Categories > Autism Emails

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.

Odd?

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 AutismToday.com

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:
http://www.on2url.com/app/adtrack.asp?MerchantID=22629&AdID=617030

 

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 AutismToday.com

 

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:
http://www.on2url.com/app/adtrack.asp?MerchantID=22629&AdID=617025

 

“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:
http://www.on2url.com/app/adtrack.asp?MerchantID=22629&AdID=617021

I sincerely look forward to hearing from you.

Karen Simmons
Mother, Wife, Author, Founder & CEO of AutismToday.com

 

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:
http://www.on2url.com/app/adtrack.asp?MerchantID=22629&AdID=617022

 

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 AutismToday.com

 

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:
http://www.on2url.com/app/adtrack.asp?MerchantID=22629&AdID=617020

 

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:

-EARLY DETECTION AND INTERVENTION
-FAMILY CHALLENGES
-INAPPROPRIATE BEHAVIOR
-COMMUNICATION ISSUES
-SOCIAL SKILLS
-ABSTRACT VERSUS CONCRETE
-ATTITUDINAL HEALING

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 AutismToday.com

 

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:
http://www.on2url.com/app/adtrack.asp?MerchantID=22629&AdID=617017

 

 

Wham…”ouch!!”

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:
http://www.on2url.com/app/adtrack.asp?MerchantID=22629&AdID=617012

I sincerely look forward to hearing from you.

Karen Simmons
Mother, Wife, Author, Founder & CEO of AutismToday.com

 

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:
http://www.on2url.com/app/adtrack.asp?MerchantID=22629&AdID=617013

 

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 AutismToday.com

 

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:
http://www.on2url.com/app/adtrack.asp?MerchantID=22629&AdID=617011

What do special needs children, circadian rhythm and bed sheets have in common?

That is the million dollar question to be discussed.

As a loving Mother of two special needs children I am grateful that currently, only my son Alex exhibits extreme sleep issues. Still, it is a challenge.

Living in Canada can play havoc with ones biological circadian rhythm where the sun goes down around 4:00 pm in the winter and midnight in the summertime. This makes it difficult to establish a bedtime routine (pattern) that so many special needs children require.

Although not diagnosed with SPD (sensory processing disorder), to this day, Alex won’t sleep with sheets on his bed. He continually removes them as if they were an itchy wool sweater or some other irritant. He stays awake really late and falling asleep has always been a chore for him.

We have tried many biomedical interventions through the years and found that simple coping strategies like listening to calming tapes and music seem to help. Of course, exercise during the day also wears him out sufficiently to assist dozing off.

Due to time and patience required, we have not tried “light box” therapy…yet. Instead, we taught Alex to avoid sugar hours before bedtime and to observe “quiet time” prior to bed.

So, although we wish there was a light switch for the sun or a bed sheet that Alex would accept, we’ve enacted simple but effective steps (more exercise, less sugar, “quiet time” and soothing music) that have made bedtime less stressful for both Alex and the whole family.

Have you found proactive ways to promote peace and quiet at your household during bedtime with special needs children?

What have you found that’s most effective to lull a special needs child to sleep?   Be bold and share your story. Leave your comments below.

Here’s to a good night’s sleep!

Karen Simmons
Mother, Wife, Author, Founder & CEO of AutismToday.com

 

P.S. More tips, strategies, and tools to help you and your special needs child get your “Z’s”.

To download a video presentation for sleeping tips click below:
http://www.on2url.com/app/adtrack.asp?MerchantID=22629&AdID=616981

 

A journey of many miles starts with a single step.

Most often there are many stops along a curving path. Rarely is the journey a perfectly paved or straight road.

Often times, some of the road signs are missing or not what you expected to see.

Have you ever got stuck in the “Exit Only” lane when your initial plans were to continue barreling down the highway?

Worse yet, did that unintended exit lane turn you in a completely different direction, with no other available exits in sight allowing you to get back on track?

As a Mother, I am often asked to describe the experience of raising children with disabilities. In trying to help people who have not shared that unique experience and to aid in their understanding, I compare it to the world of travel.

When you are going to have a baby, it’s like planning a fabulous vacation trip to Italy.  You buy a bunch of guidebooks and make your wonderful plans.

You plan to visit the:

-Coliseum
-Michelangelo David
-Gondolas in Venice

Of course, you also learn some handy phrases in Italian.

It’s all very exciting.

However, despite preparing for Italy, a change in the flight plan dumps you in Holland.

“Holland?” you say. “What do you mean, Holland?  I signed up for Italy.  I’m supposed to be in Italy.  All my life I’ve dreamed of going to Italy!”

So you’re now in Holland…and you’re told you must stay there too.

What would be your attitude at that point? A bit angry, miffed, confused and lost perhaps?

The important thing is that they haven’t left you in a horrible, disgusting or filthy place.

It’s just a different place.

Now you have more work to do, you must go out and buy new guidebooks and learn a whole new language. Positively speaking, you will meet a whole new group of people you would never have met.

Sure, it’s slower-paced than Italy, less flashy than Italy. But, after you’ve been there for a while, catch your breath, look around and get the lay of the land you begin to notice that Holland has:

-Windmills
-Tulips
-Rembrandts

Everyone you know is busy coming and going from Italy, and they’re all bragging about what a wonderful time they had there. And for the rest of your life, you will say, “Yes, that’s where I was supposed to go. That’s what I had planned.”

The pain of plans fallen through will never completely go away because the loss of that dream is significant.

But, if you spend your life mourning the fact that you didn’t go to Italy, you may never be free to enjoy the very special, the very lovely things about Holland.

Continually remind yourself, that no matter what your “Holland” is in this life, it’s just a different place. Soak in what it has to offer and be grateful.

Open your eyes, look around and smell the roses…frequently.

Remember, a first step starts the journey of many miles.  Forge your path and discover what it has to offer.

You might be pleasantly surprised.

Share your adventure with me, what it was and what you learned. Leave you comment below.

Where have your “travels” taken you? I look forward to hearing your story.

Karen Simmons
Mother, Wife, Author, Founder & CEO of AutismToday.com

 

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 unexpected. Download a video here:
http://www.on2url.com/app/adtrack.asp?MerchantID=22629&AdID=616970

 

Has anyone ever snapped their fingers, yelled at you or otherwise had to get your attention in a blatantly conspicuous manner?

Were you surprised at their frustration when you finally “came to”?

Most likely, you were jolted back to reality as a result of their desperate attempt to get your undivided attention.

You most likely yelled out “What is all the fuss about, I didn’t even hear you!”

Sound familiar?

It’s a classic case of gazing off into “space”…commonly known as daydreaming.

Now, try to imagine your initial amusement turns to urgent concern when, try as you might, nothing you do gets the attention of your child.  Their eyes are open, yet they don’t respond.

A Mother’s nightmare come true…a terrifying experience to say the least.

Here is my “seizure” story:

One day my girlfriend and I took our kids to West Edmonton Mall water park to go swimming.

Alex, my youngest (6 months old at that time), was in his little seat and Nancy (my girlfriend) noticed that he was staring at the lights in the mall.  We tried to distract him by waving our hands in front of his face but he continued to gaze into space as if we weren’t even there.

We determined he must be having some sort of seizure.

We rushed him to the hospital.

Having never actually witnessed anyone having a seizure, Alex’s event manifested itself opposite of what we’ve seen on TV or in movies. He was not shaking at all or otherwise displaying any outward signs…besides the blank stare.

It was later determined that Alex’s seizure was caused by his high temperature. Another seizure occurred about a year later. No others have been detected…at least that we could see.

Unbelievable as it seems, people have mild seizures that are not even detectable.

Have you ever experienced a seizure or witnessed one occurring to someone else?

How did you first become aware of the symptoms?

What was your first reaction?

What did you do to aid the situation?

Given each seizure can be unique, please share your story by leaving a comment below.

Thank you for participating!

Karen Simmons
Mother, Wife, Author, Founder & CEO of AutismToday.com

 

P.S. Seizures can be scary for the uninitiated. There are more tips, strategies, and tools to help you understand the nature of “silent” seizures.

To download a video presentation related to seizures, click below:
http://www.on2url.com/app/adtrack.asp?MerchantID=22629&AdID=616966

 

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