Thursday, September 30, 2010

Bravo to Martial Arts Heroes

Bookmark and Share

Bravo to this inspiring man!
Master Willie Adams teaches Detroit-area special needs students 2-3 times per week, FREE.  I can't believe this man is 64, he looks wonderful.  Good health and good deeds makes it so, I guess.  :}

G loves getting his temple stamp for a good job

I have exciting news about G this week: he got his first belt tip!  A tip marks progress, and students need 4-5 tips to test for the next level belt.  He acheived his black tip which is for blocking set; requiring routine, form, attention and focus.!!!!  G's been going 4-5 times per week since July, and he's doing great at class participation and taking verbal instruction.

He has a wonderful bond with our local Tae Kwon Do Master, who's extremely patient with G and gets a kick out of him (or several!)  G still has trouble with some of the warm-up exercises that require heavy-duty motor planning: spider walk, crab walk, jumping jacks, push-ups.  I love to watch him do push-ups - he gets in proper form, then just bobs his head up and down.  I'll have to get a video of that!  :}

Related post:

Fun Finds: Autism Awareness Merchandise

I found a great source for autism awareness products, REALLY reasonable prices, unique offerings.
Some of the cool stuff:

Temporary Tattoo, see below for details

6 Temporary Tattoos, may last 7days: $10

They have some creative shirt phrases that I haven't seen before.  While the graphics and typography are uninspiring, the messages are fun and positive. 
  • T-shirts: Youth $12 Adult $14
  • Sweatshirts: Youth $20  Adult $22
Check out the monthly specials: today some long sleeve t-shirts and sweatshirts are offered for $5-$6!

I haven't ordered any products yet, so I can't report about quality or service. I'll update when I do...

Saturday, September 25, 2010

The Eye of Hurricane G

Bookmark and Share  

I peeked in to see if G was sleeping this morning to discover him intently poring over a book, fingers running over the words, moving his lips like he was reading, studying the photos, turning the pages.  He did this for 10 minutes, while I called the whole family up individually to watch this wonder through the crack in his door.  My turbo-energized boy wouldn't sit still for a whole story a year ago, only started attending to read-aloud books a few months ago, and now he's yearning to read! 

My little late bloomer can read a few sight words, but may soon be putting together letters to truly read.  I'm thrilled beyond words...pun intended.  It's time to pull out the software and dvds, pick up speed and teach him while he's motivated, catch him by storm.  

We have hundreds of books for him and from my older children, but G picked out new-to-him nonfiction weather books at a garage sale this week - best $3 spent EVER!  ;}

Thursday, September 23, 2010

Book Review - A Regular Guy: Growing Up With Autism

Bookmark and Share

A Regular Guy: Growing Up With AutismA Regular Guy: Growing Up With Autism by Laura Shumaker

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Great read...I couldn't put this book down!  The author's writing style is conversational and mirrors many of my own thoughts, fears, emotions.  She accurately portrays how autism impacts the WHOLE family, in wonderful and heartbreaking ways. She empathetically characterizes the exhaustive effort, confusion and disappointments for a mother, father, siblings, and extended family of a special needs child.

This book is an excellent choice for a special needs teacher, therapist, family member or family friend of an autistic child.  It offers honest insight into the daily disruptions and quirks of autism.  Without too much drama or sadness, she uses personal stories to illustrate life for and with an autistic - at home, school and the surrounding community.  She also includes a copious dose of funny anecdotes, "Autism-isms" that had me cracking up. As a parent of a son on the spectrum, finding humor in the midst of chaos is indispensible for sanity.

I wouldn't recommend this for a newly diagnosed family.  Save it for a year until your head stops spinning so crazily and you secure routines and therapies.  It's not a "how to", therapy, program or methodology book.  It's an honest delightful story of a family's struggle and triumphs with the puzzle of autism.

I "get it"...this book may help others to "get it" too.

Playing it By Ear

Bookmark and Share
A few weeks ago I had a blocked ear and used ear drops and a bulb syringe to flush out my ears.  I repeated the process for 3 days to clear my ear.  As expected, G was fascinated with the process and asked lots of questions, watched from every angle, looked at and handled all the equipment carefully. 

Tonight as I was helping my daughter with her homework (Mom's preoccupied!), he slammed a kitchen drawer and ran around our well-worn circle pathway - kitchen, hallway, foyer, great room, and back.  Round and round he goes....  Stimming: a sure sign that he's up to something.  

He stopped to drag a kitchen stool to the sink while excitedly waving a turkey baster.  He cranked the water to "blast" mode.   I hesitated, then I figured - oh let him play, squirt some water while we conquer story problems. 

Next thing I know, my daughter shouts, "No!" 

I snap my head around to see G, head tilted, squeezing water from the turkey baster in to his ear! 

What a funny photo that would've made if only I'd been prepared!  Or not working on left-brained math...

Tuesday, September 21, 2010

iSpy Autism-Friendly Apps for iPad: Part 2

Bookmark and Share

Tongue = Extreme concentration! 
Autism: got an app for that?  YES!!!!

Fresh Approach
Specialized apps are developed daily as word spreads about iPad's revolutionary accessible, intuitive use as a tool for Autism, Speech Apraxia, Sensory Processing, Cerebral Palsy, Physical Impairment, Down Syndrome and other special needs. 

Just So Right on So Many Levels
Ipads aren't cheap, but are less costly, more portable and manageable than other communication devices and systems for Autistic learning. Many apps are low-cost or FREE!  You don't need special training or classes to figure out the device or learn apps.  In fact, apps are so user-friendly, many children learn through experimental play.  Best of all, apps are fun - appealing and engaging. 

Share the Wealth
Ask your therapists if they have favorite iPad apps to suggest.  If they don't, suggest your favorites to them.  Ask your schools if they're integrating iPad learning into the classroom.  Apps for Babies, Toddlers, Preschoolers, Elementary, Middle and High School age and older are popping up, popping smiles and popping skills! 

Autism Hangout Special Reports by Craig Evans.

An enlightening interview with Moms With Apps founder, Lorraine Akemann:

Find it here:  Also take advantage of App Fridays to get offers of free apps. I've loaded up my iTouch with this offer - love it!

Craig Evans interview featuring Shannon DeRoches Rosa, a California mom who documented her 9 year old son's miraculous interaction with an iPad:

Check out  for more video examples of iPads utilized with Autistic children.  This site is a video documentation of the work of a talented developmental/vision specialist. She uses the iPad to help infants and toddlers with special needs. This is helpful to watch the children interact with technology.

Great site!  Thanks for sharing your work.  Thanks also to the children and their families for letting us share your incredible experience.  I really wish her site had a search feature by disability, age, and/or app.

Also see related posts:
My recent iSpy Autism-Friendly Apps for Ipad post with videos (including Shannon DeRoches Rosa), app websites and app reviews and links galore.
This mom's site has an extensive list of apps for ASD grouped into uses.  Apps for Social Goals, Apps for Communication, Apps for Behaviour, Relaxation, and Structure, Apps for Sensory Issues, Apps for Functional Issues, Apps for Productivity, Apps for Organization, and Apps for Academics
So helpful!  I'm going to explore new finds n the "Apps for Sensory Issues" category. 
Her list includes:
Time Timer $4.99    Visual Timer on the go!

Kinetic Balls  FREE! Change images for capitivating, calm organizing visuals 

Tell Time $1.99

A Mood Pad: reacts like heat-sensing mood ring  FREE!

Blowfish Poppers FREE!

A new site to check out from site is:

Still saving...I'm hoping to get G's iPad for his upcoming 5th birthday, maybe Christmas...I'd love to claim ownership of my iTouch again someday.  For now he's welcome to it, he's loving it!  ;p
Happy App-ing!

More resources:

Monday, September 20, 2010

Mini Movie

Bookmark and Share

Stop-motion animation, mini-style!


Saturday, September 18, 2010

Jumping N's!

Bookmark and Share
I've got that newborn baby proud mama excitement!  For 3 years, I've been dropping off my older 2 children at Tae Kwon Do 4-6 times per week..  Every couple of months, I'd try to take G in to watch them, with disastrous, frustrating, embarrassing results.  See  Now that G has started TKD and he's doing better at engaging and not running out the door, it's possible to take him to watch my older kids in their class occasionally. 

I've missed so much of their practice and hard work.  They've worked their way up to only 2 belts away from black belt.  Now I get to see the really spectacular stuff - also exciting and motivating for G, more engaging.  I love to watch their routines, marvel at how high they can kick!  I still get to go through from the bottom up with G to see that learning process, so it worked out in life's strange way. 

I get the giddy, new mama proud feeling and my kids get 2 energetic new cheerleaders.  I've so often felt guilty that I haven't been there to watch them through their progression in this year-round, demanding sport.  I'm making up for lost time!  What a great feeling it is to give them some positive kudos in an area that was entirely closed off to me for 3 years.  While not quite as momentous as their first smile or first time they said "mama", it is a first step, a milesone step for all of us.

N and M are training for an upcoming local demonstration.  Here's awesome shots of my 11 year old jumping over 4 kids to break a board.  So cool! 
My10 year old daughter in front watches her big brother make his jump!

Friday, September 17, 2010

Street Wars: I Brake for Autism

Bookmark and Share
Pretty much since G's been able to walk, he's been a runner.  I joke that he was late to walk (14 mos.), but then he made up for lost time by just getting up and running.  Fast.  With therapy, sensory diet, hard work and maturity, he's made improvements in his impulsivity and running away, but we still have to be vigilant and stay right with him.  Every time I give him 20 feet he takes a mile - so to speak, and runs into the road when I least expect it.  He rarely hears me shouting to stop or any other key words/phrases that we've tried.  Corners are the worst.  We have power play battles at every corner.  He's getting better at stopping, I start my stop commands about 50 feet in advance.  But at times he'll go 5 feet into the street, halfway across, or even just a couple of steps, then look back with a grin.  I just can't seem to get the seriousness of the consequences of running into the street into his bright little mind.  I've stepped up the drama and urgency in my explanations.  I've moved from talking about getting hurt, breaking bones, to going to hospital, to dying.  Nothing seems to hit home with him.  Lately he's a bit obsessed with emergency vehicles so injuries, ambulances and hospitals take on an exciting prospect for him. 

Every few months I give up the battle and retreat to the back yard instead of playing in the front yard or venturing out into the neighborhood.  I've been working on it more intensely over the summer until now, hoping repetition will finally work.  It's worked with other dangerous behaviors, but I'm still diligently working and waiting for the light bulb to illuminate.  I welcome any tips to combat our street battle. At times he turns it into a game, but mostly he simply lacks judgment and is unpredictably impulsive. Sigh. This too shall be overcome eventually I hope.  I pray.

So, I was ready for a laugh today, overdue.  Once again on our way home from picking up his big brother at the bus stop, G ran ahead 20 feet and right into the street, ignoring my commands.  I got him to come back, face me and look at me (ok, head faced in my general direction).  Here's how the conversation went...

G, you crossed the road without looking!
What could happen?  I could die

That's terrible!  Would Mama be sad?  Yes

Would Daddy be sad?  Yes

Would (sister) M be sad?  Yes

Would (brother) N be sad?  No

Gotta love the honesty!  Of course his big brother would be sad, but G feels the typical brotherly rivalry.  Thanks for the laugh, G!  I brake for autism, I also brake for laughs.   Often!

Thursday, September 16, 2010

A Wrinkle in Thyme

Bookmark and Share


Please don't retouch my wrinkles. It took me so long to earn them.
~Anna Magnani

While shopping in the produce section last week, my 11 year old son N whispered to me, "Did you see her?  She's really old!" 

I followed his (thankfully) discreet nod to a woman easily in her late 90's.  Her stooped spine and hunched shoulders carried a shawl over a long dark dress as she shuffled along in her practical black shoes.  She wore a babushka over wisps of thin white hair, her sunken face corrugated with deep ridges of her life's canvas.  An artist's dream. 

I smiled and explained how special it was to see her out and about, still shopping and getting around at her age. 

A few minutes later he told me, "B's Grandma is really old like that, too.  You should see her!" 

"Oh, I didn't realize she was that old," I wondered, haven't met her yet.

"Yeah, she is," he mused, "Well...I think maybe a month younger."

Love it!

Also last week while waiting for the schoolbus, G was wondering out loud if there would be a birthday celebration at school that day.  I quizzed him on the ages of his friends and family, some right, some wrong.  When I asked him how old I am, "He immediately responded, "5!"  (like duh, Mom!) 

I'm going to count that as an excellent sign that he considers me his peer, since we're working on Play Project, SonRise-inspired techniques.  lol

With mirth and laughter let old wrinkles come.
~William Shakespeare

Wednesday, September 15, 2010

True colors

Bookmark and Share
People are like stained glass windows.
They sparkle and shine when the sun is out,
but when the darkness sets in,
their true beauty is revealed
only if there is a light from within.
                                                       ~Elisabeth Kubler-Ross

Guiding Angel, 1890
 Louis Comfort Tiffany

Pumpkin and Beets Window 1899
Louis Comfort Tiffany

Saguaro Forms and Cactus Flowers 1927
Frank Llyod Wright

United Nations Peace Window
Marc Chagall 1964

St. Vitus Cathedral, Prague
Alphonse Mucha, 1930
Detail, St. Vitus Cathedral, Prague 1930
Alphonse Mucha

The Infant Baccus 1884
John LaFarge
Innovative American Artist
who discovered opalescent glass
Baccus: Roman God of Wine!

Charles Rennie Mackintosh
signature rose motif in mauve

Charles Rennie Mackintosh
purple rose panel

Rose panel 1901
House For An Art Lover, Belahouston, Glasgow
Charles Rennie Mackintosh


Wednesday, September 8, 2010

Tribute to Mason

Bookmark and Share

Moving video presentation to honor Mason. So terribly tragic, so frustrating .

Please sign petition if you haven't.

All parents and loved one of autistic angels thank you!

More about Mason:

Saturday, September 4, 2010

Reflections of Motherhood: what would you share?

Bookmark and Share
Sharing a video to reflect upon...

They asked moms if they could go back to before their first baby, what would they tell themselves. These are their answers. Everyone in the video is a mom :)

What message would you share with yourself?  So many rang true to me, but "you're about to find true love", "trust your instincts" and "you know best" were spot on. 
...also loved "Google doesn't have children"

Mine would be:
1) Take time to find pictures in the clouds together. 
2) Giggle!

I'd love to hear yours - comment below!

Friday, September 3, 2010

Just desserts: torte or retort?

Bookmark and Share
I've been reading yet another mother's lament about nearby patrons being judgemental and rude to an autistic family out for a meal at a restaurant.  After reading several of the sympathetic responses, it came to me: the perfect retort to an ignorant person when they've crushed my soul and flattened my family with a snide remark.  The next time anyone says something rude about my autistic son's behavior, I'll say with an innocent concerned expression,

"Oh, are you autistic like he is?" 

Likely met with bewilderment or denial.  Followed by my,

"Well I see that I've upset you.  I'm used to that with his autism.  My son doesn't have good social skills, gets frustrated and angry easily and often says whatever is on his mind without thinking.  It's so embarrassing when he's rude like that.  I just assumed you must be autistic too since you look just like he does when he's having a tantrum.  My mistake - you must just be a miserable judgemental person instead.  I hope you can get some therapy.  Good luck with that."

This may give them something to think about...or not.  If nothing else, their anger will  focus on me and not my beautiful son.  I'll feel better to model strength for my children.

Of course, this is all simply a fantasy, I'd never be able to pull myself together enough for this type of confrontation.  I've been battling on the front lines for hours, perhaps days.  I'm exhausted and hanging by my last nerve.  By the time someone says something in public, it's after several minutes of stares and comments I've ignored as I struggle to get G under control or smooth his sensory issues over.  My other children give me a play-by-play of other patron's reactions, get irritable and argue with each other, or talk over each other to gain my attention.  I've likely been worn down from an entire day (and maybe all night) of calming, singing, hugging, repeating favorites, whispers, crying, staring off into space.  I likely have nothing at home in the fridge, I'm too exhausted to think about cooking, we're celebrating a special occasion for one of my other children, or maybe I've had the joyful idea to GET OUT of  the house to have a "normal" family experience. 

I'd love a quiet fancy restaurant with soothing music...a place where my sensory-sensitive child might settle down, stop behavior that disturbs nearby patrons. I can't find a sitter because high costs and there isn't anyone who can handle my child.  Besides, he's a cherished member of our family - I simply want him to participate.  I've gone to great lengths to find a suitable venue - cross-referenced through my extensive litany of conditions.  Not a pricey fine dining establishment that I surely can't afford because of outrageous therapy bills, but a family restaurant where I hope we'll fit into the steady din of laughter and clanking dishes.  Somewhere where we can order the odd selections my child eats without creative upsell suggestions from waitstaff.  A non-trendy place without a waiting list so that we can find a semi-secluded table, of course at non-peak mealtime hour.  A booth to "trap" my son on the inside next to the wall so that he doesn't run amok.  This booth should be at the end of a row so that my son can't poke the patron behind him with a fork, close to the restroom for his frequent OCD handwashing trips, yet next to a window so that he can watch traffic and TRUCKS!   Considering entertainment: multiple tv's to focus on, crayons to roll and break, crackers to munch or smash.  A diner with items on the table that he can stim with - sugar packets to count, spoons to spin, menus to look through, plastic condiment bottles to line up, cheap napkins that double for tissues when someone inevitably cries.  An eatery with minimal collateral damage potential: vinyl seats, formica tabletops, tile floors, plastic cups with lids, plastic plates.  A diner clean enough so that when my son crawls under the table to escape I won't be horrified at what crawls back with him.  Someplace where I won't feel too self-conscious in my wrinkled t-shirt, stained jeans, mama-luggage purse, uncoiffed tresses, unpainted nails, un-everything - just a simple swipe of lipstick to adorn myself for confidence.   

I realize that we'll have our meal interrupted when my son gets too out of hand.  I can't remember when a family meal has lasted until dessert, when we'd each pass a spoonful of some luscious chocolate sweetness and lingered over coffee and conversation.   Instead, our family is prepared for quick exits.  We've done this brisk retreat countless times and have a battle plan prepared.  I bark out orders like a general: "You - flag down our server for the bill and some takeout boxes, you - find cash because we can't wait for a charge transaction, you - grab the backpack, you - grab my purse, you - please carry him and take off his shoes so his kicks don't hurt.  Pull up to the door, I'll fill the takeout boxes, handle the bill and meet the car.  You - put on his movie in the car, give him his toy, buckle him up and really try not to touch him or yell."  This only gets more complex, louder when I don't have my husband with me for backup.

I vow on our silent, exhausted drive home to never, never, NEVER go out again, it just isn't worth it.  So with or without a rude interaction with others, we'll go through our own private war regardless.  Hopefully we'll have enough energy or appetite to heat up our meals at home and sit chewing in silence.