Wednesday, December 28, 2011

Taming the GRINCH at Your House

While reading The Grinch (who) Stole Christmas one night,
My son on my lap, and the tree, all a-light,
I pondered the Grinch at holiday time,
Hating the noise, the singing, the standing in line.

The Dr. (Seuss) said he saw no reason for it….
His head, or his heart?  His shoes, or their fit?
It sounded familiar, this dilemma to me,
Then it came to me suddenly—he’s got SPD!

I saw it so clearly, as nothing before,
Hiding up on the mountain, behind his closed door.
It made so much sense, his ears that were ringing,
His disgust with the Beast, and for all the Who’s singing.

He wasn’t really stealing, what he filled in his pack,
He was just trying to contain what he couldn’t hack.
While he surely wasn’t making all the best choices,
It’s the best he could do amongst all the voices!

“Do this.”  “Do that.”   “Go here.”   “Go there.” 
“Big smile.  Now sit still in your chair!”
Grandmother’s perfume.  Granddaddy’s cologne.
Having to wear itchy clothing, and talk on the phone.

January, February, March, and the rest….
They know what to do.  They’ve passed all the tests.
Then come Octobers…Novembers…December.
And all the routines get put in a blender.

Costumes, and crowds, adult expectations,
Lacking a schedule on family vacations.
The moral of this yule tale is a cinch,
There’s more than meets the eye to this Grinch.

So what he actually learned
On the mountain that day,
That helped him feel able
To come to Who-ville and play,

Is to take Christmas joy
In short, manageable doses.
A little bit at a time,
Like the O.T. proposes.

So happy holiday time to all—
To each, every one.
Remember there’s always more than
One way to have fun.

Tuesday, November 22, 2011

Six Tips for Capturing Santa Photos on the Autism Spectrum

I don’t come from one of those families that, growing up, had a picture taken every single year, fail none, on Santa’s lap. My family had other traditions for the holidays, and Santa’s lap did not figure among them. So, when it comes to getting my son, on the spectrum, onto Santa’s lap, it is not the priority of our holiday season. However, I was determined to get at least one done so I could cross it off my parenting list.
I knew it would take a great deal of effort to accomplish, so last year, I began preparing my son as soon as the decorations started showing up around us—in other words, the day after Halloween. We watched others sit on Santa’s lap. We read books about Santa. Of course we worked on our letter to Santa. His therapists did practice runs pretending to be Santa, going over and over the steps involved, discussing what behavior was expected. I’m sure there was a Santa Social Story! I prepared my own self with a chunky coffee-table picture book called “Scared of Santa” that featured 288 pages of wailing children, frightful-looking Santas, and everything in-between, just to keep my humor intact and my expectations in check.

In the end, we have a truly beautiful portrait of my son smiling for the camera and Santa doing the same. The only one crying was me. Still, I don’t claim to have the secret to success. It was a heavy dose of luck, but if you decide that this just might be the year, here are a few more tips to get you started:
For all these tips, and more great ones, see the Our Journey Thru Autism page who is hosting this blog post:

Wednesday, September 21, 2011

Showering in the Sensory Diet

I’ve been unable to find any evidence regarding the benefits of showering, but anecdotally, it has become one of my favorite self-regulation tools.  As children head back to school, parents are in the position of adjusting their child’s sensory diet to now fit the morning routine.  That can be tough.

When I became a parent, I understood that while there was no “rulebook” there were, in fact, certain unspoken rules.  Most of them have gone out the window by now, but one I never questioned until recently was the nighttime bath.  Kids take baths at night as a rule.  They play hard; they get messy, they need cleaning before climbing into bed. 

I believed that a nighttime bath was supposed to be calming.  The shelves of the local drugstores stock lavender-containing bath products that are labeled as “Calming” and “Relaxing.” These actually cost more than their non-lavender counterparts.  I bought them.  I didn’t, however, notice them to have any calming effect on my child.
Continue reading in my Guest Blog over at Our Journey Thru Autism:

Thursday, July 28, 2011

Plan A Sensational Summertime Event

Guest blogging over at Our Journey Thru Autism.  Thanks for reading.

Getting ready for the backyard festivities of summer can be a daunting task when the sensory processing needs of your child, and other children, require your extra consideration.

Plan a Well Paced Program 
Summertime birthdays, barbecues, and seasonal festivals can be a bit easier when you can unleash the bunch on the great outdoors. Still, a well-paced program of activities and rewards for completion can keep everyone on track.

In planning your activities, think about the sensory needs of your child.

Does he need to start an activity, or does he prefer to join play in progress?
Does he like to direct the play of others, or need to be given directions?
What transitional activities will be required?

Please finish the article at

If you're interested in receiving a FREE file of my activity passport to modify to your own needs, please become a blog follower and let me know you'd like to receive it.  I'd love some feedback on the blog.  NOTE:  The file is in Microsoft Publisher format. 

Sunday, July 17, 2011

"Tap Bubbles"

I dare you not to smile.  And if you think you're done smiling in the middle, watch to the end, and you just might want to laugh too!


Sunday, July 10, 2011

Love & Logic on Our Spectrum

I say "Our Spectrum" because the caveat of course is that Love & Logic doesn't make any claims re. kids on the spectrum, and makes no mention of sensory processing issues.  Anecdotally, they say that parents attending educational events report that it can work.  Like many approaches with my child, I believe that whatever will work for a typical child may also work for me and mine.  If that does not turn out to be the case, then we move to plan B; otherwise, I am often pleasantly surprised that my son rises to the occasion.  So I read up on Love & Logic.

I enjoy the premise of L&L.  I appreciate that I am tasked to make "I-statements"  (For those less familiar, L&L coaches parents to state what they themselves will do, versus demands on what the child will do.)  The pre-verbal "uh-oh song" Early Childhood tools were quite useful.  However, I have found that as my child has gotten older, Love & Logic, as written, relies on some pretty fast auditory processing speed and some solid auditory comprehension skills that my child has not achieved yet.

I noticed this the other day.  I pulled out one of the foundational Love & Logic examples. Now, it could have been my poor delivery.  I am not Love & Logic trained.  I have read the materials and attended a class or two. Here's how it went: 

Me, calling downstairs:  "It's time to clean up the playroom.  You are welcome to keep all of the toys that you clean up."
S, calling upstairs, cheerfully:  "Okay, Mama."
Followed by no action.
Me, going downstairs for face to face instruction:  "It's time for us to clean the playroom.  You can keep all of the toys that you clean up.  I will keep all of the toys that I clean up."
S, understanding a little more:  "Okay....but Mama, you don't need any toys."
Me:  "You're right. Perhaps I'll give them away to another child that does need toys, or maybe I'll give them a 'toy time out'."

He escalates.  Now he's so wrapped up in the idea of me giving away his toys, that he's forgotten what he needs to do for his part.  He's lost the thread that says he has some control over that outcome.  I spend the next several minutes telling him what he can do.  Specifically.  Put this toy here.  Put those toys over there.  Put all the marbles together in one box.  He is unable to make these incremental decisions about how to clean a room.  However, he is feeling more secure.  He sees that I'm not going to take away his toys.  But surely, he must be quite confused as to what giving away his toys has to do with cleaning his room, and why I brought it up in the first place.

This is not unfamiliar to me.  This organizational skill of seeing the forest for the trees is a brain function that is impaired in adults with a neurological injury, and in husbands looking for something in the refrigerator.  The overwhelming stimulus of the all makes it impossible to "chunk" the information when looking for the part.  On the spectrum, where children are inclined to literal thinking, the mental flexibility required to interpret a Love & Logic statement appears to be too demanding.

I've noticed this in other Love & Logic statements.

The I-statement designed to have kids take responsibility for leaving on time goes something like this:  "My car is leaving in 10 minutes."  At our house, this has caused us to arrive places late AND in tears as there's a 12 minute de-escalation process while I explain that what this means is that he needs to be getting himself ready so he can be in my car when it leaves, so that we can leave together, NOT that in 10 minutes I am leaving you alone in the house to fend for yourself.

For what it's worth, I have been able to adapt the Love & Logic statements to achieve their intended purpose by making the language more literal, leaving less to be implied.  Now that my son realizes that I have no interest in going to the preschool without him, I am able to make an "I-statement" something like this:  "My car is leaving in 10 minutes.  Let's both be ready to go together."  Or, if I'm feeling a little more cheeky, "My car is leaving in 10 minutes, and I suggest you be on it."  He is able to interpret these interchangeably.  Now.

I think I'm the slow learner.

At the end of the day, I realize that Love & Logic is a tool.  It is one of many in my kit.  It can give me a framework to start from, but like many if not all things of parenting, it requires some customization in order to use it effectively for a child who processes verbal information more literally, in a child who requires some additional processing time to interpret an idea.

One day, my son loaded himself up in the car without his shoes on.  We got halfway to school when he announces that he doesn't have any shoes on.  Love & Logic might suggest that I deliver him to school without his shoes so he learns the consequences of school without shoes.  I believe this was even a "textbook example."  I consider doing this in the milliseconds it takes me to turn around.   Because Love & Logic also declares that choices that a child is given "should not cause a problem for anyone else on the planet."  I combine these methodologies instantly in my mind and realize that if my child is not allowed outside on a sunny day where he can perform some gross motor and vestibular exercise because he does not have any shoes, I am causing a problem for everyone else on the plant.

Fellow blogger Robert Rummell-Hudson writes very appropriately about why the terminology Helicopter Parenting just doesn't fit a parent with a child of special needs, of any kind. 

My child knows exactly why he needs to wear shoes.  And I didn't need to make him and everyone else miserable by taking him to school in socks.

I have no idea what to do when he forgets his homework someday.  Will I turn the car around for that too?We'll cross that bridge when we come to it.  Meanwhile, I'm curious--anyone tried any Love & Logic tools before with your child on the spectrum or with SPD?  How have they worked or not worked?    Any other good ideas for modifying the message?  How about with older kids?

I guess that's it.  I've got to go.  Someone is calling.  My dessert is being eaten in 10 minutes.

Wednesday, June 22, 2011

Summertime is Potty Time

Summer for many families means new routines and a new set of objectives to accomplish before school begins. Many families choose to start potty training during the summer months for several reasons:
  • they’d like a child to be potty trained before advancing to the next grade;
  • the daily schedule for the potty training child or his/her siblings is generally more relaxed;
  • and it just seems so much easier to familiarize a child with the process when he can run around the yard, buck-naked in the sun.

All of these factors played a role in my decision to potty train during the summer.

Read this book review on Our Journey Thru Autism where I'm guest reviewing.  Thank you!