Posted in Autism

Our Night With Temple Grandin

Way back in 2014 the NY Beef Producers’ Association provided an over the top, awesome  opportunity for the autism community and Malcolm and I had the privilege of being able to take advantage of it!

Since we do not raise beef cows what could the NY Beef Producers’ Association possibly offer anything we’d be interested in, you might be wondering!

Well, it’s because after their conference in Syracuse, NY they very generously donated their distinguished key note speaker’s time and shared her with the autism community.

Why would the autism community be interested in the Beef Producer Association’s key note speaker, you might be wondering?

The answer to that question may surprise you!

The autism community was extremely interested in their key note speaker because she was none other than the famous Dr. Temple Grandin!!

The Beef Producer Association graciously contacted the Kelberman Center for Autism in Utica, NY and offered to cover the cost of what would normally be a $200 ticket affair!

As it turned out, at least 600 other people-probably more, also took advantage of that very kind and generous offer, so thank you very much NY Beef Producers’ Association!

The line when we arrived.
The line when we arrived.

TG2Not only is Temple Grandin a famous and extremely successful animal behavior scientist, she’s also a woman with autism and she was also a hoot!

She surprised me by having a great sense of humor.

It just goes to show that the myth that every person with autism has no sense of humor, is just that, a myth!

Because of that stereotypical myth, (of which I, myself was guilty of having) I supposed Ms. Grandin would be a very serious, business like and sober speaker, but let me tell you she’s not like that at all!

She was funny, interesting, opinionated, captivating, fascinating, and a pleasure to listen to.

And let me just also say- She knows sooo much stuff!

She’s like a human encyclopedia!

Her brain is absolutely jam packed with information!

Dr. Grandin lectured for a little over an hour about how to help and assist people with autism to become successful, self supporting citizens.

She stressed the importance of early intervention and is of the opinion that if parents notice that their baby is displaying autistic tendencies they should immediately begin working with them as if they do have autism.

Don’t wait until they are officially diagnosed.

The earlier they get help the better.

TG4TG5

Ms. Grandin admonished parents not to let their children with autism become reclusive or have too much screen time.

She recommends gently and gradually pushing them out of their comfort zones and allowing them only one hour of screen time a day.

She also thinks that children with autism should be permitted time to stim every day- maybe an hour alone in their rooms at the end of each day, not when they are supposed to be engaged in other activities or in the presence of their typical peers.
TG7

Temple believes the schools did a huge disservice to kids with special needs when they took sewing, cooking, wood working, and other hands on classes out of the schools.

She recommends that parents try to find apprenticeships or other ways of providing these types of activities and/or jobs for their children so that they will have skills to become productive citizens in their communities.

Another issue she has with schools is that they don’t allow kids to work to their abilities.

She believes that if the third grader can’t read at grade level but can do high school geometry then let him do geometry on the computer and go to the resource room for reading instruction!

She is also of the opinion that children should be taught both phonics and the sight word method when learning to read.

Another recommendation was for parents to develop their child’s talents, interests, and passions and encourage them to turn their interests into their career.

And lastly, my daughter Rebekah and no doubt countless others will be very happy to know that the Famous Dr.Temple Grandin PhD. thinks Algebra is stupid!

*(A version of this post was first published in January 2014.)
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*This post may contain affiliate links. Thanks in advance if you should decide to purchase an item through one of our links at no extra cost to you. 100% of all commissions earned from sales go directly toward providing a better quality of life for our daughter, Bethany, an autistic and  brave brain tumor survivor !

If you have a minute, please check out our Amazon Store where I have put together a list of my favorite books and resources and Bethany’s favorite games and products and our Etsy Shop where you can instantly download vintage book illustrations and prints of Bethany’s paintings!

We’d love for you to join our big, happy, family!! Please Subscribe to our blog and You Tube channels below and please consider sharing this post on your other social media accounts!! Thanks!!

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Posted in Autism, Holidays

Christmas Gifts for my Autistic Adult Daughter

It’s always been hard to figure out what to get my daughter, Bethany for Christmas.

She’s autistic and also experienced a brain injury during brain tumor surgery.

Now that she’s a 20 year old adult, it’s even harder to pick out gifts because she still likes little kids stuff, yet every once in a while she surprises us by acting more her age!!

It seems to be difficult for her to express her likes and dislikes or what she actually wants!

Any time we ask her what she wants for Christmas or her birthday, all she will say is presents.

When we ask her what kind of presents, she says big ones or a lot of them!!

But this year whenever I ask her what kind of presents she wants, she says, toys!!

Once she even got specific and said she wanted a horn!

Well, you better believe she’s getting a horn for Christmas this year!!

Over the years, I have developed three methods for trying to find gifts Bethany will hopefully like!

1. I get on Google Images and search for toys. Better yet, if Bethany has given me the slightest hint of anything more specific she might like, I’ll search for that, show her the results and have her point to the one she likes best.

2. When choosing gifts for Bethany, I like to think back on activities or outings that she has enjoyed over the past few months, then try to find gifts based on those experiences.

3. And Last, but not least, we sometimes just resort to the trial and error method and hope that she will like what we have gotten her!

Without further adieu, below is a list of items we have already purchased for Bethany and also a few that we are hoping to be able to get for her either for Christmas or at some point in the near future!

*(The following links are affiliate links.)

1. When we took Bethany to the Ithaca Sciencenter last fall, she really enjoyed playing around with the giant Lite Brite they had there. So we’re thinking she might like this smaller version of it. If she does, we’ll go ahead and order a design add on pack in the future.

Lite Brite

2. Bethany has been enjoying Santa to the fullest this year! In fact, she has actually gone to visit the real Santa twice already!! This year, her infatuation began when she discovered the life size singing Santa at Walmart. So, when my husband saw a Santa figurine very similar to this one, he snatched it up! We aren’t really sure she will like it, but based on her love of Santa, we think he just might be a hit!

Santa Figurine

3. Bethany loves playing games, especially dice and card games! She is obsessed with her Farkle dice game, currently, so when I saw this Farkle card game while searching through Amazon’s toy section, I put it in my cart! I have a hunch that she will enjoy it!

Farkle Flip card game.

4, Bethany loves matching games and as I mentioned before, card games. So based on her love of card games and the fact that I know she enjoys putting her excellent matching skills to work, I believe she will have fun playing the I Spy Match card game.

The following Items are all things Bethany has actually specifically asked for:

5. Just last night, Bethany asked me to pick up a pair of red headphones when I went shopping. Unfortunately, all I could find were a pair of black ones. She was okay with that, but I think I’ll get her a red pair for Christmas. Obviously, it’s not often that she asks for specific items like that and I want her to have what she really wants!
Red headphones

6. I have no idea where Bethany got the idea of wanting a bulb horn or why she even wants one, but shockingly, she asked for a horn the other day!! I wasn’t sure what kind of horn she meant, so I showed her lots of pictures on Google and had her point to the one she wanted! I didn’t realize it was a bike horn when I ordered it and I would rather have gotten her one that isn’t a bike horn because she doesn’t have a bike! However, I don’t think she will care or even know that it’s supposed to be attached to a bike! It’s the one she wants so it’s the one I got for her and who knows, maybe someday we can get her a bike to put it on!
Bulb horn

7. Bethany knows that we’re planning to move to a new house someday and she decided that when we do she wants a new bed! Just as I always do when I need more specific information from her,  I searched Google and showed her some pictures of beds! She picked out the bunk bed below! We can’t afford to get this bed for her for Christmas, but I would love to be able to get it or one like it by the time we do move! And since she is not actually expecting a new bed for Christmas, she won’t be disappointed when she doesn’t see it under the tree on Christmas morning!
bunk bed


One last gift I would like to get for Bethany.

8. Bethany loves playing basketball with her Flash Club friends at the YMCA! But she is just too tiny to be able to get the ball way up high into a conventional height basket. The basket at the Y is lowered so she and her friends can experience success playing basketball. Malcolm and I thought Bethany would really enjoy having her very own adjustable height basketball hoop to practice with at home! Since there is no place suitable to set it up where we currently live, we don’t plan on getting it for her for Christmas. This gift will have to wait until after we move to our new house and have an actual driveway where we can set it up! And, once again, since she is also not expecting to get it, she won’t be disappointed when it isn’t included in her Christmas gifts!

Adjustable basketball hoop

What do you plan on getting your kids for Christmas?

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Thanks so much for stopping by!

*This post may contain affiliate links. Thanks in advance if you should decide to purchase an item through one of our links at no extra cost to you. 100% of all commissions earned from sales go directly toward providing a better quality of life for our daughter, Bethany, an autistic and  brave brain tumor survivor !

If you have a minute, please check out our Amazon Store where I have put together a list of my favorite books and resources and Bethany’s favorite games and products and our Etsy Shop where you can instantly download vintage book illustrations and prints of Bethany’s paintings!

We’d love for you to join our big, happy, family!! Please Subscribe to our blog and You Tube channels below and please consider sharing this post on your other social media accounts!! Thanks!!

Adventures of an Autistic Brain Tumor Survivor on Youtube

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Posted in Bethany Moments, Holidays, Siblings of Special Needs Children, Special Needs Family Life, Special Needs Parenting

Our Autism Friendly Christmas Festivities

Each year, just after decorating our Christmas tree on Thanksgiving, I start thinking about what holiday activities our daughter, Bethany might enjoy and be able to tolerate.

For those who may not know it, Bethany has autism.

She’s also a brain tumor survivor and has developmental disabilities and seizures.

Even though she’s 20 years old now, she still usually enjoys little kid stuff!

Though sometimes she does surprise us by enjoying more age appropriate activities.

So, it’s not always easy to come up with activities she might enjoy doing.

We usually figure it all out by trial and error!!

When Bethany was younger she loved visiting Santa, so we took her every year.

But last year, whenever we drove past Santa’s igloo and asked her if she wanted to go see him she said no every single time.

This year, however, when we drove past that old familiar Igloo and saw Santa walking down the sidewalk, she got super excited and wanted to go see him.

Luckily, he was heading straight toward his igloo!!

She had a blast visiting him and in fact, the very next day she asked her aide take her to see him again!!

For those that may live near Norwich, NY,  in my opinion, this Santa is the best one to take kids with disabilities and little kids to.

There is almost never a line and Mr. and Mrs. Santa were super sweet and accommodating!

autistic girl sitting on Santa'a lap

For many years, Bethany also enjoyed riding the Christmas Carousel in Johnson City, NY.

This is just a fun night time ride with Santa.

They turn off the overhead lights during the ride so everyone can enjoy the Christmas lights better!

But two years ago, when they turned off the lights, Bethany flipped out and changed her mind.

She refused to ride and actually let it ruin her whole night.

Because it’s so far away and Bethany still hates having the lights turned off, we’ve decided not to try again for awhile

No sense in chancing making her miserable again.

Happy to be on her way to the party!

But one Christmas activity we can always count on Bethany enjoying is our annual ugly Christmas sweater cookie decorating party with her sister Rebekah and brother-in-law, William!

This year was no exception!

She was so thrilled to give Rebekah and William the presents she had made for them.

She enjoyed eating her 5 pieces of pizza and feeding Sophia the hamster some treats!

She especially loved checking out Rebekah’s manger scene and little Christmas village.

After watching, The Christmas Chronicles, on Netflix, she and William had a little dance party, then we all settled down to decorate our cookies and gingerbread house!

Keeping the gingerbread house from falling apart proved to be a bit frustrating, but brother, Jeremiah solved that problem by duct taping the insides of the walls together!!

All too soon, the party was over and it was time for us to say our goodbyes.

But we’ll all see each other again on Christmas Day for dinner at brother, Josiah and sister-in-law, Katy’s house along with a whole bunch of other people Bethany loves!

Do you have any holiday traditions you enjoy doing each year?

 


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Thanks so much for stopping by!

*This post may contain affiliate links. Thanks in advance if you should decide to purchase an item through one of our links at no extra cost to you. 100% of all commissions earned from sales go directly toward providing a better quality of life for our daughter, Bethany, a brave brain tumor survivor and special girl!

If you have a minute, please check out our Amazon Store where I have put together a list of my favorite books and resources and Bethany’s favorite games and products and our Etsy Shop where you can instantly download vintage book illustrations and prints of Bethany’s paintings!

We’d love for you to join our big, happy, family!! Please Subscribe to our blog and You Tube channels below and please consider sharing this post on your other social media accounts!! Thanks!!

Adventures of an Autistic Brain Tumor Survivor on Youtube

Crafty Old Lady on Youtube

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Posted in Autism, Bethany Moments

I am a PushmePullyou

A long, long time ago, in a galaxy far, far away I saw the original 1967 version of the Dr. Dolittle movie!

Just about the only things I can really remember about that movie are Rex Harrison singing, “If I Could Talk to the Animals” and that crazy PushmePullyou!

The PushmePullyou was an animal that looked kind of like a llama with two heads.

It had two sets of front feet, one set on each end.

This poor animal couldn’t go anywhere because both ends of it wanted to move forward!

As the mom of an autistic daughter who is also a brain tumor survivor, I often feel just like that PushmePullyou, especially when I am faced with making decisions about her and for her!

Just when I think I’ve come to a firm decision and move forward, I have second thoughts and step back.

I feel like I’m damned if I do and I’m damned if I don’t.

My husband and I can come up with plan after plan and make decision after decision about Bethany’s medical treatment, her behavior treatment, her education, her therapies and her future.

Then just when I think we’ve really made our final decisions, BAM!!! all the doubts, fears, worries, and what ifs come flooding in and I begin to think about all the bad things that can happen if we carry through with those plans.

We could have sent her to school on the bus in which by law only a nurse could administer the life saving medication she needs to stop seizures.

However, we would have had to fight the school district to provide said nurse.

And besides… I was not at all comfortable with a stranger exposing my daughter’s teen age derriere on a school bus to administer this RECTAL medication anyway.

Nor was I at all confidant that I would actually be able to make Bethany get on the school bus in the first place if she decided that she didn’t want to do so.

Should we we pull up roots after 32 years of living out in the beautiful countryside, sell our house and move closer to a city?

In the city it might be more convenient to find staff to work with Bethany and be easier for her to participate in community activities so she can have a more fulfilling life.

Should my husband and I send Bethany to live away from us in a group home in preparation for our eventual deaths?

Should we give her certain medications and hope for the best?

Or should we decide against them because they might damage her liver, make her aggressive, or suicidal or even kill her with a fatal rash?

If she were to suffer any of these side effects we would never forgive ourselves.

On the other hand, if we don’t try these medications we will always wonder if our decision has prevented her from having an improved life free of seizures and behavior issues.

So you see…I’m damned if I do and I’m damned if I don’t.

Because, no matter what decisions we make concerning Bethany’s health, well being, and future, there will always be pros and cons, there will always be regrets, doubts, and what ifs.

I will always wonder if the other decisions… the ones that we abandoned, would have been the better choices for her.

I will always wonder if because of decisions that we did or didn’t make whether we have prevented Bethany from having the happiest and best life possible.

I will also always wonder if because of the decisions that we did or didn’t make whether we have prevented our other children from having the happiest and best lives possible.

So, you see, I will forever be a PushmePullyou.

*(A version of this post was first published in June 2013.)

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Thanks so much for stopping by!

*This post may contain affiliate links. Thanks in advance if you should decide to purchase an item through one of our links at no extra cost to you. 100% of all commissions earned from sales go directly toward providing a better quality of life for our daughter, Bethany, a brave brain tumor survivor and special girl!

If you have a minute, please check out our Amazon Store where I have put together a list of my favorite books and resources and Bethany’s favorite games and products and our Etsy Shop where you can instantly download vintage book illustrations and prints of Bethany’s paintings!

We’d love for you to join our big, happy, family!! Please Subscribe to our blog and You Tube channels below and please consider sharing this post on your other social media accounts!! Thanks!!

Adventures of an Autistic Brain Tumor Survivor on Youtube

Crafty Old Lady on Youtube

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Posted in Autism, Special Needs Parenting, Therapies

5 Fascinating Sensory Gift Ideas

There is not a person alive who doesn’t process information through a whole bunch of sensory systems that our bodies are equipped with.

Each and every one of us has a different system to process what we see (visual); what we hear (auditory); what we smell (olfactory; what we taste (gustatory); what we feel (tactile); how our bodies move in space (vestibular);  how are bodies experience sensations from our muscles and joints (proprioceptive); and how we process what our internal organs are feeling like hunger, thirst, heart rate, respiration, elimination and our sense of well being (the oft neglected interoceptive system).

Some have no problems processing the information that comes through their sensory systems, but others don’t process that information very well and their bodies become confused.

We can become overloaded and overwhelmed by bombarding sensory information and need to calm down while others can’t seem to get enough sensory input and crave continuous stimulation of one kind or another!

Then following items are all what I would consider to have a calming effect on individuals who may need to retreat from constant sensory assaults.

On the other hand, however, they may also be stimulating for those who crave more visual and or auditory stimulation.

I think these items just might make a great addition to your  sensory room or the bedroom of an autistic individual.

Check out the videos and click the links or images below to get a more detailed look at each item!!

*(The following links are affiliate links.)

 

1) Deluxe Jelly fish Aquarium– On sale now for $69.99- offers all the beauty of a salt water aquarium without the care and feeding of animals!!
2)Indoor Waterfall Light Show

3) LED Volcano Lamp– Only $20.99- A calming visual item!

4) Laser Light & Music Show for $77.99 Create your own light up music show!

5) Twilight Turtle– On sale now for $32.95- This little guy projects a soothing and calming blue, green, and amber starry night light effect onto any ceiling! Click the image to check it out!

*(A version of this post was first published in November 2013.)

*Disclaimer
I am not a professional counselor, psychologist, therapist, or teacher. Therefore the information, recommendations, referrals, and/or advice contained within this blog are my own opinions and should not to be construed as professional recommendations, advice, or treatment or any kind.

I make no guarantees that any product or book  I recommend or advice that I may suggest will cure your child of any special need, disability, illness, or learning difference.

Always check with your doctor before embarking on new treatment plans or following suggestions from others. I will not be liable for any damages, deaths, injuries, or other mishaps that may result from following any advice contained within this blog.

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Thanks so much for stopping by!

*This post may contain affiliate links. Thanks in advance if you should decide to purchase an item through one of our links at no extra cost to you. 100% of all commissions earned from sales go directly toward providing a better quality of life for our daughter, Bethany, a brave brain tumor survivor and special girl!

If you have a minute, please check out our Amazon Store where I have put together a list of my favorite books and resources and Bethany’s favorite games and products and our Etsy Shop where you can instantly download vintage book illustrations and prints of Bethany’s paintings!

We’d love for you to join our big, happy, family!! Please Subscribe to our blog and You Tube channels below and please consider sharing this post on your other social media accounts!! Thanks!!

Adventures of an Autistic Brain Tumor Survivor on Youtube

Crafty Old Lady on Youtube

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Posted in Holidays, Special Needs Family Life, Special Needs Parenting

Bethany’s Thanksgiving 2018!

I hope you all had a very happy Thanksgiving!

I’m delighted to say that we sure did!

This year our holiday was quiet, calm and relaxed.

Just the way we like it!!

It was just the seven of us, Mom; Dad; Bethany; Nate and Jerry, plus Rebekah and William.

Thanksgiving turkey

(*The following links are affiliate links.)

As our kids have gotten older, moved away and started their own families we have had to accept that they will not all be coming home for every holiday.

But that’s okay, because even though we miss are married kids and grandkids dearly, we don’t mind sharing them with their in-laws every other year!

And some of our kids, like our daughter, Rachel, who is a missionary in Japan, live too far away to come home for just one day in the middle of the week!

This year, once again, we had a blast playing Apples to Apples, our favorite holiday game by far!

Of course, the funny things Bethany says in all her super adorableness are always great entertainment for us, too!

Since most of our kids have grown up and moved away, we have established the new tradition of setting up the Christmas tree after Thanksgiving dinner with whoever is here to help us!

This makes decorating the tree so much more fun for Bethany and even Jerry!

This year I decided to try flocking our Christmas tree and recruited Rebekah and Jerry to help me.

Bethany even wanted to join the fun!

If you’re not familiar with what flocking a Christmas tree is as I was not until recently, I’ll briefly explain what it is.

Basically it is sifting fake snow through a strainer while at the same time spraying the snow with water as you drop it on the tree.

This process is supposed to make your tree look like it has snow on its branches.

It didn’t actually work that great for us but that may be because I forgot about the strainer part!

Most of our snow did not stick to the branches!!

We sure did have a lot of fun trying, though!

The branches got so wet we decided to unplug the lights.

We certainly didn’t want to get electrocuted on Thanksgiving!!

Of course, all too soon it was time for Rebekah and William to go home and Thanksgiving 2018 was over!

How was your Thanksgiving?

Do you have any Thanksgiving traditions?


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Thanks so much for stopping by!

*This post may contain affiliate links. Thanks in advance if you should decide to purchase an item through one of our links at no extra cost to you. 100% of all commissions earned from sales go directly toward providing a better quality of life for our daughter, Bethany, a brave brain tumor survivor and special girl!

If you have a minute, please check out our Amazon Store where I have put together a list of my favorite books and resources and Bethany’s favorite games and products and our Etsy Shop where you can instantly download vintage book illustrations and prints of Bethany’s paintings!

We’d love for you to join our big, happy, family!! Please Subscribe to our blog and You Tube channels below and please consider sharing this post on your other social media accounts!! Thanks!!

Adventures of an Autistic Brain Tumor Survivor on Youtube

Crafty Old Lady on Youtube

Enter your email address to follow this blog and receive notifications of new posts by email.

Posted in Autism, Special Education, Special Needs Family Life, Special Needs Parenting

Autism Music Class

A couple of weeks ago I wrote about Bethany’s first experience participating in a drumming circle and how much we all enjoyed it.

I mentioned how I thought it would just be a bunch of people sitting in a circle banging on some drums, but that it ended up really being so much more than that.

It’s not just about the drums.

It’s actually all about the music, lots of different instruments, making up silly songs, dancing, having fun, smiling, laughing, trying new things and being together with our friends enjoying spending time together!

This past Sunday, Bethany had so much fun playing instruments that we had never even heard of before like the Shruti Box in the photo below!

shruti box

She really like holding and strumming on the guitar, too, as well as all the instruments you see her holding in the photos below.

Most of them we don’t even know the names of.

All we really know is that Bethany loves drumming circle/ music class and Jimbo, the man who makes it all happen!

Even though this class is not technically music therapy, the results of participating in it are like music therapy for Bethany!

Because of music class, Bethany is adding new words to her limited vocabulary, like “instrument” and I believe it’s also drawing her out of herself a bit as she makes up sounds to share and notices the other participants’ contributions.

Being involved in drumming circle also gives Bethany the opportunity to practice important life skills such as learning to respect others’ belongings, taking turns, and sharing when she would really rather keep all the goodies for herself!

Of course, it’s no big secret that music can also reduce stress and anxiety and even lower blood pressure!

So, call it whatever you want: drumming circle, music class, or music therapy!

It doesn’t really matter, but I call it great because it’s good for Bethany and it’s making her happy!!

 


 


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Thanks so much for stopping by!

*This post may contain affiliate links. Thanks in advance if you should decide to purchase an item through one of our links at no extra cost to you. 100% of all commissions earned from sales go directly toward providing a better quality of life for our daughter, Bethany, a brave brain tumor survivor and special girl!

If you have a minute, please check out our Amazon Store where I have put together a list of my favorite books and resources and Bethany’s favorite games and products and our Etsy Shop where you can instantly download vintage book illustrations and prints of Bethany’s paintings!

We’d love for you to join our big, happy, family!! Please Subscribe to our blog and You Tube channels below and please consider sharing this post on your other social media accounts!! Thanks!!

Adventures of an Autistic Brain Tumor Survivor on Youtube

Crafty Old Lady on Youtube

Enter your email address to follow this blog and receive notifications of new posts by email.

Posted in Bethany Moments, Holidays

6 Tips for a for a Happy, “no meltdown” Holiday

Getting through the holidays with a loved one who has additional needs can sometimes be tricky!

Many families with sensory sensitive members actually dread the coming of the holiday season.

Changes in routine, traveling, large and crowded family gatherings, noisy celebrations, and even unfamiliar smells can all wreak havoc on our kid’s sensitive sensory systems triggering extreme overload and major meltdowns.

My own daughter, Bethany, is an extreme creature of habit and a total control freak!

She wants her routine to always be the same, and she wants every person in her life to always be in the place that she has designated to be theirs.

Changes in routines–hers and everyone else’s can throw her into an anxious, angry, and aggressive tailspin.

She can barely stand it when her sisters have to go to work.

In her mind they should be sitting by their phones waiting for her to call them. All. The. Time.

When her brother is not in his usual place playing games on his computer she goes looking for him.

She even tries to control where the cat can and can’t roam!

By now you’ve probably guessed that celebrating holidays is hard on Bethany and even harder on the rest of us.

If it was just Bethany, my husband and I, we would be content just having a quiet holiday at home with the most minimal of changes to our routine.

But since we have eight other kids and two absolutely adorable grandchildren to consider, we can’t, nor would we ever even want to exclude them from our holiday festivities just for the sake of avoiding a difficult day.

That would be just too darn sad for all of us.

Over the years we’ve tried different coping strategies in our attempt to keep holiday anxiety and meltdowns to a minimum.

Without a doubt, each of the following tips has been successful for our family at one time or another.

Tip #1: Stay home for the holidays. If your loved one is most comfortable in his or her own home, then plan on staying home for the holidays if that would afford you the best chance of having the happiest holiday possible.

Tip # 2: Go somewhere else for the holidays. Our daughter, Bethany, actually does better spending Christmas away from home!  The last couple of years, our very large family has been gathering at our son’s house for Christmas dinner. This arrangement works out much better for us because Bethany is not forced to give up her normally quiet and calm “safe zone” to a giant noisy crowd!

Tip #3: Let your loved one opt out of joining your holiday festivities altogether. Although not ideal, if your child can’t tolerate going out or having their own home invaded for the holidays, then Mom and Dad might consider taking turns celebrating elsewhere.

Tip #4: Prepare ahead for the big day with a personalized holiday social story. A couple of weeks before the big day write a social story using pictures or words (if your child is a reader) describing what will happen on the holiday. Go over the story with your child at least once a day. Be sure to include any changes in routine that may happen and who holiday visitors will be. We want to eliminate as many surprises for our kids as possible.

Tip #5: Plan ahead to eliminate potential meltdowns. If you’re spending the holidays at home, designate an area of the house as a “calm down” spot where your child one can retreat to in case the celebration proves to be overwhelming. Be sure to inform holiday visitors ahead of time what area of the house will be off limits and explain why so no one will be offended.

Tip #6: Declare some items off limits to visitors. Does your child have a favorite toy or other item that he might be anxious about if visiting kids get a hold of it? Make this item one that he or she will not be required to share and let visitors know ahead of time that this item will be off limits. Again, explain why so they understand and hopefully will not be offended.

Do you have any suggestions you could add to our tips?

Bethany, Malcolm and I want to wish you all a very happy holiday season!

*Please note, that I have edited this post to remove the term, “special needs” and tip #7 which referred to using a reward system to prevent meltdowns as these were both pointed out to me as being offensive to autistic individuals. I greatly value the opinions and criticisms of those with autism and would never knowingly offend anyone, most of all my own precious daughter who is an autistic brain tumor survivor.

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Thanks so much for stopping by!

*This post may contain affiliate links. Thanks in advance if you should decide to purchase an item through one of our links at no extra cost to you. 100% of all commissions earned from sales go directly toward providing a better quality of life for our daughter, Bethany, a brave brain tumor survivor and special girl!

If you have a minute, please check out our Amazon Store where I have put together a list of my favorite books and resources and Bethany’s favorite games and products and our Etsy Shop where you can instantly download vintage book illustrations and prints of Bethany’s paintings!

We’d love for you to join our big, happy, family!! Please Subscribe to our blog and You Tube channels below and please consider sharing this post on your other social media accounts!! Thanks!!

Adventures of an Autistic Brain Tumor Survivor on Youtube

Crafty Old Lady on Youtube

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Posted in Special Needs Family Life, Special Needs Parenting

Specialized Adaptive Clothing for Special Needs

Finding just the right clothing for children and adults with disabilities can be difficult.

Manipulating buttons, zippers, and snaps can pose quite a problem for many individuals with special needs who would like to become more independent by being able to dress themselves.

Likewise, parents of children with disabilities and special needs who may never be capable of dressing themselves, often find trying to dress their children in clothing designed for the non-disabled to be difficult and cumbersome

Others who have sensory processing disorders sometimes find standard clothing irritating and uncomfortable.

Seams, certain fabrics, and tags can all make traditional clothing a nightmare for people with sensory processing issues

For such individuals, adaptive clothing may prove to be very helpful!

Adaptive clothing is specialized clothing designed with the unique needs of individuals who may not have full range of motion, the ability to dress themselves, have feeding tubes, or who have sensitive sensory systems.

Modifications made to  traditional clothing designs could include:

  • Replacing buttons and shoelaces with velcro
  • Placing closures on the back rather than the front of garments
  • Front closing bras
  • Side opening pants
  • Clothing made with special fabrics
  • Seamless socks
  • Tagless shirts
  • Weighted vests
  • Compression garments

If you or someone you know could benefit from adaptive clothing and would like to purchase some specialized garments, here are a few tips to keep in mind while shopping:

  • If you are shopping for someone else, be sure you know what types of modifications that person needs and wants, their size, and color preference.
  • Also, try to take that person along with you if possible, so they can pick out clothing that appeals to them.
  • Make sure the items you choose are similar to the popular styles you see people wearing today.
  • Be sure the article of clothing is sturdy and made to last, so look for high quality fabrics.
  • Look for soft fabrics

*(The following link is an affiliate link.)

Sometimes, we can even adapt regular clothing to be used as therapeutic clothing!

My daughter Bethany, loves how tight fitting clothing feels against her body.

We discovered this fact quite by accident when she refused to wear the wet suit I bought her to swim in, opting instead to wear it all day long around the house!

In fact, she loves her wet suit so much that she now has four pairs in different colors and funding to purchase more when she needs them has actually been written into her individualized supports and services plan!

Bethany wearing her yellow wet suit!

Below are a few resources for Adaptive Clothing:

For a list of special needs clothing resources please see this list on The Disability Information and Resources website.

For a list of special needs fashions for children, check out the list on the Children with Special Needs website

Adaptaware: Clothing for Care (UK)

Rackety’s: Clothing for children and adults with disabilities

Adaptive Clothing Showroom: Clothing for disabled adults and children

Tommy Hilfiger’s Runway of Dreams: Adaptive clothing for kids

Tummy Tunnels: Clothing for kids with feeding tubes

More resources for kids with feeding tubes

Silvert’s: Wheel chair clothing for men and women

Kozie Clothes: Adaptive medical and sensory clothing

EZ Sox and Undeez: Socks and underwear for sensory kids

Independence Day Clothing: Adaptive clothes for teens, tweens, and young adults

*(A version of this post first appeared at the Firefly website.)

Posted in Autism, Flash Club

Autism Drumming Circle

We are so thrilled that Bethany’s beloved Flash Club has begun for the 2018-2019 season!

For those of you who may not realize it, Flash Club is a social and fitness club for children and young adults on the autism spectrum that is sponsored by our local YMCA!!

Bethany joined Flash Club about 5 years ago after having spent 12 years suffering with multiple debilitating seizures every single day of her life!

She literally could not get off the couch for 12 years!

We actually give Flash Club a ton of credit for bringing fun and happiness back into Bethany’s life!

We believe participating in all the awesome activities has greatly improved both her physical and emotional health as well!

Bethany was so excited to be going back to Flash Club that she could not wait to go!

She insisted we leave a half hour early and just wait there for everyone else to arrive!

We thought it was very apropos that a double rainbow was waiting for us as we pulled into the YMCA parking lot!

The first 6 week session is going to be a drumming circle!

Malcolm and I were a little concerned Bethany might be disappointed that her beloved Donna, who had been the director of Club for the past 5 years, had retired and would not be there.

We explained to her that Donna wouldn’t be coming anymore, then introduced her to the new director and the man hosting the drumming circle and she was fine with that!

Bethany loves music and she loves getting together with her friends!

She’s the only girl in her group and often refers to the other participants as “her boys!”

If you’ve watched any of our videos on Youtube, you probably already know that Bethany loves tapping rhythms with her giant marbles!

So naturally, we thought she would love taking part in a drumming circle!

She did not disappoint!

I didn’t really know what being in drumming circle would be like.

I kind of thought we’d all be sitting around in a circle banging rhythms on drums for an hour!

But let me tell you, a drumming circle is so much more than that!

We did sit in a circle for a while and we did beat out some rhythms, but they weren’t meaningless patterns.

We made up beats for our names and beat our drums while singing some songs.

I thought it was super sweet when the facilitator asked us all to feel our heartbeats then copy them on the drums at the same time.

He said that our hearts were connecting with each other!

autistic woman playing instruments

After circle time, we all got up and marched around the room to different beats.

Some of the kids played instruments while doing so!

We also played a fun ball game where we made up silly sound effects to go with the different ways we tossed to ball to each other.

Then we had to remember to make the correct sound effect for the type of throw we made.

Bethany really enjoyed her first drumming circle session!

She actually stayed for a few minutes after we finished to socialize and check out the instrument table.

She did not want class to be done which is a sure sign that she enjoyed it!

We can’t wait to see what next week’s session brings!

autism man playing the drums

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Thanks so much for stopping by!

*This post may contain affiliate links. Thanks in advance if you should decide to purchase an item through one of our links at no extra cost to you. 100% of all commissions earned from sales go directly toward providing a better quality of life for our daughter, Bethany, a brave brain tumor survivor and special girl!

If you have a minute, please check out our Amazon Store where I have put together a list of my favorite books and resources and Bethany’s favorite games and products and our Etsy Shop where you can instantly download vintage book illustrations and prints of Bethany’s paintings!

We’d love for you to join our big, happy, family!! Please Subscribe to our blog and You Tube channels below and please consider sharing this post on your other social media accounts!! Thanks!!

Adventures of an Autistic Brain Tumor Survivor on Youtube

Crafty Old Lady on Youtube

Enter your email address to follow this blog and receive notifications of new posts by email.