Articles

life skills

“Ask Cathy” Column: April 2017

“Ask Cathy… An Open Dialogue with a Mother and Special Needs Architect”

Q: Do you personally believe it is dangerous to teach our kids how to make fire or cook with gas? Do I need to worry about putting in a  new gas stove?

A: Yes, I believe it is dangerous to teach our children to do anything that can cause a life-threatening event. I believe they struggle with judging what is right and wrong and they don’t always know what is inherently dangerous. This is compounded by the fact that they frequently perseverate over things they find fascinating. Fire can be one of these fascinations. I would strongly recommend not having a gas stove in your home or even having free access to matches or other fire starting elements.

Q:  I have ….

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life skills

“Ask Cathy” Column: December 2016

“Ask Cathy… An Open Dialogue with a Mother and Special Needs Architect”
Q: Can you tell me how old your son was when you started thinking about his adulthood?

A: Yes, he was about eight. As the regular education school work became more and more difficult for my son, I stopped worrying about his ability to add three-digit numbers and became focused on the development of life skills. When my son was in middle school and his teachers sent homework home, I did not “do” my son’s work for him. I wanted his team to understand how difficult and, at times, ridiculous the work was. I set a timer and left him to try to complete the work. He rarely got past the first question.

My son is gifted in many ways but the work ….

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life skills

“Ask Cathy” Column: October 2016

“Ask Cathy… An Open Dialogue with a Mother and Special Needs Architect”
Q: What safety precautions can you implement to help with elopement?

A: I recognize that this is an incredibly difficult behavior. One of the simplest strategies to begin with is to situate your child closest to your bedroom. In my home, my son on the spectrum was located directly above our master bedroom intentionally so that we could hear his footsteps. The stair is also directly in front of our bedroom door. Thus, he must pass our room to get out. If building from scratch, these are easier strategies to implement. However, in existing homes, apply the same strategies even if the rooms are on the same floor. As my child got older, some of his behaviors dissipated. So, while you may ….

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life skills

“Ask Cathy” Column: August 2016

“Ask Cathy… An Open Dialogue with a Mother and Special Needs Architect” 
Q: I’d like to repaint my daughter’s room. Can you explain how colors impact a child on the autism spectrum?

A: Science has shown that colors have an impact on mood, and color has a long history of therapeutic use (Withrow, 2004). Generally speaking, bright colors are exciting, and soft colors are calming. However, the effect of particular colors on ASD children can vary, and trial and error with multiple colors may be necessary to determine the color that is right for any individual child. In general: RED stimulates the mind, increases circulation and appetite, BLUE is calming, reduces blood pressure, BRIGHT YELLOW reflects light, can overstimulate, PALE YELLOW is calming, GREEN is soothing, associated with nature and creativity, LIGHT PINK or rose is soothing.

Research has shown that some ASD children ….

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The Cost of Independence

The need for residential housing options for adults on the spectrum is tremendous―and the price tags can be stunning…

I am the mother of a child on the autism spectrum. I am also the sibling of a brother with Down syndrome. My son on the spectrum is currently 24 years old. As the principle of an architectural firm, I have spent my last decade serving special needs environments through my Purposeful Architecture studio of Purple Cherry Architects. For the past 20+ years, I have been a staunch advocate for programs for my son and for the children of others. I reside in the state of Maryland, and I serve on the National Autism Society Board. I have had the great opportunity to visit many residential programs across the country as well ….

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