Learning Self-Advocacy Skills

By Dan Coulter A new school year will start in a few short months. What's the most important skill your high school student can work on this summer? Run a list of candidate skills through your head. It’s a good exercise. Was self-advocacy on your short list? I think I can make a good case that it should be. Whether your student is bound for a job or for college after graduation, he’s almost certainly entering a much less protected environment. Many students on the autism spectrum are used to having a lot of things done for them. A student who hasn’t learned to speak up for himself or herself isn’t going to magically acquire the ability when handed a high school diploma. If your son gets

Dad Version 2.0

By Dan Coulter I think a lot of dads are getting better. I see more and more who are taking a larger role in their children's lives, especially sons and daughters with special needs. Fewer dads who bury themselves in work and tell themselves that their contribution is to make a living for the family. More dads who share helping with homework and school meetings and doctor visits with moms. Of course, there have always been great dads. Some have been full partners in raising kids. Some dads are raising kids alone and doing an incredible job. But many of us, myself included, have had to upgrade our concept of a dad’s responsibilities. Especially those of us who had very traditional “Dad Versi

Cheerleading For Parents

By Dan Coulter I’ve had a taste of acclaim a number of times in my life. The first time that stands out was riding on the bus to an “away” basketball game in junior high school. The cheerleaders were doing that “Bill, Bill, he’s our man, if he can’t do it, David can...” thing where they go through the names of everyone on the team. Even though I was on the second string and the girl leading the cheer had to refer to the program at each name to make sure she didn’t miss anyone, it was very heady stuff to hear, “Stan, Stan, he’s our man, if he can’t do it, Dan can! Dan, Dan, He’s our man…” Of course, it was only five seconds of fame, followed by the unsettling assurance that if I couldn’t do i

Where’s the Manual?

By Dan Coulter If your child is diagnosed with a significant disability, disorder, or condition, it’s pretty common to start a frantic search for answers. Is there a cure? If there’s no cure, where’s the manual I can use to do exactly the right things to help my child make his life as good as it can possibly be? How do I deal with his behaviors? Can I help him change them? Should I? Should she be medicated? Should she go to public or private school? What kind of doctor should he see? What should I tell her siblings? Can I help him learn to support himself when he grows up? What should I do about this and this and this? My wife, Julie, and I went through this process with our son, D

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