~Pablo Picasso

Monday, May 31, 2010

Ten Things Every Child With Autism Wishes You Knew By Ellen Notbohm

Some days it seems the only predictable thing about it is the unpredictability. The only consistent attribute -- the inconsistency. There is little argument on any level but that autism is baffling, even to those who spend their lives around it. The child who lives with autism may look "normal" but his behavior can be perplexing and downright difficult.

Autism was once thought an "incurable" disorder, but that notion is crumbling in the face knowledge and understanding that is increasing even as you read this. Every day, individuals with autism are showing us that they can overcome, compensate for and otherwise manage many of autism's most challenging characteristics. Equipping those around our children with simple understanding of autism's most basic elements has a tremendous impact on their ability to journey towards productive, independent adulthood.

Autism is an extremely complex disorder but for purposes of this one article, we can distill its myriad characteristics into four fundamental areas: sensory processing challenges, speech/language delays and impairments, the elusive social interaction skills and whole child/self-esteem issues. And though these four elements may be common to many children, keep front-of-mind the fact that autism is a spectrum disorder: no two (or ten or twenty) children with autism will be completely alike. Every child will be at a different point on the spectrum. And, just as importantly – every parent, teacher and caregiver will be at a different point on the spectrum. Child or adult, each will have a unique set of needs.

Here are ten things every child with autism wishes you knew:

1. I am first and foremost a child. I have autism. I am not primarily "autistic." My autism is only one aspect of my total character. It does not define me as a person. Are you a person with thoughts, feelings and many talents, or are you just fat (overweight), myopic (wear glasses) or klutzy (uncoordinated, not good at sports)? Those may be things that I see first when I meet you, but they are not necessarily what you are all about.

As an adult, you have some control over how you define yourself. If you want to single out a single characteristic, you can make that known. As a child, I am still unfolding. Neither you nor I yet know what I may be capable of. Defining me by one characteristic runs the danger of setting up an expectation that may be too low. And if I get a sense that you don't think I "can do it," my natural response will be: Why try?

2. My sensory perceptions are disordered. Sensory integration may be the most difficult aspect of autism to understand, but it is arguably the most critical. It his means that the ordinary sights, sounds, smells, tastes and touches of everyday that you may not even notice can be downright painful for me. The very environment in which I have to live often seems hostile. I may appear withdrawn or belligerent to you but I am really just trying to defend myself. Here is why a "simple" trip to the grocery store may be hell for me:

My hearing may be hyper-acute. Dozens of people are talking at once. The loudspeaker booms today's special. Musak whines from the sound system. Cash registers beep and cough, a coffee grinder is chugging. The meat cutter screeches, babies wail, carts creak, the fluorescent lighting hums. My brain can't filter all the input and I'm in overload!

My sense of smell may be highly sensitive. The fish at the meat counter isn't quite fresh, the guy standing next to us hasn't showered today, the deli is handing out sausage samples, the baby in line ahead of us has a poopy diaper, they're mopping up pickles on aisle 3 with ammonia….I can't sort it all out. I am dangerously nauseated.

Because I am visually oriented (see more on this below), this may be my first sense to become overstimulated. The fluorescent light is not only too bright, it buzzes and hums. The room seems to pulsate and it hurts my eyes. The pulsating light bounces off everything and distorts what I am seeing -- the space seems to be constantly changing. There's glare from windows, too many items for me to be able to focus (I may compensate with "tunnel vision"), moving fans on the ceiling, so many bodies in constant motion. All this affects my vestibular and proprioceptive senses, and now I can't even tell where my body is in space.

3. Please remember to distinguish between won't (I choose not to) and can't (I am not able to). Receptive and expressive language and vocabulary can be major challenges for me. It isn't that I don't listen to instructions. It's that I can't understand you. When you call to me from across the room, this is what I hear: "*&^%$#@, Billy. #$%…" Instead, come speak directly to me in plain words: "Please put your book in your desk, Billy. It's time to go to lunch." This tells me what you want me to do and what is going to happen next. Now it is much easier for me to comply.

4. I am a concrete thinker. This means I interpret language very literally. It's very confusing for me when you say, "Hold your horses, cowboy!" when what you really mean is "Please stop running." Don't tell me something is a "piece of cake" when there is no dessert in sight and what you really mean is "this will be easy for you to do." When you say "Jamie really burned up the track," I see a kid playing with matches. Please just tell me "Jamie ran very fast."

Idioms, puns, nuances, double entendres, inference, metaphors, allusions and sarcasm are lost on me.

5. Please be patient with my limited vocabulary. It's hard for me to tell you what I need when I don't know the words to describe my feelings. I may be hungry, frustrated, frightened or confused but right now those words are beyond my ability to express. Be alert for body language, withdrawal, agitation or other signs that something is wrong.

Or, there's a flip side to this: I may sound like a "little professor" or movie star, rattling off words or whole scripts well beyond my developmental age. These are messages I have memorized from the world around me to compensate for my language deficits because I know I am expected to respond when spoken to. They may come from books, TV, the speech of other people. It is called "echolalia." I don't necessarily understand the context or the terminology I'm using. I just know that it gets me off the hook for coming up with a reply.

6. Because language is so difficult for me, I am very visually oriented. Please show me how to do something rather than just telling me. And please be prepared to show me many times. Lots of consistent repetition helps me learn.

A visual schedule is extremely helpful as I move through my day. Like your PDA or day-timer, it relieves me of the stress of having to remember what comes next, makes for smooth transition between activities, helps me manage my time and meet your expectations.

I won't lose the need for a visual schedule as I get older, but my "level of representation" may change. Before I can read, I need a visual schedule with photographs or simple drawings. As I get older, a combination of words and pictures may work, and later still, just words.

7. Please focus and build on what I can do rather than what I can't do. Like any other human, I can't learn in an environment where I'm constantly made to feel that I'm not good enough and that I need "fixing." Trying anything new when I am almost sure to be met with criticism, however "constructive," becomes something to be avoided. Look for my strengths and you will find them. There is more than one "right" way to do most things.

8. Please help me with social interactions. It may look like I don't want to play with the other kids on the playground, but sometimes it's just that I simply do not know how to start a conversation or enter a play situation. If you can encourage other children to invite me to join them at kickball or shooting baskets, it may be that I'm delighted to be included.

I do best in structured play activities that have a clear beginning and end. I don't know how to "read" facial expressions, body language or the emotions of others, so I appreciate ongoing coaching in proper social responses. For example, if I laugh when Emily falls off the slide, it's not that I think it's funny. It's that I don't know the proper response. Teach me to say "Are you OK?"

9. Try to identify what triggers my meltdowns. Meltdowns, blow-ups, tantrums or whatever you want to call them are even more horrid for me than they are for you. They occur because one or more of my senses has gone into overload. If you can figure out why my meltdowns occur, they can be prevented. Keep a log noting times, settings, people, activities. A pattern may emerge.

Try to remember that all behavior is a form of communication. It tells you, when my words cannot, how I perceive something that is happening in my environment.

Parents, keep in mind as well: persistent behavior may have an underlying medical cause. Food allergies and sensitivities, sleep disorders and gastrointestinal problems can all have profound effects on behavior.

10. Love me unconditionally. Banish thoughts like, "If he would just……" and "Why can't she….." You did not fulfill every last expectation your parents had for you and you wouldn't like being constantly reminded of it. I did not choose to have autism. But remember that it is happening to me, not you. Without your support, my chances of successful, self-reliant adulthood are slim. With your support and guidance, the possibilities are broader than you might think. I promise you – I am worth it.

And finally, three words: Patience. Patience. Patience. Work to view my autism as a different ability rather than a disability. Look past what you may see as limitations and see the gifts autism has given me. It may be true that I'm not good at eye contact or conversation, but have you noticed that I don't lie, cheat at games, tattle on my classmates or pass judgment on other people? Also true that I probably won't be the next Michael Jordan. But with my attention to fine detail and capacity for extraordinary focus, I might be the next Einstein. Or Mozart. Or Van Gogh.

They may have had autism too.

The answer to Alzheimer's, the enigma of extraterrestrial life -- what future achievements from today's children with autism, children like me, lie ahead?

All that I might become won't happen without you as my foundation. Be my advocate, be my friend, and we'll see just how far I can go.

Three-time ForeWord Book of the Year finalist Ellen Notbohm is author of Ten Things Every Child with Autism Wishes You Knew and three other award-winning books on autism. She is a columnist for Autism Asperger's Digest and Children's Voice and a contributor to numerous publications and websites around the world. For reprint permission, book excerpts or to explore Ellen's work, please visit www.ellennotbohm.com .

Wednesday, May 26, 2010

Beautiful Motherhood Painting And Prints By Katie M. Berggren♥

These Painted Prints caught my eye and my heart. Please visit http://www.kmberggren.etsy.com/ to enjoy her Emotional and Beautiful
Artwork of  Child and Family.

Paintings Celebrating Motherhood, Family, the Woman & the Child ~ Intimate & Emotional Moments of Maternity, Pregnancy, Nursing, Parenting & Childhood.

Saturday, May 22, 2010

Homemade Whole Wheat Bread

I use to buy my bread from the store and on occasion make my bread in the bread maker but a friend of mine sent me the link to this recipe off of Tammy's Recipes.com and we love it so much it's the only bread we make now. Be careful though it's addictively delicious! To me there is nothing better than knowing what the ingredients are that we consume. There are no preservatives or food colors, bad oils or trans fats. How cool is that? You can even use organic or all natural ingredients to make the recipe even healthier. When making my bread I actually put all the ingredients in my bread maker then set on dough to knead for 15 minutes for a single loaf recipe or 30 minutes for a double recipe loaf. Then I follow the rest of the recipe. If you don't have a bread machine just follow the directions as shown below.

1 cup warm water (110-115 degrees F.)
1 tablespoons milk
2 tablespoons oil
2 tablespoons honey
2 tablespoons brown sugar
1 teaspoon salt
1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour (see additional notes on Tammy's Recipes for a 100% whole wheat version)
1 1/2 cups whole wheat flour
2 teaspoons instant active dry yeast

1. Combine first 6 ingredients in a large mixing bowl and stir.
2. Add flours and yeast, then knead until dough is smooth and elastic, about 10-15 minutes.
3. Place dough in a greased bowl, turning once to grease top. Cover with a clean towel and let rise until doubled, about 40 minutes.
4. Punch dough down, knead for a few minutes until smooth and then form into a loaf. Place in greased loaf pan and cover. Let rise in a warm place until almost doubled in size, about 30 minutes.
5. Bake at 350 degrees for 30-35 minutes. If loaf starts browning too soon, lightly lay a piece of foil over the top of the loaf to prevent too much darkening.
6. Remove bread from oven and allow to rest in pan for a few minutes. Remove to a wire rack and cover with a cloth. Slice and enjoy while still warm! Leftover bread can be stored in an airtight bag.

Makes one loaf. Need 2 loaves? Double the recipe.

Wednesday, May 19, 2010

Featured Etsy Seller and Giveaway~ Kitchen Wizard

We have a winner! Congratulations HavannahSoy!

Enjoy these Vividly Beautiful Modern Art Prints by Delia of Kitchen Wizard. Don't forget to enter the Giveaway!

Dallas-based designer Delia Jalomo has always been fascinated with the objects that make houses homes. Inspired equally by vintage cookbooks and the vibrancy of nature — particularly, saturated colors and rich woodgrain — the aesthetic fuses modern lines with old themes in the spirit that everything old is new again.

"It's like you're sitting at Waffle House, and the booths have this dark fake walnut woodgrain and the cushions are this ridiculous red orange and the globe lights are hanging above you, and this should look really awful and cliché, but the combination of shapes and textures and colors in and of itself can really be very lovely," she says.

And with new work around the corner for living and bath spaces, as well as holiday art and greeting cards, pretty soon you'll see everything but the kitchen sink.


Modern Art Print Giveaway!!

Value: $12.00
Soooooo....To enter the Giveaway please visit http://www.kitchenwizard.etsy.com/ , browse her shop, and leave a comment here about which print is your favorite.

For extra entries do any of the following that you would like:

1. Blog about this giveaway (1 extra entry).
2. Twitter about this giveaway (1 extra entry).
3. Post this giveaway on Facebook (1 extra entry).
4. Become a Fan or Like Kitchen Wizard on Facebook (1 extra entry).
5. Become a Fan or Like Autumn Rain Creations on Facebook (1 extra entry).
6. Become a Follower of AutumnRainCreations blog (1 extra entry).
7. Purchase any item from Kitchen Wizard  (5 extra entries). Please leave the order number in your comment.

Giveaway will end on Wednesday, May 26th @ 11:59 pm PST.
Best of luck to you!!


Monday, May 17, 2010

I Beg To Differ, Dogs Do Smile:)

All you need is a good belly rub to make you smile!
Our sweet Cocoa.

Wednesday, May 12, 2010

Tuesday, May 11, 2010

Happy 15th Birthday Zachary!

Mom, Dad and all your Sibs!

Featured Seller on Zig-Zags Blog today!

Thank You to Laci Jo for featuring me on her wonderful blog today. I appreciate it!

Have a great week all:)

Tuesday, May 4, 2010

One Mom's Tips for a Somewhat Smooth Road Trip

Believe it or not road trips in our family are a welcome getaway even with all 9 of us. We have had alot of people ask us if we are crazy. The answer is no not really. It's one of the best times for us but not without major planning. One of the things that helps us is that I am a born list maker and I HAVE to plan ahead in fact about 4-6 months ahead. Mostly because I'm plain excited but also because I want it to go as smooth as possible. Here are some of those tips to help YOUR  Road Trip go as uneventful as possible.

First, I use my handy dandy...........................clipboard:) Yep with lots of lined notebook paper. I jot down everything I can possibly think of that we may need then I organize it later in a binder. Lord knows I will pull out all my hair wondering what that one thing was I wanted to bring with us that I never wrote down. So it all goes down on paper from clothes and medications to snacks and everything in between.
I usually start off with each child and what clothing items they need, meds for each child and a backpack. The backpack I slowly fill with items I find on sale early on. Depending on the age of the child here are some of those things:

  • Magazines, coloring books, chapter books, board books.
  • Zipper pouch filled with crayons, pencils, pens for older kids/teens.
  • Gum, lollipops (Whole Foods and Trader Joe's carry organic ones that are yum!) of course supervised by Mom and Dad. Don't want to spend part of your long drive trying to get it off the cloth seats:(
  • Travel games, CD players, Books on Cd's from the library, MP3 players, Zunes or IPod (whatever your teens have already), Video Now Color or Video Now Jr's. if you can still find them are awesome especially if you don't have a Portable DVD player. Don't forget the batteries in your bag Mom.
  • Blank mini notebooks to journal or doodle, Vinyl Window Clings like the ones you can get around the holidays work great on back car windows.
  • Kid friendly maps so they can track where they are going. 
  • Everyone gets a special drink (flavored water or juice) and a couple different baggies of non mess and healthy snacks. 

Now I have my own special backpack for the Main Man (Hubby) and I of necessities. This way I don't have to accidentally step on kids, hurdle over seats, or dig for during the trip. We also of course take tons of suitcases filled with clothes (ok not really tons but enough for us all), totes of non perishable food and an ice, food, water, and drink filled cooler.

Some necessary items that work great are hand sanitizer (Lots of it!), soap petals or small travel size slivers of soap in case the rest area bathrooms don't have soap and those 3 or 5 oz. bathroom cups. They work great for little hands and dividing up small snacks off and on during the ride.

There is one very special item however that I will NEVER leave home without on any trip EVER!..................................................
Zip lock Bags are my new best friend. Whenever we go on a trip now they come along. I originally packed them for putting snacks in but came to find out the sandwich bag size were a blessing for things like banana skins, boogie tissues, food wrappers, and leftover bread crusts when we ate meals in the car.

 This next trip suggestion may be a little bit more than you want to know but it worked for us so I would like to share it with you. Gallon bags lined with paper towels work great for potty emergencies. Like for example when you are on the Santa Ana Freeway sandwiched in between a 12 passenger van and a semi truck at noon also known as lunch time going 65 miles an hour and your 4 year old yells "I need to go to the bathroom!".  You have to have good balance for this feat but we both survived and nothing ended up on the floor Thank Heavens!

I know this was long winded but I hope you can use a few of these tips....take what you want and throw out the rest I always say:)

Feel free to list some of your must have family trip necessities in the comment box too!

Here's to a safe and fun Summer Road Trip with your family!♥