Tag Archives: Autism

Just Be Kind

I wanted to take a moment and share something that happened last week…

But first, I want to start by saying that I know how lucky I am.

My boys are Autistic. Chances are you know someone who is Autistic. The current rate of Autism is 1 in 44. Think about that. 1 in 44. I heard last week that, due to teacher shortages, our local elementary schools will have 40 kids to a classroom. That means, statistically, there will be one child with Autism in every classroom. I was reading an estimate that by 2025 the rate will be 1 in 2. That is still sinking in.

Why am I lucky? Chances are when you think about what you know about Autism, whether that be from stereotype or personal experience, what you picture isn’t pleasant. You might picture stimming or objects being lined up. You might picture kids who can’t speak. You might picture a child having a meltdown. You might go a different direction altogether and picture a brilliantly artistic child, the math genius or musical savant. But, let’s be honest, most people don’t picture the pleasant side of Autism. They picture what they’ve seen, the public meltdowns. This is where I consider myself lucky, if that is even the right term. My boys don’t tend to have public meltdowns.

Don’t get me wrong, they have their meltdowns. Boy, do they! They just tend to hold it together long enough to have them at home, geared toward us. In a place where they feel safe and are with their people. I consider this lucky because I typically don’t have to deal with the world watching our absolute worst moments.

Don’t get me wrong. I get it. Those who see Monkey get mad and take a swing at mom, they don’t see a child with Autism. They see a little boy not getting his way and behaving badly. People see Mr. Man stimming, something he seems to be doing more and more as he gets older, and they don’t understand what he’s doing. It looks strange, if you aren’t use to it. I get it.

To put it simply, most people don’t know how to respond or interact. I get that. Funny thing is, that not knowing how to respond or interact is EXACTLY what my boys struggle with in every single situation. Most people will try not to make eye contact or avoid us. I get it, it’s fine. I honestly prefer those who ignore us to those with the made-up PHDs that try to bestow us with their genius advice.

He just needs a hug (Um….sure if I want to get punched in the face.)

Really, he needs consistent discipline (Oh, they have PLENTY of that. Consistency is our life!)

He really needs less screen time (I am sure he does, but sometimes I just need to get something accomplished without a fist going through a wall. I guarantee he has less screen time than you think).

All this to say, we all know Autism can be hard, we’ve gotten use to the stares, we’ve heard the mean and unnecessary comments.

But back to last week…

We were at church. There has been a change to the teachers in the boys’ class. A necessary change, an understandable change, but all change is hard. Monkey was struggling with the change and seeking comfort. In that situation comfort was his brother. Mr. Man didn’t want anything to do with his little brother in that situation and they began to fight. We have been working really hard to get Monkey to understand that if he is getting frustrated with a situation, he can walk away. We clearly need to go back and clarify that because he walked out of class and came to find me. He crossed in front of a woman sitting near us to get to me. Later, after calming him down, I took him back to class. About 10 minutes later, I see one of the teachers walk in. Knowing she was there for me, I get up to leave and catch the woman’s eye as I walk past. Monkey is clearly not able to stay in class and we walk the campus for awhile, stomping on ants (great for anger) and chasing birds.

Eventually, we end up sitting back in service. Headphones in place, I thought we’d be fine… it’s always fine. Until it wasn’t. Monkey decided he wanted my phone. He’s been using it to type to me when he is too upset to talk. I got a lot of angry emoji’s and a few bad words. Then, he decided he was going to play a game. Not wanting to set the precedent of leaving class to play on my phone, I quietly told him no and took my phone. Wrong choice. You see, telling Monkey no isn’t allowed.

I spent the rest of the service keeping him quiet as he either flailed on the floor (a moment in which I wondered to myself at exactly what point in life I had given up on the idea that the floor is dirty) or repeatedly bit my arms. Again, eye contact with the woman nearby. This time, I was the one to quickly look away as I attempted to hold back my own frustration and tears. Church ended and we exited, post haste. I handed Monkey over to my husband so that I could use the restroom, knowing I wouldn’t get another chance until we were all safely home and calm.

As I left the restroom, something happened that I haven’t had happen in ten years of being an Autism parent. The woman who I know was watching the whole episode walked up to me and gave me a big hug. She said these words, which I will never forget, “I don’t understand. I don’t. But I see you, and you are doing great.” Full of frustration and covered in bite marks, I let the tears fall.

I have heard the rude comments, the mean comments, the comments that come from people who can’t understand. But NEVER has someone told me, I don’t understand but I see you and you’re doing great.

Being an Autism parent is isolating. Most of the time we prefer NOT to be seen, because the world isn’t kind. But knowing, in our lowest moments, that we ARE seen and that somebody understands that we are trying our best, even if they don’t understand the situation. That is a priceless feeling.

For those who are uncomfortable with how to respond to us when our kids are having a hard time. Just see us, just now we really are doing so much more than you see, but above all… just be kind. It does so much more than any advice ever will. Just be kind.

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Another Season

Autism… again.

Here I leave yet another doctors office after hearing those same words, different child. 

I can honestly say I was simultaneously not at all surprised and still shocked. I mean, I couldn’t  live in our house for the last 4 years and not have seen that coming, but I didn’t think it would come so fast. Sure, I had spent months on the paperwork side trying to get things done. Trying to find a way to help Monkey with his anger before something major happened. But spoken into the world in such a passing and casual way…

I didn’t know what to think.

Sure, I saw the similarities. But they are also SO different. Night and day different. But then isn’t that how it always is? One is sensory avoidant and the other is sensory seeking. One struggles with academics and the other is scary quick. One struggles with anxiety and the other one is so ADHD that I am tired. (That actually came as a side note, ‘Oh, and we are definitely dealing with ADHD, too.’ 😒 You think?) I know the school Psychologist said it last year, but I don’t think I really believed him. I honestly didn’t expect the Psychiatrist to agree so easily.

I didn’t know how to feel.

I could circle back to the millions of questions, but I have already spent too much time there. 

It doesn’t change anything. He’s still the absolute funniest kid I know. He has the absolute best smile. He is the protector, the ‘Dragon Chaser’. The keeper of the time. 

He can also be the angriest kid I have ever met. That is why we started down this path. No child should be that angry. But how do we help him tame that anger?

No, nothing has changed. But perhaps now we can move forward. Have more laughter and smiles than screaming and tears. 

That is my hope for my our future. But, I am pretty sure we are going to need more coffee first.

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2021: An Update

As we head into a new year, it has come to my attention that i have fallen off the face of the Earth. No, I am still here, but I have been neglecting my writing and posting. Why? Excuses, excuses, excuses…. Yeah, there are a lot of reasons, but all are poor excuses. Mostly a mix of new endeavors to steal my time and focus. None of which panned out because I was trying to do things via avenues that were not me. Also, I was in a bad mood. I mean 2020….need I say more? I find it very difficult to write when I am in a bad mood.

For this post, I will just give a short update on everyone and talk about where I plan to take this blog this year. My word of the year is Simplicity. We have been working really hard to remember to focus on the simple things. I want to continue this throughout the year.

Mr. Man

Right before the school year started (and I mean RIGHT before) we decided that, as well as homeschooling had served us, there were ways in which I could just not provide what he needed. On top of this, the additional focus Mr. Man needed meant Monkey was not getting the attention he deserved or needed. I could no longer feel like I had to choose between the needs of my children. So, we enrolled Mr. Man in a local Autism school. Yes, in the middle of Covid, when everyone began to turn toward homeschooling, we enrolled him in school. We just can’t do “normal”.

With Covid and remote learning (another post entirely) the year has been anything but normal. However, Mr. Man is currently attending in person and is happy and showing amazing progress. We have never had a time when the mention of going to school didn’t send him into huge meltdowns. He is now brushing his teeth, getting dressed and putting on shoes BY HIMSELF, every morning. That speaks volumes.

Monkey

Monkey is still a challenge. He’s very smart and very stubborn. He hasn’t wanted to do school with mom and we’ve been forced to try different approaches. At this point, Charlotte Mason and Montessori styles have been working the best. It’s been ROUGH to say the least. Mr. Man’s online school schedule threw Monkey’s routine out the window. Monkey has been begging to go to school and we actually looked into enrolling him at a nearby Montessori school for next year. Sadly, have decided against it. He is still struggling with his anger and emotional outbursts. The school didn’t sound too willing to help him with these struggles, even though they claim to work on the social/emotional development of the child, as well as the academic. They expected him to have already acquired these skills prior to enrollment. So, we will continue to school Monkey at home and focus on strengthening his skills and building habits that will help him accomplish his goals.

Mama Bean

I have been learning a lot about myself the past six months. How I function best and my limitations. It’s a slow process, but am seeing forward movement. For now, I remind myself to focus on the simple things in life. Playing basketball with the boys, watching the ducks as we sit by the lake, and enjoying a cup of cocoa with Monkey in the early morning hours before anyone else wakes up.

In 2021, I plan to focus on 3 areas.

  • My health
  • My writing
  • My house (decluttering with purpose)

I hope you join me on this journey. Looking forward to a year of self-improvement and new adventures. What are you looking forward to this year?

 

 

 

 

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Turing Tumble: A Timberdoodle Review

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In a generation of computers, coding, and engineering, Turing Tumble appears to be a wonderfully fun and unique hands-on learning experience for our children. I was given the opportunity to review this product and am eager to share what the Beans think.

DSC_0194First, what is Turing Tumble? Simply, it is a hands-on logic puzzle that will help our children learn how computers work using coding, switches, bits, binary counting and a lot of problem-solving. The students read through a comic book style activity manual and complete puzzles as they go, all while manipulating components on a puzzle board. Turing Tumble is available at Timberdoodle and is included as part of their 2019 Sixth-Grade Curriculum Kit. 

So what did the Beans think? I wanted to love this product, I truly did. The product and manual are gorgeous and very inviting. I think it has a ton of potential, but sadly it is not for us, at this time. I am not saying it’s a bad product, or that I wouldn’t recommend it for the right family It just doesn’t work for my family, right now. Let me explain in more detail…

The good… DSC_0165

The product is beautiful and really well made. My husband even commented on how impressed he was by the inserts that are included to keep everything neat and organized. He’s a board gamer so inserts are very important. The book is inviting and eye-catching. I like how the puzzles introduce new pieces and scaffold the student’s learning to move them along from puzzle to puzzle. My 5-year-old is my logical child, while he obviously couldn’t read the comic or follow the logic, we did have great conversations about the patterns that were created while working the puzzles.

Why it didn’t work for us…

dsc_0183.jpgMy children are a little young for the product. We knew this when we began, the recommended age for this product is 8+. Mr. Man is 7. However, with ASD he sometimes takes to activities such as this in a way that surprises us all. Sadly, he showed absolutely no interest whatsoever. This is the way of our life, everything is “go big or go home”. One problem he had while we worked through the puzzles was that it was very difficult for him to manipulate the pieces or place the tiny balls due to fine-motor weaknesses. I myself became frustrated at the balls constantly falling when trying to insert them in the starting position. I feel like this could easily be fixed with a small piece of clear plastic on this part of the computer board. Perhaps with a hole to load the balls into. The plastic would keep the balls from constantly popping out of place and requiring one to reset the whole system. I also realized, after we started, that this is a hard activity for a child who struggles with cause and effect.

While this activity was too advanced for my children, my husband and I enjoyed working through the puzzles, to an extent. This activity does not work well for someone with a low frustration tolerance (or a Mama who is trying to reduce stress for medical reasons)! I also believe that it will work better for children who do not give up easily. Some of the puzzles require a lot of trial and error and a good dose of patience.

DSC_0195Who would it work for…

I think this product would be great for the right family. I definitely recommend it for older children who have an interest in computers, logic, and coding. Logical thinkers who enjoy solving puzzles will love Turing Tumble. This would make a great cooperative small group activity. Again, probably best for a child who isn’t easily frustrated. I definitely plan on keeping this one on our shelf to bring out again in a few years.

 

 

 

 

timberdoodle

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Melting Crayons in the Desert

It’s summer….it’s Arizona…..and this Mama doesn’t do the heat. This is one of the reasons we continue to school throughout the year. Not the most important reason, but one of them. Keeping our schedule as consistent as possible is extremely important in our world. But we make sure to occasionally incorporate fun learning activities that break up the monotony of hibernating in our AC. This summer, our local mall has opened the new Crayola Experience and I have heard many ask about it. So, I decided to take a moment and let everyone know what we thought about it.

In an attempt to avoid the crowds at a brand new indoor attraction, we decided to go check out the Crayola Experience to celebrate Monkey’s birthday on the 4th of July. I was delighted that our plan worked and we were not overwhelmed by large crowds. VERY important in our world.

What is there to do at the Crayola Experience?

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When you enter, you are given coins which you can use to get modeling doh or create a personalized label to put on a crayon. The boys enjoyed this activity and Mama found the process of putting the labels on the crayon oddly mesmerizing. The rest of the experience is broken into several stations that the children can move between creating various types of art.

  • Be a Star: At this station, you can take your photo and design your own personalized coloring pages. We really enjoyed this activity and brought home several pages for the kids to color later. My only complaint is that once you push the ‘take picture’ button, the camera is quite slow in responding. We all know kids don’t sit for that long! It took several attempts to get a good picture. Though, we did bring home some great outtakes, too.
  • Melt and Mold: DSC_0402 copyHere, the children were each given a crayon and chose a mold to design a ring or racecar crayon. Of course, the boys chose racecars. They would insert their crayon into the machine and watch the crayon melt and fill up the mold. Then, they watched as the crayon was cooled and rehardened. After the activity was complete, they were able to take their racecar with them. The children enjoyed watching the process and I was surprised that they were patient throughout the activity.
  • DSC_0397 copyDrip Art: Like Melt and Mold, the children are given crayons to put into the melting machine. At this station, the crayons are dripped onto spinning paper, similar to the old paint spinners I remember as a child. The outcome is a unique work of art. There is a lever that allows you to control the speed of the spinning and change the effect of the design.
  • Silly Selfies: This station is set up with several iPads and allow the children to create silly faces before taking a selfie to add their image to their creation. Monkey especially liked this station (of course he did!) and kept asking for Mama’s email, to send his pictures to me.
  • Colossal Caddy: This station consists of a giant carousel of crayons with plenty of coloring pages for the young artists to enjoy. A child who enjoys coloring (or one that can sit still) would definitely enjoy spending some time at this station.
  • Rockin’ Paper: At this station, the children got to color (in our case) a frog. The frog is then punched out and given metal clasps on the feet. The Crayola workers will then place your frog on a special stage, add music and watch your frog dance.
  • Meltdown: At this station, you can create artwork using melted crayons in special glue gun style pens. The idea at this station seems like a lot of fun, but we found the pens were often running low on crayons (replaced by workers) and the effect was disappointing.
  • Color Magic: DSC_0408 copyAt this station, you color a picture (dragon, unicorn, fairy, etc.) and then scan it into the computers. Your picture is turned into a digital design. You can choose a background for your creation and email it to yourself.
  • Rainbow Rain: This station was one of the biggest hits. The children stood (or in our case danced)DSC_0450 copy in front of a screen. Their picture was projected in front of them as a rainbow of paint poured down over their heads. The kids spent quite some time enjoying this station.
  • You Design: This station was another one of our favorites. Here you design a car or create clothing for a fashion model. After scanning your creation, you can see your designs come to life on the giant tv screens in front of you.
  • Scribble Square: At this station, the world is a chalkboard and your little ones can go graffiti crazy creating their own world. There is also a giant LiteBrite, next to Scribble Square, for the children to get creative with

DSC_0474 copyThere is also a snack and dessert shop available if you get hungry. We stopped here to enjoys some brownies (who needs birthday cake?) The last activity we enjoyed was a panning for gold type station. Although, this is an added cost activity. You purchase a bag of sand and pan for different types of rocks. Monkey loves rocks, so for his special day, we went ahead and got the kids some sand. This activity was much faster than expected, but they were happy with the treasures they were able to take home.

Is it educational?

There are definitely some educational aspects to the Crayola Experience. For us, any outing that involves interacting with others, waiting in line and following directions is educational! Obviously, this experience is filled with a great deal of art and creativity. I liked how the children had the opportunity to see how crayons are created at the Melt and Mold station. I also liked how the children had the opportunity to see the different ways they can use their creativity to create something bigger than a simple picture. My husband is currently looking for a graphic designer for a project he is working on, so I loved that my children had the opportunity to see how they can take what they create on paper and bring it to life on the screen in a unique way.

 

Is it worth the cost?

This is a question that I have been asked a lot! So, here is my honest opinion. For those with super young children, you can probably go through all the stations in about an hour. Older children and those who enjoy spending more time coloring and creating could definitely spend longer there. At $14.99 a person, this seems a bit steep for this Mama. However, since the location is so convenient for us, the annual pass (at $29.99) is quite reasonable. We can stop in for a little break whenever we are in the area. If Mama needs to do something at the mall, there is something the kids can easily look forward to, as well. Plus, with the annual pass, you get 20% off of food shops and the attached Crayola Store….which can easily be a dangerous place!

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Rainbow Rain

Take away – If you enjoy coloring and are looking for a cool activity to get out of the house this summer, you should definitely check out the Crayola Experience. Both Mr. Man and Monkey said they enjoyed it a lot and want to go again. I was also pleasantly surprised that Mr. Man handled the lights and sounds very well. We did not have a single issue/meltdown and I do not recall any whining…..success!

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Why We Play Games

My family enjoys board gaming. Especially my husband. He works on writing for a local gaming company and has his own blog over at The Eclectic Bean where he reviews board games. So, our children have grown up around the game table. In a time when children are exposed to far more screen time than they need, we find board gaming an important part of our their social development. Human interaction is important, especially in this age of technology. By why else would we find it so beneficial to include games in our homeschool day? There are so many benefits to gaming.

What games teach us…

  • Gaming teaches our children patience. Games require learning to wait and take turns.
  • Games teach cooperation and healthy competition.
  • Games teach us that we don’t always win. Yes, I said it. Not everyone gets a prize, not everyone wins. No, we don’t let our children win (believe me, they win plenty of times, on their own).
  • Games teach a variety of academic skills. Scorekeeping reinforces math concepts and many games require reading and other such academic knowledge.
  • Games teach our children critical thinking, problems solving and logic skills.
  • Games engage our children and grab their attention. They don’t realize they are learning. Shhh!
  • Interacting around the game table gives our children the opportunity to observe and understand social norms.

As you can see, all children can benefit from gaming. But for our Special Needs and ASD children, these benefits are even more important. I have seen amazing growth in Mr. Man’s ability to win/lose gracefully. I have seen him learn empathy. He has the opportunity to practice social skills and learn appropriate social interaction in a real-life environment and he has fun doing it. Yes, I know we can only handle so many rounds of Candy Land and Hi Ho Cherry-O! Therefore, over several blog posts, I will introduce you to a few of our favorites that may be a little less mind-numbing for the adults.

 

Rory’s Story Cubes

We picked up a set of Rory’s Story Cubes to help Mr. Man build language and storytelling 65386702_2448446508568229_815360706051309568_nskills. Each player takes turns rolling nine dice. Each die has six unique pictures on them. The roller will use the pictures to create a story. This is a great game for children who still struggle with competition, winning and losing, since they are not a factor in this game. For Mr. Man, this game helps him plan and order his thoughts. The game may also be altered for younger children by allowing them to roll fewer dice. Both Mr. Man and Monkey enjoy this game and adore listening to Daddy tell stories on his turn. Playing with your children provides them with examples of how to order events and tell oral stories. It is also a wonderful way to build relationships and laugh together.

 

I have found Rory’s Story Cubes to be of excellent quality and there are several themes to choose from. My boys love the Batman version. I plan on using our Story Cubes as a way to springboard into some writing activities, in the future.

Here is an example of one of the stories…..

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“Once upon a time, there was a treasure and the sun comed down. The guy said, ‘Go to the castle.’ And he saw a balloon. He comed to a ladder and the poison comed to the sun. The sun comed up and that was bad!” (Monkey, age 4) As you can see, we are still working on some skills.

 

 

(This post contains affiliate links, as an Amazon Associate I earn from qualifying purchases. However, I never recommend an item unless we use it and love it! Any items linked are items that I have been recommending to friends and family long before this blog!)

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Why Did I Think This Would Get Easier?

Why did I think this would get easier as they got older? When they were little and had no language, I remember thinking….When they get older it will be easier. When Mr. Man learns to talk the meltdowns will lessen and things will be easier. When Monkey isn’t a toddler, dealing with Mr. Man’s behaviors will be easier.60002327_10215851453573427_6452811242636574720_o

Well, the behaviors have changed, but is it easier? No. Sadly, no.

It’s been a rough few weeks in our world. We seem to have fallen into a pattern. We have periods when we see amazing growth and progress. Then, we hit a wall. Progress halts, behaviors increase and this Mama finds herself in a dark, low place. This is where I find myself now. Mr. Man has ‘hit a wall’ as we refer to it. He’s older, language is doing amazingly, meltdowns have lessened, but it isn’t easier. It’s just different. Meltdowns have been replaced with attitude, defiance, obsessions, and other exhausting and frustrating behaviors. His deficits are more obvious to those outside our world, and that brings a whole new set of issues to struggle with. Add to this, Monkey has been dealing with his own struggles about which Mama has had to open her eyes and deal with. I 45066103_10214433495645365_5884390132240351232_oknow we will walk through this and come out the other side. I know we will walk through more valleys along the way, too. But for now, I must wrestle, and come to terms, with the fact that it isn’t going to get easier.

Maintaining Mama’s sanity while dealing with mental and neurodevelopmental disorders is HARD. Rest in the valley’s Mamas. Don’t make camp, but rest. Climbing the mountains is hard, the views are worth it! 

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The Battle Before

So, here’s the thing about being a parent of a child with “High Functioning” Autism….

I wish people understood.

I wish they understood the battle. The daily fight that occurs before we arrive at any given place. Then maybe, just maybe, they would be able to understand why I am always on edge and perpetually exhausted. Maybe then they would have a better understanding of why I don’t care (unless it’s mid-summer) where my kids’ shoes are.45077208_10214439990247726_9160495227469824000_o

I get it. My kid can put on a show. We know this. Although, as he gets older it does seem to be more difficult for him to hide because the differences are becoming more apparent. I know when you meet him you see a kid who is quiet, well behaved and excited to be part of the group. I get that it takes getting to know him and spending time with him before you can glimpse into our world. “He’s fine,” you say, as you wonder why I seem overly concerned. “He’s SO good!” You say and wonder about a comment I made about our difficult day. But what most people don’t understand is that in order to get to the moment they see, we’ve already waged full-on battle at home. Let me share an example…

Going to church

His teachers love him. They always do. “He’s so sweet and good!” For this I am glad, I truly am. But usually, after I have battled him, I battle myself and wonder if I should have flown the white flag and stayed home. Was it worth it?

Getting dressed… Just because we’ve worn the shirt 50 times just fine does not mean it’s not going to be itchy, too big, too small or simply the wrong color today. There is no precedence to the crimes committed by clothing. Believe me, if there were rules…I could dance that dance. But there aren’t rules. Don’t even get me started on the evils of socks and shoes.

Then, there is the breakfast battle. It’s not what he eats, but how much. Usually, around third breakfast, he is banned from the kitchen (no joke, I have considered a locking fridge) it’s non-stop and it’s obsessive behavior. By now, we are usually in a ball crying because he has realized my intention is to take him outside of the house. “BUT I DON’T NEED TO BRUSH MY TEETH!” Sorry, $1500 in dental work states otherwise, kid. No deal, negotiations over, the line is drawn.

I am already tired. Not to mention, 4-year-old Monkey with his own temper and opinions has stripped and been reclothed at least four times by now. Throw in some brotherly squabbling, hitting and possibly some biting and we have a fairly typical morning.

Today’s outing (church) is a treat… Spring Festival. Which means today Mr. Man does not need to suffer through the torture that is Worship. He hates this and it would mean certain death if it wasn’t for our ever handy noise canceling headphones– which we managed to misplace the week before (THAT was a bad morning!) The kids get to enjoy bounce houses, face painting, balloon animals and popsicles.

However, this change in routine has confused him and he leaves his class no less than three times to come get me during service. The teachers (who are just outside the door and are still getting to know him) seem confused by my concern that he has interrupted service. It’s not the interruption that concerns me, but that he has left without telling anyone. Yes, he seems like all the other kids for the most part. But, please be aware, when confused he becomes a flight risk.

Don’t get me wrong, I am not upset with the teachers. Most 6-year-olds do not require this level of supervision. However, Mr. Man lacks an understanding of cause and effect. He is impulsive. He does and does not think. He appears to understand directions (but if you gave more than one, he doesn’t) and they are not yet in tune with him. You can see why I am always a bit on edge. Most people aren’t as tuned into him as I am. I think “High Functioning” often causes people to overestimate his understanding and underestimate the need for diligence.

I have now spent the service thinking about morning combat, his flight risk, and the effort it takes to pretend everything is “Great!”

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So yes, I did just go into life-saving action to spare balloon Spiderman from an untimely death by blade of grass.

Nope, I am still not concerned that his shoes are AWOL.

(BTW- I keep extras in the car.)

 

 

(This post contains affiliate links, as an Amazon Associate I earn from qualifying purchases. However, I never recommend an item unless we use it and love it! Any items linked are items that I have been recommending to friends and family long before this blog!)

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Things We Love…

Okay, Autism Mama’s, let’s be real…. life is crazy! I wanted to take a few moments to share a few items we have found that have made our lives just a little bit easier. Because, anything that can make a struggle a little easier is GOLD!

Noise

Mr. Man struggles with loud noises. Public restrooms are torture. Movie theaters are too loud. A classroom of 30 talking   kids, overwhelming. A screaming younger brother- the worst! Someone suggested we try noise canceling headphones. We got these sport earmuffs and they have been a lifesaver! He now reminds us to bring them and knows to get them from his pack independently when he is getting overwhelmed. They helped him tune out the kids chatter and focus on his teacher’s voice. We can’t go to a movie without them. I have a different pair that folded smaller for portability, but the process to unfold was too complicated and took away his ability to be independent while using them. We love this set!

 

Water Bottles

Water bottles have been a constant struggle for us. We live in Arizona, he needs to bring a water bottle to all activities. However, motor delays make opening most water bottles an issue. If he CAN open the bottles there was always the issue of them breaking with one drop. We drop water bottles… a lot. I needed a more durable material. Water bottles are pricey and I was over them breaking the first time we used them. The other issue was that I had to be able to clean it. If i need to disassemble 20 pieces and use some type of Swiss Army cleaning tool…forget it! I don’t have that kind of time. I look for 4 things when buying water bottles.

  • Durability
  • Mr. Man’s ability to operate it independently
  • Price
  • Ease of cleaning

I came across Contigo Kids Trekker water bottles and love them! They meet all my criteria and both boys love them. My only complaint is that I wish they were a little larger.

 

Bento Style Lunch Boxes

When Mr. Man was in Preschool, I had a problem which I have heard many parents struggle with. I would pack a lunch with a variety of food and I find out teachers were deciding what was appropriate to eat first, last, etc. and would only open (because he wasn’t independent in this skill) certain items. This frustrated him and irritated me. I didn’t pack junk and anything I packed, I wanted him to be able to access. I needed to find a way to give him access and independence. After some searching, I came across the Yumbox. These boxes are great. With the flip of one latch he can access everything I pack. No more overly opinionated teachers dictating his lunch and he no longer depends on others to open all of his food. This became even better when he started Elementary school and he didn’t need to ask for help with his lunch. The boxes are fun and appealing, too. They are also truly leakproof. Yogurt and applesauce…no problem! The containers come apart into 2 pieces for easy cleaning. Note: The outer shell (with silicone for sealing) is NOT dishwasher safe- this will destroy the leakproof seal. I found it best to simply hand wash these with a soft cloth.

 

Pencils

Mr. Man struggles with handwriting. He has a strong grip and pushes hard. We prefer mechanical pencils because pencil sharpeners are either loud or difficult to use. However, his grip is so hard, using a regular mechanical pencil is pretty much impossible. They break more than he is able to write. Then, I found these Handwriting Pencils by PaperMate. The lead is 1.3mm, so it holds up to his intense grip without breaking. Its triangular shape has been wonderful in reminding him how he is to hold a pencil (also, amazing for Monkey who is just learning to write and his hold is awful!) I am so impressed by the improvement in their handwriting since we found these.

 

As you can see, we strive for independence. I can’t always be there to help him and we cannot expect the world to change for him. So, we strive to get him the tools that allow him to be successful and independent. Hopefully, some of the things we love will help make your day just a little bit smoother. Goodness knows, we could all use smoother days!

 

(This post contains affiliate links, as an Amazon Associate I earn from qualifying purchases. However, I never recommend an item unless we use it and love it! Any items linked are items that I have been recommending to friends and family long before this blog!)

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What I Learned My First Year Homeschooling…

29064136_10212772547282694_7215172234656523124_oWe have officially been homeschooling for a year now. I see so much growth in the boys and I have learned so much, myself! As I reflect on the past year, I thought I’d share 3 things that I have learned…

  • De-schooling is a real and necessary thing.

I use to hear this term ‘de-schooling’ and I would laugh….that is NOT a thing. Why waste time? Get in a routine and get started. Okay, I am not above admitting that I am wrong from time to time. Okay, I am pretty much wrong most of the time. But here is what I learned about transitioning from traditional school to home. School is hard! It’s even harder on our little ones, and harder yet for those who have struggled. We bring our children home with these lovely visions of magical things in our heads. But our kids….they just see it as home, it’s their safe place. If your child is anything like Mr. Man, then you just brought home a little ball of stress and anxiety. Now, he’s home and starting to relax when, boom, you decide to go all teacher on him. Stress BACK! But now, it’s entered his safe place. I like to think of it as mini-PTSD.

  • Don’t be married to a curriculum.

Yes, I get it..curriculum is expensive. However, please do not feel that if you chose a curriculum, you HAVE to finish it. If its not working, STOP! I am on my fourth math curriculum this year (math is hard) and that is JUST math. *Face Palm* There are many reasons this happened. The biggest reason being that a year ago, I wasn’t in tune with Mr. Man’s learning style. I chose curriculum I liked. Wrong! (Important for sure, but wrong). It is important that both of you enjoy the curriculum and it fits your child’s learning style and needs.  It can take awhile to figure this out. We are getting there, I don’t think we are there yet. But, I feel closer with each step we take. Plus…..shh…I may have a slight love of curriculum and an inability to make decisions. I want them all! I may need to seek help. But really….if something isn’t working, toss it up on ebay and move on! No one has time for that.

  • Focus on what is most important.

I had 3 goals for Mr. Man when we started a year ago.

  1. Spend more time outside.
  2. Learn to read.
  3. Learn addition facts.

I recommend posting these goals somewhere visible. I find that I need a constant reminder to keep myself focused. I often get sidetracked trying to do everything at once. Often, I find that I revert back my classroom teacher way of thinking. I get overwhelmed and my boys mutiny. When I simplify and focus on what is most important, we are all happier. They learn more and I am reminded of WHY we started homeschooling to begin with. I am happy to report that we are reading….voraciously! Our addition facts are coming, it depends on the day. This frustration is another post altogether. One day he knows them, the next it might as well be Greek. Sigh. We have spent more time outside. Not as much as I’d like, but it’s a start. 

I am excited to see what the next year holds for us. Monkey is now joining us at the table and is going to be my math whiz. He’s already shown us that he will keep us on our toes and is going to be a completely different monster than his brother. Aren’t kids fun?

 

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