Enterprise Allowance

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PDA Public Displays of Affection

good enough to lick104

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When is a door not a door

door BL

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Embracing Asperger’s by Richard Bromfield, PhD

A Primer for Parents and Professionals



In his introduction, Richard Bromfield encapsulates the essence of complexity that is Asperger’s syndrome.  This lets us know, as parents, that we can trust his advice.  His words set the tone and flavor of his approach when he writes:-

‘These children frequently smash through the glass ceilings that authoritative professionals have predicted for them.’

I enjoyed this discrete paradigm: the child, parent and teacher.  Although Richard acknowledges the impact of the deluge of other influences from therapists to peers, he restricts his remit to a manageable 170 pages.

To me, the choice of title seems a curious one–why would anyone NOT embrace Asperger’s?  Certainly, over the years I have met a great many children with Asperger’s syndrome as well as their parents.  As often as not, these parents are forthcoming about their children’s diagnoses, strong advocates, who are proud of their children’s achievements, talents and gifts.  Most of these children are mainstreamed although I would hazard a guess that this is primarily because these is no suitable alternative program.  There is no good fit available.  And that is the unwritten secret of this book, which also accounts, in part, for Bromfield’s patient and compassionate approach.

Most teachers have a heavy workload, more so, in the current economic climate.  Class sizes grow.  Resources shrink.  And then, teachers are expected to expand their skill set to accommodate and teach a wide spectrum, one or more quirky kids, some with learning difficulties, ADHD and maybe Asperger’s.

Teaching is a vocation, a fact reflected in their salaries.  They want the best for their students, all of them, but some are more difficult to engage and motivate.  This is where Bromfield steps in to demonstrate how teachers can intervene to promote successful learners.

There are so many useful bullet points here, one-liners that once grasped could make all the difference in a child’s life:-

–  Don’t take it personally

–  Assume anxiety exists

–  Model acceptance

–  Do not turn away from depression

But I won’t give too much away.

Bromfield’s hands-on experience shines throughout this book; his insight is sure to prove invaluable to many readers.

I do have one criticism, something easily amended on the next printing:-  give me an index!  [please]


Available from JKP and Amazon.





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Universal Applicability

One of the most delightful aspects of growing up, for parents at least, is how kids apply what they learn to new situations, often in an incredibly apt and surprising manner.  All too frequently I assume the information hasn’t penetrated, or if it has, it’s never likely to see the light of day again.  But that just goes to show what a narrow-minded skeptic I truly am.

Hence I’m busy in the kitchen, preparing dinner, peeling potatoes, chopping carrots and frying onions, the basics for many a meal.  The aroma permeates the household, warm, piquant and inviting, when I hear a commonplace noise from my youngest.  He stumbles through the kitchen, a la ‘Lawrence of Arabia in the Desert’– clutching his throat with gagging noises.  But he pauses a moment, pinches his nostrils firmly closed, hits the extractor fan button and announces in a nasal tone, “You know Mom, I fink it’s time for a courtesy flush.”

Meanwhile, if you still have the chance to win a copy of DJ Kirkby’s Without Alice – just read the post and leave a comment.  I think I’ll keep this open until the 1st of December and then it will make a great Holiday gift for some lucky person.

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Learning About Friendship by KI.I. Al-Ghani

This book concentrates on children with Asperger Syndrome and High-functioning Autism, and is designed to address many of the difficulties these children experience with friendships.  However, even if your [and my] children have not yet reached this stage of development, the book can still be a useful tool.

The book covers ten different scenarios.  Each chapter starts with an explanation to the adult, parent or carer and raises awareness of some of the common pitfalls.  This is then followed by a social story to illustrate how they can be overcome.  I enjoyed both aspects of these scenarios for several reasons.

Firstly, the explanation told me that the writer knows what she is talking about rather than preaching from on high.

Secondly, it is apparent from the text that her intuitive approach works–she gets the quirks and triggers–in that although you are working on one particular skill, there can be lots of other issues that interfere with the main plan.

Thirdly, she reveals parental errors in a kindly manner.  We know our mistakes, or some of them at least, and she understands why we made them.  To illustrate:- a child has an obsession and the parent literally buys into it.  We end up buying far too many dinosaurs, Thomas paraphernalia and Legos, because as she says, and I quote “a special interest may have been just the key needed to unlock the delay seen in the acquisition of speech and language.”

Fourthly, she used our childrens’ most common obsessions in the social stories – which is a great short cut for us parents as we don’t need to re-write them to fit our children – thank you!

Fifthly, [and this is one of the main reasons I would recommend this book] although as I already said, it’s designed for high functioning and asperger children, many of the social stories are easily adaptable for other children.  Here, you may be doubtful, but I am sure I can convince you by examining one story in particular, the second one- Spit and Chase.  This tackles the issue of children using inappropriate strategies to get attention.  It addresses the underlying behavior which results in spitting.  Here, the children involved are able to speak, but it could just as easily be the case if they were non-verbal.  It’s easier to unscramble the cause of a particular behavior if a child can communicate with words, but it’s not insurmountable if there is no speech.

We may think that some children may not be ready for such material but the underlying tenants described in the social stories are certainly applicable to both of mine, if in a somewhat simplified format and has certainly helped me formulate an approach for the future.

As a final note it would be remiss of me not to mention the illustrations that accompany the stories which are clear cut, black and white line drawings – perfect for my guys who always [used to] had a hard time with photographs of real people and color pictures.  They’re a wonderful and useful addition that complement the stories rather than detract from them.  It wasn’t so long ago that there were whole shelves of books which were off-limits because the pictures triggered all kinds of unpleasantness.

You can see more of K.I. Al-Ghani’s work over here at Kay’s slot at Jacketflap.

And you can buy your own copy from JKP or Amazon as well as her other books.

And lastly, for any of you budding authors out there, you might find it helpful to check out Marni Wandner’s Sneak Attack site which helps people promote their cause be that in the performing arts or other endeavors, such as book promotions, which I came across having read Monica Holloway’s Cowboy and Wills, which I’ll be reviewing shortly, a jolly good read.  And Marni Wandner – she’s a real ‘out of the box’ thinker.

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Old dogs and new tricks

There are some lovely people around my neighbourhood and this particular bunch refer to themselves as ‘crafters.’ The term ‘crafter,’ is I believe, peculiar to America, as elsewhere, such people just have ‘hobbies.’ There are all sorts of subtleties that pass way over my head, as I prefer to remain close to the ground like the low life that I truly am. That said they’re a jolly and generous crowd, who welcome newcomers with interest and warmth.

As we age we become wise, or at least that is the theory. Personally I find that as I grow older, I become increasingly scatty, forgetful and what my son refers to as ‘random.’ I am prone to stereotype people, it’s shorthand. It’s one of my many faults but old dogs, mongrels, can still learn new things.

I find that I have learned new things and benefited greatly from attending three, consecutive, six week courses of puppy training. I only wish I’d completely the puppy training before I had the children. That said one of the things I learned, or rather had reinforced, is that many people dislike direct eye contact, far more than I had appreciated. It’s not just autistic people, it’s not just shy people, it’s all sorts of people.

I had this demonstrated to me recently when I attended a curiously American event, a side walk sale. A rough translation of ‘side walk sale’ is when sellers and crafters park themselves outside the shop on the sidewalk together with their wares to sell to the general public, face to face. I am told by those who know about such things, that the general public like to meet the people who make the things that they buy, although I’m a bit doubtful myself.

Hence, here is a picture of the lovely ladies meeting and greeting. Off to the side I am also poised, carving bowls. I’m side ways on, head down, absorbed. It is a non threatening pose that can prove very useful when you encounter unfamiliar dogs to demonstrate that you’re not an aggressive Alpha and just want to play. If I was Joe Public or the man on the Clapham Omnibus, I might step over the occupied woman and take a peek but I’d have a hard time meeting the ever so friendly and enthusiastic ladies, head on. It would just be too intimidating. I would feel obliged to make conversation and praise their work, which I may not like. I am a bad liar and I would be exposed as such. If I liked their work, then that would be great, but then I should feel obliged to buy something and money is tight.

So humour me? With whom would you feel more comfortable and why?

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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Not Adorable

They lie on the floor of the waiting room whilst their sister has her second batch of x-rays. A middle aged woman like me, peers at a magazine through her bifocals with the cord dangling. Each of my boys has a Pokemon toy in each hand. The receptionist and her assistant exchange files behind their desk. The Pokemons chatter together quietly in their own language, assisted by my sons. An elderly gentleman rests his hands on his stick as he waits for his wife to return. It’s a long wait. Two high school girls wait for their father. A couple of youngsters saunter in with rucksacks straight from school with their Dad. They sit close by as their father completes paperwork, concentrates on filling the boxes. My boys continue to play, quietly. This is the first occasion that I have ever been able to manage them all without incident in a waiting room, but of course I’m not really managing them at all, they’re managing themselves. If they were between 3 and maybe six years old, no-one would turn a hair, but of course they’re so much bigger. I could actually do what other people do, things like read a book whilst they play, but I don’t as for once, ironically, even though I could, I’d rather watch instead.

It’s a diary moment, a milestone, just a little bit later than some other people. The familiar tune of a Nintendo DS game twinkles and sparks attention. My boys prop themselves up on their elbows to look across at the back of the open game console, in somebody else’s hands, “d’ya wanna play wiv us?” he offers in a thoroughly unprecedented socially appropriate manner. The gamer and his brother flash glimpse over the console, sneer and resume gaming. “Oh well,” he sighs as they continue to Pokemon, no meltdown, no reaction, no bitterness, a competent acceptance of a casual, commonplace rebuff. I think to myself, because I am biased, ‘go on, have a go, how can you resist, they’re so adorable!’ It’s just another one of those occasions that I never imagined we would ever experience, when I know that everything will be just fine.

Yes, I’m on “Etsy” now:-

If you require shipping to anywhere other than the United States you can contact me with your location so that I may provide you with the price of shipping for your consideration in advance.

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How to stop a special needs kid from spitting?[*]

Please scroll down for Smiley Saturday and SOOC 

[*] most interesting google search question of the week

So much depends upon what kind of special needs? Is he or she 2 or 10 years old? But even more pivotal, is the ‘why’?   Why is the child spitting?    Special needs, autistic or typical. I’m confident that together we could come up with a lengthy collective list, but I’m happy to make the first move.

Top of my list would be Copying. Both my boys are exceptionally good at both copying and mimicry. Like most children that begin to attend school, they come home having learned a great many things that they were previously unaware of, such as name calling, teasing, arm pit farting and a great many other egregious but thoroughly predictable habits. Exposure to typically developing peers generally has this effect.

I was very interested to watch my boys, especially the youngest, try to spit. In case you were not previously aware of it, I can assure you that the skill of spitting is just that, a skill, a skill that he lacked. There can be a great many reasons why spitting is so difficult but in my son’s case, in layperson’s terms, it was poor musculature or low muscle tone in the jaw, combined with poor lip closure as well an inability to ‘suck it up.’ This is the kind of child that drools way beyond babyhood. It’s also the kind of child who needs a great deal of therapeutic help to improve the condition as well as a great deal of positive encouragement to attempt something that is so tremendously difficult.

So yes, it’s true, I’m a slacker when it comes to parenting and as soon as I caught him staring at the floor boards willing himself to spit, head hung low and waiting for gravity, I did nothing but watch silently from the side lines. I watched for days as he practiced and practiced and practiced, because these things take time and muscles don’t grow overnight. I cannot tell you how huge this is for someone who is peerless, that is to say someone without peers, groups or otherwise.

It took nearly two months but the boy was motivated, and motivation is a rare commodity indeed. I turned my blind eyes and willed him to succeed, in silence. The end result was still pretty feeble in the great scheme of the school yard hierarchy as compared with other eight year olds but he made his mark and so did his school report because such behaviour is socially unacceptable, unhygienic and terribly disgusting.

As with all new skills it took a great deal longer to teach him the last bit but everything is a trade off my friends.

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Why’s are good and other wasted words

Slurping Life
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Cut and paste
from this little
boxy thing below

“Why?” asks Nonna, without preamble or clue.
“Why what?”
“Why……do dey still go to therapy?”
“Because it helps them.”
“When do dey stop?”
“I have no idea, although a couple of years ago I was there when somebody graduated.”
“Um…….had learned enough skills to be able to cope.”
“No such thing.”

“But why do we have to wash the glasses when they only had water in em Mom?”
“Because your lips were on them. Do you want to drink out of a glass that’s had somebody else’s lips on it?”

“Why what dear?”
“Why……I am have to go to therapy?”
“Because therapy helps you do things that you find difficult.”
“Where what dear?”
“Where is difficult?”
“You said…….it’s lost.”
“Did I? Oh right, ‘find,’ as in lost……I meant……some things are difficult for you to do. Therapy helps make them easier to do and before you ask, speech therapy helps with difficult speech.”
“Yes dear?”
“Don’t put words in my mouth.”

“Yes dear?”
“Why what dear?”
“Why ……he am say……’you’re weird’?”
“Because…….he hasn’t learned that people are different…….life would be very boring if we were all the same………we’d only need two people on the earth if we were all just clones, or maybe only one come to think of it.”

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