Holiday Shopping List 2016

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It can be really hard to know what to get someone.
Let alone a child/teen/adult on the Autism spectrum, Sensory Processing Disorder, ADHD or with Special Needs.

Use this list to find something perfect for your family member, friend or even yourself… and if you don’t find anything, maybe it’ll give you an idea.
Feel free to comment with your own awesome finds below, you might help someone else out! (Add links if you can! 😀 )

1: Weighted Blankets by Maddy’s Closet
She has more than just blankets… like vests, belts, stuffed animals and lap pads!
Her work is very neat and clean.
She’s an incredibly sweet woman with a very sweet little girl on the spectrum.
Check out her website:
http://www.memecloset.bigcartel.com/
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2: Therapy Swings by InYard.
They’ve got more than just Therapy Swings too now!
They have “snuggle huggles”, weighted blankets and chewie jewelry!
All three of my boys love our therapy swing. It helps with vestibular senses and helps calm their bodies providing a little hug around them.
Check out their website:
https://inyardproducts.com/
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3:  Personalized products Vinyl Expressions.
T-shirts, plates, ornaments, bows, wine glasses > for any holiday… and this is just the beginning!
Just ask and they’ll probably be able to customize.
Check out their website:
https://vinylexpressions.squarespace.com/
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4: Children’s Wallet Cards.
Educational, non-toxic and extremely durable plastic card sets for kids.
Numbers, letters, colors, facial expressions, transit and fake money.
I can attest to the fact that theses are very sturdy little cards.
Jaxson is a chewer and LOVES mouthing them.
They’ve held up much longer than any other product similar to them.
They’re bright and vibrant.
They’re cheap considering!
Great for therapists too.
Check out their website:
http://www.youguysaresoawesome.com/#home
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5: Autism awareness products by Journey to Jacob’s Ladder.
A Mom created a business for her son Jacob, who has autism, that will provide him with purposeful employment after he ages out of the school system.
He learns how to help make, prepare, ship and keep track of the products.
You should see his smile on payday!
Check out their Etsy store:
https://www.etsy.com/shop/Journey2JacobsLadder?ref=hdr_shop_menu
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6: Web ID for those who may wander from If I Need Help.
They’re a non-profit organization that provides Web ID and information for people who may be disoriented or lost when they’re alone or away from their care providers.
They come in patches, shoe tags, ID cards, dog tags, pins, clips and more.
When you buy any of those, you get a free member web ID so that if your child/teen/adult gets lost, the person who finds them will be able to contact you.
Check out their website:
https://ifineedhelp.org/
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7: Chewies and teethers from Chewigem USA.
Safe, non-toxic chewable jewelry that is designed to discreetly hide a need to chew. Great for oral/sensory seekers who need that input… much better than pens, straws or other things that weren’t designed to be chewed.
They’ve got pendants, tubes, rings, tags, bangles, cups, pillows, shoe laces and more.
Check out their website:
https://www.chewigemusa.com/
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8: Therapy tools from ARK Therapeutic.
Along with chewies, ARK also makes a lot of tools for speech, feeding, sensory, fine motor, and more. I’ve got a list of things I want to get from them to help Tyler. Specifically their Z-Vibe! But they have spoons, straws, chewie jewelry, cups and more.
Check out their website:
http://www.arktherapeutic.com/
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9: Soft headphones from Cozyphones
Super comfy headband headphones for sleep, sports and fun. It’s also washable!! These are the only headphones that Justin will leave on. They have a few different styles, and the speakers on the inside of the headband can be adjusted. Plus the cord, short of getting a pair of scissors out, are virtually indestructible.
Check out their website:
https://www.cozyphones.com/
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10: Fidget toy by FidgetWorks.
Fidgets to help cope with ADHD, ADD, Anxiety, Autism, Stress and more.
Check out their website at:
https://fidgetworks.com/
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11: Spinners by Fidget This.
Custom fidget spinners.
Check out their Etsy store here:
https://www.etsy.com/shop/FidgetThis#items
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12: Fidgieblocs.
Handmade fidget and focus toys for kids and adults.
Check out their Etsy shop at:
https://www.etsy.com/shop/Fidgieblocs
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13: Fidget Cube.
High-quality desk toy designed to help you focus. Fidget at work, in class, and at home in style. Fidget Cube has six sides. Each side features something to fidget with: Click. Glide. Flip. Breathe. Roll. Spin.
Buy one here:
Fidget Cube
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14: Fiddle links. 
Developed by hand therapists. Interlocking, rotating links that are excellent for building fine finger dexterity and exercising finger joints. Calming fidget stress toy is especially nice for teens-adults.
Get them here:
https://www.therapyshoppe.com/category/P1008-fiddlelinks-fidgeter
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15: NeoBalls.
>Not for children< If they mouth or chew, definitely not for them. I’d say these are more for adults and teens. But I want them, pretty badly! lol
Snap, pull, mold, squeeze, and construct an endless variety of shapes.
Buy them here:
NeoBalls – Incredibly Addicting Super Magnets
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16: Haircuts with Calming Clipper.
Sometimes practical gifts are the best gifts.
Haircuts can be challenging for someone with sensory sensitivities. Vibration and sound from an electric clipper can be too much to handle. These are a quiet alternative to the electric clipper!
Find them here:
http://calmingclipper.com/
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17: Calming Clothing Company.
Snug fitting cotton garment supplies the child with the much-needed sensory feedback.  That reassurance and body awareness, in turn, creates a calming effect.
Check them out here:
http://www.calmingclothingcompany.com/
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18: Weighted compression vests by Fun and Function.
Comfy, easy to use and helps kids quickly calm and focus.
Find them here:
https://funandfunction.com/weighted-compression-vest.html
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19: Autism Awareness by Ausome Artists
Handmade art keychains, bracelets, and magnets made by two Autistic little boys, with help from their Mom.
Check out our page here:
Facebook.com/AusomeArtists 
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20: Growing Up Aspie – A Comic By Nathan McConnell
A comic about the struggles/benefits of growing up with Aspergers in a neurotypical world.
Buy a copy here:
http://www.indyplanet.us/product/143702/
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21: Fidget Tangle toys.
Find them on amazon:
https://www.amazon.com/Set-Tangle-Jr-Original-Fidget/dp/B0034EKP8Q/ref=sr_1_2?ie=UTF8&qid=1481211529&sr=8-2&keywords=tangle+toy
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22: Yoga ball
Great for Physical and Occupational Therapy or just for fun.
Helps build muscle and strengthen for people who have low muscle tone or for those who have too much energy and need to bounce on something. 😉
Find it on amazon:
https://www.amazon.com/Anti-Burst-Slip-Resistant-Yoga/dp/B01GTB4MZ2/ref=sr_1_3?s=exercise-and-fitness&ie=UTF8&qid=1481211552&sr=1-3-spons&keywords=yoga+ball&psc=1
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23: Stability Wobble Cushion.
Great for core strengthening. Also great for people to sit on while doing work… it helps keep their bodies calm while their minds are active.
Find it on amazon:
https://www.amazon.com/Stability-Cushion-Diameter-Balance-Included/dp/B007LX6MPG/ref=sr_1_3?s=sporting-goods&ie=UTF8&qid=1481211593&sr=1-3&keywords=balance+disc
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24: EZ-PZ placemats.
Silicone placemat + plate/bowls that suction to the surface! Anyone with kids could use one of these.
http://ezpzfun.com/
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25: Uplifting Autism book from Autistic Not Weird.
Chris asked 150 autistic children and teenagers from all over the world one question: “what do you love most about life?”

Their answers are insightful, uplifting, and a beautiful window into the minds of young people who think differently (as well as helping to fight negative autism stereotypes!). This book could be the perfect gift for anyone pessimistic about autism or struggling with a diagnosis, or for anyone who’s interested in knowing how awesome the world is from an autistic perspective.”
Message their page for your copy!
https://www.facebook.com/autisticnotweird/

26: Autism Awareness by Autism Awareness Shop.
100% of profits are used to “Put Autism to Work”, their focus is vocational training and gainful employment for those with autism. Find things like car stickers, clothing, pens, jewelry, accessories and more.
Check out their website:
https://autismawarenessshop.org/
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27: Children’s book by Little Monkey, Be You.
A heartwarming story about being yourself
and knowing you are loved unconditionally.
Check out their website:
http://www.beyoukidsbooks.com/
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Or maybe you’re a group of adults who would rather give to a good cause instead of exchanging gifts.

1: The Kreed Foundation.
After their son passed away, Erin started the non-profit foundation to provide children, teens, and adults education and technology to those who don’t have a voice and need one. They’re raising money to help supply families with an AAC device AND help the family, therapists, teachers, etc learn and understand how to use it.
Because of them, my son Justin finally has a voice and is learning how to use it.
Check out their website:
http://www.thekreedfoundation.org/
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2: Special Books by Special Kids.
He travels the world creating videos with neurodiverse humans in hopes of promoting inclusion and acceptance.
His videos are absolutely amazing. He’s helping people and showing us all that no matter what we look like, what our “diagnosis” is or how we’re portrayed to the rest of the world, we’re really not all that different.
Check out his website:
http://www.specialbooksbyspecialkids.org/
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Thank you for checking out our #Holiday shopping list!
What did I miss?
What would you add?
What do your or your child/teen have on your wish/want list that you didn’t see here?
Do you have a friend who makes something you think would be a great addition?
Add it in the comments!

“Happy” Thanksgiving

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It’s Thanksgiving day… and my kids don’t “get” what Thanksgiving is.
So all the cooking I’m doing, they just think I’m cooking nasty crap they don’t plan on touching – like anything else I cook for myself. Lol

They don’t get that today is different than others.
So Justin had grilled cheese and Tyler had Cheerios.
Jax had his veggies straws while watching Cars in the living room.
Something that also didn’t change was Justin wanting to go to the park.

A few hours after he woke up, he started asking.
“Go to the park. Walk. Shoes.”
“Not right now. Later. Wait.”

Finally, it was later in the day and we had a few hours where we didn’t have anything that needed to be done or made, so we packed up and headed out.

We turned down the street and I realized we shouldn’t have come.
There were a lot of cars parked out front.
I hate going when there are other people.
But Justin was SO excited, I couldn’t just leave.

We got out and Justin started off on his wandering around the back field while Jax and Tyler stayed in the park area.
I noticed right away that people started staring at us.
The girls on the picnic table would whisper and point towards Justin 50 yards away – walking around.

The Mom pushing her kids on the swing was staring at him… then at Tyler carrying around a sippy made for a kid 3-4 years younger than him… and at Jax who was making noises rather than words – who looks more like a 4-5 year old rather than a 2 ½ year old.

I tried to not let it bother me.
Focusing on the boys.
Helping Tyler climb the tree.

No one said hi to us… or Happy Thanksgiving… I didn’t either, but I generally don’t talk to people who look at me like I shouldn’t be there.

After a while, Jaxson took off towards the car. Their Dad went after him while I watched Justin and helped Tyler.
More staring… more whispering.

Jax started crying when he was bringing him back.
We were only there for about 15 minutes… but Jax was ready to go home already.
I had him get Jax in the car while I went to go get Justin.

When I told him we had to go, he started crying and yelling… he was upset.
Rightfully so… he wanted to come all day and end up leaving much sooner than we normally do.

I held his hand and walked him back to the park.
As we got closer he starts crying louder… yelling…

So of course, the 20 or so people there start staring.
I sign that we need to go home… that we were all done.
Partly because I knew he couldn’t hear me with how loud he was yelling… and partly because then maybe the people who wouldn’t turn away, who kept staring would see that he wasn’t typical… that he was different… that he wasn’t spoiled… that he wasn’t being hurt… that they should MIND THEIR OWN FREAKING BUSINESS.

But they didn’t.
I hugged Justin and got him to the car.
As I turned around to walk to my side… I saw everyone staring.
So I waved with “Hi assholes – mind your business” face and got in the car.

Ya know… our life, is normal to me… to us.
What we do, how we live… how we go about our day.
We laugh, love, learn, and in general are happy people living our life…
Especially because I’m a stay at home mom who never gets out of the house…
I’m in our own little awesome Autism Bubble where everyone who comes here knows and gets us… and if they don’t, they do eventually.

If you criticize here, you get kicked out.

It isn’t until I’m around “Typical” people… who prefer to gawk at someone upset or different, that I even remember our life is different than others.

“Happy” Thanksgiving.

Drawn to water

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I remember it like it was yesterday.
Just thinking about it makes my heart pound in my chest.

We were living in Pennsylvania at the time.
Down the hill from my Nana.
She has an above ground pool that we would walk to in the afternoons and swim in.
The boys loved it.
They’re like little fish. They would swim for hours and hours.

But the boys can find water without even knowing it’s there.
Baths, sinks, toilets, cups, creeks, puddles… we moved to Texas and Justin started wandering. So instead of stopping him, I followed him to see where he’d take me. He found the beach. He didn’t know how to get there from where we were. We hadn’t ever gone that way. But he found it!
If there’s water, they’ll find it.

When Tyler was about 1 ½, we lived in a trailer and didn’t have central air… so after it had gotten REALLY hot and Tyler couldn’t sleep, I put an AC unit in his window.
His window was about 6 feet from the ground.
So their Dad put it in from the outside while I was inside hooking it up.

I’m sitting there… looking at it.
My kids are little houdinis. They can get out of just about anything.
So I’m looking at it, trying to see if there’s a way he could get out of the house while it’s in the window.
I shook it.
Pushed on it.
Pulled on it…
It was a little rickety… but it seemed like it would hold.
It’s getting close to bedtime.
Still not totally convinced that it was Tyler proof… I figured I’d find a way to make it more sturdy tomorrow.
At least tonight he’ll be able to sleep.

Once his room cooled off, I laid him down and it was the first time in a long time he actually slept through the night.
So good, that he slept in.
I woke up to Justin giggling in his room.
I got up.
Got Justin up and taken care of and put him his highchair with a drink then headed to Tyler’s room.

The AC was on the floor and out of the window.
Kicking myself I thought -Ugh… lovely. You should have tried harder to fix it.

I looked around the room, “Tyler? Ohhhhh Tyyyylerrrr?”
I opened his closet door. “I found y—”
He wasn’t there.
I looked around the room.
“Tyler?”
My heart started beating faster.
“Tyler??” My voice growing louder. Picking up anything he could fit under.

I looked out of the window. There were toys on the ground. But I didn’t see him any where.
I ran out of his room.
“Tyler!”
Running through the house.
“TYLER!!”
I ran outside…. Looking around…  
We’re surrounded by woods…. And because we’re in the middle of nowhere, people drive really fast on our back country road.
All I kept imagining was him dead on the road.

“TYLER!!!!!!!” I screamed.
Nothing. I don’t see him.
I ran inside.

“TOM! Get up! Watch Justin. I can’t find Tyler!”
Without waiting for him to even respond, I ran back outside.
Down our hill and on the road.
“TYLER!!!!!!!”
Nothing.
I don’t see him.
I ran back up our driveway and started running to my Nana’s house.
My heart in my throat.
I’m biting back from crying.
I can’t see if I start crying.
Just as I get to the top of the hill, I see Tyler.
Smiling and running towards me.

Relief flooded over me.
I fell to my knees when I reached him and hugged him so tight.
He thought it was funny and started giggling.
I cried.
Hard.
I carried him back down to our place.
Put him in the highchair and made the boys breakfast.

Kicking myself. Over and over and over in my head.

It wasn’t until later that day that I took the boys swimming that I saw his favorite (never let it out of his sight) blanket at the bottom of the pool.

That’s when I realized he was on the pool deck that morning.
That he threw his blanket in… and by some miracle, he didn’t jump in after it, and decided to turn around and run to me calling him instead.
He couldn’t be away from that blanket long enough for it to be in the washer and dryer….
But he came to me.
He could have died.
Because although I was teaching him how to swim… at 1 ½, he still couldn’t swim without floaties.

Before I even knew he was Autistic… I knew we had to be careful with them around water.
I fixed his window.

Often, kids on the spectrum don’t understand the concept of danger.
They’ll walk into traffic or bolt from a caregiver.
Wander far from home.
Or get into water too deep… without knowing how to swim.
If you see a kid doing something you’d expect them to know not to do, always check, especially if there’s not an adult around. No matter how old you think they are (people think Justin -7-looks 12)… make sure they understand what they’re doing and that they’re not going to get themselves hurt.

I’ve had a couple people see one of my kids running away from me.
Some saw me chasing them, some didn’t… but they were closer to them than I was, so they cautiously got in front of them to slow them down. Most of them didn’t touch the boys, they just helped me catch up. (I thanked them profusely). You never know… you might help save a life. Or at least a heart attack. ❤

We Don’t Do Socially Acceptable

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We went to the park today.
After we had been there for about 20 minutes, a guy walks over pushing his daughter in a stroller.

“Good Morning” I said.
I hate it when people don’t say anything and you’re supposed to just pretend their not there.
“Good Morning.” he said.
“She’s too cute!”
“Thank you. We’re trying to get rid of her morning naps, so I’m trying to keep her busy.”
“I get that” I laughed.
“How old is he?” He asked.
The way he asked sounded a little funny… I could place it. It wasn’t completely curiosity… it wasn’t the “sweet” awww how adorable is he – kind of question….

I smiled and said, “He turned 2 in May.”
He smiled… but his smile was different.
“How old is she?”
“16 months.”

They walked over to the swing to play.
I normally get the “Wow… he’s really big for his age”… and he didn’t say anything. And that smile… what was that? It wasn’t like mine – it wasn’t a completely mean sneering smile…

It took me a bit to really think about what his facial expressions were trying to say. It’s harder for me to read people when they’re wearing sunglasses.

Then I realized Jax was drinking out of his bottle.
And that drinking out of a bottle after 1 is generally not “socially acceptable”.

It’s funny how you forget or just don’t care about social norms when you’re in your little Autism Bubble house. I never get to leave, let alone interact with other parents and their kids. So I forget sometimes how mean people can be. Or how mean they can be without really being mean.

When Justin and Tyler were this age, I would have noticed that the guy was coming and hid that bottle before he saw it. And if he did see it, I would have explained myself. Telling him about his sensory issues and how making sure he was hydrated was more important than the vessel the liquid comes in.

I would have felt like a bad Mom.
I would have kicked myself. And then tried getting them to use sippy cups AGAIN… frustrating them and myself. Making myself feel even worse.

Because a person who doesn’t know us, or our story judged what we were doing… judged my parenting.

And I realized… I still cared a little… but not like before. Not enough to do ANYTHING about it.
I stood there with my kids, offered him some snacks for his daughter, and watched my kids, they’re happy and playing and not caring about whether or not they were doing anything wrong in front of others.

And I realized just how far I’ve grown in this journey of ours and tilted my chin up a little higher.

Don’t Pity Me

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Eye contact is not really a requirement in our house. At least not constantly, or even while I’m talking to them.
 
I do request it at times… usually I ask for it as a sign of acknowledgement or a show of love.
 
Usually the way I request it (or teach it to the boys), is the way I show it. If I tell the boys I love them or give them a kiss, I pick up their face to look at me first, smile and then give kisses or say “I love you”.
 
Or if the boys want something from me, if I’m busy I don’t look at them… (and I try not to make them wait for more than 30 seconds to a minute because then they just think I’m ignoring them and start pulling on me lol) then look at them in acknowledgement that I see their needs and that I’ll help them or get them what they’re asking for (Jax isn’t quite there yet, he just starts pulling lol)
 
It’s cute because Jax, who is my least eye contact giver will turn my face to look at him. Like “mom! pay attention to me!”
 
So with Jax, if we’re playing a finger song or an activity, I make sure that I stop singing or playing until he’s looking at me again.
 
If the older boys want something, they have to ask for it with PECs or with the AAC, then they look at me, it’s like them saying “please” or if I give it to them, they look at me after as a “thank you”.
 
I love this “language” we’ve created with each other… out of mutual respect and understanding (that and a LOT of process of elimination). Don’t get me wrong, I’m only human and don’t handle every situation well, and they’re still kids and don’t always listen to me.
 
But Justin was busy running around, doing his own thing… very serious… I stopped him, put his face in my hands and had him look at me. He’s got his serious face on… I smile huge and he can’t help but give me a huge smile too. Then I give him a kiss and he knows he’s done, so he can go off running again, but thsi time giggling and smiling.
 
I don’t know what my life would be like if I had “typical” kids… and as hard as our lives are sometimes with the lack of verbal communication or understanding… the GI issues, the aggression, regression, learning delays, whatever… as hard as it is for all of us some days… I have admit, sometimes I wonder if I would have this type of relationship, this closeness, this bond with them, if they didn’t rely on me so much. If they didn’t look to me as their interpreter (to help them understand others and for others to understand them)… Because we really do speak a different language than the rest of the world. One really, only we truly understand (most of the time lol).
 
I think about how many times people have given me the “pity” eyes because I have three non-verbal, Autistic boys… but sometimes, I think I’m the lucky one. My boys are loving, kind, friends with everyone, silly, goofy… don’t have a malicious bone in their body… they’re not prideful… they’re not greedy or envious… they don’t hurt others (intentionally) or make fun of others…
 
They’re generally happy and content.
They’re a little crazy, and a lot of work sometimes… life can be frustrating and difficult… but I mean, considering… I have been insanely blessed to have the children that I have. 🙂
 
#Grateful
#Autism
#ProudAutismMom
#DontPityMe

You’d Cry Too

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I like to try to explain things with bodily functions.
Because often with people/kids on the spectrum… some of the things that they do seem less important to others, when for them it’s a need, not a want.

So!
Imagine you REALLY had to go to the bathroom… you finally get to go, and mid-stream, someone MAKES you stop. Hold it… pull up your pants and come with them to the grocery store. Or come eat lunch. Or it’s time to do dishes.

That would seem like a form of punishment or torture right?
Not only would it make you upset, it would make you feel incredibly uncomfortable.
The whole time you’re supposed to be doing this other activity, in the back of your head, ALL you’re going to be able to think about is going back to the bathroom and finishing your business.
You might even plead with the person who made you stop!

“Please!? I’m almost done. Just a few more minutes. I’ll be quick. I’ll come right back and go with you…”

Now imagine a little kid… one who hasn’t had as much practice with social cues or “appropriateness” or who needs a little more help in areas you seem to do quite well in (after all… adults have had more practice).
Imagine that he’s watching cartoons (Or playing legos, or whatever)… and you need to leave to run an errand or it’s time for dinner, etc.

You tell them that it’s time to go. To stop what they’re doing and come with you.
To some on the spectrum, that can be a REALLY hard thing to do.
Their brain and their body are telling them it’s not time yet. They’re in the middle of something.
They can’t leave yet, they’re not finished.

So you get a little more stern…
“I said let’s go!”

It registers that they’re going to have to leave before they’re finished. So they get angry or upset or start crying…
Maybe they plead with you…
“PLEASE! Just a little bit longer! It’s not over yet! I’m not done!!!”

To you, this may seem like defiance (and hey… I don’t know your kid – maybe it is…), but more than likely it’s because they didn’t have enough time to prepare for what was going to happen. They didn’t have time to finish what they started.

Which is why transitions are a big thing within the Autism community.
Transition songs, transition actions or “warnings”….
I know some people who use timers… some who sing the clean up song while they’re cleaning, then they’re able to use it as a warning. They can start singing it in the background while they’re playing… to let them know what’s to come.  

It’s also one of the reasons routine can be such a big deal.
With routine, they know what’s coming. They know that they have enough time to finish their show, because every time it ends, that’s when we do… whatever.

So, the point I’m trying to make with this is, remember to try to be patient.
Nine times out of Ten, they’re probably not TRYING to give you a hard time… THEY are the ones having a hard time and communicating and expressing that stress or frustration in the only way they know how.

Instead of getting upset, try to find ways to help them through it.
Bedtime, we do the EXACT same thing… every night.
We never leave the house after that bedtime routine should be started.
We never stay out longer than we should… Company isn’t allowed over when we should start that routine (unless I know it’s not going to affect them specifically). Because their calm, and happiness, and understanding is important to me. And I don’t want to cause more stress and strain on them or me.

Sure, it means we might not get to really do a lot of fun things… but until they understand better and can cope better… they might have had fun “after hours”… but the chaos that would happen afterwards from rushing through or NOT having a bedtime routine… it wouldn’t be worth it in the end. (But that’s my kids! It’s just an explain… Not judging those who allow their kids to stay up late to do something fun. lol Maybe they can deal and don’t need that routine like my kids do.)

So really pay attention.
Are there areas with your kids (or grandkids or students) that they’re having excessive behaviors?
Do you think it could be helped by making sure they understand what’s coming next and better preparing them for it? So that their head and bodies aren’t shouting “What are you doing?!?!?! We’re not done!! Don’t leave!!!”

Maybe wait until the credits are rolling to leave… or ask to help them finish their lego masterpiece so that they’ll come do the dishes.

As always, I can’t tell you how to raise your kids… all I can do is notice what’s happening with mine and offer advice. 🙂

Each kid is unique and may need something completely different than the next in order to succeed in life. And that’s totally okay, we just need to figure out what it is, so we can help.

Finding a “Babysitter” for my Autistic kids.

Standard

I used to babysit when I was younger. I was great with kids. I was responsible. I knew First Aid and CPR (thanks to having an Aunt who was a nurse and working in a daycare). I’d actually play with the kids and I’d even do dishes or tidy up after they went to sleep while I waited for their parents to get home. I even had a kid here or there that I needed to know sign language for, and didn’t… so I would brush up on some of the essentials so I could better communicate. I didn’t have a “rate”… mostly because it was a side job and I REALLY feel weird (even now) disscussing money.

That’s generally what I looked for in a sitter back before I realized the kids were Autistic. Thankfully we had some great teens in our church we could ask who worked with me in the nursery, so I already knew we could trust them and saw them first hand with my kids.

Now… it’s much… much harder to find a sitter to watch my kids. I’ve even had to leave lists and “instructions” for family. They’d make fun of me… but it’s always funny to see how soon after I leave that they start texting me questions or tell me afterwards “I don’t know how you do it”.

Not only do I look for the qualities I listed above… I’d also look for people who at least understand or have at least heard of Autism and at the least are open minded and take instruction well. Someone who won’t just hang out on the couch until I get back.
Who aren’t squeamish about changing a diaper of a 6 and 7 year old. Who are patient and understanding… who won’t yell at my kids for probably doing something they’re either allowed to do that other kids wouldn’t be or for something they don’t understand they’re doing wrong.

But… not only is finding a PERSON with those qualities hard… I also have to make a list of the foods each kid likes and can eat. Each of them are very different and have food aversions… Jax is lactose intolerant and can’t eat certain things.

Each kid has things that will make them scream bloody murder and cry if it happens or the movie is put on.

Justin has Type 1 diabetes… so if I’ll be gone around the time he needs his blood sugar checked or given his insulin, I have to explain that.

THEN… I also have to take time before I leave to explain everything, show them where everything is, help the kids adjust to them…

Not to mention explaining the PEC cards or some of the signs we use with the kids or what certain things they do mean… like if Justin hands you a tablet, he’s asking for help, where if Tyler hands you one, he’s asking for a screenshot of whatever is paused. Or how Jax will put ANYTHING in his mouth…

And lastly… do you think any of this will come cheap? lol To find someone with all those abilities and then the added time to explain everything on top of the time that I’m going to be gone? No. It’s not. lol

It’s easier to just not go anywhere or TRY to get everything done while the older two are in school and it’s just me and Jax.

Or I used to wait until all the kids were asleep and go out. So the sitter didn’t have to do anything but keep an ear out for someone waking up. But even then… I couldn’t stay out long because sleep is pretty important to me at this point in my life. lol

So… you see why when someone says flippantly “Why don’t you just get a sitter”… my eye may twitch a bit. 😉