Posted in Autism Spectrum Disorder, Just for fun, Letters, My Life My Way, parenting, Sensory Processing Disorder, Special Needs Kids

Military Wants My Special Needs Son

Dear Selective Service Person;

I received your letter requiring my son DJ register for Selective Service. As a deep patriot, I must inform you – you don’t want that boy!  As great as America’s military is, they are not prepared for my little weapon of mass destruction. DJ has many strengths, but he’s a little quirky.  Do you really want an enlistee who even Santa gives the side-eye? IMG_0038

There are things he could do such as train bomb-sniffing dogs.  Got some out-of-control dragons?  He’s your man!  But not horses!  He prefers riding them backward and wonders why it doesn’t work out.  Not to mention, the helmet messes up his hair.

 

His flair for disguises is a definite asset.  Hugh Hefner and Phil Robertson never looked better.

 

As evident in his massive medical file, he holds up well under torture.

 

Waterboarding ain’t nothing but a thang.

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He has a problem with loud noises, though.  They scare him and hurt his ears.  So, unless you want him standing in the middle of the battlefield covering his ears some adaptations are needed.  Put a silencer on guns, artillery shells, tanks, grenades, pretty much everything you have; including drill sergeants.  I hear they get a bit out of hand.

 

Considering how much trouble DJ gets into at home, putting him in uniform in another country increases the chances of an international incident.  He has a knack for getting into questionable if not downright compromising situations.  Gambling, document shredding, and literally caught with his pants down are only a few of his transgressions.

 

DJ aspires to be the world’s greatest social media influencer.  Therefore, he requests his uniform have more of the NASCAR I’m promoting something vibe rather than the camo I’ve come to kill you feel.  He thinks it works better for his brand.  He suggests his uniform have patches for Culvers, UK basketball, Pizza Hut, UK basketball, Coke, UK basketball, Bath & Body Works, UK basketball, Ricky T’s Bar & Grille … well, you see where this is going.

 

Though DJ is a true warrior at heart and a Superhero even The Avengers envy, I must exert my guardianship authority over him and reject your offer of war.  Alas, the world is just not ready for my DJ.  (sigh)  But don’t despair, his brother Dalton is all signed up and ready to go.  Good luck with that!

 

 

 

Sorry not that sorry,

Joan Graves

Posted in Autism Spectrum Disorder, Reviews, Sensory Processing Disorder, Special Needs Kids

Magnetic Shoe Closure Review

You know those ads on Facebook? Well, I finally ordered something from one. Different Not Less was advertising magnetic shoe closures. The goal is to give disabled kids more freedom. The claim is that children with fine motor difficulties who can’t tie their shoes will be able to put their shoes on independently with these magnets. Additionally, it’s claimed an end to loose laces. The magnets come in an array of colors and are currently marked down from $19.24 to $10.95 without shipping and handling. All said and done I spent about $15. But did they work?

The first thing I didn’t like was that it took 2-3 weeks to get them in. However, I am an Amazon Prime member. So, I could just be spoiled by their two day promise. None-the-less, the magnets arrived right at two weeks, which isn’t too bad.  A great positive note here is that when I emailed them about the shipping their response was immediate and courteous. I love a company that answers their emails daily!

The instructions were easy to read and the magnets went on quick and easy. They are super strong and held the shoes together. My son wasn’t able to use his feet to separate the magnets because he wears braces. Our intent was to teach him how to pull them apart with his hands.  We never got the opportunity.

FullSizeRender (4)The problem came when the little eyelets that go on the side disappeared from one shoe. If you notice in the picture only the shoe on the right has the black eyelet. There should be an eyelet on each side of the shoe. Since we were running around a lot the day the eyelets went missing we have no idea how it happened. We don’t know if they came off on their own or if DJ, who likes to mess with his shoes, pulled them off. Whatever happened to them the magnets are useless without them. The shoe falls off because the magnets keep popping open. The other shoe, with the eyelets, still works fine.

It’s a great idea and I can’t place our failure solely on the heads of Different Not Less. As I said, DJ could have easily pulled them off. But my situation is that we had them working blissfully for a day but currently only one shoe stays closed and on. Would I suggest someone buy them? Possibly.

The bottom line? Although the item pretty much performs as described, If your child messes with his shoelaces I would not recommend it. But for children who don’t grab at their shoes it’s worth a try at the price it’s offered. The company, Different Not Less, is easy to work with, responds quickly to emails, and describes their product accurately. With all that us parents have going on that is the kind of company we like to deal with.

Posted in Autism Spectrum Disorder, Education, parenting, Sensory Processing Disorder, Special Needs Kids, Special Needs Students

After School Programs Fall Under 504

504 Plan VS. IEP (Individualized Education Plan) alphabet blocksI have seen a disturbing trend in public schools. Though I am at a loss to explain why some public schools are laboring under the misconception that their after-school programs are exempt from accommodation requirements for disabled students.  Administrators are informing parents that their student’s IEP doesn’t carry over to the after school program. That is somewhat true but highly debatable.

What is not debatable, however, is federal ADA law. Section 504 of that law applies specifically to the educational setting. It states that child care programs (including after-school programs in public schools) are prohibited from discriminating against a child with a disability by denying admission into the program or by denying requests for reasonable accommodations. Individual states have additional variances supporting this law but ADA is the federal guideline. It’s non-negotiable.

So, what should you do if your child is not receiving accommodations, has been refused entry into the program or been booted from it? First, send a letter to the principal, superintendent and school board members advising that you are invoking your child’s rights under section 504 of the American with Disabilities Act. Then clearly define what accommodations you are seeking for your child. Provide a date (I suggest a couple of weeks so they have the opportunity to get with their attorney) in which they must respond to your request. Also, make it clear that you will only accept their response in writing. If you are having to go this far to secure your child’s rights nothing they verbalize should be trusted and if you have to pursue it further proof in writing is worth its weight in gold.

If for some crazy reason they still do not relent, your next step should be a letter to the state board of education. Be certain to include a copy of the letter you sent to your local board of education. Since you can likely email them I would allow only a week for them to respond.

If all attempts have failed it’s time to call in the big guns, so-to-speak. ADA will fight for the rights of your child at zero cost to you. You will not have to hire an attorney to go to battle because the war is already won. It’s just the little generals on the ground who haven’t fully understood their role that cause the problem. You can file a discrimination complaint with ADA online. You will be required to jump through a lot of hoops, fill out mounds of paperwork and possibly pay to have papers notarized. But once that is done so are you. All you need to do is sit back and enjoy someone else caring enough to fight for your child.

Posted in Autism Spectrum Disorder, Education, Just for fun, parenting, Sensory Processing Disorder, Special Needs Kids

Feel the Sensory in Halloween

Science has proven that a multi-sensory environment improves brain function, language, social interaction, coordination and much more. Just as you arrange your food intake for maximum nutritional benefits, the same should be done for your sensory diet. The majority of us can exist in a day and get enough input to all of our senses to keep us balanced without having to actively search for ways to increase one sense or the other.

Individuals with sensory processing disorders, are on the autism spectrum or have other special needs, lack sufficient sensory input. The lack of an incomplete sensory diet can wreak havoc throughout our physical, emotional and intellectual state. With millions of  nerve endings sending messages to the brain about even the smallest tactile (touch) sense it is extremely easy to have a few crossed wires. Most of us can sift through the multitude of tactile stimulation without giving it much thought. Those with processing difficulty cannot. They either perceive too much stimulation or not enough.

Regardless of whether it’s a child with an over or under sensitive tactile system all children can benefit from a little tactile processing practice.  Halloween is the perfect time introduce your child to a sensory bin. The bin can be filled with sand, rice, water, flour, shaving cream, and even jello. Just go with the substance that your child will tolerate delving their hands into.

To keep the project affordable I purchased my bin and the contents at my local Dollar Tree. You can use any size or shape container you prefer. Mine is rectangular with a lid so I can safely store it away for reuse later. I filled the bin with rice then buried some plastic treat bag items in it.

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The goal is to have the child blindfolded, close their eyes or turn their head as they dig into the bin for the items you request. You want them to work on the sense of touch alone. Show your child an item then have them sift through the contents of the bin to find it.  I recommend having a couple of items that are easily identified. The ping pong eyeballs are easily recognized as are the tiny skull rings. Allowing the child to either start with one of the easy items or switch to them after missing an item or retrieving one that was particularly difficult gives them a much-needed confidence boost.

Only do as much as your child can tolerate. We want to push them a bit beyond their comfort zone but not to the point of a meltdown or where the activity isn’t enjoyable.  The more fun they have they less they care about the therapeutic aspect. As always, forget about the mess and enjoy the bonding time between you and your special one. Happy feel-o-ween everyone!

Posted in Just for fun, My Life My Way, parenting, Sensory Processing Disorder, Special Needs Kids

Snaps of Halloween

This is the time of year when everyone wants to know how DJ and I manage all the Halloween mania.  As parents know, October can be tough on special needs kids. Uncomfortable costumes, sensory overload and an innate fear of overly excited children can combine to create disaster.  So, I thought I’d share a few pictures of how we cope with the madness.

Our biggest rule?  We never wear more of a costume than he can tolerate.

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Sometimes it’s just better, not to mention cheaper, to make your own costume.  DJ loved learning about Native Americans and making his own costume.  Prior to that, when his legs were too weak for walking some colored posterboard and creativity turned his wagon into Thomas the Tank Engine.

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We practice before the big night. Whether he needs a signal to say the noise has become unbearable or if he just needs to get accustomed to what he’s wearing, practice makes perfect.

 

When we go to the pumpkin farm we go to a small, less busy one and on an off day.  That filters out some of what my sensory boy finds intolerable and helps him branch out to new sensory adventure.

 

But in the end, if watching is a better option than actual participation, that’s okay.

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You won’t get there overnight.  Just take baby steps, introduce the easiest new activities first and don’t get frustrated.  Our kids may be a little quirky and off-beat but never hopeless.

 

 

Posted in Autism Spectrum Disorder, parenting, Sensory Processing Disorder, Special Needs Kids

Kentucky Derby Run For The Noses

Have you ever considered the sensory benefits presented by the Kentucky Derby? A well-rounded sensory diet has been touted as one of the great hallmarks to proper childhood development and education. With minimal effort and even less cost, you can create a fun-filled, sensory balanced day for you and your kiddo.

Whether your child is typical in development on the autism spectrum or somewhere in between, a well rounded sensory diet is crucial to proper development. So, with no further ado, let’s delve into how we can turn this typically adult day into a fantastic childhood memory.

If your child doesn’t already have those plastic horses that have been around for what seems like hundreds of years, you can pick some up at your local Dollar Tree or other discount store. Using paint, markers, stickers or whatever else is at your disposal decorate the horses so they are different and therefore, visually stimulating. Even getting horses in different colors and sizes makes an impact to the eye.

The tactile sense is enhanced by not only holding and galloping the horses around the track but in making the track itself. Depending on the preferences and needs of your child you have two options for creating the racetrack. You can spread sand or freshly dug-up dirt in a plastic container to create the track. But if that isn’t a preferable option you can create a turf track by using rocks or other markers to create an oval track in the grass. Just make sure the track is big enough to accommodate the number of expected children racing horses, be that two or twenty.

Everyone knows that the Kentucky Derby and mint juleps are synonymous. But did you know that mint is believed to stimulate the brain? For your child’s Derby Day allow him/her to nibble on raw mint or suck on peppermint candy. For an additional health boost try drinking water infused with lemon. Whether you use the mint and lemon together or separately it is sure to rev up your child’s taste buds.

Auditory input can be achieved musically or by isolated sound. For the former try listening to or singing My Old Kentucky Home prior to the start of your race. You can find it, as well as other auditory gems, such as the bugle Call to Post, the sound of releasing the horses from the gate and the calling of an actual horse race, by performing a simple Google search.

Of course, no Derby would be complete without a cheering crowd. The app Instant Applause is fun, free and easy. Once you’ve downloaded the app and opened it, you simply tap the large orange circle to hear the crowd’s cheering and applause. The beauty of this app is that the more and faster you hit the button the louder and more ongoing the cheers. Therefore, you can simulate real racing by increasing the number of times you press the button as the horses draw closer to the finish line.

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The winner in your derby doesn’t need a blanket of roses to stimulate the sense of smell, a single rose will do the trick. The scent of roses has been known to enhance a feeling of well-being and calmness. This is especially true in individuals who have ADD/ADHD, sensory processing disorder or are on the autism spectrum.

Now that you know all the information let your child have some fun on this typically adult day. Allow him/her to take his/her decorated horse around the homemade track while sipping a mint and lemon drink to the sounds of a cheering crowd. Then let the calming aroma of roses fill the air as all the racers claim their spot in a fun-filled, sensory satisfying day.

And when the fastest two minutes in sports is over you can bask in the knowledge that not only did you have fun with your friends but you fed the ever voracious sensory appetite of your developing child. Happy Derby Day, everyone!