Soup from your Heart & Soul!

It seems like eons since I talked to you directly. I know you have been busy with the child in your life with autism and I have been busy redesigning my website to make it more user-friendly and interactive. Now that Autism Today is becoming more streamlined, I have much more time for you and even my children too. In fact I took my daughter, Christina, out to dinner last night and we had the best heart to heart talk we have ever had. She even came up with a magnificent idea.

“Mom, she said, people don’t like to get a lot of email telling them to buy stuff all the time. They want to read fun stuff, share stories and read jokes. You’re a Chicken Soup for the Soul co-author; in fact, you are the only Chicken Soup author with a book about children with special needs, why don’t you send out stories for people to share? Then if they want to go to the site to check things out, just have a link back to the site”

Brilliant! I replied. In fact, I was at lunch with my friend’s wife and another mother last week and what do you think we chatted about? Our stories! You know, the time Jonny got stuck in the pot and we had to squeeze him out by putting baby oil all over him. The time another child almost caught their house on fire, and oh yes, the time the bathtub overflowed and the water dripped through to the floor below! We’ve all been there.

So here is what I am proposing. I want to hear YOUR stories so that we can share them with others, “Soup from your Heart & Soul”, style! I am going to create a blog entry on the Autism Today site and invite everyone to submit your (500 words or less) story for possibly sharing with our readers each week. We will call this the “Soup from Heart and Soul”. Who knows, we may even make a book or E-Book out of them with your permission. By sharing your story, you offer hope, inspiration and a vision for dreams that really can come true.

Also, if you have anything you want to talk with me directly about you can email me at karen@autismtoday.com and since I’m not getting and having to handle all of the administrative emails I used to get (things kind of snowballed), I now have time to schmooze with YOU!

Ta ta for now and here’s to successful, happy parenting, teaching, treating and supporting our many loved ones on the autism spectrum.

With much love,
Karen Simmons
CEO, Founder, Autism Today
“Chicken Soup for the Soul, Children with Special Needs”

PS. Don’t forget to visit our new blogs, forums and read the forever changing home page!

My Sons Letter of Apology to Bus Driver (when he cut the bus seats)

When Jonny was in the 6th grade he was told he had to write a letter of apology to the driver before they would let him ride the bus again.  This letter certainly opened our eyes to the abuse that many children with autism may never be able to speak of.

May 17, 2001

Dear Pat,

I am sorry for the seat, but I got angry because of Nicholas, because he’s annoying me sometimes (99.9% of the time he is) and he’s on the first bus I get on to go to school. He throws leftover chocolate Jello pudding (in a container with holes on the lid) at me when he’s getting off, and it gets my clothes dirty (mom doesn’t want me to wear dirty clothing). While he’s on, he and his friend gang up on me (and, occasionally, tell other big kids to do it) and they occasionally move from seat to seat to get at me! They move ahead, one pair of seats at a time, bonk me on the head, and rush back to their seat. Fortunately, his buddy had to move to the front seat. And sometimes, still in their seats, they throw assorted junk at me (jello pudding, paper balls, etc.) sometimes they miss. He sometimes says I live in a garbage dump, a cardboard box, and on certain times he calls me “gaylord,” gay not meaning happy. Matt told me to say “gee, thanks, I’ll remember that!” when Nicholas says I am a gaylord. He sometimes swears. The one kid I saw and liked in his family was Nicholas’s kid brother! Since I can only sit in the 4th seat or further up, I’m a supreme target. Fortunately, they have never stolen my lunch yet. The reason I made those holes was because I needed to do something to release my tension. Mrs. Lorenz and I talked about what I could do instead of damaging other people’s stuff.

Sincerely,
Jonny Sicoli

Tips for Jonny and Other Kids with Autism!

Here is a list of tips i came up with to explain Jonny’s idiosyncrasies to people when he was younger

WHAT AUTISM IS: Jonny has a neurological condition called autism where he thinks differently than other kids

HOW DOES HE THINK DIFFERENT?

• SOCIAL SKILLS: His ability to relate to people and say the appropriate things is a challenge.  Sometimes people might think he’s not paying attention like he’s in another world or could care less even though he does.  He just may not show it.

• COMMUNICATION: He talks, reads and writes just fine though the way some of his thoughts come through may be different and sound odd to regular people at times.

• SENSORY: He may get too close, or feel uncomfortable in a crowd of people.  The “proper” social distance we intuitively know are hard for him to perceive.  He also may lack eye contact.  Also the type of clothing he wears may effect his moods.  Be sensitive to this.

HOW TO DEAL WITH HIM

• FACILIATE FRIENDSHIPS: Since its more difficult for him to seek out friendships, facilitate relationships by introducing him to potential friends and helping them establish something in common to talk about.

• TRANSITION: When its time to change an activity, sometimes Jonny stays stuck on what hes doing.  Give him warnings that he “will” be changing what hes doing so his mind has time to change.  Maybe say 5 minutes left in this, 3 minutes and so on.

• BEHAVIOR MELT DOWN: If he has a temper tantrum, talk calm to him and ask him what the problem is.  Always get BOTH sides of the story as it could simply be a result of a misunderstanding.

• DOESN’T WANT TO PARTICIPATE: First, encourage him to participate anyway.  You may have to do some serious convincing.  If he absolutely refuses and its going to cause a scene, either provide an alternative activity or send him back to his cabin.  Be creative.

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