This is a series of books that my husband illustrates. If your kid likes sports and or dinos then these books are for you!
Monday, March 8, 2010
Wednesday, March 3, 2010
People with autism frequently latch onto things to be afraid of. They either run from these things or lash out at them in an attempt to make them go away. It's often related to sensory issues like the fact that for a couple of years I couldn't blow dry my hair or use the blender - scary, loud noises were out. We had meltdowns in parking lots over loud engines and I once got cranky with a neighbor whose friend sat on his motorcycle in the driveway, revved the engine really loud for a long time and then peeled out just for funsies. By the end of it my son was screaming in the living room and it took a long time to get him to settle down. I don't expect the world to adjust to him but I wanted our neighbors to know that their motorcycle friends needed to act like they were in a residential neighborhood. Luckily, the wife was just as angry as I was and any future motorcycles did their funsies elsewhere.
Friday, February 19, 2010
This never fails to crack me up! Maybe it's my silent cat who would be traumatized but never make a sound or my other cat who is an excellent candidate but would maim me. (There aren't enough duct tape covered sweat socks in world to make Max keep his teeth and back claws to himself!)
Monday, February 15, 2010
Hubby and I took the kids sledding for the first time ever and it was a huge success! Our son is 10 and our daughter is 5, perfect for her and a good idea to at least try it with him. I've kept an eye on our son's ability to handle not having as much control over the speed that something moves and finally thought that he was ready.
Wednesday, February 10, 2010
This post is a transfer from my other blog. It's general advice for parents who with newly diagnosed children.
It's going to be okay.
Monday, February 8, 2010
Last night was super fun at a friend's Superbowl party! The friends were people that we knew from church but had never been to their house before. They had also invited work and neighborhood friends so there were many people that we did not know. So - new house, several screens going throughout including televisions upstairs showing various movies for the kids, excitement of a party and lots of new people - that's kindof a recipe for an autism meltdown, right?
But my son did really well and I want to share a couple of strategies that we used. First of all, we packed his main dinner. There was so much good food at this party that it boggled the mind but we knew that it would be the same as any party, he was only going to eat chips. My son is sensory defensive when it comes to food. That means that he feels disgust and literal fear when it comes to eating any food not on his approved list. It's not a part of our parenting that we're excited about since we decided, back in the early days when we forced the issue that he barfed on the table, that food was not an issue that we would push. There were too many battles that were more important and we wanted meal time to be family time, not screaming and barfing time. Little did we know that the food choice list he made at 2 would be the same list he stuck to at 10. So no meat, no veggies except for the spinach and cucumber I hide in his smoothies, no pasta, no rice, no lots of things. The approved list breaks down into two areas - the protein sources (important!) which are PB&J (well, almond butter since it digests easier even if it does cost a lot more money and it's served on a rice cake), plain oatmeal with unsweetened applesauce and raisins, soy yogurt and the rare (rare) bagel. The other category is the stuff he would like to live on but can't. This includes cereal (we try to offer gluten free as much as possible), crackers (ditto), chips of any kind (we try to usually get the baked ones) and a few fruits like bananas, apples, dried apricots and dried papaya. So the list is easily adjusted to be relatively healthy but when you've been serving that and nothing but that for 8 years it gets a little old. And candy, let's not forget candy. (But I ration that and it's not a problem area - thank goodness!)
Anyway, that's why packing a PB&J on rice cakes is important. Otherwise he would have made a meal of soda, cheese puffs and corn chips. We have had times when we were forgetful and he had meal like that but a sugared up and hungry kid is not a kid who is able to control himself very well. The stimming turns into a fit much faster and it really affects our ability to mentally "be" at the party. Why go to a party if you can't let the kids go play while the adults hang out? When they're little that's normal, but kids with autism (or any other kid) need to learn to go hang with the kids or (in my son's case) wander around nicely and find way to entertain themselves that only require tracking them down every once in awhile to make sure they're doing ok. But that is a skill that also comes with age if you make it a point to teach independence as your child is able.
Second, I walked him through the house when we first got there. It was early-ish in the party and not too many people so he could focus and I took him around so that he could ask questions and I could point out doors that he needed to not open. FYI for any of you who work with or know kids with autism, if you have a party put a sign on the doors you don't want opened. A lot of kids with autism are great readers and tend to be very black and white about rules. If you have a sign that says don't open then they most likely won't. My son started reading at 4 years old and I used to label all kinds of stuff to not touch or remember to do. Icons, little pictures of what you want or don't want, can be helpful too. You can even label the doors that go in and out of the house with little stop signs, I've seen that stop some kids from actually opening the door. (Now don't be dumb about it, a kid with issues like leaving a house unattended should not be left alone at a party unless the doors are locked and everyone there knows the child and how to protect them. I'm just saying that icons can really help and make even an experienced escaper pause long enough to notice them.)
After that he did his own thing. Every once in a while he came by me or I saw him go through the room. If I didn't for too long then I went and found him. Lots of high fives and telling him what a good job he was doing. I played with him once and gauged his anxiety levels as time passed. We only stayed two hours but we stayed until bed time and he had had a fit earlier in the day, so I was a very aware of how much control he had. But really, we moms can often do that from across the room!
Last, and this is one of the main points on this blog, I let him be him. He did really well with not stimming very much. We have tried to teach him that it's best if he saves it for home and as he gets older I really see him shake his body and do this mini-stim and then hold it together. As soon as we walk in the door at home he is running, yelping and hand flapping but he knows that it's a safe place to do that. No running into other people or interrupting conversations. Plus, if the goal is to help him to function then behaving in a socially acceptable manner as much as he is able is also important.
But that control ended at the halftime show. It was bed time and the evening had been exciting, add in cool music and light show and it was just too much joy to contain. We were in a living room with couches and chairs about 2 minutes into the show when he pops up and starts jumping and flapping in the middle of the room right in front of the tv. (Remember, half of the room didn't know him.) I asked him to settle down, he grinned, stared at the wall and said the most honest word ever spoken - "I can't. I have to do this."
Truth, my friends! Let's not forget this.
But I wanted to see the halftime show. I didn't want to usher him off to another room and I could tell that he wanted to see it too. So I looked over and saw a little alcove next to the tv where no one was sitting because they wouldn't see the screen. I spoke up to be heard and said that he needed to either sit with me or jump in the alcove. Off to the alcove he went where he danced and stimmed. A couple of times he came back to the middle and started asking for my order (a favorite game) and I reminded him to sit or go to the alcove. After about 5 minutes he came and sat with me, wrapped my arms tightly around him and watched the rest of the show. I never said a word to the people we didn't know and any who I saw looking at us I just smiled at. They knew that he was special, why should I miss The Who sing to explain specifics? My son had a great time and showed control which made him proud, I could see it all over his face. After the halftime show we went home and off to bed.
What a good party. : )
Friday, February 5, 2010
Well, here it is, folks! A new blog home for stories, advice and education regarding raising a child with autism and loving it.
In the next couple of weeks the posts will be a mix of new stuff and old posts from the WifeOfMonobot blog. (That will now be directly related to my writing for anyone interested in that.)
I will also be including fun stuff sometimes. I know that I have a more guy sense of humor than most women so I'll try to pick things that are universally funny. But I do think that laughing is extremely important! It's important in everyday life and instrumental in life with a special needs person. Learn to laugh at yourself, at the things your kid finds funny, at the situations you find yourself in and at life - it will make the sun shine just a bit on the cloudiest of days.
Also, I will share stories about what's going on in our life and how we are dealing with any challenges that pop up. As a matter of fact, our son is having a difficult time in school right now, specifically with testing, and I'll give updates on how that goes. It's information that I would have liked to see when we first got our diagnosis. How ordinary is it to have to work with teachers so that your kid can test better and get better grades? Totally ordinary - and I wanted to know that ordinary was coming so bad back then! So I want to give glimpses of future possibilities to those with young kids and for another person with older kids in school a story that helps them see, once again, that they are not alone in what they deal with.
So share the link and let me know what you think. I'm here to encourage and help!