Sunday, January 24, 2016

No More Oral Sensory Issues - Part 2


YEAST
I received a huge response to my post about overcoming oral sensory issues by removing yeast and was asked write a how-to-do it post.

There is a link between autism and gut problems, food allergies, leaky gut; yeast and bacterial overgrowth, and parasites.

If you haven't drawn the parallels yet: picky eaters of a starchy white and/or crunchy diet who are also full of sensory issues are filled with yeast. The more you  feed the yeast, the more sensory problems you have. The longer you go, the worse it gets. The problem, at it's root, is not sensory or permanent. It is resolved by controlling yeast. Other indicators are: abdominal pain, diarrhea, constipation, undigested food in stool, meltdowns, behavioral problems, giddy laughter, turning upside down, adhd, ocd, seizures, and more.

Sounds like autism, but it is yeast and treatable and here's how:

1. Know your enemy.  It's not your child. Your child, as the host, is an innocent casualty. Yeast is your enemy. When your efforts to fight yeast start to work your child will become cranky, irritable, possibly even sick, and demand to be fed anything with sugar or yeast in it. Don't cave. Bolster yourself, because it will get worse before it gets better. 

2. Start with the least intrusive intervention. Ashi is able to swallow capsules so I started her on Oregano and Goldenseal supplements. We started with a low dose, just one capsule of each and worked up to a bigger dose. I also gave her a probiotic. Keeping anti-fungals and probiotics at least 4 hours apart, I do anti-fungals during the day, probiotic at night. This didn't require much effort from her so she was agreeable.

3. Remove food items that feed yeast: sugar, dried fruit, roasted nuts, breads, desert breads, chips, pasta, dairy, all processed foods including gluten free processed foods. They may be gluten free, but they are still processed junk.

4. Define your 'motivator.' Is there is one particular 'go-to' food item your child has? Ashi's were Ian's Chicken Nuggets and a mix of nuts and raisins. I ditched the Ian's but kept the nut and raisin mix and strategically used them as a motivator with the full intention that I would ultimately and entirely remove them too when the time was right. 

5. Define the boundaries of the motivator. I changed how Ashi ate nuts and raisins. They would no longer be consumed in portions large enough to be considered a meal. They would be eaten only as a small, snack; one cup total only after eating lunch or dinner of fresh meat and a vegetable, without complaining. Then I reduced the frequency - after dinner only. Then the amount, one cup, was reduced to half a cup. I further reduced frequency to a couple times a week. Today, I don't buy them.  

TIP 1: Don't replace any 'go-to' with another yeast item. You're not trading one bad item for another, you're getting rid of them all. 
TIP 2: If I may offer a suggestion for multiple problem foods: Deduce which 'go-to' food will be hardest to eliminate and use that as the motivator; get rid everything else.

 

5. Be prepared for Die Off. Yeast releases toxins into the body when they die. The reactions you see are mental, emotional, and physical. It is called die off or Herxheimer reaction. You are going to see tantrums, meltdowns, crying, whining, and sensory issues. It's the yeast using your child to get what it wants. Don't back down. Do what you must to keep your child comfortable, but do not feed the yeast. This will last a few days to a week. But if you hold firm, as fast as it comes on, it goes away. Focus on seeing your sweet child without yeast. Re-read rule number 1.

The physical symptoms of yeast die off include flu-like symptoms: achy, running nose, fever. And you may also see skin rashes. Ashi was irritable while Izaiah had terrible flu symptoms and rashes so bad it scared me off. But, I researched more about yeast (Rule #1: Know Your Enemy) and knew I had to get back into battle.

 

How do you introduce foods to finicky eaters?

This will vary from home to home so to spark some ideas, I'm just going to write about what happened when I tried to remove Ian's processed chicken nuggets and replace them with fresh, organic nuggets.

Ashi wasn't having anything to do with the switch from processed nuggets to my homemade ones. I tried changing my recipe several times, but it was a colossal fail.

I tried hamburgers. I tried pork. I tried chicken and steak...ugh! You name it. Ian's outscored me.

So, I turned to veggies. She did like French Fries but Izaiah is allergic to potatoes, so fries were out. I tried rutabaga fries instead.

Score! She loved them! I now had a veggie. Good! But still...Ian's. Bad.

Since she liked roasted rutabagas, I convinced her to try roasted cauliflower. Again, score! Another win for me. I fixed her plate with mostly veggies and a few Ian's.

I purposed to use this victory as a way to gain ground I had previously lost in the beef department. I made meatballs. Cute, bite-size ones, with ground up rutabagas and cauliflower right inside. The rutabaga and the cauliflower were the big sell on this item. And, again, score for mom! Here's the recipe.

I had momentum now and planned on kicking Ian's to the curb if it killed me. Steak and pork chops were still a struggle even in very small cuts. She would argue and gag over it; pitching a fit at meal time. So, I decided that I needed to make them smaller.

That's when I invented Flavor Flakes. I took her serving of meat and ground it in my Ninja until it was a pile of tiny flakes of meat. I served them on her plate as 'flavor flakes' with the veggies she liked. They were so small they practically melted in her mouth. And guess what? Another score!!

So, for awhile I literally Ninja'd all her meats - beef, pork, chicken...buh bye Ian's. We haven't had a processed  nugget since.

I really milked the Flavor Flakes too.. I used them as seasoning on beets, zucchini, kale, bok choy, radishes, and pretty soon, I found myself able to feed her a complete salad as well as have a rotation of meats and veggies for each meal. 

Then one day, Ashi told me she didn't need Flavor Flakes anymore; that it was fine to just do a meat, cut normally, with vegetables.

I won. Ashi won. Our family won. It's another huge challenge our daughter has won over autism.

Today, this is a regular conversation: "Ashi, does steak, parsnips, and salad sound good for dinner?" She replies, "Yes Mom. That sounds good." This is my child without yeast overgrowth. And yours too. No fits, no crying, no meltdowns, no gagging, no puking, no spitting out food, no more eating junk. If you think my child must not be as bad as yours, trust me, she was. 

There are other benefits: Ashi can focus better in school. Anxiety is at a record low. Walking around on tippy toes and non-stop verbal stimming came to a screeching halt. Our son can now get his hair cut, nails trimmed, teeth brushed and flossed, ears examined, etc. Before those jobs were next to impossible.

Yeast not only feed off sugar, but also metals. If you have any history of mercury, aluminum, or other metals whether from nursing with amalgams or vaccines, you'll need to chelate. That's a different post, but researching Dr. Andy Cutler's protocol will put you in the right direction.

                                                           Tips and a Summary
  • Implement what you can with as little requirement as possible. I started with some herbs, Candex, and Probiotics. 
  • Talk about what you are going to do and use language that has currency for your child. Ashi wanted to get through school faster with less anxiety. She also liked that we could use nuts and raisins, but I fully disclosed that they would ultimately get the axe.
  • Meet your kids where they are. Really figure out ways to transition at the most basic level. For example: I wanted a veggie in Ashi. I knew she liked French Fries. I can't use potatoes, but what could I use that's close? She also still wanted her foods on separate plates and not touching. I could do that.
  • Be compassionate about their sensory issues. Even though they are going to dissipate as yeast dies, they are still real. For example: Ashi's meat wasn't cut small enough. How could I get it smaller? A-ha! Ninja and Flavor Flakes! Be a problem solver.
  • Never force food into the mouth of anyone. It's a huge violation of personal space and will send you backward.
  • Know when to step back and when to push forward. Step back:  Ashi wasn't having any of my fresh organic chicken nuggets in the beginning. I wasn't a hard acre; but I didn't cave either. I made a deal. She could have the Ian's, but she had to eat veggies with it and we both understood the Ian's would be phased out. Push forward: Ashi loved the cauliflower and rutabaga. I ground them up and put them in meatballs. I put the focus on the veggies she loved and they were going to be eaten, period. Push forward: Ashi had eaten regular cooked meals with proper snacks for a month. Can she get a box of Ian's at the grocery store. No. Never. Push forward: Ashi has been eating well for a long time, can she have nuts and raisins? No. I will never buy them again. 
  • Rewards are awesome, but other than the 'motivator' don't use foods. It's a terrible example in life and you can't use any of the foods you took away. You'll lose credit on every level and you just have to cover ground already laid. Use a toy or privilege reward if you have to, but I used complimentary, celebratory, encouraging words only even after the 'motivator' was taken away. 
This is just an example of what happened at our house. Your experience will look so much different I am sure, but the end goal is the same. Our diets in America are just flat out horrible. We're so backward that we believe we are cooking from scratch when we are using bags and boxes and cans of processed goods. Some rules of thumb are 1.) If it's advertised, don't buy it. 2.) Stay on the perimeter of the grocery store. 3.) Focus on what you can have, not what you can't. 4.) Stick to a meat and a veggie. No grains or dairy.

Meal times have been horrible at our house for about 10 years. With 'sensory' issues and behaviors that drove us all crazy if we didn't just feed the beast. Our bio-med journey with our son has taught me that these things are treatable and possibly curable. I'm on recovery road with my kids and I want to take as many people with me as I can.













Sunday, January 10, 2016

Look Mom! No More Oral Sensory Issues! (Ashi goes Bio-Med) Part 1


If you follow Izaiah's Scroll then you know we've been full-on bio-med for over two years. Since my eyes have been yanked wide open to the underlying and treatable causes of stimming, sensory issues, social, and behavioral issues (also known as autism), I would be crazy not to treat Ashi along the way.

Because Izaiah's food allergies are so severe and cross-contamination is risky, we've all followed his diet. Ashi has been dairy free for about 8 years and gluten free for just over 2. Through my research I realized her issues (autism) are medical as well. I've deduced them to be yeast and metal poisoning. (Metal poisoning is a different post.)

I've treated yeast issues with probiotics and herbs like: oregano, Pau D'arco, goldenseal, and echinacea. I also cut out sweets. People who know us in real life might do a double take here because Ashi has rarely to never eaten sweets like candy, cookies, or cake. She doesn't eat any of those things.

But, her go-to was raisins and roasted nuts. Both of these feed the wild frenzy of yeast. She would eat a mix of them as a meal, as a snack, as another meal, and so on, and we went round and round with this for years.

Nuts and raisins don't seem like such a bad snack or meal. But they are poison and raisins also stick to teeth causing cavities. More foods to avoid are: any risen bread, desert breads, pasta, chips, dried fruits and sugar. A diet that is rich in foods like pasta, bread, and crunchy stuff is called a 'white diet' and should be stopped. You may not have medical problems at the moment and perhaps you are getting by with therapy. But thinking it will always be like that can be a mistake. Yeast can and will invade every organ of the body, including the brain, and make a person very sick.

Want proof? Attempt to take these foods away and just watch the meltdown that happens. That is not your child. That is not even autism. That is yeast.  Yeast is parasitic in that it takes over it's host and demands to be FED.

What does yeast overgrowth look like?

  • -meltdowns
  • -sensory, sensory, sensory!
  • -tantrums
  • -moody
  • -turning upside down, headstands
  • -abdominal pain, gas, bloating, looking fat, constipation, diarrhea. Child starts with flat stomach in the morning and as the day progresses, it swells.
  • -giddy uncontrollable laughter over nothing funny with disregard for safety. That means laughing while not caring about falling down stairs or running into furniture or falling down. 
The frustration and devastation this has on family life is indescribable and should not be normalized as 'autism'. That is not autism. It is a medical issue and can be solved. For Ashi, the transition to healthy meals and appropriate snacks has been made. And we are never going backward.

She now eats beef, pork, and poultry. All as fresh steak, meatballs, roast, homemade sausage, etc. No nuggets, nothing processed. She eats her meat with a vegetable such as cauliflower, rutabaga, kale, bok choy, parsnips, radishes, etc. She eats them cooked, roasted, and raw. What I'm saying here is that she will eat a variety of foods and any textures. She eats it happily. No tantrums, no meltdown, no finicky issues, no arguing. She eats what she is served. She thanks me for her meal. She eats it with a utensil.

A few things here. (1.) No, she did not just 'grow out of it'. We'd still be rotating nuts and raisins with chicken nuggets if we hadn't made drastic changes.  (2.) No, this wouldn't have 'just happened anyway'. Trust me, we have worked our behinds off for this. Ashi had to be stronger than the yeast, I had to be stronger than Ashi. Oh, the struggle was real and it nearly killed us. And (3.) No. It did not require therapy. And (4.) Yes. Ashi's oral sensory issues were severe. She does not possess any special power that every other oral sensory-riddled, picky eating, rigid autistic child does not have.

What she has is a mother who woke up to the medical issues underlying autism and took charge. Sadly, I should've done this years ago but was deluded that it was 'just autism.'  Baloney!! Don't fall for the lie.This is NOT autism. It is a gut/brain/auto-immune medical issue that can be managed and I hope to one day say cured...at least at our house.

While occupational, speech, and some other therapies definitely have benefit, it is most useful after healing the gut and I would go so far to say pointless before healing the gut.  And, in my opinion, behavioral therapy is abuse at it's worst, a band-aid at it's best. And, I'm sick of band-aids. I'm out for a cure.

These are the problems we have solved by fixing her diet:

  • No more Tippy Toe Walking and non stop talking (this was a stim)
  • Increased Concentration and Focus at School.
  • Decrease in Anxiety.
  • No more oral sensory issues. That's right. They are G.O.N.E.
Yeast is a nightmare and the link between the brain, immunity, the gut, and autism is undeniable. It is a man-made disaster of herbicides, pesticides, genetically engineered and processed foods, overuse of antibiotics and vaccines. 

But, we are reversing it in our home, with both kids. I cannot overstate the importance of a good DAN or MAPS or Functional doctor to help guide you. Conventional doctors are great at emergency care but seem unable to provide chronic care for the same diseases they are (willfully or unwittingly...jury is still out) causing. If a doctor can't think outside the money driven box they have been trained in, they are no longer on our dole.


The saddest thing for me to even wrap my brain around is how quickly doctors and parents (!) are to give their children dangerous drugs instead of simply changing the diet. Some parents won't even think of having a conversation that autism is caused by diet and toxins. Yet, they give their children - toddlers even! dangerous drugs with classified neurotoxins as ingredients and detrimental long term side effects. But hey! Let's not talk about those foods. It's unreal. It's brain-washing at it's finest.

Tip #1
If it's too hard to think about what you can't eat, focus on what you can. A meat, a veggie, some fruits sparingly. No dairy, no grains, no sugar.

Tip#2
Yeast die off can be even worse than the yeast itself and I will address that in another post. It's important to know how to manage it because it will cause you to throw in the towel if you're not prepared for it.





Annie Eskeldson is the author of the Ashi's Gift Series found at Ashi's Gift Website  She is very glad the days in the pic to the left are far behind us. We've come a long way!


Monday, August 24, 2015

Look Mom, No Training Wheels!

Yesterday I had one of those days where the question "Why?" stood in the forefront of my brain. I am usually too busy to ever worry about the 'whys' of this life. I can't change the past but chronically believe I can impact the future. That is where my focus lies.

But not yesterday.

I won't go into what happened to make me start feeling sorry for myself. Just the typical special needs 'stuff' you are probably familiar with. But I will tell you that by God's grace, His Holy Spirit in me, I was convicted about my worries and became able to rest in His help, comfort, and direction. He even stored all of my tears in a(nother) bottle.



And, He had something for me. Our God is so good and so ready to meet us where we're at when we come to the Cross. He refreshed me for the day, set my focus on Him and His promises. He filled me up with new hope and joy in the people that I am mercifully surrounded by and all the little things that mean so much to me.

But, I could've never guessed what was coming later that night!

Ashi rode her bike without training wheels for the first time! Yes and YES!! My husband and I could not contain our joy in Ashi's victory over her bike. We shouted in the streets, we informed the neighbors, we high fived each other, like a million times! We rooted her on like crazy people and we rode all over town. We couldn't stop feeling genuine joy.

To move with your child through every moment of not being able to balance or pedal or steer, to doing them ALL at the same time is a long process involving many pieces of  equipment, tackling each issue one at a time, slowly incorporating them all with years of believing, practice, and just as much prayer. I Praise our Amazing God we serve for blessing us all in this way! 

WAY TO GO ASHI! YOU DID IT!!

My husband said something wise last night. "Ashi, the best thing about knowing how to ride a bike is that you'll never forget how."

I thought about that and my own walk with Christ. I was so down yesterday. Literally hurt and defeated. But, my habit is to bring it all to my Heavenly Father. Praise Him that I don't forget how, just like riding a bike. Bikes don't answer back, but God does.





Thursday, September 4, 2014

Dysgraphia Helps


Click here for my original post defining dysgraphia.



A ten-year-old scribe sprouted under the golden sun this summer. Ashi bloomed with creative stories, seven in all; a bounteous book of poetry and a fictional biography. She even founded her own nation bursting with it's own flag, pledge of allegiance, constitution, bill of 'privileges', set of laws, and national anthem. She cleverly designed badges for the President, Vice-President, Secretary, Treasurer, and Bureau of Investigation; the VP badge is securely fastened to my shirt now.

In our culture of gaming and social networking kids, she is a rare and precious bud, but even more beautiful is reaping what we've sown to overcome dysgraphia. Your child can too. Here's how we shifted from whining over one sentence to lazy days of writing bliss:

~Make writing assignments super short. Work on getting one line. Work on getting one line happily.

~Make all writing about their own interests, put everything else to the side for now. If trains, bugs, or WWII are the only things written about for the next two years, so what?! The idea is to get excited about writing what they love. Just meet them where they are, let that be okay. 

~After you get one line with a great attitude, gradually work towards two lines. Later, work for a paragraph. It could take months or years, depending where you are. That's fine.

~Be a patient encourager. Patience and encouragement (or lack of) will make or break your writer.

~ Writing research papers, biographies, or recipes uses facts and removes the creative writing aspect for now, save that for later. Creative writing can be the hardest when dysgraphia is involved. Remember, these papers may be just a few lines in length and that is okay.

~Let him dictate his stories to you. If he isn't able to write one line without complaining, then switch up! Have him tell the story while YOU write or type it.

Remember, dysgraphia is one part physical, one part mental. The physical part means it can be painful to write. The mental part means its hard to move creations from the mind to the paper. Dictation can be the bridge.

~ For some people with dysgraphia typing is less painful than writing.

~If you write the story for your child as she dictates, have her type the final draft. Retyping it themselves will often conjure new ideas that they will add all on their own.

~Separate handwriting and creative writing. 10 minutes of handwriting per day is enough. We did use Handwriting without Tears, but we had tears - like a river! Frankly, there is no magic curriculum for dysgraphia, rather it is how you implement it. Your understanding of dysgraphia is more important than the curriculum. 

A word web we made on our white board.

~Use a word web for writing projects. Simply put the main subject in the center. Use the four corners for "who, what, when, how, why, how much" type questions.

Show your student how to convert those 4 questions into sentences and later develop into 4 paragraphs.

A word web is a useful tool, helps develop an easy writing habit, can be used for any type of writing, and will lead to constructing an outline down the road.


~Have patience, stick-to-it-ness, and good communication. Ask, "does this hurt?" or "do you want me to write for you?" or "be sure to rest if it hurts." Be encouraging and say, "you only have to write one sentence and I'll write the rest for you!" or "tell me how the story goes, I'll write it!" or "I know! I'll write it and then you can type it!"

~Give yourself permission to change up writing assignments. Ashi finally loved book reports when she learned she could write about a book she hated! Let's not think inside a tiny, little, box.

~Give time to develop ideas. Ashi always knows weeks in advance of a writing assignment, it is never a surprise, I completely remove that element. Ashi can simmer and stew on it. Almost always, after a couple of days she's usually on the hunt for resources as her ideas take shape.

~Just let them use the grip and posture they have. I know. GASP, right? I'd give it a good effort to correct these things. But frankly, I have a drawer full of useless grippies, and if I had a dime for every time I've corrected posture, paper positioning, feet placement, I'd be rich by now. I gave up. So many people just do hold their pencils weird and have their own style of writing. Nagging about these things just makes it worse. If you have a student that you are able to correct that is a super thumbs up, but I just don't and I always  choose my battles wisely.

 "Let them draw. What if their ideas come out better as pictures?"

~Let them draw. Let them doodle. Ashi's scribbles are on worksheets, tests, doodle pads, notebook paper, grocery lists, calendars, the white board, digitally on the computer - they are everywhere! It's great exercise for weak fingers and what if our kids' ideas come out better as pictures instead of words? It's a lot like sensory integration in my mind. Exercise what they are good at to pick up the parts that are hard.

Annie Eskeldson is a homeschooler and author of the Ashi's Gift Series which can be found at Ashi's Gift Website.  She has two children with ASD and enjoys sharing tips and therapy ideas. Come by and friend her on Facebook or like Ashi's Gift page on Facebook too. 

Sunday, April 27, 2014

Spring Therapies that are a Breeze


Now that Ashi is getting older we do 'cooler stuff' for therapy. She is now able to identify feelings that warn of an impending meltdown. She can tell me when we need a break from school and even when she's feeling a tad bit emotional as those hormones begin to kick in.

Here's some easy, breezy, activities we've been doing:

1.) Flying kites. We live in Kansas and the wind always blows here. What a great way to put it to use! Not only is kite flying relaxing, but holding, winding, and letting out string at just the right time strengthens hands, fingers, arms, and takes coordination. It works the core when a nice strong wind blows too. Ashi runs as the kite flaps fiercely behind her!



2.) Painting toe nails. Either outdoors for fresh air and sunshine or indoors on a rainy day, this is great OT in just a pinch of time. It's hard to operate that tiny brush! I do Ashi's nails and then she does mine (and my feet!) It works hands and fingers and what's really shocking is that it is difficult to tell our feet apart! I can actually fit into Ashi's newest pair of crocs. Crazy!

Photo by Life Fad
3.) Of course, one of the easiest ways to get outside, soak up some vitamin D, relax, do OT, work the core, and exercise all the senses is to plant a garden. Planting veggies, fruits, trees, and flowers is a never ending education. You can study varieties of foods, flowers, soils, bugs, etc. If you can't plant a garden outside, plant one inside! You can even do flowers - grow tulip bulbs in a glass of water, or make an herb garden.  You could also make a wormery (our worms are in our garden now!) or an anthill indoors too.


4.) We have a tree house. This one was made from materials from an old porch and has a home-made ladder. Climbing up and down and having the sensation of being high up off the ground exercises those proprioceptive and vestibular senses. If you don't have one, the hunt for a design and materials, and putting it together makes an excellent project and a great way to spend time with Daddy!

It's super easy to turn everyday activities into relaxation techniques, sensory integration, and occupational therapy. If you have a young autist today, you'll be a pro at it soon enough.




Annie Eskeldson has provided all of the therapy for both of her autists and loves to share ideas with you. She has 3 published children's books about autism that also nurture parents. You can find them in the links around this blog or at ashisgift.com.

You can visit Izaiah's Scroll for information about biomedical issues.

Friday, November 1, 2013

The Meltdown that Melted Away

One of the best therapies is patience. The therapy is for me, not the kids, although they certainly learn by example.

I'm much more apt to wait things out. Yep, even the behavioral issues and meltdowns. The behaviors seem necessary for one reason or another and I disagree with rushing in to change little people who appear to be out of sync into soldiers that will simply march to our beat. 


Recently, my oldest autist perfectly illustrated my point.

Ashi had her heart set on purchasing an LPS (Littlest Pet Shop) toy. Now, she is frugal and doesn't make snap purchasing decisions. She diligently earned and faithfully saved her meager allowance. She even tallied up what percentage of her money she would spend on an LPS. After being ready, in spite of herself, she then had to patiently wait for me to be ready to brave the trip. We all know that we don't just up and hit Wal-Mart, two autists in tow, anytime we please, no, that takes guts planning!

The longed for day finally arrived and Ashi had the trip all mapped out. Since we also know what happens to 'best laid plans' you can rightly guess hers did not go accordingly.

Not fun when you are 1.) at Wal-Mart (yikes), and 2.) in the toy section (double yikes.) But, Wal-Mart was completely dry, empty, devoid, of a single, solitary, plastic piece of wide-eyed LPS figurine. I looked at Ashi hopefully and faked a smiled.

Ashi's eyes brimmed with tears. Her bottom lip puffed in and out like a pinball flapper and she began to hyperventilate. Her body shook. This type of public meltdown had not happened in 2 years.

I hugged Ashi and calmly said that they were just out of LPS and that I was so sorry. Maybe they would have some the following week and we could come back. I gently reminded her how I acted earlier when the things I needed were sold out too and that she should try to imitate me. Her eyelids blinked, quivered, and were just about ready to unleash a flood.

Thankfully our lives are rooted in Christ and the Bible. I lovingly told her that this could be a sign of not being content. I reminded her that God wants us to be thankful and content with the things we already have and that she has a basketful of LPS's at home. Perhaps she was discontented.  

This really struck a nerve for her. More than anything else her walk with Christ and being obedient to God mean everything to her.

Surprisingly, not one of those giant tears slid down her cheek. She breathed a little slower as I held her. And then she began to converse with me (and herself) that all would be okay. That she had lots of LPS's at home. That we could try again next week. She talked herself out of the whole transaction by the time we hit the checkout.

The meltdown just melted away. I told her how proud I was. It's wonderful how she is gaining control over meltdowns. We've had a decade of practice and practice is exactly what is needed. Along with some age and maturity.

The following week, she forgot all about that LPS. It was a month or so later when she said she was ready to try again. She made a successful purchase. She deserved it.

This was an incredible lesson about autism and age and maturity. I do tend to run away from behavioral therapies, especially ABA (that's a different post), because I know how much age and maturity matter for progress...it's ALOT, so take heart if you have a very young autist at home.

For us, a whole lot of love, validation, understanding, togetherness, patience, and best of all, a good, rich understanding of God's Word has been the best 'behavioral therapy.'



Annie Eskeldson writes for parents of young autists. She homeschools and has provided the therapy for her two autists at home and is still sane. You can find links to her published children's books on this page!

Sunday, August 11, 2013

Goals and Lists


A new school year is blowing in! As a homeschooler, it is super exciting gathering and preparing new academic material, but I love setting a new life skill goal too.

Ashi did great job accomplishing last year's goals:  learning to buckle/unbuckle her own seat belt and brush her teeth by herself. Sounds easy for most, but for someone with muscle apraxia, everyday tasks like this seem impossible. Ashi rose to the challenge and went beyond by learning to help with her little brother's seat belt too!

This year's goal is for Ashi to learn to shower by herself.  Using the tub has become a back-breaking chore for me and I'm all elbows washing her hair in the shower since she's only a head shorter than me! And, I can't bathe her forever, this is truly a life-skill she needs now.

When you set a goal, remember to prepare and provide the tools needed to succeed. Provide helps as needed along the way and gradually remove them as the the steps are mastered. 

In order to prepare for the showering goal, Ashi and I agreed to trim off (another) foot of her long hair so it's more manageable.

My next chore was to find bottles of shampoo, conditioner, and soap that she can actually open or a dispenser like the one I found here.   This is specifically for hands that are disabled. No-rinse shampoo is also an option I may have to consider later down the road.  I found those products here.

The other very, important, thing I did was make a step-by-step instruction list of what to do.  Even though many of our kids have photographic memories containing gargantuan amounts of information, their 'working' memories often aren't as sharp. It's common for Ashi to get in the shower and forget what to do. I laminated the list so it won't get damaged in the shower.

It's not enough to just post the list. To ensure Ashi's success, I will have to work with Ashi until all the steps are mastered. After several weeks or months of practice and the confidence to do it by herself, I will step aside, just being available for questions.  As we move along, I will teach her how to get her own towels, refill soap dispensers, turn the water on/off by herself.  It's always a work in progress, but we start with the main task, master it, and then add in the little details later on. Consistency and a fun-loving-to-learn attitude are keys.

We use lists constantly, for school and life. Here's  another instruction guide we use. It's not that Ashi is rotten or disobedient. She truly needs a list posted as a reminder and your child may as well.

Step by step instructions are great for these kids and can be used for any and every activity in life that requires instruction. It flows best when Mom always has things prepared, such as clean clothes in the drawer, for the list to the left to be used successfully.





I easily made these signs on Power Point, added some clip art for fun. They could even be handmade, using your child's art to decorate, or stickers. I laminated mine, but you could also frame them for use in your homeschool and/or daily life.