Tag Archives: ASD

Ring-Bearer

19 Nov

BREAKING NEWS!

Worlds Cutest Ring Bearer Strikes Again!

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My sister got married earlier this month, and Dylan was her ring-bearer. Just like during my wedding, I wrote a social story to prepare him for the big day. He loved reading through it and knew exactly what was expected of him, in order to earn his¬†reward (some Bendaroos). On the rehearsal day, I reminded him to walk slow, hold the flower girl’s hand, and most importantly: to have a quiet voice and calm hands. He did great!!

When the sound techs turned on the processional music, Dylan boldly ordered them “Turn it up!” Then when practicing the exit, he grabbed the flower girl’s hand and ran down the aisle, smiling and laughing. It wasn’t what he was supposed to do, but it was adorable. It was perfectly Dylan.

Then came the big day…. Unexpectedly, he got upset about his boutonniere. (Who woulda thunk?) So we did a little “First-Then” strategy with him. “First take a few pictures, then you can take it off.” He wiped his tears and smiled for the pictures, then we promptly removed the flower from his tux. As we were about to enter the church, he decided he was okay with the flower, so we popped it back on. I whispered to him to remember to walk slow, stand in his spot, and have a very quiet voice, with no talking.

He made his way down the aisle, escorting the flower girl like a gentleman.

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He stood in his spot, between 2 groomsmen, and held their hands. (SO FLIPPIN’ CUTE!)

Wedding

A few minutes into the ceremony, he left the stage to go sit with his dad. Then he was chattering about who-knows-what. He eventually quieted down and even came back up to walk the flower girl back down the aisle at the end.

He did a fantastic job, all in all. And I know my sister feels just as blessed as I did to have him be a part of her wedding. Afterall, Dyl is the best ring bearer in the world ūüôā

Trick or Treat

3 Nov

Another one of my traditions with Dyl is taking him trick-or-treating. Since he was very young I’ve been able to celebrate Halloween with him, more years than not. When he first started trick-or-treating we would prompt the entire process, and we were his voice. “Trick or treat… Thank you, Happy Halloween”. We would help him hold his bag out, and prompt him to repeat a simple “thank you” at each house, although he was inconsistent in responding. Then one year I was impressed when he independently said “Trick or Treat” at a few houses! And, one time he even greeted a neighbor with “Chuck E Cheese! Where a kid can be a kid!” We laughed and reminded him, “did you mean trick or treat?”

This year he recited an online social story over and over in between houses. He told himself, and us, “People give out candy, and small snacks!” …. “Wait here!” …. “Don’t go in people’s houses unless you know them.”

Then after I prompted him a few times, he¬†kept repeating¬† “Look in their eyes and say ‘thank you’.”

I have thought about his perseveration and I’m still not exactly sure what to make of it. Does he repeat it as a way of reminding himself of what to do? Does he repeat¬†things because he doesn’t know what else to talk about? Does he repeat it because he’s excited for the routine at each house? Does he repeat it because he thinks he’s supposed to say it over and over? Does he repeat it because it’s a favorite story he’s recently learned? I don’t quite know why he perseverates so much on social rules and exectations. But, regardless, he did a great job trick-or-treating, and I had fun going with him.

I also loved something else he said this year…. We went up to a dark house, knocked, waited, and then realized no one was home. He turned and said “That’s weird”.¬† !!!¬†¬† He was spot on! Absolutely right! And it was hilarious! He knew that Halloween night was all about going house to house to get candy. So to come to a house where no one opened the door or gave out candy… that was weird! It was so appropriate, and totally spontaneous. It was a highlight of my night ūüôā

Our Halloween’s through the years…

Halloween

Tradition

23 Oct

I’ve taken Dylan to the pumpkin patch almost every year since he was a baby. It’s one of my favorite traditions with him, and for the past couple years my sister joins us, too. Over the years we’ve been able to see his progress in our annual outings to the patch.

I remember the year he kicked me in the stomach because he couldn’t have my water bottle, as an uneducated onlooker told her kid that he was “being a bad boy”.

I remember the year he handled being told he was too big for one bounce house LIKE A PRO! He easily transitioned to a different bounce house for kids his age.

I remember the year he appropriately used his words to let us know he was over it, and wanted to go home.

I remember the year we tried taking him to a different pumpkin patch and he described the one he wanted to go to instead.

I don’t think he looks forward to our yearly trips to the pumpkin patch as much as I do. But, I know that he counts on our routine. He wants the same pumpkin patch, to do the same activties (pick a pumpkin, get cotton candy, go in a bounce house, ride the train), and then he wants to go home. Plus, he smiles for pictures, even when his nutty big sis insists on taking about 1,000 ūüėȬ†Our pumpkin patch trips are one of my favorite things about fall. I love our tradition, and I count on it every year.

Here are some pictures from our yearly adventures…

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Radio Coverage

29 Aug

Yesterday something amazing happened. My blog was featured on a popular Los Angeles / Orange County radio station, The Fish 95.9.

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I couldn’t help but cry as I heard my post read over the air waves.

My little brother, my inspiration…he mattered to somebody. My story, my experience…it mattered to somebody.

Dylan’s life is touching so many others.

I’m so humbled, and so honored, that The Fish shared my story on their incredible platform. It’s a great feeling of validation and support. What an amazing gift. I am so thankful.

To hear the broadcast, click here.

12th Grade Journal

16 Aug

Last night I was digging through an old box of high school memorabilia and found my 12th grade English class journal. Each day we had prompts on the board, telling us what topic to write about. I’ll let my entry for “A Significant Event” speak for itself…

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I had no idea back then what the future held for him, and for our family. I was so excited thinking about the conversations he and I would have someday, not yet knowing that his words¬†would be exponentially more valuable than I ever¬†imagined, because they would come¬†after such struggle.¬†I was so excited¬†to be¬†close with him,¬†despite the age gap…not¬†yet knowing¬†that he would inspire my entire career; that he would inspire me to write about him on¬†a website read by people all over the world;¬†that¬†he would¬†be the reason I¬†help¬†dozens of other families. I was so comforted back then, knowing our Lord already had a perfect plan for Dylan’s life, not yet knowing how much I¬†would lean on that truth as a comfort for years to come.¬†I was right back then… my little brother would grow up so loved and so cared for. More than he could ever know…

Project Heart Touch

14 Aug

This week I’m proud to announce that my blog is featured in Project Heart Touch’s E-Book of resources for families of special needs kids.

Project Heart Touch, ”¬†is a compilation of several heartwarming Facebook pages [where] you will find passionate and compassionate communities.” The e-book is a collection of online groups and pages where families struggling with autism or other disabilities can come for support and encouragement.

I’m honored to be part of this project and hope that you will download a copy of this amazing resource, and share it with anyone who may benefit.

Click the picture below to download a free copy!!

Myth #2

5 Aug

Another theme I keep reading about from those who hate ABA is that it produces overly compliant people who are subject to¬†all kinds of victimization because they have not been taught to say “no”. It “strips” people of their voice by insisting on compliance.

First, I’d like to say that where I work it is almost 100% guaranteed that my learners will have a refusal language goal. (The main exception to¬†this is when the child already has a refusal language repertoire).¬†In other words, one of the first things we work on with most of our learners is saying “no” or “stop” or “all done”. And when first targeting this goal, these requests are put on a Fixed Ratio 1 schedule of reinforcement (ie: they are reinforced every time).

Now, once this skill emerges we shift the reinforcement to something more variable. The child no longer gets to be¬†“all done” every time they ask for it. Maybe instead they have to do 1 more task, then¬†all done. And after that maybe they have to complete 2 more tasks, then¬†all done, etc etc. The idea being that yes, it is important for a person to know they have a right to refuse things, especially the older they get. But, it is also important for them to know that sometimes you don’t get your way…and that’s okay.

I’ve read a lot of posts with people arguing that kids in ABA should ALWAYS have the right to refuse something.

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Now, before you start getting riled up that I’m opposing this idea…hear me out…

Do I think all people (autistic or not) deserve the right to refuse things that harm them? Absolutely.  And do I believe that some people have genuinely been injured (emotionally, physically, sexually) as a result of over-compliance? Absolutely.

But, do I think that kids in ABA should be able to say “no” to something just because they don’t like it, and it should be reinforced every time? No. I’m sorry, but no.

Typical kids don’t get to refuse things they don’t like, why would autistic kids have it any different?

Typical kids go to school, sit in their chairs, do their math worksheet, line up when the bell rings, etc. Typical kids have to make their bed,  wash their hands before dinner, eat their vegetables, share with their siblings, put away their toys, etc. They follow rules and when they choose not to, they face the repercussions.

That’s how the world works for adults, too…We all have to do things we don’t want to do! And, when we make the choice to NOT do those things, we face the ramifications.

If we taught autistic kids that saying “no” or “all done” ALWAYS got them what they wanted…would that really be beneficial to them? I challenge you to really ponder this.

I would say NO. A loud, resounding, NO! This is actually extremely detrimental to them.

If we instill the belief that THEY make all the rules,¬†that they¬†call all the shots, these kids will be in for a rude awakening when they enter a society where teachers, bosses, law enforcement, and government officials actually make the rules. Sure, the autistic person can always choose not to follow the rules…they can choose to refuse the rules…but they will face consequences.

Just think about how far-reaching this is.

Their diets, their self-hygiene, their education, their lifestyle, their housing, their ability to earn a living, their ability to form relationships.

What if they refuse to eat? What if they refuse to wait for the cross walk sign to change before walking into the street? What if they refuse to leave a place at closing time? What if they refuse to pay for something before walking out of the store with it? What if they refuse to keep their hands to themselves? What if they refuse to wear clothes? I could go on and on with examples!!

There are REAL LIFE consequences for refusing to comply… incarceration, financial penalties, health issues, and even death!

Teaching people to say “No” is an important skill and is vital for ensuring one’s self-defense and dignity. BUT, teaching people to comply with things they don’t necessarily like is equally vital. The balance is teaching when it’s okay to refuse and when the consequences of refusing outweigh the benefit. When I hear parents¬† say that being forced to do something the kid doesn’t want to do (ie: finish a task) is “abusive” and “strips” the child’s dignity or ability to be heard….I have to disagree. Teaching a child to do things he or she doesn’t want to do (ie: completing a task) is imperative for success in all aspects of life. While we want to make sure we are not creating blind compliance that may lead to being abused or taken advantage of, we also want to make sure our kids are prepared for a world that doesn’t revolve around them and their every desire. Teaching a person to accept this reality is one of the most loving things I can think of, because it sets realistic expectations and helps them navigate through¬†this world we live in; a world with rules and regulations.

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