most important achievement: watching 13 Little Star learners transition out of our program and go into school. It was priceless.

Thanks to our entire Little Star family for a great 2013.
We look forward to an even better 2014!

Mary Rosswurm is executive director at Little Star Center.

 

 

Photos (From top to bottom): Executive Director Mary Rosswurm, board member Michele Trivedi and Research and Training Director Tim Courtney meet with U.S. Sen. Joe Donnelly of Indiana during the Autism Speaks to Washington event – LSC staff attend Michigan Autism Conference – Learners prepare for the LSC Fourth of July parade. – A Lafayette center learner at his transition ceremony.

We are forever grateful to Little Star Center

By Siovhan Lawrence

 

Upon our son Bradley’s formal autism diagnosis, we did everything we could to get him the best services.  In doing so, we enrolled him part-time in a structured ABA school in North Carolina, where we lived at the time. Staff at the school let us know that the three hours per day Bradley was receiving was not enough. We were told he would excel with the recommended eight hours per day of behavioral intervention. It didn’t take much more than a glance and a shrug exchanged between my husband and me to make a big decision: We would move from North Carolina to Indiana, which is a well-oiled machine when it comes to autism mandates and facilities.

Once we decided to move to Indiana, my husband got a job and we began our search for ABA centers. We were excited about one particular facility, and purchased private insurance (recommended by the center), and rented the first home we could find. En route, moving van and all, we received a call from our selected center, where Bradley was set to begin school in four days, saying our insurance was not in  network and he would be unable to attend. What now? We were overwhelmed with worry and discontent.

We called our insurance agent and he mentioned Little Star Center. I called, set up a meeting and met Mary and Victoria. We never felt more comfortable in our quest for helping Bradley in the two years we’d experienced trying to find him the best support possible! I think when you meet other mothers of special needs kids, you have an immediate, unspoken camaraderie. We felt that with Mary. From the point we walked into the center to the first day we dropped Bradley off (and in the nearly four months he has been with Little Star) our hearts have become so full. In such a time of distress and worry, we were made to feel safe and secure and, most importantly, hopeful. As any parent of a child on the spectrum knows, without hope, there is nothing. We are forever grateful.

 Siovhan Lawrence is a mom of two, including Bradley, a learner at Little Star Center.  

My son and his best friend Lulu

 

By Mary Rosswurm, executive director Little Star Center

We have always had dogs and have six currently. When our son Brad was born, we had a small terrier mix mutt named Barney. Growing up, Brad was never afraid of the dogs, but not very engaged with them, either.

This changed in 2008, when Lulu, our yorkie poo, figured out how to get up onto Brad’s very high bed by using an ottoman as a step. After this, something clicked and Brad became a full-on dog lover. He and Lulu are inseparable and he often refers to her as his “best friend”. Brad has said that he will be very sad when Lulu “passes” as she is his “beloved doggy friend.” Brad has become much more aware of our dogs and will get them fresh water, which includes ice cubes, refill their food bowl when empty and share his own food with them. We can often hear him talking to Lulu when he is in his bedroom. They have become wonderful friends and I am so happy that he has been able to make that connection with her.

A few years back, Brad asked if we could go see the movie, Marley and Me. In general, he only likes animated movies or live action comedies. I think he thought the movie was going to be more of a comedy because Owen Wilson was starring in it. At the end of the movie, the dog, Marley, grows old and eventually dies. I had that painful lump in my throat and my eyes were burning as I tried to hold back the tears. I could hear others in the theater sniffling and noses being blown. Out of the corner of my eye, I kept looking to see if Brad was having any type of visceral reaction to the movie, to which it seemed he was not. Once the movie was over, I could see that he was not experiencing any of the emotional reactions that I and so many others were experiencing.

As we walked to the car after the movie, I asked him, “Didn’t you think the movie was sad?” He replied, “Yeah.” I asked, “Didn’t it want to make you cry?” He simply said, “No, it’s not my dog.”

As often happens during everyday life with Brad, I am often puzzled and surprised at how he looks at the world differently than most do. Not wrong, just different.

Mary is executive director at Little Star Center. Her son, Brad, has autism. 

Proud to be Hoosier representing autism and our ABA facility

By Mary Rosswurm

The National Autism Speaks conference was held in Washington D.C. last week. I was humbled to be invited to this national event that brought together about 200 autism advocates from classrooms, boardrooms, small towns, big cities and in-between. This three-day event marked the launch of the 2014 policy agenda (a first-ever for autism advocates and legislation).

Tim Courtney and I met face to face with key Indiana legislators to discuss research funding and encourage their participation in committees. I truly appreciate the time every legislator and professional took in their day to listen, make notes and subsequently take action on the behalf of families and children affected by autism. It was an amazing experience. The experience demonstrated democracy at work.

To read more about the event read this blog written by Liz Fields, president of Autism Speaks.

Emma is autistic. And Emma is awesome.

 

By Kerry Blankenship

I knew before the diagnosis came in. Someone gently suggested having Emma evaluated for autism, and I started researching. I knew when I read the list of common characteristics that I was reading about my 3-year-old daughter.

When the diagnosis confirmed what I knew, I thought, in those first days, that everything had changed. That “autistic” meant strictly defined limitations and endless struggles, that one word could tell me what her future would (or wouldn’t) be. I was scared of what I imagined to be a long, lonely road, and I wondered whether I’d be “mom enough” to shepherd her down it.

I know better now.

Emma is as she always was. She loves penguins and quesadillas, she seeks thrills and she brings sunshine to everyone that knows her. And she is autistic.

It’s not a word I’m afraid of anymore. She processes the world in a way that I can’t—and her perspective is beautiful. Sure, there are challenges, but there are also amazing milestones and a whole lot of joy.

Emma has taught me to rejoice in the little things, like the voice from the backseat piping up with a request for “donut!” every time we drive past Target. That she can tell me what she wants is always cause for celebration.

The diagnosis gave us resources and a community. It didn’t change my daughter or her potential.

Emma is autistic. And Emma is awesome.

Kerry Blankenship is a mom of one beautiful girl. Her daughter, Emma, is a learner at Little Star Center. 

Life Lessons – What we here at Little Star have learned from the kids we work with

In honor of Autism Awareness Month, the staff at Little Star Center would like to take this opportunity to thank the many children and young adults that we have had the privilege to work with over the years. We would like to share a few things that we have learned from our time together:

  • Celebrate the little things
  • A little pee never hurt anybody
  • Children with autism work harder each day than most adults
  • We call them “special interests” not obsessions
  • Everybody is smart in their own way
  • Don’t always be in such a hurry
  • Bad times may be bad, but they make the good times even better
  • He’s just saying what everybody else is thinking
  • One person’s gross is another person’s amazing
  • The most ordinary, everyday objects can still be extraordinary
  • Potential cannot be predicted
  • Success should be measured in small steps

What have you learned from children on the spectrum? Feel free to add your “life lessons” in the comment section below. We would love to hear from you!

autism indiana

For Immediate Release, Little Star Center Lafayette to open March 15th – Official Press Release here.

Press Release

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

Contact:         Amanda Ryan

Community Outreach & Marketing Director

317.249.2242

[email protected]

Little Star Center Announces Opening of New Lafayette Location

Non-profit autism center will be the first of its kind in the Lafayette Area

CARMEL, IN, February 15, 2011 – Little Star Center, a non-profit center for children with autism, is pleased to announce the opening of a new center in Lafayette, IN. The center will open its doors on March 15, 2011. Their location in Carmel was the first in the state, opening in 2002. This stand alone center – located at 3922 Mezzanine Drive, can be quickly accessed from IN-26, making it an easy to reach location for all Lafayette area commuters.

Little Star Center chose the Lafayette area for its new location due to the need for autism services. “After holding multiple community interest meetings, attending local autism events and support group meetings, the choice was easy. The need for services is great in the area and we are excited to get up there and help with that need,” says Mary Rosswurm, Executive Director of Little Star Center.

Based on the principles of Applied Behavior Analysis (ABA), Little Star provides an atmosphere where children, therapists and families can interact, support each other and receive on-going training so that each child can reach their full potential at home and in a variety of settings outside of therapy. After decades of research, the United States Surgeon General has endorsed intensive behavioral intervention for individuals with autism as the treatment of choice. Over 40 years of research documents the efficacy of ABA in reducing inappropriate behavior and increasing communication and learning.

About Little Star Center

We believe we are a truly unique and special place for children and families. Little Star allows families to have the best of both worlds – the intense one-on-one personalized therapy that you used to only be able to find in a home program and the community feel of a center based program that gives your child access to peers, materials and a beautiful facility. Families are an integral part of their child’s programming along with our staff of professionals. Little Star prides itself on having a “family first” philosophy. For more information please call 317.249.2242 or visit us on the web at www.littlestarcenter.org.

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autism indiana

The Latest News Regarding the Issue of Vaccines and Autism – Dr. Wakefield’s Research

As you know, there has been a media frenzy lately regarding Dr. Wakefield’s 1998 research paper that linked the childhood measles, mumps and rubella vaccine to the onset of autism.  Recently, Dr. Wakefield’s paper and research have been discredited since follow up studies could not replicate the findings casting doubt on its conclusions.

NPR’s, The Diane Rehm Show, has done a great job of discussing this issue and has had some experts come on and speak about it. Check out the latest edition – Vaccines and Autism: A Story of Medicine, Science and Fear.  Click listen to this hear this discussion.