~~~~~~ Specific Parenting Techniques for Children and Teens on the High-Functioning End of the Autism Spectrum ~~~~~~

"Black and White Thinking" in the Autistic Child: Tips for Parents

 

Black and white thinking is a common trait observed in many autistic children. It is a type of thinking that involves seeing things in absolutes, with no room for nuances or variations. For instance, they may view a situation as being either entirely right or entirely wrong, with no middle ground. 

This type of thinking can make it challenging for autistic children to navigate social situations effectively. They may struggle with social cues and find it hard to engage in appropriate social behaviors. This can lead to misunderstandings with peers or authority figures, resulting in low self-esteem and a sense of isolation.

Examples of black and white thinking:

  • All or nothing: The child believes that if a goal or task cannot be completed entirely or perfectly, it is not worth pursuing at all.
  • Always or never: The child assumes that someone will always - or never - do something based on a single instance or limited experience.
  • Beautiful or ugly: The child labels something as either completely beautiful or completely ugly.
  • Good or bad people: The child labels someone as entirely good or bad based on one action or characteristic.
  • Right or wrong: The child asserts that there is only one correct answer or approach to a situation or problem.
  • Success or failure: The child believes that anything less than perfect is a failure.


To help children with black and white thinking, it's crucial to provide them with clear and consistent rules and expectations. Having a structure and routine can help them understand what is expected of them in different situations, reducing their anxiety and promoting a sense of stability. 

It is also essential to provide them with opportunities to practice social skills in a safe and supportive environment. This can be achieved through social skills training or therapy, where they learn how to read social situations, understand the perspectives of others, and respond appropriately.

In addition to these strategies, therapy and other interventions can also be effective in helping children with black and white thinking. Cognitive-behavioral therapy (CBT) is one of the most effective forms of therapy for autistic children. It helps them develop more flexible thinking patterns, learn to weigh competing priorities, and consider multiple perspectives. CBT can also help them learn to regulate their emotions, which can be challenging for autistic children.

In conclusion, black and white thinking can be a challenging trait for autistic children, but with the right strategies and support, they can learn to navigate social situations more effectively. By providing them with clear and consistent rules, opportunities to practice social skills, and therapy, we can help them develop flexible thinking patterns and lead fulfilling lives.


Resources for parents of children and teens on the autism spectrum:
 
 

 
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Coping with Holiday Meltdowns in Your ASD Child

 

The holiday season can be a joyous and exciting time for many families, but for autistic children, it can be a challenging and stressful experience. The disruptions and changes that come with holidays can be overwhelming and overstimulating for these children, leading to heightened anxiety, meltdowns, and other challenging behaviors.

To help autistic children navigate the holiday season, parents and caretakers need to understand their child's needs and develop a personalized plan that prioritizes their comfort and well-being. One helpful strategy is social stories, which are personalized stories that use pictures and text to help children understand and prepare for upcoming events. Visual schedules are also an effective tool to provide a clear and predictable outline of the day's activities, which can help children feel more secure and reduce anxiety.

In addition to these strategies, sensory tools can be incredibly helpful for autistic children during the holiday season. Noise-cancelling headphones can help reduce auditory stimulation, while weighted blankets can provide comfort and a sense of security. Fidget toys can help children regulate their sensory input and provide a calming distraction during anxious moments.

Here are some detailed strategies that can be useful in preventing holiday meltdowns:

1. Identify triggers: To prevent meltdowns, it's essential to identify the specific situations or events that trigger your child's outbursts. For instance, loud noises, bright lights, or unexpected changes in routine can be a trigger for meltdowns. Once you've identified these triggers, you can develop strategies to help your child manage their emotions and prevent meltdowns from occurring.

2. Establish a routine: Many autistic children thrive on routine and structure. Creating a consistent daily routine can help your child feel more secure and less anxious, which can reduce the likelihood of meltdowns. A routine can include activities such as waking up at the same time every day, having meals at regular intervals, and following a consistent bedtime routine.

3. Use visual aids: Using visual aids, such as picture schedules or cue cards, can be a helpful strategy in preventing meltdowns. These tools can help your child understand what's expected of them and what's coming next, which can reduce stress and anxiety.

4. Provide sensory input: Sensory issues can be a trigger for meltdowns in some children with autism. Providing sensory input, such as a weighted blanket or a fidget toy, can help your child regulate their emotions and avoid meltdowns.

5. Teach coping skills: Teaching your child coping skills is an important part of preventing meltdowns. This might include deep breathing, progressive muscle relaxation, or visualization. Regular practice of these techniques can help your child learn to manage their emotions in a healthy and positive way.

Remember, each child is unique, and what works for one child may not work for another. It's important to be patient, flexible, and willing to try different approaches to find what works best for your child. By taking the time to understand and prioritize the needs of autistic children during the holidays, families can create a more positive and enjoyable holiday experience for everyone involved.

 

Resources for parents of children and teens on the autism spectrum:
 
 

 
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Stories from Parents and How They Discovered Their Child was on the Autism Spectrum

Told by Jayne and Charles Z.—

“On a Saturday morning, my husband and I were enjoying our steaming cups of coffee while basking in the sunlight that was streaming through the windows of our cozy kitchen. Our three-year-old son, Jack, was playing with his toys in the living room, and we could hear the sound of his laughter and joyous chatter.

As we were chatting, we couldn't help but notice that Jack seemed to be in his own world, lost in his thoughts and completely unaware of our presence. His behavior was becoming increasingly repetitive, and he seemed to be struggling to connect with us and other children.

We took Jack to his pediatrician, who referred us to a specialist for further evaluation. After several tests and assessments, we were told that Jack had autism. The news hit us like a ton of bricks. We were overwhelmed with a range of emotions - fear, sadness, confusion.
 
==> Parenting Children and Teens with High-Functioning Autism: Parents' Comprehensive Handbook

But we refused to let the diagnosis define our son. We were determined to help Jack in every way we could. We enrolled him in therapy and started working with him at home to improve his communication and social skills. We learned everything we could about autism and how best to support Jack.

It was a challenging road, and there were times when we felt exhausted and overwhelmed. But we never gave up. We were determined to help our son overcome any obstacles that came his way.

Over time, we began to see improvements in Jack's behavior and communication. His laughter became more frequent, his smile more radiant. He started to make eye contact more often, and he even began to say a few words. It was a joy to see our son making progress, and we felt proud of every milestone he achieved.

Looking back on that day when we received the diagnosis, we realize that it was the beginning of a journey. It was a journey that taught us so much about ourselves, our son, and the world. We are grateful for the resources and support that have helped us along the way, and we are proud of the progress that Jack has made.”

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Told by Shelley H.—

“It was a summer day, and our family had decided to spend a lazy afternoon at the park. Our daughter,  Lily, was playing on the swings, and we were watching her with pride and joy. But then, something caught our attention. Lily's behavior was different from the other children. She was flapping her hands and seemed to be lost in her own world. It was as if she was in her own little bubble, oblivious to everything else around her. We watched her for some time, trying to understand what was happening.

As time passed, we noticed more unusual behavior. Lily would avoid eye contact, had difficulty communicating and would become easily overwhelmed in crowded places. We were concerned and knew we had to take action. We decided to take her to a specialist, hoping to get some answers.

After several tests, the news we received was not what we had expected. Our daughter had autism. It was a shock, and we felt a range of emotions - from fear to sadness to uncertainty. We wanted to do everything we could to help our daughter.
 
==> Parenting Children and Teens with High-Functioning Autism: Parents' Comprehensive Handbook

We began to work with therapists and educators to help Lily develop the skills she needed to thrive. We were amazed at the different types of therapies and interventions available, from speech therapy to occupational therapy to behavioral therapy. We tried several of them to see what worked best for Lily. We also found a community of other families who had children with autism, and they became a source of support and encouragement. We shared our experiences with them and learned from their wisdom and insights.

It wasn't always easy. We had many ups and downs, and there were moments when we felt overwhelmed and discouraged. But we kept pushing forward, knowing that our daughter deserved the best possible support. Over time, we saw Lily make progress that we never thought was possible. She began to communicate more effectively, form friendships, and develop interests that brought her joy. Now, she's a thriving young adult who has taught us so much about love, perseverance, and what it truly means to be a family.”

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Told by Jason and Lisa M.—

“When my partner and I first welcomed our little one into the world, we were absolutely ecstatic. Every moment with her felt like a precious gift. As time went on, however, we began to notice that she was experiencing developmental differences compared to other children her age.

At first, we tried our best to remain positive and patient, believing that she would eventually catch up. But as the weeks and months went by, we couldn't shake the feeling that something wasn't quite right. Our daughter struggled with social interactions and had difficulty understanding our emotions.

Despite our best efforts to stay optimistic, we couldn't help but feel concerned for our daughter's future. Finally, we decided to take her to a specialist to see if there was anything we should be worried about.

We thought that every child develops at their own pace and that our daughter just needed a bit more time to catch up. But as time went on, we couldn't shake the feeling that something wasn't quite right. Our daughter struggled with social interactions, had difficulty making eye contact, and seemed to lack empathy for others.

We tried to remain patient and positive, but deep down, we were worried. We knew that we needed to find answers and support for our child. So, we decided to consult with a specialist who could help us better understand what was happening.
 
==> Parenting Children and Teens with High-Functioning Autism: Parents' Comprehensive Handbook

The specialist ran a thorough evaluation, observing our daughter's behavior in various situations and running a series of tests. When the results came in, we were relieved to finally have some answers, but also overwhelmed with emotions. Our child was diagnosed with autism spectrum disorder.

Learning about our daughter's diagnosis was difficult, but it also brought a sense of relief and understanding. It explained so much about her behavior and gave us a starting point for how to move forward. With the help of therapists and support groups, we began to learn more about autism and how to support our daughter in a way that worked for her unique needs.

We had to adapt to a new way of thinking and parenting, but we were committed to helping our child thrive. We learned about sensory processing disorder and how to create a sensory-friendly environment for our daughter. We worked with therapists to help her develop her social skills and emotional intelligence.

As we continue on this journey, we know that there will be challenges, but we also know that our daughter is an incredible and unique individual. We are grateful for the opportunity to raise her and support her in every way possible. We understand that every child is different, and we are committed to helping our daughter achieve her full potential.”

Traits That Suggest Your Toddler May Have Autism: 

 

Note to parents:

It's essential to understand that every child has their unique personality and develops at their own pace. However, if you suspect that your toddler might have autistic traits, it's crucial to pay attention to some common signs that may indicate the presence of autism.

One of the most common early signs is delayed speech or language development. Toddlers with autism may not babble, point, or use other gestures to communicate with others. They may have difficulty expressing their needs and emotions through language, and they may not respond when their name is called. The child may also have trouble imitating sounds or words, and their speech may be repetitive or delayed.

Another sign to look out for is difficulty with social interactions and eye contact. Toddlers with autism may avoid eye contact and not respond when their name is called. They may also prefer to play alone and not engage in pretend play with others. They may not seek comfort from caregivers or show affection in the same way as other toddlers. They may also have difficulty understanding social cues and may appear indifferent to the presence of others.

Repetitive activities or routines are also a common sign of autism in toddlers. They may engage in repetitive behaviors such as lining up toys or spinning objects. They may also have specific routines or rituals that they need to follow. Any disruption to their routine may cause anxiety or distress.

Sensitivity to sensory stimuli is another common sign of autism in toddlers. They may be hypersensitive or hyposensitive to sounds, textures, tastes, or smells. They may have a strong reaction to certain sounds, such as a vacuum cleaner or hairdryer, or avoid certain textures, such as sand or grass. They may also have unusual food preferences or be very picky about what they eat.

If you notice any of these signs, it's best to consult with a pediatrician or specialist who can evaluate your child's developmental progress and provide guidance on necessary interventions or therapies. Remember that early intervention is crucial for your child's development and well-being.


Resources for parents of children and teens on the autism spectrum:
 
 

 
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Calming Techniques That Will Help Your Autistic Child to Regulate Her Emotions: Tips for Distraught Parents

Children with autism spectrum disorder (ASD) often experience anxiety and sensory overload, which can lead to challenging behaviors. As a caregiver, you may feel overwhelmed trying to manage these difficult situations. Fortunately, there are several effective calming techniques that can help your child regulate their emotions and improve their overall well-being.

Deep breathing exercises are a powerful tool for managing stress and anxiety. By teaching your child how to take deep breaths from their diaphragm, you can help them relax and calm down when they feel overwhelmed. Encourage your child to practice deep breathing exercises regularly, so they can use this technique to manage their emotions in a variety of situations.

Sensory breaks can also be incredibly helpful for children with ASD. Create a designated space where your child can take sensory breaks when they feel overwhelmed. This space should be quiet and free from distractions, allowing your child to decompress and recharge. Consider providing calming sensory tools such as fidget spinners, stress balls, or weighted blankets to help your child feel more relaxed.

==> Parenting Children and Teens with High-Functioning Autism: Parents' Comprehensive Handbook

Weighted blankets have been shown to have a calming effect on children with ASD. The added weight of the blanket can help your child feel more grounded and secure, which can reduce anxiety and promote better sleep. However, it's important to choose a weighted blanket that is appropriate for your child's size and weight to ensure safety.

Visual schedules are an effective way to help your child understand what's happening throughout the day. Create a visual schedule that outlines the day's events, including school, therapy sessions, meals, and playtime. This can help your child feel more in control of their environment, reduce anxiety, and promote a sense of routine.

Exercise is another excellent way to help your child regulate their emotions and improve their overall well-being. Physical activity can help your child release excess energy and promote better sleep. Consider scheduling regular exercise time with your child, whether it's going for a walk, doing yoga, or playing a sport.

Remember, every child with ASD is unique, and what works for one child may not work for another. It's important to work with your child's therapist or healthcare provider to determine what calming techniques are best for them. By using these proven techniques, you can help your child regulate their emotions, reduce anxiety, and improve their overall quality of life.


Resources for parents of children and teens on the autism spectrum:
 
 

 
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Delayed Speech/Language Development in Children with ASD: What Parents Need to Know

Delayed speech and language development is a complex and multifaceted problem that is often observed in children on the autism spectrum. The symptoms of delayed speech and language development can manifest in a variety of ways, including a lack of babbling or cooing in infancy, difficulty in expressing needs, difficulty in understanding language, and difficulty in using language appropriately in social situations.

Children with autism may also exhibit a range of other communication and social interaction difficulties, such as difficulty in making eye contact, difficulty in understanding nonverbal cues, and difficulty in engaging in play or conversation with others.

Eye Contact—

Difficulty in making eye contact is a common characteristic of autism and can be a challenging aspect of social interaction for people with autism. Eye contact is an important nonverbal cue that typically conveys interest, attentiveness, and trustworthiness. However, for people with autism, making and maintaining eye contact can be difficult, leading to misunderstandings and social awkwardness.

==> Parenting Children and Teens with High-Functioning Autism: Parents' Comprehensive Handbook

One possible explanation for this difficulty in making eye contact is that people with autism may have trouble processing and integrating sensory information. Eye contact can be an intense and complex sensory experience that requires the brain to process visual and emotional cues simultaneously. This can be overwhelming for people with autism, who may find it easier to focus on one aspect of the interaction at a time.

It's important to note that difficulty in making eye contact is not a sign of rudeness or lack of interest. In fact, people with autism may be very interested in what you are saying but may struggle to maintain eye contact while processing the information they are receiving. By understanding and accepting this difference in communication style, we can create more inclusive environments and improve social interactions for everyone.

Nonverbal Cues—

Autism is a neurological condition that affects a person's ability to communicate and interact with others effectively. One of the most significant challenges for individuals with autism is understanding nonverbal cues, which can include facial expressions, tone of voice, and body language. These cues are an essential part of social interactions, and people with autism may struggle to interpret them correctly. This can lead to misunderstandings, difficulty in building relationships, and challenges in everyday life.

However, with the right therapy and support, individuals with autism can learn to recognize and respond to nonverbal communication effectively. This can include interventions like social skills training, where individuals learn to identify and interpret nonverbal cues in a supportive and structured environment. Other techniques, like video modeling and role-playing, can also help individuals with autism practice recognizing and responding to nonverbal cues.

It's essential to address this challenge to ensure that people with autism can participate fully in social situations and build meaningful relationships. By providing the right support and interventions, we can help individuals with autism overcome this challenge and thrive in their social interactions.

==> Parenting Children and Teens with High-Functioning Autism: Parents' Comprehensive Handbook

Engaging In Play—

Children with autism often experience unique challenges in engaging in play due to their difficulties in social communication and interaction. They may have trouble understanding the rules of play, taking turns, and initiating or maintaining conversations with peers. These difficulties can have a significant impact on their ability to form friendships and build social connections with others.

To address these challenges, it is important to work with a therapist or educator who specializes in autism. A professional with expertise in autism can provide tailored support to help the child develop their play skills and build social connections. This may involve using visual prompts, such as pictures or diagrams, to help the child understand the rules of play. 

Structured activities can also be helpful, as they provide a predictable routine that the child can follow. By incorporating the child's interests and strengths into play sessions, therapists can help to promote motivation and engagement.

In addition to these strategies, peer modeling can be a powerful tool for helping children with autism develop their play skills. This involves pairing the child with a peer who is skilled in play and social interaction, and using the peer's behavior as a model for the child to follow. This can be particularly effective when the peer is someone the child looks up to or admires.

==> Parenting Children and Teens with High-Functioning Autism: Parents' Comprehensive Handbook

It is important to note that there is no one-size-fits-all approach to supporting play skills in children with autism. Each child is unique and requires an individualized approach that takes into account their strengths, challenges, and interests. Working collaboratively with the child and their family to develop a tailored support plan can help to ensure that the child receives the best possible care and support. With the right intervention and support in place, every child with autism has the potential to develop their play skills and build meaningful relationships with their peers.

Engaging In Conversation—

Autism is a neurodevelopmental disorder that affects a person's social interactions, communication, and behavior. Individuals with autism may face difficulty engaging in conversation due to their unique challenges in interpreting social cues. They may struggle to recognize nonverbal cues such as body language, facial expressions, and tone of voice, which can make social interactions challenging.

However, with the right support and practice, individuals with autism can develop their social skills and become more confident communicators. Communication strategies, such as visual aids, social stories, and role-playing exercises, can help individuals with autism understand and interpret social cues. Social skills training can also help them learn to initiate and maintain conversations, develop friendships, and navigate social situations with more ease.

To create a supportive and inclusive environment for individuals with autism, it is essential to understand and accept their unique perspectives and ways of communicating. Using clear and simple language can help them understand and respond to conversations more effectively. Additionally, focusing on shared interests and topics that the individual is passionate about can make conversations more engaging and enjoyable.

Individuals with autism may face challenges when engaging in conversation, but with the right support and strategies, they can develop their social skills and become more confident communicators. It is crucial to create an accepting and inclusive environment that focuses on their strengths and unique qualities, allowing them to express themselves and engage in social interactions confidently.

Early diagnosis and intervention are critical in addressing delayed speech and language development in children with autism. A range of evidence-based interventions and therapies, such as speech therapy, occupational therapy, and behavioral interventions, can be used to improve language and communication skills in children with autism. 

 It is important to work with qualified professionals to create a comprehensive and personalized treatment plan that meets the unique needs of each child. With appropriate intervention and support, children with autism can make significant progress in their language and communication skills, ultimately improving their overall quality of life.

 
Resources for parents of children and teens on the autism spectrum:
 
 

 
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Get your copy of Parenting Children and Teens with High-Functioning Autism: Comprehensive Handbook

Parenting Children and Teens with High-Functioning Autism: Comprehensive Handbook is a downloadable ebook designed to help you understand every aspect of High-Functioning Autism (HFA) and to effectively parent a child on the spectrum. The definitive source for anyone affected by HFA (ASD Level 1).

Understanding the Different Levels of Autism Spectrum Disorder: Is Your Child at Level 1, 2, or 3?

Autism is a spectrum disorder, which means that it affects people in different ways and to varying degrees. Some individuals with autism have mild symptoms and can lead relatively normal lives, while others have more severe symptoms and require constant support and care. The level of autism is usually determined by the severity of the individual's social and communication difficulties, as well as their repetitive behaviors and interests. It's important to note that each person with autism is unique and requires personalized care and attention.

Level 1 autism is considered to be the mildest form of autism spectrum disorder (ASD). Individuals with level 1 autism have difficulty with social interactions and communication, as well as repetitive behaviors and interests. However, they are usually able to function relatively independently and may not require as much support as individuals with more severe forms of ASD. It's important to note that every person with autism is unique and may have different strengths and challenges.

Level 2 autism is part of the Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD) classification. It is characterized by significant difficulties in social interaction and communication skills. Individuals with level 2 autism may have more obvious social impairments, repetitive behaviors, and restrictive interests. They may also struggle with change or transitions, and have difficulty adapting to new situations. However, they typically have average to above-average cognitive abilities and may excel in certain areas of interest. It's important to remember that autism is a spectrum, and every individual with autism is unique and may exhibit different symptoms and behaviors.

Level 3 autism is a term used to describe the most severe level of autism spectrum disorder (ASD). Individuals with level 3 autism require significant support to complete daily tasks, communicate effectively, and manage their behavior. They may have difficulty with social interactions, exhibit repetitive behaviors, and struggle with sensory processing. With appropriate interventions and support, individuals with level 3 autism can lead fulfilling and meaningful lives. It's important to remember that each person on the autism spectrum is unique, and the severity of their symptoms can vary.

Some common early signs that parents may notice in their children include delayed speech and language development, lack of interest in social interactions, difficulty in making eye contact, repetitive behaviors, and sensory sensitivities.

Delayed speech and language development is a significant sign of autism in children. Children with autism may not start talking until later than usual, and they may have difficulty communicating their needs and wants. They may also have trouble understanding language and following directions.

Lack of interest in social interactions is another early sign of autism. Children with autism may not engage in typical social behaviors, such as making eye contact, sharing interests, or playing with other children. They may prefer to play alone and avoid social situations altogether.

Difficulty in making eye contact is a distinctive sign of autism in children. Eye contact is an essential social skill that helps people connect and communicate with each other. However, children with autism may have difficulty making eye contact, which can affect their ability to interact with others.

Repetitive behaviors are also common in children with autism. They may engage in repetitive movements, such as hand-flapping, rocking back and forth, or spinning in circles. They may also have rigid routines, and any changes to their routine can cause anxiety and distress.

Sensory sensitivities are another early sign of autism. Children with autism may be hypersensitive or hyposensitive to sensory stimuli, such as sounds, sights, smells, textures, and tastes. They may overreact or underreact to sensory input, which can affect their behavior and mood.
 
Parenting children with autism can be a complex and multi-faceted experience that requires comprehensive understanding and support. Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD) is a developmental disorder that affects communication, social interaction, and behavior. As such, parenting a child with ASD requires an unparalleled amount of patience, compassion, and flexibility.

Creating a predictable routine is one of the essential strategies for parenting children with autism. Autistic children often feel more secure when they know what to expect, so establishing a daily routine can be a crucial step in helping them feel comfortable and confident. Using visual aids, such as pictures, charts, or symbols, can also assist in communicating with children with autism, who may struggle with verbal communication.

Providing adequate sensory input is another critical strategy for parenting children with autism. Autistic children may have heightened or decreased sensitivity to sounds, touch, or other sensory stimuli, so finding ways to provide sensory input that is appropriate and comfortable for the child is crucial. This can include activities such as playing with textured toys, swinging, or using weighted blankets.

Collaborating with therapists and educators is also crucial in providing optimal care and education for a child with autism. Therapists can provide valuable support in developing social skills, communication, and behavior management, while educators can help design an individualized education plan (IEP) tailored to the child's specific needs.

It's important to keep in mind that each child with autism is unique and may exhibit different behaviors and symptoms. Therefore, if you suspect that your child has autism, it's essential to seek help from a qualified healthcare professional for an accurate diagnosis and appropriate treatment. Early intervention and therapy can greatly improve your child's quality of life and help them develop important social and communication skills.

In conclusion, parenting children with autism requires a multifaceted approach that involves establishing a predictable routine, utilizing visual aids, providing adequate sensory input, and collaborating with therapists and educators. With patience, understanding, and a willingness to learn, parents can help their child with autism to thrive and reach their full potential.

 
Resources for parents of children and teens on the autism spectrum:
 
 

 
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