Friday, May 31, 2013

Puzzle Piece Rewards System

Weeks of sticker charts!
DLTK's Custom Chore Charts!
For a long time, we have been doing the typical sticker chart to encourage Ethan to use manners, maintain good hygiene and become more independent. After a sticker chart was completed, Ethan would get $1 for his bank. That worked for awhile but then the novelty wore off. Getting a sticker for brushing his teeth was no longer worth it to him....and the battles returned.

So, we began to up the ante! Each night, we would count his stickers & he would earn 1 coin per sticker. And when his sticker chart was full, he would still earn a dollar.

Want to know a secret? I would just re-use coins already in his bank, so it didn't cost us any extra money. Shhhh....don't tell Ethan!

Well, that worked for awhile, but soon that began to wear off too. The battles were beginning to start again....fighting to brush teeth, fighting to self dress, and I was losing my currency with Ethan!

24 piece puzzle from Dollar General. 
And, once again, the Changing Challenging Behaviors Workshop from Easter Seals came through for us!!! Ms. Dona, leader of the workshop & Ethan's ITAP program, showed the class several strategies & examples. Corey & I immediately knew that we had found our solution.....puzzles.

How do puzzles work in place of a sticker chart? For every demonstration of desired behavior, Ethan earns one puzzle piece....instead of one sticker. Once Ethan has completed a puzzle, he gets to pick a prize/toy out of the prize bin I've put together. Things from the dollar store, happy meal toys, garage sale finds....nothing that costs more than $1 each. ETHAN LOVES IT!!!!

In the middle of a puzzle!
Almost time for a trip to the prize bin!
It has been working longer than anything we have tried before! He loves gaining a puzzle piece, loves putting the puzzles together, loves digging for toys in our prize bin! Initially, I was cutting up the cardboard boxes of his fruit snacks, cereal, pop tarts, and other recognizable logos. But once Ethan got the hang of it, we needed to go to more puzzle pieces so he wasn't earning a toy EVERY day. 

I am thrilled to report that this is STILL going VERY well, and he loves earning puzzle pieces!!! Now our battles are diminishing! Picking up toys, brushing teeth, turning off the computer, trying new foods, behavior in new places, and other issues are able to be a managed so much better with this new form of "currency." HOORAY FOR PUZZLES!

Wednesday, May 29, 2013

Route 66 Road Trip

To celebrate the end of school & beginning of summer, we decided to kick things off with a quick road trip to Pontiac, IL. Just a couple of hours away, the thing that attracted us to this small, rural town is it's the home of the Route 66 Hall of Fame. I thought my car crazy guys would enjoy this kind of getaway. We decided to leave right after Ethan got out of school. We got there about dinner time, ate at a restaurant, and then checked in to our hotel....complete with a pool. Of course Ethan wanted to swim ASAP, so we did. The place was so quiet & we had the pool & hot tub all to ourselves. It was wonderful. We just decided to lounge around in our hotel for the rest of the evening.

The next morning, after breakfast & a Ethan "swim" in our room's whirlpool tub, we were ready to head downtown. I think this place is the friendliest place on Earth! You should visit! It was VERY low cost (all museums were FREE), and lots of things to do! Now, I'll just let the pictures speak for themselves....get ready for a Parade Of Pictures From Pontiac!

Monday, May 27, 2013

Last Day Of Preschool!

The day finally came....Ethan's last day of Preschool. When Ethan first woke up he was full of energy & super excited for the day. However, once at school, he was a total bear! Did any of you notice that it was a full moon at the end of last week? Any of your kiddos in "moods?" Mine sure was! I told his teacher & principal that I was actually a bit grateful for his fowl mood. His attitude caused me to be frustrated & exhausted...instead of contemplative & actually worked out! How's that for a positive outlook! LOL!!! HAPPY PRESCHOOL GRADUATION, ETHAN!

First day of Preschool 2012
Last day of Preschool 2013 

Walking in to school for the last time!

Thursday, May 23, 2013

"It's the End of An Era"

This is a quote from my most favorite TV show of all time....FRIENDS. And that is all that is running through my mind tonight.
I just got home from watching some of my former Kindergarten students graduate from 8th grade. I haven't seen most of them since Kindergarten because that was my last year of teaching. I couldn't help but think back.....who was the talker of the class, who was the class clown, who was the shy girl, and so on. Some of them gave speeches during the ceremony as well. Their writing & speaking blew me away. These kids have grown up....almost over night, in my opinion....and I was one proud teacher.

Then, this Sunday, Corey's youngest brother...who we lovingly call "our first child" because was a constant companion during our dating & early married life...will be graduating from High School! Oh man....I'm gonna need more tissues.

Wednesday, May 22, 2013

7 Tips to Teach Your Child With ASD About God
Ever since I found out that I was going to be a mom, I have had one major parenting question. “How am I going to teach my child about God?” And here I am…5 years later…wondering the same thing. “How am I going teach my child with autism about God?”

We know that abstract concepts, like faith, are difficult for most children to understand. However, generally speaking, those who have ASD find abstract concepts to be even more difficult. Give them a math problem & they can grasp that idea in no time. But something that is not tangible or visible, and you are in a whole new ballgame.

Shortly after Ethan was diagnosed with classic autism, my mom, husband & I attended one of Dr. Temple Grandin’s conferences. This question was brought up to Templeby another one of the attendees. Dr. Grandin responded by saying, “Teach them by your example. Teach them the Golden Rule. Follow the 10 commandments. Be love. Be God to them.” What a great answer for us all.

Recently, a friend asked me for some ideas to help her son who has recently been diagnosed with Asperger’s Syndrome. It wasn’t related to this topic, but it got me thinking…maybe I should start posting what I have learned in list form?! So, here are my tips for teaching children with ASD about God & your faith.

7 Tips to Teach Your Child With ASD About God

  1. Be a Christ-like example to them. Show them God’s love, and do this wherever you are…not just at church. Be Christ at home, at the grocery store, at Walmart, at family functions….everywhere. Even though it may not seem like these kiddos are paying attention.....they are. Are we going to get this one right 100% of the time? Probably not, but our kids are smart enough to know when we are putting on a show and when we are being genuine. Galations 2:20 "I have been crucified with Christ and I no longer live, but Christ lives in me. The life I now live in the body, I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me."

Monday, May 20, 2013

Fear of the Water Sprinkler

The weather around here has either been super rainy or super beautiful...not much in between.I'll take that! We have been spending a LOT of time outdoors already this year, and once the heat hit the 80s....the pool went up! But do you know how hard it is to explain to an autistic four year-old that we have to WAIT for the pool water to warm up & the chemicals to do their job? Why is it different from a bath? Oooo....Ethan was NOT happy about waiting. So, I pulled out last year's sprinkler....still in it's box.

The reason it was still unopened is because we were at my sister's house one day when they turned on their sprinkler for the kids to run through, and Ethan was NOT having it! His anxiety was super high & insisted on doing all things non-sprinkler related.

And that's fine. Honestly, when it comes to picking my battles, making him run through the sprinkler is very low on my list. Can I get an amen?

However, I was a bit nervous myself getting out the sprinkler. Ethan was already having some "waiting" issues & his anxiety was already rising. Should I risk the sprinkler? Um.....YEAH! Lately, he has been letting me use our shower head to rinse him off after his bath instead of using a big cup to fill & dump and fill & dump and fill & dump...the shower head is so much easier when you have a child that is already about 4 feet tall! And the sprinkler is kind of like a shower head, right? Well, that's what I told Ethan anyway.

Saturday, May 18, 2013

Changing Challenging Behaviors: Update

About a month ago, Corey & I attended a workshop at our Easter Seals entitled Changing Challenging Behaviors. It was during this training that I had an "Ah-ha" moment about MY behavior during a meltdown. To read more about that, click here. In a nutshell, I engage with him during his meltdowns & I needed to stop.

Tuesday, May 14, 2013

Sensory Play: Colored Ice Cubes

One of the greatest things of any holiday is the after holiday sales.....if you can hold out on buying items that long! I am ALWAYS shopping these clearanced items in order to add to our sensory play resources. This year I was keeping my eye on some key of them being shaped ice cube trays.

There are many ways to make colored ice cubes. We added food coloring to water. I filled the hearts with water & Ethan picked different colors for each heart. He added the food coloring too.

Once they were frozen, we added them to our kitchen sink water. Why is our water black? Because Ethan asked to add food coloring to it & 3 colors mixed together makes black. :0)

Thursday, May 9, 2013

Happy Mother's Day

When Ethan was a baby, I received a magazine subscription to Parenting as a gift. One of my favorite columns in this magazine is entitled Pop Culture. This article appears in every Parenting magazine, and it's written by a DAD! (Get it....POP culture!? He even writes a blog! Click here to see more from him.) Shawn Bean tells of life as a father & family man. I love his point of view....which helps me understand the 2 guys in my life a little better.....and his humor on situations is the best.

This month he talked about how he half-heartedly celebrated mother's day several years ago. It's a cute story. To read about it, check it out here. His wife responded to his blunder with these words...."This holiday is more important to me than any other. It's the only holiday I had to earn."

Very well said, Mrs. Bean.

And being the mother of a child with a disability gives the word "earn" a whole new meaning. For me, Mother's Day will always be bitter sweet. Four years ago, I became a mother. Two years after that, on Mother's Day week, I became a mother of a child with autism. Yes, Mother's Day always reminds me of the day Ethan was diagnosed with autism....and a small bit of grieving occurs all over again. But I wouldn't change my Ethan & who he is for anything. He is my perfect child from above, and I really love being his mom.

My friend shared this video this week on her Facebook page, and I just loved it. It's short, but very cute & sweet. I was crying like a baby by the end....and it has NOTHING to do with autism. Just being a Mom. It really is a MUST WATCH.

Happy Mother's Day!!!

Wednesday, May 8, 2013

Savoring Moments

Nothing special happening today. My husband has agreed to pick up Ethan from preschool today, so I am taking 20 minutes for myself. As I sit outside taking in the neighborhood sounds, my mind wanders in 100 directions. Does that happen to anyone else?

Most of my days are filled with all things autism. Whether it's hurrying to find a picture to visually help explain something to Ethan or driving him around to his 2 schools, my mind is usually all around Ethan & being the best mother I can be for him. I guess that comes with the territory of being a stay-at-home mom. I feel the pressure of being that perfect 50's housewife.....of which I fall short daily. I also feel inadequate in other areas leading our new special needs ministry at church, in blogging information that would be beneficial to others, in maintaining my relationships with my friends & family, in taking care of myself...I just can't find a balance.

But as I take this 20 minute quiet break for myself, I am filled with a sense of peace. I am reminded that my life will not be this way's just how it is for right now. Like most of you, I am just trying to do the best I can with the cards I'm dealt....and what else can I do.

Tuesday, May 7, 2013

Look Who's Running for Easter Seals?!?!

A few months ago, our area Easter Seals hosted their annual telethon. During this telecast, Running Central, a company based in Peoria, IL, introduced Peoria's First Annual City Wide Easter Seals Marathon! With the event two months away, I decided to start training again & run this 5K. Well, what do they say about the best laid plans??? I have just learned that raising a child with autism makes COMMITMENT a very hard thing to! In our situation, flexibility in our lives as parents makes things a bit easier in raising Ethan.....not so easy for training for a marathon. Well....maybe next year!

Then, I received the greatest blessing this past Sunday. After church, my brother-in-law (my sister's husband) told me that he ran his first marathon a couple of weeks ago. He seemed to really enjoy it & was looking for another one of which to participate. He told me that he found one in Peoria but was on the fence about doing it....until he heard that it was for Easter Seals. He signed up immediately.

Friday, May 3, 2013

Burlap Art Work Display

I seem to be a bit random in my posts lately. I think it due to the weather. If it's nice outside, I want to show you outdoor fun. If it's it is AGAIN today, I seem to move my thoughts inside. I want to show you my latest indoor project.

Does anyone else have problems with a refrigerator overflowing with your children's artwork? I guess I shouldn't say problem because I LOVE to look at all of Ethan's creations. To me, they are like looking at miracles. The problem that I have is that it looks messy & they are always falling! Especially when Ethan decides he wants to play with the refrigerator magnets!