A Day In The Afterschool Program – Helping A Child To Make Good Choices


A young charge with emotional issues presented with a distinct pout and no eye contact. I imagine she was feeling remorse due to her antics the day before. She had a troubled home life. My young charge was clinging to her caretakers leg with all her might. This was characteristic of possible verbal altercations between the girl and the caretaker before she was dropped off to my program.. This mode of behavior would present itself when the child had visited her parent as well. Relations between the child ,her biological  mom, and mom’s boyfriend had ups and downs to say the least.

Upon assessing the situation, I made a mental note to not assume the worst for the day ahead. Assuming leads to the self – fulfillment prophecy. A child will become who the role models in their life believe they will become. In actuality, a child who is expected to behave badly will behave as such. In actuality, they are behaving in an accommodating manner. The child does as they are told. We send them the message that they will misbehave, thus they do so.  I decided not to force the little girl away from her caretaker. I had seen this mood before. This quite sullen behavior would turn into defiance and aggression if not handled correctly.

Several children were taken aside by me. I quietly informed them that there peer was having a sad day. The other children were cajoled into inviting the lone child to see their coveted items that were brought from home. The child had a small glimmer in her eye. Nonetheless, she wavered and held onto her caretaker’s leg. I thanked the other children for befriending their young peer. I was aware that the guardian had to move on to her place of employment. I used diversion, but no tricks. My firm belief is if a child feels tricked by a teacher trust between the two will be lost. There is nothing worse than having a child turn around to “look at something” in the room and find the person they hold in their heart missing when they turn around. Closure is important during separation.

Emotionally troubled children tend to act out from a sense of no control in their lives. Not surprising, this child loves to help adults. I told the child that I had no one to help me set the table for snack, get cups, and serve children. The child was encouraged to help me. Initially, my request was ignored. I sat back and silently assessed the situation. Balloons are a favorite in the class room. The child was encouraged to release her death grip on the other woman’s leg when I promised her a balloon hat in return for assisting me with snack. She happily said good-bye to the woman and set off with me hand in hand.

The child relished her role of authority while handing out snack to all that entered. While usually feeling inferior to peers, this made her feel superior. While serving with one hand, she held onto my hand with her free one. I allowed her to keep the grip on me until she felt safe enough to venture out into the room with her peers. After completing various activities, we cleaned the room. I attempt to have the children lined up and seated by the door five minutes before the grade school teacher comes to retrieve them. We normally play a game such as I Spy while waiting. I have found this assists in transitioning from my room to a new environment. Uprooting the children without warning is calamity in the making. They need transition times to adjust.

The grade school teacher appeared at the door way to pick up her young charges. This teacher had been complaining about the uncontrollable behavior in her class regarding the child mentioned above. As the children lined up the teacher asked them how their evening had gone. When the teacher locked eyes with the child mentioned above, she neglected to ask how this child’s evening had gone. The teacher immediately said “we are going to have a good day today right”?  She told the child that she knew the child would make the right choices.

The teacher thought she was being positive with the child. I had the distinct impression that this connection could have been handled differently. Other children were asked how their evening went. This child was immediately asked to make good choices. By asking this child a different question the teacher had singled her out from her peers. I would have asked the child the same question as her peers, than possibly told the child I was confident that she could make good choices for the day. The first statement shows that the teacher has an interest in her as a person. It doesn’t just zero in on her behavior. As the children slinked down the hall I saw the child stepping out of the line and getting loud. Another off day ahead for sure. It could have been diverted.

Remember – Always look at a situation within the classroom in a reflective manner. Look at the whole child. My rule of thumb is that no negative behavior rears its head without a reason. There is always an answer to the problem if we step back, and  observe reflectively. With that answer, we can devise a solution.

Mari N. M.ED.

Mari Nosal : Please stop by my site at Amazon Books and check out my published books on autism aspergers special needs and more   http://tinyurl.com/kdspqy9

 

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Fun Snacks For Kids To Create “All By Themselves”


1)      Independent food creation: Create a yummy snack with saltines. Supply children with saltines, a popsicle stick for spreading cream cheese, (much a small amount of cream cheese (edible glue), raisins for eyes, mouth, hair, and ears, and watch the fun begin.-0)

2)   Read a book such as “The Berenstain Bears out West (I Can Read Book 1) [Paperback] “Than make edible tumbleweed to combine a literacy activity with a fun edible craft.

Provide children with a few scoops of Soy Butter. I use soy butter so children with peanut allergies can join in the fun:-0) Put shredded wheat cereal in Ziploc bags. The children can apply pressure to the sealed bag with the palm of their hand to crush the cereal. Pour crushed shredded wheat into a bowl for each child. Soy butter can be rolled into small balls. Roll soy butter balls in the shredded wheat and whoolah!!!!!!- The children have just created edible tumbleweed.

3)   Clown snacks: Place half of a pear in the middle of a plate to simulate a face. Provide the children with grated cheese for hair, raisins for eyes and mouth, and a cherry for the nose. Insert these items on the pear. Create a ruffle collar out of a leaf of lettuce.

4)   Pimple tomatoes: O.K. THIS ONE IS GROSS:-0) But the children love farfetched creations. Insert a toothpick in a cherry tomato to make a hole. Fill the hole with cream cheese to simulate a pimple. This is popular, especially with the middle age grade schoolers who love the thought of anything that reeks of grossness. :-0)

I would like to emphasize the fact that children should create their snacks as independently as possible. Do not attempt to correct them if they want raisin eyes to be placed where hair should be. It is their creation not the teachers. If they take pride in their work, the children will develop self confidence that will catapult them to the next challenge. If corrected, they will most definitely withdraw.

As odd as some of these ideas may appear, i.e. pimple tomatoes – I have found that a child who is attracted to creating snacks “all by themselves” is more apt to eat healthy foods they normally would not eat.

Have a great day and happy eating:-0)

Mari N. M.Ed., CECE

Mari Nosal : Please stop by my site at Amazon Books and check out my published books on autism aspergers special needs and more   http://tinyurl.com/kdspqy9

 

Hands On Science Experiments For The Youngest And Oldest Kids


1) Trapped gas experiment: This experiment provides an elementury and fun way to engage kids in learning about chemical compounds, and the creation of trapped pressure. i.e. What goes in must come out:-0) Provide children with a standard sized water bottle. Have the children drop six tablespoons of baking soda in the bottle. Provide each child with a balloon. Make sure the balloon has a good sized neck as the children will need to spread the neck of the balloon securely over the water bottle to trap the pressure.

I normally allow the children to insert the baking soda into the bottle independently. It gives them a sense of self empowerment and engagement in the experiment. I than encourage the child to hold the balloon in their hand while I insert baking soda into the bottle for them. My rationale is that the chemical reaction occurs rather quickly and if the child already has the balloon in their hand they will be capable of sealing it over the mouth of the water bottle rather quickly. Young kids will most likely lack the dexterity to pour the baking soda and seal the bottle with the balloon quickly enough. Hence, we do it as a team so they still feel independently involved.

Now for the fun part. When the balloon is sealed over the perfectly safe and nontoxic chemical mixture, the pressure will have no where to go but up:-00 Thus, the balloon that is sealed to the water bottle will inflate as if by magic!!!

This activity is an all time favorite learning experience, from the smallest kids to the eldest. The hands on component and seemingly magical quality keeps kids happily engaged in the activity.

2)Magnetism exploration: Have the children create a race track with poster board and markers.

Tape a paper clip to the bottom of a small toy car. Provide the children with various size magnets and magnetic wands. Wave the magnets over the toy car to move them across the track.

For comparison, remove the paper clips and have the children wave their magnets across the toy car again.

This will create a springboard for a comparison and contrast discussion.i.e. Why did the cars move within the set we taped paper clips underneath of, and vica versa.

3)Weights and measures: Provide the children with objects of varying sizes and weights. Allow them to drop objects into a bucket of water. Ask the children if their object floated or sunk in the water. This is an excellent segway into a conversation and exploration into weights and measures. Perhaps children could weigh their objects before dropping them into the bucket of water to reinforce the idea that heavier items like a spoon will sink in the water, before light objects like a balloon.

4)Smelly Volcanoes: Provide the children with modeling clay after reading a picture book on volcanoes. The book will layer and reinforce concepts the children will apply in this activity. Encourage the children to create a volcanoe out of the modeling clay to provide a container for their eruption.

I am sure we all remember creating a volcanic eruption in a homemade volcano by mixing baking soda and vinegar together in grade school.

We are going to add a little pizazz to an age old experiment that has been popular throughout time. Have each child add five tablespoons of baking soda to their volcano. NOW HERE IS THE FUN PART. Add several spoonfuls of red koolaid to the baking soda, than have the kids pour in the vinegar. The end result is a bubbly eruption that is the color red to simulate a real volcanic eruption. It will have a cherry oder as a result of the Koolaid.

As you can see, I attempt to encourage children to be as independently involved in their project as is possible. We must remember it is their project and learning experience, not ours. Yes, there will be spills and mess. However, that is merely a sign of a hands on learning environment where children feel safe to explore. And Isn’t exploration the very thing that will shape our future thinkers and leaders of the world?

Have fun

Mar N. M.Ed., CECE

Mari Nosal : Please stop by my site at Amazon Books and check out my published books on autism aspergers special needs and more   http://tinyurl.com/kdspqy9

 

Tips To Encourage Development Of Social SkillsOf Children On The Autism Spectrum Used In My Class



1) Set aside a table in the corner of the room. Make sure ample space is provided in proximity to other activities. In doing so, the child on the autism spectrum will not feel crowded or feel as though their personal space is being intruded upon.This should be left out as a long-term project and can be used to encourage non threatening solitary play during times when the child is anxious and needs space. It can also be used to gradually encourage participation in a group project, even if the child is parallel playing.Place a puzzle, snap together model, or construction project on the table. Children on the spectrum are often attracted to items like these. They are great as they can be done in groups or as a solitary activity.Children on the Spectrum will generally allow a trusted adult to assist with the project. On the first day allow the child to work on the task alone and get comfortable with surroundings. On the second day ask if you can participate in the project.Other children will inevitably wander over out of curiosity and ask to join in. When the child is engrossed in the project let him/her know that you need to step away for a moment. Make your absence short, no more than a couple of minutes. Each day lengthen the time that you step back from the group by a couple of minutes.This can be successfully orchestrated in a one on one card game as well. Play cards one on one with the child. As other children become curious and ask to join the game hand your cards to one child and step aside for a few minutes using procedures already mentioned.If this is done slowly over a week or so you should be able to start coaching versus being involved in what will have become a group project at this point. Intervening will be done at this point only during the presence of behaviors or peer difficulties.

Tabletop long-term projects can also be used to redirect a child to a solitary activity when the signs of over-stimulation appear.

2) When it is group cleanup time in the classroom, children on the spectrum can get anxious, and overstimulated if too many children are in close proximity to them. Using an example of putting wooden blocks away, discreetly place some blocks a few feet away from the other children who are cleaning up. Again, this will assist the autistic child in feeling non – threatened.Ask the child to please put the blocks away in the bin. He/she will generally comply dropping the blocks in the bin quickly and walking away. As time goes on move the blacks slightly closer to the other children during clean up time. As the child is introduced to this concept slowly and over a period of time they will generally feel comfortable after a week or two.These ideas can be adapted to group play at home as well. Invite a maximum of two or three children over as more will overwhelm a child with social, emotional, and sensory issues. Initially, sit with the children and encourage group play with a play dough kit, race track, etc. slowly excuse yourself from the activity for several minutes. Gradually extend your time without intervening in group play. Your goal will be to become a coach observing from afar, only intervening when difficulties regarding the social situation arise. This is an extremely slow process the can literally take a month or more to accomplish.

These socialization tips can be quite successful, but the child must not be pushed before they are ready. The ingredients to success are a safe non threatening environment, patience, and praise.

Mari Nosal, M.Ed., CECE

Mari Nosal : Please stop by my site at Amazon Books and check out my published books on autism aspergers special needs and more   http://tinyurl.com/kdspqy9

 

Myths And Misnomers Of Aspergers Characteristics – A Light Hearted Observation


Recognition and identification of Aspergers syndrome has skyrocketed in the last decade. Unfortunately, the way it is portrayed through the media venue has provided individuals who do not interact with families or children directly involved with a stigmatized lenses of the syndrome. ie Sheldon Cooper on the Big Bang Theory void of the ability to display emotion, Gregory House of the House series who expresses a diagnosis to a patient with apparent disregard to their feelings, Jerry the Lawyer of Boston Legal who allegedly had Aspergers and was portrayed with comorbid maladies such as grabbing his thighs standing on tippy toes and running away making odd noises.

In my opinion these television characters provide a disgraceful impression to society in regards to Aspergers. Successful Aspergians who work beside you and your peers. Aspergians who are parents, doctors, lawyers, scientists, teachers, students and more.

I wish to present a portrayal of some misnomers regarding Aspergers . I will draw from personal experience that I have acquired both as an educator and interactions with family members on the spectrum from both a serious and humorous perspective. These are merely my personal observations.

1)      Individuals with Aspergers are incapable of lying:

This is a mistaken perception due to their penchant for bluntness. i.e. If a teacher wants to know who misbehaved in class the child with Aspergers would be ones best source of information. Bluntness is not the same as lying however. Like any other child, children with Aspergers may stretch the truth to avoid trouble.

If Aspergians can’t lie, than our family was not informed of this fact. I recall picking up my son at preschool. He was four years of age. He had been displaying behavioral issues such as sticking his fingers in his ears and closing his eyes when the teacher gave him directions. He would respond by saying, “I can’t hear you or see you, LALA,LA.”

I used a candy bar as positive reinforcement. This was a treat because candy was not freely available at home. When I picked him up from preschool, I would immediately ask how he behaved for the teacher. If the report was good, he received a candy bar.

I recall picking him up from preschool and asking how his day had gone. His eyes darted from me to his teacher. He replied with a quick, “Mom come on out in the parking lot and I will let you know how I behaved. “I foiled his intent to give me a good report when we were out of his teacher’s earshot.

I responded by telling him that I would ask his teacher directly about his behavior before leaving the classroom. My son disappeared. I heard the bathroom door slam shut in his classroom. He had evidently run in there to hide.

I would consider this an example of the capability an Aspergian has to strategize and to lie with the intent  of reaping the reward of a coveted candy bar. My sons plan was foiled by my intervention. However I will add that my son’s actions were within the norm for any child seeking to avoid losing a reward. Heck what adult for that matter has never done something similar such as calling into work feigning an illness to take a day off from work:-0) (cough,cough)

2)      Individuals with Aspergers cannot display empathy

I would argue this assumption. Many have difficulty verbalizing emotions hence societies perception of lack of emotion. On the contraire, Aspergians get emotional overload resultant from struggles with compartmentalization of sensory intake.  I merely have to look back on the gift my son made at age six for me to confirm his capability to empathize. I had the flu and was bed bound. I woke to queries of “mom are you sleeping”? Well son I am awake now son:-0

There at my bedside stood my son. In his hand, he proudly displayed a paper plate dripping with a rainbow of food color. I will refrain from describing the state that my kitchen was in resultant from my son’s work of art. You can use your imagination to conjure up what a rainbow of food coloring spattering’s did to my house:-0)

Was this a verbal expression of emotions? No it was not. As an Aspergian, he has difficulty with naming his emotions. My son had displayed his concern and yes, empathy for me through his actions instead of words. Expressions of concern were done in his unique way via actions versus words.. It was empathy none the less.

We won’t broach my emotional state when my flu ridden body saw my rainbow colored kitchen:-0)

3)      Individuals with Aspergers are not capable of manipulating their environment

I will elaborate and confirm their skill – set with an experience had during homework time in my school age class. I was tutoring a nine year old with Aspergers. Everything was going well during math homework which was compiled of rote facts. He was always compliant when homework required the use of his wonderful rote memory.

We moved on to reading passages. I was attempting to assist the child in answering questions regarding the passage he had read. He was expected to summarize the passage which required processing skills. Rote work being his forte, his demeanor quickly changed. He attempted to stonewall. I persisted. The child looked up at the clock and said, “You know Miss Mari, my mother will be picking me up very soon”. I was silently amused at his comment. What he was stating in a diplomatic manner and silently thinking was, Miss Mari, get off my back will you please? I would surmise that this showcased his capability, and attempt to manipulate his environment.

Recently my son was attempting to draw me in to one of his discussions that resemble a verbal dissertation. These verbal tugs of war always occur when we are discussing a topic that he finds distasteful such as chore requests, manners, behavior, etc. I have realized that his verbal tug of wars is the direct result of his intent to draw me off the topic at hand. My response of choice is to tell him that the discussion is over and walk away. We must pick our battles carefully to reduce what I call the deaf ear syndrome. If the discussion is going in loops walk away. No audience takes the fun out of it.

During the conversation I told my son that I would not be roped into his verbal dissertation. His response was, “you just did Mom.  You answered me back”. One can see the manipulative power struggle that is evident here. I ignored my sons comment. His goal was to veer me away from the topic at hand. I continued on my way and held my ground. To continue our debate with have proved futile as we would have gone around in circles repeatedly. I attempt not to get drawn in to a rousing game of lets have a debate until mom forgets what she wanted me to do in the first place. I merely walk away and hold my ground.

4)      Individuals with Aspergers have no sense of humor

This belief stems from the fact that Aspergians tend to perceive statements from a literal perspective. Dual meanings or ideas in jokes are difficult to comprehend. I worked with a I was a one on one teacher with a ninth grade girl with Aspergers. I recall excitedly telling the teenage girl that she was on fire because she had comprehended an important concept we had worked on for an extended period of time. The young lady responded with stiffened limbs. She repeatedly demanded to know why I had said she was on fire. She kept saying “I am not on fire, I am not on fire, why do you say I am?”

Aspergians most certainly do have a sense of humor. One would merely have to observe the night I came home from a nine hour shift in a group home. I was extremely tired and fumbled for my keys in the dark night. Suddenly, a figure jumped out of the bush saying Boo I am Mari. I must have jumped 20 feet. My son had apparently downloaded a photo of me, cut a mask out of cardboard, and glued my picture on the front complete with eye holes. Hence, the reason he called it a Mari mask. Upon entering the house my other son was wearing one as well. This was definitely an example of my son’s ability to create a humorous experience.

In closing I would like to convey the fact that individuals with Aspergers present with the same range of emotions as neurotypicals, they merely convey those characteristics that every human being possesses in a way that works for them.

Perhaps we could all start looking at how we are similar versus how we are different. Accept each others differences and harness them to create a more copacetic and positive society.  No two Aspergians are alike anymore than two neurotypicals. Like Baskin Robbins ice-cream, humans come in 32 flavors. Embrace that individuality, forget the them and us ideology and replace it with a WE will get more accomplished than a ME. I will leave you with this question and provide an answer to ponder.

Question: Who is more important, the Physician or Trash Man.

Answer: They are both equally as important. Without a physician we could not TREAT disease and we would perish. Without trash men we would HAVE disease and become ill.

This is just a thought to ponder regarding differently abled individuals and society at large.

Regards Mari Nosal M.Ed., CECE

 

Mari Nosal : Please stop by my site at Amazon Books and check out my published books on autism aspergers special needs and more   http://tinyurl.com/kdspqy9

 

HOW A SPECIAL NEEDS MOM SOLVED HOLIDAY MAYHEM MELTDOWNS


As the parent of two adult sons I have lived through the calamities, meltdowns, and mayhem that the holidays bestow with the occasional force of a tsunami on special needs families. With a mixture of Aspergers, A.D.D.H.D., Anxiety disorders, and a seizure disorder, we have had our share of holiday excitement. Yes friends, it is that wonderful time of the year:-0)

My hope is that my suggestions will make your life slightly easier. Some of my tried and true ideas are slightly unorthodox but they do work.

1)     Oh Christmas tree Oh Christmas tree , how do I keep you upright when my child is attracted to your green branches, like a magnetic force is attracted to metal?

HELP HAS ARRIVED!:-0) If you have a budding pint size landscaper in your home who wishes to move your Christmas tree to a more selective area of your home, try this.

Place the tree (stand and all) in the center of a full size play pen. A small child will have a difficult time getting a tight enough grasp on the tree because the playpen raises it off the floor and surrounds it with an obstructive wall.

The child will most likely attempt to grasp the edge of the playpen over. However the central weight of the tree makes it difficult to pull it forward hence saving the tree from falling on the child. The child may succeed in pushing the playpen over. If the child is adamant and has upper body strength. However, in pushing the playpen forward, the tree would tip in a forward motion, thus away from the child’s body.

Putting the tree in the playpen also buys you more time to redirect the little offender away from the crime scene, as it takes far more time to topple the tree than if the tree was flush with the floor

One other hint to the wise is to wait until children go to bed on Christmas eve to put ANY gifts under the tree. Children on the autism spectrum have difficulty with delayed gratification. Their sense of time is distorted. One our for a neurotypical child can feel like ten hours to a special needs child with sensory issues. Delaying putting gifts out can prevent a major case of sensory overload.

2)     Christmas balls are too shiny and colorful for my little hands not to touch.

Do you have a pint sized interior decorator in your home? Do you find Christmas balls hanging from the blinds, leaving a decorative trail across the floor akin to a row of bread crumbs left by Hansel and Gretel? Do you prepare to take a bath only to find holiday ornaments bobbing in the tub?

If you do not wish to spend the holiday season accidentally stepping on holiday ball hooks as you attempt to maneuver across the floor without getting a hook caught in your foot like a fish on a fishing pole than check this idea out.

Decorate the upper half of the tree with holiday decorations. This will keep them out of the reach of the little people in your life. Decorate the lower half of the tree just with garland. If your child takes the garland off the tree (which will be all that is in direct reach for them) the outcome will be less catastrophic than holiday hooks and broken ornaments strewn about your home.

The worst that can happen is that your budding fashonista may turn the garland into a decorative boa and entertain you with a holiday rendition of songs and dances.

Heck decorate the bottom of the tree with a string of carrots and broccoli and perhaps there placement will entice your child to eat vegetables, Nah, probably not:-0)

3)     Over the hills and through the woods to Grandmas house we go. Holiday parties and holiday events, the moment we all look forward to. Turn a meltdown into a calm down.

Children with sensory issues are extremely sensitive to the noise and glitter of the holidays. If your child will tolerate sound blocking ear plugs, you may attempt to use these when visiting places with loud sounds, holiday music, etc. This may block out some sounds as to limit the chance that your child becomes overwhelmed.

Children love novelty. Hide certain toys, i.e. video games, ipad apps., drawing pads, markers, special toys, etc. and limit use of these items to when you are visiting family, attending a loud concert, etc. These items will take the child’s focus off of the lights, sounds, and all else that bustling holidays bring. If the items the child are offered to play with are coveted because they only come out at special times the child is more likely to be enthralled with them

Last but not least, children especially on the autism spectrum tend to be extremely selective in the food that they will eat. Always bring some of your child’s favorite foods with yo when visiting people. If possible, notify the host ahead of time about your child’s issues, or take them aside and speak with the host when you get to their gathering. This way the host will understand and not take offense as to why your child will not eat their food. Open dialogue is always the best route.

May your holiday be happy , joyous and memorable. May the force be with you:-0)

Happy holidays from Mari Nosal, M.Ed., CECE

As the parent of two adult sons I have lived through the calamities, meltdowns, and mayhem that the holidays bestow with the occasional force of a psunami on special needs families. With a mixture of Aspergers, A.D.D.H.D., Anxiety disorders, and a seizure disorder, we have had our share of holiday excitement. Yes friends, it is that wonderful time of the year:-0)

My hope is that my sugestions will make your life slightly easier. Some of my tried and true ideas are slightly unorthodox but they do work.

1)     Oh Christmas tree Oh Christmas tree , how do I keep you upright when my child is attracted to your green branches, like a magnetic force is attracted to metal?

HELP HAS ARRIVED!:-0) If you have a budding pint size landscaoer in your home who wishes to move your Christmas tree to a more selective area of your home, try this.

Place the tree (stand and all) in the center of a full size play pen. A small child will have a difficult time getting a tight enough grasp on the tree because the playpen raises it off the flor and surrounds it with an obstructive wall.

The child will most likely attempt to grasp the edge of the playpen over. However the central weight of the tree makes it difficult to pull it forward hence saving the tree from falling on the child. The child may succeed in pushing the playpen over. If the child is adamant and has upper body strength. However, in pushing the playpen forward, the tree would tip in a forward motion, thus away from the childs body.

Putting the tree in the playpen also buys you more time to redirect the little offender away from the crime scene, as it takes far more time to topple the tree than if the tree was flush with the floorJ

2)     Christmas balls are too shiny and colorful for my little hands not to touch.

Do you have a pint sized interior decorator in your home? Do you find Christmas balls hanging from the blinds, leaving a decorative trail across the floor akin to a row of bread crumbs left by Hansel and Gretel? Do you prepare to take a bath only to find holiday ornaments bobbing in the tub?

If you do not wish to spend the holiday season accidentally stepping on holiday ball hooks as you attempt to maneuver across the floor without getting a hook caught in your foot like a fish on a fishing pole than check this idea out.

Decorate the upper half of the tree with holiday decorations. This will keep them out of the reach of the little people in your life. Decorate the lower half of the tree just with garland. If your child takes the garaland off the tree (which will be all that is in direct reach for them) the outcome will be less catastrophic than holiday hooks and broken ornaments strewn about your home.

The worst that can happen is that your budding fashonista may turn the garland into a decrotavi boa and entertain you with a holiday rendition of songs and dances.

Heck decorate the bottom of the tree with a string of carrots and broccoli and perhaps there placement will entice your child to eat vegatables, Nah, probably not:-0)

3)     Over the hills and through the woods to Grandmas house we go. Holiday parties and holiday events, the moment we all look forward to. Turn a meltdown into a calm down.

Children with sensory issues are extremely sensitive to the noise and glitter of the holidays. If your child will tolerate sound blocking ear plugs, you may attempt to use these when visiting places with loud sounds, holiday music, etc. This may block out some sounds as to limit the chance that your child becomes overwhelmed.

Children love novelty. Hide certain toys, i.e. video games, ipad apps., drawing pads, markers, special toys, etc. and limit use of these items to when you are visiting family, attending a loud concert, etc. These items will take the childs focus off of the lights, sounds, and all else that bustling holidays bring. If the items the child are offered to play with are coveted because they only come out at special times the child is more likely to be enthralled with them

Last but not least, children especially on the autism spectrum tend to be extremely selective in the food that they will eat. Always bring some of your childs favorite foods with yo when visiting people. If possible, notify the host ahead of time about your childs issues, or take them aside and speak with the host when you get to their gathering. This way the host will understand and not take offense as to why your child will not eat their food. Open dialogue is always the best route.

May your holiday be happy , joyous and memorable. May the force be with you:-0)

Happy holidays from Mari Nosal, M.Ed., CECE

Mari Nosal : Please stop by my site at Amazon Books and check out my published books on autism aspergers special needs and more   http://tinyurl.com/kdspqy9

 

A Message to Parents with Young Children with Asperger’s From A Seasoned Parent of A Young Adult With Asperger’s


As a seasoned parent of a son with Asperger’s, and please note I have a son with Asperger’s, not an Aspie son. I define him as a young man not Asperger’s. You will also note that I do not refer to Asperger’s as a disorder. I refer to it as a syndrome. A disorder alludes to something or someone who is broken and needs to be fixed. i.e. a computer virus that can be repaired. A syndrome is a challenge that one must adapt to and live with. Compensatory strategies may be taught to ensure a level of success. But Asperger’s can’t be fixed.

I have most definitely experienced a multitude of emotions in terms of parenting my son to young adulthood, and still do.. If I named every emotion I have felt, they would most likely have a length span which would originate on earth and reach as high as the furthest star in space.

To name several, I have experienced apprehension which was resultant in my fear for my son’s future. I felt pain from the inevitable ostracism he endured at the hands of peers, and adults. I have experienced sadness which originated from my sons struggles and not conforming to my perception of who he was intended to be, the person I visualized he would become, and the things I felt he should think and feel.

I have felt the uncertainty resulting from naysayer’s comments and predictions of who my son would become as a person both developmentally and behavioral. Naysayers predicted how my son would develop and what his future achievements or lack thereof. One would think professionals and society at large had psychic abilities and peered into a crystal ball to make predictions.

To parents with newly diagnosed children, I am here to emphatically implore you never to give up hope. If you give up hope, your children will certainly give up as well. You will get frustrated, feel the uncontrollable urge to bang your head on a wall, cry, and yes at times even wonder why you were blessed with a child with Asperger’s. You may even, (horrors) wish that your child would go away.

You may find yourself feeling intense pangs of jealousy when you see your child’s schoolmates walk by in a clique laughing away as they enjoy their day of play together. You may even experience intense anger and jealousy towards other parents while you silently wonder why their child was not born with challenges.

These feelings are all normal. Parents are human beings. Wishing your child would go away while you are under duress does not mean you really want him to disappear. On the contrary – it means you have invested so much love and expended so much effort into doing what is best for your child, that you merely crossed the line from loving them to the point exhaustion.

If you are the parent of a younger child, please do not surround yourselves with, nor listen to the naysayers who predict a life of doom, gloom, and anguish for your child. After all, you know your child better than anyone. You live with them 24-7. Trust your instincts. A parent knows what is best for their child. You are your child’s best advocate. Your child will take two steps backward for everyone they take forward. Adjust your expectations. Do not be hard on yourself and note merely the steps backwards. I f you adjust your expectations and look hard enough for the small steps forward you will be surprised at the growth that was not seen.

Children with Asperger’s do develop and succeed within the right environment. The anxiety stems from basing our expectations on what the Jones’s kids down the street are doing, what our friends and neighbors think of our children and us as parents. If we let go of those expectations and gauge successes on our child’s developmental and cognitive level and not other children their age, we will be pleasantly surprised.

Note your child’s achievement’s in baby steps. Do not worry about what your child will achieve ten years down the line. i.e. will they have a girlfriend, kids, get married, have friends, or simply get a decent job that will enable them to live independently. Remember that the average child with Asperger’s has a developmental age that lags 4 years behind their chronological age.

As the parent of a young adult son with Asperger’s I am hear to tell you that they have many attributes to appreciate. On a humorous note I will start with my son’s knowledge of electronics and computers. This sense of awe I now have for his computer talents were a sense of frustration when he was young. I cannot count how many computers he corrupted and how many mother boards he damaged while dismantling our computers, rebuilding them, and programming them with incompatible hardware.

As a little boy with Asperger’s, my son imitated people with foreign accents in public places. His lack of discretion would cause me to become flush from embarrassment. His knack for impersonations has come in handy when telemarketers call. My son convinces them that he is from a foreign country and doesn’t understand English. The telemarketers inadvertently hang up. I will emphasize that he has learned the fine art of discretion and outgrow public renditions of impersonations.

That young man has grown up to be a computer whiz and can now install modems, set up our new computers, and install programs safely. His talents have saved us a princely some of money for cable personnel, phone personnel, and computer repairman that did not warrant calling due to his self-taught expertise. My fondest memory was when the cable company wanted to come out and set up our new digital cable box. My so offered to do it for free. My digital system was set up in all of 12 minutes. My son was the ripe old age of twelve at the time!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! Thus, what was deemed a negative and aggravating personality trait as a child has proved to be an attribute as a young adult.

As a young child my son was prone to emotional meltdowns from sensory overload. As a teenager he would provide a verbal debate for any topic or request directed towards him. If I sent him to his room for being argumentative, his debate often continued in a solitary dialogue as a soliloquy. His strong personality allowed him to walk away from children who were doing drugs, etc. Yes, a sense of nonconformity can have its merits. His debate skills turned into a talent for writing.

A humorous example from his childhood would be when we attempted to use the magic 1, 2, 3, program to teach appropriate behavior skills. Our son would act inappropriately and we would put up 1, 2, 3, fingers. When he continued to voice his opinion we sent him to his bedroom. After several weeks of implementing the behavioral program we realized that he would act up ,hence get sent to his room right before we were due to leave for church. We realized he goaded us into implementing the 1, 2, 3, program so he would not have to go to church. We quickly modified that and informed him that he would be expected to go to his room AFTER church. My son walked away and yelled, “That magic one, two, three doctor is a quack” :-0)

I am proud to say that by injecting a little humor, perseverance, venting occasionally to anyone that would listen, and most importantly adjusting our expectations to my sons needs he recently received his bachelor’s degree in psychology from college with a struggle, but much perseverance on his and our part. He successfully lived in the dorm. Again he struggled, but we were 45 minutes away if he needed us but wanted to give him a taste of independence. Independence that did not include the normal socialization of college life by neurotypical standards. But being with peers and fending for himself nonetheless. As I mentioned earlier, process and accept it in baby steps.

My son has a driver’s license. He passed after three failed attempts, but along with us he persevered and never gave up. Make no mistake our family still struggles, worries, and gets frustrated just like other parents. But as time has passed we have learned not only the art of teaching our son to accommodate us but to realize we need to accommodate him as well. I equate our quest with accepting my son. If we expect him to learn societal mores of the neurotypicals than we must attempt to make adjustments for him as well.

When in a foreign country Americans tend to expect foreigners to speak English so we can comprehend them. Shouldn’t we make the same accommodations for individuals with Asperger’s as well? They speak a different language than neurotypicals  hence they can learn the world of neurotypicals but we can learn about the Aspergian lifestyle as well.

Parents, I leave you with this. If you have not pulled so much hair out of your head that you are now bald  from frustration at this point I salute you. Yes, it does get better:-0)

Rock on, give your selves a pat on the back for a job well done as parents, and know there is light at the end of the tunnel.

Mari Nosal, M.Ed., CECE

Mari Nosal : Please stop by my site at Amazon Books and check out my published books on autism aspergers special needs and more   http://tinyurl.com/kdspqy9