Saturday, November 27, 2010
I'll be buying Christmas gifts for several autistic children this year. I'll buy gifts for my son who is 15 and autistic. I will also buy gifts for my dear niece who is 4 and autistic. I will also buy small gifts here and there for children of friends.
Who knew I’d become an expert at buying gifts for autistic children? I never would've guessed that autism would hit so close to home. It's a little different when you buy a Christmas gift for an autistic child in some ways it can be easier.
For example, my son has such an intense interest in jets and Star Wars that it's easy for me to find him gifts. The trick is to get these gifts early before stores run out of things. When my friend buys a gift for her autistic child, she has to start really early because he has an intense interest in bridges.
My son, like many autistic children, is highly visual. Visually interesting gifts are always a big hit in our house. This year I'm going to give him a sand panel. Colored sand smoothly glides down when you flip it over. It's relaxing to look at and will look nice in his room. Also, many of the junior high age neighborhood kids have seen it and confirm that it is “cool”.
For my autistic niece there is a sense of urgency in terms of her gifts. My parents have asked me to help pick out her gifts because we are hoping they will be enjoyable and therapeutic.
Victoria is now four and has been involved in a wonderful early intervention preschool as well as an intensive behavioral program for a couple of years. Her vocabulary is limited, but she is starting to talk. Recently she put four words together. She said, “look da spider look” and motioned for her mom to see the spider on the wall.
Here are the Christmas gifts I've found for Victoria. These would probably be good gifts for autistic children in preschool. Actually, they would be good gifts for any preschooler since they were not developed specifically for autistic children.
Alphie Robot. Alphie comes with tons of cards that you place on his tummy. He asks the child to pick the right color, object, number. He gives immediate praise for correct answers, asks the child to try again if they miss and will provide the correct answer. He makes several happy faces. I think he will be great for expanding vocabulary and creating an interest in faces for
Victoria. Right now she doesn't understand emotions at all so I'm hoping the simple smile and Alphie’s cute eyes will lay the foundation and interest in learning about emotions.
Photo Match-Ups There are lots of memory games to choose from I like this one the best because it has photorealistic pictures with the white background. Memory is a game that works well for visually oriented people so she should enjoy it. The large selections of cards should also help work on expanding her vocabulary. The best way to play this game is to systematically introduce new cards as soon as she learns the vocabulary of the card she is playing with.
Where Is Puppy Listening Lotto should be a good gift to help with auditory processing as well as teach prepositions. Since Victoria is pointing at objects now is probably a good time to start introducing prepositions. Plus the puppy is cute and she likes puppies.
Basic Skills Board I love this board by Melissa and Doug it's great for teaching kids dressing skills. Plus it's fun because when you undress the Bear you find him in his underwear. It's good for helping develop fine motor skills and I hope will encourage Victoria to dress herself.
One month away and I’m proud to say I’m done with my Christmas shopping. Now I will focus on baking, enjoying my family and celebrating the birth of Christ! If you still need to pick up some presents please visit our Autism Shop!
Saturday, November 13, 2010
However, I do feel there is a place for spinning toys and autism. Spinning toys can be great reinforcers in an ABA program. Or spinning toys can be a very enjoyable Christmas gift or birthday gift. When supervised properly spinning toys can actually be helpful for children with autism. For example, having a spinning toy that the child really enjoys in your purse can be really helpful when you need to get some last-minute grocery shopping done. Or letting the child play with the spinning toy may allow the whole family to go out to dinner.
As you can probably tell, I'm from the standpoint that nothing is black-and-white. Anything can be used as a tool to help a child with autism or to help a family make it through the day.
With that said here is a list of my favorite spinning toys for autism:
Light Spinners: spinning lights flicker and change when you hold down the button. There is a large sized light spinner and a small sized light spinner. The large-size light spinner is nice for ABA programs or as a gift. However, the mini light spinner has a breakaway necklace so your child with autism can wear it when you're running errands.
Any kind of light twirler. At National Autism Resources we carry an airplane twirler. (I guess I'm biased because of G’s overwhelming preoccupation with airplanes.)
Light up Mini Fans: Can I just say I love light up mini fans! Just press the button and the fans start spinning and the lights light up. These are also nice for times when it’s hot outside. They can be very helpful for a child who enjoy spinning toys and has to ride the bus when it's hot. Also the blades are plastic so if you touch them they don't hurt. They are also on sale now at National Autism Resources, which is nice!
Tops: there are all kinds of tops to choose from in all kinds of shapes or sizes. Some Tops make music or even light up when they spin.
My all time favorite spinning toy is the Spectra Rail Twirler. Why is it my favorite? I guess for a couple of reasons first of all both my children love it. Once you get it going it's really fun to watch and play with. I myself enjoy playing with it, especially when I'm bored, or watching TV.
So that's my take on spinning toys for autism. With Christmas coming if you're a parent and you feel like your child would enjoy a spinning toy, don’t feel guilty about it! At the end of the day children are children and a gift is a gift. If you feel your child with autism would enjoy a spinning toy I say go for it. It may help you when you're in a tough situation and your child will enjoy it. Also, if you reading this I'm sure you're a good parent. You're trying to figure out what's best for your child. If that's your motivation then I'm sure you will allow your child to use the toy appropriately.
Thursday, October 14, 2010
I’ve been caught up in it. A big why me went like this; all my life I wanted a Mama’s boy, a boy full of affection who I could take walks with, tuck into bed and talk to, why can’t he go to sleep? Why can’t I give him a proper hug? Why can’t he just say, I love you?
Why does my son have autism?
Why, why, why…
It’s easy for me to fall into a pity party. I’ve been judged, anyone ever here, “if you just disciplined your son you wouldn’t have these problems.” I’ve felt attacked. Anyone else have a disagreement in an IEP, one against ten? I’ve been accused of resorting to quackery. Has anyone ever given your child a food you asked them not to?
Poor, poor, poor me…
You know what I’ve learned, to put it bluntly, this type of thinking sucks. It doesn’t help me, encourage me, or give me any kind of strength. As a matter of fact, this kind of thinking can cause me to fall deeper into depression, immobilize me, and can fill me with fear.
When I get caught up in these moments in Cognitive Behavioral Therapy language I work on retraining my thoughts. The bible calls this “taking every thought captive to the obedience of Christ.”
This is what retraining my thoughts looks like.
Autism has humbled me. Before I had my son I had a successful career, but I was shallow and prideful. I would have been the one to tell you, “just give me your child for a weekend and I bet I can get him back on track. After all everyone knows, poorly behaved children are a result of poor parenting skills…"
Autism has changed my perspective on what’s important. Today I’m thankful for a healthy family, thankful my son can talk, thankful my marriage is intact, thankful I have enough food to eat, a roof over my head and a means of continuing to provide that for my family. Take a look at the world many people can’t say that.
Autism has drawn me closer to God. I don’t believe that God is punishing me. That’s simply not the truth of the Bible. I believe God is using “all things for good.” I’m a better, stronger, more tolerant, understanding, and forgiving person now. I can relate to so many more people. I don’t want to pretend to be perfect, or have it all together, perfect people aren’t approachable and they aren’t real. I’m flawed just like you, and I want to love you! Not because I’m mother Teresa, believe me I’m not! But because God has loved on me through this and given me more love to share, “my cup over flows.”
I do my best to answer my why me’s now simply with this statement:
Autism is a trial and it is a gift. I know God uses all things for His good because I can see it in my life.
Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ! In his great mercy he has given us new birth into a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead, and into an inheritance that can never perish, spoil or fade—kept in heaven for you, 5who through faith are shielded by God's power until the coming of the salvation that is ready to be revealed in the last time. In this you greatly rejoice, though now for a little while you may have had to suffer grief in all kinds of trials. 1 Peter 1:3-6
Monday, October 4, 2010
As soon as I heard that a slew of curse words went running through my mind, I could feel my muscles tense up, and I had to take a deep breath because I wanted to take that teacher by his tie and string him up!
Its time like these I have inner wars with myself. I'm suppose to love my enemies according to the teachings of Jesus. Enemies against me and what I want to do I can handle that, but when I perceive someone as against my son...
I'll be honest I wasn't kind, I wasn't very civil, but I didn't lash out. Instead I asked if anyone else with a B average had to take remedial Geometry?
"No, but that's not the point. I don't think he can handle it."
With a slew of obscenities flying through my mind, I prayed God please help me because I want this guy to go down. Then I said, "I think my son deserves the same opportunities as any other student. I'm not asking for special accommodations, a tutor, or exceptions. I'm just asking you to treat him like anyone else. I'll never sign an IEP that I feel violates my son's rights."
At this point the administrator broke in and said something like of course G could go into regular Geometry and if we need to switch classes mid semester we can look at it. To be honest I can't remember exact words because I was in a blur, trying to hold myself together, trying not to give the math teacher the evil eye, trying to be like Jesus.
Then the meeting was over, I got what I felt G needed, and everyone seemed fine. I'm glad I didn't burn another bridge. I know this might sound crazy, but I don't feel angry towards the math teacher I just feel peaceful.
Thursday, September 23, 2010
My dog is allergic to corn and wheat fillers in her dog food! Her skin was turning black, she was constantly itching, and she started to stink really bad. So I took her up to the local pet store and they recommended I change her diet and I bought some oatmeal shampoo for her.
Since I've put her on the special diet her black rash is almost gone, she's not itchy or fidgety as much and she doesn't smell so bad.
Bottom line: cheap food makes people and animals sick!!! I know we talk a lot about vaccinations, but maybe we need to seriously look at our mass market food supply. I just watched a documentary called King Corn what an eye opener!
Saturday, September 11, 2010
Three winners will receive over $100 in prizes including:
- My book: Starting Sensory Integration Therapy
Saturday, August 28, 2010
My little girl had her braces taken off! We celebrated by eating corn on the cob!
I finally have a tomato plant, that I have managed not to kill! (An amazing feat for one with a black thumb...)
Thursday, August 26, 2010
Sensory Diet Applications and Environmental Modifications
This extensive article by Victoria L. Nackley, OTR/L will give you tons of ideas for developing a sensory diet at home and school.
Hartley's Blog: Sensory Diet for School
Along the same lines as the link above, this nice little blog piece is by a Mom who shares her son's sensory diet. I thought it was great, especially the part about packing a lunch with different food textures - genius!
This is an article I wrote for National Autism Resources with tips to help students sit & focus in class without using medication.
Back To School with Sensory Smarts
This is from Nancy Peske & Lindsey Biel's website Sensory Smarts. It has transition ideas, communication ideas and a few tips on accommodations. Also check out their tips for teachers.
Sensory Sensitivities & the School Bus
This article is short and sweet. If my son were still riding the bus I would print it out and hand it to his driver and his classroom teacher.
If you have a favorite article to add please share it!
Wednesday, August 18, 2010
He felt like he was a mistake.
It's hard to watch somebody go through something like that. However, deep within my heart I know he is not a mistake. I know that he was made to be exactly the way he is. I know that God is going to do something great through him. Psalm 139:14 says, “I praise you because I am fearfully and wonderfully made; your works are wonderful, I know that full well.” My son is no accident. He's a wonderfully made work of art. He was created by a God who wants to be close to him, to guide him, and to use him to do something wonderful.
I remind him of this often.
I believe this with all my heart about my kids.
I believe this about myself.
I believe this about you.
m not saying ABA should be the only option, but according to the research it should be the main option for young children with autism. you can visit National Autism Resources for more information on Autism ABA materials.
Friday, August 13, 2010
However, forget all the other fidget toys you used in the past, I’m telling you right now the Tangle Relax is the best! I love it, my son loves it, and my daughter loves it. It’s similar to the Tangle toy in that it offers lots of finger movement. However, this Tangle has a clear layer of bumpy rubber over the top of it. It feels phenomenal.
When you start playing with the Tangle Relax It is literally addicting. As a matter of fact, I couldn't get it back from my kids. So I broke it in half and made two mini Tangle Relaxes for both of them. I actually think it's even better as a fidget toy now that it's smaller! The original size of the Tangle Relax literally gets both of your hands totally involved. It is extremely engaging. When I broke it in half it still offers a great tactile fidget experience, but on a smaller scale. This is so cool for two reasons: first of all it's like having two toys in one, which is great for people who tend to lose things and second of all it's just enough of a fidget to help someone stay focused. I'm telling you this is the best fidget toy ever.
I love this thing so much I asked National Autism Resources to put it on sale in the autism shop, which they did. So if you are looking for a good fidget toy I am telling you this is it.
Update 6/12/11: I just wanted to update that this toy is still going strong! It got a little dirty so I washed it with dish soap and let it air dry and it's good as new! I love this fidget!!
Friday, July 30, 2010
As G. continues into the second year of high school more and more information is being presented in a lecture format. Although he loves science, last year he almost flunked this subject because the student next to him kept talking during class time. Now we're dealing with seven teachers, who have five classes of at least 30 students. Although they should read his IEP, most of them won't. So I’m finding that it's extremely important for me to be proactive in communicating with them. I find that it's much better to provide short tips, or cheat sheets because like all of us these teachers are busy.
So I'll meet with them the week before school starts and I'll talk to them about auditory processing. Some of the things I'll ask them to look for are:
- Don't assume G. understands, check for understanding.
- watch for and expected answers or a limited response to questions.
- Be open to restating questions or directions.
- Watch out for double meanings (last year G got in a lot of trouble with the word “gay”).
- Remember auditory processing will become more pronounced in a noisy environment.
Thursday, July 22, 2010
For example, a few weeks ago I read Making Sense of Children's Thinking and Behavior, One, Two, Three Potty!, re-read Building Bridges through Sensory Integration... and then a little red flag went up in my mind. The vicious cycle was starting again, I wasn't putting on makeup, was spending way too much time looking up research papers, and my family was irritating me, I was back on the familiar road of losing myself.
At this point in my life you would think this wouldn't be an issue. I know I'm supposed to take care of myself, but it's so easy to let myself go. Sometimes when I take care of myself I feel guilty. You see this is where my feelings and my head don't match up. My feelings of love for my family drive me to find answers, to make things better, go further. However, my head says don't do this again, you've got to take care of yourself, you are not being selfish. So often times living in balance for me means balancing between what I know and how I feel. It's a strange conflicting place to be at times.
That's how life really is for me. People say I'm a great mom, advocate, whatever... really I'm a person who is often torn and makes lots of mistakes, sometimes the same mistakes over and over again. I imagine if you're reading this I'm just like you trying to do the best I can.
Sunday, July 11, 2010
I heard that quote when I was 22, and I decided to follow their example. It's not always easy to assume the best of others. Especially when I feel like I'm being judged, or I feel a need to protect my ego. What does protecting my ego look like? Well it usually go something like this:
I try something new, which I do all the time, and I fail. Then someone comes along and points out my failure, and proceeds to tell me how I should have done things. Now at this point I can usually see my mistakes so it doesn't feel good to have someone point it out to me. My ego kicks in and I want to make myself look good, I want to justify myself, or say something sarcastic, to put the other person in their place...
However, if I do that then I'm judging the other person's motives. Also, when I do that, I usually don't feel good afterwards. So I'm trying to bite my tongue, say thank you for the advice and move on. I notice that these situations tend to happen a lot with younger parents. You see they are excited, their child is making progress, they're feeling good about where they are in life and they're eager to help others. I understand that feeling and the desire to help, and I'm sure I've said a lot of stupid things to other parents as well.
I feel a lot better when I think of people in this light. It also helps me to follow the words of Jesus: You hypocrite, first take the plank out of your own eye, and then you will see clearly to remove the speck from your brother's eye. (Matthew 7:5).
Thursday, July 1, 2010
So now I'm becoming very conscious of all the little things I need to teach him. For example,
Being the growing teenager that he is I've had to start teaching him how to make his own food. It amazes me that some things that seem so simple can be so hard for him. For example, learning to make cereal. The slightest spill of milk could really cause him to get upset. Rather than quickly wiping up the spill G. would clean the whole counter and by the time he got back to the cereal it was all soggy. It's that problem solving thing again. You see I taught him how to clean the counter, but I didn't teach him how to cleanup a small spill.
Another thing we've learned how to use is a plunger. G. has to learn how to unclog the toilet. Someday he'll need to know how to do it. I felt kind of guilty teaching him how to do this. At first he tried to do everything he could to get out of doing this. And truth be told, it was easier for me just to do it rather than try and get him to do it himself. However, being a teenager, and a frequent clogger, I decided it was time for him to learn how to do this himself. I'm happy to report he is now an expert plunger.
The nice thing about teaching G. to be independent is that I think it makes him happier. It also makes life easier for me. At first it takes a lot of extra work, but the payoff is worth it.
Thursday, June 3, 2010
Wednesday, June 2, 2010
Sunday, May 30, 2010
The study was based on a snapshot -- the marital status of the survey participants at the time. It was not a study over time.
What I found interesting is that it's unclear where the the 80 percent divorce rate figure originated. Autism experts at the institute said they had not found any scientific research citing that number. (Another case of a myth perpetuated becoming a reality.)
You can read the compete article here.
Tuesday, May 25, 2010
If you are a Jesus follower, here are a few things I hope you will prayerfully consider.
A few thought from the New Testament
We are now dwelt with the Holy Spirit and commanded to love our enemies Luke 6:27,28. In John 8 when the woman was caught in adultery, Jesus stopped the stoning and told her to go and sin no more, in effect he stopped her execution. Stephen, the first Christian martyr, as he was dying “fell on his knees and cried out, "Lord, do not hold this sin against them." When he had said this, he fell asleep.” Acts 7:60
What does Jesus say about murder?
Matthew 5:21-22: You have heard that it was said to the people long ago, 'Do not murder, and anyone who murders will be subject to judgment.' But I tell you that anyone who is angry with his brother will be subject to judgment. Again, anyone who says to his brother, 'Raca,' is answerable to the Sanhedrin. But anyone who says, 'You fool!' will be in danger of the fire of hell.
Matthew 5:38-39: You have heard that it was said, 'Eye for eye, and tooth for tooth.' But I tell you, Do not resist an evil person. If someone strikes you on the right cheek, turn to him the other also.
I believe all human life is sacred. We are all made in God's image. He loves everyone, and has the power to change anyone. Need some proof of this? Just check out Abounding Love Ministries , its just one example of what God is currently doing through a convicted murderer:
Tuesday, May 18, 2010
I'm getting ready for my son's 10th grade IEP. After homeschooling him through Junior High we now have him in High School. He is fully mainstreamed, without an assistant, with all college prep classes. My main goal is to prepare him to be as independent as possible while we still have the bubble of High School. I also want to make sure that he has the opportunity to learn and do well. So this is the list of educational concerns I have for G. (I always call them "considerations" in IEP's because I am very careful to use neutral language during IEP's, I may post on that another time.)
Educational Considerations for G Arnwine
G learns best by watching. It is important he has a clear view of the teacher and any demonstrations. Visual examples allow G to work independently.
G does not always process all of the information he hears. He has learned to compensate by nodding & saying ‘yes’ or ‘OK’ when speaking to people. Note: he may not always realize he didn’t process what the teacher has told him. To be sure he understands directions or an explanation ask him to clarify for you or restate what you have said. You can ask him simple questions like:
- “Tell me what you need to do.”
- “What do you need to bring tomorrow?”
- “How will you turn in your work?”
Because auditory processing is difficult for G it is very important that he not sit next to noisy students. If he tells you he can’t hear, or he can’t concentrate it will not get better, unless he is moved or the problem is dealt with.
(Executive functions allow us to anticipate outcomes and adapt to changing situations. The ability to form concepts and think abstractly are often considered components of executive function. ) G is very good about doing assignments, he is conscientious and wants to do a good job. He may not know or remember how and when to turn in assignments especially if asked to do something in a manner that is not routine. This can be the case with make up assignments.
He needs help problem solving. What may seem like a simple solution to you may need to be spelled out for G. He has trouble connecting the dots.
G does not know how to initiate social interaction. This puts him at a disadvantage for group activities & partner quizzes he will need help getting into a group. This can be as simple as G why don’t you partner with _______ or G join group____.
G often interprets things people say literally. He often does not understand sarcasm. From time to time he has run into situations with his classmates that he will need help with. This also sets him up for bullying.
Social problems will affect G’s academic performance. G has problems focusing on more than one thing. If he is stuck trying to solve a social problem, he can’t focus on class work. We saw this first semester in Science.
Tuesday, May 11, 2010
From the time little Jamie is born, she is a very difficult child. As Chynna shares her concerns with her pediatrician and family she is constantly dismissed. It is only when Jamie’s difficulties become so pronounced that the pediatrician makes the recommendation Jamie needs for an evaluation.
When Jamie is finally diagnosed with SPD she is put on endless waiting lists. Since Jamie only has SPD she is not given the same priority for intervention as another child might receive. I wish this was a piece of fiction, but unfortunately this is happening all over the United States and Canada.
Its one thing to work with special needs children; it is quite another thing to live with one. I think every professional that works with special needs children should read this book. Chynna paints a poignant picture of the stress and desperation of raising a child with special needs. It’s not OK for parents to fight for years to have their concerns for their child addressed. It’s not OK when parents finally receive a diagnosis to watch their child struggle while they are put on endless waiting lists with no significant help!
SPD is still not in the DSM maybe we should send a copy of this book to the members of the committee.
Thursday, May 6, 2010
Saturday, April 24, 2010
After the shows were over I let G go and relax in his room. The next day I talked with him about what happened. He was relaxed so I could explain to him that it was nobody's fault that he missed an episode. We talked about feeling like hitting someone and making the choice not to hit. I let G now how proud I was that he didn't hit anyone and that he made a wise choice. I also reminded him that this is a very important choice because he is big and can hurt someone badly without meaning to.
G searched the Internet and realized he was three episodes behind. He thought he could watch them online. However, one episode was not available at Cartoon Network.
I tried to explain to G and that it’s OK to watch certain shows out of order. However, he replied "That's not the way I do things. I like to watch things in order it’s the way I do it." An hour of Internet searching revealed that he could only watch a "grainy" version of the missing episode.
This led to anger, frustration, then blaming his sister. G started saying it was all her fault. "She should have let me on the computer when I wanted to." When he gets like this I have to address it quickly. He can become very mean; shaking fists feeling like he wants to hit her...
I explained that this was not his sister's fault. G had lots of time after school to get on the computer. He could have talked to me and I would have scheduled time for him. We talked about his sister for about five minutes, and then it became Dad's fault. (God give me strength here...)
Again I had to talk to him and explain that it was not Dad's fault. Still feeling angry, G decided to focus his energy on how horrible our house is. Being angry at inanimate objects is better than nothing so I let it go. We were dealing with this for a good 45 minutes and I needed a break!
Frustrated, I lamented my situation on Twitter. I noticed @myautisticson (love him) happened to be tweeting about meltdowns. He ran out of apple juice at his house which started some commotion. We tweeted and he shared his strategy, which boils down to this: alleviate the anxiety by helping your child understand how the problem will be resolved.
He shared the example of his son getting upset because there was no more apple juice. He showed his son the empty bottle of juice then explained that he would take a shower, get dressed, go to the store, buy juice and bring it home. This took away the unknown of when the juice would arrive and his son was fine.
Well I tried this approach.
I went into G's room, he was still upset. I took in some paper and a pencil because sometimes it helps to write when he gets like this. I said son, let's talk about your Clone Wars problem. Immediately he got angry and said, "I can't watch them out of order." I said, "Here let’s write down the steps to fix this." His reply, "that's stupid I don't want to do that." (Thanks a lot puberty!) At this point I thought out loud, "maybe our neighbor's have the episodes on TiVo since their son is a fan." Well guess what, the neighbors ARE GONE this weekend. The son has been going outside to look for their truck on the hour every hour since I said this. Its 10:00pm Saturday night, his PJs are on and I told him no more going out side.
Lord have mercy, pray for me!
Friday, April 23, 2010
A study by the UC Davis Mind Institute found that children with Autism Spectrum Disorders (ASDs) woke up in the middle of the night way more than typically developing kids regardless of their cognitive ability (Krakowiak P, Goodlin-Jones B, Hertz-Picciotto I, Croen LA, Hansen RL).
At one point I figured I had not slept through the night in over five years. When my son started sleeping through the night I still couldn't. It was like my body had become hyper vigilant. I could wake up at the slightest sound. For several years I would wake up and do work, think, or read. I started to rationalize this behavior as my alone time. My time to be productive. However, the truth was my poor sleep was escalating my depression and making it difficult for me to be productive during the day.
So with the encouragement of a therapist I began a journey to learn to sleep again. I began by exercising good sleep hygiene:
- I started to go to bed at the same time every night.
- I stopped drinking caffeine after lunch.
- I started to read before I went to sleep. Did you know most people only need to read for about 15 minutes and then they fall asleep? However, TV can actually keep you awake. The theory is the lights from the TV actually stimulates your brain.
- I made sure to have dinner at a regular time well before I went to sleep (around 6:00).
- I made sure the bedroom temperature felt comfortable.
- To help keep the noise level low I started sleeping with a fan. At first this made me uncomfortable. I thought what if my son did get up I couldn't hear him? So I bought a baby monitor and set the volume on high. If my son did get up I would hear him over the white noise.
- Some nights I couldn't stop thinking about things. I would work out problems in my head, make lists and think of them over and over again. I started keeping a small notepad by my bed. When my thoughts were keeping me awake, I would write them down. This helped me to relax and go to sleep.
- I also had to stop taking naps during the day.
Thursday, April 22, 2010
Here is the last one I wrote:
Hello! My name is Bonnie and my husband's name is Geoff. I was born and raised in Southern CA and graduated from UC Davis in 1990. My husband served in the Navy from 1984-1989. He went on to become an aircraft mechanic and worked his way up and is now the Director of Maintenance for Bridgeford Flying Services in Napa CA. We have two kids our son G is 14 and our daughter GA is 12.
When our son was three, he was diagnosed with autism. At that time almost no one new about autism, and we had a lot to learn. While our friends bought houses and advanced in their careers we spent all of our time, money, and energy on therapy to help him learn to talk and interact with the world. He is 14 now and doing well at BHS, we are very proud of him. In 2008 we launched National Autism Resources to help other parents affected by autism. We answer questions from parents all over the country and sell inexpensive products to help kids with autism.
We have been renting in Benicia and are excited to finally buy our first home. We hope to have a place that we can raise our kids and depending on our son’s abilities, take care of him for the long run. We will need to change a few things in the home to make it work for our family, but, we love what you have done to it. The antique furniture and wood floors are exceptionally beautiful to us.
We hope that you will consider our offer, and we hope to meet you in person soon.
Now after reading that wouldn't you want to sell to us?
Even with our nice letters we still can't seem to get a house! Two things keep happening: people with cash, come in and buy the houses cheaper than what we offer. Banks selling the homes don't want to deal with VA loans. So here we are still waiting. We put another offer in yesterday we'll see what happens!
Tuesday, April 13, 2010
This has all come to a head since recently Air Ne’eman, the founder of the Autistic Self-Advocacy Network, has been nominated to the National Council on Disability. Ten years ago he would have been confirmed no problem, now there is an anonymous hold on his confirmation.
Now I am being asked how I feel about Ari.
Let me begin by saying our family has done everything in our power to help my son. We've tried too many approaches to count, some worked and some were a waste of time, money and energy. My son is doing incredibly well, he no longer exhibits self injurious behavior, he is verbal, high functioning, and probably would be considered to have Aspergers at this point. One day he may be able to live on his own we don't know yet. This year he began High School fully mainstreamed without an aid. Meanwhile, last year my dear friend's son went into a group home for the safety of herself and her son.
The therapies that my friends and I fought for and lost our homes, marriages and sanity for are now considered routine, safe and effective. There is now irrefutable evidence that shows kids on the spectrum can learn if given the right tools and mode of instruction. (G did not turn into a robot after participating in ABA...) Are all kids getting all of the services they need at this point? No. Does more need to be done? Absolutely! Do we need to research why the incidences of autism are increasing, of course we do.
As we keep looking for a cause, and fighting for appropriate interventions, let's also celebrate who are kids are becoming and support them in any way possible. My son is not neurotypical and most likely never will be. I'm looking for understanding. I love my son, I love his personality, and I love the person he is becoming. He is a visual thinker who has a fascination with flight, air flow, and wing design. He's going to need extra help in life, but my desire, my passionate desire is that people will embrace him as he is, and that he will feel proud of himself.
With that said, I also say lets support the autistic adults who are now speaking for themselves. Ari Ne’eman will not stop funding for a cure or early intervention in his new position. Let’s remember the National Council on Disability, purpose is to “promote policies, programs, practices, and procedures that guarantee equal opportunity for all individuals with disabilities, and that empower individuals with disabilities to achieve economic self-sufficiency, independent living, and inclusion and integration into all aspects of society.” By opposing Ari we are blocking a passionate advocate who will fight for our children’s future rights and opportunities.
How do I feel about Ari Ne’eman? I support him.
Saturday, April 10, 2010
I remember when both my children were very young my husband and I lived in Hayward CA. We had one car, so I often put my children in a stroller and walked to the grocery store. One day a man was shot and killed in broad daylight right where I often walked. I prayed and asked God to please move us. About six months later, we were able to move to Concord CA.
When I moved to Concord I was thrilled with our new home. It was a two bedroom duplex in a a cul de sac. It was neat, clean and best of all safe. After a few months I was invited to dessert at another woman's house. I decided to go with a new friend from church. The next evening when I met my friend at her house I was stunned. It was so beautiful with a nice large kitchen, living room, dining room, each child had their own room and they had a garden in the back. I always wanted a house like that.
We left together for the gathering. When we got to the other woman's home I was overwhelmed. I truly had never seen a home so beautiful. It looked like it was a home right out of a magazine- the guest bathroom was larger than my kitchen. At the end of the night my friend and I left together, as she started the car she turned to me and said, "I always wanted a house like that." She continued to talk, but I can't tell you a thing she said.
Her words hit my heart, and then I felt God whisper a question to me: what happened to your gratefulness? I lost it the moment I wanted what someone else had, I lost my contentment. I am constantly bombarded with messages that what I have isn't enough, I don't look good enough, I don't do enough, I need more...
We are all bombarded with these messages.
When we listen to these messages we lose our thankfulness and become discontent.
I don't want to get caught up in the race for something bigger or better.
Oh God please give me the wisdom to make the right decision. Help me to be content with myself, my family, and all of the things you have given me. Please help me to make wise choices so that I can be generous with my time, money and talent.
"But godliness with contentment is great gain." I Timothy 6:6
Thursday, April 8, 2010
Saturday, April 3, 2010
I want to reiterate that I'm surprised that parents give their children animal toys to chew on. These toys don't have the same rigorous testing that products designed for people have to go through. Also, there are so many options to choose from in terms of chewing items no one should have to resort to an animal chew toy.
So to help you choose a chewy for your aggressive chewers here is a brief intro to Chewy Tubes and more...
The Chewy Tube, designed by speech pathologists, different colors represent different diameters of the chewy tube. Yellow is the thinnest and blue is the thickets tube. P's & Q's are their cheap chewy. They are latex free, non-toxic, and my son loved them.
The Grabber XT is one tough chewy. They are a lifesaver for aggressive chewers. The rounded handle makes it easy to hold. They also have textured Grabbers and regular grabbers, and they are a little bit cheaper than a chewy tube.
There is a new kid on the block called Chew Stixx. So far I haven't heard anything positive or negative about them, but they look very interesting. Because my son isn't chewing like he use to, thanks to Sensory Integration therapy, I can't give you any personal feedback. If you use them, let me know what you think!
The ChewEasy Chewy Tube. This is cool, its a chewy tube attached to a coil cord with a clip. So its easy to clip on and keep track of. A nice idea for kids who tend to loose things.
Exercise Tubing or Refrigerator Tubing, this is what therapists suggested kids chew on all the time. Now w/ the phthalates concern and latex concerns it's not considered a good option. Also, they were not designed for chewing and may or may not meet FDA guidelines.
Chewy Pencil Toppers: These fit over the end of a pencil so a child can chew while sitting in class. They are sturdy, but not reusable in that once the top goes on a pencil it stays there so you can't transfer them to another pencil. However, because they are clear they are a little less noticeable.
Now there are also chew toys, most of these you can get at K-Mart, Toys R Us, or Target:
The Hand and Foot teether: you can find these in almost any store. They are easy to hold and durable.
Knobby Teether Ball: Easy to hold with lots of knobs to chew on. It also works great as a fidget. So you get more bang for the buck.
Razbaby Razberry Teether: This is a teether not a pacifier they are sturdy and have interesting textures and they are silicon based.
The Massaging Action Teether: Great for chewing and it provides vibration for lots of oral stimulation.
Play & Grow Flutterbug: I saw this at Kohl's and it's awesome, lots of textures and it vibrates as well. It looks great for younger kids.
Anyhow I could go on and on and on! My point is there are lots of safe options out there now. I didn't even go into chewable jewelry ... I hope this helps you make a good choice for your child. If you need to buy some chewy items I hope you will visit our Autism Shop!
Friday, April 2, 2010
Thursday, April 1, 2010
When my son was first diagnosed with autism no one had heard of the condition and now its a common term. What once only affected 1 in 10,000 children now is affecting conservatively 1 in 110. Many professionals and teachers are not trained in how to support and work with these kids. The professionals that do have training can't meet the demand. We need more resources for parents, teachers and researchers.
I started National Autism Resources because I had a dream of helping others. Now I am overwhelmed by the number of people contacting us from all over the world. Let's work together to help our kids!
Tuesday, March 30, 2010
- It can assist with attention and focus. Lots of kids are chewing on their clothes at school, because they were chewing as a way to help them pay attention.
- They have a dental issue, either molars are coming in or they have a cavity.
- Chewing is calming.
- There may be connection between not moving and chewing. The theory is our bodies need to move, expend energy, kids who are inside a lot or have trouble with movement tend to need to chew. Thus chewing releases pent up energy.
- They have a need to stimulate their jaw muscles. This is especially true of kids who eat a more soft or pureed diet.
First thing I did was take G to the dentist. Molars were coming in and guess what he did have a cavity. We got his teeth fixed, but he kept on chewing. Next I talked to his teacher, she did noticed he was chewing a lot when sitting at his desk. That's when I got it, he's chewing in the living room, where the TV and his jet videos are. He may be chewing to help his attention.
Since I believed his body was using chewing as a means of helping him pay attention, I tried to find some appropriate ways for him to chew. His favorite thing ended up being a blue chewy tube. Now that I have been at this for awhile I've seen several items that have helped parents:
Chewelry: This is a chewable coil necklace or bracelet (pictured above). Lots of kids love these because they spring when you chew on them. There is also a Mega Chewelry Necklace for kids with a stronger bite.
ChewEase Pencil Toppers (Clear Chewable Pencil Toppers): These are clear tubes that slide over a pencil that a child can chew on in class. Because they are clear they are not noticeable.
Teething Bling: The nice thing about Teething Bling is that it looks appropriate for older children to wear. I know we chose the "Camo" versions to sell at National Autism Resources because you can chew on them and the camouflage design doesn't show teeth marks like some other chewable pendants. The one bummer is its not springy. These things are made of silicon so they give a little when you bite down, but not as much as the Chewelry or a Chewy Tube.
Chew Toys: Did you know some people actually let their kids chew on animal chew toys? I worry about this because these toys don't have as rigorous testing standards. However, there are lots of chewy toys designed for babies that are good. One of our favorites is a Grab Ball. The only downside to this is they don't look appropriate for older children.
Sunday, March 28, 2010
So at this point I bet you are wondering why I am gushing over some contractor from Ojai... Well this particular construction aficionado happens to be my brother! From the time Larry was a kid I have watched him fix anything he put his hands on. He even won a craftsmanship award from the Bank of America when he graduated from Nordhoff High School. If you know someone looking for a reliable contractor in Ojai, Larry is the man!
Wednesday, March 24, 2010
Sorry for the ramble!
The other night I was cranky with the Hubbo. So cranky he said "forget this" and went and hung out in our room, away from the TV, a big thing for him. Can I tell you I just sat in a chair fighting what I knew I should do, apologize.
I tried to rationalize it... He was bugging me, i.e. asking for my help when he should have just tried to figure it out on his own. Its not a big deal, i.e. it doesn't matter if I'm rude to him. He should know better, i.e. he should be able to read my mind. You get the picture.
Times like these its hard to be a follower of Jesus. If I wasn't a follower I would just shrug it off and think he'll get over it. But Jesus said, "Love your neighbor as you would yourself." Jesus wants me to treat the Hubbo the way I want someone to treat me, ie: care about him and his feelings. This means leaving my favorite TV show, humbling myself and admitting I'm wrong, asking for forgiveness, and THEN doing my best not to do it again.
So I went in the room and said I was sorry. Not because I felt like doing it. I said I was sorry because I knew it was the right thing to do. Sometimes I have to do the right thing even when I don't feel like it. Sometimes I feel better afterwards, sometimes I don't. I wish I could say askig for forgivness wasn't a problem for me, but the truth is I'm still struggling with it.
Friday, March 19, 2010
So what is RDI? In a nutshell RDI is based on the belief that the development of dynamic intelligence is the key to improving the quality of life for individuals with autism. The program's core philosophy is that individuals with autism can participate in authentic emotional relationships if they are exposed to them in a gradual, systematic way. The goal of treatment is to systematically build up the motivation and tools for successfully interacting in social relationships. It has been my experience that there are no quick fixes that real change and growth for anyone, including those on the spectrum, happens over time.
It’s best to work with a therapist, but as usual the Arnwine bank account can’t support it. Anyone read Holly Peet’s article re this? Anyhow, back to RDI, I will learn as much as I can and maybe by this fall I will be educated and funded enough to hire a consultant. BTW anyone need a speaker contact me. Sorry for the shameless promotion!
Thursday, March 18, 2010
Wednesday, March 17, 2010
He moves out of home at 16 and then goes on to design Ace Freehly’s fire-spouting guitars, creating some of the first electronic toys for Milton Bradley, falling in love, having a son, getting divorced, getting re-married, and starting his own career. He now owns his own automotive business, capitalizing on his interest in transportation machines.
This book was very painful to read because of the things that John Elder had to experience. He always felt like a fraud, he never could enjoy his accomplishments because he felt deep inside that someone would find out about the real him. He finally finds out he has AS when a therapist gave him a copy of “Asperger’s Syndrome: A Guide for Parents and Professionals”. When he read the book, he said the book perfectly described him.
Getting the diagnosis of Aspergers helped John to understand and accept himself. Also sharing with his community that he has AS allowed those around him, to understand him and embrace him.
Its nice to see someone with AS who is successful, both in business and relationships. However, sometimes the book is a hard to follow, it sort of rambles, I really didn’t like his chapter on mate selection, and at times its profane. It gives very good insight into the mind of a person trying to decipher social situations and deal with a world that just doesn’t seem to accept him. With that said I’d recommend the book with caution.