Children with autism often experience very high stress levels which can lead to problem behaviours and a decline in their physical and emotional health. Dr Terry Hamlin is the Associate Executive Director at The Centre for Discovery, a premier specialty centre for children and adults with complex developmental disabilities including autism spectrum disorders. Today she discusses a revolutionary empowering approach which can be used on the most complex cases of autism, yet the approach itself is quite simple in nature. It focuses on a lifestyle approach. She walks us through her 4 step approach to reducing stress and implementing tools for self-regulation. This episode is FULL of gems you do not want to miss.
5 Rapid Fire Questions
What is one habit parents can implement today?
I would start with either developing a really good sleep routine for the child or I would start dancing – so exercise. I always recommend to parents do something fun – get into Zoomba. I would do Zoomba every evening with my kid and let the whole family do it. Put on some crazy songs and move. It’s a really good way to start to get a child to exercise, and the whole family. And it’s a fun activity, our kids love it.
What do people never ask you that you wish they did?
I wish they would ask more about friendships because I think parents are overwhelmed they do want their kids to have friends and they often think that they have to have a lot of friends. And so they don’t often ask about that but i often bring it up and just say ‘just develop one friend for your child, that’s going to make a huge difference’.
What book would you recommend all parents read?
Spark: The Revolutionary New Science of Exercise and the Brain by John Ratey.
What is your top unfinished bucket list items?
My bucket list is so big. I don’t think I’m going to finish my bucket list until parents feel hopeful. Until a child with autism is born and we can say to that parent we know what to do. So all of the continued research, these things are all super super important.
If you could only offer one piece of advice to parents, what would it be?
Start slowly, only do one thing. Whether it’s looking at the environment or starting an exercise program or trying to eat a little more healthy. I would just do one thing and do it slowly. You can’t do it all at once, you’re going to be overwhelmed. Parents are stressed as it is, so choose one thing and don’t put a lot of pressure on yourself. It takes time.
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So….until next fortnight, I encourage you to open your mind, respect the differences and above all believe that YOU can make a difference from homebase!
With love and hope,