It’s a Bird, It’s a Plane, It’s a Breakthrough!

I want to start this post by saying that AJ and Hugh are the light of my life. They have the purest little hearts and the kindest souls. I know that because I’m raising them. I see them every day. And, yes, we have challenges. Yes, we have misunderstandings. And every day with them, however challenging, is a blessing, but days like yesterday make it all so much better.

I know that things are just as difficult for them as they are for me, especially because they’re too young to understand some things, so, even though ignorance for them really is bliss, it doesn’t make it any easier than it is.

I started reading several books that Gabby, our behavioral therapist, recommended and have been following these simple methods, and monitoring AJ’s and Hugh’s reactions, and I have to say there hadn’t been any major improvements or worsenings. Until yesterday.

AJ has this fixation on watches. He can stare at the hands of a watch for hours, it’s what amuses him, it’s what calms him down, I can’t understand it, but I’m complying if that’s what he wants. When we were visiting my parents yesterday, he noticed his uncle’s watch, a Stuhrling, and probably took a liking to it, so his uncle, my brother, basically had no choice but to give it to him.

AJ was so happy, I could tell. A mother can always tell, even though he doesn’t really express his emotions in the traditional way. Over the years I learned to read him. But yesterday was a breakthrough. For the first time ever he initiated physical touch. He gave his uncle something of an awkward hug, but it was the most endearing thing I’d ever seen. I got teary, of course. We all got teary. I felt like all those hours of hard work had really paid off.

Hugh, on the other hand, is more unpredictable. I’m guessing it’s because he’s younger, but Gabby, told me to expect that Hugh would be more impulsive. He’s been more prone to tantrums, unlike when AJ was at his age. But I’m happy to say that therapy has been very helpful for both of them, and for me, of course. I’m hoping that over time I’ll have another breakthrough with Hugh as well, even though I know it won’t be easy.

Until next time, Jen. Xx

How to Create Safer Spaces in the Bathroom

As a mother of two adorable boys, I have a lot to say about raising kids, and other matters. They both are on the autism spectrum, so life is a little different for me day to day. It gives me a new perspective despite the inherent challenges.

I am not complaining about my eight and four-year-old. I just have to be a bit creative now and then. I thought I would share how it all happens as we travel on the autism path.  Sometimes writing things down gives me a fresh viewpoint, so here I am. If you follow my blog, you will learn more about special-needs children and the wonder they bring to one’s life.

Even small audio or visual triggers can be enough to get a response when autistic children. Given the importance of bathroom time, you bet that I am into the new technologies that help make the bathroom a safer space. All children require security and constant observation. Mishaps can happen when you aren’t paying attention.

Harmful implements lurk on the bathroom shelves and around the tub. If you share a bathroom with your kids, forget about razors and other sharp objects. Medications are taboo in the family washroom, so hide them elsewhere. Plus, leave toxic cleansers out of sight. They may taste terrible, but they are tempting for the little ones, nonetheless.

Meanwhile, even the toilet can be a danger zone. I am happy for the modern toilets that flush instantaneously and don’t overflow with lots of paper inside. It is more than unsanitary for kids to dwell on the bowl contents, as they are wont to do. Seats now rise and fall automatically to prevent his problem. Your children soon learn to be wary of the alive lid.

The industrial engineers of the world have had a field day with plumbing fixtures. After all, they are a key element of any household. Kids pay a lot of attention to their actions here since the time of their early potty training. Parents make a lot of fuss over doing their business and cleanliness habits.

Self-cleaning toilets help not to mention the ingenious spray devices that now replace toilet paper. You can’t imagine what you can get for a price these days. Some toilets convert into bidets with warm waterspouts. Be careful lest the tots get too interested. Plus, the newest units are amazing in modern style.

They are compact and one piece, so easy to clean. That is important for large families. Some dispense deodorizers and disinfectants after every flush or two. With a new Kohler, Mirabelle or Toto, the bathroom is going to be the most popular place in the house. Get one of these marvels and see a big change in your life!

Back-to-School Shopping

Any parent faces challenges when they want their kids to do something new and all they get back is resistance and/or sass. You use your wits to concoct reasons, but then again kids are not rational beings overall. You make up stories that are so transparent that the children laugh. You can threaten or bribe: there are all kinds of techniques of persuasion. Punishment in my family is not one of them. This is where I draw the line. If I want to buy new backpacks for school (as the old ones are practically in shreds), and the kids balk, I have to backdown for a while. I believe if I present some nifty-looking items that maybe they will change their tunes.

Backpacks are trendy things and kinds are particular about them. When it is back-to-school time, there are tons of new ones on the market. So, this is the time to take the kids on a shopping tour. Find out where the best ones are (and if it is this difficult for them then money is no object). Rule number one, and maybe the only rule, is let them pick their own. The tip, though, is using a guide like this one from Backpacks Magazine to create a short list for your kids to choose from. What does it matter what size, shape, color, or other features such as a myriad of zippers and pockets. They often go with what a friend has, but you really want your child to be more of an individual. If they want to copy others, tell them that model is sold out. Then you can go from there and hope for the best.

My kids are such creatures of habit and they hate change of any type. You have to take it slowly and let them decide that they need something new. Try pointing out the flaws of the old backpacks. Talk about lack of functionality and how things may fall out and get lost. No child wants this to happen to their favorite things. Demonstrate how a zipper doesn’t work or a compartment has broken. If nothing else works, entice them with exciting colors and designs. Backpacks now are not just denim or heavy canvas. They can be brightly printed plastic that is eye-catching and waterproof. If they have an artistic side, they will go this route. These kinds of backpacks are for maximum fun and frankly most of them have plenty of room. Make sure the straps are comfortable and not too long or are adjustable. The bold prints are now a tot’s first choice. If you can’t drag them willingly to the store, try surveying the many offerings on line. What kid doesn’t enjoy a Web experience. Let them pay (with your help) and place the order. Then it is more than a chore.

Has to Be Just Right

My life revolves around my kids and their special needs. Some of these pertain to sleeping habits. Hugh loves to get under a heavy blanket most cold nights, but you can imagine that when it is warmer in the summer, it is too much of a covering. He gets hot and wakes up repeatedly through the night. That means I am also up to check on him and I don’t get a good night’s sleep. Most parents understand this dilemma. I can get up and remove the blanket but come back in an hour and it is still there. I resorted to a ceiling fan to keep him cool on hot nights, even when he persists in his blanket habit. I did some searching and found a site called First Rate Fans that helped me choose the right ceiling fan for his room. He seems to sleep more soundly and then I can get back into bed. But I don’t until things are just right.

I installed the fan so it has two ways to operate. There is a switch on the wall that controls speed and the light that is in the center. Of course, we don’t want that to go on during the night so the control is in the off position. I also have a remove for Hugh and am hoping he will learn to use it on his own as he grows older. He has to learn to be the master of his own fate at night. For kids with autism, controlling their environment is very important from an early age. This need continues on as they mature. They can’t always depend on their parents. Older kids I meet express a desire to do things their way and it is not always the choice of their mother or father. In my house, the kids decide what games they play, when they want to go outside, when they want to invite someone over, what they eat, and when they go to bed within about a half hour range. I love the independence. It solves a lot of problems and you don’t always have to dictate to them what they can do. It is not in their nature to respond to tight control. I am in complete agreement. The ceiling fan should be part of this self-reliance. I want Hugh to know how it works, when it should be on, and how to adjust the speed according to the room’s temperature.

Hugh loves the look of the fan and of course the breeze it creates. In the winter, the blanket takes its place as a focal point of bedtime attention. I don’t think I will ever break him of the habit of a heavy cover. It gives him warmth first and foremost, but also security and a feeling of safety and contentment. I wonder if he will ever outgrow this. I suppose not. Oddly enough, my other son only likes to cover himself with a sheet. I love to see the differences between my boys. My life is a day-to-day mystery as to what each one will do.