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Dec 31, 2014

Choice Board for Computer Time

It's Winter Break here.  That is my least favorite time of year.  Don't get me wrong, I adore my kids, but I adore them even more when they are at school for part of the day.  ;)  
Let's just say, I have ADD, and my brain is not a structured brain, so it is hard for me to maintain the structure my kids thrive on when they have school.  Therefore; my day consists of one chaotic dilemma after another during winter break.
My daughter has become extremely possessive of the iPad, which is actually fine because it keeps her from one of her other favorite activities is to flood the bathroom. So, when Garrett is in need of a digital diversion, he has to rely on the good old fashioned computer.  ;)   
Yesterday, I realized that Garrett might not know that he can use his favorite programs from the iPad on the computer.  So, I turned to the tried and true Choice Board.  
I decided to keep it simple and just put three choices on it:  Zac Browser, YouTube and iTunes.  If you are an autism parent and haven't heard of Zac Browser, it is absolutely wonderful.  ZAC is an anagram for "Zone for Autistic Children."  Here's a post from when Garrett first discovered it that explains a little more: http://abunchofroaches.blogspot.com/2009/05/we-love-zac-browser.html
YouTube is a favorite of all of my kids, but it took a while for me to figure out how to make it work best.  First, I had to learn how to turn on the safety mode for youtube.  No need for the kids to learn swear words, see things they shouldn't, etc.  Then I started making individual playlists with clips for my kids that i knew they would like.  They think it's so fun, especially since they can click on whichever video they want, and it keeps their attention better than an entire movie does.  Also, there are suggestions on the side of the clip you watch with similar clips.  So they can discover their own clips they like too.
I have the iTunes logo on the choice board because,before Amazon and other sites had the digital movies for sale, iTunes did.  So when my kids open iTunes, they have access to their entire library of digital movies. And, since they only like certain parts, they can use the mouse to move the cursor to the parts in the movies they want to watch.  :)  
It was so nice this morning to show Garrett the Computer Choice Board, and hear him say, "I want iTunes please!"

Nov 29, 2014

Code Adam

As an autism mom, I am so grateful for the Code Adam protocol that is used by many stores and businesses.  It was developed in 1981, after Adam Walsh, the son of John Walsh, was abducted from a local store.  Stores that are trained in Code Adam usually will have this decal:



Unfortunately, today I had the opportunity, firsthand, to see this in action, but, FORTUNATELY, the protocol was in place and actually worked.  I was at Wal-Mart with my 10-year-old son, when he suddenly made a dash for it.   He has a history of running away from me in stores.  He loves to run up and down the aisles, and many times, by the time I get to him, he's found some yummy treat to eat that I get to add to my shopping cart.  I have always been able to catch him pretty quickly, but yesterday was different.  We were in a Wal-Mart store on Black Friday:  Need I say more.  I was absolutely terrified, and asked the first employee I could find what I should do.  I informed him that my son was autistic, and he had run away from me and was alone in the store.
He promptly took me to the dressing rooms, which are located in the center of the store.   The dressing room attendant then paged a Code Adam over the store intercom.  She explained that there was a missing 10-year-old boy with autism, and gave a description, including age, hair color and what he was wearing.   She asked the workers to bring him to the dressing room where his mother was waiting.  After the page she a asked me to stay there, which I did, even though every part of me felt the need to continue looking.  
After a long 5 minutes, I was reunited with my son.  He was in the paper towel aisle.  I would have never looked there.  
So, on this Thanksgiving weekend, the thing I am most grateful for is that my son was found, safe and sound because this protocol exists, and the store employees knew exactly what they needed to do to reunite me with my son.

Here are the steps to a Code Adam, per the website for The Center for Missing and Exploited Children:

  1. Obtain a detailed description of the child, including what he or she is wearing.
  2. Page "Code Adam." Describe the child's physical features and clothing.
  3. Designated employees will immediately stop working, look for the child and monitor front entrances to ensure the child does not leave the premises.
  4. Call law enforcement if the child is not found within 10 minutes.
  5. If the child is found and appears to have been lost and unharmed, reunite the child with the searching family member.
  6. If the child is found accompanied by someone other than a parent or legal guardian, make reasonable efforts to delay their departure without putting the child, staff or visitors at risk. Immediately notify law enforcement and give details about the person accompanying the child.
  7. Cancel the Code Adam page after the child is found or law enforcement arrives.

Sep 29, 2014

Service of Others

As an autism mom, who can be very overwhelmed by the differing aspects in my life, I am so thankful for the service others give me.  What has carried me through my hard times are friends/family who reached out to me to see how I'm doing, watched my kids for an hour or two so I could have that much-needed nap, lent me a pair of shoes after my son threw his in the toilet right as the school bus pulled up, came over to offer some company and befriend my kids, taken me to breakfast to get out of the house, brought me dinners, etc.  I am so very blessed to be surrounded by so many Christlike people.
A specific example happened this morning.  I was cleaning my scary messy house after a weekend.  Mondays are not my favorite for that reason.  There was a knock on my door, and when I answered it, the sister missionaries were standing there.  They offered to help me clean my house, and then left me a wonderful message along with their wonderful act of service.  My sister had sent me this message before, but somehow it touched me even more this time.  Just wanted to take the chance to share it with whomever needs it, and I hope it can help them like it helps me.  (to read the entire talk, by Henry B. Eyring, click. here.)

Jul 11, 2014

Cleaning Recipe for those Fun Poop Smearing Episodes

As an autism mom, I'm so grateful for a friend of mine from church.  She came over one day with the missionaries, who had asked how to they could serve my family.  When the missionaries asked, there happened to be a sticky handprint on the wall directly behind them that gave me the inspiration to ask if they could help me wash my walls.
Little did I know, this friend of mine who accompanied the missionaries, was the daughter of a woman who owned a Green Cleaning business.  She had great insights on how to get the ridiculous, stuck on smears that were on my walls and doors.  She also was kind enough to tell me tricks to get rid of smells that often come with potty training or just having kids who like to explore the texture of what is involved in potty training.
This morning, I had to contact her again, because of course, with my ADD, I have no clue where I put those recipes that were diligently written down that day.
So here's the amazing green recipe that she gave me to get out the poop while also getting rid of the odor.



One capful of ammonia
1/4 c vinegar
1/8 c Borax
2 gallons of water
*If the smell is super potent, add 1/2 cup of vinegar instead of 1/4 cup.

Spray the affected area and let it sit for 5 minutes.  Then wipe clean.  (For super-hard-to-get-off spots, the microfiber towels work best).


Jun 30, 2014

Unpaid/Unsolicited Endorsement for the Wow Cup

Today I had to pick Jason up from school because he threw up on the bus.  Yippee.  So, I decided to go to Rite Aid and pick up some gatorade.  Jason is my child who dumps any/all drinks, so I was also looking to get a sippy cup too.  Of course, our dog loves to chew on sippy cup lids, so sippy cups last about 10 seconds at my house.
Anyway, back to my trip to Rite Aid:  I always end up meandering through the "As Seen On TV" aisle because I'm a dork, and I'm fascinated by all the cool inventions that make life easier...if they really work.
So, I just happened upon my new favorite invention.   The Wow Cup. 

I had never heard of it, but the words "No Spills" jumped out from the shelf.  Also, there are no straws, etc., that would just get lost in my house.  You drink out of it the same way you would a regular cup, but the top of the cup looks like this.

When you go to drink out of it, the sucking motion of your mouth brings the liquid out through the edges of the cup top.  It doesn't matter which edge, the entire cup top works that way.  It also has a texture that my kids adore.  They always find toys, etc., that are that same material to put in their mouths, so I'm thinking a cup is way more appropriate.  
Just thought I'd put this out there in cyberspace for those other moms who are looking for a solution to the dumping/spilling problem, but they don't want their older child to be seen with a sippy cup.   Yay for new inventions.

Mar 8, 2014

Laundry and Friendship


As an autism mom, I struggle with SO MUCH LAUNDRY.  Two of my kids are basically potty trained, but they still have accidents sometimes.  All three have nighttime accidents.  That leads to at least two loads of bedding every single day, not to mention the clothes they go through.  We are trying so hard to keep one child clothed, until we see a streaking image running past us and find different outfit attempts hidden throughout the house.  I can wash a whole drawerful of clothes that were worn for maybe 15 minutes.
Now, here is my gratitude part.  I have a very dear friend who recently felt prompted to come by every morning and pick up those two loads of bedding I mentioned earlier.  She washes them, returning the next morning to swap the clean sheets with the newly dirty ones.  She told me that is what God told her I needed, and I believe her because I would NEVER feel comfortable asking that of anyone, and most people wouldn't think of laundry as something to do for someone. Laundry is one of those things that can make me feel depressed and overwhelmed and put me in a mommy funk.
I now have hope because there is a diminishing mountain of laundry in the laundry room.  I feel so loved and grateful.  My friend also showed me this, which makes her even more awesome: