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Category Archives: Spectrum/Parenting blogs

Holiday Affirmations

It’s the holiday season and I know you’re stressed. I’ve been reading all about it on Twitter and Facebook. It’s not just the decorating and gift-buying and cooking and schedule changes for the kids, it’s the inevitable friend or family member that leaves you feeling slighted, judged, and unappreciated.

 

We all have at least one of those in our life. But I want you to know, even if you don’t hear it from the ones you’re with during the holidays, that you are awesome. I’ve made a list of all the things you should be hearing from your loved ones as thanks to you for making space in your busy life for me and my Connor stories.
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And try to remember that it’s temporary. You will get your sanity back in January!

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Just A Short Delay

Sorry guys, I’ve been sick this week. The series will resume tomorrow.

I feel kind of bad that you came here just to read this, so here’s a picture of a puffin.

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Two Children, One Spectrum: Sensory Issues

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two children part 4

 

Welcome to part 4 in our series about two children on the autism spectrum. If you’ve missed the previous posts in the series, you can get caught up here:

 

Part 1: Two Children, One Spectrum: A New Series

Part 2: Two Children, One Spectrum: Communication

Part 3: Two Children, One Spectrum: Feeding Issues

 

This week Jen, from Anybody Want a Peanut, and I will be talking about sensory issues that our boys have had.

 

Moe:

Moe is a sensory seeker. Even as a baby, he would stare at ceiling fans and would be calmed with white noise or even a loud hairdryer. (Of course, many babies are.) Around the time he was diagnosed at age 2, Moe would spin a lot and stare at lights. We had a toy, the Incrediblock, where the top would spin when he pressed a button. He would play with that for 45 minutes at a time. He would stim on any toy with sounds and lights for a long time. Of course at the time, we didn’t call it “stimming.” We just thought we were lucky to have such a focused kid! And we were, but we also didn’t recognize that this was something that could have bigger implications.

 

Today, Moe swings, jumps and climbs constantly, craving whatever sensory input he can find. He will literally bounce off the walls running from one end of the hall to the other, crashing at each end. He loves water, which can be both calming or stimulating depending on his mood. Moe is pretty good about requesting sensory input, but the line between “want” and “need” can be blurry. Moe loves the iPad and TV (two of the only activities he’ll do independently), and he’d have those, plus a noisy toy all going at once if I let him. But he can also get overstimulated (and drive the rest of us mad) so it is a fine balance.

 

Moe almost always has a chewy around his neck, usually a bandana with a knot in the middle—a great suggestion from Moe’s first, and still our favorite, Occupational Therapist. I’d suggest it for any kid who chews on his clothes. Everything goes in his mouth, from paper to dirt, and as we’ve already discussed, great food! I think the fact that he likes strong flavors has to do with his sensory processing (though I suppose that’s probably true of everyone).

 

The plus side of having a sensory seeker is that he is also a kid who likes to snuggle and hold hands. Some of my favorite times are when we are on the couch, watching TV, and he’ll lace his fingers between mine. He likes his feet, knees and head squeezed, wiggles into tight spaces, and although we’ve never done a strict brushing  protocol, he does enjoy that kind of input.

 

 

Connor:

Connor is interesting when it comes to sensory issues. When he was smaller, he screamed at the sound of the lawnmower or hairdryer. He would often become overwhelmed in crowded situations where there were too many people and too much sound. He also hated, and still hates. to get his hands dirty.

 

With time and maturity, he’s much less sensitive to crowds and noises, and I can dry my hair without a screaming fit from the next room. He is still a sensory seeker though, when it comes to physical input. He is always on the go, and frequently spins, climbs, and tumbles to get the input he needs.

 

His physical sensory issues are most noticeable when he’s sitting still to do his daily reading. He’ll frequently ask me to rub his leg while he reads because it give him the pressure he needs to keep from squirming around constantly. Electronics tend to be a calming focal point for him. He can watch TV, play on the iPad, or play Minecraft on the computer and lose himself for hours.

 

On Thursday, December 11th, we’ll be back with the next topic in the series: behavior. Feel free to write about your child and link up in the comments.

Two Children, One Spectrum: Feeding Issues

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two children part 3

 

Welcome to part 3 of the series where we discuss the characteristics of two different children on the autism spectrum. If you’re just joining us, you can get caught up by reading part 1 here, and part 2 here.

 

Today Jen, from Anybody Want a Peanut, and I will be talking about feeding issues (and successes!) our boys have faced.

 

Connor:

Food has always been an issue for Connor. As a baby he had reflux and needed special formula to prevent spitting up. When it was time to transition to solid food, it was a slow and painful process. He preferred soft foods like cheese, bread, yogurt, and mashed banana. We gradually added mashed potatoes and macaroni and cheese to the repertoire, and that’s where things stayed for about two years. Very, very slowly we added new foods to his diet. Cereal bars were a staple, and I’m certain I had a constant supply of goldfish crackers and those cereal bars in my purse for about 4 years. We eventually worked our way up to pizza, but he would not eat it unless it was “triangle” pizza, meaning he wouldn’t eat a square-shaped pizza or French bread pizza.

 

We still have a limited menu, although I know it’s much more diverse than it is for other kids on the spectrum.  He refused to eat meat until he was almost 5, but he has since added that, and much more, to his menu.He’ll eat pizza of any shape now, hamburgers, turkey dogs, spaghetti (under protest), sloppy Joe’s, Tyson chicken nuggets, and fish sticks, tater tots, and fries. He doesn’t care for vegetables, although I can generally get him to eat one or two cooked carrots. He will eat fruit, but the peaches and pears have to be canned, not fresh. Fruits, vegetables, nuggets, fish sticks and tots are all dredged through ketchup, so I keep a steady supply on hand. He’ll also eat turkey, ham, or peanut butter sandwiches. He won’t eat turkey or ham as a dinner item, only lunch meat. He will not eat any corn-based food (corn, corn chips, corn tortillas, etc.). He’ll also eat Cheerios and Oatmeal Squares, as well as scrambled egg in small amounts.

 

And bread…oh, the bread! He is a carb-craver and seeks out toast, bagels, and English muffins. There have been occasions where he’s up before us on the weekend and has helped himself to 4-5 mini bagels. We have to hide them now, since he hasn’t learned to self-monitor.

 

We’re at a point where I feel comfortable enough not to worry whether he’ll add any more foods to his diet. He can live a long and healthy life with the variety that he currently eats, although I worry that he’s missing out on the joy of Mexican food!

 

Moe:

Food is the one area we have easy! Moe is my little foodie. Salad is a favorite, and he will eat anything from pizza to a bean burrito to a steak with pureed cauliflower. Like many kids, he loves McDonalds, but he also likes spicy foods. He’d be happy with chips and salsa all day. (Wouldn’t we all?).

 

The flip side of this is that Moe can be a little food obsessed. He will lead me into the kitchen 100 times a day. He’d like to snack all day long if he could. It is also something Moe knows how to do and he feels successful when he asks for food and he gets it. We want to reward that communication. But we can’t always say yes of course, but if we say no, he gets very angry and we have to manage that as well. It’s a constant balancing act. Because he eats so well, he is at a very healthy weight but the constant asking for food, leading to the kitchen or handing me his plate or cup for more can really try my patience.

 

He is a messy eater, though, and using a fork or spoon can be tough. He can also be distrustful of new foods. He’ll often look to see what I’m eating, then try mine, before trusting it on his plate. One time, Moe started crying in fear because I tried to hand him a doughnut. He’d only eat it once we broke it into small pieces.

 

 

Summary:

Are you surprised? I am. I must confess that, until I’d read what Jen wrote about Moe’s food success, I just assumed that he probably had some challenges. Almost every other autism family I know has had issues with food, some of them pretty severe. But that’s the point of this series, to learn to put preconceived notions aside and take a deeper look to see the individual underneath the autism label.

 

The next post in the series will run on Tuesday, December 9th, and will cover the topic of sensory challenges. As always, we encourage you to write about your own child’s unique characteristics and leave a comment with a link to your site.

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Two Children, One Spectrum: A New Series

If you’re part of the autism community you’ve undoubtedly heard the expression, “If you’ve met one person with autism, then you’ve met one person with autism.” It’s supposed to be ironic in its simplicity.

 

Sayings like this don’t appeal to me because they are so simple. It doesn’t really convey all the intricate meaning about how different and varied autism can be from one person to the next. My son has never really fit the stereotyped idea of what autism looks like. I thought it might be enlightening to have a fellow autism mama work with me to write about our children, covering several topics.

 

Now, I know that most people who read my blog already know about autism and about how different it is for each person. But think about all the people out there that give advice and recommendations about working with our kids. Our kids are so different as individuals, that a one-size-fits-all approach just isn’t realistic. The same goes for therapy. But probably the biggest factor to come into play is the school system. I’ve run into this myself with my son’s school, where they don’t recognize some of his challenges as being related to autism.

 

My hope is that this series will be seen by at least a few people who have the ability to make a difference in how they work with our children. Please share it with friends and family, but especially with educators or professionals that you feel would benefit from seeing how unique two children on the spectrum truly are.

 

This post is part 1 of a 10-part series. I will be writing about Connor, and my friend Jen Bush, from Anybody Want A Peanut, will be writing about her son, Moe. We’ll cover the following topics:

 

communication

social skills

food/feeding issues

sensory

independent skills

school

behaviors

medication

wrap-up/thoughts for the future

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I’ll be running the series on Tuesdays and Thursdays (unless I somehow get off-track because, autism), beginning the Tuesday following Thanksgiving, December 2nd. Please join us in learning about and celebrating the unique differences of two children on one spectrum.

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A New Entry For My List of Things That Aren’t Funny

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Not a day goes by that I’m not extremely thankful that Connor now (mostly) sleeps through the night. I don’t do well when I’m sleep deprived. I’m not one of those people that can get by on six hours of sleep and jump up to greet the day. So I must admit, today I’m a little tired and ornery.

 

Why?

 

It started around 2am. I think. I’m not really sure because I didn’t get up to look at the clock, but since I was tossing and turning until midnight I’m guessing it was about 2am. Finally, I was blissfully asleep. But then, I heard a noise.

 

It was a peculiar buzzing sound. It seemed fuzzy and far away, because I was so sleepy. But there was definitely a constant buzzing sound in the distance. It sounded like something vibrating. What could be vibrating? What thing could be loudly vibrating in the vicinity of my bedroom? Holy Go-Zzzzzzzzzzz.

 

I fell back asleep. Until about 5am.

 

The buzzing again. I sleep closest to the bathroom door, and it definitely was coming from the bathroom. What the hell is buzzing in the bathroom? All I could think of was that Connor was up in the middle of the night, brushing his teeth with his battery-operated toothbrush. Well hell, brush on then, boy. Zzzzzzzzzzz.

 

6:15am. Oh my god, is he in there brushing again? Finally, exhausted and defeated I got up and opened the bathroom door, only to find…nothing. No one was in there. I walked over to the sink and there was Connor’s toothbrush in its holder, buzzing away at full speed. It had gone rogue.

 

This annoyed me greatly. I tried to grab a few more minutes of sleep, but the damn thing turned on AGAIN, five minutes before I was supposed to get up. In a huff, I flounced off to the shower.

 

As I turned off the shower, I heard the buzzing again. I reached out for my towel and there was Connor, perched on the sink like a hobgoblin, brushing his teeth.

 

“Hi Mom!”

 

“Morning honey.”

 

“What’s wrong, Mom? Are you grumpy?”

 

“I’m just really tired. That damn toothbrush kept turning itself on all night, waking me up.”

 

“BWAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHA! That’s HILARIOUS!”

 

“Glad you think so.”

 

“I TOLD you it keeps turning on. That’s really funny that it woke you up.”

 

“Well that thing is going OUT. Today!”

 

“Well don’t put it in MY room, I need my sleep.”

 

“Grumblemutterjesusontoastgrrrrrrrr.”

 

This was so annoying, I’ve decided to add it to my list of Things That Are Not Funny. This isn’t a list of big things, like war and poverty. It’s a list of things that happen to me that I most definitely do not find amusing.

 

1.  Running out of bacon.

2.  Tight pants.

3.  Finding dead bunnies on the back porch, lovingly left there by the dingo.

4.  Being attacked in my driveway by vigilante birds that think I’m coming to steal their babies.

5.  Being woken up all night long by a battery-operated electric Batman toothbrush that is malfunctioning for no good reason and sounds suspiciously like it could be something else.

 

I hate this thing.

I hate this thing.

 

Until next time, sweet dreams my friends.

 

 

Green Bloggers and Spam

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The thing about blogging is that it’s this awesome, creative outlet for absolutely anyone that wants to do it. And absolutely anyone can read your words, interpret them, MISinterpret them, and misappropriate them.

 

Imitation is the sincerest form of flattery, they say. I don’t know who they are. Probably some asshole(s) that gets paid to write positive affirmations for magazines that are heavily photoshopped. What do they know?

 

Anyway, blogging… Sometimes you come across a really talented writer whose words seem to go straight through you, right to your heart. The writer at Lexistential.com is one of those writers. As such, there have been some in the blogosphere that have absconded with titles, sentences, and whole portions of what she’s written. Unscrupulous vagabond! But it got me thinking about how to borrow a style from someone without actually stealing. You know, take something you like and make it your own, while getting your message across.

 

I went with Dr. Seuss because, who doesn’t love Dr. Seuss? Goddamn it, you just can’t beat a good rhyme! So I give you my ode to unscrupulous bloggers and those in the (autism) community who do more harm than good.

 

Green Bloggers and Spam

 

Bloggers bloggers, small and green

Why you need to be so mean?

 

I can’t abide the theft of prose,

you smell worse than hobbit’s toes.

 

“Don’t kill your kids!” you squawk and shout,

Captain Obvious, you are a lout.

 

Parents crying, reaching out

You stomp and snort, deny and pout.

 

Families who in need of aid

You give them rhetoric that you’ve made.

 

“Call 9-1-1,” you loudly say,

Police will help you right away.

 

They arrive at your door,

And make a report, but nothing more.

 

But never fear!

There’s the blogosphere…

 

Pithy sayings, custom made.

All their readers gutted and filleted.

 

Your hollow words

and useless tools,

You play us all for insipid fools.

 

Because people know you offer naught

The emperor’s new clothes are what you’ve bought.

 

Now your ugly mouth

it foams with spittle.

 

Let me serenade you

with the world’s smallest fiddle.

 

I do not like

Green bloggers and spam.

 

I do not like them

Truth I am.

 

flanseuss

 

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