Saturday, June 30, 2012

In-Sync Activity Cards - Helping Children Develop, Learn, and Grow


From the authors of Growing an In-Sync Child, Joye Newman, M.A. and Carol Kranowitz, M.A., come these activity cards that can help your child learn to understand the world around them.

There is no doubt that this entire set is very user friendly. The cards are listed in groups of beginner, intermediate and advanced. Each individual card comes with an explanation of the purpose of the activity. Every card has a supply list, which can include anything from "yourself" to a mini-trampoline to typical household items to requiring a trip to the hobby shop...NOT TO WORRY...there are so many activities to chose from that no budget gets overwhelmed. Each card also tells you how to adapt each activity so your child can learn and develop at their own pace.



Here is a snap shot of the front and back of a "beginner" activity card. (you are going to have to excuse my lack of photography talent)




Buy the cards HERE at Future Horizons.
 
Meanwhile, if you buy these cards at Future Horizons and use the code BOBBI you will receive 15% off on the cards plus free shipping. And yes that code is for Bobbi Sheehan one of our favorite autism-warrior-mom authors. Read my review of her book, What I'd Wish I had Known About Raising a Child with Autism HERE.

Also, don't forget Carol Kranowitz's book The Out-of-Sync Child when beginning this journey through sensory processing disorder.
 

Until next time,


Elise

Not to force you to buy the cards from Future Horizons, you can also purchase them wherever books are sold:
Amazon
Barnes and Noble
Sensory World
eBay
Better World Books









Happy Birthday USA - 4th of July 2012




I am an unabashed patriot. Devoted to this nation, the Constitution and all it stands for. I make no apologies. No I do not think we are a perfect nation, how can we be, we are a nation of human beings.

But what we, as Americans are entitled to accomplish is to try to fix, mend, fight, argue and extol the virtues we hold most dear. No we don't always agree on a vision for our nation, but it is just this difference, this open unabashed ability to argue and yet remain one people that make us so great and unique a nation.  It is our differences, not a sense of homogeneity, that make us the United States of America. Something by the way, our enemies will never ever understand.






"How few of the human race have ever had the opportunity of choosing a system of government for themselves and their children?"  We need to remember just how lucky we citizens of the United States of America are in the annuls of history...never take it for granted...every inch of it came with "a great expense of blood"...for freedom is not free.










IN CONGRESS, JULY 4, 1776
The unanimous Declaration of the thirteen united States of America
When in the Course of human events it becomes necessary for one people to dissolve the political bands which have connected them with another and to assume among the powers of the earth, the separate and equal station to which the Laws of Nature and of Nature's God entitle them, a decent respect to the opinions of mankind requires that they should declare the causes which impel them to the separation.

We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness. — That to secure these rights, Governments are instituted among Men, deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed, — That whenever any Form of Government becomes destructive of these ends, it is the Right of the People to alter or to abolish it, and to institute new Government, laying its foundation on such principles and organizing its powers in such form, as to them shall seem most likely to effect their Safety and Happiness. Prudence, indeed, will dictate that Governments long established should not be changed for light and transient causes; and accordingly all experience hath shewn that mankind are more disposed to suffer, while evils are sufferable than to right themselves by abolishing the forms to which they are accustomed. But when a long train of abuses and usurpations, pursuing invariably the same Object evinces a design to reduce them under absolute Despotism, it is their right, it is their duty, to throw off such Government, and to provide new Guards for their future security. — Such has been the patient sufferance of these Colonies; and such is now the necessity which constrains them to alter their former Systems of Government. The history of the present King of Great Britain is a history of repeated injuries and usurpations, all having in direct object the establishment of an absolute Tyranny over these States. To prove this, let Facts be submitted to a candid world.

He has refused his Assent to Laws, the most wholesome and necessary for the public good.
He has forbidden his Governors to pass Laws of immediate and pressing importance, unless suspended in their operation till his Assent should be obtained; and when so suspended, he has utterly neglected to attend to them.
He has refused to pass other Laws for the accommodation of large districts of people, unless those people would relinquish the right of Representation in the Legislature, a right inestimable to them and formidable to tyrants only.
He has called together legislative bodies at places unusual, uncomfortable, and distant from the depository of their Public Records, for the sole purpose of fatiguing them into compliance with his measures.
He has dissolved Representative Houses repeatedly, for opposing with manly firmness his invasions on the rights of the people.
He has refused for a long time, after such dissolutions, to cause others to be elected, whereby the Legislative Powers, incapable of Annihilation, have returned to the People at large for their exercise; the State remaining in the mean time exposed to all the dangers of invasion from without, and convulsions within.
He has endeavoured to prevent the population of these States; for that purpose obstructing the Laws for Naturalization of Foreigners; refusing to pass others to encourage their migrations hither, and raising the conditions of new Appropriations of Lands.
He has obstructed the Administration of Justice by refusing his Assent to Laws for establishing Judiciary Powers.
He has made Judges dependent on his Will alone for the tenure of their offices, and the amount and payment of their salaries.
He has erected a multitude of New Offices, and sent hither swarms of Officers to harass our people and eat out their substance.
He has kept among us, in times of peace, Standing Armies without the Consent of our legislatures.
He has affected to render the Military independent of and superior to the Civil Power.
He has combined with others to subject us to a jurisdiction foreign to our constitution, and unacknowledged by our laws; giving his Assent to their Acts of pretended Legislation:
For quartering large bodies of armed troops among us:
For protecting them, by a mock Trial from punishment for any Murders which they should commit on the Inhabitants of these States:
For cutting off our Trade with all parts of the world:
For imposing Taxes on us without our Consent:
For depriving us in many cases, of the benefit of Trial by Jury:
For transporting us beyond Seas to be tried for pretended offences:
For abolishing the free System of English Laws in a neighbouring Province, establishing therein an Arbitrary government, and enlarging its Boundaries so as to render it at once an example and fit instrument for introducing the same absolute rule into these Colonies
For taking away our Charters, abolishing our most valuable Laws and altering fundamentally the Forms of our Governments:
For suspending our own Legislatures, and declaring themselves invested with power to legislate for us in all cases whatsoever.
He has abdicated Government here, by declaring us out of his Protection and waging War against us.
He has plundered our seas, ravaged our coasts, burnt our towns, and destroyed the lives of our people.
He is at this time transporting large Armies of foreign Mercenaries to compleat the works of death, desolation, and tyranny, already begun with circumstances of Cruelty & Perfidy scarcely paralleled in the most barbarous ages, and totally unworthy the Head of a civilized nation.
He has constrained our fellow Citizens taken Captive on the high Seas to bear Arms against their Country, to become the executioners of their friends and Brethren, or to fall themselves by their Hands.
He has excited domestic insurrections amongst us, and has endeavoured to bring on the inhabitants of our frontiers, the merciless Indian Savages whose known rule of warfare, is an undistinguished destruction of all ages, sexes and conditions.

In every stage of these Oppressions We have Petitioned for Redress in the most humble terms: Our repeated Petitions have been answered only by repeated injury. A Prince, whose character is thus marked by every act which may define a Tyrant, is unfit to be the ruler of a free people.
Nor have We been wanting in attentions to our British brethren. We have warned them from time to time of attempts by their legislature to extend an unwarrantable jurisdiction over us. We have reminded them of the circumstances of our emigration and settlement here. We have appealed to their native justice and magnanimity, and we have conjured them by the ties of our common kindred to disavow these usurpations, which would inevitably interrupt our connections and correspondence. They too have been deaf to the voice of justice and of consanguinity. We must, therefore, acquiesce in the necessity, which denounces our Separation, and hold them, as we hold the rest of mankind, Enemies in War, in Peace Friends.

We, therefore, the Representatives of the united States of America, in General Congress, Assembled, appealing to the Supreme Judge of the world for the rectitude of our intentions, do, in the Name, and by Authority of the good People of these Colonies, solemnly publish and declare, That these united Colonies are, and of Right ought to be Free and Independent States, that they are Absolved from all Allegiance to the British Crown, and that all political connection between them and the State of Great Britain, is and ought to be totally dissolved; and that as Free and Independent States, they have full Power to levy War, conclude Peace, contract Alliances, establish Commerce, and to do all other Acts and Things which Independent States may of right do. —

And for the support of this Declaration, with a firm reliance on the protection of Divine Providence, we mutually pledge to each other our Lives, our Fortunes, and our sacred Honor.
John Hancock
New Hampshire:
Josiah Bartlett, William Whipple, Matthew Thornton
Massachusetts:
John Hancock, Samuel Adams, John Adams, Robert Treat Paine, Elbridge Gerry
Rhode Island:
Stephen Hopkins, William Ellery
Connecticut:
Roger Sherman, Samuel Huntington, William Williams, Oliver Wolcott
New York:
William Floyd, Philip Livingston, Francis Lewis, Lewis Morris
New Jersey:
Richard Stockton, John Witherspoon, Francis Hopkinson, John Hart, Abraham Clark
Pennsylvania:
Robert Morris, Benjamin Rush, Benjamin Franklin, John Morton, George Clymer, James Smith, George Taylor, James Wilson, George Ross
Delaware:
Caesar Rodney, George Read, Thomas McKean
Maryland:
Samuel Chase, William Paca, Thomas Stone, Charles Carroll of Carrollton
Virginia:
George Wythe, Richard Henry Lee, Thomas Jefferson, Benjamin Harrison, Thomas Nelson, Jr., Francis Lightfoot Lee, Carter Braxton
North Carolina:
William Hooper, Joseph Hewes, John Penn
South Carolina:
Edward Rutledge, Thomas Heyward, Jr., Thomas Lynch, Jr., Arthur Middleton
Georgia:
Button Gwinnett, Lyman Hall, George Walton





HAPPY BIRTHDAY USA

Until next time,


Elise




Friday, June 29, 2012

Time to Dance

Remember no matter what is happening in your world you need to find time to dance....

Realized I hadn't posted a really good dance video in a long time....so here are several that recently helped me get my groove on...





Naughty ideas....



Bad word warning...





Until next time,


Elise

Thursday, June 28, 2012

I Scream, You Scream We All Scream for Healthcare

The betting world thought that Obamacare would be overturned. Read HERE about the issues that would still need to have been answered in that eventuality. Interestingly some of these problems really do still remain and have never been addressed...

So now we know. That Obamacare (and yes I call it that) is constitutional as a tax and not through the Commerce Clause. Well okeedokee. If you are interested in reading the courts reasoning click HERE for the PDF of the case.

Contrary to what many may have thought, I had very little issue with this law. I liked that the boys could stay on my insurance until they are 26 and that they could not be denied insurance due to pre-existing conditions. I have to be honest. I layed awake last night thinking how we would get CM1 insurance on his 22nd birthday if the entirety of the law was thrown out.And then I worried that he would be denied insurance due to his medical issues.

The problem with Obamacare as I see it though is that it financially only makes the situation of healthcare in this country worse. Forbes in fact surmises that premiums are now going to go up another 30% because of this law. (Here, Here) Doesn't sound very affordable to me...My personal premiums already went up quite a bit and if we weren't able to keep the boys on our insurance (yes thank you Obamacare) the college premium for heath insurance more than doubled for the year.

Anyway these are the issues that the law does not address and have been left to fester:

1. Healthcare is a state monopoly. It is exempted from the Sherman Antitrust legislation. State legislatures are lobbied by insurance companies about what needs to be included in their health insurance policies. If you notice, you are paying for maternity care even if you are not a woman or of age to have children. You pay for well-baby-care, geriatric care and other procedures such as acupuncture whether you use it or not. You also provide someone with support to go the gym whether you can afford a gym membership. Why is this like this? To deflect and defray costs across the entire spectrum of policy holders. You can bet it is not for your benefit but for the company's benefit. The only choices you seem to have is to either go with an HMO or a PPO (where you can go to someone out of network and the insurance company will pay part of the cost)

Interestingly however, even with the advent of autism-friendly insurance legislation nothing we do for the boys is covered. The coverage only follows someone until they are 14, so with everything we pay for insurance, we still pay a huge amount of money out of pocket. State programs..no way is the state getting involved in deciding my boys future for them. Also they are so high-functioning that there are no appropriate programs for them, in addition to the fact that everything is being cutback due to financial constraints. By the way, I had looked into the state helping with the para in college, but I was told that the state only provides para support for visible disabilites. Besides did I really want the state deciding who would be the boys support and if they were qualified? No not really.

2. Healthcare as prescribed by the Constitution is left to the states (why there is no.1 discussion above). That is why you cannot keep your health insurance from one state to the next if you change jobs. How many of us have stayed at a job because of the health insurance? How many of us were terrified when we had to move states because all the insurance regulations changed?

3. How to bring down the cost of insurance? I say competition. Allow the insurance companies to offer policies that they want to offer..much like the variety of car insurance policies out there. You know we have more choice in the types of junk food we can eat than we do in health insurance...just a little irony there for thought.

So what would I do to improve the situation?

Allow you to pick and chose what to put in your insurance policy.  For X amount of dollars you can chose among different options and procedure inclusions. Sort of like an old fashioned Chinese restaurant menu...for Dinner I you get 4 from column A and 2 from column B and for Dinner II you get 4 from column A and 4 from column B, etc. Companies should have a wider latitude what to include and how much they want to charge. In other words, the monopoly exemption should be removed.

Also you should be able to take your insurance with you when you move to another job or state. I had always envisioned this idea to be backed up by the Commerce Clause, in the same way that the commerce clause was used to support civil rights legislation agaisnt the states. But with today's ruling I am not certain of that any longer. Honestly I have to read that part of the decision to see why the clause would not support Obamacare and if the reasoning would travel to any federal healthcare legislation as a whole. (I can get back to everyone on that.) UPDATE: In my reading of the decision nothing would preclude the Commerce Clause (and the Necessary and Proper Clause as well) from regulating being able to take your insurance with you if you move from state to state. The Commerce Clause was curtailed to insist that it's use was for regulating existing commerce not regulating possible or creating commerce. Basically the government's argument was rejected by the majority of the Court. For those who complain that the government can now tax us as they like...here's news for you, they already could. They already use tax to induce or reward behavior.  (Ex: Tax on cigarettes, or child-deduction on your income taxes). This ruling did nothing to increase that power. It just reiterated the obvious.

Competition and not monopoly is what will make healthcare more affordable for the average person. We have always seen when more and more companies flood the market with more and more ideas their products drop in price...the history of technology tells us that.

One more idea and that is very important...to those that say we do not need a national healthcare system...have news for you, we already have national healthcare. It is called medicaid and medicare. For those that do not qualify for free healthcare but are denied or can't afford private insurance there should be a sliding scale for people to be able to pay into the national system. The truth is that there are those good and descent people who fall trough he cracks of our system and we need to find a way to help these people too. The truth is (in my humble opinion) Obamacare does not help the middle class in the longrun and will only make the system less affordable and workable.

Anyway these are just some of my ideas. Whether they are realistic or not I have no idea.

Until next time,


Elise




Explaining Schrodinger's Cat

For all you Big Bang Theory aficionados who wondered what the real story is behind Schrodinger's cat or quite frankly what the heck it means... lets go to the video:


 


By the way, I still don't get it...



Until next time,


Elise

UPDATE: Google Doodle honored Erwin Schrodinger on his birthday 8/12/13....HERE is a long-winded explanation of what he meant to physics, care of The Washington Post.

Monday, June 25, 2012

Play on Philly

From TEDx. As I have always said...everything isn't about autism.

Play on Philly was designed to help the severely underprivileged in the Philadelphia area. The number reality is staggering for these children:  dropout rates, crime, incarceration, government dependency.

We know that as special needs parents music is used as a terrific therapy tool for our children. In fact music is important for all children. However, sadly due to economic conditions school districts are cutting back on music programs. This discussion teaches us why music education is an important part of every young person's education.






Until next time,



Elise



Wednesday, June 20, 2012

When Obnoxiousness Reigns Supreme

So I finally have had enough and I am going to do something about CM2's attitude..mouth ..nastiness and overall obnoxiousness towards me. Yeah, he is also rather annoying to his big brother, but it is me he tries to turn into canonfodder. Nope, he doesn't really argue or try to be rude to his father. In fact part of "our interrelatedness issues" is that for some reason he thinks he needs to protect hubby's male-status with me.

For a boy-child that is an ardent feminist I am not even certain what the heck that last point means. He is defintiley not one to think women should not be strong willed, productive, respected human beings, but for some reason he thinks that I am a dictatorial oppressor. I am the Saddam Hussein of my household.  He thinks I deprive the hubby of his right to decide what he eats and what he doesn't eat and that makes me Simona Legree. Case in point:

I have decide to take the boys with me to the supermarket at least one day a week. It is usually on the way home from one of their volunteer activities. They get to pick out some things they want for dinner and lunch while stacking up on certain items like diet soda (they are allowed one a day) and some low-cal snacks, fruit and fresh veggies. Well we got into a discussion about how the hubby likes certain things to eat and I told him that some of these items weren't really very good for hubby. That is why I don't bring them in the house on a regular basis. Then I was bombarded with the questions...

"What makes you think that this will hurt dad?"
"What makes you think you can tell dad what to eat?"
"Dad is a grwon-up, he should be able to eat what he wants..."
"What makes you think that dad will have a heartattack if he eats badly?" and so on and so on.

I literally had to threaten his tuchas to get him to be quiet. In fact by this time he had worked himself up so that he was yelling at me in one of the food aisles. Luckily there weren't too many people in the store at the time, but CM1 got into the act yelling back at his brother. Having to control both of them when they start to holler at each other is not fun. All I really wanted was for them to learn how to go food shopping.

I tried to explain to him that dad likes it that I take care of him. That way dad doesn't have to think about it. I explained that dad is overweight and it is not good for anyone to weigh too much especially as men get older they are subject to heart disease and heart attacks. Dad even knows he needs to lose weight but has no patience to figure out how to take care of his food intake, so he leaves it up to me. I have read up about it and have even spoken to dad's doctor. I finally told him that he should ask his father if dad likes me taking care of him....(Oh as an aside, CM2 is on a bit of a diet and sees a nutritionist. His meds have made him overweight and we are trying to get a handle on it before it becomes terribly unmanageable. So maybe there was a little bit of transference going on with that conversation.)

This is the attitude I get from my younger son on a daily basis. He fights with me about everything and everyone. I at first thought that he was just being ornery. I later realized that yes, it is probably delayed adolescence, the time when kids separate from their parents. But wow oh wow...there is separating from your parents and thinking for yourself and then just being an obnoxious stinker...aka a real-full-blown-teenager.

I know that aspergeans come to this stage of development later in life. No, not certain that even if he had reached it at 15 like his peers, it would have truly been better or easier to handle. In truth it is simply and completely unpleasant. So I came up with a plan.

He already has a "swear jar." Oh yeah. At one point every other word out of his mouth was a curse word. I spoke with his therapist and came up with the swear jar. Actually the therapist wanted me to take away his computer or video games if he swore, but I knew that would cause such a horrible meltdown and make life so unbearable that it was not worth the effort. But since CM2 earns money to buy his games I decided that if he swore he would lose a dollar per word. Guess what, after the first word mishap, CM2 has not used a swear word in my presence in months. He doesn't even use the word "hell." Which only goes to show you, that not only did he know what he was doing, he had total control of his language as well.

Now for the obnoxiousness. I decided that he was going to have an "obnoxious jar." When I told him that his reply was..but that is who I am..I am obnoxious. Oh my God, who says that? Who admits to that? Why would he want that to be who he is? Good grief he is such an adolescent.

Anyway I sat him down and asked him if he understood what being obnoxious was? He aid yes he did. I told him that he was going to get an "obnoxious alert" and after that if his tone did not change he would lose a dollar. Honestly it did not turnout as easy as the "swear jar." In truth I am not certain that he really understands when he is being obnoxious or how his tone is supposed to be controlled. He still has trouble understanding and monitoring his emotions especially when he gets agitated, so his confusion does not really come as a surprise.

For the moment, he is getting warnings. I am trying to teach him that he can actually say the same thing to me or anyone, but its that nasty attitude what gets everyone all in an uproar. To help with understanding the ins and outs of "obnoxious tonal quality" he is to start going back to speech therapy next week. I like the pragmatic speech therapist I found for CM1, so we are now going to try her hand with CM2. I think she will find that its not so easy the second time around.

Yes, I do know that this phase will pass. But it is not a moment in time to ignore. It is still time for him to learn and work on his social interactions. The present problem is trying to separate out the obnoxious attitude from the OCD part of his personality (Yesterday, he went on and on about how I tweeted a picture of him while he was volunteering when he said he didn't want me to. He could not get past it for the longest time. It ruined his morning. In my defense he looked really cute weeding that garden and I was really proud of both boys.); from the need for the adolescent to break free of mom without hindering his growth, development and natural need for independence.

In short, this youngman needs a new attitude....




Until next time,



Elise




Sunday, June 17, 2012

Mean: Anti-Bullying Anthem

This Taylor Swift song has become the unofficial anthem of the anti-bullying movement.



Apart from being immensely talented, this young woman takes her position as a role-model seriously. Since we are a celebrity obsessed culture it's so nice that there really is a celebrity for our children to look up....


Until next time,


Elise

Happy Father's Day

For everything that our children's fathers do, and for everything that our father's did for us...thank you.


"When I was a boy of fourteen, my father was so ignorant I could hardly stand to have the old man around. But when I got to be twenty-one, I was astonished at how much the old man had learned in seven years."
- Mark Twain


 "It is a wise father that knows his own child." 
-William Shakespeare: The Merchant of Venice

 To her the name of father was another name for love.
- Fanny Fern.


 "It's only when you grow up, and step back from him, or leave him for your own career and your own home—it's only then that you can measure his greatness and fully appreciate it. Pride reinforces love."
- Margaret Truman



Until next time,


Elise

All quotes from HERE.

Saturday, June 16, 2012

Remember Don't Lose Yourself or Forget Your Ability to Think

I have tried to answer the universal question about what happens to parents when they receive the diagnosis of autism for their children and why. There is the panic. There is the grief. There is the fear. With all due respect to the self-advocate community, you do not think about all the doctors, lawyers, scientists, captains of industry that they surmise have or had autism. What you think about is that very tiny little person who you brought into this world and how you are going to help them. And you have no idea what to do...This is when you find it really hard to breathe.

My mother tells me a story that when we were still trying to figure out how to help CM1, we had an idea about autism but it was not diagnosed "officially" yet, I turned to her and I began to cry. "How am I going to help my son? I don't have any school that will help him." (I don't remember this event at all. But then again, remembering things is what your-mama is for too.) Of course, we ended up moving out of NYC into the suburbs where we did find people who were not only willing to help, but they took it as their mission to educate my son. Our family was very lucky. Yes, that was almost twenty years ago.

In many ways today's world is so much better. Autism and especially aspergers is a common theme in movies and television. Information is readily available on the Internet. I would say that too much information is available at times and the problem today is to know what to weed through and what to try to help your child.

But in the end I truly believe that no matter how much is available and how open society is about this disability (at least for children. Helping adult autistics and understanding how to see the person and to the disability is society's newest challenge) parents still feel alot of what I felt decades ago..and one more thing I felt too....was guilt. Alot alot alot of guilt.

Is it rational to feel guilt? Absolutely not. Science now tells us that in fact there is really nothing we could have done to prevent our children from having autism. It is genetic and unless you have a genetic test and then abort your baby, that child with this combination of genes, will tend to end up with this disability. No I do not believe, and I never did believe, that vaccines cause autism unless your child has mitochondrial disease (which is exceedingly rare). You need to remember my boys came of age before all these massive dose vaccines and looking back at videos you can see their autism from the very beginning, especially with CM1.

I think that this "guilt" more than anything else is what causes us parents, both mother and father, to lose themselves in their child's diagnosis. The reality is that, if you work outside the home, and have the need to live outside the world of autism for even a few hours a day (most importantly to earn money so you can provide the necessities of life) it can help you break this cycle. But then again, as the parent you feel guilty about not feeling guilty that you are happy to think of something other than autism and  your child.

You know what, it really is not only OK to think of something other than autism, it is necessary for your own sanity. For your own physical health. For your own happiness and yes, my dear readers, you are entitled to be happy. Being happy does not mean you shirk your duty to your child. It doesn't mean you don't love your child. It doesn't mean that you are not a good or even great parent. What it means is that even after your child is diagnosed with autism you are still a human being and are allowed to want what every other human being wants...namely a hot shower and some time to drink a cup of coffee and read a newspaper/Internet in the morning....

It is so important that you find some way to exorcise that guilt from your soul. Don't let it drag you down. Don't let it overtake your personality. Don't let it refashion who you truly happen to be.  I did not say this is easy to do. It wasn't easy for me. Took me a long time to figure this all out.

Now on the other hand I am not telling you to go out and follow your favorite rock band either. What I am trying to convey is that if you liked to needlepoint before your child was diagnosed, still needlepoint. If you liked to garden then continue to garden. If you were fascinated with cars and loved to rebuild motors, still do that. If you loved to read espionage, romance, travel, cooking books (etc), anything that doesn't revolve around autism, then still do. Don't give up everything that you are. It won't help your child if you forget about you.

Heck if you loved to go to amusement parks or out to dinner once in awhile, do that. Get some respite help. Get a relative to sit. Hire a babysitter. Your children will survive, believe me.

One more thing and I think very important..if you need help to accomplish this goal of remembering who you are..then get the help. Find a therapist to talk to. Let them guide you through the process. I did that for awhile in the very beginning. But you know what really helped me in my self-realization? My spouse. He is my best friend. He never let me forget that I too was a human being and I never let him forget that he was one also. If you are single, then a best girl/male friend should do the same. Or a parent. Or a sibling. Or members of a support group (on social media or in real life).

Find that little corner in your day to acknowledge YOU, sans guilt. You are entitled. Really you are.

******

By the way one very important item to remember. If your child is newly diagnosed do NOT read anything by Jenny McCarthy. Apparently she has decided that we, who think that the biomed industry is made up of charlatans (especially her Generation Rescue), apparently revel in the attention we get from our child's diagnosis of autism. We are Victim-parents instead of warrior-parents. Apparently only those who worship at her trough are the real fighters for their children and she is the new autism-Jesus.

Someone really needs to tell that egomaniacal self-important, self-interested coochie-girl that before she accuses someone else of thinking only of themselves she needs to look in her nudie-Playboy-mirror. She is no spokesperson for the autism community. In my opinion she is now becoming simply an embarrassment to herself.

******

Another point: Many of you will be upset that your child will need to be on meds for their entire life. If it helps your child to function and reduces their anxiety, allows them to focus, stops their seizures, stops self-injurious behavior and provides them with the ability to allow their true personalities to shine through..so what? Modern medicine is a God-send in my book. Without it I don't know where my boys would be. But I know one thing, if they couldn't focus, couldn't function because of anxiety, would continually hurt themselves when they got frustrated and constantly had seizures, they certainly wouldn't be in college planning their futures....

Therapy, meds, healthy diet, exercise and support, all go hand-in-hand for your children. Don't let anyone tell you that it doesn't and don't let anyone tell you that you are inadequate parent because you don't follow their regime or their "crap." Think for yourself..find what works for you and yours.

Begin with this book:


Thinking Person's Guide to Autism...

Read my review of the book HERE.

******


Until next time,



Elise

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Taking Care of Yourself



Wednesday, June 13, 2012

30 Years and Counting...Marriage and Raising Autistic Children

Thirty years ago hubby and I stood under a chupah and pledged to love honor and cherish til death do us part..well those are not actually the words in a Jewish wedding ceremony but you get the general idea.  I wanted everyone to know, especially those who are just beginning their journey into the world of autism, that the dire predictions of the eminent demise of your marriage are wrong.

 

I can honestly say that if we hadn't figured out what was wrong with CM1 that would have been the end of our marriage. It  was finding out what was causing his issues that helped us get over the rough patch. It is a rough patch when you have a child who could read before they were two and yet couldn't talk or play well with others. Meanwhile everyone was telling you NOT to worry. "He's a boy. He just needs to mature. You need to stop babying him..." But all along you knew something was just not right. We had more arguments concerning CM1 during those early years then we have ever had in our entire marriage. But once we had the name for it and once we had a direction then we knew what we had to do and we would be damned if it wasn't going to get done.

Autism doesn't cause the dissolution of marriages, people cause the dissolution of marriages. If you had a strong marriage before the diagnosis you have a strong marriage after the diagnosis. All autism does, as any major event would do, is show you the cracks that were already there. Believe me when I say fighting for the future of your child (ren) is one hell of a bonding experience. It lets you know exactly who you are and who you are married to as well.

When hubby and I were married, we signed a traditional Jewish marriage certificate called a ketubah. It sets out the rights and obligations of the couple during the marriage. In truth I have no idea what it says per se, accept that overall it requires that you be kind to each other and remember that the other person comes first in your marriage.



The ketubah is the centerpiece of a Jewish home. As such it has a central location in our house over the mantel in our family room. It is the first thing a guest will see when they walk through the front door of our home.


Next to the ketubah is actually some Chinese symbols reminding us that in a home there should be  tranquility, happiness, harmony and love. No, neither of us are from an Asian background, I just thought it was tremendous wisdom. Together all these ideas form a spiritual basis to go forward together.

So don't listen to the doom and gloom purveyors of trash...for that is exactly what it is..simply trash. Put it in a garbage dump along with your other refuse and get about being happily married and raising your family.

As far as us tonight...catered in dinner and some really good champagne.....

Until next time,


Elise

Go HERE to read about the autism-divorce rate myth.

Carly's Cafe

From Youtube:

This experience is viewed through the eyes of Carly Fleischmann, a 17 year old girl living with non-verbal Autism.

Based on an excerpt from the book Carly's Voice: Breaking through Autism, it explores how, for someone with autism, a simple act like going for a coffee can descend into chaos.
 

Carly's Café was developed as an interactive video that allows the user to experience Autism from the inside-out, visit carlyscafe.com to enjoy the full experience.




Until next time,



Elise

Sunday, June 10, 2012

Book Reviews: Society's Hidden Curriculum

I am reviewing these books together because they complement each other greatly.

The Hidden Curriculum
Practical Solutions for Understanding Unstated Rules in Social Situations
Brenda Smith Myles, Ph.D.
Melissa L. Trautman, M.S.Ed.
Ronda L. Schelvan, M.S. Ed.
Buy HERE

This book outlines in very clear terms the nuances that the average person on the spectrum might find confusing in society.  The authors begin by outlining just what is the "hidden curriculum" and why it is important. They then provide some basic teaching techniques and self-help guidelines.

Example of a self-help chart is SOCCSS. Here the individual would deal with a situation through an indepth examination. The chart helps the person be able to break down what happened so that it could be understood in a way that they would know what to do if it ever happened again.

S-situation
O-options
C-consequences
C-choices
S-strategies
S-simulation

Additional strategies outlined are: SOLVE, Social Narratives (Social stories and cartooning), Power Cards, Social Autopsies, and Video Modeling. Remember not every strategy is necessary for every person. It is up to the individual to find what works for them and then learn to self-help.

The authors go on to create lists of common occurrences where there may be some misunderstandings and how the person can help themselves in these situations:

Airplane Trips
Bathroom Rules
Birthday PArties
Clothing
Eating
Freidnship
Life Skills
School
Social Situations
At the Swimming Pool
Figurative SPeech and Idioms
Slang Terms



Learning the Hidden Curriculum: The Odyssey of One Autistic Adult 
Judy Endow, MSW
Buy HERE


Ms. Endow gives the reader an insight into her world of misunderstandings. She opens up her life to let everyone know just how she dealt with hidden curriculum issues her entire life until she was able to apply the lessons from The Hidden Curriculum

She then goes on to explain to everyone how she took what she learned and how she applied it to her everyday existence. She shows the reader how she organized her world and learned how to understand and navigate the neurotypical society. But most of all Ms. Endow lets the reader know that she is not above asking for help when she realizes she needs it. She understands that learning the hidden curriculum is a life long endeavor. One she works very hard to accomplish.

She discusses situations and what happened to her. She lets everyone know what could have been done in these situations and how the hidden curriculum lessons could be applied. Furthermore and most helpful, is that she outlines and develops charts and tables to help the reader apply what she has learned:
Community outings
Everybody Knows...
I Know that Look!
Police?legal List
Courtesy
Who-You-Are-With Variables
Circumstances Variables
Literal Understanding Issues
Reattribution
Self-Advocacy

These two books are very short but jam-packed with knowledge and information that will help anyone if they apply the lessons learned. They are useful across the board for parents of spectrum children, to autistic adults, to teachers of special needs children.

Until next time,


Elise

I have received nothing in exchange for this review, not even the books. I also link to Amazon.com merely because that is the site I use to buy books. If you click on that link I receive no compensation at all. Please buy the books from any bookseller you like.


Saturday, June 9, 2012

Ami Klin (award winning researcher): A New Way to Diagnose Autism

From TED....



Born in Brazil to Holocaust survivors, Ami Klin is the Georgia Research Alliance Eminent Scholar Professor and Chief of the Division of Autism and Developmental Disabilities at Emory University School of Medicine, and Director of the Marcus Autism Center, a subsidiary of Children’s Healthcare of Atlanta. After studying psychology, political science and history at Hebrew University in Jerusalem, Klin received his PhD in Psychology at the University of London in 1988. He completed clinical and research post-doctoral fellowships at the Yale Child Study Center at the Yale University School of Medicine -- where he would direct the Autism Program as Harris Professor of Child Psychology & Psychiatry. He has written in over over 180 publications, including five books on the subject of Autism.


Until next time,



Elise

Friday, June 8, 2012

So We Change Our Dreams: Life with an Autistic Child (Reprise)

So the boys seem to be set for the summer. Our goal was to get them involved in "jobs," "internships" or "volunteer work" so that they learn the skills needed for the workplace as opposed to the skills needed for school. While many skills overlap they are not all the same and the nuances only come with practice, upon practice and more practice.

Right now they are weeding gardens for the Audubon Society. CM1 will then start his job in July and CM2 will hopefully start his class then too. The Audubon people may even have some data entry work for them as  well. CM1 is beginning to study for the LSAT and has decided to try some computer courses this year to see if maybe he wants a masters in computer science instead of a law degree. Honestly what ever works for him is fine as long as he makes a decision about his future. They also still have therapy appointments and I upped their personal training. Trying to use the summer to get everyone a little healthier.

I know that part of life, trying to figure out your future, is not easy. Heck I am in my 50s and I still can't decide what I want to be. Actually I have to honestly say that could be simply because my plans changed so drastically at one point in my life that I can't find a way to turn it back. Well its not that I want to turn it back per se, but trying to figure out a world that doesn't involve autism, the boys and helping propel them forward is really hard.

I was thinking about this the other day..well I think about it alot lately. I blog about autism because it helps me get things off my chest and I have found a terrific community of understanding people. I used to blog about politics (shut that blog down completely) but all that did was make me more anxious. I started the new blog, The Rediscovered Self, about fun things in life: clothes, movies, books, vacation, (anything venal, selfish and the oh so obnoxious materialistic part of existence...OK once in a while I add in something thought provoking),...sort of like the "bucket list" for autism-warrior-parents without the oh-my-God-you-are-going-to-die-tomorrow-necessity.

The truth is I am trying to figure out a business to run from my home, that doesn't involve having to cater to clients, because I can see the inevitable conflict between still having to help my boys and having to help the client. Also not totally certain what I am best at. I am good at organizing. I am good at collaboration. I like fashion. I like trends. I like modern life. I like interior design. I like home design. I like exercise. I like needlework. I like writing. I like projecting the future....I like alot of things and am totally NOT qualified for anything beyond what I do right now......the irony here is that I DON'T want to live entirely in the world of autism and special education anymore. I need to escape.

I mentioned my yearly dilemma to a friend and she is so sweet she said, the reason I can't figure out what to do with myself is that I am good at so many things. Actually I think the reason I can't figure out what to do with myself is that I am not certain how to even begin....I think that's my problem. I look to the end product without trying to figure out step 1. I need to find a way out of the tunnel and take the first step forward. I probably would do better too, if I didn't make up so many reasons that I will fail in my head or excuses why I can't do something. I know I should just figure out what I want to do and just do it.

Meanwhile I have been writing for years about how your world changes at that moment that your child is diagnosed with autism (here's my post from October 14, 2009)...

So We Change Our Dreams: Life with an Autistic Child


You know that dream you had as a young adult that when you finally had money enough to buy your own home, you would make sure that there was the formal livingroom and diningroom. You spent untold hours looking through a myriad of home decorating magazines inorder to piece together what you thought your rooms would look like. You would also browse furniture stores for ideas on decoration and watch the Home and Garden network continuously.  Then reality sets in. You find out your child has autism and wow, life’s choices change. Now of course, when you first hear that diagnosis of autism, the last thing on your mind is a formal livingroom and diningroom. The truth be told, you had known for some time that something just wasn’t right, you just didn’t know what. I can tell you that by the time collegeman was finally diagnosed at 5 it was a huge relief.

He had had terrible problems at several nursery schools in NYC and actually put in the coatroom in his public school on the upper east side because the teacher did not want to deal with him. Of course, I pulled him out immediately. The principal of the public elementary school actually lied to us and told us that they did not have to keep him in the school or help him. That she could not do anything about the classroom teacher and that I had to pay for the aide myself. (Evil Bitch) You learn things over 15 years. We had decided to move already as suggested by our psychiatrist, so don’t even think that we had money to sue. At that point we just wrote a letter to the then mayor of NYC, you know America’s mayor Mr. Giuliani, and the head of the school district. I am still waiting for a reply from both of them to tell me how they are going to help my son. We did however, get a call in April the following year asking where our son was, since he had not been in school since October the year before. Hubby told them he had not been in school for 7 months and thanks for finally noticing and promptly hung up on the morons. They never bothered us again. (By the way, we had informed that cow of a principal that we were leaving the school that past October).

So here we were, newly moved, severely in debt (ironically with autistic children that seems to be a constant in our lives), with a very disabled child, highschoolboy was two and not yet diagnosed, and me in a town out in the suburbs with no idea what to do next. Luckily as I stated before we spoke to the most wonderful Special Education Director who put collegeman on the path to recovery. I know that term, "recovery" is a loaded term, but I don’t know what else to use. Collegeman was sent to programs that helped him deal with his disability and then brought back in district and mainstreamed. He will always think with an autistic brain, but he is not the child he was at five, 10, or even 15. So I use the word recovery, I hope it does not offend.

Anyway, one of the most important things that I found to help collegeman was to arrange the house so he was comfortable. Now what does that mean. We made sure that he had his own space. He had toys, games, cards, that he just loved. He still lined everything up in order so these items had to be kept just so. Anyone with an autistic child knows that order out of chaos is essential for them to understand their world. Lined up toys or items is their way of making sense of a world they can not interpret and provides them with a sense of calm as they try to understand a world turned sometimes so painful and alien. He had a place where he liked to eat and be quiet and he liked his TV shows, videos, and video and computer games.  Now the townhouse we rented did not have a formal anything room so ignoring that space would not be a problem for us.

What we did do is turn the main living area, today they call it a greatroom, into collegeman heaven. Yes there was the couch  and an endtable to put a drink, but there was no coffee table. Why take a chance that someone would fall and hit their head? There was a television in an entertainment center where we wired in the video game console and kept his videotapes safe. This was also the beginning of the home computer craze, so we kept the computer there as well, so he could play his educational games. We had little plastic chairs for the boys to sit and watch TV. He really liked his chair and to this day still loves the color blue (however, being a teenager he likes really dark blue). Then we placed a cardtable in the back of the room behind the couch. This is where he spent most of his day when he was not in school. He kept his toys, cards, and obsessively lined up items just as he pleased. There was no need for meltdowns because he had what he wanted at the ready. He could navigate between his beloved items, his games, videos and computer without care and without trauma. Plus most importantly, he was always with us. He was not in the playroom in the attic alone. He was constantly surrounded by people who made him interact with them.

Since the boys had taken over the television and there was only one in the house, my parents, realizing I needed some adult stimulation bought me a tiny TV for the kitchen so I could keep up with the news. I think they were worried that I would go around singing the Barney song in adult company since it was all I was hearing 24/7. I thank them for that. It did keep me attached to the wider world. Remember this is way before social media  and a strong internet influence on society. At that time, when you were alone with a disabled child, you were really alone.

So the cardtable and modified greatroom worked. Collegeman interacted with the family, and remained connected in someway to everyone in the house. I have a great picture of our first Halloween in the townhouse (almost one year to the day that we moved in). The boys are dressed as Superman and Winnie the Pooh sitting in their respective plastic chairs, with smiles on their faces ready to go out and cause what ever trouble they could think of. Highschoolboy, still in diapers, seems a little unsure of himself (Halloween and highschoolboy will be another post) but collegeman dressed as superman had a huge smile and was making a strongman pose. He looks happy, content and by this time if you look really closely the cardtable had disappeared. There was still no formal anything in our house (OK its still that way, but I think that’s just because we decided that we are not very formal people) but collegeman had progressed. Between the right school program, therapy and a home where we gave him the freedom to feel comfortable and be himself, he eventually relinquished his area of control to become a full member of the family again.

WE change our dreams as life meets us head on.  Brilliant computer sister asked me the other day what had I wanted to be before collegeman was diagnosed,, (You see I had wanted collegeman to talk before going back to work after he was born. I wanted him to be able to tell me what had happened during the day with the nanny. Problem was collegeman couldn’t relay a story until he was older than 6) The truth be told I had dreams of sitting  on the US Supreme Court. I think if you attend lawschool most of your classmates would say the same thing. But like my formal livingroom/diningroom so went my career plans. Without wanting to disparage the brilliant persons who interpret our Constitution and keep our lawmakers in check, I actually think  that my present success will have a much longer lasting effect on someone’s day to day existence than any legal ruling by the Nine Supremes. As anyone who reads my posts knows, Collegeman is making amazing progress this year in his social/life skills  and on top of everything else, he’s a total teenage slob.

*****
Actually they are both total teenage slobs now, bright, forthright and energetic youngmen. Both hell bent on a future. Yes there are issues. Sometimes even daily, but we work through them. Isn't that life for everyone though? Learning to take life's ups and downs and make your choices your own?

Until next time,


Elise

Sunday, June 3, 2012

Spring Has Sprung

We have a beautiful tree in our frontyard that blooms in June...It reminds me of renewal and the promise of the future. No matter what has happened in the winter that came before, it's flowers grow and it starts the circle-of-life anew.



Truly, the white on the tree is flowers, not snow....


Until next time,


Elise