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Sign Language was first used for the hearing-impaired. Years ago, Autistic children were taught to communicate through Sign Language. With today’s technology, computers have taken over as the best form of communication for people with communication difficulties. I understand it is more sensible to use computers. However, how often does a child have a computer on hand when they go on an outing? 

Many behaviors associated with Autism and other developmental disabilities such as anxiety and meltdowns are due to the persons inability or difficulty to communicate. What happens if your child with Autism wants to communicate with you or his/her siblings and can’t find the words or are afraid to communicate in public? You guessed it, they remain silent or they act out and may have a meltdown. Research suggests that teaching sign language along with speech will likely accelerate a person’s ability to communicate. It would be easier for that child to use Sign Language to communicate their feelings, wants or needs.

I am the parent of four children. When all four of my children were very young, I taught them how to use Sign Language along with speaking. It started off with just small words like drink, water, milk, and the phrase “I love you.” As they got a little bit older and learned to speak more words I increased their Sign Language vocabulary. If they pointed to the milk, I would Sign the word milk and say the word milk.

My youngest son didn’t point to what he wanted that often. So, it was a bit more difficult for me to figure out what he wanted. It took him longer to learn Sign Language. I think that’s when I knew that he was different. To this day, he doesn’t use Sign Language very often but he can read my signs, understand them and respond appropriately. For example, he knows the signs for please, thank you, sit, stop, I love you, yes and no. He knows other signs too but the ones that I mentioned are the ones that I use most often when we are out in public. If he starts acting up, I can sign the word stop or sit. He responds better to the signs more than facial expressions. If I try to make facial expresisons he usually says, “what?” as he doesn’t understand a lot of facial expressions. He understands the signs so much better and his behavior is quickly adapted to what I expect him to do.

Now, I’m not saying that everyone with Autism or communication difficulties should be taught Sign Language. Not everyone would benefit from learning Sign Language. But, for some people, it may be very beneficial. It would have to be a personal decision. I personally found it helpful for our family.

Most children, whether neuro typical or not, have to be reminded to say please and thank you. I find it much easier and respectful of my childs’ feelings to prompt them without making them feel embarrassed. When we are out in public and the children forget their manners, I non-chalantly turn my back on the person they are speaking to and sign and mouth the word please or thank you. It becomes less embarrassing for them. I am not verbally reminding them to “mind their manners.” They get a visual cue without the other person knowing that my child had to be reminded to be respectful. This has also helped my children to read lips. Children, and adults, with Asperger’s syndrome have a difficult (if not impossible) time looking someone in the eyes. My son, Austin, is the same way. However, when I sign something to him he focuses his attention on my hands and doesn’t have to look me in the eye.

If you decide to teach your child Sign Language it’s much easier to start them off with signs that express their basic needs such as drink, the need to eat, and having to use the bathroom. You know your child best and what signs would be best for them to learn. You don’t have to teach them the whole English language in Sign. But, a few basic signs to help them communicate better is helpful. Depending on your child, it may take a few minutes or a few months to learn their first sign. I taught my children when they were just learning how to speak. If you have a child that is older, it may take longer for them to learn Sign Language. It may take you some time to learn it yourself. But, it’s a learning experience that you can do together. If you are interested in free lessons for basic signs you can visit the American Sign Language University. Dr. Bill Vicars is the president and owner of the Lifeprint Institute, a consultation business focusing on technology-enhanced delivery of ASL Instruction. He is an associate-professor of American Sign Language and Deaf Studies at a university in Sacramento, California. You can view his biography HERE.

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As most of you already know, my 12 year old son Austin has had a difficult time in school.  He has been kicked out of two schools and was made to go to a behavioral specialty school before being mainstreamed back into his old school. 

 At the age of six, he was diagnosed with ADHD.  I’ve always known that there was something more to his behaviors than just ADHD.  Over the past year I have been researching Sensory Perception Disorder (also known as Sensory Integration Disorder), Autism, and Asperger’s Syndrome.  I know that he has Sensory Perception Disorder (SPD). But, I also believe that goes hand in hand with Asperger’s Syndrome.

I spent the last four months trying to find a family doctor for my children.  I finally found one and got Austin in to the doctor yesterday.  The doctor agreed to sign an outpatient prescription for Austin to be evaluated for SPD.  Yeah!  I couldn’t be happier!  After what seems like an eternity, he is finally going to get some help.  I filled out the intake form for the Children’s Development Center, enclosed the outpatient prescription, and mailed it this morning!

I called the Children’s Development Center and spoke to the intake receptionist.  She told me that the Occupational Therapists usually schedule their own evaluations.  She also told me that it should only take a week or two to get him in for his evaluation.  I will keep you all updated on Austin’s progress.  Please keep your fingers, toes, and everything else crossed.

Thanks,

Erica

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First and foremost, I would like to start off by saying that tantrums and meltdowns are two totally separate things.  How can you tell the difference? 

Typically, a tantrum starts with the child begging for an item, food, or toy.  If the parent refuses the child this item, the child begins to cry, stomp their feet, or scream.  If the parent gives in and allows the child said item, the tantrum comes to an end and the child has learned how to get what he/she wants.

If you have ever seen a child have a meltdown, you know the difference between a meltdown and a tantrum.  With a meltdown, the child has become either over stimulated or under stimulated by his/her surroundings.  It may be flickering lights, too many people, multiple sounds, someone touching him/her, or some other stimuli.  When the child goes into a meltdown, there is nothing that you can do or give the child that will make the meltdown end as you might with a tantrum.   A child or an adult, for that matter, going through a meltdown may not be able to tell you what the problem is while they are going through the meltdown.  The only thing you can do is to wait it out and ensure that they are safe and not going to injure themselves. 

With that being said, I’m sure that you can see the difference between a tantrum and a meltdown.  The latter is exactly what my son, Austin, experienced yesterday.  I think that Austin may have caused his own meltdown.  It was early on in his first class.  The kids were on a bathroom break.  As he walked into the bathroom at school, the lights were off.  So, naturally, he flicked the lights on.  As he dropped his hand from the light switch, he inadvertently shut the lights off again.  So, he turned them back on again. 

The children in his class told the teacher that Austin was flickering the lights in the bathroom.  When the teacher confronted him, he said that he didn’t do it.   He instantly became angry and started throwing his books, screaming, and banging his head on the wall.  There was nothing that anyone could do to get him to calm down.  The principal finally got him into the office and immediately called me at home.  When I got to the school, Austin was in the principal’s office crying and talking angrily to himself, as he usually does towards the end of a meltdown.  He was still at the point where he couldn’t talk to me and tell me exactly what happened.  I told the principal that he was not going to be productive at all for the rest of the day.  He allowed me to take Austin home.  It took Austin another hour before he could tell me what had happened.

I’m not sure if the flickering lights are what set him off or not.  But, it could stand to reason that that might be the cause of yesterday’s meltdown.  I can only hope and pray that today is going to be a better day.  I truly need to get some professional help soon.  Waiting for our insurance to come through is frustrating.  Especially when I see him getting worse and nobody understands him.  Yes, he may appear to be a normal neruo typical boy.  But, he’s not and he needs a little understanding!

I welcome any and all comments or advice.  If you have had a similar experience with your child, I would love to hear from you.

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Heart-shaped personalized KeychainI recently won a heart-shaped key chain from one of Pat’s giveaways over at her blog Mom’s Best Bets.  

Her blog is amazing!  It’s loaded with awesome giveaways, reviews, and a page called Kids Corner; which is loaded with reviews and ideas for lots of fun for kids and parents with eco-friendly crafts and great recipes. 

She was professional and quick about contacting me and shipping my key chain.  I am a huge fan of Mom’s Best Bets and I make it a habit to return to her blog as often as I can.

Your best bet is if you head on over and visit Pat at Mom’s Best Bets!

This giveaway was sponsored by WholeSale Keychain.    They have a wonderful selection of key chains.  I’ve never seen so many different types of key chains in my life!

They are great little items to give as a gift or to keep for yourself.  You’ll definitely want one for yourself.   They have something for everyone there!  And, the prices are more than reasonable.  You’d end up spending more somewhere else and probably be getting a lower quality item.  You don’t have to worry about quality or price at

  The key chain that I chose was the Metal Heart Keychain ( see pic above).  I was allowed to have it engraved too!  I had the words “Mom of 5” engraved on it.  The engraving is a really nice script and the key chain is very heavy-duty.  You can tell by the weight of it that it’s high quality item.  I love my key chain!

I am definitely going to be shopping at WholeSale Keychain in the future!

Thank you Pat and thank you  WholeSale Keychain.  Please, please, please, go visit both and enjoy yourself!

Disclaimer:  I was not paid to write a review for either site.  This is my honest opinion and I have gained nothing, other than winning the keychain, in return for writing this review.

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Being a mom is one the toughest jobs that I have ever experienced. It is also one of the most rewarding jobs I’ve ever experienced. But, why is it that society sees moms as the June Cleaver type? If you don’t meet society’s expectations as a mom then you are labeled a bad mom. Real moms in the real world, however, know that they are great moms and that they don’t have to be June Cleaver.

As most of you already know, I’m a mom of four children ages 19, 17, 13, and 11; two girls and two boys. Wow, I’ve been a mom for nearly two decades! Moms are the glue that holds the family together. We are supposed to do all and know all. In fact, we are supposed to be super moms. Where in the Constitution does it say that MOMS must establish justice, insure domestic tranquility, provide for the common defense, promote the general welfare, and secure the blessings of liberty?

Exactly! Nowhere! Yet, we do it anyway. Why? Not because the Constitution or society says so. We do it because we love our family. A real mom would go to any height, depth, or scale any mountain to protect, provide and care for her family.

Sometimes, we get frustrated and exhausted. When this happens to me, I use comic relief to de-stress. I found a great site about real moms called, go figure, Real Mom! This mom is a fellow Pennsylvania mom, like me, who writes a column for the Reading, Pa Eagle newspaper. Please take the time to visit her site and let me know what you think.

This is how I describe a “real mom.”

Real moms know:

  • that it’s okay to look like a slob sometimes.
  • that a hug means more than anything in the world.
  • that saying “I love you,” can ease an aching heart.
  • It’s okay to leave dirty dishes in the sink.
  • the house isn’t messy, it’s lived in.
  • it’s okay to have your own opinion.
  • that sometimes the marshmallows are the best part of the Lucky Charms.
  • it’s okay to look like a fool while sword fighting in Toys R Us with your child.
  • that breakfast for supper is not only okay but awesome!
  • It’s okay to be frustrated.
  • That cold pizza for breakfast is yummy.
  • You don’t have to volunteer for the PTO/PTA.
  • It’s okay to have your own tantrums once in a while.
  • When there’s snow outside, then there’s going to be snow inside too!
  • It’s Ok not to shower everyday. (provided by one of my favorite moms on the web LizAnn)

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Last night, my twelve year old son, Christian, and I spent the evening writing poems.

We spent over two hours composing, editing, and rewriting haiku ’til our hearts content.

“What is haiku,” you might ask.

In English, Haiku is written in three lines with each line having an exact number of syllables. The first line contains five syllables, line two contains seven syllables, and line three contains five syllables.

In Japanese, Haiku also has three parts, but can be written as one line. And instead of counting syllables, the Japanese count sounds.

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I found a haiku prompt on the internet and we went with it.

The prompt was:   How would you describe Satan?

 Here are some of the haiku we came up with for this prompt.

1

Beautiful presence            

Disguises all his evil

Through machinations             

2

Stairway to heaven

Leads the way the dark angel

Has fallen from grace

3

Perfection is born

The serpent entices Eve

Perfection no more

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I grew up in Vermont. There’s nothing more beautiful than the colorful leaves of fall in Vermont. I love all of New England.

1

New England in Fall            

Kaleidoscope of colors            

Falling to the ground            

2

Dark maple syrup

Drizzled over fresh new snow

Yummy Vermont treat

3

Winter time is fun

Go ice fishing on the lake

Walking on water

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This next one is very dear to my heart. My fifth child, Sierra Cheyenne, was born on January 18, 2001. She only lived for 6 hours and 5 minutes.

1

Tiny hands and feet                    

A beautiful baby girl                    

Sierra Cheyenne                    

2

A baby girl cries

A baby born months too soon

A baby girl dies

3

New year and new life

Celebration died with you

Now you’re my angel

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This is just a little bit of what we wrote together. It was a really fun way to spend time with my son. Kids are amazingly intelligent.

It was wonderful watching him so enthralled with counting out syllables and having it make sense. I recommend trying this with your Children and see how much fun they have.

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Co-parenting 101

This morning I visited a website that deals with co-parenting. As a divorced and then remarried mom of four kids, I found this site very informative and helpful.

When Michael Thomas and Deesha Philyaw’s marriage ended, they say that they “became poster-children for divorce” amongst their friends. They are not advocates of divorce. In fact, they see divorce as the last option. But, when it became apparent that there was no other alternative, they learned to co-parent very well. Well enough, in fact, that they started the website Co-parenting 101 which helps divorced parents raise happy, healthy children. Many divorced couples find it very difficult to parent their children properly, or should I say safely, without creating emotionally traumatized, angry children. It is possible for divorced couples to raise healthy, happy children.

The article that caught my eye was:

 Co-Parenting Dad to Girlfriend: “My Kids Will Always Come Before You”

One woman recounts her experience with a divorced man with two little kids. She is concerned about his devotion to his children not allowing room for her and their life together as a couple. This account reminded me of what I told my husband when we started dating.

“My kids come first, and they always will,” I told him.

His response to me was, “I wouldn’t have it any other way.”

That’s when I knew that he was the right one! I was very upfront with him from the start. My kids do come first and they always will. I didn’t say this to be mean or to push him away. I was just being honest about what kind of parent I am and how important my children are to me. But, that doesn’t mean that he can’t be a part of putting the kids first too.

Over the next three years of our relationship, he definitely proved that he puts my kids first. And he always puts them first in everything. Not in a spoiled brat kind of way, mind you.  Their needs are always put before ours and their wants are taken into consideration and mulled over extensively.  Add some “hands-off” discipline and we have a great family.  My kids may not be his biological children, but, he treats them as if they were his own.  

 

To add to our success, we both have a good relationship with my ex-husband and his wife, if you can imagine that.  Most people are flabbergasted when they find out that we actually enjoy our time with my childrens’ father and his wife.  It’s all about the children.  If you work together for the childrens’ sake, then there are no losers!  Our family is not perfect.  No-one’s is.  We have our differences every now and again.  But, for the most part, we’re a happy family.

 

If you are having a difficult time of co-parenting or you are dating someone who is co-parenting, please go visit the Co-parenting 101 website. I know that you’ll find the help that you need. Don’t be afraid to ask questions!

 

Note: Michael and Deesha are not counselors, licensed or otherwise, nor are they able to provide legal services .

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