Monday, October 31, 2011

We're on SPD Blogger Network!

My recent post on bathtime battles is up on the SPD Blogger Network if you want to check it out.

As for me, I've gone "dark" the last couple of weeks for my annual dusting off of the sewing machine to make costumes for the boys. There's always at least one of them who waits until the last minute to decide what they want to be. On the flip side, this year one decided to wear last year's costume (and it still fits!) so there were only two costumes to make.

Thanks to my recent work schedule, it required some middle-of-the-night parties (if, by parties, you mean sewing like crazy amid bundles of fleece and flannel and lots of pins) but the costumes are DONE and IMHO they turned out good :).

Of course, my opinion really doesn't matter, but the people whose opinions DO matter, think they turned out good too :D. hehe

Pictures coming soon.

Sunday, October 16, 2011

Bathtime battles

Little Bitty has a love-hate relationship with bathtime. Usually somewhere in the realm of "strongly dislike."

Any mention of the dreaded bath and he's likely to screech "I not get WWWEEETTTT!!" and take off running. We'll be in for a wrestling match to get him into the tub and keep him there long enough to accomplish some semblance of cleaning. Somehow it seems like we end up soaked even more than him (I say "we" because he's getting bigger and when he goes ballistic dh and I have to tag team - one to try to keep him from climbing out of the tub while the other tries to wash him).

We've been through the battles of him not wanting to get wet at all, and got to a point where he could tolerate it. Sort of. Even a few drops of accidental water on his clothes and he starts stripping, but when it's on his terms, he actually enjoys the water. He loves to fill up the sink with water and play in it, and he loves to play in the swimming pool.

But bathtime? Not so much. At least not the actual *bathing* part. Because despite all the hysterics of trying to avoid getting IN the tub in the first place, once he's actually bathed and can get OUT, he suddenly decides he wants to stay in to play or "swim" and it takes just as much effort to get him out as it did to get him in. Sigh.

In our attempts to avoid the battles on the front end, we tried all kinds of things - bath toys, bubbles, even the occasional bribe (gasp!). What? I know we're not the only people who've tried to offer Thomas gummies in exchange for a wrestle-free bath. Not that it worked :/. For his part, he actually tried to climb into bed claiming "I tired!" rather than resign himself to a bath.

And then dh came up with one of his famous ideas. He gets full credit for this one because it never would have occurred to me.


I don't know if it's the scent, or the way it makes the water feel extra soft and smooth, or what, but suddenly Bitty actually likes taking a bath. In true dh-fashion, once we found that Bitty liked the Calgon, dh came home with pretty much every "flavor" they have. So now when it's bathtime we just ask him which Calgon he wants to use this time, he chooses one and helps us pour it into the water, and proceeds to climb into the tub, happy as a clam.

"Calgon take me away." lol (yes, Bitty actually read that on the container, guess they haven't changed their slogan over the years).

Dh also got Bitty a loofah in his favorite color (red!) to wash his body with. He likes the feel of it and is happy to scrub away. He still doesn't like having his hair washed, but thankfully he doesn't have much hair so I can do that in well under a minute. Short enough to say "oops I didn't mean to wash your hair, let me rinse that for you..." and be done with his face toweled dry again before he can get too worked up over it.

We've been down this road before so I'm not expecting that the bath battles are necessarily over for good, but am enjoying the reprieve while it lasts :).

Friday, October 14, 2011

Mic-er-scoff Office Pow-point

Cuddlebug and Bearhug have been using MS Powerpoint at school, so they were excited to discover that we have the same program at home.

Cuddlebug was especially eager to try out all of the "Microsoft Office features" on the computer :) and proceeded to put a shortcut to every. single. one. of them on his desktop. In Powerpoint, they made slideshows using clipart found in the clipart gallery that comes with the program.

And of course, Bitty follows his big brothers around watching them, and loves to do whatever they're doing.

So he started playing around with "Mic-er-scoff Office Pow-point" too. He pulls in pictures, either from the clipart or from his own photos that we've uploaded from "his" camera (I let him use my old one since he likes to take pictures). More often than not he makes his slideshows with either 7 or 17 pages (his favorite numbers). He loves to print them out to make booklets or just cut out the pictures (great fine motor practice!).

Thought I'd share some samples of their work here. I changed the boys' names on the Butterfly one but otherwise left it all as they had it.


Cuddlebug and Bearhug:

This one is only two slides, but keep clicking - they added animations :)

This one reminds me of the comics they like to draw, lol.


Bitty did these ones (with a little help from Mom but the ideas and most of the work were all his):

A collection of pictures he took of several of the Mii's from the "Check Mii Out Channel" (Kevin Henkes is apparently a children's author, Bitty put his name on several of his booklets and I had no idea who it was so I looked him up). As you can see, he mostly likes the Miis with the pictures where their faces should be (creeps me out *shivers*)

One of many "Shape" books - the object is to identify the shapes in each pictures

More shapes - he added his own words in this one (typed it all himself too).

FYI - on slide 6, "GAW" stands for "Game and Watch"

He figured out you can make the pictures move... this is where I had to help him a little but I basically just did what he told me (he was *very* particular about how he wanted each picture to move). As you can see he especially liked making them spin :).

You may recognize Kirby and the clown from Baby Newton on the cover :).

Just FYI - when it says "the end" it's actually not, he decided to keep going after he put those in.


Sometimes I have to do some work at home and lately he's taken a keen interest when he sees me working in PPT.

"Are you using Pow-Point?"
"Do you wike Mic-er-scoff Pow-point?"
"Love it."
"Are you putting pichers in you Pow-point?"
"No, no pictures in this one, baby."
"Can you go to slideshow?"
"Not yet, I'm still working on it."
... he pauses to look at the graphs I'm updating.
"Iss dat a picher?"
"It's a graph."
"Are you gonna make it spin???"
(I admit I had to laugh at the prospect of sending my boss a presentation with spinning graphs, lol)
"Umm... no, I'm not going to make it spin."
"Do you want to make you graph spin?!" (he's persistent)
I was eager to finish so I could spend some time with him doing something other than discussing the possible rotation of graphs, so I managed to change the subject.

I suppose next time I'm going to have to make the graphs spin and show him in slideshow mode so he can check it out ;).

Saturday, October 8, 2011

National Sensory Awareness Month


October is National Sensory Awareness Month!

Sensory Processing Disorder (SPD) is a neurological disorder in which the brain and the senses (all 8 of them!) don't work together as they should. Some examples of this include frequent sensory overload (when the brain is unable to filter out irrelevant sensory input), motor difficulties (when the brain isn't able to coordinate the muscles to respond appropriately to stimuli), and difficulty interpreting sensory input (when the brain doesn't recognize the body's signals, such as hunger).

Individuals with SPD may be under-responsive or over-responsive to sensory input. Some may be sensory avoiders, overly sensitive to certain textures or sounds. This can have major implications for daily living, as they may find only certain types of clothing or food tolerable, and may find some places too overwhelming to be comfortable there. Some may be sensory seekers, crashing into everything, climbing or hanging upside down all the time. Sometimes it depends on the situation, and it's possible to have both sensory-seeking and sensory-avoiding responses depending on the type of sensory input.

Most of the examples I gave are part of our experience with our boys - all three of them have SPD along with autism. It's quite common for people on the autism spectrum to also have sensory issues, although it's possible to have one without the other and there are many people with SPD who are not on the autism spectrum. Sometimes SPD symptoms may be misinterpreted as ADHD, for example when a sensory-seeker is in constant motion, running and crashing, in an attempt to get the sensory input they need, or has difficulty staying on task because they frequently need to be up and moving around.

One of the most helpful books I've read on the topic is "The Out-of-Sync Child" by Carol Kranowitz. I read it soon after our twins were dx'd and it really helped me to get a better idea of what they were going through, which in turn helped me to be more patient with some of their more challenging behavior.

If you're looking for (or want to share with others) some insight into what it's like to have SPD, I highly recommend this article. An excerpt from it quotes Stanley Greenspan:
"Imagine driving a car that isn't working well. When you step on the gas the car sometimes lurches forward and sometimes doesn't respond. When you blow the horn it sounds blaring. The brakes sometimes slow the car, but not always. The blinkers work occasionally, the steering is erratic, and the speedometer is inaccurate. You are engaged in a constant struggle to keep the car on the road, and it is difficult to concentrate on anything else."

I've included some links below, feel free to share additional resources in the comments.

Helpful articles:
What is SPD?
How does it feel? - a short but very insightful look at what it's like for those who have SPD
SPD Signs and Symptoms
SPD Red flags

Sensory Processing Disorder
SPD Foundation
The SPD Blogger Network

Thursday, October 6, 2011

Hiking trip

We took the boys on a hike, which involved some fun trails, some pretty waterfalls, and a lot of stairs going up the mountain.

Bitty: "What iss hike-een?"
me: "Walking in the woods."
Bitty: "Are we walk-een in the woods?" (I can't figure out how to type the way he pronounces "walk" but it is so. darn. cute!
me: "Yep, we sure are."

These two practically ran up the mountain, but were nice enough to stop and wait for the rest of us here and there. In this one, Bearhug is showing me the waterfall, in case I was too busy huffing and puffing my way up the stairs to have noticed :).

Meanwhile Bitty wanted "uppers" most of the way, thankfully dh handled that although at one point he got tired of carrying and told Bitty "I'll carry you but you have to catch me first!" And Bitty took off after him, yelling "CAAHH--RRY!!!" lol

Leaving proof (I wish I had three arms!)

We continued on to the top. Of course Bearhug and Cuddlebug beat us by a mile but they were waiting at the top to give us a high five and congratulate us for making it (I think I heard them congratulating pretty much everyone else that made it too while they were waiting, lol).

They weren't even the slightest bit winded or tired. I sooo wish I had just a fraction of their energy! I took some "victory" pictures of them at the top of the waterfall :).

The view was beautiful, worth the climb.


The park where we went hiking is close to the pumpkin farm, so we had planned to visit the pumpkin farm again for a while before heading home. Unfortunately, the hike was too much overstimulation and Bitty wasn't up for anything else that day. We tried since we had told the boys we'd go, but we only lasted about a minute at the pumpkin farm before Bitty started kicking pumpkins and yelling angrily at them (something along the lines of "I don' WANNA SEE A PUH-KIN!!!") :(. We showed him the sign that says "no stepping on, kicking, sitting on the pumpkins" etc. and he yelled "I don' WANNA WEAD DA SIGN!!!" so we knew it was time to go and try again another day.

We did manage to pick up a couple of pumpkin pies before we left (because it's a long drive and we were already there) only because I offered to give Bitty "uppers" (carry him). Thankfully Cuddlebug and Bearhug were ok with leaving early, and we did make it out before Bitty reached full meltdown mode. Once we got into the car Bitty started to settle down.


This post has been submitted for this month's S-O-S Best of the Best Blog Carnival. The topic is "share a moment from your family life, whether it’s funny, loving, or just special." Our hiking trip gave us some much-needed family relaxing time and it was a fun activity for the boys. Even though we did end up having to cut the planned activities short and spend the rest of the day decompressing we made some good memories that day :).

Sunday, October 2, 2011

Conversations with Bitty

Bitty asked me one evening as I took him upstairs to tuck him in for bed, "does me hab schoo tomowwow?"

I couldn't help but smile, his wording is too cute but it is also an indicator of just how far he's come with his speech and communication skills. You may notice that he didn't say, "do YOU hab schoo tomowwow?"

After a LOT of time and effort, he uses the pronoun "you" correctly most of the time now, meaning referring to the person he's speaking to and not to himself.

It didn't occur to me that there would be a "next step" of differentiating between I and me (is the English language complicated or what?!) until we started hearing sentences like the one I started this post with:

"Does me hab schoo tomowwow?"
"Iss me sick?" (he had to stay home from school a couple of days this week as he was running a fever, he's feeling better now).

Other times (usually at the beginning of a sentence now that I think of it) he does great:

"I don' WIKE DAT!" (we hear that one a lot, sigh)
"I not hungry"

However he decides to word things, I remain infinitely grateful that he is (mostly) willing and able to communicate with us. It means the world to have some insight into what he's thinking (even though sometimes he still leaves us guessing).

He often likes to ask questions that we think he already knows the answer to. Maybe he likes the reassurance of hearing the answers again, maybe he's just making conversation.

For example, he drives his brothers crazy asking things like "do you wike Pokemon?", "wha'ss you fay-brit cuh-wer? Iss wed you fay-brit cuh-wer?" or "do you wike Kirby-right-back-at-YA?" (a cartoon that apparently went off the air years ago but still lives on YouTube).

If he deems the answer "unacceptable" he can be very persistent (ie. when Cuddlebug tried to tell him he doesn't have a favorite color). That can lead to some funny conversations, like Cuddlebug making up random names for colors that don't exist because he refuses to just pick a color and Bitty refuses to stop asking until he gets a satisfactory answer.

Bitty still tends to ignore us at times, and it can take a LOT of effort and repetition to get any kind of response when we are trying to ask him something or initiate a conversation with him. Or (gasp!) trying to get him to do something.

But other times he will actually seek us out and I am loving these little interactions:

Bitty, to me: "Iss Kirby a pink ball?" (grinning)
me: "Yes, Kirby is a big pink ball."
Bitty: "Does Mom wike Kirby?"
me: "Of course I love Kirby, he's one of my favorite characters!"
Bitty smiles in response.
me: "Do YOU like Kirby?"
Bitty smiles even bigger, nodding his head emphatically with a huge grin. Priceless :)

RIP Flake :(

Thursday night we found little Flake had passed away.

He was fine when I fed the fish that morning. By dinnertime, he was gone. :(

That's Flake at the bottom

I know it sounds silly, but there was something endearing about Flake. Dh and I joked that if ever a fish's name was a perfect fit, it was "Flake" lol. Bearhug named him after his "favorite food" but he was kind of a nutty fish, so the name fit from that perspective too. He may have had some health issues, at one point he hardly swam at all but he hung in there and mostly recovered. He began to swim again although he swam a little erratically, as if he couldn't quite control where his fins took him.

He seemed happy though, playing with the other fish and hiding out when he wanted some quiet time. He was the smallest fish in the tank and it became a bit of a game to "find Flake" whenever it was time to feed the fish, to make sure he came out from his hiding place and got something to eat before the food was gone.

The boys handled the news as well as could be expected... I don't think Bitty really understands what happened, but Cuddlebug and Bearhug were sad about the loss and will miss little Flake. May he enjoy his swimming adventures in the oceans of heaven.

About Me

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I'm a mom of three boys on the autism spectrum, 11-yr-old identical twins and a 7-yr-old. My husband is a SAHD.


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