Handy hint – the power of touch [the nudge]

Inferences are a stumbling block for many children and some autistic ones. These difficulties crop up in both language acquisition and in practical day to day life. For instance, on a cold day I might hold and open a jacket for one of my children. The visual cue of the jacket as well as the ambient cool temperature, just before school, may prompt many children into the ‘correct’ response of putting on additional clothing. However, that is not the case around here. Many parents use additional scaffolding to help their children navigate many of these hic-cups, such as verbal cues and or PEC’s.

All too frequently, in my limited experience, parents such as myself, miss an obvious step, skip ahead of ourselves or fail to note the obvious. Now although my long term memory isn’t as good as many, there is one thing about my youthful days that I can still recall. It was a morning ritual. My mother would crouch down to help me put on my shoes. She would say something like “well put your foot in it then!” I would look down at the top of her head. I could not see my feet. I could not see my shoes. My toes would wiggle about in search for the invisible shoe. My mother found it very frustrating. I think I also found it frustrating but probably more confusing than anything else. Because of this experience I make sure that when I help my own children with their shoes, that they have a clear view of both their feet and their shoes, although they generally sit on the ground. Standing on one leg is generally an advanced skill for many children.

One of the main differences between my experience and my children’s is that I was highly motivated to please my mother, to be a good girl, whereas this, until fairly recently, has not been a motivating force for the boys. Dressing, is not a high priority for them, they are indifferent. In addition, shoes are positively hateful, aversive. The combined effect is indeed a challenge.

If you need any hints on how to make shoes more fun, then I have a list as long as your arm, however these days, they are much more co-operative, so I am able to skip the step of hanging their shoes on my ears. Nonetheless, the visual and other prompts often fall flat. There is still a glitch in the executive function. It may be helpful to think of this as inertia:- everything is set up in place, ready and willing, but they need another little nudge to get the ball rolling in the right direction and overcome ‘stand still.’

So there I am on the floor, in front of my sitting child with the right shoe in front the correct foot. I say the right words in an aurally attention grabbing manner and yet no movement is forthcoming. It is easy to lose it completely at this moment, having already prompted, cued and encouraged every teeny tiny step of a morning routine for over an hour, times two. However, for my boys at least, I find that a gentle tap on the back of the calf, nudges the leg into that first movement. That’s all it takes. It’s like kicking away the brakes and away we go.

I don’t know where your child is on the spectrum. However, it may be that you can avoid the many “mistakes” that I made. One of my “mistakes” was my efficiency. I deemed my children incapable of anything. Teaching basic skills was way too time consuming and my attempts caused no end of tantrums. Therefore it was quicker for me to do everything for them, and I mean everything. As a result they remained helpless for far longer than they should have done. If you find yourself similarly situated, then maybe some small but significant and manageable lesson could begin. It is challenging to know exactly where to start with children who are unable to dress, toilet or eat by themselves.

It may be easiest to begin with something that they can already do. This may take a change in “perspective.” For example, the one thing that my children did quite marvelously was to remove all their clothing, frequently. I viewed this habit as a highly frustrating negative, especially since they were completely unable to dress themselves. I found it infinitely ironic. It took a long time to redress, each of them, many, many, many times a day. In fact to be quite honest, usually towards the end of the day I would simply give up, exhausted, hopeless, helpless and “useless.”

Then I learned about tactile defensiveness, just a little bit, just enough to give me a clue, a very tiny clue.

It was one small part to tackle. If they were without clothes then their bodies were available for contact and sensory diets came into our lives. Shortly after that the reality of ‘generalization of skills’ also made it’s impact. They learned, gradually, to enjoy sand play and other more obscure pastimes. One obscure pastime was a huge box filled with garbanzo beans, to waist height. Body painting, shaving cream, chocolate spreading and no end of different textures to explore, as we tried to desensitize them. There was ample opportunity, due to a lack of clothing. It took a long time and even sand play became fun, but it was only fun at home. It was not fun at day care, nor the beach, nor the park, because generalization also has to be taught.

I made many, many mistakes as I learned, because one child was a sensory seeker and the other was hell bent on avoidance. I learned brushing skills, but I am still very bad at it.

As usual I digress.

As I write, I am mindful of the fact that this will never reach those whom I would most wish to reach. Those people do not blog. They have no time to blog as they are far too busy doing what needs to be done, alone, just like I used to be. If they’re lucky they may have a few friends, but those friendships have dwindled in number and thinned in frequency. But in conclusion I would like to say that no matter how difficult some days can be, better and brighter days become more frequent, hopefully for all of us.

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Lessons about blue dogs

5 Minutes for Special Needs



In Summary form:-

Bless the powers that be for visual learners.

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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The Tale of the foolish old woman

Try This Tuesday

Once upon a time, there lived a wise old woman in a little white Cape Cod house, deep in the depths of sunny San Jose. The frugal woman gathered together her gold coins from the hidden corners of house and set forth unto the deep discount store, there to buy a couch for her wee green room. There she searched in vane for just the right one, not too big, not too small and not too expensive. Woe be upon her, as she left empty handed with nought to put beneath her bottom.

The wise old woman shared her little white Cape Cod house with wee little, Italian man, fond of cream and garlic, and partial to padding beneath his bottom. When he heard the wise woman’s lament, he rallied to the cause and set off that very same day to fulfill the old wise woman’s dreams.

Many days passed until the venerable delivery van arrived at the little white Cape Cod house, where to reveal a hansom and jolly expensive couch. The old wise woman clapped her hands with glee when her eyes fell upon the illustrious couch. What a clever wee spendthrift Italian man he was.

Thereafter, during subsequent years, the old wise woman’s children trampled the couch quite thoroughly, wherefore to gain sufficient deep proprioceptive input, until it was no longer an illustrious couch, but a tatty old dung coloured heap.

The old wise woman pondered the meaning of life. After much thought and deliberations, the old wise woman decided that life was incomplete. Completeness came in the form of a large hound, with hair and whiskers and a wiggly, waggly tail. The old wise woman took her children aside and advised them verily, that henceforward the whiskery waggly dog must refrain from parking his hairy bottom on the not so illustrious couch. The aforementioned rule would be enforced ruthlessly.

Day after day, day after day, time passed, yah so slowly, yet permanently stuck of fast forward, as children and family learned to adopt the new rule.

All grew older and bigger, and some grew still wiser.

The old wise woman conceded her many foolishnesses of the past, but that in her next life time, which would surely arrive all too soonly, she would revise the laws of logic. First she would buy a dog, then she would buy a partner on the internet, on a sale and return basis with a 5% discount for cash and $6:95 crate free shipping and handling charge, then she would buy some children to avoid stretch marks and teach everyone to sit on the floor, just as they do in the rest world, in this very big planet that we share.

Moral:- there is very little wriggle room for the wise.

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‘De Blob’ de best ever product review

‘De Blob’ for Wii, is indeed a thrill for all of our family. The birthday gift has been thoroughly conquered in less than a month. Some of the taglines such as ‘dodge ink cannons, flatten INKT tanks and outsmart Inky soldiers’ may sound a little violent, but in reality they are as harmless as some common cartoons. Another tagline gives a broader flavour of the product:- ‘Paint the city and smash your way past Inky enemies to save the citizens.’ More than anything else, I am grateful for the wide range of musical accompaniments, many of which are much easier on the parental ear than some other electronic games.

reviewers and “critics”
offer platforms where you can try it out for yourselves and get a feel for the product. However, the “repetitive” nature of game appears off-putting to the typical but not for the atypical, far from it:- au contraire, mon frère! The repetitions are a positive plus point, as this is the perfect way to practice without increasing levels of frustration, where mastery enhances self esteem.

Fortunately, none of the characters have any words, merely noises that mimic speech of some obscure or bygone language. Please note that it is not French to the best of my knowledge. The written sub-titles are an added bonus for those of us who are hyperlexic. For my boys at least, it has proved magnificently motivating. Additionally, the advancement of their hand–eye coordination and response time has improved immeasurably.

There is of course one drawback. This improvement in hand-eye coordination has resulted in each of the chair backs of the sofa being decorated with this emblem.

Sadly, my response time lags way behind those who are quick on the draw with those not so magic markers. I’d share a picture of my soggy sofa but I expect it’s all too easy to visualize.

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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Notable quotes of the week

“Were you two up all night giggling?”
“I dunno, I was asleep.”


“Did you have a good day at school?”
“Oh dear……….why not?”
“We had a substitute creature.”


Define ‘daughter’?

= a female son

Can’t fault the logic my friend!

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Wanton acts of violence

Slurping Life
Get the code:-
Cut and paste
from this little
boxy thing below

This is what I found first thing yesterday morning at 5:10 a.m.

I really wanted to be angry as they were new for Christmas and it’s a bit nippy around here in the mornings.

I was secretly pleased as it’s a rare thing for anyone to voluntarily pick up a pair of scissors and use them as a tool purposefully.

I decided I would attempt a minor correction to this behaviour so that it doesn’t become a trend.

When I approached him he was so excited and chatterful that it was hard to get a word in edgeways, let alone an admonition.

Eventually after a great deal of gamboling he was able to show me how he had copied the illustration from his game:- Pokemon Ranger Kellen.

They could almost be twins! I did wonder why he was voluntarily dressed so early in the morning. I did wonder about the shorts in the middle of winter, to say nothing of the sleeveless shirt.

I’ll stop now as I think my bias is showing.

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Surprise! By Karen Andrews and Illustrated by Kim Fleming – a book review

This is a thoroughly delightful read but I can’t tell you what it is about, as that will give the game away.

Suffice to say that my own children are extremely picky about books. Although they can all read, their tastes run the gamut. As I stagger back with sacks full of books from the library each week, I can never guess which ones they will warm to and which will be kicked to the curb.

Here, the “illustrations” are in warm, muted colours with touching personal details for the sharp eyed. The pictures are sequenced in such a manner that non-readers may easily follow along. Inferences, which are always tricky in my household, are clarified by these sequential images.

I particularly like the name choices for the different characters and the variety of their respective home lives. The traditional nuclear family is such a rarity these days that hopefully more books will begin to reflect the diversity of modern reality, so that more children will see their own circumstances mirrored back in their everyday reading.

However, it seems daft for an adult to review a children’s book, so instead I offer you a junior opinion, or two:-

‘Surprise!’ is just my kind of book, a “pay it forward,” kind of a book without the “soppy.”

The author mentions that the book was ‘inspired by a true story,’ to which I would reply, ‘capturing the minutiae of life, could prove inspirational to us all.’

You may buy a copy for yourself over here at “Miscpress.”

I shall buy the book myself. When it arrives, it is destined for the library, together with an insert of our own. If you’ve read the book, then that won’t be a Surprise! to you.

You can catch up with Karen on “Twitter” or on her blog called “Miscmum” and I’m sure she’d love to hear from you.

Please note that whilst I am more than happy to read just about anything, I only ever post positive reviews of books that I have genuinely enjoyed, as there are more than enough critical critics elsewhere.

Cheers dears

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Autism – tip of the day [Head, shoulders, knees and toes]

Here is a quick tip that we still use with the children to help sequence them through those early morning steps in readiness for school.

Quite often, there are not many words available first thing in the morning but there are also a great many tasks that need to be performed in a timely manner. My boys are visual learners but also respond very well to kinesthetic cues, it’s almost as if that first movement kick starts their executive function into action. It’s another layer of scaffolding or support to help them achieve and experience success.

We have four hurdles to overcome:- brush hair, clean teeth, put on shoes and socks.

1. Gain your child’s attention, preferably with body orientation rather than eye contact.
2. Ask that they join in and copy your body movements.
3. Ask them to confirm that they’re going to play along, this need only be a nod or gesture to indicate willingness to participate
4. Exaggerate each gesture but keep the movements simple.
5. Say, ‘look at your body’:- self awareness is often a challenge. It is as if their bodies are separate entities from the self. Sometimes by actually looking at themselves, they will also notice something else amiss, such as back to front T-shirts or trousers. If not, this is an ideal time to draw their attention to the glitch.
6. Place both your hands on your head and say the word hair or head depending upon which word they are familiar with.
7. Then point to your mouth, smile and bare your teeth to say ‘teeth.’
8. Bend down and touch your feet to say ‘shoes’ or ‘shoes and socks.’
9. Repeat all the gestures but this time link the word to a number, 1,2,3 and 4.
10. Ask your child which one he wants to do first, 1,2,3 or 4, or hair/teeth/ shoes or socks. [or a,b,c and d for those alpha fans]
11. The element of choice to these ‘chores,’ gives control back to your child and may help encourage co-operation or at the very least, a willingness to have a go.
12. As they move off to start the first chore, be sure to praise verbally, or with a gesture such as a high five, or whatever physical confirmation they prefer. In our case, one cannot be touched and the other cannot be praised, but we all adapt to our own individual requirements.

Obviously this could be adapted to your particular morning hic-cups, the bits where they get stuck. Although we still use the PECs boards to help sequence, somehow the physical movements are yet another shortcut to smooth those transitions. This is a further step forward than a couple of years ago when they needed individual sequencing charts for each separate chore / task which were broken down into their own sequential steps. These can prove helpful with task completion. E.g. once they have brushed their teeth they move a tooth brush icon from one side of the chart [to do side] to the other side of the chart, [done side] These can be individually tailored to your child’s area of interest such as Pokemon, Thomas or dinosaur icons. Icons are particularly handy for those children who do not like to hold pencils to mark completion or have other fine motor issues.

I’m all for encouraging independence but some children need the scaffolding to remain in place for those difficult moments.

Lastly, a note to anyone struggling with the basics.

If you believe that such simple prompts are well out of your league, I can assure you that I would have felt similarly a few years ago. Back then, we too were struggling with the basics of dressing, toileting and feeding. If I had read a post similar to this, I would have thrown up my hands in horror. However, I wanted to share this to encourage and reassure, that all our children keep growing and changing in tiny huge ways.

We will all get there in the end.

This site “Do2Learn” may help, I hope.

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How to ensure your carpet remain clutter free

5 Minutes for Special Needs

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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Who’s afraid of the big, bad wolf?

We walk.

My son has a firm grip on the “Thatcher’s” leash when a very large mastiff wanders down his own lawn towards the path. I would swear that they flinched at the same moment, my son and Thatcher. My older son cries “OH EM GEE” in a tone of doom, from a few paces behind, as his little brother yells “WHOA!” Thatcher arcs through the air like a quicksilver boomerang, sprung from the three foot lead, ricochets off a tree at seven foot to land on the ground, supine. My son launches himself on his body. They lie on the damp cold ground like spoons in a foetal position. The house owner ambles towards us with unnecessary apologies to coax his good natured, elderly hound away. As Thatcher’s whimpers subside I hear, “iz o.k.” from my son, who lies on top of the dog, arms encircling his neck. He leans up on one elbow to check that all is clear. His floppy fingers attempt tentative patting of Thatcher’s rough hair. The boys’ eyes are out on stalks as they check in and compare notes. “OH EM GEE!” he repeats.
“OH EM GEE………….our dog……..he is not being a Labradoodle…..….he iz dah flyin dog!”

What can I say?

Thatcher is a wimp of the first order.

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