positive words: how to encourage your foster and adopted children

positive words- how to encourage your foster and adopted childrenYou can listen to a recording of this post, simply scroll to the bottom.

There is so much negative in your child’s life. Their mind alone is sending detrimental messages continuously. If they come from a neglectful or abusive background, kids and teens wonder:

Do they really love me? Are you going to treat me like they did? Am I good enough for them? Will they keep me? Am I pretty enough? I’m probably not nice enough. 

Our children heard, whether verbally, or by cues, they weren’t worth loving, weren’t worth feeding or clothing. They felt like nothing.

Now, it’s time to help them feel like somebody by adding some positives to the list, not only with actions, but with words. You may have heard the parenting advice that says to have five positives to one negative.

For example, if you say, “I’m unhappy with your behavior, you cannot hit people,” you would have five comments that praise your child when you see him/her doing something well (e.g. You shared your toys well, thank you. Good job helping me set the table, I love it when you’re so helpful. Thank you for being so nice to your brother, you’re a great sister.)

Look for every opportunity to praise your kids, and be specific. 

Another way to encourage and praise your child is, if they are really intelligent and good at their school work, hang it on the fridge. If you’re the type that likes to see a plain refrigerator, sparkling clean, think of all the years when you’ll have that opportunity. Your kids will only be little for so long, and you only have so much time to show them you’re proud of them. If you have other children who aren’t as good in school, I would tailor this so you don’t discourage other children in the home.

If your child is an artist, and enjoys doodling, painting, or pasting, support their artistic side by posting their art where it’s visible. You can create an art gallery on any wall. Magnetic paint is an awesome tool!

If your child is good at sports, even if you’re akin to Kelly Clarkson in heels on a baseball field, take the time to practice with your child. Play catch with them, shoot hoops, kick the ball in the yard.

One of my favorite commercials is one that promotes getting outside and getting active with your kids. The family’s in the driveway, mom isn’t fit, she isn’t a star basketball player, and it shows, but she tries her best. She enthusiastically tries to dunk the ball in the hoop that hangs from the garage door, while her two children look on in utter amazement. She then lobs the ball to her son, telling him to go at it. This involvement is encouragement, even if nothing is said. When you show your child you care, they’re encouraged.

Praise your kids when they do well, even if it’s something small. But be honest, they know when you’re fibbing. Even when your child isn’t the best in a sport, there are times when you can praise them. If they don’t catch the ball, but they stop it, praise that. Some children are good at gymnastics, taking them to the park gives them a chance to show off their skills. Most kids will love showing you what they can do.
replace negative messages with positive

I love the part in the book and movie, The Help, when the nanny says to the young girl, “You’re smart, you’re kind, you’re beautiful.” I have taken that example and created one a little different. I say to Payton, “You’re beautiful, smart, and kind, and I love you.” I imagine she will remember the last words I say the most, so I place the ones I feel are most important at the end.

In this day when there is so much emphasis placed on beauty, I want her to know that no matter what, I think she’s beautiful. I want her to be confident in her intelligence and believe she can be and do anything, so I tell her she’s smart. One of the most important ones for me is that she knows she is kind, and that she use every opportunity to be kind to others. Lastly, no matter where she goes or what she does, I want her to know I love her. Always. I never want her to question my love for who she is.

I constantly remind my children that I love them no matter what they do. If Payton hasn’t been doing well, I make sure to tell her she isn’t a bad girl, she just made a wrong choice, and I love her no matter what she does. I reaffirm with words, hugs, rocking her, touching her back, and holding her hand. In turn, she has come from wanting little to no affection to being a very cuddly little girl.

I remember the greatest example of what praise and love can do for someone. A woman joined the writers group I was in, I could tell she had some kind of disability, but she smiled during the whole meeting. Afterwards, she began a conversation with me. It wasn’t easy to understand her, but I made every effort to hear what she had to say. I was struck by this young woman’s confidence. How did she gain such confidence? Knowing nothing of her background, I would assume that someone who had great influence in her life stood beside her, told her she could do it, encouraged and praised her. What amazing things can be accomplished when someone believes in us! Do it for your children.

How do you encourage and place positives in your child’s life?

Check out the other posts in this series on words:
Our Words and How They Affect Our Kids
Your Words Are Hurting My Child (how others words affect our children)

You can find more posts on adoption, foster care, and autism on my CONTENTS page.

You can receive each post made to Lovin’ Adoptin’ by subscribing in the upper right corner. If you’re on a mobile device, this can be done on the web version. You can “like” my Facebook page and follow me on Twitter and Pinterest for more helpful information and links.

navigating IEP meetings

navigating IEP meetings
Autism is an ever evolving world where I frequently feel left behind. I’m thankful our autism world is evolving because I know it could remain stagnant. This is all proof that I don’t always know what I’m doing in this autism world and I’m learning, just as you are.

IEPs is one of those places where I’m feeling less-than. Yeah, I thought they wouldn’t be too difficult. Wrong. I thought I could ignore those offers from outside agencies who can help navigate the IEPs and make sure the school is caring for my child in the proper way. For now, I can, but I’m realizing why they’re needed.

Last week we had an IEP planning meeting to update Jeremiah’s IEP. In the past I’ve made my requests known, and they were ignored. Professionals are really adept at arguing the points they’ve been ingrained with, even if those ideas are wrong and harmful to autistic people. There was only one goal on Jeremiah’s IEP in the past three years that I had a problem with, and that was with requesting snack several times during the alloted snack time.

This time around I had an aversion to something they placed in the IEP about requesting Jeremiah make eye contact for a certain amount of time. I had problems when it was first presented about a year ago, and I noticed it was in the IEP again. I raised my hand, summoning the argument from deep within.

See, I can argue my point exceptionally well at home. I can spout what I want to say and give the reasoning behind it, but I fail miserably when confronting the actual human. Gee, I wish it were a paper I was filling out instead of having to tell professionals I disagree with their approach and honestly find it harmful.

In the IEP it stated how many seconds they wanted Jeremiah to give eye contact; seven to twelve-seconds. Now, to perceive how long this is, please stare at something besides your computer/phone/iPad screen for seven-seconds, counting out loud. Was that very long considering the child is being expected to look in someone’s eyes? Now, do the same exercise for twelve-seconds.

I’m not autistic. Well, I don’t have a diagnosis, and whether I have autism or not could be argued. I DO NOT look at anyone in the eye for seven-seconds while I’m speaking to them. I said this in the meeting. My eyes dart everywhere. I look the person in the eyes and look away, make eye contact again, and repeat.

Asking an autistic person to make eye contact is torturous. The founder of Autism Speaks was recently called out by autistic adults when she said about autistic people, “…look them in the eye.” Why? Because autistic people have a great aversion to looking people in the eye. It’s a very common held understanding in the autism community.

Thankfully, and I really mean that with sincerity, Jeremiah will make eye contact with people without prompting. He’s an anomaly. I didn’t feel that asking him to look at them when requesting something was wrong for him, but it would be wrong for so many people with autism. But to ask him to make that eye contact for any amount of time is ridiculous. If he looks at you, he looks at you.

I gave this example, and I feel it’s true so often for our autistic kiddos. If a typical functioning child were to ask for something, all they would have to do is say, “Can I have some juice please,” and we might expect them to look at us for a moment – a moment. We would not expect them to stare at us for an alloted amount of time. Jeremiah’s communication is his PECS pictures, gazing, or pointing to something, this is all he has up his sleeve. So, when he hands them a picture and looks at them, he should get what he wants if it’s not out of reason. Period. No time limit. No eye gaze for seven seconds.

My point here is not only to vent, but to show you that you need to read over your child’s IEP carefully (they should provide you with a copy prior to the meeting), attend the meeting, and ask any questions you have.

Since I’m new to the IEP deal, I got some input from some friends who have children on the spectrum. This is what was advised: Request Jeremiah have a one-on-one aid (don’t let them write paraprofessional on the IEP service times) so he can access the general education curriculum in his least restrictive environment to ensure he gets his right to a Free Appropriate Public Education.

During the IEP meeting when I told the case manager I wanted a one-on-one aid, her and the Special Ed teacher who will work with Jeremiah when he moves into Kindergarten both said they would get in trouble for writing a request for a one-on-one aid. They did write in specifics; Jeremiah will need assistance with toiletng, minor and major transitions, both inside and outside the classroom, he needs someone available due to safety (eloping) concerns. Basically he needs a one-on-one aid, and they can’t write it. Whatever.

What I didn’t realize is my friend had recommended I have them place this request in the “Parents Comments” section, which I rectified the following day when the IEP was semi-finalized (yeah, we still have another meeting because a professor who is working with the school couldn’t make it).

I have a feeling some of you have been through these IEPs. Some of you have advice to offer others, some of you have things you didn’t do, but wish you did. Things you wish you’d known, but didn’t. So, I, and others, would love to hear what you have to say in the comments. You can share your advice, or a link to a website that has helpful information on IEPs.


Check out the CONTENTS page for more posts on autism, adoption, and foster care.

You can receive each post made to Lovin’ Adoptin’ in the upper right corner. If you’re on a mobile device, this can be done on the web version. You can also “like” my Facebook page and follow me on Twitter and Pinterest for more helpful information and links.

your words are hurting my child (adoption & foster)

your words are hurting my child
We are not an island unto ourselves, other people are involved in our lives, and therefore our child’s life. We can’t control those friends and families words, but we do need to be aware of them.

When a child comes from trauma, they have a heightened awareness of the world around them. Words can not only be hurtful, for a child who has a painful past and is always on alert, they can cause other fears or bring underlying ones to the surface.

For years we struggled with what family members said around our adopted children, it was as if some of them had no filter (well, truthfully, they don’t). I’m sure many of you can relate, whether it’s family, friends, or acquaintances you run into consistently, some people simply aren’t aware of what their words do to our kids or us.

Our daughter, Payton, used to worry a lot. For two-and-a-half years, one of the many things she obsessed over was our cat that passed away. We believe in heaven, so we told her he’s there and that Jesus is taking good care of him (let’s not get into theology here okay:)), but that didn’t ease her worries.

Certain people in our extended family didn’t recognize her fears, her fears that reach far beyond her cat passing away. They used words, such as “dead,” and “killed” flippantly while relaying stories, or even directly towards her, warning her of something dangerous that could happen.

While Payton was in close proximity, one family member told a story, saying, “…when a child is dying of a disease.” We didn’t need Payton worrying about something else! Children dying? What’s a disease? Will I die of a disease?

Children hear everything. You would be surprised, and probably have been on many occasions, by what they’ve repeated to you, when you thought they were busy somewhere else, engaged in an activity while you talked. Because of where our children come from, they worry, and we have to be careful about the words we, and others, use around them.

Find ways to ease the realities of life, because death, fire, and disease do happen (we don’t have to carry around a loud speaker and announce it). There’s a better way than telling your little worry wart, “If the house burns down, and our dogs are inside, they’ll die.” (Yep, this was said on more than one occasion.)

Others in your child’s life might believe that a child has to learn about the world sometime. They might say things like, “It’s life.” This is not okay, especially if a child has a predisposition to fear and concern in their everyday life. Frankly, my child has lived a “life” far more embedded in reality than most anyone who says this. Be thoughtful in your approach (although this statement kinda makes me want to yell), and help guide others in how to speak to your children.
WORDS can cause fear

Another way people can really harm our children is by what they say or ask us in front of our kids. We’ve heard them, and numerous articles have been written about them. I even addressed this in my post, The Fascination with Adoption, which I suggest reading because it helps lend a little understanding to where these questions are coming from. “Are they siblings?” “Why did you adopt her?” “What’s his story?” “I couldn’t do what you’re doing/you did.” “How much did they cost?” “Why would you adopt from (country) when there are so many children here who need homes?”

I didn’t mind many of these questions and comments when my kids were younger, because they didn’t understand. I was also naive many times and thought if I talked quietly my children couldn’t hear. Wrong. Most often those asking aren’t being rude or offensive on purpose, they’re curious and the more education I can bring to our world, the better it will be.

But, answering some of these questions and responding to these comments while our children are near isn’t beneficial, and our kids are our top priority. Here are some ideas on how to respond:

“Are they siblings?” I’ve been asked this a few times. If we say, “No,” then our children will look at us like we just mentioned the Brady Bunch. If we say, “Yes,” and one child is Asian and the other is Caucasian, well, it can get awkward. My response to this is, “They are now. They aren’t biological siblings though.” I’ve watched as a light dawns in the persons eyes. Hmmm, yeah.

“Why did you adopt them?” Well, you can give whatever answer you’d like here because for each one of us that answer varies. For some the answer is simpler, “There are (# millions) of orphans in (country) so we wanted to adopt.” For someone who adopted through foster care, you can decide what information you want to share if your children are present and IF you want to share at all. Or, you can make it about adoption or foster care in general,

“We decided not to have biological children because there are so many children in the world who need homes.” 

“What’s their story?” Same as above.

“I couldn’t do what you’re doing.” I’ve heard several answers in the adoption/foster community circling about this one. Many adoptive/foster parents would say, “Anyone can do it,” but frankly not everyone can. No, I’m not a saint. No, I’m not perfect, sadly and to my husbands and children’s dismay, I’m far from it. But, I know I couldn’t do this without my extremely supportive husband. There are numerous people who start down this road and quit, they even have children in their home and they quit. So, no, the answer is not, “Anyone can do this.”
However, I will say that I didn’t think I could before God changed my heart about foster care. I was full-speed-ahead going for China when my husband mentioned fostering, and I said, “No way!!!!” So, my answer would be, “You might be surprised,” and if my children aren’t present, I add, “I didn’t think I could either.”
People really don’t realize what an impact saying,”I couldn’t do what you’re doing,” has on our kids. It didn’t really dawn on me for quite a while. They’re essentially saying that what we do is hard, and what we “do” is our kids. Do you get that? It comes across to our kids as, “I couldn’t take care of those kids and do what you’ve done, because that looks damn hard.” Yikes! Okay, let’s put it this way. What would it be like if someone said to your spouse (while giving a sideways glance at you), “I couldn’t do what you do everyday!” Oy, that hurt.

“How much did they cost?” Again, up to you and how much personal information you want to share. You may not want to comment around your children though.

“Why would you adopt from (country) when there are so many children here who need homes?” I could give you a long dissertation here, but I would like to allow you to go on with your life. My response when we were on our path to China (you can read about that on our Our Story page) was, “I believe God created the world, not only the United States, and that we should care for all children. If we don’t adopt them, who will?”

*I titled this post in this way so you could share it with others.


Be sure to check out my previous post, Our Words and How They Affect Our Kids, as well as the CONTENTS page for more posts on autism, adoption, and foster care.

You can receive each post made to Lovin’ Adoptin’ by subscribing in the upper right corner. If you’re on a mobile device, you can do this on the web version. You can also “like” my Facebook page and follow me on Twitter and Pinterest for more helpful information and links.

the best sensory toys (part 2)

the best sensory toys part 2
Two weeks ago, I started a two-part series on the best sensory toys. In that post I shared what sensory toys have been the most helpful to us, and in this post I will add more to that list and include some toys that have been recommended by others.

Based on one study, around 78 percent of children with autism have Sensory Processing Disorder. Often children who’ve been neglected and abused have sensory issues too. 

Like I said in the last post, it takes a lot of trial and error to find out what your child needs and when they need it. And, even when you figure it out, it will always need tweaking. So, here you go.

1) Water bottle half-filled with water. This has been an easy (and cheap) go-to when Jeremiah’s sensory needs are out of whack. Sometimes when Jeremiah’s hitting things, frustrated, jumping and chewing, this helps him calm. But it seems like I say this regarding most of the sensory items we use. :) Occasionally, I can be confused with a zoo monkey, pulling out all sorts of things and trying to fix what’s bothering my little guy.
Jeremiah likes to shake the water bottle, I think what helps is both seeing and hearing the water being shook. If you’re able to seal the lid to your liking, you can add food coloring.

2) Pokey (soft and hard) animals. Some of these contain lights and some don’t. There are times when your child will want lights and other times they PokeyAnimalSensoryToyswon’t. My mom finds these for us all the time and Jeremiah likes them. You may want to look for ones that are BPA-free, or safe for chewing. I wasn’t able to find the toys we have online, so here’s a photo of ours so you can do your own search. Hope you have better luck than me!

3) Music. This can be calming or upbeat, depending on what mood your child’s in. Occasionally Jeremiah likes to push buttons on toys that play music. I hate to admit that I still play Baby Einstein music videos, although he doesn’t like them as much as he used to. I call them “Einstein” so he doesn’t feel like he’s watching a baby’s movie. These videos are often very calming to him. He’s also used music to calm himself at school. Jeremiah’s school has a little music player for kids and Jeremiah holds it up to his ear and listens to the music, which also happens to be Baby Einstein.
And, something really cool, a couple weeks ago when I picked Jeremiah up from school, he was in his red chair, the teacher was singing Bear Hunt. and his aid was helping him do the motions with his hands, and he was HAPPY and enjoying it! So, I’m searching out their CD so we can use it at home.

4) Chewies. My sister-in-law, Jolene, is a speech pathologist and she asked ChewyWristBandwhat we wanted her to get Jeremiah for his birthday one year. We asked her to get whatever sensory toys she felt the kiddos she worked with liked the most. She bought this wrist band and Chewy Skool Kid Chewable Necklace. I like the Chewable Necklace pictured because it has a breakaway hook so your child doesn’t strangle themselves. Jolene also introduced us to the awesome slinkies I mentioned in The Best Sensory Toys (Part 1). The ones pictured here haven’t been a hit with Jeremiah, but I think he’ll use them in theChewySkoolKidNecklace future, I mean it took him a while to get used the slinkies too.

 

 

5) Arks Z-Vibe. We bought this for Jeremiah’s oral needs because he was chewing on his shirts. The Developmental Interventionist who used to come to our home suggested using this Z-Vibe. It’s expensive, but we see it as an ark-z-vibe-personal-pack-royal_340x340investment for later even if Jeremiah doesn’t use it now. The one in the photo is the one we bought and the link I provided should take you there. Make sure you get a battery if it’s not included, as it’s specific to the Z-Vibe.
It’s suggested in the information that comes with the Z-Vibe that you work slowly into using the product in your child’s mouth. I started using it on his hand and moving up his arm, and eventually hope to use it on his mouth. If I was more consistent, we might already be there, but I haven’t been.
The Z-Vibe also had pencil tips you can add to it, which might be helpful for writing.

6) Hammock Swing. Okay, this is so cool. I WISH Jeremiah used this, but he doesn’t. There have been a few times that he’s stuck his upper body in and twisted a little, and of course I’ve worked with him on it numerous times. Again,contemporary-kids-chairs this might be something he uses later. I think so many kids would benefit from this, but getting them to try it for any length of time could be difficult. One of the reasons Jeremiah may not get inside it is it swings and twists easily, so you might consider if you can anchor it to the floor.

 

 

CozyCanoe7) Cozy Canoe. I haven’t heard any reviews about this, but I had to share it. I really wanted to get this for Jeremiah for Christmas, but they were sold out. Sold out! And, it looks like they’re still out of stock. I guess it’s a top seller if it’s sold out. It’s large and it’s expensive, but seems perfect for children with sensory needs.

8) String. Yes, simple string. I follow a couple Autism mom’s blogs and both their daughters love to pull string apart. One of them has her string in almost every photo taken of her. It’s something that helps calm her, similar to what Jeremiah’s doodle pad does for him, and before he used the doodle pad he carried around mini cars from the movie Cars.

I hope these ideas help give you some direction as to what to get your child for their sensory needs. If nothing, the links will take you to some great sites that sell other items geared toward our kiddos who need something extra.

Be sure to check out the CONTENTS page for more posts on autism.


You can receive each post made to Lovin’ Adoptin’ by subscribing in the upper right corner. If you’re on a mobile device, you can do this on the web version. You can also “like” my Facebook page and follow me on Twitter and Pinterest for more helpful information and links.

our words and how they affect our kids (adoption & foster)

our words and how they affect our kidsYou can listen to a recording of this post, simply scroll to the end.

Actions speak louder than words right? We’ve all heard this numerous time and it’s true, but words still carry a heavy weight, especially for our children who’ve been neglected, abused, and traumatized. Words can have both a positive and negative effects, and it’s vitally important to understand both.

This is the first in a series of posts on WORDS. Today’s focus is on the negative impact our words can have on our kids.

Unless you’re a prefect parent and a perfect person, you will most likely say things you regret. All we can do is make considerable efforts to not say anything hurtful to our children. This is best kept under control by first remembering where our child has come from, therefore creating empathy. And, secondly, having time to ourselves doing what we enjoy (filling our tank), and getting the rest we need.

Most of us have spoken words out of frustration and anger that may have hurt our children. We suck it up and apologize. I’ve met so many people who simply cannot apologize. Admitting some weakness isn’t a bad thing, it doesn’t mean we’re weak. Also, when we are wrong and admit it, we’re teaching our kids how to apologize and that we aren’t perfect either.

I’ve messed up big time far more than I’d like to admit. Once, after a long battle of wills, my daughter screaming at me, saying mean and hurtful things, I said something to her that I’m not proud of. She kept ranting about how mean I was and I replied, “Maybe you should have mean parents, then you would see how good you have it.” Extremely hurtful and uncalled for, I know. Especially when said to a young child with a history like hers. Believe me, I hit myself over the head innumerable times because of my idiocy.

The biggest problem was that my daughter, Payton, who was four-years-old at the time, remembered what I said, and brought it up a few days later. I had no idea she’d been ruminating over my unthoughtful words. She was afraid that if she didn’t behave, I would, as she put it, “get rid of Daddy and get her a mean one,” and that I would also “go away.” Wow, that was a shock and a painful reminder of the damage my words had caused.
We set the tone in our home

A little background. At the time I said this she knew she was adopted, but she didn’t understand any of the logistics. She didn’t know someone else gave birth to her. She had too much she was dealing with to add this information at that time. I can’t imagine how she would feel about my words if she knew she’d come to us the way in which she did. How horribly scary that would be. What I said was still wrong and destructive no matter how much she understood about her past. Plus, we always have to remember that our children have repressed memories, and they may very well remember living with their bio parents even if they were removed when they were infants.

It’s extremely important to keep yourself healthy, rested, and your cup filled so situations like this don’t sneak up on you. After this scenario with my daughter, I felt like I couldn’t be a parent to my hurting children. I’m not perfect. I fail. This situation transpired because I wasn’t in a calm place myself.

We, the parents, set the tone in our home. We must make sure it’s a positive, loving, accepting one.

I’ve heard other parents say utterly damaging things in front of their kids. You may remember this story I included in the post, 6 Things You Shouldn’t Say to, or in Front of Your Adopted or Foster Child. When we were doing foster care, I was standing with a group of foster parents in front of our local DHS building. One woman had her three foster boys there, and they were circling us, running and playing. This foster mom said, “They won’t increase my adoption stipend. These boys need therapy and medication that I can’t provide. So I’ve told DHS I won’t adopt them until they give me more money.”

How ludicrous! Yes, she said those words with the boys at our legs, who averaged in age between six and nine-years-old. It’s probable they understood most of what their foster mom was saying. And, what they most likely gathered from her words scared them. The kids now have a lower self-worth because of her words, as if it wasn’t low enough to begin with. If she really did feel this way, she should not have spoken about it when the boys were within ear shot. Children aren’t deaf.

One would think this was an isolated case, but it isn’t.

I have heard too many parents talking freely in front of their children with no regard as to how it might make them feel.

Our children are listening to us, and to everyone around them. They have the amazing ability to look like they’re busy with something while taking in the world around them.  We need to be careful about what we’re saying and treat our children with respect.

Hurting children are far more aware of their environment than the average child, taking everything in. They were required to do this to survive.

Our words affect our kids, whether they’re positive or negative, whether we think they’re listening or not, whether they provoked our words or not.

You can read more about WORDS and how they affect our kids in, Your Words are Hurting My Child.

You can receive each post made to Lovin’ Adoptin’ by subscribing in the upper right corner. If you’re on a mobile device, this can be done on the web version. You can also “like” my Facebook page and follow me on Twitter and Pinterest for more helpful information and links.

the best sensory toys (part 1)

the best senosry toys part 1
Does your child jump incessantly? Get irritated quickly? Chew on anything? Bite? Stim (flapping hands, waving hand in front of face) constantly? Hit themselves or others often? Spin? Bang his head? These behaviors could be indicative of sensory issues.

Based on one study, around 78 percent of children with autism have Sensory Processing Disorder, as well as many children who’ve been neglected and abused. Besides replicating what your Occupational Therapist (if you have one) does with your child, you can incorporate sensory toys that will help your child’s intense sensory needs.

We’ve found that meeting Jeremiah’s sensory needs solves most of the behaviors we struggle with. When his sensory needs are met, he’s usually calm and happy. We’ve been on quite an adventure trying to find the right sensory toys to help Jeremiah, so I thought a post (now it’s turned in to two) on what’s helped us would be something you might appreciate.

Trial and error is a large part of how you will help your child with their sensory issues, but this post is meant to help give you some direction on what to do and what to buy for your child.

Some of these items are expensive, some aren’t, you can be creative to find cheaper solutions, or ones you can make at home. I’ll begin with ones that have helped Jeremiah the most.

*For items that my child is going to put in his mouth (which I understand for most of your children, it’s EVERYTHING), I like to buy items that are nontoxic.

1) Swing. We can’t live without it. The swing is like our bread of life – okay, the swing and one other thing which I will mention next. Not only does Jeremiah have a swing in our yard, but we put one in his room. One summer he’d been swinging consistently in our backyard, and I was in fear of what life would be like come winter, literally fearful! I knew how much it helped him and the anxiety he felt when he couldn’t swing. Justin said, “Let’s put a swing in his room.” It was hard for me to accept the idea at first. It sounded like I was spoiling Jeremiah, plus he has a sister and that wouldn’t be fair.
But the truths are 1) Jeremiah needs the swing to function, and any way we can help him we should. 2) Our daughter, Payton, gets to do a lot of things Jeremiah can’t. I’ve had to accept that life isn’t fair (I’ve been complaining that it isn’t since I uttered my first words, just ask my parents). Yeah, life stinks sometimes.
Also, when we go on day trips, we always find a playset with swings, it makes Jeremiah happier, Payton has fun too, and we all benefit.

2) Doodle Pad. The second most important item in our bag-o-tricks. We spendX2539-doodle-pro-travel-d-1 WAY too much money on a Christmas tree doodle pad. It was one of his first, and the only kind he’ll use. He doesn’t go anywhere without it, and for years it was constantly in his hands, but in the past months he’s been found many times without it. His dependency on the doodle pad is diminishing significantly. It has helped calm him and gives his busy hands something to do. Plus, I love it because you can practice taking turns with it – you draw, then your child draws, it helps develop writing skills (as this can be hard to establish in autistic children), and you can work on letters, numbers, words, shapes, etc. with it. A great multipurpose tool.

3) Trampoline. Another tool we depend heavily on. This, along 0068706404688_Bwith swinging gives Jeremiah the intense sensory input he desperately needs. We have the one pictured on the left outside and one similar to the picture on the right (a small one with a handle) we can use inside. We bought the one in the photo on the left from SAMS and I highly recommend it, it’s the safest trampoline I’ve seen. When  I searched for this AAAAAmZciUkAAAAAAWcgzQphoto on the SAMS Club website I found this trampoline with a swing attached (two in one!). With the incorporation of the swing in Jeremiah’s room, and the ability to go outside for trampoline time this winter, we haven’t utilized the indoor trampoline this season.

4) Slinky Chewy. When Jeremiah is chewing on his clothes or other items, or nullis frustrated, we often use this. At first we had to give it to him and encourage him to chew on it, and he wouldn’t wear it around his neck. Now he will use it when he wants to (we still offer it to him when he doesn’t choose it first) and he will even put it on his neck. With the larger one he stretches it over his body.

5) Blankets for nesting. I didn’t come up with this term, I heard another autism parent use it and I liked it, so here it is. Jeremiah will gather his smaller soft blankets and lug them around the house. Normally he brings them out to the couch and snuggles under them (head and all). It’s something he likes doing and makes him comfortable.

6) Lights. We purchased the wand pictured on the left at Target in the bins at the 691-lu_2front of the store, but I can’t find them on Target’s website. I found them online as “Spike Wand”. You need to get to know your child to determine if this is something they like. Some kids will like this and some kids won’t, Jeremiah only likes them at certain times. When it comes to using lights, there are several options. You don’t have to purchase something from a specialty store to achieve the desired result here.

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spinning light

Jeremiah likes the balls with lights inside, especially the rubber wand with a ball at the end, when you hit it on something multi-colored lights flicker. He has a dinosaur that has a light in it’s mouth, when he pinches the tail, the mouth opens and the light turns on. He was a fan of the spinning light wand for a long time. He also really likes this dog that shines lights on the ceiling. He doesn’t look at the ceiling, but likes looking at the stars changing colors.
Jeremiah with pet night light

Also check out part two in the series: The Best Sensory Toys (part 2)

For more posts on autism, be sure to check out the CONTENTS page.

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judge rotenberg center

Tracy Dee Whitt:

People would be outraged if this happened to animals. But the truth is, it’s happening to children at the Judge Rotenberg Center (JRC) in New York. We must take action, as Jess who wrote this post says, “That young man screaming for help in the video? He’s my daughter. He’s your son. He is our brothers and sisters. He is all of us.”
Jess gives tangible ideas of what to do to help these children who are being tortured. We CAN do something. We CAN help. We don’t have to sit by and wonder what we could do. We don’t have to let this haunt us. Take steps to shut down the JRC.

Originally posted on a diary of a mom:

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In this Aug. 13, 2014, photo, a female student wearing a shocking device on her leg, lines up with classmates after lunch at the Judge Rotenberg Educational Center in Canton, Mass. (AP Photo/Charles Krupa) Source

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What you are about to read and watch and hear will be extremely difficult to process. It’s horrifying. I’m asking you to read it anyway.

It’s necessary, because we need to understand that this is happening. Not in some far off country that we can claim no control over, but here, in our very own back yard.

Please read. Please watch. Please listen. And then, please, for the love of God, act.

This can’t continue.

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“The first shock was in my leg. It was a stinging, ripping, and pulling pain that froze time. I was standing when it happened, and I immediately fell because I lost control of my leg. It hurt, but…

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