Wednesday, April 22, 2020

Recognizing & Cultivating Your Superpowers As A Parent - Part 4

This is the final of four posts that originated from the Practical Parenting Tips section of an article that I wrote for an online parenting community several years ago. I have chosen the acronym FLY to wrap up this four-part series on how parents can use their superpowers to help their children. By connecting with other autism families in the community, parents are able to get the support that they need so that are prepared to help guide their children's journey through the spectrum.

Find an autism support group to receive and share with other families. There is something to be said about having other parents who have children with similar needs share and exchange information about available services and educational rights. Support groups can be an excellent resource when it comes to finding out which therapists, Special Education Case Managers, and Advocates are best qualified to meet the needs of your child.

Locate respite care for your child by asking other families about local resources. You will want to find area Respite Care Services for your child. Ask about qualifications, experience, and for references before making an informed decision about which respite care is best for your family. You have a right to be able to have some time to yourself or with your spouse but you will also want to make sure that your child is being taken care of by someone who is qualified. 

You and your family are a priority; make sure that you include family time on your schedule! It is important for your family to get together for fun and stress-free activities, but sometimes that is easier said than done!! Keep it as simple as possible, be somewhat flexible on behavior, and have FUN!!! Our favorite family activity is watching a movie together and having a snack that we enjoy. Since I wrote the original article, our family's favorite game is now "What Should You Do?" a game of consequences. We have even started creating our own questions and consequence cards!

I hope that all of the information I have shared with you will assist you in using your superpowers to help your child. The full article, Autism "How-To" Guide For Parents has so much more to offer, if you are interested! If you enjoyed reading this post, please #share it in support of #AutismAwarenessMonth. Thank you for your time and continued support of my efforts to raise #AutismAwareness throughout the year, not just in April!!

Your friend,

Lorrie

Tuesday, April 21, 2020

Recognizing & Cultivating Your Superpowers As A Parent - Part 3

I am sharing the third post in a four-part series that is originally from the Practical Parenting Tips section of an article that I wrote for an online parenting community about eight years ago. I have chosen to use the acronym ENACT for this particular post. This image depicts a team comprised of female and male superheroes who are ready to use their superpowers to the people in their community. YOU and I are also superheroes, but it is not a superhero outfit or a cape that empowers us to use our superpowers for good and save the day from disaster! 

It is up to YOU to do the following:
Expand on what interests your child. What are your child's strengths and weaknesses? If your child is particularly good at something, find a way to use what he or she is interested in an good at to focus on helping him or her to make progress in other areas that need help. You can make a game of it! My child used to love Pokémon when he was younger and when he would have difficulty with something, I would use Pokémon stickers, trading cards, and other related items as a tool to help him focus and stay on task.

Negotiate the best routine for your child. Before the nationwide order to shelter at home, you may have had a routine that worked for your child and your family. That schedule was most likely turned upside-down and inside-out! Children are trying to complete school through distance learning, therapy sessions are being conducted via telehealth, and parents are working from home. It may take a while to find a routine that works best for your child, and that routine may change according to your child's needs. Be patient; the schedule will eventually find a rhythm that meets the needs of your child.

Assist your child in repetitive learning. If your child is having difficulty mastering a specific skill, you will need to find a creative way to help him or her achieve this skill. Think "outside the box" to provide your child with a simple modification to help him or her complete an activity or task that he or she might have not been able to accomplish otherwise. The best way to begin is by taking small, repetitive steps to assist your child in accomplishing his or her goals. 
Try not to overthink or complicate the process; sometimes, the simplest solution to the problem is just waiting for us to relax and find it!

Coordinate productive activities for your child. Choose a variety of activities that will provide your child with the chance to improve specific skills. For example, if your child needs improvement with motor skills, playing Hokey Pokey or Simon Says will be fun and educational. Your child may need to work on how to hold and use scissors to cut art projects out. You can plan a family collage or a special gift for someone and ask your child to help you with the project. If your child has difficulty with matching everyday objects to one another, you can cut out pictures from magazines and play a game by grouping flowers with gardens, appliances with kitchens, silverware with dining room tables, etc. Enjoy this time with your child! 

Transform behavior with positive reinforcement. I have found that my youngest child responds to frequent small rewards and praise, especially when he chooses the correct or appropriate behavior in a difficult situation. It can be a hug or a tickle preceded by verbal praise, special sticker related to something that interests him or her, a small piece of candy that he or she likes, or a short break so that they can enjoy time on their tablet or iPad. It is important to give your child an explanation of why he or she is receiving the reward. This will help your child to understand that this specific positive behavior is what you expect and appreciate.

I hope that you will use your superpowers to help your child to learn to regulate his or her superpowers. The full article, Autism "How-To" Guide For Parents offers so much more! If you enjoyed reading this post, please #share it in support of #AutismAwarenessMonth. Thank you for your time and continued support of my efforts to raise #AutismAwareness throughout the year, not just in April!!

Your friend,

Lorrie

Monday, April 20, 2020

Recognizing and Cultivating Your Superpowers As A Parent - Part 2


Tonight's post is the second in a four part series that is originally from the Practical Parenting Tips section of the article that I wrote for an online parenting community a few years ago. The acronym for this particular post is SOAR. You most likely recognize Woody and Buzz Lightyear, the heroes from the Toy Story movie series, pictured on the left soaring through the sky and high above everything to get back to their owner Andy. 

As everyday superheroes, we find various ways to rise above the obstacles that we encounter throughout our daily routine. What might work for us in one situation will not always work for us in another; incentives and consequences alike. As parents, we have to be extraordinarily creative to stay one step ahead of what we might encounter at any given moment!

You need to Search for signs of non-verbal communication that your child may be using to tell you how he or she feels. Watching your child's facial expressions, listening to the particular sounds he or she makes, and how he or she uses hand signals when tired, hungry, or frustrated will help you recognize when your child is communicating his or her needs. Your child can tell you what he or she wants or needs without saying it in words. Pay attention and you will learn to pick up on your child's non-verbal signals.

You should watch to Observe the reason behind the behavior that you want your child to stop displaying when not getting his or her way. When your child gets upset or begins to act out, it could be because he or she has been feeling misunderstood or ignored. Is acting out your child's way of trying to get your attention? Consider that your child could be frustrated with you because you are not picking up on their non-verbal signals.

It is YOUR responsibility to Arrange fun and simple playtime for your child. Autism is a diagnosis and just part of who your child is. Remember that your child is still a kid. Everyone needs to take some time off from school, therapy, and even work! Play is a very important part of being able to cope with our daily schedules. Choose ways to have fun together with activities that you both enjoy. Spending stress-free time with your child will be a beneficial part in learning to relax and enjoy each other's company whenever possible.

You should use a journal to help you Record and Remember all possible triggers in your child's behavior. Many things can serve as triggers to a child with autism. Children with autism can have hypersensitivity or the opposite - hyposensitivity to certain sights, sounds, smells, movements and things that they come in contact with. The same stimulus can lead to positive behavior in some children and trigger disruptive behavior in others. It is our responsibility to understand what affects our children, give them a sense of security, and prevent the undesirable situations we can avoid. 

I hope that you will now be able to use your superpowers to help your child to learn to regulate his or her superpowers. You can access the full article Autism "How-To" Guide For Parents if you would like to read more! If you enjoyed reading this post, please #share it in support of #AutismAwarenessMonth. Thank you for your time and continued support of my efforts to raise #AutismAwareness throughout the entire year, not just in April!!

Sunday, April 19, 2020

Recognizing and Cultivating Your Superpowers As A Parent - Part 1


In an effort to bring you the information from the Practical Parenting Tips section of the lengthy and informative article that I wrote for an online parenting community, I have chosen to present it to you in four shorter posts starting with this one in the form of an acronym: CAPE

In the image above, a female and male are shown as everyday people whose shadows insinuate that they each have skills or superpowers to help other people. Regardless of who we are, or what our strengths and weaknesses are, we can all be superheroes, and we do not have to wear a superhero outfit or a cape to use our superpowers for good. 

You can start by Creating a consistent environment as you possibly can for your child. Help your child to create inner consistency so that he or she can develop the confidence and the ability to adapt to various environments, social situations, and with different people who they may come into contact with through daily or occasional interactions. This is the best way to reinforce learning and encourage your child to transfer or generalize what he or she learns from one environment to another.

You will want to Avoid unwanted disruptions in your child's routine. Your child needs a structured schedule or routine for them to function at his or her best. It's important to offer your child a consistent schedule for eating, therapy sessions, going to school, playtime, naps, and bedtime, as well as build an alternative schedule for occasional outings such as visiting relatives, going to church, or venturing out into the community to do errands.

You need to remember Praise your child for displaying positive behavior, regardless of how big or small! Reinforcing good behavior and recognizing when your child learns a new skill is important to his or her progress. Make a conscious effort to tell your child every time why he or she is receiving praise. This will help your child to understand what the reward is for and teach them to repeat those specific positive behaviors.

Your next responsibility is to Ensure proper boundaries for your child. It is up to you to designate a specific area in your home where your child knows that he or she can relax, feel safe, and have solitude. Coordinating and setting up clear boundaries is essential to helping your child understand which areas are off limits to him or her. Child-proofing your house is something you should consider, especially if your child has frequent meltdowns or has injured his/herself in the past.

I hope that what I have shared with you will assist you in using your superpowers to help your child to learn to regulate his or her superpowers. The full article, Autism "How-To" Guide For Parents has so much more to offer, if you are interested! If you enjoyed reading this post, please #share it in support of #AutismAwarenessMonth. Thank you for your time and continued support of my efforts to raise #AutismAwareness throughout the year, not just in April!!

Your friend,

Lorrie

Saturday, April 18, 2020

Make Sure to Nurture the Relationship That You Have with Your Spouse

Your child is a blessing and having a child with autism will undoubtedly broaden your horizons; however, you may want to consider that the time, financial costs, physical and emotional demands, and logistical complexities associated with raising a child with autism can translate into stress on the relationship you have with your spouse. Staying connected as a couple can be challenging, but each of YOU can make it happen by showing your support for each other!

Of all of the relationships that we have, we need to make sure to nurture the one we have with our spouse. Remember to communicate and spend time with him or her to let them know how important they are to you. Be sure to let your spouse know how much you appreciate their support. Also, try to set aside time for a weekly or monthly "date night" for just the two of you. This will go a long way in communicating how much you value your spouse, as a partner and a parent!

Another way that you can show your spouse that you value him or her is to put your phone down while spending time with them. No one wants to have his or her partner on their phone while trying to connect with him or her. Make your time together "phone free" so that you can focus on each other. After spending quality time with your spouse, each of you can always return phone calls, reply to text messages, and play games on your mobile phones. Do your part in staying connected as a couple!

Off to spend time with my loving husband...

Your friend,

Lorrie

Friday, April 17, 2020

#Autism Awareness Should Be All Year Long, Not Just in the Month of April


If there is one thing that I want people to remember me for, it is that I am the Parent and Advocate of a child with #Autism. I want to be known for how well that I was able to achieve awareness in my surrounding community, as well as how successful I was in raising a similar amount of #AutismAwareness around the world through social media platforms. I knew that I love being able to #share what I have learned over the years, but I did not realize how much I had missed writing so that I could share that knowledge and experience with everyone!

I have had the pleasure of writing articles and contributing to several online parenting communities and special needs sites over the last decade, one of which is Special Happens. Please take a few minutes to read my article in support of #AutismAwarenessMonth and #share it with someone you know who may benefit from reading it themselves. Thank you for your continued support!

Your friend, 

Lorrie

Thursday, April 16, 2020

Recipe for a Homemade Balloon Stress Ball - A Great Family Project!

A stress ball is a tool that can be used to help calm nerves, anger, anxiety, and more in both adults and children. Stress balls can be used by individuals at home, school, work, in the car, or whenever needed to help relieve stress. I thought it would be a great project to share since the majority of us are either working from home (WFH) or distance learning (DL) for school to finish the current academic year.

This is an easy project that you can complete in under an hour, depending how many members of your family will be making a stress ball. You most likely already have most of the items that you need in your home, too!

Homemade Balloon Stress Ball

For each stress ball, you will need:
  • 3 (9 inch) balloons of the same color
  • 1/2 - 2/3 cup of flour
  • small or medium-sized funnel
  • teaspoon or small scoop to put flour into funnel
  • popsicle stick or pencil to push flour through funnel
  • permanent marker
  • yarn to create hair
  • scissors for balloons & yarn

Step 1 - Carefully stretch and inflate balloon #1 
like you normally would, but do not twist or tie 
into a knot. Slowly release all of the air from the balloon. Repeat step 1 before moving onto step 2.

Step 2 - Carefully insert the funnel into the 
opening of the balloon that you have stretched. Spoon/scoop small amounts of flour into funnel 
until enough flour has filled the balloon to form 
a stress ball that fits comfortably into the palm 
of your hand.

Step 3 - Carefully holding balloon #1 in one 
hand, stretch it just enough to remove the 
neck of the balloon with scissors. 

Step 4 - Carefully stretch and inflate balloon #2 
like you normally would, but do not twist or tie 
into a knot. Slowly release all of the air from the balloon. Repeat step 4 before moving onto step 5. 

Step 5 - Carefully remove the neck of balloon #2 with scissors before slowly stretching it over the opening of balloon #1.

Step 6Carefully stretch and inflate balloon #3 
like you normally would, but do not twist or tie 
into a knot. Slowly release all of the air from the balloon. Repeat step 6 before moving onto step 7. 

Step 7 - Carefully stretch the opening and neck 
of balloon #3 over the opening of balloon #2. 
Then, twist the neck of balloon #3 and tie it into 
a knot.

Step 8 - Decorate your stress ball by using the permanent marker to make a face on it. You can also, use yarn to make hair and tie it around the knot end of your stress ball.

Most of the DIY* instructions that I found for making a balloon and flour stress ball want you to funnel the flour into a dry 20-ounce water bottle, then attach it to the balloon. If you desire visual instructions, here is a site that offers a step-by-step process, similar to my written instructions for you to check out.

*Do-It-Yourself