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Autism Parent

September  2016       Volume 3, Number 9

The Issue at Hand

The feature story deals with mom shaming that is so rampant right now. It also discusses the advantages of Parent Support and Training. Positive self-talk is covered "Relax!" This will help you to be your own best friend. In "Parenting Hacks," you can learn how to assess your life and to make incremental improvements in your
parenting and in your personal life. "Resonate with Heart," talks about my own experience with difficult critics and the value of life coaching. Be sure to check out the Sensory Friendly Movies, Events, and Support Groups at the end of the newsletter. You may find something that appeals to you.

Enjoy the issue!

Sue Claridge

Benefits of
Parent Support and Training Services

Mom shaming is an alarming trend. It has always been a part of life for mothers and sometimes fathers; but, before the internet and social media, most moms just had to deal with intrusive family members and neighbor moms who had strong personalities. Lately, mom shaming has reached an incredible level of spiteful cruelty. No matter how hard one tries to be a good mother, someone on Facebook will doubtless criticize those efforts and choices. And, that is for mothers of children who do not have a diagnosis.
Add Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD), Attention Deficit Disorder (ADD), Obsessive Compulsive Disorder (OCD), etc. to that mix, and moms and dads are set up for lots of criticism and useless, unwanted advice. If your child has a diagnosis that you have to explain to others, it is unlikely those folks are going to have effective parenting advice for you. Nevertheless, it may be offered anyway.
While these critics may be well-intentioned, their advice is seldom helpful. Instead of being supportive, these moments can be emotionally draining. It may even lead to more isolation for the autism parent.
Parent Support and Training (PST) services are offered to parents of children receiving Home and Community Based Services (HCBS) Waivers in Kansas. PST is available for the Autism and Severe Emotional Disturbance (SED) HCBS Waivers. Even though the Waivers are designed for the child, Kansas recognizes the tremendous demands upon families that these diagnoses bring. Kids on the Waiver come with parents, who have a huge impact on their lives. Helping parents naturally helps the child.
Some PST providers are available through private pay. It is unlikely that private insurance will pay for this service. Medicaid does not currently provide this service if a child is not on the Waiver, although the rules are in flux and this may change. Seeking support from similar resources is a good idea. Your child’s school may have someone who can help you, or other community partners may have services that benefit you. Even if there is not an official PST service provider available, the internet offers lots of information for parenting children on the spectrum.
The advantage of PST comes in the individualized help a parent might receive. Having someone to listen to you is valuable: parents often need to be heard. Having an outlet to vent your frustrations to without judgment can be quite helpful. These conversations can produce great results when they turn to problem solving. Further, the PST provider can offer ideas and resources for you. When choosing a PST provider, you should expect some or most the following:

  • Respect for your values
  • Knowledge about Autism Spectrum Disorder
  • Parenting solutions for children on the spectrum
  • Brainstorming with you to effectively address your child’s unique behaviors
  • Explanations about how Applied Behavioral Analysis (ABA) works
  • Help defining ABA terminology and practices
  • Suggestions about how to take care of you own physical, mental, and emotional needs
  • Help in accessing resources in your area
  • Advice on how to effectively advocate for your child

As with any provider, they should be mindful of your family’s values and should honor them. The PST provider is there to help you to be the best parent for your child. They may challenge you and stretch you out of your comfort zone to obtain the goals you have for yourself, your child with ASD, and your family. The main objective is to help you while you help your child.

Parenting Hacks

Taking Inventory

Have you ever evaluated the things you do in a day? Do you ever think about how much work you get done in a 24-hour period? How much sleep do you do skip in order to accomplish what you do? Do you gauge how much leisure time you get? Did that question make you giggle because you don’t have leisure time?
Autism parents are amazing. They face challenges every day; worries and concerns, anticipating their child’s needs, advocating. It is truly super parenting. Most parents of children with ASD become so accustomed to their parenting style that they do not see how much they are accomplishing. If they fall into the common trap of comparing themselves to other parents, discouragement can creep in.
By taking an inventory, you can become aware of what you do and how much time and effort it takes. The point is to give yourself some credit. Think of it as your own person-centered plan, where you evaluate your strengths and needs.
You are doing a good job.
Even when it is messy and not pretty, you are getting the job done. Between getting all the kids off to school, making sure everyone has everything that they need, your job, your responsibilities, and all that autism can spring on you, you are doing huge amounts of work. Here is something you must remember.
You are doing a good job.
Very few people live the Pinterest perfect life. Still, you may be functioning at the “Super Parent” level. One of the temptations of the information age is to compare ourselves to others. While your friends may be posting fun pictures of their vacation on Instagram, they are not posting the fight they had with the kids back in the motel room. The perfect family life is a myth, really. Kids are loud and messy.
You are doing a good job.
Here is a challenge for you to assess yourself as a parent. Fight the urge to compare your life to your friends. Even if those friends have a child on the spectrum, they don’t have your child. Your life will naturally be a one-of-a-kind, unique experience. Instead of judging yourself in view of other parents, take an inventory of what is going right, what is not going at all, and what might need improvement. When taking a personal inventory, often folks will concentrate on what is missing. However, when a business takes inventory, they count what is in stock, and then make a note of what is not.
(Image by: Flickr User Sacha Chua)

Make notes. Draw Pictures. Unleash your inner doodler and allow your creativity to help you take stock of your life.
Use these domains as a guide to help you sort through things. Feel free to add other categories.
  •      Home
  •      Work
  •      Finances
  •      Spiritual life
  •      Social activities
  •      Physical health, fitness, and nutrition
In your parenting, use these domains to assess where you are. Add or delete as you wish.
  • Physical care of your child
  • Therapeutic Interventions (ABA, speech therapy, music therapy, etc.)
  • School (IEP, schedule, Behavior Plan)
  • Community Interactions (Scouts, Church groups, play groups, psycho-social groups)
  • Friends
You can pick a number between 0-5 to gauge where you are in these areas. Or, you can have a smiley face, straight face, or frowny face. Keep it simple and kind. The idea is to set a baseline, like a snapshot, for where you are right at this minute. If you love lists, you may want to put in sub-categories and that is fine. Do what works for you.
Look over the two lists, one for you as a person and one for how you parent your child. Is there an area that needs your immediate attention? Perhaps your child’s IEP is not being followed correctly. In your personal life, maybe you are overdue for a health checkup. See to those presenting problems first.
Next, pick a challenge that you would like to improve. For the next thirty days, set some time aside to work on that one issue. With each successive month, you can work on a new area, or continue to improve in the first area you chose.
At first, it may seem like it is slow going. But, after some time, you will begin to see and feel the difference. Within a year, your life and parenting will improve in significant ways. Here is the bonus. As you are consciously improving your parenting skills, you can remind yourself that…
You are doing a good job.
When that unwanted advice comes, the critical family member says something disparaging about you, or any kind of talk that is counter to the truth of you doing a good job, you can remind yourself that you are improving. You won't ever be perfect, but you are doing a good job.

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[Photo credit: Got Credit]



Improving Your Self-Talk

Candy accidentally ran over her toddler’s Big Wheel as she backed out of the driveway at her house. She had seen it earlier and meant to move it before getting the kids packed into the car. But, she forgot. As she surveyed the damage while her toddler cried at the sight of his busted trike, Candy hit her forehead and asked herself out loud, “How could I be so stupid?”
These are words that she would never speak to another person, but this is Candy’s self-talk. It’s brutal. She made a mistake and something got broken. Worse, she is breaking herself.
Do you find yourself questioning your worth? When you make a mistake, do you further compound it by verbally beating yourself up? If you do, that makes you like a lot of good folks. Many of us are in the habit of berating ourselves for mistakes, goofs, or just being human. What might happen if you spoke to yourself as if you were your own best friend?
Positive self-talk does not have to deny that something went wrong. However, it can positively reframe the situation. For instance, say you forgot to pay a bill and were charged a hefty late fee. It might be your habit to say, “Oh! I’m such an idiot!” Instead, you can remind yourself, “I made a mistake. I’ll pay the bill and do better next month.” You’ve already been punished for paying late, there is no benefit in further beating yourself up.
Negative self-talk can begin early. If one or more of your parents were particularly critical, you may need to check in with what you tell yourself.
When inner dialogue is verbally severe and a well-entrenched habit, a more proactive approach may be necessary. Recurring statements will need to be reframed into positive statements that support success. It will take some practice and effort to replace those old habits with positive, new ones.

YouTube is a great resource for affirmations that you can listen to while you are working and engaged in other activities. Or, it has some affirmations videos that have you repeat the statement out loud. At first, it may all seem a bit contrived; but, positive thinking is linked to success.
Even in Applied Behavior Analysis (ABA), therapists know that positive reinforcement and praise are effective. Use some of that behavior modification on yourself and encourage yourself like you would a friend!
Here is a nice affirmations video on YouTube from Jason Stephenson.

Resonate with Heart

When my youngest kid was growing up, he was an odd child. I loved that about him. I loved his uniqueness, his super vocabulary, his scripting, which was so very charming, even when I didn’t know he was scripting. I loved his incredible memory. I even loved his energy, although it was impossible for me to keep up with him sometimes.
Not everyone agreed with me about my child. They saw him as inappropriate, loud, whatever. I didn’t like it. I had people invite me to spank him, suggest that I whop him across the face, or give him time-outs, which was how he learned to count to 20. When he got diagnosed with Asperger’s, now High Functioning Autism (HFA), he was nine.
My parenting was still criticized. I had people tell me that I was overthinking things, worrying too much. He was just being a boy, he’d catch up soon enough. Or, they didn’t buy the Asperger’s diagnosis so much as they thought I was just not a very good mom.
As fate would have it, I was a foster mom for ten years by the time my biological child was diagnosed. I taken had many parenting classes and had parented several children with some severe behaviors. I even taught foster parent trainings. The very techniques that worked with my foster kids were useless with my bio kid with HFA. That was frustrating. Not only did I not like getting advice from people who weren’t going to pay for this kid’s room and board, I knew they were giving me bad information. Well-intentioned or not, their suggestions left me feeling marginalized and judged. I knew I was pouring my life into this child and doing my very best. They thought differently. It was hard.
What I was still good at was advocacy. I had learned some important lessons with my foster kids that paid off with my youngest. I really was “that mom.” You know us, we don’t take no for an answer and we’re not always popular. However, my kid worked himself off the spectrum and that took some doing for everyone involved.

As he improved, I began getting certified to provide various Autism services through Kansas Center for Autism Research and Training. My first and favorite certification is Parent Support and Training. I have found that there is a strong need for this service, but most folks are unaware of how it can help them and PST sounds odd. Lately, I have been working toward a new certification of Life Coach, a term that most people understand more readily.
I am now receiving clients for Life Coaching/Parent Support and Training. While I can help anyone who is willing and ready to overcome gaps in life, I have a specialty in Autism. My services for life coaching parents of children with ASD are available for parents who are “ready for real.” I am an honest person willing to help you step up your parenting game. Along with offering parenting strategies for your child with ASD, I can help you advocate, to find your voice, and to remind you that you are also a person worthy of care.

If you live outside the Emporia, Kansas area, I can still work with you over the phone, through Skype or Google Hangout. If you think you might be interested in my services, I hope you will reach out to me. Visit my website at and email me at
If you feel that you could benefit from
Life Coaching/Parent Support and Training,
contact me at:



I can work with you even if you do not live in the area.
Contact Sue Claridge

Parenting Post-Its!

(Flickr Image by Denise Sebastian)
     This section is for parents to share an idea, a solution, an autism life hack, or a parenting technique that works for your child. Please share it!  Send your Parenting Post-It to:
Below are a variety of events, support meetings, and sensory-friendly movies in the state of Kansas.
Friday, October 28, 2016 at 10:30 AM · $165.00 USD
Powder Creek Shooting Park in Lenexa, KS
Target Autism
Join us for our annual Target Autism Sporting Clay Tournament at
Powder Creek Shooting Park in Lenexa, KS.
It's a friendly, competitive shoot to benefit Kansas City Autism Training Center.
buy tickets

(Please contact the group you may be interested in attending prior to the meeting. This will insure that information is up to date and that the meeting has not been rescheduled or canceled.)

Central Kansas Autism Spectrum Disorder
1621 Jody Lane
McPherson, KS 67460
Families Together/ Parent to Parent of KS
501 Jackson, Suite 400
Topeka, KS 66603
800-234-6343 (KS only)
785-233-4784 (fax)
The Capper Foundation
Autism and Aspergers Support Group
3500 SW 10th Ave.
Topeka, KS 66604
785-272-4060 ext.7340
Topeka Area Asperger Syndrome Parent Support Group
Resource center
Brad and Linda Sloan
T.A.R.C. 2701 SW Randolph Ave.
Topeka, KS 66611
ASA of Kansas
8700 E. 29th Street N. Community Services Building
Wichita, KS 67226
Kansas Chapter- Autism Society of America
ASA Chapters, Information and support
2250 N. Rock Rd., Suite 118-254
Wichita, KS 67226
Special Needs/EFMP Families Support Group
Support group for families of children with ASD's
Heather Huntoon
McConnell Air Force Base, Family Support Center classroom
Wichita, KS 

Autism Society of the Heartland   
10563 Lackman
Lenexa, KS 66219

Support Group KC KS – Wyandotte County
Meet:  Third Thursday of every month.
Time:  6:00 – 8:00 PM
At:  Kansas City Kansas Early Childhood Center
1708 N. 55th Street (Just south of 55th and Parallel)
Childcare is provided

Support Group East Central Kansas
Meet:  Last Monday of every month
Time:  6:30 – 8 PM
At:      Trojan Elementary
           1901 Parker, Osawatomie, KS 
For the Communities of:  Paola, Osawatomie, Louisburg, Central Heights, LaCygne, Garnett, Jayhawk Lynn, Pleasanton, and Spring Hill
Childcare is provided.
YOU MUST RSVP by 3pm the Friday before the meeting.
Contact:  913-706-0042 or email
The Topeka Area Autism Network meets at 5:30 p.m. on the first Wednesday of the month at the Topeka Shawnee County Public Library and provides opportunities for parent-to-parent sharing of resources and for community professionals to provide training, education and support for parents of children and adults on the autism spectrum.

Oct 1st- Alpha SisterHood Sorority- 2pm to 4pm- We will be having a guest speaker from Self Advocacy Coalition of Kansas present on Self Advocacy- for ladies 16 and over on the spectrum please join us for the great opportunity-10563 Lackman Rd, Lenexa, KS 66219- there will be light snacks.Call 913-706-0042 with any questions 

Oct 2nd Border Battle for Autism RESCHEDULED-
Join us THIS SUNDAY from 12 noon to 1pm for a Family Fun In Line Hockey Skate time with the players from
K-State and Central Missouri State- (Mizzou could not participate this weekend)
Then the teams will take to the rink (1:15pm to 2:30pm) to battle it out for the Border Battle for Autism Winner- This is an event for EVERYONE- even if you do not know how to use inline skates you can wear your shoes and still have fun with the players- please join in on this event- we appreciate the teams donating their time to be with us and also KC Ice Center for donating the rink- Address is 19900 Johnson Dr, Shawnee Mission, KS 66218. See you there!!

Oct 4th Wichita Support Group Meeting- The Wichita Support Group has started meeting again at the Sedgwick Co Zoo- in the Cargill Learning Center- meetings start at 6:30pm to 7:30pm. If you do need childcare please RSVP as soon as possible to Melody Bruce the support group leader

Oct 9th- ASH Members Day at the KC Zoo
Autism Society-The Heartland's Member Day at the Zoo for Members and their family is Sunday, October 9th from 9:30 - 5:00. This will be Hoots N Howls weekend, which means there will be activities and entertainment for the kids, including face painting, hay bale maze, hay rides, pedal tractors and costumed characters. Among all the wonderful activities, the Koalas will still be there!! REGISTER HERE There are some specific requirements for our members for this event, please read the information on the event page and register soon. There are limited tickets available. 

Join us for our annual Trivia Night to benefit the Autism Society-The Heartland. Register your team today by calling 913-706-0042 or email
Saturday November 5th 6:15pm Doors open to set up, 7pm TRIVIA STARTS!! Your team can bring in your own snacks and adult beverages. This is a 18 and older event- Plenty of entertainment!! 8 players per table- at $160 a table, $20 a person. If you can not form a full team we can team up groups. You must register your team for this event. More info to come!

Don't forget to share our Emmy Award winning film Just Like You Autism with your teachers, neighbors and friends to understand more about autism.
Don't forget to check out all our events online at or find us on Facebook and follow us there!
Follow us on Twitter @asheartland
Facebook Autism Society the Heartland 
Jennifer Smith
Executive Director
2015 National Autism Society Affiliate of the Year
10563 Lackman
Lenexa, KS 66219

913-706-0042 Mid-West Regional EMMY Award Winning Film
Do you know of similar events in another location in Kansas? 
Please email information to:
Saturday 10-8-16 @ 10AM
Saturday 11-12-16 @ 10AM

AMC Studio 30                                AMC Barrywoods 24              AMC Independence
12075 S. Strang Line Rd.                8101 Roanridge Rd.                  19200 E. 39th St.
Olathe, KS                                       Kansas City, MO                     Independence, MO
913-393-3030                                  816-505-9199                                  816-795-7259

Tuesday 10-11 @ 7 PM
Tues 10-25-16 @ 7 PM
Sensory Sensitive shows for families who have children with autism or other disabilities will be offered at the 21st Street Warren Theatre this summer. These shows will run on the big screen with brighter house lights and softer volume, and audience members are welcome to dance, sing, shout, talk, etc. Normal ticket prices apply. The shows are on Saturdays at 11:30 AM.
Saturday 10-14-16 @ 11:30 AM
Saturday 10-5-16 @ 11:30 AM
Sue Claridge provides individual parent support to parents and caregivers who would like to address specific issues they face with their child with autism.  Even if you do not live in the Emporia area, services are available remotely via the Internet or telephone.  Parent Training is available to groups who would like to know more about autism, interventions, and positive parenting techniques.  Feel free to contact Sue for more information about the services she offers.
Letters to the Editor are welcomed.  Please keep responses brief and respectful.
Events:  If you have an autism related event, fund-raiser, etc., please send information to  Include the date, time, location, and purpose.  All submissions need to be received by the tenth of the month to be included in the next newsletter.
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