It’s a new year which causes so many of us to pause for a moment or two to reflect on what we want in our lives. I’ve been fortunate enough to coach teens and adults with autism as well as family members in achieving goals they have set out for themselves. I wanted to give a few observations of what has been helpful for those that were able to move in a positive direction to reach their goals.
Reduce your anxiety. I often see people afraid to take action on their goals because they are simply just overwhelmed by the process. Sometimes there are sensory processing issues that get in the way. Then there are executive functioning challenges that stop others from taking action. Other times, not knowing the expectations is a big hindrance for moving towards one’s goals. A good starting point in reducing these concerns is identifying someone you know and trust and then having a conversation with that person to develop a plan that may reduce your anxiety. It is also okay to allow yourself to take a break on a project – sometimes anxiety comes from feeling the pressure to execute a plan perfectly and at a pace you may not be comfortable with at the present time.
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Setting goals for the New Year is often much easier than sticking to them! The Milestones Helpdesk staff wants to provide you with a couple of tools you may use to track and reach the goals you have set. Whether you are a self-advocate working on your executive functioning skills, a family juggling a busy schedule, or a professional managing multiple responsibilities at the same time, we have some practical suggestions that may suit your needs!
Microsoft Word has templates for just about everything you could want, including goal-tracking. See how Milestones Program Director Beth Thompson customized this template for tracking daily chores on a checklist for monitoring a child’s morning routine. If your family goal is to get your child to complete activities more independently, use these customizable forms to create a document specific to your goals.
Electronic calendars and reminder systems – Many self-advocates have great success with using electronic calendars and reminders to keep them on track. For example, one Milestones self-advocate recently reported he doesn’t take appointment reminder cards anymore but instead asks his providers to send him calendar invites so he is automatically reminded of his upcoming appointments. Consider setting up your reminder notifications to start one week out from your event or appointment, and then schedule for them to remind you more frequently as you approach the date – for example: one day until the event, one hour, then a 15-minute reminder.
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Irene Jones is an incredible example of a local parent who turned a personal passion into a service for her community.
“I am the type of person who loves a challenge. When someone says to me that it can’t be done, I am determined to make it happen.”
In 2008, Jones created a supportive, productive space for individuals like her son Josiah.
“My son Josiah is the reason Josiah’s House came about – he was diagnosed with autism at the age of three; he is now 30 years young. He is my drive, my inspiration in moving forward with the vision.”
After his diagnosis, Jones found the existing network of resources to not be as beneficial to her family as she hoped. This sprung her into action; it wasn’t long until Jones decided to quit her job as an RTA bus driver so she could discharge her son from his group home and dedicate her time to providing the developmental care he needed. While learning how to take care of her son, Jones immersed herself in learning about treatment and the needs of the autism community at large. She earned her certification from the Ohio Dept. of Developmental Disabilities and began to build what is now known as Josiah’s House.
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Could your child or loved one use some extra visual support at the dinner table this holiday season?
Check out these holiday placemats from Milestones that can be used to simplify communication during special occasions with family and friends. Visual supports such as this can be used in various settings to support nonverbal or shy individuals on the spectrum as they communicate and express their needs in new or familiar settings.
Simply download your favorite here, print it, and place it on the table to use as a convenient visual guide!
Looking for a specific resource for a loved one or client this holiday season? Call the Milestones free autism Helpdesk at 216.464.7600 ext. 200 for individualized resources and guidance.
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If you are thinking about submitting a proposal to the Milestones National Autism Conference, don’t hesitate! I attended the Milestones Conference for the first time in 2013 and had the honor of hosting a workshop on behalf of the Academic Support Center (ASC) at Notre Dame College. This speaking engagement not only allowed me to share my experience and recommendations for helping students on the spectrum transition from college to career, but provided me the opportunity to connect with other professionals and educational resources. I haven’t missed a conference since and my colleagues and I continue to attend and submit proposals each year.
Whether you are speaking or attending, this conference has much to offer. I encourage my colleagues, students and their families to attend. The Milestones Conference offers attendees access to current, evidence-based content and the opportunity to interact with professionals, family members and individuals with ASD. This wide range of attendees and presenters allows for a variety of information and perspective sharing. I always make sure to attend at least one workshop that is hosted by a panel of individuals with ASD. Who better to teach me on how best to support my students than straight from the source!
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