Wordless Special Exposure Wednesday

5 Minutes for Special Needs

Is tactile defensiveness a thing of the past! I’ll check my ‘generalization of skills’ log book before I say anything rash.

For anyone keen on words, I have a new note from “Nonna” called “Telescopic or Micro?”

Lastly, if you enjoy caption competitions and photographs, you may wish to nip along to“DJ Kirkby” over at “Chez Aspie” and test your brain power.


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Tackle it Tuesday – Menu Plan

Try This Tuesday

Formulate Plan A

In these financially stricken times, we need to tighten our belts and plan ahead. One way to get to grips with dwindling money supplies, is to stock up, stand up and design a fool proof menu plan for the week ahead. This should prevent marketing mishaps in the store.

The easy bit is to make the plan.

The difficult bit is sticking to the plan.

One way to stick to your plan, is to publicize it by sticking it somewhere prominent, such as the fridge door, either written in stone or alternatively on a disposable, wipe sheets with magic markers. Magic markers ensure that everyone is briefed in advance, but if you accidentally find that you have scoffed all the potato salad whilst the children are at school, you can easily substitute 'green' or 'rice' salad and no-one will be any the wiser.

You of course will be much wiser, but possibly penny foolish. As the pounds pile on together with the potato consumption, you may well find that you may benefit from shedding a few surplus purchases from your weekly shop. I make it a habit to check my receipt at the check out. If any item cost’s more than $10, then I make a mental note to refrain from buying that item ever again. This is why we currently out of toilet rolls.

Ideally you should plan to shop immediately after consuming the potato salad. Make sure that you visit a shop with a restroom, so that you may take advantage of their copious supplies of toilet paper.

Psychological studies have shown that a shopper with a full tummy is much less inclined to shop under impulsive, although possibly under the influence. Other studies have shown that if you are full of potato salad, there is a much higher incidence of tummy cramps, which is directly related to one's ability to push a trolly ladened with groceries. Further studies indicate that these same shoppers are far more likely than not, to be 'basket' users, if not basket cases. Basket cases usually restrict their purchasing power to one sack of potatoes, so that they are better able to repeat their mistakes and go completely off their trollies.

Hence, these few little steps may assist, the props and prompts of menu planning.

1.

Multi purpose, re-usable and self re-inforcing.

2.

Use a permanent marker for the title and days of the week.
For the details use an Expo.

3.

Sometimes it is possible to be extra sneaky and slip in some therapy on the side.

Although this kind of a challenge is not for the faint hearted. Be careful to ensure that nose pegs are freely available for all participants.

4. Under the current democratic rule, everyone is encouraged to take responsibility.

When you consume the last item in the box, add to the shopping list. Be independent! Take full responsibility as a participating member in the clan.

5.

Colour co-ordination may help with eye tracking to deliniate different ‘parts’ of the meal.

There are a great number of fringe benefits to this system. First and foremost, the numerous enquiries from every living breathing member of your household:-

What’s for supper/dinner?

This is swiftly dealt with by directing their attention to the plan. This is especiallly helpful if you exist in a swarm of butterfly brains who forget the answer only seconds later, only to then repeat the same question at 20 minute intervals thereafter.

Beware of self expression!

and editing!

It is important to clarify the difference between ‘wants’ and ‘needs.’

I am now off to formulate plan B.

Maybe I should have done that first?

Cheers dears

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Best shot Monday / Manic Monday Pride

Please scroll down for Magic Marker Monday

Hosted by “Tracy” at “Mother May I,” but the photo-picture below will whizz you right there with one click.

Just call me snap happy.

red BSM Button

Darts! Experience success!

Although I take a great many snaps, I can use very few of them, because my children are rarely dressed appropriately.

The skill of dressing, is an art form.

When a toddler first manages to dress themselve's independently, parents rejoice in their success. Pride in achievement doesn't seem a sin but something to celebrate. It is a huge step to master snap fasteners, zips and laces. All of those tasks are too difficult, textures are aversive, fine motor skills are poor, weak and unpracticed, and anyway you'd prefer to avoid the whole clothing issue entirely. Despite all this, there comes a time of realization to that child:- the things that other children, littler children achieve without effort, are way beyond their own reach. When this notion takes hold of a youthful mind, many begin to lose their sense of self worth. A child as young as 5 or even 3, may suffer depression. Unlikely as it may seem, sadly, it is true.

This is where tiny huge incidents of success may help address the imbalance. Small experiences of positive feedback can help re-build their fractured self esteem. A sense of pride in a task completed, becomes a tantalizing goal. It can't be faked. It must be real to be of worth.

A dart board is fun for many a child, and adults! But the needle end would be dangerous for many and truly scary for others. Hence these magnetic darts fit the bill. Despite shortcomings in some realms of fine motor, co-ordination and eye tracking, other skills may be unusually enhanced. They may help compensate.

It is important for me to note that at the time of that photograph my son was in the ‘Thomas the Tank Engine’ developmental stage. He has already passed through the ‘dinosaur’ stage. Many people describe autistics as having obsessional interests and sometimes compulsive too. This may be a fair shorthand. It is often true that the interest pervades their lives to the exclusion of everything else. They do not stop to eat or to meet any other of their basic needs. I can see why it’s described as obsessional.

However, I sometimes think that an alternative view would be ‘single interest.’ They have a current single interest but it can change to something else without warning. In our case it was on Christmas day. No more Thomas, so no motivation to open any presents at all, even if we ignore the tactile issue.

If you take a child with an obsessional interest to a toy shop, they will seek out their preferred toys. If you take a child with a single interest to a toy shop, when the single interest has gone, there is nothing at all to entertain them. I know that this is very difficult for people to understand. It is the very opposite of the ‘kid in the candy store.’ Name any ‘thing’ or ‘toy’ you can think of, but to entice a child to engage, is often an insurmountable hurdle. It’s like a secret club where no-one will share the password.

This is not to say that you couldn’t have more than one ‘single’ interest:- dinosaurs, Thomas and insects simultaneously. I could be interested in reading, knitting and gardening or motor cycle maintenance, art and stamp collecting, but anything else? Well it’s just off the radar, perhaps?

However, it may well be possible, with a dollop of luck on your side, to find just the right password, and hit the bulls eye. It isn’t really a secret, it’s just patient, persistence or obstinacy in my case. And yes, that glint is a twinkle of pride in his eye.

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p.s. I amended ‘Peanut Butter Bumpkins to include the recipe.


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Magic Marker Monday

From the little girl:-

And the big girl:-


See more “here” or have a go at the competition yourself, “here.”
It’s on my ‘to do’ list.

Cheers dears

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Peanut Butter Bumpkins

Stage one

We make them together, although she has the impression of independence.

Her creation would fail most nutritional examinations but it a triumph of visual delight.

Stage two

She reveals her handiwork to the boys for their approval.

We have already discussed her presentation in advance. On no account should the 'trigger word,' peanut butter be mentioned.

“Ta dah!” she beams!
“Dey are being pumpkins?”
“No they're candy. I made em for ya! All by myself!
“You are being dah awesome chef.”
“You're gonna love em. They're made of……..….food colouring, frosting, butter and………..confectioner's sugar. Mostly sugar really. A whole tonne of sugar.”
“Sugar! I am love the affectionate sugars.”

Stages three and up

Touch, smell, lick…….. well, you know the drill.

Addendum – Recipe and book review

The recipe comes from this book which I would wholeheartedly recommend as it has lots of fun ideas, especially if you're a foreigner and not very good at Halloween. The Book is called “The Big Book of Halloween – Creative & Creepy Projects for Revellers of all Ages by Laura Dover Doran. It is thoroughly suitable for children as there are 'easy' projects too. I think I could have done with this book a few years ago. I think we will be able to use it again next year.

I love all hobbies and crafts but I'm in the minority around here. It is attractively illustrated without too many surplus words, or rather there are lots of surplus words but they're arranged in such a manner that you can tune out the full page of text and concentrate on the insert box, the main event. The instructions are simple and numbered. There are several unusual, home made and cheap costumes too. The models are ordinary, friendly, pleasant people rather than intimidating super models. It is well organized into easily recognizable chapters.

Peanut butter Pumpkins

Combine 115 grammes / four ounces or 1 stick of melted butter with 340 grammes / 12 ounces of peanut butter and 454 grammes / 16 ounces of icing sugar / powdered sugar / confectioners sugar. [see how tricky it is to translate these things!] Smoosh everything together. I would add the sugar gradually as it's a stiff work out for the muscle challenged. Add the orange food colouring early and it will lighten the more sugar you add. It's really hard to add the food colouring at the end as the dough is like cement. You do have to add all the sugar or otherwise your pumpkins won't hold their form [too soft]. Roll the mixture into little balls. You can mark the sides to make them look like pumpkins but leave that step out if cocktail sticks are lethal weapons. Add a trail or stalk of livid green icing / frosting to complete. They taste better after chilling for an hour. The recipe says that the yield is 15 to 20 pumpkins but we had 34! So ours must have been considerably smaller. My daughter ate two and said that was more than enough to last her the next 24 hours as they're very rich.


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Don’t be so Snotty!

Slurping Life

I chat to my eldest daughter in the kitchen surrounded by devastation, evidence of a successful play date.

“Blimey! What a mess!”
“Yes I know. I'm just having a quick breather whilst I decide where to start.”
“No fights?”
“A couple of near misses, but all in all, I'd say that they all had fun.”
“Eeeow. What's that on your shirt?”
“Where? Oh tomato puree, a few smears of peanut butter…….the usual.”
“No. There!”
“Oh……..I must have missed that bit. I'll just get a tissue.”
“Is it snot?”
“Yes, I think so.”
“Eeow, you are slipping.”
“It's not mine. It's his.”
“Eeeow gross! That's even more disgusting.”
“Hmm…. I didn't know you were so squeamish considering how you're willing to handle Banana Slugs! I must have missed it during the bathroom debacle.”

“Bathroom debacle?”
“Three people cannot use one toilet at the same time, even if they all happen to be boys.”
“Sounds like a new rule?”
“Verily.”
“You'll have to start a new campaign. A snot campaign. You can't become the snot repository.”
“Actually the snot campaign has been on-going for some while now. This is actually evidence of great progress, the culmination of months of hard work.”
“Pull the other one, it's got bells on!”
“No really. Before they'd just wipe it on whatever happened to be handy, walls, furniture, anything that removed it from their persons and parked it somewhere else.”
“Vile. So how is this progress then?”
“Well they come to me, theoretically to tell me that they need help.”
“Couldn't you train them to just go and get a tissue?”
“I tried that but somewhere in-between the realizing that they needed one, a tissue, and locating the tissues, they'd come into contact with something else. This is sort of my pre-emptive strike, intervention, so that I can them take them off to the tissue box to practice sterile nasal practices.”
“So?”
“Well sometimes I'm not quick enough in the 'anticipation department' and sometimes they're a little slow in the 'explanation in words department.”
“So as the words are coming out, they're physically in the act of using you as a hankerchief.”
“Hmm…………like I said, it's work in progress.”
“I know! Hang on a minute…………………………..There you go! That should fix it!”
“Ooo I could patent that you know!”
“Yet another new fashion trend!”

“Maybe not. I think it's already been invented.”
“What?”
“The “pinny.”

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Road Trip

From a couple of balmy weeks ago
Glorious Summer Holidays

If I do not go to the shop today we shall all starve.

But that's the real trouble with holidays. If push comes to shove, and it might, I may be able to drag something out of the freezer, kicking and screaming. But if they won't eat the defrosted victim, I shall be no further forwarder. What good are hot dogs without any buns?

No.

A trip to the shops is a must. A trip to the shops with all my lovely children, and Nonna will be a bust.

There are the usual calculations to be made. Interesting shop where I might be able to contain them or boring shop where everyone will run away. A shop with electric doors will ensure that I'll be able to find one escapee. A shop without strip lighting, as the flickers lead to fleeting. A shop with no freezer section because the buzz drives one batty.

Then there's timing. Sufficiently after breakfast so that they're not too hungry. Not too late in the morning, so as to have a better chance at a curb side parking slot, to minimize the chance of death by traffic.

One list for each child. One list with three essential and preferred items each. Ensure that my handwriting will pass muster for the perfectionist. If it's cursive, make sure it is sufficiently curly not zig zaggy. Who in their right mind would hold a piece of paper with those jagged angled zags?

I really need an aide memoire, a little check list pinned to the door for all essentials. Mustn't forget the huge blanket this time. I certainly won't make that mistake again, the fire dance in the car park! 20 minutes shopping with the car parked outside in the heat. A toasty little furnace. A metal box absorbing heat atoms. At the height of summer, in California, in America, airless and still. How could we survive without a thick fleece blanket? Not only do I need to remember to take it, I need to remember to cover the seats.

Forget the dogs:- no-one wants hot buns!


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Thursday 13 – things I should have avoided whilst pregnant

Thirteen Things about
Things I should have avoided whilst pregnant

There's many a parent raked by guilt with sleepless nights full of 'what ifs' and 'if onlys.' Here are a few of those thoughts.
1. I should have rigged up the microwave with crime scene tape.
2. I should never have knitted that baby blanket. I'm sure I poked something crucial.
3. Hair dye and vanity, that's all I'm going to say on the subject.
4. I knew that cell phone was a mistake. Surely I fried every functioning brain cell too.
5. Orders to 'rest' should be accompanied with a free pass to a baby sitter.
6. They did warn me about Caesar Salad but I couldn't resist the craving for anchovies.
7. I should never have drunk the water and breathed the air in Silicon Valley.
8. I blame the blue cheese myself although I swear it was only a crumb or two.
9. I should have made him swear that the fruit punch only contained fruit and no hidden punches. Can you trust anyone these days?
10. I blame the YMCA. It was a mistake to take that Aerobics instructor course.
11. I should have had those metal filling ripped out pre-pregnancy but hindsight is always 20-20. I wonder why it wasn't covered by my medical insurance?
12. Alternatively I could blame the hospital. How stupid to give a warning about carrying heavy objects! What newly born object doesn't want to be carried!
13. Yes, regrets, I have more than a few. If I had my time over, I would do things differently. For my baby shower gift I'd have fessed up and asked for a “laminater.”

So nip on over and “click” to do you little “bit.” I’m always happy to complain about “food” but in the great scheme of things, I for one, should know “better.”

Although I usually benefit hugely from a jolly good moan.

Cheers dears


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Wordless Special Exposure Wednesday

5 Minutes for Special Needs
If this continues, I shall sell his bed!
It is white wood.

A cheap trade in return for a very obvious free fall drop in tactile defensiveness.

I also have a few words to share on my “Alien” site called “A Glut of Starving Brains.”

If you enjoy caption competitions and photographs, you may wish to nip along to“DJ Kirkby” over at “Chez Aspie” if you have a brilliant witty mind, or failing those qualifications you can always just zip along and lurk like me.


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Tackle it Tuesday – Teeny tiny

We're pretty busy around here so today's tackle is a tiny one that should bring big rewards, especially for me. The trouble with having so many bodies around is that any semblance of organization and tidying is pretty much destroyed with the passage of the next 24 hours. Here is a slightly longer term solution.

Choose the drawer in your kitchen with the highest traffic, the one that everyone needs to use frequently.

First weed the drawer of all non essentials. Try and put like with like.

Have a trial run to see what you can fit in one drawer easily and discard the rest for another time. Take a large sheet of coloured paper and draw around each item with a black marker pen. Alternatively photograph each item but this can be problematical due to scale. [and expensive!] Laminate the paper cut-outs so that it will last longer and be easier to clean.

Line the drawer with 'grip liner' to reduce clanking.

Clean all items and replace in the correct position in the drawer.

Finally label the drawer with something relevant.

Some families may benefit from a few additional steps.

Sometimes numbering the empty spaces also helps, as can the name of the item written on the relevant cut out. Many children can read either words or numbers. For example, they may not know what a tin opener is, but if it is matched to a number and shaped cut-out, it is far easier to identify.

On completion photograph the contents of the drawer and enlarge to A4 size if possible. Laminate and mount on card and place on the wall of the counter behind the corresponding drawer. If this offends your 'perfect kitchen' image, you can always stick it on the inside of the door below, which can also be useful for smaller children who are better matched in height to this visual aid.

Alternatively, place the 'cheat sheet' in the drawer itself over the contents where it can be removed and held as a ready reference guide. Often physically holding the card, something tangible, in one hand aids eye tracking and referencing back.

This is also handy if you have additional spare bodies floating around your house such as therapists, baby sitters and miscellaneous experts.

There are any number of adaptations to suit the individual needs of your little helpers. For instance, part of the reason for covering the paper icons with sticky back plastic is not only to keep it clean but also because the texture of paper is abhorrent to some people.

Other children may find the reflective nature of the laminate equally as offensive. Some children respond positively to certain colour preferences e.g. pink becomes a magical co-operative hue but black means that no-one will dare go within shooting distance.

There are many fringe benefits to this approach other than tidiness and cleanliness.

Additionally, children learn competency, which boosts their self esteem. They learn that they are contributing to the household in a useful and helpful manner which also adds to their feelings of belonging to a unit.

Many of these kitchen items are words that they have no interest in learning. Even though they are still unlikely to 'want' to learn them, quite often they learn them incidentally by doing, if not accidentally, or what is often termed 'kinesthetic' learning.

They can tell that they have completed a task without help [or not very much help] perfectly and gain the satisfaction of a job well done, and task completion can often be a huge hurdle.

What I like about this task is that it is cheap, easy and relatively quick but with many long term benefits for everyone.

So now that we're finished! Could you open the fridge, pass me a beer and number 17 please!

Cheers dears

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