Quiet Time

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It’s a bit hazy, but Nonna rests in the company of the boys, all of them reading Garfield comic books.

Following a “nasty scare,” we shall be recharging our batteries this weekend.

However, if you’re feeling a little more energetic, you may wish to consider nipping along to say “hi” to “Kev” over at “Autism Talk,” he doesn’t half get about that lad.

Or maybe you’re more “musically” inclined in which case “Casdok” may have a “surprise” for you.

Maybe you could squeeze in a visit to “Kristina” over at “Change.org” where you could vote for her or simply drop a note of goodwill as she adjusts and settles in to her new spot.

“Trish” over at “Another Piece of the Puzzle” and at “Autism Interrupted” and updates her “Twitter” more frequently than I can manage and at “5 Minutes for Special Needs Mums” is still slogging away for all our benefit, and I’m sure she’d appreciate a comment from you. Talking of “comments” it appears that “Trish” has been kind enough to give me a “blabber mouth” award, although I suppose it’s better than a “big fat finger” award for my typing skills, I think? I’m not entirely sure what I should be doing with this [?] but please don’t give me any advice, rude or otherwise!

There you go, my foggy brain has managed to fathom it out, although it’s Saturday rather than Friday. Suffice to say that with Nonna’s mishap we have been a bit a sixes and sevens, I sure I’ll be forgiven for being a day late…..I hope?

award

Many thanks to Sheri and “Barbara” for your concern, we are nearly back on track. I should really give this to the lovely Elle, but she’s blogless poor woman. So I’m happy to pass it on to “Holly” at “Fearless Females” – what a name! One that I heartily endorse. There are so many more commenters that should take this award, but for right now, my battery is full dis-charged.

If you need to little pick me up, then head on over to “Grace in Small Things,” to read of join.

Don’t forget to keep your eyes and ideas open to “Jessica.”


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Why do I have to? By Lauri Leventhal-Belfer, illustrated by Luiza Montaini-Klovdahl

“This” is ‘a “book” for children who find themselves frustrated by everyday rules.’ This is probably all you need to know about this publication, as well as the fact that it is a great, practical and resourceful read.

However, you may wish to know a little more before you make a “purchase.” First of all I would note that this book is written for children who ‘have difficulty coping with the hassles of everyday life.’ The words ‘autism’ and ‘Asperger’ are nowhere to be found, but we all know what we’re talking about.

Generally speaking, I currently avoid books about “Asperger” Syndrome because whilst they may be useful in the future, for the time being, we exist on another inch of the “spectrum.”

However, I have a great number of “friends” with Asperger children. I am sympathetic to the very different challenges that they and their children experience, a different page in the very same tome.

I never read the blurb on the back of a book, as I wish to avoid bias and make up my own mind. However, the introduction is compulsory for me. This lets me know if it is worthwhile turning to the next page. Here, the author sets the tone for the adult reader. Quite often it can be just one line that hits the nail on the head:- ‘often these children are not as interested in the answers as much as they are in winning more time to do a desired activity or support for their position.’ The introduction is peppered with nuggets of wisdom and practical guidance:-
- each story ends with a positive statement affirming the benefit of a more adaptive coping style
- one of the biggest challenges in working with these children is getting the strategies that may work in one setting to generalize……
-will not be automatic……rather it will take a great deal of work and practice before a child is able to integrate spontaneously…..without external support.
-keeping track of the times that your child experiences success as well as …..roadblocks
- collaborate with teachers
- motivation
This tells me that the author knows what she is talking about which in turn convinces me to read on. Most importantly of all, the author emphasizes the importance of choosing only one campaign to work on at a time.

This book could also be called ‘transitions, how to get through them?’ Not as catchy but some of us with youngsters who are non-verbal or face different life challenges, know just how traumatic so many of these transitions can be for our children.

The book is divided into three sections:-
Rules that may be frustrating at home
Rules that may be frustrating about friends
Rules that may be frustrating about school
Yes, this is your child’s life, and every single one of the ‘whys’ pertains to most of our children, I’ve checked.
For instance:-
-‘why do I have to say ‘hello’ with words?’
-‘why do I have to let other kids play a game the ‘wrong’ way?’
- ‘why do I have to go the bathroom when I don’t need to?’
I hope these questions also have resonance for you too? If not, please correct me.

Still not convinced?

After each story, [they’re short,] there are several points or strategies suggested to help both child and parent. The suggestions are practical. Interestingly, they cover the categories that are most useful to my family, such as self calming, the sensory element[s], distracters, alternative outlets for frustration, self talk and sensory/bio feedback. Don’t worry, none of those words appear in the book because the writer is far too canny to scare off those people would could most benefit from her words, including me!

So what about the non-verbal child who never asks ‘why?’ Could this really help a non-verbal child, especially if they don’t sign? Who can say? I would say, or rather suggest, that even if a child does not say the word ‘why?’ those questions are still percolating around inside. They also experience the same frustrations with the rules imposed upon them by adults. Frequently autistic children understand many more words [receptive language] than they are able to articulate. [expressive language]

Lastly, just in case there are still any doubting Thomas’, each story finishes with this question, “do you have any other ideas about what may help you……?” This provides the perfect invitation for the child and parent to work collaboratively. In my limited experience, all too often, my children, when given the opportunity, can come up with their very own solutions to a problem. Then, I have the problem. All I have to do is wrap my head around their alternative, try very hard to compromise and accept that quite often the answer is staring me in the face.

Need one last practical example?

Fair enough. What do I do about my boys and their friends, or more particularly their male friends? When they meet for a play date or say their good byes, they skip the words part and demonstrate their friendship with close physical contact. This is heartwarming to witness in toddlers and young people, but as young people grow larger, society is less accepting, cold hearted and full of disapprobation. At this early stage, I do not particularly wish to curb this behaviour. I would prefer to encourage it, but my sons are more likely to be accepted in society at large, if they can make small adaptations. What kind of adaptation? A formal hand shake isn’t going to let them express what they need to express, but it is socially acceptable. What else? Follow the suggestion; ask the boys themselves. Their solution? ‘A boy hug,’ which looks like a bear hug, lots of hearty, male testosterone bonding. Not my ideal, nor first choice, but it works, and that’s all that really matters.

You may wish to consider “buying” your copy from “Amazon” or straight from “Jessica Kingsley Publishers.”

Alternatively, if anyone is interested in a scribbled on version, I’m happy to offer up my own copy, maybe a February giveaway?

Cheers dears


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Quick Quotes

Nonna, the Italian diabetic in Buca di Beppo:-
“Wot? I thought it woz an Italian restaurant? No Neopolitan ice-cream?”

Son to Nonna:-
“I thought Buca di Beppo meant ‘Beppo’s mouth?”
“No……..not mouth……hole……..hole as in ‘place’ of Guiseppe.”
“Yur both wrong,” announces the pre-teen with much eye rolling, “it means ‘Joe’s Basement,’ coz Joe is American for Guiseppe.”
“So what’s Italian for basement dear?”
“I wuz sayin basement to be polite, it jus means ‘hang out.’”

Adult Daughter to Mother and the timely echolalic:-
“I just don’t get it. What’s the point of having medical insurance if they’re only going to pay out if there’s an R in the month and a full moon.?”
“6 months late, if you’re lucky, minus huge deductible, ignoring all out of pocket expenses, just to be generous, say….. 65% tops?”

“It’s wicked man, it’s wicked man, it’s wicked man.”

Siblings:-
“Eeeow! Why are yah makin those weirdo squirrely noises huh?”
“Er…..I’m copyin dah weirdo squirrel…..over there……in dah tree……dinya hear him?” [with pointy finger]

Older brother to little brother, as he steps aside to let him go through the door first, “dere you go,……… age before beauty.”

A warning, bellowed helpfully, at Nonna’s swiftly retreating form, as he hurls his body around Thatcher, “don’t run! You’ll turn yourself into prey!”


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Happy Tales and Tails

5 Minutes for Special Needs

Follow my leader!

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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Frugal Food – one week’s worth

Try This Tuesday

I don’t know what happens in your household, but around here my children would be quite happy to eat pizza or pasta every night of the week, for a month, probably several months.

Tuesday – baked potatoes with sour cream and chives, pan fried sausages [bake extra potatoes to use in Frittata tomorrow/make double and freeze as side dish/ save one sausage for the Frittata]
Wednesday – Frittata with green salad and Winter coleslaw [make double coleslaw to add to tomorrow]
Thursday – Cheesy Rice with Kale and Winter Coleslaw [double the boiled rice, save half and freeze for later – Monday]
Friday – Fisherwoman’s Pie, pastry topped, include a cup of peas and corn to have a one pot dish and save washing up. [set up beans to sprout for Monday]
Saturday – Egg, Spinach and Potato Curry, serve with bread or Naans [make double to freeze but omit the eggs]
Sunday – Roast chicken and potatoes with roasted root vegetables [double the veg to use in cous cous later, strip the chicken bare[!] , refridgerate left over meat, make stock from the carcass for cous cous and freeze the rest for soup]
Monday – Stir Fried rice with the left over chicken, Beansprouts with Sesame seeds

The point here is to try and keep one or two steps ahead of the starving masses. Anyway, enough of such irrelevancies as nobody is interested in what we’re eating this week. However, it may just be that a few people may be mightily interested to know that my son, the former neophobe, will also be eating this menu, this week.

“Who?”

“Him!”

Don’t forget to keep your eyes and ideas open to “Jessica.”


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Puppy Training:- a brief summary

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.

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I attend the primer.

A two hour lecture.

I did try very hard not to yawn.

• Consistency
• Persistence
• Always follow through
• Think like a dog
• Use logic
• Dogs have common dogginess principles
• Each dog has it’s own unique personality and character
• Keep language concise
• Use body language
• Use simple signs
• Generalize skills in different locations
• Reward with treats initially
• Don’t forget to fade rewards
• Pick your battles
• Schedules, routines and predictability
• Never punish natural doggy behaviour such as chewing, digging and barking
• Provide safe opportunities to chew, dig and bark
• Tone of voice
• Facial expression
• Repetition

On and on and on it goes……..

And do you know what? I can do all this standing on my head, whilst knitting and drinking Ensure. I tell you truly that if I had known it would be this easy, I would have found a dog years ago. Then again, years ago, I didn’t know, what I know now. Do I mean to imply that Autistic children learn similarly to dogs? No. I imply no such thing. On the contrary, children, both autistic and typical, need good teachers. It is easy to scoff, especially since I am so exceptionally good at scoffing:- why doesn’t everyone already know all this stuff? But we all have to start somewhere. This provides me with the perfect opportunity to thank those professional and vocational teachers who work tirelessly for my children, to help them reach their full potential. If I cannot learn to be a good teacher, then children are probably not a good career choice for me. Luckily, despite all the odds against me, it seems that old dogs like me really can learn new tricks. Other young pups master nauseous chalk when they have just the right motivation.

Woof!

Don’t forget to keep your eyes and ideas open to “Jessica.”


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January Jaunty Jest

Have you read something during this month of January that made you laugh out loud? Was it something that might make other people have the same reaction? If so you may wish to leave a link to that post in the comments section here, or e-mail me or write a little note to “Jessica” over at “Oh the Joys” and her jolly good pal “Tania” at “Chicky Chicky Baby” for their “ROLF” award for January.

Maybe I could invite you to play along too?

As they say:-

‘If you are willing, we’d love help spreading the word. Feel free to share the deadlines with your followers and friends on Twitter and / or Facebook .

Thanks so much!

Jessica & Tania’

I’d attempt the Twitter / Facebook option but sadly, technically challenged persons, such as myself are incapable of such feats.

What I’d really like to know is whether I can submit four suggestions or recommendations? I maintain four blogs, I read lots of other blogs. Some are quite hilarious, others draw me for different reasons. Surely I could provide four nominations, although I suspect that would constitute cheating?

Cheers dears


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Helping Children with Complex Needs Bounce Back by Kim Aumann and Angie Hart :- a book review


First of all I need to publicize my bias. I dislike a whole genre of books, namely, all books that fall into the following categories:- self help, how to, step by step, self improvement, how I struggled, suffered, overcame and triumphed in the end, and anything that vaguely suggests that it will transform your life into perfection. As a natural born cynic, I dislike books that offer the temptation of a quick fix.

That said, this book with it’s conversational style, was difficult to put down. This was in part because of the “writers’” charm, their awareness that the “quick fix” doesn’t exist, that parents are weary, often with limited resources and that fundamentally, attitude is everything. I don’t know if you can learn “resilience training” from a book, but it certainly helps to read about practical ways of altering thought processes into a more positive approach.

I rarely have the opportunity to read a book from cover to cover in one sitting and so this ‘dip in’ approach was a good fit for my current life style. The format of introduction, expansion and summary for each chapter is also a helpful and practical organizational tool for the haphazard reader.

I thoroughly enjoyed the many anonymous quotes such as:-

‘Really there’s no magic you know, it’s just about keeping at it.’

I did enjoy the initial parental and child self assessment questionnaires, mainly because I’m very good at lying, so I can anticipant the answers and ensure a good score. In all honesty, I should have stuck to chapter one because we failed, quite miserably. Shall I share? This evaluation tests whether or not we’re managing the basics before we move on to more advanced skills.

4. I can get out and about without too many difficulties:- True / False / Sometimes

6. I take part in physical activity at a moderate intensity for 30 minutes at least five times a week:- True / False / Sometimes

7. I get out of the house at least once a day:- True / False / Sometimes

Often a book wins me over precisely because it follows my own tenants and reflects my own values. Hence in chapter two, the authors discuss how to deal with busybodies, full of opinions that they always insist upon sharing, no matter how inappropriate. They have several suggestions to help people through these frequent difficult moments. As they say, ‘there’s no magic cure for people being nasty,’ however by far my favourite foil is as follows:- ‘disarm people by agreeing with them.’

Most of us with special needs children encounter a great many experts over the years. The experts have a great deal of experience and a flourish of qualifications to back them up, but often, we doubt whether they would be able to cope with what we cope with 24/7. When that is the case, it can also be difficult to accept their advice, because they are not the ones who will have to endure the practicalities of teaching, enforcing and persisting, for many months, if not years. However, it is quite clear to me that both of these women have also been on the short end of life, down in the trenches with the rest of us. They’re not preaching from on high, which makes me all the more keen to listen, just as they have listened to real people, coping with real life:-

‘I’m busy with a star chart and his behaviour, but meanwhile I can’t even get his clothes washed for school. The washing machine’s packed up, I don’t have the money to get it fixed, he wets the bed every night, the sheets are stinking and piling up. But I’m so busy chasing after him that I can’t get a moment to ring a plumber.’

Funnily enough, when I read this, I thought to myself, ‘if she’s managing to use a star chart, regardless of the other chaos, then she’s pretty high up the old learning curve.’

There are a great many practical solutions and suggestions, with even more tit bits of common sense. I am the kind of person that reads a book with a pen in my hand and this book provided lots of opportunities to interact and scribble. I’d offer to send you my own copy, but as usual I have more than mangled it, which strangely, is a very good indication of a powerful influence. Whilst it is always possible for the truly grumpy to nit pick, on the whole, it may be better to adopt the general ethos and know by that as we drown in defeat, we may also grasp at the positive.

I doubt if one can grow an attitude through simply “reading a book,” but I suspect it may help many of us who are struggling to achieve the same “goals,” happy, well adjusted children, and we can all do with a little positive reinforcement on that “front.”

Cheers dears


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Snap that!

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A Random Selection

Every once in a while I open my eyes and notice something small and of no significance. Today, and of no particular significance, I notice a few teeny tiny things, signs of growth.

Pre-teen’s who shun their new and highly desirable night attire, in favour of grunge.

Mental and physical preparations are made prior to my son’s inaugural sleepover away from home, primarily maternal preparations. I also learn how to scan old photographs which adds even more mental anguish of the sentimental variety.

Legs that sprout out of pyjama bottoms.

Individuals who choose to speak to their relatives by name rather than by relationship, which is highly disconcerting for the ill-prepared.

E.g. “Hey Madeline, howaya doin?”

Such startling, text book perfect, voluntary social skills, mark a sea change.

We learn our lessons well:-

Lessons About Blue Dogs

Mister Untouchable, who hates dogs, submits to “lick,” with a dollop of welcome glee.

p.s. I shall be keeping my eyes and ears open to find something to offer to “Jessica” over at “Oh the Joys” and her jolly good pal “Tania” at “Chicky Chicky Baby” for their “ROLF” award for January.

Jessica is a foreign type of person with a delightful sense of humour as evidenced by this campaign. Obviously she is Australian as this campaign is dedicated to “ROLF Harris” the humourist and artistic genius. Maybe I could invite you to play along too? As they say:-

‘If you are willing, we’d love help spreading the word. Feel free to share the deadlines with your followers and friends on Twitter and / or Facebook .

Thanks so much!

Jessica & Tania’

I’d attempt the Twitter / Facebook option but sadly, technically challenged persons, such as myself are incapable of such feats. Meanwhile, it maybe that someone is due for a “surprise,” and perhaps you might “Surprise” someone too, as there’s nothing like curling up with a good “blog?”

Cheers dears


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All Strung out

We tumble into the house after school and greet the new potential babysitter. Hopefully in one hour from now, we shall have found our perfect match in return for the three hour minimum charge.

Our extra play date victim introduces herself, “Hi I’m Felicity, I’m here all the time so you’re gonna have to get to know me too.” I blink as I think. I sincerely hope this is wishful thinking rather her future reality. My own children are otherwise immediately occupied with dogs and cats and Nonna.

I interview and brief the babysitter by modeling. She stands by the kitchen door as we exchange information. Homework is on hold whilst I juggle. I juggle snacks, enquiries and queries from the five humans in my care, the usual blur of activity.

My daughter brings Thatcher back into the house after a frolic in the garden and talks to him as she towels him dry, “poor ickle wickle puppy is frozen cold.” Immediately we have a dose of the usual, a piercing scream of horror from my youngest as he hurls himself to the floor in a reverie of agony, “oh no! My dog is froze. I don wan a popsicle dog.” I glance at the baby sitter, “did I mention that he’s rather………er…….highly strung?” I scoop him up as there is no point in talking to the literal, far better to offer him the evidence of his own eyes. The eyes of the baby sitter are no longer glazed but gleam, with a slight tincture of alarm. I park him vertically, in front of Thatcher who pants and scratches and shows every degree of being alive and well. Poging, of the gleeful variety, overtakes him as he throws his arms around the furry neck, “ooo my own twoo dog, you are be alive!” he coos in the most beguiling of tones.

After 45 minutes in our company, I sign the papers to release the babysitter. I watch as she skuttles down the path, without so much as a backwards glance.

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