Monday, August 30, 2010

Emmy Kudos and Birthday Wishes

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5 Emmys - Happy Birthday Temple Grandin!

Thank you Temple, for your gift to us, autistic families worldwide.  You and the HBO team worked hard to bring your inspiring dramatic story to the screen and bring autism awareness to the public.  I was particularly touched during your speech when you asked your mom to be recognized as your inspiration.  I'm certain all autism moms shed a few tears of gratitude, especially for the moms of nonverbal children who may never hear those beautiful words spoken.  Kudos to moms!  Kudos to you!  Enjoy your birthday, and your new status as a multi-Emmy winner, Temple! 
If you don't know Temple Grandin, here's a good intro via an Emmy article.


Never Give Up

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I have no words that can add to this, only tears.

Sunday, August 29, 2010

Relax, put your feet up...or hug-a-puzzle

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Puzzle piece ottomans!

Another reason to love Bed, Bath and Beyond... 
Love these!  So did my G.  I let him discover them on his own, and he did.  He zeroed right in like he knew it was meant for him.  The 2 puzzle cut outs were just perfect for him to fit his arms into for a hug.  I had a mental flash of Temple Grandin and her hug machine...I toyed with justifying the purchase as a therapeutic device, lol.  But buying a decorative item won't get me any closer to purchasing an iPad for G, will it? Wistful sigh.  After hugging it through the store he found a cart for his hug-a-puzzle and began wheeling it to the cashier.  He did NOT want to give it up - his fave color even.   It's pricey, but I'll be watching it for deep clearance, and using my 20% off coupon too.  Please alert me if you see it on sale!   Best price from my quick Google search: Toys R Us and others for $59.99 - that's going in the right direction.

These are nifty too - so retro pop-art!

Monday, August 23, 2010

Shaking with Anger and Fear

Bookmark and Share  The following story was posted all over Facebook yesterday.  I avoided reading it because I knew it would be heavy.  I read it this reaction after reprint.

Reprinted via:

Autism and Assault in Our Family

Three summers ago, I wrote a post for HuffPo called, "I Will Shake Your Foundation" on the fears my husband Mark and I have about bullying, abuse, neglect, rape and murder of our three defenseless daughters with autism.
Danny Bonaduce, the child star from the seventies TV show "The Partridge Family" had growled, "I will shake your foundation!" in a mock jealous husband rage during his reality TV show, implying he'd rock anyone who approached his wife. I adopted the phrase.
Last week, a 24-year-old special education school bus monitor from Bridgeport, Connecticut was arrested and charged with three counts of assault against a handicapped person and three charges of risk of injury to a minor. That minor is Mark's and my nine-year-old daughter.
The Connecticut Post newspaper has been covering the story Court Case of Woman Accused of Hurting Autistic Child Continued :
According to police, on at least three occasions last April and May, Davila, a monitor on a bus for special needs children for the First Student Bus Co., abused the little girl. Police said there could have been more incidents but only three were captured on the bus's video surveillance camera.

Police said the girl's parents were trying to figure out how their nonverbal daughter kept getting bruises and sprained fingers on her right hand when on May 19 they received a call from the nurse at Frenchtown Elementary School that their daughter had arrived at school that morning crying hysterically. The parents then demanded to see the video from their daughter's school bus.
That video, which also had audio, showed Davila grabbing the girl's hands and the girl then crying out in pain.

Police said they then obtained DVD copies of the bus videos for April 27, April 29 and May 19. On the 27th and the 19th the driver of the bus was Davila's mother. Police said the April 27 video shows Davila, during the bus ride from the school to the girl's home, putting her hands in the area of the girl's hands. With each movement the girl's cries get louder, police said.
On the April 29 video, Davila is heard telling a substitute driver to stop at the girl's home first after they leave the school, according to police. "Because she (the girl) will (obscenity) her pants," she explains, and within minutes of leaving the school the video shows Davila again reaching towards the girl's hands and the girl is heard crying, according to police.

On May 19, the girl is seen on the video boarding the bus with her mother who assists her being seated. When the mother leaves the bus Davila is heard saying, "Goodbye mom," police said. She then touches the girl's head twice and then grabs the girl's right hand and begins to manipulate it as the girl whimpers, according to police.

We've had an epidemic of abuse against people with autism in the last several months.

A mother in Dallas murdered her youngsters. A mother in The Bronx shot and killed her 12-year-old son and herself. A 20-year-old man in Pennsylvania was left to die in a residential school's van on a hot summer day. A father in Canada killed himself and his son in their basement. A socialite in Manhattan plied her son with pills in a luxury hotel until he seized to death. A mother in England jammed caustic cleaning product into her son burning his throat and stomach until he bled to death.

And now our daughter, nine years old, preverbal, 62 pounds soaking wet, sitting quietly on her school bus was (allegedly) assaulted once, twice, thrice, four times and who knows how many more?

Let the foundation shaking begin.
Follow Kim Stagliano on Twitter:  
Related post:

Reading this, I start to shake and cry.  I'm full of anger, empathy towards the girl and her family.  How alarming!  These stories are becoming more and more common, along with stories of autistic children wandering and drowning.  Sometimes I have to take a break from this kind of disturbing news.  I can't find a support group fast enough. 

This is why I'm shaking...This morning G came in to greet me as I brushed my teeth.  I sat down to hug him and talk to him.  I noticed his fat lip (incurred when a costume parade ran amok, faster and faster until he fell) from yesterday looks a bit infected and asked him if it hurts.  He said no, walking away, like he didn't hear me.  I brought him close again, and repeated my question.  This time he heard me and still said no.  I then noticed a red mark on his temple and asked him what happened.  He said, "Ummm, somebody hit me."  I calmly asked who.  He replied with a name (a friend of mine), when I repeated the name, he said, "No actually it was (another friend)."  We haven't seen either one of these friends in weeks, and I trust them anyway....Upon looking at it closer during our discussion, I saw that it's a rash, not an injury at all...THIS IS WHY I"M SHAKING!

Making the decision to have a child - It's momentous.
It is to decide forever to have your heart go walking around outside your body.
~ Elizabeth Stone

G seems forever in a state between make-believe and reality.  I wonder if he'll ever get past this to realize/intellectualize what is real.  How can I rely on his reports when he constantly makes up answers and even makes up people?  He's made-up people for the last year.  Sometimes they're friends, sometimes he blames them for something he clearly did, sometimes he plays with them, sometimes he says they hurt/hit him.  His most loyal, loving playmate is his older sister, who he frequently calls one of his made-up names, many times combining the names with hers.  We laugh, and I make jokes about this with the kids, but it really, really really worries me.  Freaks me out.  Is it schizophrenia?  Am I being paranoid to think so?  lol/col (laugh out loud/cry out loud).  Is it merely a normal preschool imaginary friend like so many friends/experts try to tell me, in a "Isn't that precious" tone?  Should I take their word for it, like I did with the autism question?  This too is another of the problems with G appearing normal/high functioning, a "fooler" as the behavioral psychologist classified him.  He craves social interaction, has fleeting eye contact.  People often don't see beyond the adorable funny exterior.  G's socially handicapped because he has serious boundary issues.  He doesn't sense fear, worry, danger. 

And beyond the reality question, more questions...Will I ever be able to let him stay with someone/babysitter/friend without supervision?  Obviously, I have to let go at some point.  Trust the system, the cameras, the strength in numbers theory of having more than one person around to witness anything.  Public restrooms?  He's 4.5 and looks 8.  Already we get comments from women, kids in public restrooms.  G doesn't understand, but I do, my other kids get embarrassed.  When my husband or older son is around, perfect.  But, the majority of time it's only me and him.  Must I wear a sign or explain his presence each time in the restroom?  I totally understand from the other side, wondering why a boy is in the restroom with their young girls.  Unfortunately, not every place has a family bathroom.  This is a question for a forum that I'll have to explore. 

Pain.  Another worry.  G doesn't feel pain at times.  There's certainly a delay - often 30 seconds or longer to feel when he gets hurt.  But many times even if he feels the pain at the time of his injury, he doesn't feel it afterwards.  Other children will pick at a scab or rub a sore spot, or look in a mirror often or some other manifestation of obsessing over pain or seeking sympathy.  Once the initial crying is over, he doesn't acknowledge his pain, only rarely will tell someone about his injury, even when they ask about it.  Even then, it could be a real explanation, could be pulled from his imagination.  YIKES!

Day 2:
How many 4 year olds
do you know who
wouldn't be picking this?
G's clumsy, a part of his sensory issues.  He can be surprisingly athletic, incredibly strong, yet at times conversely the opposite.  I haven't figured out the when and whys yet...about any of his manifestations or issues.  No triggers, only a few dietary triggers.  About clumsy: this week he took a huge nosedive on the rough pebbly blacktop at the park chasing his older brother.  Again, the big delay in reaction, but then he cried for an hour.  Again though, an almost non-existent acknowledgement of the huge scab/scar across his face all week.  He did peel away the scab when it had healed underneath, but even then it could have been prompted by his siblings.  This was a clumsy week.  We went to the zoo and he fell 3 times, skinning other areas of his body on the rough blacktop.  As frequently happens with him, he puts his eyes on the prize and goes for it, before his feet and brain catch up.  But to watch, it always happens in slow motion for me.  I see a fall long before it happens.  But I cannot be at his side always.  He doesn't hear me when he is in that state, even if I scream, even if I repeat.  It's a nightmare as a mom. 

It's beyond a nightmare to put all of these worries together and realize that he's clumsy, has no sense of danger, has no sense of pain, and is not firmly seated in reality.  What can I rely on?  Will I even know if he's abused or hurt?  Would I even be able to believe him if he told me about it?   Terrifying. 

Now, put all of these worries together with a child who is non-verbal, like the mom in the article.  What the hell am I complaining about?   I'm crying again, for all of those parents.  Non-verbal children could be suffering silent torture, not able to express their pain.  Like me, they don't know if their child has realization of danger, wrongdoing, or pain.  Those parents can't even have a conversation with their child, albeit a frustrating one.  I pray for them, for all of our children. 

I'm going to research getting a plastic bubble, comfortably padded for falls.  Or maybe a G-cam to mount on a baseball cap.  How about a cam mounted in his forehead, with a monitor direct to a device for me, wired to his brain signals so that I can be his eyes, ears, reality checker, early warning system.  Or better - a device not wired to me, but independently able to detect danger, so I won't worry so much.  Can we invent that?

The good news:
Because G left it alone,
his boo-boo is healed
on day 4.

Friday, August 20, 2010

iSpy Autism-Friendly Apps for iPad

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The moment my 3 year old son G got ahold of my iTouch last year, he was enthralled.  At the time, he mainly searched for Garbage Truck videos on YouTube.  Yes, tens of thousands of vids dedicated to Garbage, if you can believe that!  He zips around that little thing so fast I can't keep up.  We visited a friend recently and in the time it took me to go to the restroom, he'd picked up her iPad and was zooming around, found a game, and had figured out the object of the game.  I had to carry him from her house kicking and screaming (not pretty).  Clearly he's ready to graduate from the tiny iTouch and is ready for bigger challenges in a bigger format.
*See G's fave iTouch apps at the end of blog, also available on iPad.

While I'm saving up for an iPad for G, I've run across numerous stories, lists and reviews on the iPad's use with autistic children.  While compiling my finds into folders, I ran across a forum where many parents were looking for the same information.  So I put the best info that I've found below to use myself, and for anyone who may be searching. Hope you find some great ideas.  Please let me know what you find and how it helps! 

Benefits of the iPad interface for autistic children
aka: How to sell my husband and/or Santa on this expensive tool!

Nolan's picks:

I'm particularly interested in the app that gives rewards for eye contact, Look in My Eyes.  Love it!

More of Nolan's favorites on his mom's site:

Miracles of iPad use for 10-year-old autistic Leo

Leo loves:

More about Leo:

A long (worth it!) article about Leo and his mom, Shannon Rosa:

An article by Leo's mom, Shannon Rosa, getting into more detail on what criterion she uses to rate apps useful for Leo.

My Great Discovery

Ok, this will sound like a plug, but truly, this is the best find I've had in awhile: ran across their Facebook page via some obscure route (likely at 1 .a.m.) and I'm so glad I did!  The site is a group of app developers who review and promote new children's apps, educate parents about apps and their specific uses for kids and look for user feedback!  Awesome win-win all around.  The MomsWithApps site has a tab for special needs kids, apps for learning, apps for fun and creativity, and much more.  My personal favorite: APP FRIDAY!   Each Friday an app is offered for FREE or great promotion (I've only seen totally free in the month of Fridays I've seen.  How cool is that?

Using iPad as a Communication Device

Reviews and great blogger mama:

Proloquo2GoVideo demonstrations and developer website:

Ipad as a communicator, and an inspiring lady writing a funny blog:

Help forum FAQ's

Touted as most straightforward:
In case you missed it up above, helpful reviews of communication uses in Leo's mom:

Useful iPad apps for autistic children

Extensive list with several categories and descriptions, but no prices:
Tap-toTalk App: $9.99 

Other articles/lists/reviews of apps for Autistic kids:

First-Then Visual Schedule: $9.99
Studies on how itechnology is working with Autistic kids:

ABA Flash Cards: Emotions

Best Developers for Autistic-Friendly Apps

I hope this helps!  Let me know if you discover any great apps for autism or parenting.

Any suggestions?  I'm looking for leads on when and where to get the best deal on an iPad.  Many folks I've talked to said to wait for Gen2.  I may have to wait that long to save anyway.  Hmmm...more time to research apps.  :}

G's Fave iTouch Apps, Available for iPad

In April, for Autism Awareness Month, and other developers gave away free apps all month.  I found out 1 day before the end of the month (of course!) and loaded up.  Many of them are still offered free, or app lite versions.  G loves all of the ABA apps from - they're colorful, encouraging and they cheer for him when he gets it right!

Finally, here's a selection of G's Fave apps for "my" iTouch. "My" is a loose term, because I never seem to get a chance to use it, with 2 techie boys in the house. These aren't autism-specific, but they work on creativity, facial expressions and dexterity. Best news: All of these apps were FREE!

G's Fave iTouch App
Make-A-Martian: FREE!
iWash My Dogs: FREE!

TanZen Lite: FREE!
Faces iMake: FREE!

Saturday, August 14, 2010

Mason Alert: PLEASE Support Alert for Missing Autistic Disabled Persons

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Take action: sign the petition!

A heartbroken Kansas mother lost her 5 year old autistic son Mason when he wandered away and drowned in a neighbor's pond. Sheila Medlam is hoping to save other families from her grief.  She hopes to create a new type of national alert called "Mason Alert", similar to the widely known and utilized Amber Alert.  But the Mason Alert would also include vital information specific to the developmentally disabled child/adult, like their obsessions, interests and nearby hazards (like water, woods, etc.). Information about how they react to strangers will help searchers and police personnel to handle the missing person with care if they locate them.

5 Year Old Mason Medlam
Mason Alert will immediately provide authorities with the following:

A current picture of the child.

Child's address and Contact information.

Their fascinations: i.e. railroads, small spaces, water.

Locations of all nearby hazards such as tracks, pools, ponds, abandoned houses, busy intersections.

Notify if the child is verbal or nonverbal. This is very important, because when we search for someone, we tend to stand in one place and shout the person's name. A nonverbal child may not respond to this.

How the child reacts under stress. i.e. do they hide, do they run, do they fight, do they shut down and just stand still.

And finally, how to approach the child and who needs to approach the child. In some instances, authorities will just have to immediately react if the child is in immediate danger, but in other instances, it might be better to wait for a parent or caregiver, and taking this step might help eliminate danger.

According to a recent study by the National Autism Association, 92% of autistic children will wander away from their home at least once. Once per what, I ask? In our home it's at least once per day, down from several times per day. We keep a vigilant eye on our G, and have great neighbors on all sides. No alarm has ever kept my smart boy from climbing and figuring a way out.  It's exhausting - we're on alert 24/7...and he's high functioning and verbal.  We're luckier than most ASD families. 

I was surprised to find out that Amber Alerts are only used for abducted chidren.  Did you know that?  Or did you assume like me, that it was used for all missing children?  Something needs to happen about that too.  Here's the scoop on that:

If you didn't sign the Mason Alert petition, please do it:
This incredible mother is putting her grief to work for me and all ASD parents in the U.S.

Join the Mason Alert Facebook page for news and updates:!/?ref=home

About the Mason Alert effort:

More on the family's tragic story:

Families with autistic children, PLEASE read and implement the Autism Safety Toolkit here:
It could save your loved one.

Another Toolkit from AWAARE (Autism Wandering Alerts Awareness Response Education)

Autism Wandering Prevention page on Facebook:

See if Project Lifesaver police tracking is available in your area:

Forward the Mason Alert petition to all friends and family - I'd love to see the Mason Alert put into action!

Hug your loved ones and keep them safe!

944/1444 36 Hr.

Thursday, August 12, 2010

I wish I had a dime for every time I wanted to...

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Did you ever bite your tongue so hard it bleeds?  Ever ignored rude comments when you really want to put the toxic person in their place?  Ever hustle your kids out of a situation to avoid other's reactions?  Ever cry with embarrassment over someone's stares?  
An ASD Warrior Mom friend graciously forwarded this idea to me after our horrific scene at the theater* last week.  TACA (Talk About Curing Autism) offers a convenient get-out-of-embarrassing-situation card.  Factual and politically correct, this card can be handed to the unenlightened and/or rude person who is staring or commenting.  In the best case, it'll avoid a scene while making you feel like you didn't let someone push you away from an enjoyable outing with your family.  It's polite enough to give to a friend.  Thanks TACA!  While it wouldn't have worked to diffuse the situation at hand in the theater with Psycho Mama last week, it would've been great to have one of these to shove at her and let her read later, hopefully ashamed. *

Maybe if we educate one ignorant person we can save another person/family with disabilities from their scorn.  For a dime, I would gladly do so.  100 cards for $10.00 from TACA.  Or make up your own. 


My Child's Behavior May Be Disturbing To You.

My Child Is Not Spoiled or Misbehaving.


Over 1.5 million children in the US are affected with Autism.

With the CDC now reporting that 1 in 91 children have Autism, someone you know probably has Autism in their family.

Thank You for Your Support & Understanding, and for Being a Friend to a Family with Autism.


Autism Is a Devastating Biological and Neurological Disorder that Can Effect Individuals in Different Areas:

1. Troubles with Communication (both verbal and non-verbal, including the possibility of no speech, or appearing deaf)

2. Social and Learning Skills (unable to understand social cues and situations, including waiting in line, or unplanned changes)

3. Strange or Odd Behaviors (such as tantrums, hand flapping, repetitive sounds, yelling out, or obsessive behaviors)

4. Sensory Issues (for example hypersensitive hearing and vision, or aversion to being touched)

5. Medical Problems (including severe headaches, gastro-intestinal problems, severe food allergies and many others)

To order:

Wednesday, August 11, 2010

Arrow Dynamics

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An arrow can be shot only by pulling it backwards.

When life is dragging you back with difficulties....

it means that its going to launch you



Are you ready?


Monday, August 9, 2010

Go Green!

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Give it some gas!
GENeco has developed new car powered by human waste, methane.  The Dung Beetle uses energy from that stinky stuff that we're all ashamed of but highly dependent on: POOP!

I could have a field day coming up with copy to promote this awesome new car.  Imagine the potty jokes that comedians will tell, tittering guests secretly embarrassed by the thought of it.

GENeco: Putting a new spin on "Junk in the Trunk"
The All-New Dung Beetle:

For when you really gotta GO!

I brake for Fiber

It runs when you've got the runs!

Hyper-Diaper Recyclers!

We recycle your poo so you don't have to

Gas and Go

The Coupe De Poop

Honk if you're constipated

You say, "What a pile of s#*t" like it's a bad thing!

Traffic tip: Gas to Pass

For on-the-go families.

Roomy enough for the whole poop troop

Wait, I think I feel a 60 mph dump coming on

Innovative technology: from oil pan to bed pan

I'm sorry, I can't get to the phone right now, I'm powering my car.

Drink your prune juice, kids. We've got a lot of errands to run.

Who forgot to flush?  Now we're stuck here!

Now you can have your own legal meth lab

Just say Go

No more need for potty stops, it's built in

Sustainable fuel source?  We call him Uncle Fart.

Toot your horn, and your engine

XL Ex-Lax for the X-way

Benefiber: now super-charged for your frequent trips

Have you seen the new gov't Fleet?  What a stimulus package!

Hello Roadside Assistance, I need a jump start.  Could you bring some Miralax?

Step 1: Pull my finger; Step 2:  Push accelerator

Really officer, I was sitting at the light, and "poof", the chili kicked in.

Honey, did you buy more air fresheners for the car?

Ad Jingle: doo-doo run run run...

I could do this all day, what fun!  But seriously, joking aside, this is a wonderful innovative idea.  If only we could use the stuff of our gigantic landfills to power our greedy systems. 

Check out this interesting article explaining how it works:

Sunday, August 8, 2010

Making Scents

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Does anything smell better than roasted garlic? Cooking up a storm!  Some days I wake up feeling like cooking all day*.  It's not really about eating it, but the comfort of creating and the joy of immediate results.  I love to awaken my senses: sights, textures, sounds and scents of the experience.  My sensory-loving G LOVES to cook.  Cooking is where he started communicating early on.  Just my G and me - relaxed, laughing and taking it all in.  Exploring, creating, so much to talk about!  All 3 of my kids are comfortable in the kitchen. I've involved them in the process since they could sit up and watch.  I'd ask their opinions, give them tastes, then moved into pouring, measuring, gathering ingredients, reading recipes, chopping with a butter knife, etc. Their favorite tasks are smashing crackers in a baggie for crumb topping on casseroles, using the mixer and cracking eggs (carefully shell-checked by mom).  And tasting, of course.  We take periodic breaks to dance.  Gotta have music and movment therapy!
2 years ago - love G's choco-brow!
*Funny, but I never wake up feeling like CLEANING all day...  ;p

My DH is at work, my allergies are holding me prisoner indoors, so I sent the kids outside fly to their new kites.  Yup, after sharing G's Barbie kite all week, I was lucky enough to find a few on clearance at Meijer.  AND some swim goggles.  After weeks of listening to the kids fight over 2 pairs, I found some quality goggles for $5, not $20 like most of them seem to be.  Yippee!  We're happy until one gets lost again.  I find that no matter how many pool toys I have, we still seem to end up with 2, leaving 1 kid out.  Murphy's Law of Motherhood.

But, I digress.  Back to making scents, and senses.

Top food cooking scents IMO:
  • Roasting Garlic in Olive Oil   
  •  Foodie site extraordinaire!
  • Brownies baking 
  • Coffee, strong enough to grow chest hair
  • Garlic Bread
  • Italian food
  • Garlicky New Dill Pickles 
  • Sauerkraut (yup, I'm Polish AND German)
  • Irish Beef Stew (and Irish)
  • Chocolate Chip Cookies
  • Coconut
  • Any kind of Pie 
  • Roasting Turkey
  • Anything with Rosemary, Cilantro, Lemon, Butter or Cinnamon

Top scents, non-food:
  • Babies
  • Lavender - I love Johnson's for creating Lavender Bedtime baby shampoo. Combine babies + lavender = sweet!  What could be better?  AND, it calms and soothes them.
  • Lilacs
  • Campfires
  • BBQ Grill - does that belong in the food category?
  • Word burning craft sets - remember those fun, dangerous little gadgets?
  • //

    Caps - remember cap guns?   
  • Burnt wooden matches 
  • Spring mornings
  • Autumn in Michigan
  • Burning leaves
  • Pine Christmas trees
  • Fresh-cut grass
  • Gasoline - yeah weird, I know
  • Aveda Products - I use a knock-off brand sold by Sally's - Aura
  • Pantene Hair products - my daughter's brand of choice
  • Neutrogena original scent
  • Murphy's Oil Soap
  • Men  ;}
  • Swimming pools
  • Fresh laundered towels
  • Sears (High School/College job.  It still takes me back when I walk through the doors of a Sears - a delightful mix of clothing, towels, furniture, major appliances, tires, paint, hardware, frozen cokes and hot pretzels)
  • New tennis shoes in a box
  • Hot-off-the-press printed materials (I miss press checks!)
  • Crayons
  • Pencil Shavings
  • Rubber Cement
  • Art Gum erasers    
  • Elmer's glue
  • Toxic, solvent-based markers - takes me back to art school.  Imagine a classroom with 20+ students, each drawing up a frenzied cloud with 100+ markers each...can you say BUZZ?  Yippee!  That's how creativity happens.  And you thought artists were born with talent.  :}
Studies show that our sense of smell is our strongest memory.  Use your imagination, chill and drift back in time...what do you smell?  What scents do you love?  Give your sensory child some new scents to explore.  They'll remember.

Sanford® ARTGUM Non-Abrasive Eraser, Two Per Pack
Michigan 4 Berry Pie

G, getting choco-sensory input - so much fun!