I have moved over to WhittereronAutism.com. Please follow the link to find me there. Hope to see you after the jump! :)

Friday, January 30, 2009

Quiet time

Slurping Life

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

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

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

Or maybe you're more "musically" inclined in which case "Casdok" may have a "surprise" for you.

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

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

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


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

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

Don't forget to keep your eyes and ideas open to "Jessica."

Thursday, January 29, 2009

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Still not convinced?

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

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

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

Need one last practical example?

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

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

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

Cheers dears

Wednesday, January 28, 2009

Quick Quotes

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

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

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

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

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

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

Tuesday, January 27, 2009

Happy Tales and Tails

5 Minutes for Special Needs

Follow my leader!

If you enjoy caption competitions and photographs, you may wish to nip along to"DJ Kirkby" over at "Chez Aspie" and test your brain power.

Monday, January 26, 2009

Food for the Frugal – one week’s worth

Try This Tuesday

I don’t know what happens in your household, but around here my children would be quite happy to eat pizza or pasta every night of the week, for a month, probably several months.
Tuesday – baked potatoes with sour cream and chives, pan fried sausages [bake extra potatoes to use in Frittata tomorrow/make double and freeze as side dish/ save one sausage for the Frittata]
Wednesday – Frittata with green salad and Winter coleslaw [make double coleslaw to add to tomorrow]
Thursday - Cheesy Rice with Kale and Winter Coleslaw [double the boiled rice, save half and freeze for later – Monday]
Friday – Fisherwoman’s Pie, pastry topped, include a cup of peas and corn to have a one pot dish and save washing up. [set up beans to sprout for Monday]
Saturday – Egg, Spinach and Potato Curry, serve with bread or Naans [make double to freeze but omit the eggs]
Sunday - Roast chicken and potatoes with roasted root vegetables [double the veg to use in cous cous later, strip the chicken bare[!] , refridgerate left over meat, make stock from the carcass for cous cous and freeze the rest for soup]
Monday – Stir Fried rice with the left over chicken, Beansprouts with Sesame seeds

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



Don't forget to keep your eyes and ideas open to "Jessica."

Sunday, January 25, 2009

Puppy Training:- a brief summary

Hosted by "Tracy" at "Mother May I," but the photo-picture below will whizz you right there with one click.

Just call me snap happy.

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I attend the primer.

A two hour lecture.

I did try very hard not to yawn.

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

On and on and on it goes……..

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


Don't forget to keep your eyes and ideas open to "Jessica."

January Jaunty Jest

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

Maybe I could invite you to play along too?

As they say:-

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

Thanks so much!

Jessica & Tania'

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

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

Cheers dears

Saturday, January 24, 2009

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

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

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

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

I thoroughly enjoyed the many anonymous quotes such as:-

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Cheers dears

Friday, January 23, 2009

Snap that!

Slurping Life

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A Random Selection

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

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

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

Legs that sprout out of pyjama bottoms.

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

E.g. “Hey Madeline, howaya doin?”

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

We learn our lessons well:-

Lessons About Blue Dogs

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

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

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

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

Thanks so much!

Jessica & Tania'

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

Cheers dears

Thursday, January 22, 2009

All Strung out

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

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

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

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

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

Wednesday, January 21, 2009

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.

Tuesday, January 20, 2009

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.

Monday, January 19, 2009

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.

Sunday, January 18, 2009

‘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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Saturday, January 17, 2009

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!

Friday, January 16, 2009

Wanton acts of violence

Slurping Life

Get the code:-
Cut and paste
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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.

Thursday, January 15, 2009

Surprise! Written 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

Wednesday, January 14, 2009

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.

Tuesday, January 13, 2009

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.

Monday, January 12, 2009

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.

Sunday, January 11, 2009

A needle in a haystack – a game chip in the needles

More magic, than marker

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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During the course of the holidays, my children discover how to parachute, or more accurately, test which toys can fly and those which cannot.

This is scientifically tested from the top of the stairs where the toys are hurled into the air, bounce off the ceiling and crash down on innocent victims below. It proves to be thoroughly hilarious entertainment for a good half hour. On conclusion of the half hour, they realize a serious flaw in the game plan, namely, the ten foot Christmas tree in the flight path. After a quick check, several items appear to be adrift, including a highly prized DS game, a one inch, thin, grey, plastic square. The meltdown that ensures is more or less inevitable. Whilst it would be perfectly possible to disassemble a 10 foot Christmas tree to hunt for the treasure, with my current responsibilities I am both unable and unwilling to compromise in this manner.

This more or less guarantees an hour of perseverating angst every day, first thing in the morning. The daily dose of angst almost persuades me to comply, but the time simply isn’t available. Arguably, an hour spent sequencing my son through the series of events that led up to this disaster would be better spent hunting through the needles, with hindsight, but I lack the energy.

Sadly, my efficiency levels are so low that we fail to take down the Christmas tree and other decorations on Twelfth Night. However, we are prompted into action with the dawning of the recycling visitation, which promises to arrive on Tuesday. With the children back at school on Monday, my elder daughter, Nonna and I take on the task in shifts. We each work independently in different parts of the house in an attempt to remove every trace prior to the end of the school day. Although the boys are generally oblivious to the décor, for some reason the strip down phase causes no end of grief and anxiety. Far better to remove all evidence in one fell swoop, the swift, slight of hand of magicians.

As I lift, roll and stash each decoration, my mind is free to reflect. Thatcher’s arrival has made several significant impacts upon my children. Thatcher is at the chewing stage of puppy-hood, which means that just about everything is fair game. It’s a daily game. Anything on the ground becomes fodder. Anything on the sofa or other surfaces above ground, is off limits. We have a mounting pile of evidence or our mistakes:- shoes, books and toys. None of these things are of value or worth protecting. A few prized items are worth the effort:- Webkinz, Pokemons and electronics paraphanalia. I foresee that before too long, the whole household itinerary will have been culled in this manner.

After lunch I haul out the tree into the roadway ready for collection, leaving a trail of green, prickly needles. The needle sweep up is also time consuming, several sack loads end up stacked next to the other debris and recycling materials. This leaves me just enough time to walk Thatcher before the school run.

Thatcher is keen to mark the dead tree. I am equally as keen that his offering should be elsewhere. Tree collection is hazardous enough an occupation without the added contributions of every household pet in the street. I distract and entertain as we lollop along the road with each house displaying still further green temptations.

As we reach the end of our circuit I see the huge recycling trucks approach the house. Thatcher is not keen on large noisy things. I hover, uncertain whether to continue his exposure or let him off the hook after 69 minutes of traffic? He cowers at my ankles, tail between his legs as we near the house. Suddenly, he makes a mad dash for the tree, his muzzle buried deep in the pines. I wonder if he has found a stray Christmas decoration, a choking hazard. On the command to drop, he does so without a qualm. There on the black rough tarmac is a small, thin, grey plastic square.

I wonder if plastic smells? I wonder if the plastic smells of my son?

I wait until completion of the school run, and the shock waves of despair at our denuded home to subside. I wait until the ebb tide, when spirits are low but even.
“Hey guys?” No-one has any interested in any more words, their daily allowance fully expended after a strenuous first day back at school.
“Guess what I found today?”
Floppy people display disinterest, their body language says it all.
“Guess what…..Thatcher found today?”
Bleary eyes blink with just the tiniest hint of something approximating interest.
“Look!” I hold up the tiny, grey, one inch square between thumb and forefinger with a white contrast wall behind. Gasps of genuine delight, amazement and joy chorus from every corner of the room.
“Did he really find it Mom? Where did he find it?”
“Fatcher found it?”
“Fatcher is being dah....………twuly……..... awesome one!”

Saturday, January 10, 2009

Daily Constitutional[s]

We walk as a family, together with our dog, Thatcher. We meet and greet neighbours, old ones and new unfamiliar ones. People are friendly and make complimentary remarks about our puppy.

My children offer pertinent pieces of information in return:- that he has fur, even between his toes, that the end of his tail looks like a teasel, that his poop is bigger than cat poop because he is much bigger than most cats, that the tough pads on his feet mean that he doesn’t need to wear shoes, that he smells really bad, but not as bad as the first day he arrived.

Each little nugget of information is of equal worth.

People seem both amused and bemused in return.

By the time we dawdle back home, these cumulative exchanges appear to have percolated their psyche.

“Yes dear?”
“I like Fatcher.”
“Oh good. I’m glad you told me that dear.”
“Yes……......now we have a dog…….….people think we are more entertainment value.”

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