Bryce

As a mother, I will never give up on my child. As a mother of a child who has autism, I will never give up hope.
I look into his eyes and I see all the potential that he has to offer to this beautiful world and I just know that one day the world can see what I see.

Follow my blog as I share my life with you and my experiences as a person who loves someone with autism.

Sunday, October 31, 2010

Happy Hallowe’en

After all the anticipation it’s finally today, HALLOWE’EN!

Here are a few of our positives experiences from this Hallowe’en:

  • Scary Ghosts & Scary Pumpkins – Bryce really enjoyed all the fun decorations
  • Trick or Treats – Bryce found a couple houses that had some treats he liked
  • Mario Costume – He’s been talking about it all month, and finally he got to show it off. We received so many compliments on our outfits from too many people to count. (Thanks!!)

Here are a few of our challenges we had to overcome from this Hallowe’en:

  • Dogs – Bryce still is overcoming his fear for dogs, his initial reaction is to run. Luckily we only had 1 significant encounter where Bryce tried to run full speed down a flight of stairs.
  • Fireworks – Although Bryce loves fireworks... on YouTube. He doesn’t like the noise of the fireworks in person, but he watches the fireworks from our Vancouver 2010 Olympics video regularly. Tonight was no exception, when the fireworks we're out, instead of, “Ooh look scary ghost, pretty cool,” it was, “Trick or treat then go to car.”

Here are some pictures of our evening for your entertainment.

Waiting in line at a malls trick or treating event.

Our family at the Witches Hut in the mall.

Our pumpkin king in our front yard to attract all the ghouls and goblins lurking in the night.

Here is our scary pumpkin that Bryce and I made at his school’s Hallowe’en party. Unfortunately Smiley, Zombie, and Kitty didn’t live to see any Hallowe’en action.

And finally, our Hallowe’en loot.

Happy Hallowe’en from everyone here at BubblesMakeHimSmile.com and thank you for your continued support.

Muahahahaha,
Daniel

Saturday, October 30, 2010

Win a Nintendo DSi XL!! (closed)

For each dollar you donate to the Bubbles Make Him Smile Therapy Fund between November 1st, 2010 and November 30th, 2010 you will automatically be entered into a draw for a chance to win a Nintendo DSi XL New Super Mario Bros & Picross 3D Bundle!!

Prize valued at over $250!!

$1 dollar donation = 1 entry
$5 dollars donation = 5 entries
$10 dollars donation = 10 entries and so forth

Make a donation for your chance to win!

A winner will be announced on Wednesday, December 1st, 2010 through our website and contacted via e-mail to confirm address to be mailed the prize through registered mail.

Good luck!

About the prize:

The Nintendo DSi XL is a high-powered handheld video-game system with an extra large, wide viewing angle screen, and a full size, easy to hold stylus. It comes with features like touch-screen control for a unique gaming experience. Snap photos with the built-in camera, edit and send them to friends, play back your music with Nintendo DSi Sound, or browse the Internet with the Nintendo DSi Browser. From playing games to just playing around, the Nintendo DSi XL does it all.

Nintendo DSi XL

Includes: Nintendo DSi XL System, 3 Pre-Installed Titles - Brain Age Express: Math, Brain Age Express: Arts & Letters and Photo Clock, two free applications: the Nintendo DSi Browser and Flipnote Studio, Nintendo DSi AC Adapter, Rechargeable Battery, Nintendo DSi XL Stylus (2), Easy Start Guide, Manuals (Basic & Controls) and Support Booklet.

Specifications:

  • 93% larger screen* (*than Nintendo DS Lite)
  • 3 pre-installed titles
  • Full size, easy-to-hold stylus
  • Plus, all the functions of the original Nintendo DSi.
  • Bundle includes New Super Mario Bros and Picross 3D
  • With New Super Mario Bros, link wirelessly with a friend to play as both MarioTM and LuigiTM!
  • With Picross 3D, think in 3D with over 250 brainteasers - use logic to unlock

    New Super Mario Bros.

Picross 3D

Prize generously donated by our personal Airmiles Reward Miles.

Friday, October 29, 2010

Spooked by Halloween

Tonight we went to Bryce’s schools Halloween party. We carved a pumpkin, had some treats, and enjoyed the spooky music and costumes. Bryce was afraid of all the kids that were dressed up, regardless of their costumes. He kept saying, “Scary, scary,” even to his classmates. He stayed shy behind me and Daniel during the party.

I hope that it was just a little overwhelming for him, and come Halloween he will be prepared for trick or treating.

Thanks for reading,
Tanaya

Thursday, October 28, 2010

12 Ways to Enjoy Halloween With Your Child With Autism

Tips to prepare for a pleasant, positive Halloween experience.

by Lisa Jo Rudy

1.) Use videos and books to prepare your child for Halloween expectations. There are many Halloween options out there, so choose the ones that are most like your own real-life situation.

2.) Together, decide what costume your child will choose. Take into account not only his or her preferences, but also sensory concerns. For example, a Spiderman costume may include a full mask - which can become overwhelming. Some children love face paint, but others can't take the sticky sensation.

3.) Make a plan that you can stick to. Choose a time to leave the house, plan a path, and know what will happen when you come home (can he dump the candy on the floor? What may he or she eat? If the candy is not a good choice, what substitute treat will she get?).

4.) Keep it simple. Knowing your child, what's reasonable to expect? If he can handle just one house, that's fine. Know that, even when you see other kids running up and down the street, it may not be the right choice for your child.

5.) Create a social picture story. Use digital photos, images from the web, or other sources to show and tell exactly what your child will do. Include all the steps, not forgetting that he must knock at the door, say "Trick or Treat!" and "Thank You!"

6.) Read the social story together, not once but as often as possible. From time to time, toss in a clinker: ask - "what if no one is home?" Help her understand that it's ok to skip a house, to take a piece of candy from a basket (if that's ok with you), and so forth.

7.) Practice, practice, practice! Put on the costume many times before the Big Night, and work out any kinks. Role play the entire treat or treat scenario as often as you can.

8.) Act out a number of scenarios so your child has a small repertoire of possible responses. For example, what should she say when someone says "You look beautiful (or scary or creepy)!" What if you don't like the treat that's offered? What if you meet kids you know?

9.) Scope out the neighborhood ahead of time. Do you see any decorations that might upset your child? Flashing lights that might trigger sensory reactions? If so, consider skipping that house (or visiting ahead of time) to avoid melt-downs.

10.) Consider recruiting peer support. If your child with autism has no siblings (or his siblings have other plans), consider recruiting another typical peer to go house-to-house with you. Explain to that child and his parents that he will be helping your child to understand Halloween a little better. You may be surprised at how helpful another child can be!

11.) On the big night, remember to be flexible. If your well-prepared child suddenly rebels against his costume, consider letting him go in just a silly hat. Remember that Halloween is for fun - and it really doesn't matter what he wears or how many homes he visits.

12.) Take pictures. Get excited. Have fun! Even if you're only going to one house, make it an event. When you're done, put together a memory book that can help you prepare for next year.

Happy Halloween

Wednesday, October 27, 2010

Homework

Today I had a brief parent teacher meeting with Bryce’s teacher. I learned what the outline for the upcoming school year was, and the expectations his teacher had for her students. We have Bryce’s IEP meeting coming up, but this was a great opportunity to sit down with his teacher and have a minute to get to know her a bit more and talk about Bryce.

I can’t remember what brought it up, but she was asking something about homework and I told her how over the years that Bryce has been in school, he hasn’t really ever come home with homework. It wasn’t that he didn’t have any, I’m sure, but I guess for whatever reason he just never came home with any.

A little while ago, Bryce came home with homework for the first time, which for some reason, made me cry and it made me feel like he was part of the class, and accepted, and wasn’t being singled out in anyway. Not that his teachers in the past were doing it, at least not intentionally, I have loved and appreciated all his teachers, but it was really an eye-opener for me. It didn’t bother me until that day though. Why didn’t he come home with homework?

Does your child's teacher treat your child any differently (good or bad) than any of the other students in their class? And what are your thoughts about it?

Anyways, I told her I’d love it if he came home with homework and that it may come back with my writing or Daniels writing, but our thoughts and intentions behind it would be on Bryce’s behalf.

Thanks for reading,
Tanaya

Tuesday, October 26, 2010

Everyday should be Halloween

Occasionally you will be asked, “What are you?” and it will drive you mad having to explain it over and over, but in the end, you’re exactly like everyone else. A trick or treater.

Enjoy Halloween!

It’s the one time a year you can be whatever you want, and no one will judge you!

Monday, October 25, 2010

Halloween (sneak peak)

Our Halloween costumes came in the mail today.

Are you ready for Halloween?

Sunday, October 24, 2010

Peanut Butter COOKIE Time

Today we decided to indulge ourselves and make some peanut butter cookies. This isn’t the first time, so if Bryce appears to be an expert cookie baker in the following pictures, it’s because he is!

We used casual verbal cues which allowed Bryce to be creative to complete the task, but still with a clear goal in mind.

First, we measure out the peanut butter using instructions like, “Put the peanut butter in here,” and then let him problem solve on his own. Finding a spoon, figuring out how to transfer the sticky peanut butter off the spoon and into the measuring cup. You try to avoid any situations that can be frustrating, because if it’s not fun you may lose focus. Helping out with non-verbal cues or hand over hand can work well.

Next we measured out our sugar.

He needed a little help cracking the egg, but once it was broken he was well on his way.

Next was the stirring. He had no problem on this on his own, even reused his same spoon from the peanut butter measuring process.

Rolling the balls is sticky. Bryce hates being dirty. Even if he gets wet he thinks of it as being dirty and doesn’t like that. In this case, he rolls the balls without complaint because he knows what his final reward will be!

Flattening the cookies.

Voila!

Bake with us!

Super Easy Peanut Butter Cookies

Prep time: 10 minutes
Bake time: 15 minutes

PREHEAT oven to 325ºF. Mix 1 cup KRAFT Smooth Peanut Butter, 1/2 cup sugar and 1 egg until well blended. ROLL into 24 balls; place 2 inches apart, on ungreased baking sheet. Flatten with fork. BAKE 15 minutes or until lightly brown. (Do not over bake.) Makes 2 dozen cookies or 24 servings, 1 cookie each.

Daniel

Saturday, October 23, 2010

Communication Shutdown

Can you get by without Facebook or Twitter for 1 day?

Social communication is one of the biggest challenges for people with autism. On November 1st, 2010, join the shutdown to have some idea of what it’s like to be a person with autism by not logging onto your Facebook or Twitter.

Communication Shutdown is a global fundraising campaign that has asked social networking users to log off from all online communications for a day (November 1st, 2010) to encourage a greater understanding of people with autism who find social communication a challenge. An app is available for a small $5 donation that will let your Facebook friends and others know why you’re not online. The donation will go towards an autism-based charity in your country.

Communication Shutdown

BubblesMakeHimSmile.com are proudly joining the campaign and will not be online Facebook or Twitter on November 1st, 2010. We will also be going one step further and not have a blog for that day.

Friday, October 22, 2010

Boys will be boys.

My boys have taken over the living room while watching the Vancouver Canucks game.

Can anyone relate?

I guess boys will be boys.

Thanks for reading,
Tanaya

Thursday, October 21, 2010

Occupational Therapy Consultation Report

Bryce was seen at the school for an occupational therapy consultation. He is in grade 4 and he has a special education assistant. Observations were conducted in the computer lab.

Topics:
1. Gross Motor Skills
2. Fine Motor Skills
3. Computer Skills
4. Sensory/Behavioural Skills

Clinical Impressions:

1. Gross Motor Skills
Bryce tends to walk with a wider base of support but his teacher and special education assistant reported that he does not tend to trip and they are not concerned about his safety. He is also able to run and play on the climber at recess.

2. Fine Motor Skills
Bryce is right hand dominant. He is able to copy words and he is very good at drawing and colouring pictures. When he is asked to print his alphabet he tends to mix up his capital letters and lower case letters and some of his letters are upside down or backwards such as g, f, s, u. Some of his numbers are also backwards. It would be beneficial for Bryce to spend some time working on the letters and numbers he is having difficulties with on work sheets.

3. Computer Skills
Bryce is able to type using his right index finger with a regular keyboard. He is also able to use a mouse to target and click on items.

4. Sensory/Behavioural Skills
Bryce’s teacher and special education assistant reported that he is doing fairly well in the classroom. He had some difficulties with transitions and he tends to run away occasionally.

Recommendations/Plan:

Printing/Alternative to Written Output
It would be beneficial for Bryce to spend some time learning the formation of the letters and numbers he is having difficulties with. A printing program was provided to the school and the teacher reported that she also has printing sheets that can be used in the classroom.

It would also be helpful for Bryce to spend time learning the keyboard and to participate in easy typing programs.

It has been a pleasure to work with Bryce and his dedicated school team.

- a letter from an Occupational Therapist

Wednesday, October 20, 2010

Making Headlines!

Earlier this month I had a talk with Bryce’s acting principal about October being Autism Awareness month in Canada. I gave her a copy of the autism awareness ribbon colouring page and asked her if she could distribute them to the students so they could colour them in, maybe learn something new.

Understanding autism helps people accept autism. Understanding anyone helps people accept people. At least that’s what we hope to accomplish. The more people that know about autism, the more people who are aware, the more people who aren’t afraid. People tend to be afraid of what they do not understanding, and as a self defense mechanism, we bully, we call names, we ignore, we isolate ourselves, and alienate that person. That is why understanding people and accepting people is so crucial.

So we made headlines! Bryce came home the other day with his schools October newsletter, and right on the front was a little blurb about October being Autism Awareness month followed with a chunk of great information. It was more than I could ever ask for! If even one child reads it, or a parent reads it, and talks to their child about it, then we’ve helped that one person become more understanding and accepting. That makes me smile.

Thanks for reading,
Tanaya

Tuesday, October 19, 2010

Kindness can make a world of difference

Asking somebody for help is the easiest way to ensure that you will be able to attain your goals. Yet most people find it extremely difficult to ask for help.

Elaine Hall, an author, advocate, and mother of a teen with autism, has some easy ideas for how to lend a helping hand to families who have a child with autism. Often people want to help, but don’t know what to do. Even a little bit of thoughtfulness and support can make a big difference to someone constantly facing the stress of taking care of someone with autism.

Here are seven free or inexpensive suggestions you can do to help someone who has a child with autism that may not be able to ask for help. Kindness can make a world of difference.

1.) On the way to your weekly or daily trip to the grocery store, ask if there is anything you can pick up for their family.

Pick up some eggs, or a carton of milk and drop it by. If they insist on paying you back, accept. Then, the next time you ask them if there is anything they need, more than likely, they will feel okay to say, "yes, please."

Why? Because often taking a child with autism to a grocery store can be overwhelming.

2.) Learn the facts about autism, but don't give advice.

Parents who have a child recently diagnosed with autism are often overwhelmed with "to dos." Today there is lots of information to help unravel the intricacies of therapies, schools and protocols. There are special needs advocates, websites, books, journals -- you name it, it's out there. What families need more than additional information or advice is someone to listen to them -- they need a friend. A friend who understands what they are going through and doesn't judge, condemn, or give advice.

It's okay to offer a magazine article, a blog post, etc., but only give advice if you are asked!

3.) Take the sibling of the child who has special needs out for a special treat.
When there is a child who has severe needs, the typically developing sibling may often feel left out, or become a "little adult" -- over-responsible, learning at a young age to put their own needs aside. This can cause resentment or denial of their own feelings. Parents juggling their own schedules and therapies for the child with autism may not have the time or space to give what they would like to the sibling. This is where friends and family can be a tremendous support in a very easy way.

Ask if the sibling wants to join your kids for a movie, an ice cream, an outing. Or if you don't have kids, find out what interests the sibling, and take them to a ball game, a dance concert or just a walk around the block.

And speaking of walks -- this is really number three and a half -- but if the family with autism has a dog, offer to take their dog for a walk. That's one more thing they don't have to think about. Siblings of a brother or sister with autism have a different life than their typically developing peers. Often, as the siblings mature, they see how their brother/sister has enriched their own lives. You can be the person who makes a difference in their young life.

4.) Give the parents or single parent a night out.

Okay, this is a bit more challenging. You must be willing to leave your comfort zone to be available to be with a child who processes the world differently. Learn about autism. Learn about joining a child's world. Spending time with a child who has autism can change the way you experience the world!

Start with just a half hour at a time. Or if you have the financial means, offer to pay for childcare once a month -- or even once a year! With the divorce rate of parents with children who have autism at 80 percent (almost twice the national average) you can be the one who helps save a marriage. Or the one that helps a single mom or dad meet Mr. or Mrs. "Right!"

5.) Okay, you're not good with kids. But you're organized, and like to help others be the same. Offer to help with housework or organize their office.

Come over, wash their dishes, take out the trash -- any small act can be so helpful. Or again, if you have the financial means, pay for someone to help clean their house. Parents with children who have special needs have to compromise on something and sometimes that's household chores.

6.) Bring over a cooked meal.

If you are real ambitious, start a food bank with your neighbors, or synagogue or church group. Even having someone bring a cooked meal over once a month can make all the difference for a stressed recently diagnosed family with autism.

7.) Ask your high school child to volunteer their time weekly to play with the child who has autism.

Many schools now offer community service hours for teens who volunteer in the community: programs like Friendship Circle, Best Buddies and Circle of Friends. Friendship Circle pairs kids with special needs to go into the home and play with the child two hours a week. Many people say how their lives have been enriched by becoming friends with someone who has autism.

Thanks for reading,
Tanaya

Monday, October 18, 2010

Children Learn What They Live

Children Learn What They Live
by Dorothy Law Nolte

If a child lives with criticism, he learns to condemn.
If a child lives with hostility, he learns to fight.
If a child lives with ridicule, he learns to be shy.
If a child lives with shame, he learns to feel guilty.
If a child lives with tolerance, he learns to be patient.
If a child lives with encouragement, he learns confidence.
If a child lives with praise, he learns to appreciate.
If a child lives with fairness, he learns justice.
If a child lives with security, he learns to have faith.
If a child lives with approval, he learns to like himself.
If a child lives with acceptance and friendship, he learns to find love in the world.

Sunday, October 17, 2010

3 Little Pumpkins

This Sunday was a Sunday that only comes once a year. Today was Pumpkin carving day!

Step 1: 3 Little Pumpkins

Step 2: Bryce and the creative process.

Step 3: GUTS! This year Bryce decided to help with the guts. Last year sensitivity to being “dirty” meant I had to do all lot of the work. This year the tables were turned!

Step 4: Strike a pose with your pumpkin.

Step 5: Welcome Smiley!

Step 6: Welcome Zombie!

Step 6: Welcome Kitty!

HAPPY HALLOWE’EN!

Daniel

Saturday, October 16, 2010

When I look into my child's eyes, I see...

Yesterday we asked our Facebook friends to finish this sentence: “When I look into my childs eyes, I see...” and the responses were very beautiful.

Today I wanted to fill in the blank myself.

When I look into my child's eyes I see questions waiting to be answered. And while I don’t have all the answers to everything, I am determined, that one day, all his questions will be answered.

Never give up.

Friday, October 15, 2010

Acronyms of Autism

A little guide to help understand the language of autism.

AAC – Augmentative and Alternative Communication; communication through nonverbal means

ABA – Applied Behavior Analysis; a common type of autism therapy

AS – Asperger’s Syndrome; one of the five types of autism

ASC – Autism Spectrum Condition(s); a term preferred by neurodiversity advocates

ASD – Autism Spectrum Disorder(s); refers to the five types of autism

DIR – Developmental, Individual Differences, Relationship-based; a common type of autism therapy

IEP - Individualized Education Program

NT - Neurotypical

OT – Occupational Therapy; therapy used to address sensory and motor skill deficiencies, sometimes means occupational therapist

PDD-NOS – Pervasive Developmental Disorder Not Otherwise Specified; one of the five types of autism

PECS – Picture Exchange Communication System; a method of communication using picture symbols

RDI – Relationship Development Intervention; a common type of autism therapy

SLP – Speech-Language Pathologist; a speech therapist with at least a master’s degree and nationally certified and licensed

SPD – Sensory Processing Disorder; a common condition seen among those with autism spectrum disorders

ST – Speech Therapy; therapy used to increase a person’s skill with speech and language, sometimes means speech therapist

Always Unique Totally Intelligent Sometimes Mysterious. Autism.

Thursday, October 14, 2010

The Five Types of Autism

No one individual experiences autism in the same exact way.

It is a spectrum. There is more than one type of autism.

Autism Spectrum Disorders

Asperger Syndrome

Asperger Syndrome is one of the few ASDs (autism spectrum disorders) and is diagnosed by the absence of significant socialized tendencies. These characteristics include finding difficulty in social interaction and the limited and monotonous patterns of an individual's behavior and what happens to keep their interests. Other symptoms can include clumsiness and abnormal use of jargon. Asperger differs from other ASDs because it seeks to preserve lingual and the development of cognitive capabilities. There is no known cause for the disorder and no treatment to cure the disorder.

Kanner's Syndrome

Kanner Syndrome, otherwise known as autism, is autism in its classic form. It is defined as a neural developmental disorder and is characterized by weakened communication and social interaction and the limitation and repetitiveness of behavior. Autism is usually diagnosed by the time the child hits the age of 3. It affects information the brain processes by changing the way nerve cells and synapses are allotted to connect and be organized. Just like Asperger Syndrome, Kanner Syndrome is one of the few ASDs.

PDD-NOS

The acronym PDD-NOS stands for Pervasive Developmental Disorder - Not Otherwise Specified and is defined as a pervasive developmental disorder and the disorder that completes the group of ASDs. With the diagnosis of PDD-NOS, an individual can qualify for some of the characteristics found in autism and Asperberger, but because they do not fit all of the criterion for the disorders, they become diagnosed with PDD-NOS. It is commonly referred to as atypical autism because although it is autism, it is very hard for it to fall in the category of autism.

Rett's Syndrome

Rett syndrome is a developmental disorder of the neurological system that affects a major component of the central nervous system, known as "grey matter". This is generally characterized by the outward appearance of small feet, hands, and a decrease in the rate at which an individual's head is supposed to go. Hand movements are repetitive. Scoliosis, constipation, and the failure to grow are also common problems with Rett. It is very rare, but when it does happen, it usually only affects girls.

Childhood Disintegrative Disorder

Similar to Rett Syndrome, Childhood Disintegrative Disorder is also rare. Children who have it typically appear to be normal at birth, growth occurs when it is supposed to occur, no signs of anything potentially problematic. However, at age two or four, things take a shift. Instead of progressing, the child seems to regress. They will have no desire to interact with kids and have no interest in playing. Talking will either end completely or decrease in skill from what it previously had been.

Wednesday, October 13, 2010

Snappy answers to annoying comments about autism

Top 10 snappy answers to annoying comments about autism

by Lisa Jo Rudy

If you're a parent with a child on the spectrum, you've probably responded to the same annoying remarks and questions a thousand times. Here's a handy list of responses that... you'll probably never use out loud (but are fun to imagine using)!

1. “He can’t be autistic -- he can talk!” (or make eye contact, smile, engage)
And yet, amazingly, he’s still autistic! Y’see, autism is a spectrum disorder, and that means …

2. “Oh, she must be SO good at math!” (or science or music)
Actually, her great talent is in memorizing and reciting lines from Sponge Bob videos! (Or those annoying Thomas the Tank Engine songs!)

3. “All he needs is more discipline, and he’ll get the message.”
Yup', it’s true -- if you give a child enough time outs, he’ll just stop being autistic. And if I speak French to you loudly enough, you’ll become fluent!

4. “You poor thing, it must be so upsetting to have a child with a disability.”
Yes, it can be hard. And pity really helps me to get through the day and feel better about myself and my child. So... thanks so much!

5. “Will he be able to go to college (or get married or hold down a job)?”
Hm. Good question. By the way, has your daughter’s divorce been finalized yet? And I’m so sorry to hear that your son was recently laid off from his job...

6. “I have a friend whose child was autistic, and she cured him!”
Wow! So I guess she’s enjoying the millions she made after figuring out how to cure autism? I bet her second home is a yacht!

7. “If she can’t behave properly, you shouldn’t BRING her to the grocery store!”
Wow -- that would be great. Should I fax you my grocery list, or send it by email? I’ll really enjoy the delivery service!

8. “We can’t include him in typical classes, it wouldn’t be fair to the other kids.”
Hm, that’s an interesting perspective. So I guess you have a pretty big endowment to pay for all the law suits? That must be great!

9. “We can’t accept her at our school because she doesn’t have a learning disability.”
Ohhhh... what a shame! Oh, wait, look, she’s suddenly developed dyslexia! Can she come to your school now?

10. “You should make more time for yourself!”
You’re so right! So will you be babysitting tonight or tomorrow night?

While some of the comments and questions that we get about autism on a daily basis may seem annoying, and in some cases, plain out rude, they are probably coming from people who just don’t know any different. This is why educating people about autism is so important, now more than ever.

Tuesday, October 12, 2010

Help Bryce Defeat Autism

I just wanted to make something clear.

We are not looking for a cure for autism. While a cure would be great, and we’d probably be first in line when that day comes about, we are looking for a way to defeat it. We want to defeat the lack of knowledge and misunderstanding people have about autism, while promoting autism acceptance and awareness.

You can help us defeat autism by printing and colouring our autism awareness ribbon and displaying it. Get your school, co-workers, friends, and family involved. You can even take pictures of your finished work and send them to us and we’ll post them on our website! Together we can spread autism awareness.

You can help us defeat autism by telling someone about autism. Did you know that 1 in 91 children have autism? Chances are you know someone, or know someone who knows someone that knows someone who has autism. The more people that are informed about autism, the more people that understand it and accept it.

You can help us defeat autism by being a friend to someone with autism. You can never have too many friends, right?! After all, someone with autism wants what everyone else wants, to be accepted.

And finally, you can help us defeat autism by forwarding this message to everyone you know. While it may seem like something small, it’s the little things that we do that have a big impact.

Thanks for reading,
Tanaya

Monday, October 11, 2010

Happy Thanksgiving, eh!

"As we express our gratitude, we must never forget that the highest appreciation is not to utter words, but to live by them." -John Fitzgerald Kennedy

Happy Thanksgiving, eh!

Sunday, October 10, 2010

Understanding Autism.

As his parents, we know what he wants a week before he asks for it. And we’re always a couple steps before him when it comes to how his day will go. But for the rest of the world, understanding Bryce, can seem like a blur.

October 10th, 2010

We went to McDonald’s and I asked Bryce what he would like to eat. He decided that he wanted a a chicken burger and French fries. He clearly said to the cashier, “Chicken burger, French fries.” She stared at him. He said, “Want the chicken burger, French fries” again. Still nothing. I told her, “He wants the chicken burger combo.” I thought it was strange.

When we finally received our order and sat down, Bryce asked for his chicken burger cut into 4 pieces. He asked me for a fork, which I looked in the condiment area and wasn’t able to find any. I told him to go ask the cashier for a fork. He walked up and again, clearly said, “Want the knife, want the knife.” Again she appeared clueless, I told her, “He wanted a plastic knife” and she gave it to him.

It may have just been one incident, but I hope the world is ready for Bryce. He tries extremely hard but it seems that most people aren’t giving much effort to try to understand him.

Daniel

Saturday, October 9, 2010

Squamish Farmers’ Market (till next time)

Every Saturday from May 15th to October 9th, rain or shine, the Squamish Farmers’ Market provides the community with the freshest, most local organic foods available in the season, local artisans, crafts, and live music while supporting their local economy and foster community and sustainability.

The Squamish Farmers’ Market Association generously accepted us to participate in their event and be part of the community, blowing bubbles, and promoting autism awareness and acceptance. Despite the rain and gloomy weather and being Thanksgiving long weekend, it was another great turn out as we attended the last day of the seasons market. We had some great artists colouring in our autism awareness ribbon, and a lot of smiles from our bubbles.

Thank you so much Squamish, till next time.

Thanks for reading,
Tanaya

Friday, October 8, 2010

Autism is...

“Beautiful.”

“Fascinating.”

“Deep amazement.”

“Soul and spirit! Unconditional love! Challenging but rewarding! Bittersweet!”

“A journey from grace to grace.”

“A special gift from God.”

“An emotional rollercoaster that I'm blessed to travel on everyday with my beautiful autistic angel.”

“A ride full of emotions and not knowing where it's going to take you in life.”

“For the strong hearted. Hope, love, strength, compassion, devotion, commitment, patients. Autism is... a way of life.”

“A lifestyle. Just another way of seeing the world. The future.”

“The reminder that the simple things in life are the most precious.”

Autism Creations

These are just a handful of the replies from Autism Creations Facebook fans when they were asked “Would you like to help with my next tag I will be working on? Theme: “Autism Is”. In your own words, finish this sentence, ‘Autism is???’”

Autism has been labeled many different things in society, and for the most part, looked upon negatively or like a burden, but not one person in the group had anything bad to say about autism. I was very touched and moved by the response this topic received and the overall message I took back from it: Never give up, take each day by day, and love unconditionally.

So in your own words, finish this sentence: “Autism is...”

Thursday, October 7, 2010

Self-regulating or stimming

Yesterday I talked about self-regulating, or ‘stimming’, a way to self-regulate sensory input and manage sensory integration dysfunction and may be stimulating or calming.

Some people look at stimming as embarrassing or inappropriate, depending on what the action is. I look at it as my child’s own way of relaxing himself and while it can be frustrating at times, and yes, can even be embarrassing or inappropriate depending where we are and what he is doing, I don’t stop it. That being said, I don’t encourage either.

Bryce’s most recent way of stimming is putting his pinky finger in the back of his mouth, and from what I can tell, in between the inside of his cheek and his teeth. (I’m pretty sure he’s not chewing on his finger.) He usually does this when he is drawing, or focusing on something, and it may even help him concentrate on what he is doing. Every time he does do it though I ask him to stop, and he’ll stop for a second or two, and then go back at it.

While it can be disruptive in society’s eyes, I don’t see it as something bad, and unless it turns into something that harms him, or harms someone else, I allow it. Not because I want to, or even choose to, but because it’s a way for Bryce to regulate himself and relax. I wouldn’t want someone taking away something that I do to relax, and I definitely am not going to stop something that helps my child relax.

On the plus side, Bryce’s stimming is an indicator for us to see how he is coping with a situation. For example, when he was first entering the school system, he’d come home with a soaking wet t-shirt because he was chewing on his sleeves, and on his collar. He did it to calm himself because he was over stimulated at school. From that we learned that when Bryce is stressing out, he’d chew his shirts as his way of coping the situation. This helps us understand when he is stressed so we can help prevent it.

If you are trying to stop a self-stimulating behaviour, for whatever reason, my only advice would be to replace it with something else that you find more appropriate or more suitable, don’t just take it away.

Thanks for reading,
Tanaya

Wednesday, October 6, 2010

What’s your stim?

Self-regulating, or ‘stimming’ is a repetitive behavior and may involve any or all of the senses in various degrees in different individuals:

  • Visual – staring at lights, blinking, gazing at fingers, lining up objects
  • Auditory – tapping fingers, snapping fingers, grunting, humming
  • Smell – smelling objects, sniffing people
  • Taste – licking objects, placing objects in mouth
  • Tactile – scratching, clapping, feeling objects nail biting, hair twisting, toe-walking
  • Vestibular – rocking, spinning, jumping, pacing
  • Proprioception – teeth grinding, pacing, jumping

Individuals engage in stimming as a way to self-regulate sensory input and manage sensory integration dysfunction. These behaviors may be excitatory (stimulating) or inhibitory (calming) with the result of normalizing sensations.

While stimming is a more common trait for people with autism, all of us engage in some of these behaviours occasionally, especially when we are stressed, and sometimes without even knowing. The only difference between you and a person with autism is, is that a person with autism may engage in these activities excessively and it may interfere with learning or activities of daily living.

So next time you see a child flapping their arms, rocking back and forth, or doing things that society has labeled as ‘not normal’ please think about your reaction. After all, they’re not staring at you when you’re tapping your foot, or clicking your pen.

Thanks for reading,
Tanaya

Tuesday, October 5, 2010

Autism Awareness

April is National Autism Awareness month and October is Autism Awareness month in Canada, but for people who love someone with autism, autism awareness is everyday. How do you promote awareness in your community?

Please share your ideas, and help spread autism awareness!

Autism: Support. Educate. Adovcate. Love.

Thanks for reading,
Tanaya

Monday, October 4, 2010

A Letter From A Child With Autism

When you just don't know how to explain autism to your family and friends, this letter just may be able to help.

Dear Family and Friends,

            I understand that we will be visiting each other for some get-togethers this year.  Sometimes these visits can be very hard for me, but here is some information that might help our visit to be more successful.  As you probably know, I am challenged by a hidden disability called Autism, or what some people refer to as Pervasive Developmental Disorder (PDD).  Autism/PDD is a neurodevelopment disorder which makes it hard for me to understand the environment around me.  I have barriers in my brain that you can’t see, but which make it difficult for me to adapt to my surroundings.

            Sometimes I may seem rude and abrupt or silly and out of control, but it is only because I have to try so hard to understand people and at the same time, make myself understood.  People with autism have different abilities.  Some may not speak, some will write beautiful poetry.  Others are whizzes in math (Albert Einstein was thought to be autistic), or may have difficulty making friends.  We are ALL different and need various degrees of support.

            Sometimes when I am touched unexpectedly, it might feel painful and make me want to run away.  I get easily frustrated, too.  Being with lots of other people is like standing next to a moving freight train and trying to decide how and when to jump aboard.  I feel frightened and confused a lot of the time.  This is why I need to have things the same as much as possible.  Once I learn how things happen, I can get by OK.  But if something, anything, changes then I have to relearn the situation all over again!  It is very hard.

            When you try to talk to me, I often can’t understand what you say because there is a lot of distraction around.  I have to concentrate very hard to hear and understand one thing at a time.  You might think I am ignoring you – I am not.  Rather, I am hearing everything and not knowing what is most important to respond to.

            Get-togethers are exceptionally hard because there are so many different people, places and things going on that are out of my ordinary realm.  This may be fun and adventurous for most people, but for me, it’s very hard work and can be extremely stressful.  I often have to get away from all the commotion to calm down.  It would be great if I had a private place set up to where I could retreat every time I go to get-togethers.

            If I cannot sit at the meal table, do not think I am misbehaved or my parents have no control over me.  Sitting in one place for even five minutes is often impossible for me.  I feel so antsy and overwhelmed by all the smells, sounds, and people – I just have to get up and move about.  Please don’t hold up your meal for me – go on without me, and my parents will handle the situation the best way they know how.

            Eating in general is hard for me.  If you understand that autism is a sensory processing disorder, it’s no wonder eating is a problem! Think of all the senses involved with eating.  Sight, smell, taste, touch AND all the complicated mechanics that are involved.  Chewing and swallowing is something that a lot of people with autism have trouble with.  I am not picky – I literally cannot eat certain foods as my sensory system and/or oral motor coordination are impaired.

            Don’t be disappointed if Mom hasn’t dressed me in the best clothes there are.  It’s because she knows how much stiff and frilly clothes drive me buggy!  I have to feel comfortable in my clothes or I will just be miserable.  When I go to someone else’s house, I may appear crabby.  Things have to be done in ways I am familiar with or else I might get confused and frustrated.  It doesn’t mean you have to change the way you are doing things – just please be patient with me, and understanding of how I have to cope.  Mom and Dad have no control over how my autism makes me feel inside.  People with autism often have little things that they do to help themselves feel more comfortable.  The grown-ups call it “self-regulation” or “stimming.” I might rock, hum, flick my fingers, tap a string, or any number of different things.  I am not trying to be disruptive or weird.  Again, I am doing what I have to do for my brain to adapt to your world.  Sometimes I cannot stop myself from talking, singing, laughing, or doing an activity I enjoy.  The grown-ups call this “perseverating” which is kinda like self-regulation or stimming.  I do this only because I have found something to occupy myself that makes me feel comfortable.  Perseverating behaviors are good to a certain degree because they help me calm down.

            Please be respectful to my Mom and Dad if they let me “stim” for a while as they know me best and what helps to calm me.  Remember that my Mom and Dad have to watch me much more closely than the average child.  This is for my own safety, and preservation of your possessions.  It hurts my parents’ feelings to be criticized for being over-protective, or condemned for not watching me close enough.  They are human and have been given an assignment intended for saints.  My parents are good people and need your support and not rude remarks.

            Gatherings are filled with sights, sounds, and smells.  The average household is turned into a busy, frantic, festive place.  Remember that this may be fun for you, but it’s very hard work for me to conform.  If I fall apart or act out in a way that you consider socially inappropriate, please remember that I don’t possess the neurological system that is required to follow some social rules.  I am a unique person – an interesting person.  I will find my place at these celebrations that is comfortable for us all, as long as you’ll try to view the world through my eyes!

- Author unknown

Feel free to click on the graphic below to save or print ‘A letter from a child with autism’ for your own use. (doc file)

letter

Sunday, October 3, 2010

The next 2000

We would like to step back and thank all of our supporters here on the blog, Facebook, Twitter, and YouTube.

Thanks to all your support, and the support of contributors we’ve been able to raise over $5,500 for the Bubbles Make Him Smile Therapy Fund since March 2010. As you may already know we are only $2,000 away now from our goal of $7,560.

We are having fun educating, sharing and promoting autism awareness and acceptance. Now that we are so close we need everyone’s help more than ever!

We’ve been working hard at event initiatives, driving funding up through the sale of our Bubble Blowers, and doing all we can to tell people our story.

We appreciate all that we have received, and are excited about the future.

If anyone has any suggestion on how we can do more, and how we can raise more to push us to the next $2,000, please let us know.

Your feedback is valuable to us, and we hope that we can show our commitment and work hard for the next $2,000.

Thank you all,
Daniel

Saturday, October 2, 2010

Squamish Farmers’ Market (part deux)

Every Saturday from May 15th to October 9th, rain or shine, the Squamish Farmers’ Market provides the community with the freshest, most local organic foods available in the season, local artisans, crafts, and live music while supporting their local economy and foster community and sustainability.

The Squamish Farmers’ Market Association generously accepted us to participate in their event and be part of the community, blowing bubbles, and promoting autism awareness and acceptance. The sun was shining, the children smiling, as we attended the event again and had another amazing time, met a lot of new people, saw some familiar faces, and as always, we really had a lot of fun!

Thank you so much Squamish for welcoming us and the continued wonderful support today at the Squamish Farmers’ Market! We hope you enjoyed our bubbles as much as we enjoyed your smiles (again)!

Thanks for reading,
Tanaya

Friday, October 1, 2010

Ten Things Every Child With Autism Wishes You Knew

Here is a condensed version of the most recent authorized version of "Ten Things Every Child With Autism Wishes You Knew" written by award-winning author and parent, Ellen Notbohm.

This article defines the top ten characteristics of living with autism from the viewpoint of a child.

Ten Things Every Child With Autism Wishes You Knew
by Ellen Notbohm

Some days it seems the only predictable thing about it is the unpredictability. The only consistent attribute -- the inconsistency. There is little argument on any level but that autism is baffling, even to those who spend their lives around it. The child who lives with autism may look “normal” but his behavior can be perplexing and downright difficult.

Autism was once thought an “incurable” disorder, but that notion is crumbling in the face knowledge and understanding that is increasing even as you read this. Every day, individuals with autism are showing us that they can overcome, compensate for and otherwise manage many of autism’s most challenging characteristics. Equipping those around our children with simple understanding of autism’s most basic elements has a tremendous impact on their ability to journey towards productive, independent adulthood.

Autism is an extremely complex disorder but for purposes of this one article, we can distill its myriad characteristics into four fundamental areas: sensory processing challenges, speech/language delays and impairments, the elusive social interaction skills and whole child/self-esteem issues. And though these four elements may be common to many children, keep front-of-mind the fact that autism is a spectrum disorder: no two (or ten or twenty) children with autism will be completely alike. Every child will be at a different point on the spectrum. And, just as importantly – every parent, teacher and caregiver will be at a different point on the spectrum. Child or adult, each will have a unique set of needs.

Here are ten things every child with autism wishes you knew:

1. I am first and foremost a child. I have autism. I am not primarily “autistic.” My autism is only one aspect of my total character. It does not define me as a person. Are you a person with thoughts, feelings and many talents, or are you just fat (overweight), myopic (wear glasses) or klutzy (uncoordinated, not good at sports)? Those may be things that I see first when I meet you, but they are not necessarily what you are all about.

2. My sensory perceptions are disordered. Sensory integration may be the most difficult aspect of autism to understand, but it is arguably the most critical. It his means that the ordinary sights, sounds, smells, tastes and touches of everyday that you may not even notice can be downright painful for me. The very environment in which I have to live often seems hostile. I may appear withdrawn or belligerent to you but I am really just trying to defend myself.

3. Please remember to distinguish between won’t (I choose not to) and can’t (I am not able to).

4. I am a concrete thinker. This means I interpret language very literally. It’s very confusing for me when you say, “Hold your horses, cowboy!” when what you really mean is “Please stop running.” Don’t tell me something is a “piece of cake” when there is no dessert in sight and what you really mean is “this will be easy for you to do.” When you say “It’s pouring cats and dogs,” I see pets coming out of a pitcher. Please just tell me “It’s raining very hard.”

Idioms, puns, nuances, double entendres, inference, metaphors, allusions and sarcasm are lost on me.

5. Please be patient with my limited vocabulary. It’s hard for me to tell you what I need when I don’t know the words to describe my feelings. I may be hungry, frustrated, frightened or confused but right now those words are beyond my ability to express. Be alert for body language, withdrawal, agitation or other signs that something is wrong.

6. Because language is so difficult for me, I am very visually oriented. Please show me how to do something rather than just telling me. And please be prepared to show me many times. Lots of consistent repetition helps me learn.

7. Please focus and build on what I can do rather than what I can’t do. Like any other human, I can’t learn in an environment where I’m constantly made to feel that I’m not good enough and that I need “fixing.” Trying anything new when I am almost sure to be met with criticism, however “constructive,” becomes something to be avoided. Look for my strengths and you will find them. There is more than one “right” way to do most things.

8. Please help me with social interactions. It may look like I don’t want to play with the other kids on the playground, but sometimes it’s just that I simply do not know how to start a conversation or enter a play situation. If you can encourage other children to invite me to join them at kickball or shooting baskets, it may be that I’m delighted to be included.

9. Try to identify what triggers my meltdowns. Meltdowns, blow-ups, tantrums or whatever you want to call them are even more horrid for me than they are for you. They occur because one or more of my senses has gone into overload. If you can figure out why my meltdowns occur, they can be prevented. Keep a log noting times, settings, people, activities. A pattern may emerge.

Try to remember that all behavior is a form of communication. It tells you, when my words cannot, how I perceive something that is happening in my environment.

10. If you are a family member, please love me unconditionally. Banish thoughts like, “If he would just……” and “Why can’t she…..” You did not fulfill every last expectation your parents had for you and you wouldn’t like being constantly reminded of it. I did not choose to have autism. But remember that it is happening to me, not you. Without your support, my chances of successful, self-reliant adulthood are slim. With your support and guidance, the possibilities are broader than you might think. I promise you – I am worth it.

And finally, three words: Patience. Patience. Patience. Work to view my autism as a different ability rather than a disability. Look past what you may see as limitations and see the gifts autism has given me. It may be true that I’m not good at eye contact or conversation, but have you noticed that I don’t lie, cheat at games, tattle on my classmates or pass judgment on other people? Also true that I probably won’t be the next Michael Jordan. But with my attention to fine detail and capacity for extraordinary focus, I might be the next Einstein. Or Mozart. Or Van Gogh.

They had autism too.

All that I might become won’t happen without you as my foundation. Think through some of those societal ‘rules’ and if they don’t make sense for me, let them go. Be my advocate, be my friend, and we’ll see just how far I can go.

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