Sensational Socks

Let’s face it–socks are a curse.

They’ve always been a problem around here although we’ve absorbed the American way and refer to the issue as ‘a challenge.’

Fighting about footwear is pointless and flinging the offending foot-covering may be viewed as a bid for freedom, bucking the trend, but it only gets us so far.

Seamless socks are a boon, but expensive, especially for four feet, five times a week. I’ve lost count of the number of hand-made socks I’ve created over the years, but there’s only so much help a young man can accept.


So we stick with the cheapies with those distinctive grey toes and heels.

Dull, but functional when flat, which is fine until you pick it up:-



And then it’s less obvious which bit is which, very uncooperative.  You put it on and the grey bits are scrunched.  So how can we remember the uncomfortable importance of getting this right, to avoid irritation throughout the day?





The alternative perspective is so much better to keep the elephants at bay.




Well, it will work for this week at least.

I foresee the future–a generation of men free from brogues and trainers, bounding about barefoot with their hairy twinkle toes and un-clipped nails–but I’ve been wrong before:-



Bookmark and Share

Autocue – spoonfeeding

Sometimes it seems as if we have been going to occupational therapy forever, certainly more than five years. Together, the boys had 13 hours of different therapies a week up until the time that I had jaw surgery.

At that time we dropped everything except for the two double therapy sessions on a Wednesday afternoon, double occupational therapy and double speech therapy because Wednesdays are a half day at school. Their “father” took them during my period of recouperation. It gave him a far deeper “understanding” and greater “involvement” such that when I had recovered and was ready to take up the reins again, he decided that he’d prefer to keep taking them himself.

These days I take them occasionally when his schedule doesn’t allow him to go, like when he is abroad on business. Hence when Wednesday looms, I am secretly dying to see how their session will pan out with their father away. I’m uncertain what kind of routine they have developed, independent of my input.

In the past it was a great struggle because it was a transition and because therapy was hard work for them. On arrival, they used to enter the waiting room and then I would prompt them to tell their therapists that they’d arrived using the intercom. This meant pressing the button and speaking clearly into the audio box simultaneously. They used to have to use the step to reach the box on the wall, but they are considerably taller now. Each step took a great deal of prompting. On completion I would prompt them to remove their shoes and socks and stack them on the shelf. This also took a great deal of prompting, times two.

These days, they have had many years of practice, many years of prompting. I am keen to see how they will fare.

On arrival at the waiting room, one runs to the window to take a peek into the studio and the other flops onto the sofa. I wait. I observe. There is no further movement from either of them, nor any words. I wait. I observe. I sit on my hands and then put my elbows on my knees with my hands over my mouth. I wait. I observe. It soon occurs to me that I will wait for ever and that there is nothing to see. No action is likely to be forthcoming. I feel suddenly quite saddened for no apparent reason. There are lots of reasons that could cause sadness, but none of them are present, but still, the inertia drags me down. Just like other children they dawdle and are easily distracted. Just like some other children we have the ever present hurdles of inertia, ideation, sequencing and a serious lack of executive function regardless of the label.

I feel a tiny tickle at the back of my brain, deep in the depths from my years of speed reading to track down useful clues and tips. I became a butterfly reader immediately following their diagnoses, hopping from topic to topic, the brief overview and the summaries, gleaning the finer points but missing the big picture in crisis management. There are many tomes just on this one topic:- introduce the new behaviour, positively reinforce the new behaviour and then ever so gradually fade the supportive reward system. It is the fading of both the reward and the prompt that engenders independence. Without that final step they become reliant upon the prompt.

There again, there’s always the possibility that it’s nothing to do with autism, merely tired kids.

Bookmark and Share

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.

Bookmark and Share

Finger Puppets – Try tackling this tuesday

Try This Tuesday

With the festive season over, you may find like me, that your home has been transformed into Santa’s Grotto, toys strewn over every available surface. If that is the case, then it might see a little odd to create yet more mayhem, but occasionally it is sometimes best to admit defeat and go with the flow.

You will need:-
Felt squares
Sharpie Permanent pens
A picture from your offspring
The temporary loan of your offspring’s finger

Examine the creature that your child has drawn to determine which, if any, are the most important features.

Match the colours as best you may.

Draw around your child’s finger tip splayed on a firm surface to ensure a good fit.

Allow space for 3-D and seam.

Once completed and the glue has dried your child now has a custom made introduction to the Thumb Wrestling Federation.

I kid you not.

This project was for one of my sons, that one who does not suffer from tactile defensiveness. Generally speaking, crafts of any kind do not interest either of them. In this particular instance, he was motivated by the “Thumb Wrestling Federation.” He came up with this idea all by himself. He was so motivated that after a few initial outburst of frustration he understood that his describing words were not up to the task, hence, oh wonder of wonders, he was persuaded to draw and colour the image rattling around in his head. This project required several gallons of patience because I knew that his drawing wasn’t an exact match to what he envisioned. Perfection is king around here and hence he was able to verbally correct my errors, bigger, smaller, longer and so on.

All in all, he was satisfied with the results.

On completion he was ready, willing and able to commence “thumb wrestling.” Whilst this might seem a little aggressive, for people with poor hand strength, weak finger isolation and poor motor control, I suspect we need not be overly worried. More importantly, this is a perfectly pleasant way of personal and intimate interaction. Who would have thought that he’d come up with his own social skills exercise. Yippee!

Bookmark and Share

Now that’s not normal but what is these days?

We all begin to adjust to our “new arrival” in our own individual ways. In the aftermath of the festive season there is a more than usual amount of messiness around. I warn everyone that things left about are likely to be chewed, or if they’re very unlucky, eaten. As usual, no-one pays any heed. I list a lengthy record of similar occurrences that they have each directly experienced with other people’s dogs in the recent and not so recent past. My list and the repeats of my list, sound like my own silent solo. A scratched record.

I prepare mentally for the first casualty. Which child victim? Which precious toy? I don’t need to wait long.

I gallop at the first scream of agony.

In the family room I find my son knelt on the floor before the dog with his hands under his muzzle, “dwop it “Fatcher!”
“Use a firm voice dear,” I encourage.
Dwop it Fatcher!
“Maybe he doesn’t recognise his name? You could try the ‘th‘ sound?”
“Dwop it f f th thatcher!”

Thatcher reluctantly drops the package of sharp plastic corners, part of a prized Christmas present. He slips the packet into the back of his pyjama bottoms, out of sight, so that both hands are free to pet and praise the dog for his amazing feat of obedience. Perfectly sequenced steps. Seamless ideation. We chorus good dog. My son chortles deliciously as Thatcher licks his ears and neck. He expresses no concern or anger at the ruined toy.

Lesson learned.

“He dun bin choke on dat bad fing!”

His sole concern is the welfare of the dog.

Several lessons learned.

Below is a picture of yet more advanced social skills. My son and Thatcher curl up for a cat nap, which may not be of any great significance. Only the real baby sleeps. However, if I also consider the fact that this is 15 minutes into the sacred ‘electronics’ time, half way through his precious half an hour, then this would seem infinitely preferable and maybe a teeny tiny bit admirable, but there, I’m letting my bias show.

As his little brother said:-

“Finally! Someone who likes fire hydrants as much as me.”

It’s probably a Garfield quote.

Don’t forget to nip along and say ‘hi de ho’ to “Michelle’s” family over at “Full Soul Ahead,” and see if you might be able to “help out” with her post called “A Service Dog For Riley.”

Bookmark and Share

Thursday 13 – scavenger hunt

Thirteen Things about organizing a scavenger hunt

Get the Thursday Thirteen code here!

The purpose of the meme is to get to know everyone who participates a little bit better every Thursday. Visiting fellow Thirteeners is encouraged! If you participate, leave the link to your Thirteen in others’ comments. It's easy, and fun! Trackbacks, pings, comment links accepted!

This is a great activity for those rainy days when everyone has a surfeit of excess unexpended energy. The idea is to leave a series of connected clues from one place to another, but inside the house whilst the weather makes 'outdoors' impracticable.

1. First, select your child's favourite, or second favourite toy and hide it. The second favourite is ideal for the child that has strong objections to their first favourite being held captive. The idea is to ensure motivation but not mental torture and angst from kidnapping. The advantage of using a toy that they already prefer rather than something new, is that quite often the 'new' is not attractive nor motivating, or if it is initially attractive and motivating whilst it is unknown, once it is found, it will be a big disappointment and not match their expectations resulting in stressful meltdowns. This is a game that we want to be successful for everyone. If their first experience is fun then we are more likely to be able to repeat it.

2. Take a different coloured sheet of paper for each participating child.
3. Walk from room to room with a clip board and pencil.
4. Identify items that each particular child is likely to latch onto, for instance our six foot wooden toy trunk is more or less invisible to the boys but the jagged two in crack in the wall, just above the baseboard in the corner of the room behind the sofa, is of infinite interest.

6. Determine your start point, preferably somewhere open and central.
7. Ensure that all children go to their first personal clue in opposite directions to avoid trampling.
8. The first clue must be obvious to ensure that inertia is overcome and that they will start to move in the general direction of the first clue.
9. Write the clue or draw an icon, tear off the strip of paper and tape it to the floor at the start point.

10. Although my children love numbers, for this particular game I don't number the clues. This way they are unaware of the fact that one child has 40 clues, another has 15 and the last has only six, to take account of their differing skills and abilities.

Pitfalls to avoid
11. Accidentally coming across the wrong clue out of sequence.
12. Using 'blind spot' words. E.g. although my children know the names for different rooms in theory, they're not a high priority and are there are difficult to recall on spec. Far better to use an icon to indicate the correct room, such as a toilet for the bathroom or a table for the dining room or a couch for the sitting room.
13. Whatever number of clues you determine is appropriate for your children, for their first attempt, halve that number, to give them a better chance of success.

Cheers dears

Bookmark and Share

Freeze Frame – tackle it Tuesday

Tackle It Tuesday Meme

Scroll down for Ruby Tuesday

Ooo er……also scroll down for Perfect Post

I seem to be getting ahead of myself or possibly a big behind!

We have an appointment at the specialist. At $6 a minute we cannot afford to be late. Every second counts. I make careful advance preparations to ensure that everyone will be on time. Since my children do not do well when hurried, I start well in advance.

We have a number of fairly standard obstacles to overcome; using the bathroom, a certain degree of cleanliness, fully clothed bodies, hand entertainment and or talismen, shoes, enter car, use seat belt.

“Nonna” will remain at home, alone. As a result I deem it fit to add a couple of additional safety precautions. Just prior to departure I shall leave enough spare time to ensure that she has all the things that she might just possibly “need” or that she may require assistance with, plus a few additional minutes to ensure that my message is clearly “understood,” as hearing aide usage is a crap shoot.

I think hard to check whether there is any possibility that I have skipped a step. I am confident that we are on track and aiming at the target.

I am calm.

I am in control.

Everything will be fine.

We commence our sequencing in an orderly fashion, step by step by step we slowly gain formation. All variables are taken into account. We move into range with a little shimmy here and there, but still within the proscribed parameters. We track gently along the projected path until task completion is within our grasp.

I manovre with care, overcoming obstacles, detouring around cul-de-sacs and bypassing blind alleys. Gentle encouragement here, pressing on the brakes over there as we steadily tip toe towards the goal. We teeter towards the target, gaining momentum, limbering up, synapses snapping and muscles moving.

I hold the door handle to open the flood gates and hit the automatic garage opener just as Nonna appears in the framework:- “Maddy can you just turn on the BBC for me please?” ……….before she’s finished her sentence my son escapes from the bathroom, stitchless and roars into the darker recesses of the house, his brother trips over the step and tumbles onto the concrete floor, bowling his sister over in the process.

There is a very loud weeping, wailing and gnashing of retainers in all directions.





Today I should very much like to recommend this site to you called “Slurping Life “ as well as this post called ” FASD “ which you can also read over here on “5 Minutes for Special Needs,” as a little more awareness never hurt anyone last time I checked.

Cheers dears

Bookmark and Share

Different Strokes for different folks

We survive the first 45 minutes of her being ill, but then she follows me around like a rash.

She reminds me that she is bored at 3 minute intervals. This is my 'play with me, play with me, watch me, watch me,' child, not that I'm assigning a role of predestination for any of my children.

Perish the thought!

Although brothers generally fall into the category of 'pest,' when they are at school, somehow their company is so much more appealing.

“But I'm real bored Mom.”
“I know dear, but I'm very busy. Why don't you go and rest in your room.”
“But it's not like you're doin nothin.”
“Anything, dear, anything! As I said before, I have a great deal to do and the sooner I get it all done, the sooner I may have some free time. Why don't you go and rest in your room and think of three things that you'd like to do when I'm finished.”
She sighs and deflates against the wall, “whatya doin then that's more important than me an bein sick?” The tone of sarcasm isn't lost on me, but I decide to ignore it. It would appear to be an abuse of power to out sarcasm a sarcastic 10 year old.
“Well right now I'm putting all the boys' clothes back into the cupboard. I do it every day. It take about 20 minutes depending upon whether they accidentally tipped out the pyjamas too.”
“It sure is a big mess.”

I fold, refold, stack shelves and re-hang T-shirts under her watchful eyes.

“If I did that you'd be real mad at me, right?”
“Well it would depend upon why you'd messed up your closet?”
“It's not fair, they get to trash their closet every day and you just clean it all up!”
“Is that what you think?”
“It's always the same, you treat em different.”
“You're right, I do. Partly because you're older and partly because there are some things that they find a lot more difficult than you do. Sometimes they need more help.”
“It stinks.”
“Now I have a question for you!”
“Really! What?”
“When you were really little, we had a closet just like this one. Half of it was toys and half of it was clothes. Every day I would try and put you to bed for your nap. Instead of taking a nap like every other toddler in the entire universe, you'd climb the closet shelves and chuck everything out. Then you'd strip your bed. Every day. Now why do you suppose you did that?”
“Geez, I have no idea! What did you do?”
“Every day after your non existent nap, I'd come up here and you'd be sitting in your devastated room with a mischevious grin on your face. I would be so cross with you. Daddy and I decided that we'd just leave mess and put you to bed at night without the bed clothes.”
“I don't remember that either.”
“Well you wouldn't, because some time during the evening, once Daddy was home, I'd zip up here and straighten it all out. It took ages but I just couldn't put you to bed like that, it seemed too unkind.”
“Wow. How long did I do that for then?”
“What happened to stop it?”
“I gave up trying to get you to nap.”
“Why did I do that? It seems kinda weird.”
“Well, I think it's because you didn't have enough words to explain that you didn't want to nap and probably more importantly, that you didn't need a nap. You always were an energizer bunny.”

She slithers down the wall onto her hunkers, stares at the self portrait picture of her big sister. “Did she do weird stuff when she was little too?”
“Oh yes indeed. There’s not a child on the planet that doesn’t do “weird stuff” sometimes. The trick is to figure out the why? Once you know the ‘why’ it won’t be weird any more.”

Post script:-

Take one Lilo and Stitch video

Extract Elvis

Add birthday present CD and “Mix”

Alternative “Junior production.”

Cheers Debra!

Bookmark and Share

Learning under pressure.


As they leave the house to get into the car for school, my youngest son makes a U-turn and skids back into the house. He is nak.ed in a nano second and parked on the throne for a last minute pit stop. He is a moment or two, too late. I pick up his sodden clothing and toss it onto the washing machine. I dither. I'm confident that it will take him a goodly while to put his shoes and socks back on without me to prompt him. I know that he would never dare risk permitting his bare little toes to touch the ground outside the house.

I dash upstairs for replacements whilst the rest of the team waits on the driveway, engine idling. I return with the clothes to find him struggling with the Velcro on his shoes. I have no option but to give him a swift sponge down rather than a shower. If you could hear his screams you would assume I'd turned a pressure hosepipe of icy water on him.

I turn my back after toweling him down but he's off, wearing socks, shoes and a T-shirt, powering out to the car shouting, “be wait now, now wait now, wait, wait, wait!” I scramble after his partially clad form clutching his clothing as I skuttle down the path. I wave the clothes in my hand to attract the chauffeur's attention. The car occupants watch his arrival, so does my neighbour. I call aloud, “wait he can't go without his knickers!” My son does a little rain dance on the driveway concrete as his body shrivels and quivers in the early morning chill. Free of social cues, it is only his thermostat that will save him.

I think this is the first time in living memory that he has willingly submitted to going to school. His enthusiasm, eagerness and anxiety to join his siblings is quite breathtaking. I am uncertain whether his sudden keenness to conform has over-ridden his need for clothes, or whether it's just that clothes are still an after thought of no consequence? Either way, my son has capitulated and demonstrated a willingness to participate.

My neighbour, the man with the voice that could best be described as a fog horn, bellows from the other side of the road, “Git yur shorts on boy!” My son's ears receive the assault and his head flicks around to see our substitute grandfather modeling the desired behaviour from the other side of the street, legs akimbo, knees bent, curled arms hauling up the invisible underwear. What a trooper he is! My son is covered up and whipped off in a puff of exhaust fumes, safely on his way to school.

My neighbour steps over the road toward me. He tips his baseball cap up, the tired, faded red one, so that white tufts of thinning hair are visible. He blinks, with his crooked smile before he reminds me, “over here, we call em underpants.”

Bookmark and Share

A rose by any other name

On Sunday morning I debate whether it is feasible to clean the fridge or not? [translation = well overdue]

I glance at my spouse with his nose glued to a computer screen. I interrupt his concentration to ask his opinion. [translation = feasibility study mate] I translate for him why I need his opinion. [translation = will you look after the children so that my time is free to attend to the rot in your refridgerator]

“Sure!” he says with enthusiasm as his face turns back to the monitor. I spend far too long fighting the fridge, interspersed with chasing my children, until I am able to pronounce that the fridge is clean and the children are correspondingly dirty.

I examine the interior of my clean and empty fridge and dither. Shall I toss everything back in there and risk food poisoning, or should I sort and dispose of the more dubious items? I glance across at my spouse deep in the mire of designing a GPS system for the children. I dither. Should I disturb his endeavours and risk losing my children, or should I attend to my own mould, [translation = shower] or should I spend far too long determining the life span of limp spinach and other sundry items? I pull over the compost bin and set to it.

It occurs to me that I appear to have temporarily mislaid the raging feminist facet of my personality.

Later, I slam the fridge door with it's nearly empty contents and skip to the big compost heap for a transfer. On my return, I dither. Should I shower or therapize someone or water the garden before it gets too hot? Maybe I could combine the first and last and skip a step completely? I wonder if my neighbours would appreciate this combination? I glance at my spouse deep in design. I interrupt his creativity to request assistance. “Is it o.k. if I nip upstairs and have a shower?” He blinks at me blankly, “sure, knock yourself out!” I translate. [translation = adult supervision of children is required] “Sure, take as long as you like.” I pout. I decide that I will not translate his missive and instead I shall take him literally. [translation = be a big fat meany and dilly dally]

I nip upstairs, three at a time and dive into the shower for my usual pit stop. Afterwards I attempt 'drying' with a damp towel, give up and dress with care. [translation = pull on an old sundress] I decide that if the feminist facet has eloped, then I shall expose the womanly wiles instead. [translation = serious personality disorder] I dither. Which one? Moisturizer, acne cream or wrinkle killer? I slap on a bit of each and hope for the best. I ram the bifocals back on and bounce down the stairs having completed my ablutions to the best of my ability in approximately four and a half minutes. [translation = getting very lax]

I present myself to my family. I decide to be helpful and give them a hint, “tad ah!” I spin, in my sundress, a swirl and a twirl.
“You are er…….dizzy?” asks one with a certain degree of uncertainty.
“You are dah princess?” is another tentative offer. [female attire always has this affect on them] They try again.
“You are dah flower?”
“You are dah colour…..ful?” We spiral down into a guessing game of twenty questions. [translation = or is that really 'up']
“Er…dah dress up?”
“No, no, no……I got it…..dah Power Ranger!”
“No, no, no…….dah hero guy!”
“Dat dog ……dah one wiv dah spots!”
“Ooo yeah, das right…….er……Lab……Lab…….Lab……..Dalmation!”
I pout. [translation = I sometimes wonder why I bother!] My hands settle on my hips even though I try very hard not to adopt an attitude, as my daughter glances up at me from the sofa, “you've got white goopy blobs on yur face Mom!”

Note to self – check mirror before making next presentation

Related Posts with Thumbnails

Bookmark and Share