Wednesday, November 30, 2011

Please, please watch this.
If you want rights as a parent, you need to know this.

Saturday, August 6, 2011

I have a thing for chalkboards lately. It's not so 'lately' because it's been an interest for at least 5 years. But, something about the function and form of a cute chalkboard really appeals to me.

I found some old cabinet doors for $1 about a year ago. And they've been waiting for some new clothes.  So, I painted the inside with chalkboard paint, and taped it off to paint the outside frame a cream color.

Then I added hardware I found on clearance at Anthro 4 years ago that were just waiting for a use.

 I needed a way to hang it, so I popped of the little pull tabs on these soup cans and screwed them into the back of the cupboard door.

 Here are some pics of exactly how I screwed in the pull tabs and the drawer pull. On the back of the chalkboard, I took very short screws and screwed them into the small spot on the pull tab.

I did this on both sides. And put dry wall screws into the wall to hang it just like a picture. Before I hung it, though, I found a stud in the wall to center the chalkboard on, because I wanted to screw the drawer pull into a stud for more stability.

I got a long wood screw (about 4 inches) and found a stud. Then screwed in the long wood screw through the drawer pull and through the hole in the cupboard door where the original drawer pull was drilled.

 That way the screw would hold the chalkboard into a stud for more stability.

There it is. Another idea to keep you up at night.

Tuesday, March 1, 2011

Picky Eaters & New Food

Lady is very consistent and predictable. Which is exactly the way she wants her food to be. So, new foods are a challenge. Any transition or change for an autistic is a challenge. Heck, I can be pretty challenged myself by new situations! So, no one is alone in trying to cope with change.

But as far as food goes, I found a trick to get her to attempt new tastes. I learned this from my friend, Michelle, whose son is also on the spectrum. Bless you, Michelle, for sharing this with me.

Take broccoli. This is a true story. We put broccoli on her plate every night for a month. Not the same piece, sheesh. But at first, she squawked about even looking at the broccoli. So we said she just had to keep in on her plate for now. A few days of that, then we made her just touch the broccoli on her plate every night. Some more days and now she has to pick up the broccoli and touch it to her lips. Don't taste it! Just to the lips. You see the pattern, just a few days of the same action until she is comfortable with that action, then move her forward. A few days of lips, then a few days of tasting it with her tongue and spitting it back on her plate. When the month was done, she was able to chew it and keep it in her mouth. We are still working on swallowing, though. She'll chew that same piece of broccoli for a half hour sometimes. Just swallow, Lady! She eventually gets past it and it goes down the hatch. But it is still a struggle for her.

This technique of getting used to the food has come in really handy. Just last week, mushrooms. "Mom! I like mushrooms!" And last night, "Mom, I like pineapple!" A whole new world of flavor (and nutrition) is gradually showing up in my Lady's life. Predictability is still her thing, though. I know that if I serve vanilla ice cream with rainbow sprinkles forever and ever, I will be the winner forever and ever. Some things will probably never change. And in some ways, I hope they never do.

Wednesday, January 26, 2011

Magic hands

This post is another autism help. But the funny thing about autism helps is that they help so many neurotypical people as well as autistics.

I learned this trick from an occupational therapist out in Baltimore. Sadly, I can't remember her name. I only met her a few times. But I owe her this one!

When Lady gets frustrated or has to sit for long periods of time, I take her hand and start to massage her cuticles very lightly. I apply light pressure to the fingernail, mostly. I do that to each finger very slowly.  Sometimes I lightly pull at the fingernail and draw my hand up and away from her hand and then flick my hand like I'm setting something free or flicking something away.  I pretend with her that this pulls out the negative feelings from her fingers. All those frustrations get pulled out of her fingernails and her head and sent on their way up to the sky.

She doesn't like her thumbs to have the pressure. Don't know why, but I can be flexible. We don't do thumbs. I also will sometimes rub her fingers and palm very gently, or tap my fingernails on her palm. She calms down within seconds.

I've tried this on many children, both neurotypical as well as special needs. It works on all of them. Just on Sunday, a little 4 year old boy sitting behind me in church was pulling my hair, trying to get my attention. He was bored. Don't blame him. It's church. I taught him last year in his Sunday school class, so I knew him well. I finally grabbed his hand when he pulled my hair again. He tried to yank away, but I held on with a smile, and began massaging his fingernails. Talk about melting! Within two fingers-time, his head was resting on my chair-back and his hand was dangling in front of my face, completely cooperative. He calmed down almost instantly. When I finished, he was giggling because my finger-tapping on his palm tickled. I let go of his hand and went back to listening. Within seconds, he was gently shaking his hand in front of my face. Wanting more?

I did this same thing with a boy in Lady's class on Friday. He is neurotypical, just as the 4 year old I just told you about. He was having a rough morning and had already been sent away from carpet to put his head on his desk. (That means he's pushed it too far.) He usually is a very cooperative boy, so this surprised me. I sat down next to him and whispered, "So, you're having a rough morning?" He didn't look at me but his eyes were wet and red. I said, "Can I show you something I do when I'm frustrated?" He nodded, so I took his hand and began pulling out the bad feelings. 5 minutes later, not kidding!, he was smiling at me and laughing when I flicked away the feelings to the sky. 5 minutes more and he was participating in the group discussion from his desk, completely engaged with the teacher.

I tell you, it's magic. Try it sometime. The child probably won't trust you at first. They will think they are getting in trouble. But when they realize you are only there to listen and rub their hands, emotions change pretty quickly.  It's amazing.