Posted in Bullying, Holidays, parenting, Special Needs Kids, Winchester Sun Columns

Are You the Reason Your Child Was Bullied?

Yes, I see my glaring error.  No, I was not drunk when I wrote this.  Maybe, I can blame it on the holidays?  Once you get past it the column isn’t bad.  Enjoy.

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Posted in Church, Holidays, In The News, Politics

All Sides Against Church Christ Cathedral

Any true Liberal or Christian should be alarmed at the antics of Indiana’s Church Christ Cathedral.  In an alarmingly boneheaded move, the church decided to put Mary and Joseph in a cage to protest illegal immigrant families being separated.  Let’s just blow right past the fact that nothing being done now has not been done before.  And that criminals in America don’t get to take their kids to jail with them.

christ churchAs a nod to viral social media ignorance, liberals are cheering for this alleged church.  In typical, only-my-agenda-matters fashion conceptual thinking is traded for the thrill of a participation ribbon.  They abandon the First Amendment they have screamed for in the past and will no doubt protest for in the future.  But here’s the thing about the First Amendment.  It not only prevents the government from endorsing the church but also the church from influencing legislation.  So, if you cheer this church jumping in the political ring then, consider the influence pastors have, get over prayer in school, hang The Ten Commandments back on the wall and try not to choke on your Merry Christmas.

While you do all that keep in mind the church is tax exempt.  Ordinarily, I would be shocked a church leader would be so reckless with his church’s financial solvency.  However, considering the pretzel-like manipulations of Scripture he used to put himself in the national spotlight, I’m not surprised at all.  This church leader’s deliberate stirring of murky water only clarifies his intent to drag his congregation down that road paved with good intentions.

Posted in Autism Spectrum Disorder, Bullying, Holidays, parenting

What We Can Learn From a Red Nose Reindeer

With the Christmas season comes an object lesson in the form of Rudolph the Red Nose Reindeer. Immediately, we see Rudolph’s father trying to hide the glowing nose so his son better fits in. That is a lesson for parents. We should teach our kids to hold to social expectations as best they can but pretending a disability doesn’t exist benefits no one.

Rudolph’s rejection is swift and complete once his nose is revealed. Yet, in the middle of the mocking comes a doe who doesn’t care about the bright red light. Clarice even tells Rudolph that his glowing nose is better than the false one he was wearing. We all pray for our kids to find a friend like that. As I have seen in the lives of my boys there are kids in the world who will accept them even as others reject and ridicule them. Yet, sometimes it’s the adults that are thoughtless. Clarice’s father insists she not play with Rudolph because of his nose.

rudolph-hermieWhile Rudolph is dealing with his rejection we meet an elf named Hermie. Hermie has concluded that he prefers dentistry over toy making. This, of course, is unheard of and his boss doesn’t take the news well. Rather than give up on his dream, as instructed, Hermie determines to run away. Doesn’t take long for him to hook up with Rudolph and the two, label themselves as misfits and strike out on their own.

Rudolph and Hermie are certain there is no one like them. They are misfits, outcasts, and rejects. They are quite surprised to discover an entire island of toys, with varying “disabilities”, who feel the exact same way they do. Like Rudolph and Hermie, the toys are convinced no one wants them. As we know Rudolph ends up the hero by saving Christmas with the very nose he was mocked for.

Our special needs kid may or may not ever have the opportunity to show the benefits of all_misfit_toys_welcome_heretheir disability to the world. But that doesn’t mean we shouldn’t teach them about them. We need to find our child’s strength and play to that by purposely creating situations in which the child uses the strength. This is a two-fold concept. First, it teaches the child that they have something valuable to contribute. Second, as they use their strength their self-esteem grows. A child with a healthy self-esteem is less likely to succumb to the psychological  warfare of bullies.

We cannot change how other people behave toward our child but we can teach our child ways to deflect the hurtful things others do. It is how our child responds to the bully that is crucial. Hermie was so certain in his dental calling that he didn’t back down despite all the mocking. That’s what we want, kids that can remain self-assured in the face of cruelty. So, as you watch Rudolph this year, take a moment to review the points of the story and help your child uncover his unique contribution to the world. Who knows, he may even save Christmas one day.

 

santa

Posted in Autism Spectrum Disorder, Holidays, parenting

Let the Holidays be Quirky

In our daily lives, we accept the quirkiness of our special needs kids. But when the holidays roll around some parents strive to present their child in the best possible light, which translates to what other people deem appropriate behavior but is a foreign concept to our special one. You have the rest of the year to work out your child’s idiosyncrasies. Don’t torture you or your child by trying to live up to someone else’s misguided notion of normalcy. You’ll find the holidays much more enjoyable if you just embrace the quirkiness.

kid-pout-foodIf you have a picky or sensory eater on your hands the holidays are not the time to try new foods. If you cannot get the menu ahead of time be prepared by secretly taking a favorite food in with you. To avoid, setting a very bad habit I advise not letting your child see the favorite food, lest she start wanting to transport food into restaurants and such. If the preferred food happens to be a favorite among children in general, it’s always best to pack enough so no child is left out. Avoiding a meltdown for your child b setting off a tantrum in another is not good for anyone.

If you have a middle of the road kiddo, who is doing well with new food introductions and  seems to be handling the day well, go ahead and try a new food. Just know her limitations and don’t force the issue to the point of a meltdown. Once your kiddo has a meltdown you probably will too and the rest of the family will likely follow suit.

Have a “safe” quiet place in mind, before you arrive. Even on his best days, my Asperger’s kid cannot tolerate crowds for extended amounts of time. To avoid him locking himself in the bathroom for hours we had a plan in place. He knew where he could retreat to when needed. We reviewed the plan before we arrived. He could use the isolation place but he couldn’t remain in it for the duration. In the beginning, he spent more time in seclusion that socializing. But as he got older and more confident he spent more time in the mix of things. Now, at 23 he rarely bolts from the social scene.

If you’re dealing with severe sensory issues you might consider taking a favorite blanket orspd-1 sheet which can be used to cover himself, including his head if necessary, to cut down on sensory stimulation. For young child, I recommend fidgets to help them self-calm. A fidget or small favorite toy kept in his pocket is a good calming tool. It takes only his hand in his pocket to get a steady stream of reassurance. Of course, stuffed animals, dolls, and other treasured toys or pillows can have the same impact.

If noise is the spark to your child’s sensory wildfire, try taking noise-reducing headphones. Classical music has been proven to have a calming effect. If you don’t have a CD player with classical CD’s set up a Pandora station on your phone. Show your child how to thumbs up or down the songs in order to achieve the perfect blend for your child.

My son Colton could never get enough tactile stimulation. He would lick the tips of his fingers before touching anything in order to increase the sensation. Not only was this super gross, but unhealthy as well.  Sitting on the floor at home and rubbing his hands as hard as he could against the carpet was one thing. But essentially, licking other people and things in public was quite another. I nailed a small piece of carpet to each side of a thin block of wood. He carried that with him and when he needed stimulation he rubbed it between his palms. A much more hygienic way to increase tactile stimulation.

It’s all about controlled chaos. You may not be able to fully prevent your child’s meltdowns but a little pre-planning can lessen the chance of one occurring or reduce its severity. The goal is to gently prod them into new and difficult social scenes but in a way that is manageable for them. This is not the time to worry about Aunt Becky will view your parenting skills, or what Uncle Frank will think when you ax his desire to have a tickling tournament with your child. This is the time you do what’s best for your child.