Wednesday, January 25, 2012

Home Made Sensory Toys

Easy DIY Sensory Toys
My aspie and I made these easy sensory toys for "art class" today. So easy, anyone can make them. We made an I Spy bottle, upcycling a Voss water bottle, rice and small items from around the house. (make sure you hot glue the lid on!) We also used upcycled tiny liquor bottles to make a water "globe" and a mini "lava lamp." For the water "globe," we simply used a little food coloring and water, some glitter, sequins and beads, then glued the lid on. For the "lava lamp," we half filled the bottle with colored water, then filled it with cooking oil, leaving a little room for air, then glues the lid on. The stress balloons are simply balloons stuffed with play doh and tied shut. He loves them all. They are unbreakable and fun, and  small enough we can keep them in our sensory car kit :)

Tuesday, January 24, 2012

Theory of Mind

Hubby and I were discussing this last nite, so I thought it to be a good entry in my blog. The mind is compromised of beliefs, desires, emotions, perceptions and intentions. Theory of mind or ToM as it is commonly abbreviated is, the ability to attribute these mental states to self and others in order to understand and predict behavior. It involves making the distinction between the real world and mental representations of the world. ToM develops early in life with the ages of 3-4 years being the most rapid in development. However, a child with ASD is often characterized as not having a typical ToM. Our aspie is 5, and we have noticed he does struggle with this. For example, if someone takes a toy from him, he cries. However, if he takes a toy from someone and they begin to cry, his typical response is, "why is so and so crying? It's my toy, all I did was take it back?" He cannot project his feelings onto another. In other words, he cannot understand that the same thing that makes him cry, would inevitably make another cry. On other occasions, when LJ will be having a play date, and his friend decides he doesn't want to play what LJ wants to play(he tends to think he should run the show.) LJ will become angry and tell his friend to go home. When his friend gets upset and does just that, LJ then begins to cry and ask me why his friend went home. He doesn't grasp that he 1. told him to do so, and 2. he may have upset his friend. Another example of this that happens quite a bit is name calling. A neighbor child will call LJ a cry baby, he will either cry or become enraged. He then will call this child the same name, and when said child becomes mad and goes home, LJ will then ask me why. He cannot seem to understand that if something hurts his feelings, it will usually hurt someone else's. I found a cool ToM test for children.  We tried it on LJ, and of course he gave the typical ASD answer. Our aspie does however have a very vivid imagination, he always has. He has never had a problem pretending, just a problem perceiving others emotions, therefore causing some strain on his peer relationships. I have read that if we work on this, we can help him develop a better ToM, which will help him succeed in personal relationships as he gets older.

Sunday, January 22, 2012

Stand up and fight!!!

As the mother of an Aspie, I am very upset over the proposed changes to the DSM IV. (click proposed changes for a link to them) These changes are a slap in the face to any child/adult diagnosed with Aspergers or PDD NOS. We can't take this sitting down. If these changes take place, 75% of those diagnosed with AS will no longer meet the criteria, and 80% diagnosed with PDD NOS will no longer meet the criteria. This is an outrage!  According to Dr. David J Kupfer, "We have to make sure not everybody who is a little odd gets a diagnosis of autism or Asperger's disorder." and "it involves a use of treatment resources.  It becomes a cost issue." (Click his name for more on the story)  Really????? You are calling my child ODD????? Well, I think you're a pompous ass!!!! My son has made some great strides with his therapy, take that away, and we're back to where we were a year ago, angry, sad and lost! Because my son is high functioning that means he may not fit the new criteria, and will be lost is the system so to speak. I for one plan to do all I can to help these changes NOT take effect, and I hope you will too. Below will be 2 links to 2 different petitions. Please sign, please ask your family/friends to sign, please share to facebook and twitter, please help our kids!

Petition 1
Petition 2

Wednesday, January 18, 2012

Keep Staring....

This came up in my facebook newsfeed today, and it was too good, not to share. I like many other parents of ASD kiddos, have found myself subjected to ignorant NT's that stare, pass shifty glances, and look at me as if I am the worst parent in the world, with the brattiest child in the world. I'd be lying if I said it didn't bother me. The judgement of my parenting skills doesn't bother me, think what you like, until you spend a day in my life, you have no room to judge me. What bothers me is the bigotry against my child. Just because he isn't acting the way these people think he should, they automatically assume he's a brat. Well, I say, spend a day inside his brain, and see how you act! Passing judgement on a stranger, or anyone for that matter, is plain ignorance. Unfortunately, thats all most people are these days. I would like to have this picture made into a button and pin it to my sons coat for when we are out in the world. Maybe then people would think twice about judging him or anyone else. My son for example, hums when we are in the grocery store. I am so used to it, I don't even notice it, but others do. We have gotten quite a few nasty looks from other shoppers. As a matter of fact, just last week my hubby went grocery shopping with us (this is rare, its usually always my aspie and me.) We were in the dairy section, hubby and I were looking at yogurt, LJ was humming away. I didn't notice, just went on doing what I always do. However my hubby did. He looked at LJ and loudly insisted he stop being annoying. LJ looked like he had no clue what his father was talking about. You see, he most times doesn't even realize he is doing it. Yet, when you ask him why he does it, he simply tells you, "I don't like the noises in the grocery store, so I make noise to block it out." Simple as that. I quietly reminded hubby this is what I have been telling him about, this is why people give us dirty looks all the time. He felt horrible and immediately apologized to our aspie. So you see, if you don't live with someone, or know someone with ASD, you don't know why these kiddos act this way. Our job as parents of these kiddos, is to spread awareness, in the nicest way possible. To shed light on ASD in a positive way, to stop these negative judgements.

Saturday, January 14, 2012

Melatonin the miracle worker!

From the day he was born, our Aspie has NEVER been a good sleeper. From hourly wake up calls as an infant, to not sleeping through the night until he was a year old. He has never required the amount of sleep as an NT child, nor has he ever gotten the recommended amount of sleep for a child his age. Also in the past few years his father and I have noticed he tosses and turns A LOT in his sleep, as well as yells, screams or cries out often. Not only does LJ not get enough sleep, but neither do we because of his sleep patterns. Finally after 5 years of this, we called a foul, and asked for help. After reading many articles and recommendations from his therapist and doctor, we decided to give Melatonin a try. We started him on 1 mg about 30 minutes before bed. What a difference! Within 20 minutes he was out cold! This from a kid who almost nightly struggles to fall asleep, to the point where he tells us, "I can't sleep because my brain is busy!" Not only did he fall asleep without a hitch, but his sleep is averaging 9-10 hours a night. A big difference from 6-7 hours before the melatonin. Hubby and I also noticed less tossing/turning, and NO yelling, screaming or crying out in his sleep. He did however have a hard time trying to swallow that little pill, and would instead chew it. We have since purchased him liquid Melatonin. One dropper under his tongue before bed is so much easier. If you're reading this, and you or your child are experiencing similar sleep problems, I highly recommend speaking to your physician about trying Melatonin. After all, something made from natural ingredients is a lot safer than any man made drug used to help you sleep. Not to mention the difference in reported side effects of prescription sleeping pills compared to an all natural hormone such as Melatonin.

Thursday, January 12, 2012

Sensory Processing Disorder (SPD)

Found this helpful chart on facebook, thought it was a good share:

Children with ASD often times have SPD. LJ was diagnosed with SPD as well. This chart is not meant to diagnose your child, but rather to give you an idea of what your child's sensory needs may be. It's possible to be a combination of these as well. LJ tends to be mostly sensory seeking, but when it comes to loud noises, bright lights and food textures, he is over responsive. If your child hasn't been diagnosed with SPD, but has some of these symptoms, then I would suggest you seek and eval by an Occupational Therapist. They are qualified to diagnose your child.

OCD rears its ugly head!

So our aspie has a "newer" obsession. In his words, "when I walk, I have to erase my footsteps." When hubby and I ask him why, he replies, "because my brain tells me to repeat them, so I tell my brain to erase them." So he does. Last nite was awful. Every step LJ took, he repeatedly exclaims, "erase, erase!" It breaks my heart. At only 5 and a half, he should not have to endure such things. So we are left with the question, what are we to do? We can tell him he doesn't have to do it and discourage him til we are blue in the face, but so far that does no good. How can one so young argue with his own brain? We were told we can medicate him, but as of yet, we are uncomfortable with that idea. So now what? I will say on the bright side, since this obsession has taken precedence, he is less anal about hand sanitizer, and licking his face raw. He is still a germ a phobe, but he's not using hand gel til his hands are raw, and throwing temper tantrums over it being out of reach. When I was a teen I often found myself obsessing over death and house fires. Due to my age, and maturity, I was often times able to talk myself out of these worries. How though, can one so young cope with such things and to a much greater degree? What must go through his little mind to make him feel the need to "erase" EVERY step he takes? I guess I will never really know, but I'd love to be able to help him. As a mom its my job, and I can't stand feeling like there is nothing I can do. I guess if it keeps on, hubby and I are going to have to rethink meds, because our son is too young and innocent to have to live this way...

Thursday, January 5, 2012

My Aspie can't catch a ball or a sneeze....

Ok, so the fact that my lil man can't catch a ball (we're working on that :)) really has no relevance here, just think its a cute title. However, hubby and I did notice he doesn't catch a yawn like we do. Google to the rescue! Upon further research, apparently ASD children don't "catch" yawns as often as NT children do. According to the articles I have read, (and I will link them at the end of my blog) researchers theorize this is because ASD kiddos aren't picking up on the social cue of contagious yawning. Apparently so, because hubby and I conducted our own mini experiment last night. 15 times I got my aspie's attention and yawned, and not ONCE did he "catch" it. Hubby tried as well, only about 5 times, but yet again, aspie did not respond, just looked at us like we were freaks! Upon further research it seems scientists believe this may be in part because ASD kids focus on different parts of others' faces. NT people normally look into someones eyes, where as autistic kids focus on one's mouth. (My aspie definately does this) Scientists say this further supports their belief that yawning is based on empathy, and the mimicry that comes with it. In NT people one is more likely to "catch" the yawn of a friend or family member almost EVERY time as opposed to a stranger. They state this is because our ASD kids lack empathy, therefore making it harder for them to read social cues, so they lack the ability to "catch" the yawn. I believe my son does shows signs of empathy, but not always. I know he has a hard time with social cues, but again, not always. He can usually read mine or hubby's cues, but not others. So I wonder why he can"t "catch" our yawns? I guess I will never know, and leave it to the scientists that are still trying to fit the pieces of the puzzle together. However, if you're sitting home on rainy, drab day, looking for something to do, try to get your aspie to "catch" a yawn. The results may surprise you!

As promised, the links to the articles I read.....

Wednesday, January 4, 2012

New Year, New Changes to Diagnosis

Yesterday was LJ's ISPT meeting and appointment with his Psychologist. I am happy to report they changed his diagnosis a bit. They were able to confirm LJ's ADHD (a no brainer for hubby and I), as far as his Aspergers, his psychologist thinks its a very mild case, (we tend to agree.) He did however remove Disruptive Behavior Disorder NOS from LJ's diagnosis. This made hubby and I very happy. LJ has made some great strides in his therapy. He absolutely LOVES his TSS, and I feel without her, much of this would not have happened. As far as the DBD NOS, hubby and I despised that diagnosis. We both agree our son is often times a handful, but we do not believe its because of a behavior disorder. Lj's bad behavior is most often characterized by a need for something, whether it be a need for more sleep, a need for a sensory break, or even a need for attention. Like any child, NT or otherwise, of course he abhors the word "no," (let'S face it, who doesn't?) but the nature of the attitude or tantrum he has when he is told no, seems to rely on the atmosphere at the time. Ie.:if he is over tired at the time, if he asked repeatedly and finally "no" is yelled at him, (admit it mom's and dad's, none of us are perfect, we all have our breaking points!), if he is asking in a public place with spectators; and so on. All these things and MANY more decipher how LJ will react to "no" therefore I believe that diagnosis didn't fit his personality. Also, upon further detective work into the DSM IV criteria for DBD NOS, aggressiveness, stealing, bullying, and vengeful behavior are common symptoms used to diagnose this disorder. Anyone who knows my son knows this is NOT typical of him or his behavior. LJ is a rough child, in that he plays rough and sometimes doesn't realize his own strength or the impact it will have on another. Upon further detective work into his SID issues, we have come to learn that this is because LJ seeks proprioceptive input. In lamens terms (and I like these better) LJ's muscles and joints don't know when enough is enough, therefore they crave MORE! As far as bullying goes, LJ is the first to help the "underdog." He certainly is no bully! Aggressiveness and vengeful behavior are not in his make up so that is definately not a symptom he displays. Those of you who know my boy, know he is actually over sensitive and caring, to a point of annoying at times :). Last but not least, stealing. He is 5, and recently "stole" a movie from the local convenience store. When hubby realized he did it and asked him why, he replied, "because I told you I wanted it." When asked what stealing was he had no clue. When told what it was and what repercussions follow this action, he then became terrified he was going to jail. To this day, he will NOT go into said store because, in his words, "I am afraid that manager lady is gonna call the cops on me." So again, this symptom definately does not describe my boy. In summary, hubby and I know our son is a good boy, who often acts out, often very verbally, with many tears and sometimes physically, but not for any of the above reasons. His issues with SID, and Asperger traits seem to be the cause of this, and these are NOT things he can control. We are both happy to know  his psychologist realizes this as well.