Wednesday, October 31, 2007

Pete and Pam Wright

Last week I attended a conference by Pete and Pam Wright of Wrightslaw. Wow. It was amazing!

As speakers they are phenomenal. Very engaging. I do not like sitting still. I did not have any problems sitting all day (minus the well spaced breaks) and listening to them. I could have done it for days!

As providers of information for parents with special needs kids - they are the experts.

The format was not as I expected. In the past when I have attended conferences I've gotten PowerPoint handouts and the speakers read and added to those. There were no handouts. I was nervous. What am I going to do for 8 hours if I have nothing to look at, doodle on and record my thoughts so I don't forget them?!? Instead, there was an agenda. Pete and Pam used power points to go thru their presentation, but we actively used the 2 books that were given to us. (Which by the way were Wrightslaw: Special Education Law, 2nd Edition and Wrightslaw: From Emotions to Advocacy, 2nd Edition). Both these books are extremely resourceful and they showed us not only what was in them, but HOW to use the information. And, I truly felt I walked away having absorbed their message without having handouts to jot down notes on.

I wish I could only have a day to sit down with them and really talk to them. They are so knowledgeable about this field, so approachable, so real-life. They make parents feel like they CAN fight for their child. And they are right. We can. We just need cheerleaders like them to guide us along.

Kari over at The Karianna Spectrum and Silicon Metro Moms has mentioned them coming to her area next spring. If anyone else has them coming near to them they should plan on attending. It is most definitely worth hearing them and learning from them. They are exactly the resource parents of special needs kids need.

Thank you Pete and Pam Wright

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Monday, October 29, 2007

I've Been Tagged!

Toni over at A Tale of Two Kiddies tagged me a meme:

7 Unique Things

Wow – my first meme – I feel all important-like and liked :)

So, here goes:

1. I’ve only got 1 kid, he’s 9 and I STILL get asked if we are having more.

2. I love red wine and chocolate ice cream as a meal.

3. My son turned into the breech position 4 days before his due date and after I had been 4 cm dilated for 2 weeks. I knew he would be trouble then!

4. When I was in 4th grade I had a dream that President Reagan was riding a motorcycle in the desert and some cowboys on horses came up behind him and shot him. Now, remember, I was 10 and grew up in New England. My concept of California was that it was ‘out West’ hence deserts and cowboys. The next day at school my principal announced that President Reagan was shot.

5. I love to kick box and ride a bike, but find it hard to motivate myself. I feel like a kid at bath time – I never want to take one, but once in, I never want to get out!

6. I’m glad there is only 1 more random/weird thing to think of!

7. I have stared at this computer screen for entirely too long trying to think up a last comment and wonder if others do the same or if they can rattle off 7 comments with the snap of their fingers.....

And there you go! Instead of tagging 7 people, I’m opening this up for anyone who’s game.

Rules are simple:

-Link to your tagger and post rules.
-Share 7 facts about yourself, some random and some weird
-Tag 7 people at the end of your post and list their names/blogs
-Don’t forget to let them know they were tagged by a comment on their blog!

Have fun!

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Friday, October 26, 2007

Shhhh..... Don't Tell My Son

I put carrots in his brownies. Why did I do such a thing? Because he does not eat many vegetables. He eats 3: corn, spaghetti sauce and ketchup.

He used to be an extremely picky eater. And I mean extremely picky. Down to the brand. For a couple of years he had about 5 foods, all brand specific he would eat. While this made grocery shopping quite easy, it made meal time quite the battle.

He is also on the Autism Spectrum Disorders. Picky eating and sensory issues are very common with kids on the spectrum. I had tried sneaking a variety of nutritious foods into his foods before, but the kid knew. He knew as soon as he smelled it. He knew as soon as his tongue was an inch away. Last year, as many of you know, we put him on the GFCF diet. His willingness to try foods increased immensely. He began eating a huge variety of breads, pastas, cereal, meats, dairy (well, substituted dairy) and fruits. He doubled his vegetable intake to 2 – form corn to corn and spaghetti sauce. But he’s still very hesitant to try other vegetables and won’t eat them.

I have heard much about Jessica Seinfeld’s new book Deceptively Delicious. So I decided to give it a try. Why not? What have I got to loose? His tastes are slowly becoming braver. Maybe the taste of vegetables won’t be so over powering in foods he likes now.

So, I gave him the brownie. “Uh, Mom, this brownie tastes different.” No, keep the creative ideas coming, it can still work! “Well, ummm, probably because I put more chocolate chips in it than usual – it might be, umm, more chocolately.” He takes another bite and thinks. “Yea, that might be it.” Then he finishes it and asks for another one.

VICTORY!!! My son has been tricked. He has eaten carrots and is still living. There has been no tantrum. No tears involved. And maybe over time from the slight taste of carrots in brownies he’ll grow a tolerance to the taste if I give him some on his plate.

Ummm. I wonder what other vegetables I can put in his foods without him knowing :)

Brought to you by The Parent Bloggers Network’s contest promoting Deceptively Delicious. Visit PBN to see how you can participate!

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I Won't Give It Up

What won't I give up you ask? This sweatshirt.

It's just not any ole gray hooded, front pocketed thermal-on-the-inside you see. It's one just like my Dad used to wear. For work. For the 25 years he did construction/concrete foundations. In New England. In the freezing cold. From 5:30am till 6pm if not later. For 6 days a week.

My Dad missed A LOT by working this schedule. But it allowed my Mom to stay at home with us 4 kids, in a town with a superb school district. It allowed all 4 of us kids to take 2 extra curricular activities each growing up (a sports and a musical instrument). It allowed us to have vacations to show us other parts of the country. It allowed for trips to the movie theater for those rainy afternoons and dinner out on lazy Sunday evenings. Mom was always at our school for school plays and classroom parties. And all this was because of the long, hard hours my Dad, who didn't have a college education, put in, to make a better life for his kids.

In the summers, and sometimes on spring or fall Saturdays my brother and I would go to work with him. We'd get up before the sun was, eat breakfast, bundle up in warm clothes, get in the truck and drive on the dark highways. But when we got to the job site and the sun was up we had the best sandbox a kid could ask for. We got to eat lunch out of the big cooler my Dad had. We got to play with our cousins who tagged along with our uncle (Dad and his brother worked together). We got to get dirty. And we got to spend time with Dad.

I've had this sweatshirt for about 20 years. It was the last sweatshirt I had when I stopped going to work with my Dad. I was a teenager and had my own part time job and friends to hang out with. But I've never given up this sweatshirt. I don't wear it anymore. It would be like making new memories and erasing old ones. So, it sits in my closet under all my other sweatshirts. But I also can't give it up. It has too many memories about my Dad, about my family, about my childhood in it.

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Wednesday, October 24, 2007

The Horrors of Homework

My son has lost it. And not his homework. He has lost IT. His ability to function. His ability to speak nicely. His ability to set a goal and achieve it peacefully. His ability to get his homework done.

Monday - 4.45 hours of battling
Tuesday 2.45 hours of battling
Wednesday 1.45 hours of battling

His homework should/is designed to take him 45 minutes.

Do you see the pattern though? When I tried praising him on Tuesday for at least making an improvement in how much less time he spent arguing and he was in the right direction (hey - gotta look for the positive where ever you can find it, right?!?) he noticed the pattern - cut in half. So today he was bound and determined to take an hour extra. Because now it's about patterns and completing the pattern. Ugh.

But these meltdowns. I don't want to do homework. My hand hurts. I don't like homework. It's too hard. I want to play outside. I want PlayStation. You're mean. You're not fair. The yelling, the throwing things. The stomping. The excessive fidgeting and wiggling. The increased stemming and echolia when not arguing, having a meltdown or actually doing his homework.

I am so worn out by the time it's bedtime (although I wish it were the same for him!)!
Some of this is age, some developmental, some power battle/seeing what he can get away with, some Asperger. Such a complicated mix.

I won the contest over at Discussing Autism and received the Self-Calming Cards. I need to introduce them first. Teaching a new strategy isn't usually the best in the moment of escalation. It'll only lead to more frustration. But we were busy this past weekend and I didn't have time. But tonight he was fairly calm after finishing his homework, Tae Kwon Do and a nice, long shower. We started working on the cards. He likes them. It'll take some practice to use them without prompting. They're exactly what we needed - some new tricks to put in our bag of tricks.

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Monday, October 22, 2007

Warm and Fuzzies

My son has to write a story for class. He has a title page with title (apparently it's going to be a series, Book I, The Castle of Morca). But that's not the warm and fuzzy part. The warm and fussy part is the next page - the dedication page:

For my mother
who is always there to help me

It doesn't get much warmer and fuzzier than that now, does it?

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Friday, October 19, 2007

A New Purse?!?

I had a dream last night that I bought a new purse. And I loved it. And I loved having the chance to go out shopping for the purse. I went to several different stores and searched and searched until I found THE perfect purse.

What's extremely odd is that I HATE shopping. Like, I really, really, really hate it. And I also do not need a new purse.

So, what the heck was that dream supposed to mean?!?

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Thursday, October 18, 2007

Autism Video Glossary

Autism Speaks has just released a Video Glossary.

It’s free of charge (you do have do join, but it’s free to join).

It’s got over a hundred video clips. The clips cover everything – overviews, developmental milestones, screening and diagnosis, parent reflections, social interactions, communications, repetitive behaviors and restricted interests, sensory issues, treatments.

It compares ‘normal developing kids’ to those at risk for Autism Spectrum Disorders and those already diagnosed with Autism Spectrum Disorders.

Wow do I wish I had this resource when Son was younger. I don’t suppose it really would have changed much; I had already started doing my own interventions long before he was diagnosed. But I SEE him in A LOT of the videos. Just subtle stuff, but it really was there when he was a toddler. It would have validated my concerns as real and legitimate when the doctor, family and friend and family dismissed them.

We knew he had quirks, but we came up for an explanation for everything. Yea, he sorted and examined instead of pretend play – but maybe it’s a sign he’d be an engineer or computer person. Yea, sometimes he spun tires and lined things up, but look at the concentration and attention it took! Nothing wrong with that! And he was happy! No one can dispute that fact.

But still, there was just SOMETHING there that no one listened too.

Because of attention and funding, researchers can now go even earlier in development to spot red flags that will allow children even earlier intervention. There is so much we are finding out about Autism Spectrum Disorders, but still so far to go.

Cross posted to DC Metro Moms

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Monday, October 15, 2007

What's 7 Minutes In The Realm Of Things?

The other day Son was put on restriction for something he had done. He had 7 minutes left until his freedom came back.

Son, “So, Mom, am I off restriction yet? It’s almost 4pm.”

Me, “No, you’ll be off restriction right at 4pm.”

Son, “Aww Mom, what’s 7 minutes in the realm of things?”

P.S. – I stuck my ground and he wasn’t free until 4pm but I did have to leave the room so he wouldn’t see me chuckling at his creativity.

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Friday, October 12, 2007

Echolia, Wiggles and More Echolia

One way Son shows stress is stimming. Stimming is when a person does a repetitive behavior over and over again. Like taping a foot or a pencil. But with children on the Autism Spectrum it’s much more obvious. With Son, he recites lines from a song, movie, TV show or commercial over and over (and over and over) again. Or he paces or does laps or spins around the house. Most of the time he doesn’t seem aware of it. But it is his way of telling us that he is out-of-sync or anxious about something. Sometimes he just needs to do this for a few minutes and get it out of his system. Other times he gets stuck and the stimming doesn’t decrease the stress, but he doesn’t mind the stimming either so he keeps doing it (and doing it and doing it). Since the house has gone on the market we’ve noticed a lot of verbal stimming and some wiggling stimming too.

Over on there is a giveaway from Therapy Shoppe – a set of Self-Calming Cards. They look wonderful! They look perfect! They look easy to use! They look convenient! And I want them! I want them because I’m always looking for new tricks to put in my bag. And I want them because I can use them with my clients too. So, you can’t enter to get them (well, I suppose you could, but I really, really want them!), but you can head over to their website and check out their new catalog. I’m going to.

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Friday Haiku Time

Fall is finally here
Cooler weather yeah, raa, raa
Bring out the sweaters!

Leaves are falling down
Orange, brown, red and yellow
Covering the grass

Bring out the pumpkins
Colorful pansies and mums
Harvest time is here

Don’t take out the rake
Let’s enjoy all the colors
And leaves hide dead grass!

I sure do love fall
So, what’s your favorite season?
Is it also fall?

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Thursday, October 11, 2007

Tag - You're It!

Amalah over at Mom’s Daily Dose ( is tagging her readers to a meme:

8 Random Things In My Kitchen Meme

1. Container to hold cooking utensils.

2. Wood thingy to hold sharp knives.

3 & 4. Hammer & package of nails that husband thinks he has put away properly, because doesn’t everything belong on the kitchen counter?

5. Candle – pumpkin spice – I LOVE fall candle scents. And even though it is freaking 80 degrees outside in October, it smells like fall inside.

6. Some remains of birthday cake that we’ve been munching on.

7. Banana chocolate bread I baked (from scratch even).

8. Me, blog surfing at the kitchen table, instead of doing what stuff that really needs to get done.

So, what's in your kitchen?
Tag – you’re it!

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Wednesday, October 10, 2007

Drum Roll.........

Here's my big announcement I promised was coming last week:

I have been asked to contribute to DC Metro Moms!!!!

I am so honored and excited about this opportunity. If any of you haven't checked them out, do so (as well as their sister sites over in Silicon Valley and Chicago).

Hop on over!

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Tuesday, October 9, 2007

Family, Fun and Meltdowns

The weekend was nonstop action with family in town. Family included Nana, Papa, Uncle, his 17 month old Son, and his Girlfriend. My Sister, her Husband and their 20 month old Daughter live close by so they were with us all weekend too. So Saturday morning, after Husband and I looked at a couple of houses (and no thank you to those BTW), we headed to the local playground. Fun was had by ALL. Back home for burgers and dogs on the grill. And then we topped the evening off with a delayed birthday celebration for Son and Papa (birthdays are 5 days apart at the end of September).

Sunday we all awoke to head into the city. We walked all the way down the Mall seeing the memorials and sites along the way. A short trip into the Natural History Museum was had, but it was so very crowded and it’s hard to move thru there when you’re in a large group yourself, so we headed back home. I dug out Son’s old toddler toys and Sister and Brother divided them out for their kids. Woo Hoo – less stuff to move around now!!

We all absolutely loved watching the 3 kids play together. I absolutely loved getting to know my brothers Girlfriend better. And a visit from Nana and Papa is always welcomed.

Son did amazingly well with all the people in the house. We made sure to give him his sensory breaks on a regular basis to help keep him in-sync.

However, if anyone was on the corner right by the Natural History Museum on Sunday, they may have noticed us. Son refused to eat his lunch that we had packed. He doesn’t eat much when we have house guests. He was getting ready to melt down mostly due to lack of food. We were sitting on a bench waiting for him to agree to eat when he jumps up, arms flapping and shouting, “Someone call the hospital! Someone call the hospital! Quick! I’m going to crash!” While attempting to calm him down, Husband and I notice people are looking at us, but from a distance as they walk around our bench to give us more room. We got him calmed down and then he started again with, “Call 911! Someone call 911!” After calming him down again he agreed to eat. By then it was too late. He lost everything he ate right there on the sidewalk he had himself so worked up. What ended up calming him down was his breathing he learned at Tae Kwon Do (slow mediating like).

I’m glad no one called 911. We’ve all witnessed children melting down in public. It’s sometimes a tough call for a stranger to decide to intervene or not.

As soon as they all left on Monday Son ate and ate and ate and enjoyed the rest of the day in a very quiet house.

House Update: Our house did not quite pass our realtor’s inspection. She had a few more small things that she wanted us to take care of. So, we have the post on our front lawn, but no MLS yet. That should be up for sure end of this week. Then, let the fun of having a clean-as-possible-while-still-living-in-it-house begin!

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Friday, October 5, 2007

Busy Friday (this seems to be a pattern for Fridays)

Project due today
Family coming in to town
House up on market

Project due today
Final is next Saturday
Then the class is done

Family visiting
Brother, nephew and girlfriend
Nana and Papa

House up on market
Must finish tidying up
Please, please sell quickly

Oh, and one more thing
Big announcement coming soon
So, stay tuned next week!

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Tuesday, October 2, 2007

Say Cheese

Today is picture day at school. Son freaked out this morning. Said he couldn't go to school. Said he didn't want to go to school. Stomping/jumping on the bottom stair, arms flapping (which we haven't seen in months). "I just can't do it. There is no way we will be able to get everything done today because of pictures. The day will be DIFFERENT!"

OK, breathe Mom. Yes, Son is melting down. Two choices - get moving, we don't have time for this; which will ensue a bigger meltdown and not effectively solve the problem OR stop, breathe, model for Son, and ask what is really bothering him. Be a good Mom. Pick 2nd option.

"Yes, the day will be different."

"I don't like different. We have a lot of different at home now."

"Yes, we do. And now it will be different today at school too. But tomorrow will be back to the regular schedule at school." Begin some sensory deep pressure, make sure voice is quiet. Validate his feelings.

Son is stressed. He didn't do well on a math test and he is upset about that. I started my part-time job and Dad had him yesterday afternoon. Oh - and we are moving. Did I forget to mention that? Not far - just a few neighborhoods over. But we've been looking at houses. We've been packing up and fixing a few things around our house trying to get the house up on the market for this weekend. My big research paper was due last week. Yea, it's been hectic around here. We've noticed A LOT of verbal stemming and sensory bouncing. I've gone back to giving agenda's verbally. I've gone back to making sure he gets his swinging on the tire swing, jumping on the trampoline. He needs them right now. He's under stress. Who wouldn't be. But he deals with stress differently.

Someone on a board I'm on linked this:

It's very well done. Everyone has stress. Everyone has to deal with it. My son is only 9. He's still learning tools to cope with stress. And he deals with stress differently from most kids. It's my job to teach him how to deal with life and what it hands you. He's under stress right now. Who wouldn't be.

Just because he deals with stress differently does not mean he can't be successful. It's my job to help him become successful. When dropping him off at school this morning he thanked me for helping him solve his problem. I think he's going to be just fine.

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