Wednesday 6 June 2012


Welcome to Corner Pieces, a site dedicated to helping parents whose children have been newly diagnosed with autism.

The symbol for autism is a puzzle full of brightly coloured pieces.  Raising a child with autism can be like putting together a puzzle without a picture of what it’s supposed to be.  And sometimes you have extra pieces which don’t actually belong to the puzzle you’re working on.  The guides and suggestions in various parenting books, shows and magazines simply don’t apply to your situation.  As you go on, you’ll learn a whole new set of parenting tools and tips.  But when you first get started, it can seem too overwhelming to even sort out.

The first step in putting together any puzzle is to find the corner pieces.  I’ve tried to put them together here for you.  I have two children with autism and a husband with Asperger’s and I’ve been learning about the autism world since 2007.  When I first got this idea, I talked with all the experts we’ve worked with: speech therapists, occupational therapists, behavioural therapists and developmental psychologists.  And the most important experts of all: other parents of children with autism.  I asked them what they thought newly diagnosed families should know. 

When my eldest son was first diagnosed, I was in shock.  All I knew about autism was what I’d seen in a few daytime talk shows and the movie Rain Man.  I had to learn quickly in order to help him.  There were so many different therapies and treatment options to choose from and no one could tell me what would be likely to help my child.  I learned to navigate the system and which options helped my particular child.  When my second son was diagnosed, I already had the knowledge I needed.  His treatment program was set up much faster and I was better able to guess what would help him.  The difference in the two of them is profound.  My eldest son is in a segregated class and we’re still working on major communication and behaviour problems.  My youngest is in a regular school and doing well enough that a case worker sent to check on him had to ask the teacher which child he was.  I believe a significant part of the difference is because I wasn’t having to learn the basics.

I want to give all parents that chance.

You can read my daily blog to get updates about my family, my life and what we find is working for us (and what isn't).

Page Descriptions

Dealing with Diagnosis: Parents talks about the emotional impact of diagnosis. This is a major life-changing event which can leave people feeling isolated, angry and hopeless. You’re not alone in this.

Dealing with Diagnosis: Friends and Family offers suggestions to the extended family and friends of newly diagnosed families. We all want to help and make things better but sometimes the best-intentioned gestures can end up hurting.

Dealing with Other People's Reactions warns of some of the less than positive responses you can expect and talks about the stigma of accepting the "special needs" label.

The Autism World is an explanation of how people with autism experience the world around them. The ability to guess what your child is experiencing is one of the best tools you can have in helping and teaching them.

Tips and Tricks is a collection of suggestions and ideas contributed by parents. I’m always looking for more suggestions to share. Contact me with your ideas.

Choosing Therapies and Treatment isn’t about specific types of treatment. Instead it’s about what you should be looking for in a therapist or treatment expert. Every child with autism is unique and there’s no universal treatment.

Changing Challenging Behaviours is a basic overview of the Applied Behaviour Analysis system. While I recognize that not every child works best with the intense behaviour treatment based on ABA, the system of figuring out what is behind challenging behaviours is an effective way to understand what your child is trying to tell you. Understanding is the first step to trying to change the problem.

Communication offers ideas on how you can help your child with autism to communicate. Without an ability to tell you what he or she wants, frustration quickly leads to behaviour problems.

Referrals for Families are options for families with special needs to enjoy some of the ordinary experiences in life. It lists examples of non-therapy professionals and businesses who are willing and able to adapt to autistic children.

Finding Help: There are three sections, pre-diagnosis, getting a diagnosis and post-diagnosis. It's my attempt to give you a checklist of options.

Helpful Books: A list of books that I've found to be useful, in the order I discovered them.

My Blog is where I share new information, what's working (and not) for our family. Posted daily (mostly).