"My approach to intervention is rooted in respect for child development and focuses on making the mundane meaningful, looking at daily interactions as opportunities for learning and growth while respecting the uniqueness of the individual and family. It’s about setting high expectations for long term quality of life and relationships for individuals on the spectrum and implementing a specific and doable plan to get there one step at a time.”
– Lauren Wilson, LCSW, RDI® Program Certified Consultant

Sunday, September 7, 2014

Activity Ideas: 90 Uses for Plastic Bottles

Wow.  This is a pretty impressive list of ideas, most with very helpful instructions.

90 Uses for Plastic Bottles

Depending on how these activities are framed (remember think roles, using the environment to your benefit) they are appropriate for a wide range of ages and abilities.

Friday, September 5, 2014

The Power of "Me too"

"The two most powerful words when we are in struggle: “me too.”
-Brene Brown

With school now in swing for a few weeks now, for many the honeymoon period of excitement may have worn off.  Mornings that were filled with excitement can start to drag.  Anxiety can even set in the night before, asking if there is school tomorrow.. starting to talk about not wanting to go... or even just tossing and turning.  And the mornings can be filled with slow movement and digging heels into the very idea of going to school or doing anything to get ready to go.  Thinking can become entrenched in "Don't want to go" thinking negating every positive experience.

This can be a perplexing, frustrating and difficult time for parents, teachers and kids.  Especially so when pick up is met with, "Wait, can't I stay a little longer!"  In the absence of anything majorly negative happening at school there are lots of options to navigate these situations.

Often our first gut reaction is to make a rational argument and appeal to all the positive experiences.  "You like school.... You love Ms. Smith." Often met with the exact opposite response... "No I don't, I hate it."  further entrenching thinking in black and white negative thinking.

We then might try to appeal to the "You're a big kid" argument.  Or "All the other kids are lining up.."  "How old are you again?"  For some kids this may be motivating, however for many, this can be interpreted as "You're not good enough right now."  "You're not meeting my expectations."  And for the kids who interpret those phrases in this way, even though not the intention, they can be distressing and make them feel increased incompetence, which turns into more resistance.

Another powerful option is available.  "Me too".  Sometimes we forget that there is comfort in knowing other people feel the way we do, and by recognizing that people feel the way we do, we have better standing to offer options and different ways to think about a situation.  "Me too" opens the doors and takes the pressure off any action.

Kiddo: "I don't want to go to school."
Parent: "Me too.  Sometimes I feel the same way.  That I don't want to do anything."
Parent: "I remember when I didn't want to go to school.  My mommy put a note in my lunch box.  It made going a little easier."
Parent: "I wonder if there is something I can put in your lunch box...."

Solutions and ideas might not be found that day and that's ok.  By joining in on the discomfort a foundation is being set for collaboration and acceptance for what the kiddo is currently feeling.

For kiddos who struggle putting their feelings into words, drawing emotions and giving them the words ("Your face tells me you are sad.") can help move understanding forward.

Tuesday, August 26, 2014

Wednesday, August 6, 2014

Preparing for Hurricane Iselle and Individuals with Autism

I hope this finds everyone doing well.  Hopefully all of our preparations are for not and we enjoy a "normal"ish storm.  However, just in case it's good to be prepared with all the standard preparations as well as extra special care and preparations for kiddos on the spectrum and other conditions.

Depending on what has been successful in the past and the cognitive abilities of your child you may consider including your child in many areas of planning and preparing.

All of these strategies will need modifications to the unique strengths and areas of growth of your child(ren) and some may or may not be appropriate.

Get to know your safe area
   -In a calm and fun manner, practice sitting in the safe area in your house.  You might problem solve together what items might make the time more enjoyable- perhaps a favorite stuffed animal or toy.

Life without electricity
   -In this day and age we all need to prepare for what it's like without our favorite "i" device.  Depending on your child it might be helpful to either explain and make a plan B for when batteries run out or to put together a box of novel items (wrapping them is sometimes fun as it takes up more time and can be exciting) that can be used to keep things fun and redirect when needed from any loud noises or disturbances

Future Think
  -Explain (verbal or visually or both) some things that might happen- loud noises, windy, lots of rain etc AND the most important part all the choices available to the individual.  This might be nice to do in a personalized social story.

Sometimes loud noises scare me.
     I can... give mom/dad a hug, wear my ear plugs, squeeze my stuffed animal etc.

I usually go to school on Thursdays.  Thursday there will not be school.  The school is closed.
    I will be at home.  At home I can X, Y, Z

These can be written and kept out as visual reminders.

Keep it Visual
It's hard for all of us to remember the choices we have when we are stressed and scared.  The more stressed and scared we feel the less access we have to the more complex areas of our brain.  Being able to see our choices, schedule, what is expected etc. can help.  It takes a layer of "work" off our plates.

Keep a notepad or dry erase board to write down (with words or pictures) expectations, schedules or choices.

Wishing everyone a very safe end of the week and weekend.  All crossables are crossed that Miss Iselle and Mr. Julio are very kind over the next few days!

I will add resources as I come across them- and please also share resources that you have found helpful.

Other resources
Hawaii State Civil Defense: Special Needs Information

FEMA: Preparing for a Disaster with Individuals with Special Needs

Saturday, May 10, 2014

Happy Mother's Day

What a privilege it is, and has always been, to work with some of the most inspiring moms I have ever met.  I've learned so much from your journeys and am filled with gratitude.

Sunday, January 12, 2014

My philosophy for a happy life: Sam Berns at TEDxMidAtlantic 2013

I'm often asked what my goal is for kiddos and families I have the pleasure of knowing- what would the best outcome be?  It's always a tough question, and my best answer is their potential... because that's the pinnacle for us all.  There's always going to be obstacles in our lives, but to have the skills to navigate them, own them, know them allows you to reach for your unique potential.

I've had the amazing luckiness of knowing of Sam Berns, his family and his awe inspiring story for quite some time.  And it comes as no surprise to me, that in his seventeen years Sam had all the right words to embody what I think we all wish for ourselves, and for individuals we know with extraordinary obstacles in their path- as Sam certainly had.  He so beautifully embodies what person first language looks like in person and practice.  Sam is Sam... and he had Progeria.

Late last week he passed away due to complications from Progeria, a very rare genetic condition.  And yet his amazing spirit will live on through all of us who strive to reach our potential, navigate around our obstacles and continually look forward... and with the right mindset... so much is possible.