Family Ties Help Keep Savvy Bully at Bay

What makes a true friend?

Alex, my youngest son with CP found out the hard way.

True friends don’t take advantage of you or your situation.

Many tend to think of bullying as “Kids just being kids”.  That is too bad since history shows otherwise.

With proper intervention any child that is bullied can learn effective means to de-escalate situations that may initially encourage bullying. At its worst, bullying can be stopped via violent retaliation such as the Columbine incident gave witness. Of course, this “solution” only turns a mole hill into a mountain of trouble.

As friends come with different personalities bullying takes many different forms.

The typical and most common bullying scene occurs where kids in the class make fun of another child for a short period of time.  This situation, when approached quickly and properly, usually diffuses itself or even fizzles out unnoticed.   Alex was recently in a situation with a boy who was pretending to be a very good friend.

Alex so desperately wants friendship and to be social with others. You can see how he became an “easy” target of a bully.

This particular “friend” would ask Alex for money, bottles and whatever else he could get from Alex.

Sometimes it’s difficult to see the signs of an opportunist if you are a special needs child.  Further, bullies are adept and savvy manipulators that even adults fall for their crafty stories and tactics. What complicates matters is that certain social cues you and I pick up on go unnoticed by special needs persons being targeted by bullies.

As it turned out in the particular case with Alex, the rest of our family was watching out for him and pointed this out to me.

Alex didn’t have to fret much longer as his “friend” got the point soon after.

How have you dealt with bullying and special needs persons?

What was most effective in your opposition to bullies?

Please share your story with me, what you did and how it worked.

Be sure to detail you story by leaving your comment below.

Hearing about your positive and effective means of “deflating” a bullies “balloon” is encouraging.

Karen Simmons
Mother, Wife, Author, Founder & CEO of


P.S. Here is something I would like to recommend that will give you the tips, strategies, and tools you need to help understand and cope with bullying.

To download a video presentation that will help you understand the nature of and simple solutions to bullying, click this link:


Stories From the Heart: A Mother’s Prayer

God, I don’t know why my questions go unanswered. I love this child you’ve given me, but I don’t know how to cope with the pain frustration exhaustion. Reactions from well-meaning friends are sometimes hurtful. Through their eyes they see, handicapped slow disabled. If only they could see through your eyes of divine love and mercy- beautiful special beloved.

Lord, I need your grace to raise this child in your ways. I’m desperate for your touch of compassion mercy gentleness. Help me to look beyond all the medical jargon, specialists and consultants, fancy words, terms, and labels. Turn my eyes toward you, Jesus, to gaze upon your face and to feel hope, strength, and peace.

In the early hours of morn and the dark despair of night, shine your light upon my path- bright clear unwavering. Lord, you see every tear.
You bind up the wounds of the broken-hearted with healing soothing grace. God, I accept that I don’t have all the answers.

One fact remains solid concrete. You have promised in your word that you will never leave abandon forsake us. I trust in that promise and I pray for wisdom. Help me to follow you today, tomorrow, and forever.

By Cynthia A. Lovely

“Unlimited Lives” Offered for Friend by Autistic Child

Have you thought of your own mortality lately?

How have you dealt with the death of a friend, family member or co-worker?

Sometimes life throws us a curve ball that must be dealt with on the spot.

When I was at an attitudinal healing seminar in California one year I returned home to find out that Jonathan’s best friend in first grade was tragically killed by a truck.

This was our first real experience with the concept of death.

He decided to take his two younger brothers who were 5 and 3 at the time with a friend to the graveyard, crossing a busy highway. We might have had to pray for all of them, though, if they’d been hit by a car!

They were looking for Michael’s grave.

Jonathan said “I wish I could have unlimited lives so I could add a life for Michael.” Even though Jonathan doesn’t usually show his emotions, I know he missed his friend terribly.

Jonathan knows I “came back” after a birthing that had significant complications.

Because of that, I asked him once if he thought he could come back to life if he died to see if he understood death. Jonathan said “no,…not unless I had…oh, so there is a way to come back to life, eh?

Then he remembered.  He said “Mom, you always say that you came back to life!”

This was yet another “curve ball” suddenly thrown at me as a Mom.

Without knowing what being autistic is all about you may be surprised how reality, specifically safety issues, can be skewed for special needs individuals.

Although it was nice to hear Jonathan was so willing to give one of his “unlimited lives” we had to chat about the concept of death and its permanency.

As in many tragedies in life a positive moment came from the death of Jonathan’s friend. Although difficult for Jonathan to struggle with this event it clearly illustrated to him that once in the grave we aren’t climbing out to be with friends no matter how many lives we wish we had in reserve.

Further, Jonathan pondered how important it is to enjoy life while it lasts no matter our station in life…disabled or not.

Soon after my conversation with Jonathan I was fortunate for that “curve ball” and all it allowed both of us to learn about each other.

What difficult life concepts have you encountered with special needs people?

How did you deal with the big questions and mysteries of life when caught by surprise?

Share your milestone conversations and moments with a special needs person. Share your story by leaving your comment below.

As always, I look forward to hearing from you.

Karen Simmons
Mother, Wife, Author, Founder & CEO of


P.S. Here are tips and strategies you’ll need to help a special need person understand and cope with life concepts such as death.

To download a video presentation that will tackle milestone events in life such as death, click this link:


To “Stim” or Not to “Stim”: Could You Be Autistic?

How many times have you seen someone in a chair, with legs crossed, rocking one leg back and forth or rotating their ankle? Sometimes they’re not even aware they’re doing it.

What about other actions such as twirling of the hair or pulling on one’s ear lobe in response to stress or boredom?

Most likely you’ve engaged in similar behavior either intentionally or subconsciously. Either way, you have “stimmed” before.

To “stim”, “stimming” or have “stimmed” is very common for an Autistic yet we all do it on occasion.

Autistics (those on the Autism Spectrum) perform self stimulatory behavior that was portrayed in the film Rain Man by Dustin Hoffman. Hoffman’s character had an extreme case (thanks to poetic license of the director) of “stimming” but the point was made.

The extent of “stimming” varies depending upon the functional level of autism one is afflicted with.

Nonetheless, before pointing fingers, please note that we all have “stimmed” off and on and for various reasons during our lives. Of course, not as extreme as Hoffman’s character but “stimming” in the pure sense of the word that is deemed more socially acceptable.

Autistics “stim” by rocking back and forth, twirling around in circles, flapping hands and so forth.

When Jonathan was smaller he did lots of these things and even got inside the dishwasher and would spin the spraying mechanism round and round.

Much to our dismay, Jonathan would also spin the chandelier out of the ceiling and we had to have it repaired on numerous occasions.

Fortunately, with much correction, we finally convinced him that there were other ways to “stim” as well as have fun.

As is true with the onset of Autism itself, it’s very important to address these types of “stims” early on and modify or replace them with more socially appropriate motions. Doing so significantly reduces or eliminates any ridicule an Autistic child may encounter in school or elsewhere in the community.

What unique “stimming” have you witnessed?

How did you react and what did you do to address “stimming” in a positive manner?

Share your story about “stimming” now, leave your comment below.

As always, I look forward to hearing from you.

Karen Simmons
Mother, Wife, Author, Founder & CEO of

P.S. Here are recommendations of tips, strategies, and tools you need to help understand and cope with “stimming”.

To download a video presentation that will help you understand the nature of and simple solutions to “stimming”, click this link:


Tearing Cloths on a Whim and Greeting Guests Naked

“Brush your teeth.”

“Flush the toilet!”

Your reminders are constant and never seem to end…

“Close the refrigerator door!”

…these are the simple requests that pose limited problems if not obeyed.

Now, imagine someone ripping up your cloths because they “feel like it.”

What about a family member greeting guests at your home…completely naked?!?

Well, my autistic son Jonathan had a habit of stripping (yes, taking off his clothes…all of them) upon coming home from school. He would do so the minute he came home. His brother Alex had to be reminded to dress, zip up his pants, etc…

Many times Jonathan would strip and hop in the bathtub, on other occasions he’d run to the tent.

Although it was wonderful we finally got Jonathan to shower he, and his brother Alex, would forget to use deodorant afterwards.
Obviously, this was very inappropriate, especially when neighbors pop by for a visit unannounced.

On one occasion, we had a behavioral consultant over trying to figure out why Jonathan didn’t want to sleep in his room. We imagined different reasons over 30 minutes. It finally dawned on us to ask him.

“Well”, he replied, “when the bed squeaks, maybe the springs need to be oiled”.

That was it! The squeaking spring noise was keeping him awake. We changed his bed and wrote a social story using the Archie theme so he’d pay attention to it.

Does any of this sound familiar?

What have you done to maintain a sense of order in your household with the developmentally disabled?

Please share your story with me now, leave your comment below.

Hearing from you helps our cause.

Karen Simmons
Mother, Wife, Author, Founder & CEO of

P.S. Here is something I would like to recommend that will give you the tips, strategies, and tools you need to help understand and cope with unusual behavior.

This video presentation details the nature of and offers simple solutions for behavioral issues. Click this link:


Stories From the Heart: Tiffany Never Stopped Talking

When I was a teenager and still living home with my parents, I dated this guy Bruce that owned a pet store. One day when I visited Bruce in the shop I noticed a little Siamese kitten that was in a cage without all the other Siamese kittens. The other Siamese kittens were all much larger than this one little kitten that couldn’t stand up and just kept crying and crying, trying to stand, and falling over and over.

I asked Bruce about this little Siamese kitten, and he told me he was sending the kitten back because there was something wrong with it, so it couldn’t be sold. After a big fuss (Bruce strongly did not want to give me this kitten), he finally agreed to let me adopt this little teeny tiny Siamese kitten that I named “Tiffany”.

I brought Tiffany right away to a vet that our family used for our other pets.  They were shocked to see such a kitten with such severe defects. Tiffany’s diagnosis was a long name I don’t remember. She had severe neurological problems which affected her balance, sight, and movement and there was suspicion that the mother may have had distemper. The vet told me that a kitten like Tiffany is rare to begin with, and even more so since the mother cats typically will reject a baby that is found to have serious defects.

They even asked if they could study Tiffany to track her progress. Tiffany was not expected to live a long life. Tiffany could see but I was told she saw things in doubles and triples and wouldn’t know where things were in space.

At first she couldn’t eat because she couldn’t sense where the bowl was even if we held her body and put her face by the dish. When she tried to eat she looked like a woodpecker with her head and as she got close to the bowl she would be so excited to reach the food that she would squirm out of our hands and fall into the dish knocking her food or milk all over.

She couldn’t stand even at first so walking was out of the question. But she never stopped trying as we cared for her she kept getting stronger. Eventually Tiffany proved everyone wrong; she learned to eat on her own like a woodpecker, walk on her own like a drunken sailor, and even run like a snake because the back of her body which was weak would sway from side to side.

Of course, since Tiffany couldn’t see where walls were, she lost some of her front teeth when she was playing. Tiffany couldn’t jump so instead she learned how to climb up onto things with her front legs. As strong as Tiffany’s front legs were she never used them to scratch others.

Unlike most cats Tiffany would come to you when you called her. She would answer the door bell with her “friends”, our dogs. Actually Tiffany often acted more like a dog than a cat. When she was happy, which seemed like always, she would purr really loud and lick your face with her stinky rough tongue. People who hated cats actually changed their mind when they met Tiffany. She could win over anyone.

Tiffany wasn’t my child: she was my pet. I didn’t take her because I felt sorry for her, or because I wanted to punish myself, or because I thought I was so tolerant or special I could help her when nobody else could. I took Tiffany out of that pet store because I saw a kitten that wanted and deserved a chance just like the others. And that’s what I gave her.

Tiffany lived into her teens. Like most Siamese cats she never stopped talking.  Having Tiffany as a pet was one of the blessings of my life. She taught me and many others much more than what we taught her.

Ironically while Tiffany never stopped talking, years later I became a mom to two children who were late talkers. The lessons Tiffany taught me helped me to help my boys to overcome, and to help others like them through the CHERAB Foundation which I founded.

Who but God is to say what type of life is right and what type of life is wrong? -as if there is such an answer!

By Lisa Fernandez Geng

To Autistic Child, Raising Children…One at a Time, is Easy

Jonathan pulled a “funny”.

You see, while at a conference in the South, we were staying with my parents and while we were all in the car, a discussion about the difficulties of raising six kids became lengthy.   Jonathan, who we thought wasn’t even paying attention, said “It isn’t difficult to raise six kids. You just raise them up – one at a time.”

Although impossible to focus exclusively on only one child when you have many others to look after, I thought how inherently simple and intuitive Jonathan’s comment really was.

Sure, six kids is not the norm these days and really is a handful given the average family has, statistically, only 2.2 kids. Nonetheless, Jonathan’s statement, in its most basic sense, was true…in theory at least.   Many times, reality trumps theory. Postulating and oversimplifying often miss the mark.

Due to Jonathan’s literal sense of understanding, abstract thoughts often are challenging and confusing for Autistics.

In fact, one can see the humor in varying circumstances when literal application of abstract terms just don’t make sense yet that is exactly the issue with some Autistics.

We’ve all heard “It’s raining cats and dogs”, “Lets toast the bride” and others such as “If you eat another cookie you’ll turn into one!”

Say any one of those phrases to Jonathan and he’d look up…expecting to see actual cats and dogs falling from the sky.  He might also be perplexed as to why anyone would wish to “toast” the bride.  After all he’d reason, she looks so pretty the way she is…leave her alone!

The thought of “turning into a cookie” may be amusing to us but would most likely initiate a string of questions from Jonathan.

How has literal interpretation of everyday metaphors by a special needs person surprised you?

What have you done to ensure the correct message is conveyed under these circumstances?

Share your light hearted and serious stories with me.

To share your story, leave your comment below.

As always, I look forward to hearing from you.

Karen Simmons
Mother, Wife, Author, Founder & CEO of

P.S. Here is something I would like to recommend that will give you the tips, strategies, and tools you need to help understand and cope with metaphors and Autistics.

Download a video presentation that will help you understand the nature of and simple solutions to communicating with Autistics by clicking this link:


Picky Kids Have Disagreements with Parents Over Dinner

Dinner time is not always as enjoyable as it could be.

When the occasional dinner guest has a few food restrictions you make due.  When your own family demands only a select handful of food is acceptable there is bound to be friction.

Managing to get all six kids together for dinner is socially fun and worth it even with the limited personal diet of Jonathan and Alex. We always made exceptions for them during the early years.

With Jonathan in particular, you could count on one hand how many things he would eat:

– Chicken fingers
– French-fries
– Broccoli
– Ham and pineapple stuffed crust pizza

Beyond specific foods, Jonathan only eats what he wants to eat…when he wants to.

Alex would eat pretty much anything.  However, he would do so in one sitting, going without for the other meals.

Yes, we have tried to get Jonathan on the “fruits and vegetables” train. Having learned that “going to war” over food is just not worth it we backed off. Broccoli happened to be a pleasant exception of Jonathan.

Vitamins are key.

We make sure Jonathan and Alex get their nutrition one way or the other.

They will be fine.

What finicky food issues have you had to deal with?

How do you make sure dinner time is a good time?

Please share your story with me, leave your comment below.

I look forward to hearing how you make dinner time family time.

Karen Simmons
Mother, Wife, Author, Founder & CEO of

P.S. Tips, strategies, and tools I recommend for finicky food issues will help you understand and cope. Download this video presentation to understand the nature of and simple solutions for strange dinner time behaviors:


8 Year Old Autistic Author Makes Money With Book

We arrived in New Orleans for Jonathan’s eighth birthday and Autism Conference.

The night before the conference we went into the lounge looking for video games to play and Jonathan began chatting with some people at the bar and made a few friends.   When he told them why he was there they all wanted to buy his book.

Jonny was beaming with glee and got the biggest charge out of signing the books.

In fact, people were just handing him $20.00 bills.   He said “Money? Ya mean I get money for these books? Cool…”

One comment he wrote in a book to a man named Lionel was “Lion ‘L’, it’s me again, Jonny. This time, I’m older.”   Obviously, this was a tremendous opportunity for Jonny be out and about. He got to socialize with new people and witnessed how much a few strangers, and some return conference goers, really care about him.

We nearly sold out of the books before the conference began.

What joy has your special needs child experienced interacting with others?

How were you or your special needs child able to make an event work out for the best in their life?

Please share your story with me, what you did and how it worked.

To share your story, leave a comment below.

Please tell me about your inspirational story.

Karen Simmons
Mother, Wife, Author, Founder & CEO of

P.S. Here is something I would like to recommend that will give you the tips, strategies, and tools you need to help promote accomplishment in a special needs person’s life.

To download a video presentation that will help you in your quest to advance the accomplishments of a special needs person in your life, click this link:


Terrible Tantrums Tamed with Early Intervention Program

Looks can be deceiving.

It’s not fair, I’ve been stared at, demeaned and told to “Control my child” over the years.

People are quick to make assumptions and quick to judge all within a few seconds.

When the screaming tantrums were at their worst I had to ignore those in public that might have thought Jonathan was abused. In fact, just the opposite was true. Our family has gone to great lengths to enable understanding, growth and love to thrive while managing the disability of our sons.

There is only so much a Mother can do to keep an autistic child “under control.”

Still, I have to admit, it hurt to be judged prejudicially.

The problem is when you have a normal looking child, people assume they are normal and that the child’s outbursts must be a sign of bad parenting or some sort of abuse.

When Jonathan began early intervention, we faced many challenges.

Jonathan would have terrible temper tantrums. He would drop to the ground screaming and kicking.  At the time, I didn’t know how to deal with this behavior.

While he was in the fourth grade Jonathan’s aide told me of a similar situation where Jonathan had a tantrum on the ground.  This time he was kicking his arms and legs around silently.  His aide ignored him.

Jonathan, shouted “Mrs. Lorenz, didn’t you see that? I was very angry and I’m still angry.”

She continued to ignore him. She called his bluff so to speak.

That was the last temper tantrum he’s had since.

The solution was as simple as giving Jonathan a choice.

In the store he could either push the cart, or get into it.  At school they gave him similar guidance with favorable outcomes.

Giving a choice worked like a charm!

All solutions have pros and cons. Follow up is critical for success. You must nip any residual “uprisings” appropriately.

For instance, at school, there was a scrawling on the bathroom wall that said “Mrs. Lorenz is unfair to Jonathan” after his tempers subsided.

Gee, wonder who wrote that?

What rebellious behavior has your special needs loved one displayed?

How have you managed this behavior?

What worked the best to enable a more peaceful future?

Share your story now, leave a comment below.

Looking forward to your story!

Karen Simmons
Mother, Wife, Author, Founder & CEO of

P.S. Try these tips, strategies, and tools to help cope with temper tantrums.

To download a video presentation that will help you understand the nature of and simple solutions to temper tantrums click this link:


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