Sunday, December 28, 2008
Our cat Simba thought the frog, the little gray blob at the back of the tank on the left hand side, was hers. Fortunately the tank has a wire mesh cover! The tag on the tank said the froggy is a red spotted frog.
Wednesday, December 24, 2008
Saturday, December 20, 2008
Friday, December 19, 2008
- Limit TV and video game time and increase physical activity and exercise time.
- Remember your child's normal routines, and try not to interrupt them. Stress is often the result of routine changes over which your child has no control.
- Don't allow yourself to get too busy to pay attention to your family's nutrition. When you factor in all the extra goodies available during the holidays, be sure to plan at least one healthy family meal every day so you are sure your child is getting the energy he/she needs. (Note: I suppose this may be very difficult or very easy depending on the food preferences of specific children.)
- Family traditions are very important to you and your children. They offer great comfort and security for children when other routines are disrupted. Maybe your family tradition is putting up the tree, decorating cookies, or reading a special book. Be sure to make this family tradition all that it can be for your child.
- Do occasional attitude checks, before the holidays get into full swing. Take a deep breath, and have everyone in the family agree to do their best to make the holiday season a time of joy and family peace.
- Laugh a lot. Laughter is still the best way to beat stress and change everyone's mood from bad to good. Read the comics together, tell a daily joke, and lighten the mood with a smile. (From the blogs I read, I think many parents with children on the spectrum already know all about humor!)
- If you are doing a "countdown" activity with our child, be sure it is low key and doesn't add so much anticipation that our child is stress or anxious."
"Here are some ideas that work for many parents. If your child won't go to an out of the way time out place:
1. Use reverse time out.
Walk out yourself. Shut yourself in a room where you have a good magazine to read, and enjoy it. keep one there, just in case. If necessary, take the baby, but it's better to leave your other children out of this, if possible.) After the storm has subsided and blue skies appear again, say nothing about the wild behavior. Move on in a friendly way.
My input: I like the idea of the reverse time out, but if the child is older and able to understand, it might be a good idea to actually talk about the wild behavior after the child has calmed down. Try to make sure you and your child have an idea of what caused the meltdown. (Writing down the factors surrounding a meltdown afterward may give you some insight.) While offering some reassurance, try to help your child understand why that behavior was unacceptable. This may help cut down on the probability that a tantrum or meltdown will happen over the exact same or during similar circumstances in the future.
2. Start time out after the tantrum has wound down.
Say, "You'll start your time out when your enough in control of yourself to go into your room." Later, say, " I see you've gotten yourself calm. Good. Now spend some time alone (as many minutes as equal the child's age), and figure out what to do next time you feel frustrated instead of having a fit. I'll give you the timer. Come back in x minutes if you feel ready."
My input: This is a really good idea because it might be hard for a child with ASD to stay in anyone place while melting down.
3. If this causes junior to renew his tantrum, go through the same procedures again.
Don't discuss anything with your child. Don't reward this unacceptable behavior with your attention. (is there anything a child considers more rewarding?) state what is now going to happen and make it happen.
My input: During the meltdown or tantrum, sometimes it's impossible to get a word in edgewise. I suggest trying to remain calm and doing one's best to make sure the child is safe (a reverse time out may not work, if a child is a danger to himself.)
4. Give a choice: time out of the loss of something he likes.
(The video he usually gets to watch one afternoon a week? the pack of sugar-free gum he gets on Saturdays?) If your child weighs almost as much as you do, or you have a bad back or some such, say, "You can go to time out right now or you can skip the video, your choice."
My input: This might work after the child has calmed down and can understand choices, which are often difficult for children with ASD to make--especially younger children.
Note: The book is only 48 pages long and is easy to read. However, it was published in 1997 by Scholastic Books and seems to be out of print. It only seems to be available on Ebay with a January 15, 2009 deadline for purchasing ($1, plus $4 for U.S. shipping).
Tuesday, December 16, 2008
After witnessing and enduring the meltdowns of my child with autism for many years, I started to think that maybe there is a subtle difference between the tantrum and the meltdown. Tantrum means one is being naughty because the person either didn't get what they wanted or they felt that people (i.e. mom or dad) were being unfair. Trust, me, a child with autism can still be naughty and use tantrums to manipulate. I know that from experience too.
But, meltdowns, the way I'm thinking of them do not generally indicate manipulation. Meltdowns indicate a complete and total loss of control of one's emotions when the person becomes completely overwhelmed by a situation. They can occur as a result of a trigger such as a super loud sound, a change of routine, or a profound disappoint. Sometimes those triggers are easy to foresee and a parent can guide a child smoothly past them without difficulty. Sometimes they are hidden and kaboom a meltdown hits.
Sometimes the meltdown happens privately as in one's own home. That is the location I think most parents and likely individuals would prefer. Sometimes, though, they happen publicly with varying results. If one is fortunate, bystanders will either ignore the situation or offer to help. If one is less fortunate, someone will utter a nasty comment about the person's behavior or the adult's apparent lack of control. It's also possible that security may (at least try to) escort those involved in the chaos off of the public property.
It's not always possible, I have discovered, to be completely in control when one's child vents in public. Sometimes it is quite possible to end up in a crappy situation and an embarrassing meltdown moment occurs. Sometimes they turn out alright and the person out of control will be able to function after venting for a few minutes or more.
Ultimately, I believe the word meltdown definitely deserves a definition separate from tantrum. I liked this definition on urban dictionary for meltdown: "1. Describes what happens when a person freaks out, cracks, loses control of themselves. Life - reality at large- becomes overwhelming. They just can't deal with it all. The person may act out, withdraw, become emotional, run, etc... "
A word of caution though: While perusing the same site, I also ran into another definition of meltdown: "something that is crazy fun or really tight. Usually said when having a good time."
Oh right. If someone in the autism community used meltdown to invoke that meaning, I would probably be downright confused. Meltdowns in the freaking out sense of the word has been part of my world far too long. Now that my child is ten, they don't happen as much. We've become much better at techniques in regards to handling meltdowns. Don't get me wrong though. Meltdowns are still difficult around here when they occur. I dread them and somewhat fear them, but it's a part of my world I do my best to accept and endure with as much compassion as possible.
Sunday, December 14, 2008
When you have meltdowns and fire and discord in your soul
And raging from the core, find my soft look
And slowly calm and get off the path took
You find your way and fury does go
How I love your moments of pure delight
And find the beauty with love true and true
My one one heart loves my child that is you
And spites the sorrows of your fearsome fight
And not seeing down the curving road
Sigh, a little, sadly, how love prevails
And face toward the mountains autism entails
And find your story amidst many told.
Note: This poem is one I wrote to kick off my week long series on meltdowns. I wish I could say the poem is an original, but must admit it is a derivative of W.B. Yeats' work When you are Old. I bought a book of his poetry while visiting his hometown in Sligo, Ireland and found his poem about unconditional love to be endearing.
Friday, December 12, 2008
"Tell us your ideas and be part of the change you are looking for," the box on Change.gov, the website for President elect Barrack Obama and Vice President elect Joe Biden, states. I know that parents and advocates have a lot of ideas of how the health issue of autism should be handled in the United States. There is a button on the box that allows people to submit their ideas.
Here are some of the ideas that the incoming administration has outlined in terms of what the administration's approach to health care in general will be:
- Require insurance companies to cover pre-existing conditions so all Americans regardless of their health status or history can get comprehensive benefits at fair and stable premiums.
- Create a new Small Business Health Tax Credit to help small businesses provide affordable health insurance to their employees.
- Lower costs for businesses by covering a portion of the catastrophic health costs they pay in return for lower premiums for employees.
- Prevent insurers from overcharging doctors for their malpractice insurance and invest in proven strategies to reduce preventable medical errors.
- Make employer contributions more fair by requiring large employers that do not offer coverage or make a meaningful contribution to the cost of quality health coverage for their employees to contribute a percentage of payroll toward the costs of their employees' health care.
- Establish a National Health Insurance Exchange with a range of private insurance options as well as a new public plan based on benefits available to members of Congress that will allow individuals and small businesses to buy affordable health coverage.
Ensure everyone who needs it will receive a tax credit for their premiums.
There are many topics that can be addressed in regards to autism. Autism Society of America has outlined a few ideas of what to write. You can find them at this link.
Friday, December 5, 2008
A. Well, given the recent energy crisis, I'm going to have to give stones instead of coal this year.