Friday, July 27, 2012

Camp C.A.N.O.E. Deserves an A+ for Their Long Awaited Debut!

     Last fall, my husband and I took our two boys to the Camp Fire Heart of Oklahoma facility to check out the Open House for a NEW Autism Camp that they said that they would be starting the following summer called Camp C.A.N.O.E., which stands for "Children with Autism Need Outdoor Experiences". We were welcomed immediately, the boys did some marble painting, we were given a tour and Nathan caught a fish at the pond. His brother was a little jealous because Nathan's picture was featured on the front page of The Sunday Oklahoman! Nathan felt like a celebrity because one of the teachers at the school clipped his picture and posted it on the office window for everyone to see. So, below, I am sharing a picture of Vincent climbing the rock wall.

     The staff at Camp DaKaNi for Camp Fire Heart of Oklahoma have been preparing for the long awaited Camp C.A.N.O.E. since last fall. I was privileged to have been able to work as a camp counselor, to more than a dozen great children ages five to eighteen years old, along side many other awesome volunteers. Everyone enjoyed exploring the thirty-three acres of Camp DaKaNi while learning or perfecting skills such as the zip line, archery, rock climbing, canoeing and fishing. It was a fantastic week and it was difficult sending them home today after camp counsel where we told the parents how much we appreciated them letting us share in their children's lives! I can't wait until Camp C.A.N.O.E. 2013!! If YOU have a child that might enjoy getting out of the house each day for a FUN-filled week, you will want to check this out!

Monday, July 23, 2012

Stand-up Comedians, Standing Up for Autism

Join us for fun, food and laughter at our annual Stand-up Comedians, Standing up for Autism event. This is a fundraiser with in state and 
out of state comedians donating their talents and time to give us a 
night of comedy, laughter and fun while raising money for autism.
Date: Saturday, August 4, 2012
Time: 7:00 pm-11:00 pm
Location: Holiday Inn-4401 SW 15th, Oklahoma City, OK 73108
SAVE!!! $5 when you register and purchase tickets online, making it only $10.00 per person
Tickets at the door for $15.00 per person
To register and purchase tickets, click here...

Sunday, July 22, 2012

The Beautiful Silver #Autism Pendant with Necklace

     The proceeds raised from the purchase of this handcrafted silver autism pendant with chain will benefit the via our Family Team "Nathan's Voice". Due to a recent surgery, I was not able to lead our team in fundraising as I would have liked before our walk in May to raise awareness in our community. If YOU, or someone you know, would like to support a great cause and get this beautiful necklace, please email for more information. provides parent support groups, education programs, social groups, summer programs for children and youth, autism awareness, family fun night events and grants to improve the availability of programs in Oklahoma. Thank you for your support!

"Row, Row, Row Your Boat"

Boating Pictures, Images and Photos
     Our boys, Nathan and Vincent, are going together to Camp C.A.N.O.E. "Children with #Autism Need Outdoor Experiences" at Camp DaKaNi starting tomorrow morning! I am excited about being able to work as one of the many camp counselors, getting to know the other volunteers and hopefully being able to make a difference in the lives of the children with autism that will be coming out to Camp C.A.N.O.E. during the day this week!! My own boys are looking forward to the zip line, rock climbing, canoes, fishing, archery and exploring nature. It will be an AWESOME week!! ♥ Make sure that you don't miss out on an opportunity like this to make a difference in your community!

Monday, July 16, 2012

Autism, Social Cognition & Embarrassment: It’s Not a Bad Thing…

Autism, Social Cognition & Embarrassment: It’s Not a Bad Thing…

A couple of weeks back, the theme for a wonderful facebook group called Special Saturday was Embarrassing Moments. This has been rattling around in my head for a while now as I have been considering a couple of different ways that I could approach this as a topic.
One approach would be to consider ways that my son with autism has embarrassed me… but I don’t really think that this has a lot of relevance in terms of building understanding for those who process the world differently. That is a critical point, because working to create greater understanding is the intent behind this whole 30 Days (& then some) Project.
When I mentioned this topic to Craig the Amazing, he reminded me that when H was very young (before we understood that he was autistic and had speech and language challenges and sensory issues, etc) and we were struggling with almost every aspect of parenting our child, there were times we felt intensely judged about his behaviour. I remember the looks and comments from others, and the way it added to my already-shaky-parenting-confidence.
Since I did not yet know what was going on with my boy – I assumed that I was failing as a parent. I could explain this in great depth of course – and describe the progression of change as this uncomfortable and painful feeling evolved into a feeling of understanding and skills of advocacy for us as H’s parents. This was the gap where embarrassment lived: essentially the space between the reality of our situation and what I wished I saw in my parenting and the outcome of my actions for my child.  Now that I am well versed in strategies and understanding (at least most of the time) of H’s way of processing his experiences and perceptions, I generally have no reason to feel embarrassed by my child and his atypical behaviour or my skill in responding to it.
Another aspect to consider, from a parent’s perspective, is that the definition of embarrassment usually implies shame – and in turn – shame implies an emotion caused by some sort of shortcoming or disappointment. At this point – when H is almost 13 years old, I can tell you that I have met few people that I am more proud to know.
Embarrassment or shame may be an uncomfortable feeling, nevertheless, there are some positive aspects to embarrassment that bear consideration in terms of the inherent value and function of this emotion.  There are times now when I see my son uncomfortable with his own internal feelings of embarrassment. Frankly, I am glad to see the occasional flash of this in the emotions in my child. That H is experiencing embarrassment is a huge indication of the development that is happening for his social thinking skills. These painful or uncomfortable feelings of humiliation or distress caused by the consciousness of an error, or a poor choice in behaviour, are an indication of his growing social and ethical understanding. Of course he wants to avoid discussing these feelings – and that is understandable… but we discuss it anyway. I tell him:
“You are feeling embarrassed and I am glad you have that feeling. It is an important feeling and we all have it at times. When we have that feeling we need to pay attention because it is like a huge flashing light that can guide us and tell us if what we are doing is right or wrong. I am proud of you that you know that… you might decide you want to handle things differently next time. This feeling of embarrassment is a good thing if you notice it and use it as a social thinking tool. “
I suppose this is the case for all of us, really… I wonder what our world would be like if when we felt uncomfortable with our own actions, or reactions… we paid attention to that uncomfortable feeling and looked inward and examined our own behaviour? What if we took the feeling of embarrassment as an indication that we needed to check our recent steps and consider them in the light of others’ experience? What if we looked into ourselves, rather than looking for someone or something else to blame? What if we were OK with the discomfort of our mistakes or miss-steps and saw these as a chance to learn and grow?
I keep noticing that the lessons of life I am working so hard to give my child with autism, are the same lessons that every one of us, including myself, seem to need. Hmmm…

Thursday, July 12, 2012

Calling ALL #Oklahoma #SpecialEducation Teachers!!

If YOU have experience working with children who have been diagnosed on the Autism Spectrum, and you currently live in Oklahoma, please contact Camp Fire Heart of Oklahoma immediately! Join us for Camp C.A.N.O.E.'s long awaited debut "Children with Autism Need Outdoor Experiences" on Monday July 23rd. We are needing ANYONE with experience in Special Education such as Teachers, Therapists, Paras, etc. to help these AWESOME children meet new friends, make memories during this wonderful week and have the BEST CAMP EXPERIENCE possible! 

Please contact Penn, Jordan or Pamela of Camp Fire Heart of Oklahoma ASAP to let them know that YOU are ready to help at Camp C.A.N.O.E. Monday July 23-Friday July will be the perfect way to end your summer!! ♥ If you know any other professionals that would definitely be interested in volunteering their time @ Camp C.A.N.O.E., PLEASE SHARE THIS POST WITH THEM!! ♥ We want to "Thank YOU" for YOUR HELP!! We look forward to hearing from YOU!

Tuesday, July 10, 2012

This Is How YOU Can "Teach Kids Solids and Liquids With This 2-Ingredient Science Experiment"

Here’s a science experiment for kids that:

  • takes less than 2 minutes to prepare
  • costs absolutely nothing, and
  • is dead-easy to do.

This is perfect for parents who are busy with work or chores, but want to spend quality time with kids, while the latter learns.


How many times have you thought of an educational activity to do with your child, but simply never followed through with it?

Remember that seedling you wanted to nurture with your child to teach her about nature and science? 

Probably never happened because running to the store to get seedlings and watering it daily seemed too much in your already busy schedule.

But what if I showed you how EASY this 2-ingredient Science experiment is? Would you do it now? 


Now let’s start... and welcome:

Oobleck: Water and Cornstarch Fun

What the heck is an oobleck? It's actually the name of a sticky substance taken from Dr. Seuss' book: Bartholomew and the Oobleck.

(Geeky) Science Stuff:

Cornstarch mixed with water, or oobleck, behaves both like a liquid and solid, depending on what is done to it.

If you apply pressure, say by continuously moving a ball-shaped oobleck from your hands, it stays a ball. But the minute you let it rest on your palm, it quickly “melts”, losing its form, and running like liquid.

Why? According to Science Bob, cornstarch grains “lock-up” whenever pressure is applied. This means that if you quickly tap on oobleck, your fingers will meet a hard surface. (You and your child will experience this soon.) Now, if you feel your child won’t understand the explanation behind oobleck's odd behavior, it’s okay. Just carry on, explain anyway, and have fun.

Let's start so you can experience how cool this experiment is

Materials: 1 cup of cornstarch, 1 glass of water, a large bowl (That’s it!!!)

Procedure: add water to the cornstarch slowly and mix

You’ll know the consistency is right when you’re able to make a ball and maintain its form by transferring it from one hand to the other. (Again, that's it!)

Questions to ask your kiddo throughout the science experiment

  • What happens when you "slap" the oobleck's surface? (Does it behave like water and splash around?)
  • Is it solid or liquid? (Solids usually hold their shape while liquids don’t. Explanation can be found here under the background section.)
  • What happens when you place a blob of oobleck on the table and poke it after a minute? How does it behave?
  • What happens when your child dips his finger into the oobleck and slowly moves them around the bowl? What happens if he moves them faster?
  • What happens when you throw an oobleck ball in the air? (Does it retain its shape or not?)

These are fun questions to keep in mind while doing the experiment. And mind you, there’s almost no excuse for missing out on this experiment! You have all you need - the explanation, questions and even the guaranteed 2-minute prep time! You know, the "oobleck" name and activity was such a HIT in my house. The kiddo was amused and amazed - and the adults loved it. Probably more than the kiddo.

So, try this now! Not later, not tomorrow, not next week. Now.

It’s one of the best sensory experiments you’ll ever do. And clean-up is a breeze! All you need it water.

Warning: Send the oobleck into the trash instead of the sink. If you dump it in the latter, it may cause the sink to clog.

Photo credit: Dr. Seuss from Wikipedia

I would like to thank Anne of Green Eggs & Moms for sharing this AWESOME and EASY experiment for kids and parents to enjoy with almost no preparation! Lorrie

Monday, July 9, 2012

Why Do People Automatically Think My Child Is Bad?

     Autism impairs the development of a child’s social behavior and communication. This invisible disorder affects one in every eighty-eight children. Communication and social interaction is extremely difficult for a child with autism. The behavior of a child with autism can be most unpredictable. It is very important to remember that a child with autism does not see things the same way that we do. A child with autism doesn’t have as many filters to process the information that their brain receives. Because there is a limit to how much information that a child with autism can process at any given time, there is a good possibility that he or she could become confused, frustrated and react to what is going on around them. We have to remember that something happened to make the child “act out”. Figuring out what it was that “triggered” the reaction is critical to understanding the child. Anything such as body language, and how something is said, could serve as a “trigger” to set a child off.
     Unfortunately, it is easier for people to classify this behavior as “hateful” or “violent” rather than take the time and patience to understand how autism actually affects the child and everyone around them. This complacency makes it even more difficult for a child with autism who is already struggling to be included by his or her peers.  An example from our own experience would be, when he was younger, a few of Nathan’s teachers gave up on him, saying he was “uncontrollable” or that “he just needed to be spanked more”. This was their solution to something that they didn’t understand. If they had taken the time to work with our son, instead of writing him off, it would have made the difference to a child who was doing his best. These particular individuals were only interested in collecting their paycheck instead of doing what they could to figure out how to help a child that wasn’t like the rest. Each of them, as educators, had the opportunity to show compassion to a child and actually invest in his future. 
     Recently, an individual, in our own neighborhood, who we thought understood and supported our family’s incredible journey on the autism spectrum, verbalized that our child is a bully and attacks the other children in the neighborhood. Our family has known her family for almost ten years and she had confided in me that she and her own child, who is a year younger than my youngest child, had been prescribed medication for something that they have been diagnosed with. This made us believe that it was possible for our child to be accepted. All children need patience, understanding and friends. They will also have disagreements when playing and should be able to work things out amongst themselves. This is a crucial part of learning to socialize with their peers and that everyone needs space from time to time.

     My child has learned to put some distance between him and what is bothering him. Our neighbor’s child tends to ask “why” repeatedly and it annoys my child beyond words. My child tries so hard to not let it bother him but, in the end, he just can’t handle it. I have told my children that they should always ask the other child to “stop” and, if that doesn't work, then walk away. If my child is at home when he is being bothered, he has been given permission to ask the other child to go home. Having a social disorder impairs his communication and it makes it difficult for him to express exactly what he wants to say.

     Almost two months ago, our two boys were out in the front yard waiting for us to take them grocery shopping when several of their friends saw them outside and came down to our house. My husband and I were not outside at the time but, my child told me later that he said that they couldn’t play because we were getting ready to leave and that they would come get them, if they could play, when they got home. We had been at the store for almost half an hour when his mother called my mobile phone all upset about my child telling her child that he could not play with them. I politely tried to explain that I couldn’t talk to her right then but, I would be glad to do so when I returned home but, she proceeded to ridicule my child and wouldn’t stop. I hurriedly told her I was sorry but, I had to go.

     After we got back home and we had the opportunity to find out what had happened from our son, I decided to text her due to how the earlier conversation with her had gone. She had been so upset and had not let me finish one sentence. My child had only been honest and told her child that he and his brother couldn’t play. She texted me back and when I didn’t end up agreeing with her, she called me again. It was when she threatened to call the police and press “assault” charges against our nine year old son, who had autism, for a disagreement that happened, between the boys, almost six months ago. My husband and I were shocked that she had talked so ugly about our child! There was no reasoning with her and we decided that we would have to give her family plenty of space to avoid future conflict. Her son had actually been playing in our front yard with our boys and three other children  when this all occurred. My husband calmly stepped outside and told her child that his mother needed him to go home. The boy asked my husband “why” and he repeated what he had told him and then the child went home.

     It is really sad that an adult has caused so much trouble between neighborhood friends. My own boys have been told “I can’t play right now” and “our family is getting ready to go somewhere but, we can play when we get back home” or even “I am grounded and can’t play” by their friends. They always find something else to do. I have never called another child’s parent to ask why my child couldn’t play with their child, dragged my husband to their house or accused their child of assault and threatened to call the police on their child! Now, her child walks on the street, to avoid our front yard, on his way to see if the other neighborhood kids can play. This saddens me. I continue to pray for everyone that our special needs child comes in contact with. Awareness isn't always enough...we need to "understand" and "accept" Autism!

*Thank you to Autism Creations for these beautiful photos!

Friday, July 6, 2012

A Letter from a Special Young Lady

     Greetings to all of our loyal readers of Nathan's Voice! I ask you to read a fundraising letter that I received from a special young lady whom is trying to acquire a service dog. Please check out the links then decide if and how you could make a difference in her life. 
Thank you for your time!                                                                        

Hello, my name is Melissa Franklin. I am 20 years old, and I have autism. Autism is a disorder involving a spectrum of symptoms causing impaired and delayed learning, difficulties with impulse control and inhibited social skills.

I am raising funds to obtain a service dog from Autism Service Dogs of America (ASDA), a non-profit organization in Lake Oswego, Oregon. You can learn more about autism service dogs and Autism Service Dogs of America by visiting their website. Having a service dog will help me in many ways. It will help control my anxiety in new social situations, reduce my depression by always being there for me, and encourage me to get out in the community and exercise more. Having a dog will improve my mood, require me to socialize, and increase my learning, general psychological and sociological development. A service dog will also be a good companion for me since I live in an assisted living facility where all of the other residents are elderly.

I need to raise $6,500 in donations to obtain my service dog. I am looking for merchandise, service certificates and/or gift cards that I can use for a raffle, which is one event that I have planned for fundraising. ASDA’s Federal tax identification number is 71-0888906 and I have a copy of their 501(c)(3) letter if you would like to see it. I would be so grateful for your generosity and if you call my mom, she would be happy to pick up any items that you might have for me. Her name is Jeri Henderson and her phone number is 910-742-7911.

Another option to help me is by making a monetary contribution in the form of a tax-deductible donation. If you are interested in doing this, please make your checks payable to ASDA and mail 
it directly to them at 5232 N Interstate Ave, Portland, OR 97217. Please write my name, Melissa Franklin, in the memo section of your check so your donation will be credited to me. I also have 
an electronic giving site which can be used to submit your donation online.

Thank you in advance for your generosity and support in my fundraising effort, and I hope to see you at my raffle on Saturday, July 28, 2012. Hopefully, I’ll even have my new service dog for you 
to see!


Melissa Franklin