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Friday, July 29, 2011

A Great Craft for All Skill Levels

Over the last couple months I have been collecting various items that would be useful for craft and art projects during school breaks.  While this post has really nothing to do with autsim or sensory issues, I like to keep Buddy practicing fine motor skills and also give him something interesting to do besides the old coloring-book and I also like to share.  That being said, let the crafty-idea-sharing commence. 
One of the things that I really love to do is have him finger-paint butcher paper to make into gift wrap.  Recently as I was breaking down various boxes to pitch into the recycling bin, I had an idea.  Why not keep some of those containers and turn them into unique gift boxes?  Well, today turned out to be the perfect time to give it a try as we had no appointments to go to and no power due to a scheduled outage.  These are very easy, are super cute and can be made with things you likely have laying around the house.  We used cheap dollar store sponges, finger paints and Crayola Twistables (these keep their vibrant color on cardboard).
1.        Carefully break down the box you want to use.  We collected cereal boxes, granola bar boxes and other small ones that would be good for little gift items.
2.       Flatten the boxes out and secure them to your table or workspace with double sided tape.  You don’t have to do this part, but it makes it easier for the little ones to decorate the box without it slipping.

3.       Allow the paint to dry in a warm sunny spot. 

4.       Once the paint is dry, re-assemble the box.  This is done by re-folding on the lines (only now it’s inside out).  Use a strong glue and make sure you hold each area until it sticks really well.  If the cardboard is heavy, then it’s best to do one side at a time and weight it  down while the glue dries.
5.       Once your box is complete you are ready to fill it and add some pretty ribbon. 

Voila!  A pretty, inexpensive, hand-decorated gift box that is sure to be admired by any recipient. 
Happy Crafting!

Wednesday, May 25, 2011

The Monkey on His Back

In light of comments and disapproving looks from people while we are in public places, I have decided to write a little note about the purpose of the Child Harness. Or, at least, it’s our purpose anyway.  I am guessing that if we are dealing with this issue odds are there are other folks out there as well. 
I am frequently blogging about the various irritations of other parents and/or those who don't even have kids giving their opinions on what we should or shouldn’t be doing with our kids.  Number one, it’s rude to give unsolicited advice. Period.  I don’t comment when I see Other Kid slurping up Trix Flavored Gogurt, loaded with red dye and sugar; it would be rude for me to just walk up to Other Parent and say “I can’t believe you are letting your kid eat that!  Don’t you know what’s in it?".  So I have no idea why I get stares, the shaking heads and my personal favorite the “that’s just cruel” comments when Buddy is proudly sporting his Monkey-Backpack-Complete-With-Tail harness. 
Ahhhh ignorance, the bane of my existence.  If they only knew that dangers of wandering in autistic children.  If they only knew that Buddy has extremely poor spacial awareness thanks to SPD and his off-kilter vestibular system and that “cruel leash” keeps him from running head first into the glass window of a zoo exhibit.  If they only knew that the monkey is weighted and provides the sensory input he needs to function better. If they only would research how important it is for children in their early years to have that need for autonomy met and the fact that the harness lets them walk freely without the struggle of holding hands. 
I will say what is cruel; it’s the nasty stares that Buddy gets when he is wearing his monkey harness. He loves it and frequently asks to wear it at home.  Some people smile and think it’s cute, so he proudly stomps his feet and grins.  It makes me wonder, if he notices the positive reaction is he noticing the negative? Is he wondering why that mean lady is scowling at him?  There are times that I just want to stay home to avoid all the negativity that is out there.  I just wish people would ask questions before they make assumptions.

Thursday, May 5, 2011

The Children's Museum, Seattle

The Children's Museum, Seattle

Check it out!  Early opening first Saturday of each month for ASD families!  Details on the website.

Tuesday, May 3, 2011

Woe is me?

Do you ever have one of those days where you wonder if the endless hours of therapy and practicing appropriate social behavior will ever actually pay off? 
I have listened to other parents confide that they just want to give up sometimes.  Today is my turn.  While standing in the middle of our living room floor after an hour of ABA, attempting to ward off a body dive-bomb attack from Buddy while listening to the therapist as best I can I began to think to myself ‘is this really helping?’.  I mean, our little guy gets ten times more worked up during therapy and then it takes three hours of deep pressure and sensory melt down to get over it.  This means four out of seven days per week is guaranteed to be sheer H E Double Hockey Sticks.  I thought we were making progress (sort of).  After all, we had a new strategy for flash attacks via flying objects and tiny fists.  But, victory is always far too short lived it seems. Well, it seems like it today.
 Today I was told that although our little darling appears to be making progress, it seems as though much of his emotions and actions are mimicked ----pause for kick in the gut----that maybe all those loves, tears and angry episodes are not a result of empathy or actual feelings but simply something he has learned, like the word awesome.  This would explain why he can hit me in the head with a toy and then jump up and down while screaming AWESOME.You see, there are other instances that lead to this theory”, the therapist explained, “for instance, his ability to turn off emotions like a switch or his ability to talk and eat, which comes and seemingly disappears at random”.  ‘Uh, so what’s your point?’ I am thinking hooray for the tiniest of victories, right?  No sooner had she popped my giant red balloon with a big sharp stick, time was up and we are going to discuss it in two days when we have our next session.  Now I am upset and feeling quite like I am the only parent in the world who has to deal with this (sniff). 
So as I sit here, woefully sipping my tea, I begin to feel guilty because it could be so much worse. I begin to realize something; that even though it seems like we go two steps forward and one step back, it’s still a bit of progress; and I will take it.  Sometimes life in acronym-land is disappointing and it can be easy not to see things on the bright side.  However, I have realized that it just makes the bright side that much brighter and it really isn’t all that bad.

Tuesday, April 26, 2011

Give it a rest

ASD, SPD, PDD and other acronyms may look the same in a word but there ends the similarity.  Every child is different; acronyms, as I fondly call them, are often dubbed the invisible disability. Every time I have the opportunity to talk with another parent who has a child that is on or hanging around the Spectrum or experiencing other issues we share the same dilemma: defending the diagnosis.  Whether it’s from a well meaning friend trying to be positive (“well she looks normal”), a skeptical family member (“it seems like everyone has (insert applicable disorder here) these days”)  or complete strangers, ever the parenting experts of children they know nothing about (“the kid just needs a good spanking”).
I have lost track of the hours I have spent educating people on autism and sensory processing disorder.  I leave various functions and play dates exhausted, not just from fun or running after my little guy but from expending large amounts of emotional energy trying to get people to understand.  And one day it dawned on me, it isn’t my responsibility to educate everyone.  Yes, I want to raise awareness but you cannot educate someone who doesn’t really want an answer.  Some people just want to challenge what you know.  My favorite is when someone asks me “are you sure he’s autistic”?  I often quell the urge to issue a snotty reply that is somewhere along the lines of “nope, we just like the attention”.  Then I have to resist the urge to go into detailed lists of doctors, developmental psychologists and various occupational therapists that Buddy sees on a weekly basis or the first, second and third opinions that we have sought out to be extra certain.  You see, if our children had a condition that were more visible no one would have the audacity or gall to make assumptions and ask such invasive questions.  Now, I am not saying that our close friends and family shouldn’t ask questions to try and understand but we all have that sense of whether or not a question is asked so that the person can be more informed because they truly care or if it’s simply to pose a veiled challenge. 
When I was pregnant I read a few articles about what to do when someone asks invasive and personal questions in regards to religious upbringing of the child, breastfeeding or other personal decisions.  There were also tactful and funny ways to avoid the good old unwanted belly pats from little old ladies in elevators.  It dawned on me that some of these witty answers and reactions could be used the same way in regards to questions about our little ones. 
Read on for a chuckle and feel free to comment with your own suggestions.

Situation 1)  You are at a family function where everyone is already aware of your son or daughters diagnosis.  Relative X corners you in the living room to grill you on why the child is in therapy when “he seems fine”.
Option 1)  Simply reply that although you appreciate the concern, your family is taking a break from (insert proper diagnosis here) today and walk away.
Option 2) A simple “he/she is doing well thanks” will suffice.
Option 3) Turn the tables.  “He is doing well, thanks so much.  I noticed you weren’t sitting much, do you think you may have hemorrhoids”?  Okay, I have to admit it’s extreme but sometimes you just gotta go there.
Situation 2)  You are in public and Other Parent decides to comment on your child’s seemingly out of control behavior.
Option 1) Make some contact cards that say something to the effect of the following:
You have just met a child with Autism
To educate yourself please visit:
(Insert therapist website, or other desired information)
This puts the focus back on other parent who now more than likely feels stupid for being so insensitive.
Option 2) Ignore it.  9 times out of 10 it just works better.  Some people just like to hear themselves criticize someone else.

Bottom line is this; it isn’t up to you to dedicate all of your precious energy trying to educate people who just don’t want to understand.  Maybe it’s a coping mechanism for a grandparent who just hasn’t come to terms with it.  Maybe it’s a slap in the face to another mom than can’t seem to get organized when you are able to juggle all the normal things that parenthood throws at you AND a special needs child all at once.  It isn’t always malicious but it also isn’t our job to tackle each question like a straight A student fresh out of Diagnosis Defense 101.  Feel free to take a break from the acronyms and close the floor to questions, you deserve it.