Sensory Disorder Leads Autistic Child to Seek Serenity in Snug Places

I called out his name repeatedly…

“Jonathan…Jonathan…where are you? …Jonathan!”

No response.

Standing still, very quietly, I hoped to make out any distant sound that would have pin pointed his location…still, I hear nothing.

After quickly looking out the windows and outside doors there was still no sign of Jonathan.

Where could he be?

I checked, and then double checked, every room in the entire house.  In my haste to scan each room I missed the obvious. The bed was not quite right.  It wasn’t the sheets, pillow or quilt…it was the bed itself.

The whole mattress was at a slight angle…BINGO!

After racing back to the bedroom I found Jonathan between the mattress and box spring, calm as can be.


Not if you know a bit about Autism, Sensory Integration (SI), sensory processing disorders (SPD) and ADHD, to name a few, and what affect they have on those attempting cope.

Although Jonathan’s act of “snuggling” under the mattress can be unnerving to the uniformed at first glance, there was a method to the supposed “madness”.

Why cram into positions like that as Jonathan did?

For some Autistics the desire to get snug in tight spaces is anything but claustrophobic.  In fact, it can be desirable…even soothing.

Triggers such as noise sensitivity can lead to feeling overwhelmed and the urgent need to cope which explain “odd” behavior such as Jonathan’s.

Dr. Temple Grandin, afflicted by Asperger’s, used to get into a device created to calm cattle down and later invented a device for herself she calls the “squeeze machine”.

Jonathan’s mirroring “mattress” behavior apparently gave him a sense of security via the pressure offered by the mattress.

Compare for yourself…

Feel good heading out into the cold wearing a heavy knit sweater and warm winter coat? How about the firm and loving sensation of an “everlasting” hug? Certainly, you felt secure strapping on a tight seatbelt or close fitting chest harness on your favorite amusement park ride.

Finally, where do you go to “get away” from it all?

Can you now understand how Jonathan’s momentary “escape” under the mattress was simply a soothing experience? Essentially, for Jonathan, under that mattress, there were no distractions or noises…almost complete solitude and serenity.

Ever had your loved one behave similar to Jonathan? Do they like small spaces? What do they do to self-sooth?

Please share your story with me. What did your loved one do that seemed “odd” to stay calm?

To share your story, please leave a 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 your loved ones “escape” behavior.

To download a video presentation that will help you understand your loved one’s “escape” behavior:


How to Avoid the Stare Down when Your Child’s Temper Tantrum Flares Up in Public

Having always been in touch with my emotions I knew I could handle it yet it didn’t quite turn out that way this time around…

Tempers, tantrums, meltdowns, whatever you wish to call them, all seem to have a pattern.

And this time, Jonathan threw me for a loop.

No matter what sets them off, YOU inevitably have to deal with these outbursts…usually in public and at what seems the most inconvenient moment.

No sitter was available and the trip to the store was to be short so I brought Jonathan (about 5 years old at the time) along.  Whether it was the noise, lights or crowd in the store that trigged Jonathan I don’t know.

You would think the tantrum equivalent of DEFCON 4 erupted as soon as Jonathan started yelling and screaming…a true meltdown, right in the middle of “lucky” aisle number 7 nonetheless.

Despite many attempts to sooth him he put up a terrible fight.  People began to stare in disbelief. Some gave me “that look”…as if I was the big bad parent. A wave of embarrassment flooded over me, temporarily, and it felt as if time stood still.

That was the last straw per se. Something had to be done to relieve this tension.

The next day I spoke with a behavioral therapist.  The solution was simple.  The therapist advised me to give him two choices.  Tell him he can either get in the cart or push the cart.  This seemed so simple but when you’re in the heat of the moment you don’t think of these things as new Moms. I tried it and slowly but surely, to my surprise, it worked.

Have you ever had your loved one act similar to Jonathan?

Help is much closer than you think. You are not alone.

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

To share your story, please 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 temper tantrums.

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


Stories From the Heart: God Are You There?

God, are you there? Are you listening? Why us? That’s what I wanted to know, almost twenty-three years ago. I didn’t ask these questions twenty-four years ago when my daughter Danielle was born. Why would I? She had ten fingers, ten toes, was beautiful and was perfectly healthy.

My son, Keith was born thirteen months later and also had ten fingers, ten toes, was beautiful and had Down Syndrome. What happened? Why would God do this to us, to him, to his sister, to our family? I didn’t have the answers then.

I did know my husband and I had two beautiful children and we were very young ourselves. I was twenty-three and Ronnie was twenty-one. It was hard enough being married, let alone having two babies under thirteen months old. I remember being so scared. I also remember praying that I was going to wake up from this terrible nightmare. I did wake up, but the nightmare was still there, day after day. Finally I realized that I had better get strong and work for what the best for our family.

Danielle was such a good baby and helped me allot. She grew up very fast. I now realize that God gave us Keith because He knew we could handle it and that we would do our very best. I also know that God gave us Danielle first to pave the way for Keith. God and Keith both taught us all how to be accepting and loving at any cost.

I learned how to be a good mother to Danielle, and she taught me so much about her brother through all the good and bad times. I thought that Keith wouldn’t get to do the things she did in school, but he did, and in high school he was the bomb, she made sure of that.

Danielle has now become a Special Education Teacher and is doing a great job. When she got married almost two years ago, Keith and her dad walked her down the aisle, well, actually danced and laughed down the aisle.

When Danielle and her husband Trey announced to her dad and I that we are going to be grandparents in May 2006, to a baby girl, she also announced to her brother that he would be ” the world’s greatest uncle”.

I have learned so much from my children, but I have also learned that God did listen. He was listening before Danielle was born, and He was listening before Keith was born. He was always listening and still is. He gave me two beautiful and special children because He knew that we could handle anything with Him by our side.

So, yes, God is listening always and he gave us Keith and Danielle because these are the children we were meant to have, and we wouldn’t have it any other way! Sometimes there is no reason or understanding. All you can do is trust God.

Author Unknown

* Stories From the Heart is an ongoing series of user contributed heart warming stories, that shine light on the Autism experience.

Revealing the Invisible Disability…Autism

“Don’t you know how to take care of your child ?!?”

The hurt was extreme.  I felt it linger deep within me. You know the feeling. Like the pain of a sudden and unexpected stomach or head ache.  It’s as if someone literally punched you…hard.

It was difficult not to directly respond to that woman who, without empathy, questioned my ability to handle Jonathan, my Autistic son. Did she not see I had both my hands full and could have used another?

You see, there I was at the Costco checkout line, alone with Jonathan dealing with the full force of his meltdown. The kicking and screaming was one thing.  The screaming was piercing and at the top of his lungs.  Apparently, he was revolting since he didn’t get his way no matter the fact that I planned out this particular outing and did everything “right”…Jonathan obviously didn’t agree.

It’s called the “Invisible” disability.

Autism, and other forms of pervasive developmental disorders (PDD), is at times “invisible” to the general public in the sense that many afflicted with Autism look normal…just like you and me.  Despite Autism being one of the most common developmental disabilities, many professionals in the medical, educational, and vocational fields, are not aware of how Autism affects people.

At the time, I was extremely hurt by that woman’s comment at Costco.  If she had to take care of an autistic child for even an hour or was at least educated about autism she would understand!

Awareness and empathy is clearly lacking in our society about many things.

Fortunately, help is much closer than you think. You are not alone.

Please share your story. What did you do and with what results ?

To share your story, go to:

I sincerely 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 the “Invisible” disability.

To download a video presentation that will help you understand the nature of and simple solutions to cope with autism, the “Invisible” disability, click:


Stories From the Heart: When Sarah Smiles

In May, 2004, my husband and I were in Pretoria, South Africa, visiting our daughter and son-in-law, their toddler, Grace, and newborn Sarah. We met Sarah in the Neonatal Intensive Care Unit, where she lay attached to monitors.

Born with three holes in her heart, the defect had been detected before birth. Because this problem is a marker for Down Syndrome, more tests were done. The baby did, indeed, have DS. Although shaken by the diagnosis, her parents immediately established a positive attitude for family and friends by declaring, “The baby is still a gift; just in different wrapping.”

We all eagerly awaited the birth of the little person we already loved. Sarah went home at three-weeks-old, with open heart surgery looming in the near future. Lacking the strength to breast or bottle feed, she took formula and medication through a tube. A monitor watched her oxygen level; if it dropped too low, a buzzer sounded. She did well, and never “turned blue,” as we’d been told she might.

Admiration spilled over when I watched my daughter care for this fragile infant. The hospital sisters had taught Mom how to change the feeding tube, and she did it with speed and precision.

Within a week, we relaxed a bit and began treating Sarah like any newborn. She was a baby first, an invalid second. At three months, the cardiologist determined that time was of the essence; Sarah must have surgery. The surgery on her heart, the size of a walnut, went well and the organ began functioning as it should.

But a day later one lung collapsed, and doctors began a treatment that they warned might not be successful. We collectively held our breath and prayed. Sarah rallied, but we later learned that she almost didn’t survive. An infection kept her hospitalized a few days longer, but after three weeks in intensive care she went home, where she learned to suck a bottle and began life as an active baby.

Now back in this country, Sarah participates in physical therapy and speech therapy and has learned sign language. Through this early intervention, she has met all the goals set by her therapists and functions within the range of “typical” children in her age group.

Emily Perl Kingsley explained in an essay titled “Welcome To Holland” that when you become pregnant it’s like planning a trip to Italy, a place you dreamed of going. But when your baby is born with Down syndrome you feel as if something has gone wrong. You’re in Holland instead. After a while, she says, you learn that Holland is not a horrible place; it’s just different. In fact, it has much to offer. Still, all your friends have been to Italy, and always brag about what a wonderful time they had there.

Kingsley concluded: “For the rest of your life, you will say, ‘Yes, that’s where I was supposed to go. That’s what I had planned.’ And the pain of that will never, ever, ever, ever go away, because the loss of that dream is a significant loss. But, if you spend your life mourning the fact that you didn’t get to Italy, you may never be free to enjoy the very special, the very lovely things … about Holland.”

I’ve been to Italy and Holland. None of their treasures is as charming and captivating as Sarah. We don’t know what challenges lie ahead for Sarah, but we’re confident she has the strength and determination to excel in whatever she tries. Each advance she makes is a significant blessing.

Her special gift is a dazzling smile, which comes easily. Her message, I believe, is that we all need to lighten up and wear a happy face. And we do, each time her impish grin and sparkling blue eyes remind us to do that.

By Madonna Dries

* Stories From the Heart is an ongoing series of user contributed heart warming stories, that shine light on the Autism experience.

Autistic Boy and Bus Driver Make Amends After Bustle with Bully

Part of his apology letter stated:

“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).”

For a Mom, it was a tear jerker alright.

While he was being bullied one of his concerns was that his cloths were getting dirty.

The apology letter continued:

“Since I can only sit in the 4th seat or further up, I’m a supreme target.”

Here, he had identified one of many factors that allowed a few of his classmates to escalate trouble on the bus.

He also wrote a most logical prediction:

“Fortunately, they have never stolen my lunch yet.”

Jonathan, my son and writer of the apology letter, got kicked off the bus when he was in grade 6 for destroying school property.  We asked him to write a letter of apology to the bus driver in order to be allowed to ride on the bus again.

If we had not discussed this incident with Jonathan we would not likely have discovered the true story and, unjustly, accepted the school’s version of events.  Naturally, with no bus ride, our family would have suffered with the logistics of getting Jonathan to school along with our other children.

Given the circumstances, I was proud that despite Jonathan’s autism, he was able to deal with so much teasing, badgering and overall strong bullying tactics without injuring anyone.

Most of us have witnessed bullying whether first hand or as a bystander.  Either way, it can be stopped.

We’ve also hear news stories over the years of bully victims taking extreme steps to simple stop being a victim.

So what did Jonathan do that got him temporarily kicked off the bus?

The explanation was in his apology letter:

“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.”

The “holes” Jonathan speaks of were holes he made in one of the bus’ seats.

Of course, damage to property is not how I taught Jonathan to deal with anger or frustration. However, the moral of this story is clear. Be sure to know what is going on behind the scenes before you jump to conclusions with your loved one (autistic or not).

Although you’d figure only school age kids are victims of extreme bulling think again. Even elderly bus monitors have fallen victim to unrelenting attacks.

Therefore, be sure to truly listen to your child or loved one when they come to you with a problem. Dismissing them may have undesired consequences.

How did you or those around you deal with a big bad bully?

Did you feel less than capable in that situation?  Did you help some suffering from a bully?

To share your story, leave your comment below.

Your comments are greatly appreciated.

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


P.S. I would like to recommend to you a great tool to deal with conflicts such as bullying.

Download the below video presentation to help you understand the nature of and simple solutions to cope with events such as bullying:


Selfless Action Cuts Through the Maze of Many Mutations of Disability

There are many branches or disciplines involving the developmentally disabled that can be challenging to confront.

Many times, a “roadmap” is needed to know which way to go and what to do at the crossroads in order to minimize frustration.

That is why sharing my journey with you by introducing real life experiences with enable you to best make sense of it all.

Areas most critical to effectively dealing with the developmentally disabled and autistic individuals are:


Recognizing the disability is half the battle. Doing something about it is imperative.

Action is the keystone.

There is bound to be embarrassing moments within the family.

The proverbial “bowl full of cherries” is not always there.

And, if people can’t get their point across (Communication Issues) then it really upsets the apple cart. Find out how, with two special needs children, I coped with the inevitable “traffic jam” of unmet expectation during communication.

Being labeled disabled is not where the “blame” begins or ends. I’ve learned to look at myself in the mirror. Sometimes I didn’t like what I saw. Humble pie is hard enough being served much less “eaten.”

“Attitudinal Healing” was not just for “them”, it included me too.

How have you dealt with the spectrum of issues confronting a loved one stricken with a disability?

What discipline of caring for the disabled has stymied or worked for you best?

Tell me your story…what you did and what results you obtained?  Leave your comment below.

As always, I look forward to hearing from you.

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


P.S. Act now to get recommend tips, strategies, and tools to help you cope with developmental disabilities.

Download this video presentation about developmental disabilities:



Strict Supervison of Disabled Child Averts Tragedy


How many times have you stubbed your toe attempting to navigate your way to the bathroom at night?

“Darn it, where are the keys? Wonderful…now I need a locksmith!”

Locked yourself out of the car or house more than once?

Have you ever walked into that sliding glass door you thought was open while rushing to the deck or patio…with a plate of BBQ, several glasses of drinks or other knick-knacks in hand?

It’s so easy to screw up like that isn’t it?!

Most of the time, such mistakes are harmless and easily corrected. However, each time you repeat a mistake increases your chance for a mishap…a true safety issue.

Worse yet, what if you injured yourself or someone else in the process? Sobering thought, indeed.

We used to have a trampoline in the back yard for the kids. It was great for sensory stimulation but Jonathan got very tired of having to climb off the sides and get back on.  Kimberly, our oldest daughter told us that Jonny had cut a hole in the bottom of the trampoline so he could crawl through more easily.

Many times Jonathan and other kids with special needs would do things that could cause serious harm to themselves or others because they just couldn’t see the big picture.

Sometimes our kids just don’t think through the ramifications of their actions. Can you imagine what would have happened if he would have been jumping and accidentally fell through the hole!

As a Mom, it sent shivers down my spine to think anyone could have been hurt.

After replacing several trampolines we quickly found safer ways for Jonathan to further his sensory stimulation.

Similar to not turning on the lights before stumbling to the bathroom at night or ensuring the keys are in hand before locking the car door, we all have been caught at one time or another not seeing the forest for the trees.

Although we may look back and laugh at past shenanigans or oversight, safety is priority number one…especially with special needs loved ones around.

What have you done to keep a special needs loved one safe?

How did a disabled person you know miss the “forest for the trees”?

What ideas do you have for being proactive when safety is concerned around special needs persons?

Forward your special story via this link:

I sincerely look forward to hearing from you.

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


P.S. The following is highly recommended to help you learn tips, strategies, and tools that are effective in supervising special needs individuals.

Download this video presentation that will help you cope:


Stories From the Heart: Cartwheels

Jesus Rios came into our lives when we were in the 7th grade. At the time, my friends and I were eating lunch on our usual table and spot in the lunch area. Jesus came down to eat lunch with us with a huge smile on his face saying, “I’m Jesus, Jesus Rios.”

We welcomed him with open arms into our lunch area, but we were a little surprised. We had never had anyone named Jesus, or anyone with Down Syndrome, come to eat lunch with us. I’m not sure if we had ever even talked to anyone with special needs before.

Jesus soon became just like any other person in our group. He loved to smile, make jokes, and tease just like anyone else would. Jesus loved to show off for all of us girls. He loved to have us all sit around while he put on a show doing cartwheels and dancing.

Jesus gave each of us a name of our own because he could never remember our names. My friend Jazmon became “Crazy Hair.” Our whole group was nicknamed “Pretty Girls” or “His Girlfriends.” The only person Jesus could ever remember by name was Gracie. She was always the heart and soul of the group and it wasn’t surprising that he only remembered her.

Jesus used to blame anything that went wrong on her. Gracie was always the patient one and didn’t mind to help him figure out a problem that was never her fault. I recall one time when he lost his pictures. He marched right up to Gracie and started yelling and pointing his finger at her and saying that she stole his pictures. Gracie very calmly took Jesus to find his pictures that mysteriously showed up at the bottom of his backpack.

My friend Malia and I invited Jesus to our double birthday party. Jesus was so excited, he could hardly contain himself. Everyday up to the party, he would tell everyone that Rebecca invited him to a party and that they weren’t invited. (Yes, he finally learned my name).

When his dad dropped him off for the party he stayed for awhile to give us instructions on what Jesus could and couldn’t eat. We would find Jesus sneaking all the candy he wasn’t supposed to eat anyways. Malia brought him outside and taught him how to hula dance. He probably had it down better than the rest of us. A few girls at the party put on a play with Jesus. Jesus really didn’t get what they were doing so he just ran around the yard doing cartwheels and dancing to his own beat. Jesus was the life of the party.

Jesus joined our group to the 8th grade dance. He looked very handsome with his bow tie and suspenders. He danced each of the slow songs with a different girl from our group. Jesus made each dance, party, and lunchtime more memorable than any I have ever had. Our times together were not always fun and dandy. We constantly had to defend Jesus and get him out of fights.

A certain group of boys never seemed to get off his back. None of us noticed that they constantly picked on him until they did right in front of us. (Not a smart move on their part) We defended poor Jesus until each of us had lost our voice and gotten into trouble for yelling. We were all angry until we looked at Jesus’ smiling face showing us that he appreciated everything we had just done.

From that day forward, no one dared to mess with Jesus. Jesus taught our whole group how to love and respect others even if they are a bit different. We would have never guessed that Jesus could be so much fun and just as crazy as the rest of us. He was a great person to talk to, and some of most meaningful conversations at that age were with Jesus.

We all reached high school together seeing each other briefly in the halls. But just like many wonderful friendships, our group fell apart. When I see Jesus in one of his classrooms, he always comes right out and says proudly, “This is my girlfriend.” And I proudly say back, “Yes I am!”
Thank you Jesus, you changed all of us for the better.

Author Unknown

* Stories From the Heart is an ongoing series of user contributed heart warming stories, that shine light on the Autism experience.

Family is First on the Scene Covering the Disability Corner

Support is nice to have. Support from family is critical.

Life is strange sometimes. You can’t always get what you want. Many times, however, you are blessed with what really matters.

During the first presentation that I ever gave, my two oldest kids gave me “good luck gifts.” They made them all on their own.  At the time, they were only 13 and 12 years old.

My oldest daughter, Kim, offered me some advice.

She told me not to tell any funny stories about her, mention sex, or sing!

My oldest son, Matt, drew this picture of how he hopes my presentation will go. It said: “…dear mom, good luck with all of your speeches and that they turn out…Love ya….Matt.”

At the bottom it said, “Awesome, yeah, she’s good, wow!…she’s great…she’s my Mom…she has six kids, she doesn’t look like it!”  Don’t you just love kids, especially when they’re saying that kind of stuff.

Though I didn’t promise I wouldn’t sing, or mention sex, I certainly invited my audience into my life to share stories, videos and my family with them…and YOU!

No matter how that presentation would have turned out I know I’m a blessed Mom….proud of my family.

They stood by me when it counted, for a wonderful cause.

No, I didn’t get a perfect family.

I was blessed with what I needed and what ultimately matters…a close family that has and will get through anything together.

What trials has your family faced?

What particular struggles were involved how did your families support make a difference?

Please share your story by leaving a comment below.

Hearing from you energizes my continued dedication.

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


P.S. Need tips, strategies, and tools to help you and your family fight the good fight?

To download a video presentation that will help you along on your quest click here:

Contact Info

Toll Free: 1-866-9AUTISM (928-8476)

New York Office: 244 5th Avenue New York, NY 10001 Fax: 1-780-416-4330,

Canadian Office: 11007 Jaspar Ave Edmonton, Alberta T5K 0K6

Copyright 2017 © All Rights Reserved

1 in

Diagnosed with Autism


Autism Diagnosis a Day


Billion per Year

Boys are

Times More at Risk