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Friday, March 25, 2011

Helping Our Kids with Social Skills

I have a bit of a book addiction and in order to keep from using money that could be used for other things, like food, for example, I use the library. A lot. I also get books for free from publishers in exchange for posting reviews. One of my books was A Parenting Guide for Families of Children with Disabilities: Developing Social Skills Towards Independent Living. I've already written the required review, but I wanted to share this book with you. It was written with a wide range of physical and developmental disabilities in mind, but really, except for one or two points, it could have been written specifically for kids and young adults with Asperger's. It's vague enough that you can easily apply the concepts to your family, but detailed enough that you actually know what you're trying to do.

It has four different sections, each with a worksheet-type page at the end on which to write your family's goals. The first section is First Impressions, dealing with personal hygiene. The  second is Behaviors, like facial expression and personal space. The third is Verbal Communication, including listening (if your Aspie is anything like mine, the trick is getting him to stop talking about Pokemon or dinosaurs long enough to listen to someone else) and phone skills. The fourth is Daily Living and Community Skills, like shopping, banking, and problem solving.

As with pretty much any book, you take what you need from it and leave the rest. This book will be a big help for me and I hope it helps someone else out, too.

Wednesday, March 23, 2011

How Do You Handle Special Diets?

If you have just one child on a special diet how do you handle what siblings are allowed to eat? At home, I try to only keep things in the house that are "safe" so that he knows that if it's in the house, he can eat it. Also, it's a lot of time and trouble to make extra meals. It's much easier to just cook or bake safe foods then everyone eats the same thing.

Away from home, though, it's a little different. Little Brother is only 2 1/2 and it's hard to explain to him why everyone else is eating cake or cookies (or whatever) and he can't. He's not the one with food issues (as far as we know). J is nine, though and he understands that there are things he can't eat. He doesn't like it, but he understands it. And I always bring him something so he has something safe to eat. It's just not always the same thing everyone else is eating. Someone made the remark this weekend that it's not fair that Little Brother gets to eat cake but J doesn't. Since J can't, Little Brother shouldn't be able to, either.

Input? Advice? Suggestions? How do you handle special diets in your family?

Monday, March 21, 2011

The Best Laid Plans...

Life never quite works out the way we plan, so sometimes we have to make new plans.

Blogging: My desktop computer was out of commission for about two weeks and J was using the laptop for his schoolwork. A lot of my computer time is stuck in here and there during his school day when he's doing an assessment or something he can do on his own. So I didn't get an blogging done anywhere... or check much email... or play Bejeweled Blitz... You know, the important stuff. You just don't realize how much you use your computer until it's gone.

Brain Balance At-Home: Because we're coming up on the end of the school year, we're trying to fit more stuff in. We decided that we had too much going on right now to be trying to add something else, so after two weeks, we agreed to wait until the end of the school year (which for us, will be the end of April) to start again. We'll do the full twelve weeks then. We'll be finished before school starts again in August.

Diet: So we're egg-free, mostly milk-free and it's going... well, it's going. It is MUCH easier to go gluten-free than it is to go egg-free. You just THINK gluten is in everything until you start figuring out what foods contain eggs. Ugh. Ener-G Egg Replacer apparently upsets J's stomach, so I had to switch to using flaxseed meal. I don't really like the way it makes the cookies taste, but the boys like the cookies, and I suppose it keeps me from eating too many. He hasn't had any stomach problems since I made the switch.

In the midst of an online discussion about nosebleeds (which I almost deleted before reading due to my overflowing inbox), I found out that nosebleeds can sometimes be caused by celiac/gluten issues. Well, I was thrilled about that. J has had nosebleeds for a few years now and Little Brother just had his first one a few days ago. I 'm really hoping his was a one-time thing. So I have some more research to do, then we may be going gluten-free again. For real, this time, not just as an experiment. I know the whole family will be excited about that... or not.

Monday, March 7, 2011

Round 2: Week 2

No progress to report this week, but I did learn a few things.

Book reports are evil. At least they are for detail-oriented, literal children. He had a lot of trouble keeping his "summary" cut down to less than the length of the book. "Just tell me the important things," didn't help. Everything is important. And it's hard to "get" the theme or message of a story when you can't see past the story. He reads because he enjoys the story. Unless a message or moral stated clearly, he just doesn't pick up on it. Fortunately, he only had to do one book report this year and now it's done.

Asperger's is making its way around the airwaves (or whatever digital cable travels on these days). Parenthood on NBC has an ongoing storyline about an 8-year-old with AS, one of the finalists on American Idol has AS, and, although it's autism, not specifically AS that's featured, there is a UK show, Young, Autistic & Stagestruck that you can find online here in the US.

Despite that, there are still many people who have never heard of Asperger's Syndrome. I was talking to my new next-door neighbor last week and she hadn't heard of it. I missed Asperger's Awareness Day in February, but Autism Awareness Day is April 2. My hope is that more people will also learn about Asperger's on that day.

Wednesday, March 2, 2011

Does Your Child Know He Has AS?

Did you watch Parenthood last night? I recorded it and watched it this morning. Apparently I have a new show to keep up with. I want to see where they go with the story.

I couldn't really understand why Kristina cried when they were explaining Asperger's to Max. Of course, I also don't understand why they felt the need to hide it from him for a year, either. AS is challenging and frustrating and I was a little stunned when we first heard that J has AS. In fact, I had a small panic attack right before we got the results of the evaluation. But I didn't cry. And I cry about everything. In fact, I cried when Max had his meltdown in the park on the show. I felt so bad for him. And you know when that happens in real life, everyone in the park is thinking, "What a brat." Makes you want to stand there and hand out pamphlets about AS.

Anyway...AS does present some challenges, but I don't think it's something to grieve about. There are so many more debilitating issues that families have to deal with that really, in the scheme of things, AS isn't that bad. Really, it isn't that horrible taken on it's own, either. On the show, Adam was resistant to sharing any positive aspects of Asperger's with Max - mainly because Adam didn't believe there were any positive aspects. He and Kristina were both so mired in the challenges that they couldn't see anything else.

I won't pretend living with an AS child is easy. I've been pretty open about that on here and if you have an AS child, you already know how it can be. But they're also sweet, smart, funny kids.

Apparently the writers have done a lot research, because they even "got" that it's usually the dads who have more trouble accepting the diagnosis. I wanted to reach through the TV, grab Adam, and say, "Stop being so negative!"

I did like the way they eventually sat down and talked to him. I've never hidden from J that he has AS. I even talked to him about it when I started thinking he might have it. He's just so smart that it never occurred to me to not talk to him about it. It helps him understand why he does some of the things he does instead of being frustrated with himself because he can't stop. It's part of who he is, so I don't see how hiding that is beneficial.

And now I have to go back and watch the previous episodes because I'm curious how they had him working with a behavioral therapist for a year without giving him some kind of explanation.

Does your AS child know he (or she) has AS? Did you tell him as soon as you found out or did you wait? What made you decide to either tell him or keep it from him?
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