How can families share with extended family members what autism means?

    Published: 06-16-2009
    Views: 12,512
    Autism expert Peggy Halliday discusses hot to tell extended family members about autism.

    Peggy Halliday

    Peggy Halliday is a board certified associate behavior analyst who has specialized in autism education for the past ten years. She is the Director of Outreach Services at the Virginia Institute of Autism (VIA) in Charlottesville, VA. VIA is a non-profit organization which provides a day school and other resources for families, educators, and other professionals seeking services, training or information about autism and evidence-based interventions. The Institute operates a year-round school for students ages 2-22, a 700-volume library, training workshops, internships for undergraduate and graduate students and teachers, and customized trainings for schools. Peggy supervises a wide range of outreach services, including development and supervision of comprehensive, home-based early intervention programs incorporating naturalistic, incidental, and structured teaching using the principles of applied behavior analysis; training for parents and home instructors; skills assessments, functional behavior assessments and intervention plans, and consultation on Individual Education Plan goals. She has presented trainings and workshops at state and national conferences.

    Host: How can families share with extended family members, what autism means?

    Peggy Halliday: I think it is very helpful just to be honest. Tell your extended family member what a day in your life is like. Let them know about sleep deprivation if you have a child who suffers from sleep disorder and how tiring is that for you, year after year after year not to get a full night sleep. Tell them about what it s like to go to the grocery store and have your child fall down on the floor tantruming and have every one in the store looking at you like you are a bad parent because they of course, don t know that this is a child with autism.

    Tell them about what you need to do to educate your child so, that they can be part of that education process and they can learn how to teach the child in the intensive way that they need to be taught. I would be just be very open and honest and ask for help from your family members because most of the time they are willing to give the help they just may not know exactly what you need?