Friday, July 29, 2011

Sometimes, I get nervous

My son is playing in an important baseball tournament. (We won two and lost one against three state champs - not bad.) Tonight, Miss 'Rella wanted to go get a snack from the concession stand. The concession stand window was just outside of my line of sight. I could see her until she went right around the corner.

She knew how much the snack cost. I gave her the money and let her go.

She came back with the snack and shared it with me.

Then she went to play. She was twirling herself around a light pole.

A few minutes later, she sat down beside me and said something like this, "Sometimes, when I buy my own food, I get nervous."


Self awareness. Experience sharing. Courage. Resilience.

We're seeing more glimpses of them.

Eldest is HOME!

Band camp is over.

My sweet firstborn is home!

Thanks to Mrs. Wooten for the wonderful photograph. :)

Thursday, July 28, 2011

The Deal: 100 Days of Reading Together

I made a deal with my girl. Read about the deal here.

She does not agree with me that if we don't read together that we do not count that day. She wants to simply cross 100 days off of the calendar.

We have read together three days. We started a junior classic version of Moby Dick. She has picked up several chapter books to read on her own. That's new. Brand new. We went from picture books to simple chapter books all of a sudden. And I want her reading with me for now. I'm not ready to turn her loose with chapter books yet.

I will have to hide the books from her so that we can get through one book before we begin another. She seems to like trying new books without finishing them.

We started the book in the photo, too, and she seems to like it better than Moby Dick. Treasures from Grandma's Attic is a review item for us, and I requested it because I hoped it would be something we could read together.

We have a lovely screened-in porch now, and I asked for a double glider for my birthday, so we've been reading out on the porch while rocking gently in the glider. The porch is free from electronic distractions and we can sometimes hear a band rehearsing in the distance. It's very peaceful.

Last night, she asked if I would read it to her while she soaked in the bathtub. Interesting. When she was little, sometimes I'd bring a book to the bathtub and try to read children's books to her when she was a captive audience. She has never really liked being read to. There's an auditory processing thing, I think. She's never enjoyed reading, either.

However, if she wants me to read to her in the bathtub, I will read to her in the bathtub. We have a soaking tub at our 'new' house, deep enough that I could allow her to get settled and then I could sit beside her and we could see one another's faces without her modesty being compromised.

And I read to her as she soaked in the tub.

We are finally building a bridge between shared reading and guided reading.

And she feels the stress. Sometimes, at random times during the day (when we are NOT reading together), she will shout at me that she doesn't want to read, that she hates it, that it hurts her brain, etc. Sometimes, out of the blue, she'll approach me with another negotiation, "How about 10 days, Mom?" she'll ask, trying to get me to reduce the deal quite a bit.

I've dumped a lot of responsibility on her with the deal, allowing her not to read on days when she doesn't want to. She was surprised to learn that I'm not counting those days toward our 100 days, though, and she's processing this new lesson.

She is not the only one processing our deal. I know that this new pathway we're creating is fragile, and that I must respect it, must travel it at a slow, gentle speed and with great care. On days when the desire to work toward her new toy by consenting to read with me, I must not misuse that willingness by pushing for too much.

We continue to figure out the learning journey together. What a ride!

Tuesday, July 26, 2011

Defending Mariah Carey

Every type of media - from bloggers to network and cable news - is making fun of Mariah Carey at the moment. There are clips of Carey on a tv shopping channel where, instead of focusing fully on selling her wares, she talked quite a bit about her recent twin pregnancy.

One statement that is being mocked quite a bit is this one:

"I was literally 47 weeks pregnant."

Come on, bloggers and reporters - 'fess up. You aren't able to perspective take on this one, at all. You have no theory of mind here.

Allow me to translate, to give you some much needed insight.

When a woman is pregnant, the obstetrician pulls out a high tech (*wink*) gadget at every visit. The gadget is called a tape measure and it looks pretty much like the one my grandmother used when she was sewing when I was a girl. The doctor measures the woman's belly with that tape measure. The doctor measures the mother's growing uterus, specifically, fundal height, which is an indicator of the growth of the baby.

When I was pregnant with my twins, my uterus was measuring full-term (40 weeks) when I was just 29 weeks pregnant. And I was pregnant for eight more weeks. I was probably measuring, literally, 47 or 48 weeks pregnant, too.

So, when Mimi insists she was "literally 47 weeks pregnant", I think she is telling the absolute truth, and my interpretation of her statement is that her belly was measuring 47-weeks pregnant at the biggest-belly part of her pregnancy.

Stop making fun of her. Twins are an amazing accomplishment, especially when your uterus stretches to 47-weeks.

Nick and Mariah, I hope you're getting some sleep!

Monday, July 25, 2011

I'm All In - Robert Pierre - Review and a GIVEAWAY, too!

I love music. I love Christian music from hymns to worship praises to gospel to contemporary Christian tunes. When I was offered a CD of Christian music, I quickly said "yes, please!".

And then I had a moment of doubt. What if I didn't like it? What would I say on the blog?

Thank goodness, that did not happen!

Robert Pierre's CD, I'm All In, arrived and I popped it into the player in the car. Eldest got to listen to it with me the second time through; I'd already picked up some of the lyrics. (There are some catchy tunes here. *smile*)

I have enjoyed this CD. The tunes for me fit into three categories. Some I'd like to sing as part of musical praise and worship in worship services. A couple would make great solos at church. And some need to be played on the radio.

After listening to it with my daughter, I think that the album will appeal to a wide age range. Pierre is a teenager; his music appeals to young people, yet reaches to us middle agers and old folks, too.

The album is mostly peppy and upbeat, and to be honest, peppy and upbeat is exactly what I need right now. There are a couple of slower, more what-I'll-call serious tunes on the CD, and it is a good balance for me. (I still remember my disappointment in a Christmas CD by a rockin' country artist that turned about to be all slow songs - I need upbeat, and Pierre delivers.) I'll reach for I'm All In not only when I'm feeling happy but also when I need a pick-me-up. My teenager read the info and lyrics with intensity. She wanted to know what songs this young man wrote. He wrote or co-wrote most of them. He wrote my favorite song on the CD, Maker of the Stars.

For a chance to win your own copy of this CD, leave a comment to enter. I'll pick a winner from those who entered by midnight, Friday, July 29th.

From the press release:
For Robert, I’m All In is more than the name of his third studio album, due July 26 from thinkaboutit records. It has become Robert’s life motto as he responds to God’s calling to live fully committed to Him. In addition to writing and recording I’m All In and playing on a summer tour, Robert also leads regular Sunday morning worship at his 800-member Orlando, FL church. And he’s done it all as a high school senior. “All of the songs have something to do with things I was going through my senior year,” Robert said of I’m All In, “preparing to say goodbye to friends and not really knowing what would come next, but finding comfort and peace in the Lord’s plan for my life. The Bible talks about how the eyes of the Lord are searching to and fro throughout the earth, searching for someone whose heart is wholly His, someone He can strongly support. This CD is me saying, ‘I’m all in.’” Creating I’m All In was a powerfully personal experience for Robert, who teamed with veteran songwriter Jason Ingram (Tenth Avenue North, Sanctus Real, Bebo Norman) and legendary producer Matt Bronleewe (Jars of Clay, Michael W. Smith, Steven Curtis Chapman) on the album. The result is a collection of songs that enthusiastically and energetically worship God while wrestling with what it means to be a Christian in a world full of difficulty and joy, anxiety and excitement.
Everyone who picks up the CD remarks about Pierre's resemblance to Elvis Presley. ;)

The album has a July 26th release date. You may 'like' the I'm All In facebook page here and purchase the album here.
“Disclosure of Material Connection: I received one or more of the products or services mentioned above for free in the hope that I would mention it on my blog. Regardless, I only recommend products or services I use personally and believe will be good for my readers. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255: “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”

Sunday, July 24, 2011

Marching In The Dark

In preparation for band camp, football games, and band competitions, the students have practiced in the school parking lot during the summer.
In early June, they marched with the loud cadence of cicadas in the background. This week, the intense heat has kept them indoors learning music until the day darkens and temps cool enough to march outside. One night, (not the night I snapped this photo), they marched in almost total darkness with no street lights. The parking lot was so dark that night that I did not see them there when I took a place in the pick-up line. I heard them playing as I was waiting in the dark.

Saturday, July 23, 2011

The Deal

My homeschooler wants an expensive toy.

She thinks I should go to the bank, get the money, and go get her the toy.

The toy costs approximately $100.

I told her I'd make a deal with her.

You must understand that reading for her is a chore. It makes her brain hurt, she tells me. She is reluctant to try for so many reasons. You must also understand that she has become addicted to electronics in a big way, spends entirely too much time with them, something I shouldn't have allowed to happen, but did, because we'd just moved, and it was the cop-out-easier-thing-to-do. Now I have a price to pay to get her off of her electronics and back into school, learning, chores, cooking with me etc.

The deal: When she reads with me for 100 days, we'll go get that toy. If she reads with me every day from today, she could have her toy by the end of October.

I told her not to answer me right away, to think about it.

Watching her process the idea is interesting. She's gone from being completely opposed to the idea a few hours ago to trying to negotiate me down to 10 days (ha ha) to asking what kinds of books she could read.

Stay tuned.

Friday, July 22, 2011

Kid-Friendly Recipes from the White House

I watched this segment on TV this morning. The salad looks amazing! I have to try that dressing. And I want to try the fruit pies made with Udi's gluten free bread filled with pear sauce from Trader Joe's. The segment is worth passing along (the recipes are here).

Visit for breaking news, world news, and news about the economy


Join me in a Snoopy dance in front of the computer because we found a third pizza place in our new town that serves pizza on a gluten-free pizza crust! This one's a little closer to home, too! 'Rella inhaled it; I couldn't get the camera fast enough to snap a picture of the whole pie. ;)

Thursday, July 21, 2011

Helpful Hint: Duck Tape

When my daughter was in public school, I was allowed to leave snacks at school that fit her gluten-free, dairy-free diet. Because there were other children with different dietary restrictions, I wanted to make sure that her food was not confused with any other student's food.

My solution? I wrapped a strip of bright red duck tape around every box of GFCF cookies or bag of chips or popcorn I sent in for her. I wrapped a strip of red duck tape around any cupcakes I brought to stash in the freezer at school as well. If the item did not have a strip of red duck tape on it, she wasn't allowed to have it.

Parents, you can use this tip at church and homeschool co-ops, too. Find your signature color of Duck Tape, buy several rolls of it, and tape a strip of it onto everything that your child may eat. In addition to bright colors, there are lots of patterns available, too.

I'm not sure how I came to 'like' the Duck Tape facebook page, but I'm glad I did. They post the cutest pictures. Today, they are showing off a pretty polka-dot Duck Tape, and that's what reminded me of my special use for red Duck Tape way back when. It's a tip worth passing along.

Gluten-Free On A Shoestring

Gluten-Free on a Shoestring by Nicole Hunn arrived in my mailbox recently, and the popovers on the cover were too inviting to leave there on the cover.

Eldest agreed. We set out the eggs to bring to room temperature and once they were ready, we began. She did most of the work.

Because of the recent move, I cannot always remember exactly where I put things when I unpacked them. I do not have a popover pan and I could not find my large 12-muffin muffin tin. So, we improvised with minis.

I'd not made popovers before; they turned out quite tasty, even with substitutions, and Li'l Bit ate several of them.

We were limited in what we could make because I have not found all of my baking supplies since our move. I had to go digging in boxes to look for the xanthan gum. I was thrilled to find it and then we had all the ingredients for popovers. (I have yet to find the vanilla flavoring.)

And we found the large muffin tin when we were finished.

Gluten-Free on a Shoestring is a 257-page paperback that gives readers 125 gluten-free "Easy Recipes for Eating Well on the Cheap". There is a small photo section in the center of the book. Amazon has it priced under $11 at the moment. (a bargain!)

I wanted to make at minimum a couple more recipes before I post the review, and I seem to never have all of the ingredients I need or everything that sounds good has a milk ingredient that I cannot use (sour cream, cream cheese) or substitute (we have a soy issue, too). So, no, it's not allergen free, although the majority of the recipes are adaptable.

Another wrinkle: Lately, temps have been too hot to bake. I don't want to turn on the oven if I don't have to.

I want to make the toaster pastry recipe. Graham crackers. The chocolate wafer cookie. Chocolate chip brownies. Pizza crusts. I wonder if I use coconut kefir or yogurt in place of the half-cup of sour cream, would the Devil's Food Cake turn out right in my new oreo cookie cake pan that I found on clearance? I have quite a list of recipes to try, and at this point, they're not going to happen until the school-building-school kids go back to school in August. Then, my homeschooler and I will begin baking together in a bigger way again.

This is not just a baking cookbook. Hunn gives us veggies and main dishes in addition to breads and desserts. She gives readers quite a lot of "how-to" as she begins the book, which is informative to newbies and oldies alike.

I've enjoyed reading the cookbook. I'm ready to get my act together and cook from it in a big way.

De Capo Press sent me a review copy of Gluten-Free on a Shoestring. I was not paid for this review. I do not benefit should you choose to purchase this book. I am not obligated to provide a positive review.

Wednesday, July 20, 2011

Theory of Mind, Context and Past Experience

I have gotten another close-up look at an important piece of the core deficits of autism.

Individuals who are on the autism spectrum are often described as having deficits in Theory of Mind.

In the early days of my child's autism diagnosis, I heard the term "theory of mind" often. No one explained how theory of mind develops until many years into the diagnosis (thank you, Dr Gutstein!). Instead the whole idea about how to acquire theory of mind was mysterious to me, and sometimes I imagined a fantastical theory of mind fairy who comes to the house and bestows it upon children in the middle of the night.

Dr Gustein (of RDI®) taught me about theory of mind, although he calls it by another name: joint attention. Joint attention develops in typical children in stages, and it made sense to him that we can go back to the beginning and grow joint attention in children on the autism spectrum if we go in the order that joint attention develops in typically developing children. (And yes, he's right, it works.)

Part of my education as a parent involved learning about all the pieces of non-verbal joint attention to help my child experience as a foundation to the verbal pieces.

Some aspects of non-verbal communication are really obvious to me. Gestures. Facial expressions. Pitch/tone of the voice. Sounds. Eye gaze.

Some aspects of non-verbal communication are not so obvious.

Context and past experience are on that list of aspects of non-verbal communication. Context? Past experience? What does that even mean? Yes, I understand that learning from mistakes allows us to make course corrections for now and in the future. But I didn't grasp the concepts the way I do now that we have moved across the country.

Since the move, I seem to spend a lot of time being frustrated because I have no context and past experience with anything in our new location. They don't DO things here they way we DID things 'back home' in our former location. I have made the mistake of assuming something was pretty much the same here as it was there and wound up scrambling to repair the breakdown in meaning. I am unable to perspective take effectively here because I am so new to the way they do things here.

None of the breakdowns are showstopping, but they are frustrating.

I'll give you a couple of examples.

At my son's honors day, I sat in the bleachers of the gymnasium. At our former location, the folding chairs on the gym floor were reserved for the guests of honor, the students. Not here. I saw parents taking the folding chairs on the floor. I figured out my misunderstanding (breakdown) and moved to the folding chairs (repair).

Eldest received info about freshman orientation that listed three days of orientation. We did not know whether to choose one day or if the students are expected to attend all three days. Since one of the days overlapped a marching band rehearsal, I deduced that the three days would be the same and that the students were to choose one day. WRONG. A neighbor with older children knew from past experience that past orientations were six hours long on one day. She phoned the school to ask if her freshmen were to attend all three days. Yes, they are supposed to attend all three days. We got a call from a student in the neighborhood who wanted to know if my girl wanted to go together and we didn't know my girl was supposed to be up and getting ready. That misunderstanding (breakdown) was more stressful, but still easy to adjust to (repair).

I keep experiencing misunderstandings because I have no context or past experience here and, honestly, the repetitive misunderstandings are sooooooooooo dysregulating! I feel knocked off balance a lot, I feel I am put into a position to simply react to events around me instead of responding thoughtfully, and I spend (waste) a lot of time trying to guess different meanings to figure things out ahead of time in order to try to avoid misunderstandings, and still have to navigate and repair a lot of them. And I am competent at recognizing breakdowns in meaning and repairing them! Imagine the frustration of an individual on the autism spectrum who is not competent at meaning making, breakdown, and repair! (I better understand the craving for repetitive behavior and the need for sameness, too.)

Since the move, I see more clearly the importance of context and past experience in theory of mind and joint attention. I also see more clearly the importance of recognizing breakdowns and being an active participant in your own repairs, and not only in a remediation program addressing the core deficits of autism, but also with our typical children.

I look forward to the time when new events for us are in the minority and we are experiencing more familiar events where we are able to use past experience and context more effectively. In the meantime, we'll keep rolling with the change and uncertainty of new schools and routines. ;)

Monday, July 18, 2011


Today's salad is too pretty not to share. I mixed a variety of lettuces, cucumber slices, cherry tomatoes from my friend's garden, added a little bit of crisp, crumbled bacon, slivered almonds, dried cranberries, shredded mozzarella cheese, and I topped it with a homemade honey maple mustard dressing that was left over from turkey burgers late last week. All gluten free. Without the cheese, it would be milk free as well.

Sunday, July 17, 2011

Living Food

My high school reunion has come and gone (last night). One of my sweet friends brought to the party for me veggies straight from her garden. Yummmmmmmmmmm. I made a salad for supper.

Now that we are in a warmer area of the country with a longer growing season, I want a garden next year. I need either a raised bed or container garden or a combination of the two. A little garden would be super for my homeschooler, too.

Saturday, July 16, 2011

Bluebird Update

Mama and Papa Bluebird gave me quite a scolding for checking on the babies today.

A $5,000 Freezer

I met a food vendor at a homeschool conference. Organic meat is much more expensive here in the middle of farmland (it does not make sense to me), and the idea of having a company deliver it to my door at an affordable price was attractive to me.

We agreed to let a salesperson come to the house to tell us about their products.

I expected a company like Schwan's, where I could order weekly or biweekly from a long menu of items.


The presentation was a slick sales presentation where we kept being asked questions like, "If I can show you how I'll save you money, you'll have no reason to say no to me, right?" where we were supposed to answer "yes" again and again to an eventual contract with him. Right away, I was confused - what's the catch, I wondered? The food quality sounded great! After a very long presentation, we got to the catch.

The salesman wants us to buy six months of frozen food at a time PLUS a $5,000 upright freezer on credit. Except they misrepresent the freezer as a gift, a gift that you still have to pay for if you quit buying their six-months-of-frozen-food at a time.

Ah ha. That's how they make their money.

I don't want an overpriced commercial freezer or payments on it for five years.

I don't want to purchase six months worth of food at one time.

I want to be able to shop for food for my family a la carte from a menu weekly or biweekly or maybe monthly and not be stuck with payments on an overpriced freezer.

I began a google search on the company. I found that they operate under quite a few business names. I found the name of their finance company and read several complaints about them, too. The finance company complaints are absolute horror stories, to be quite honest. There are complaints out there on the internet about each of the DBA names. I found few complimentary comments about them. A few people like the food. I found one commenter from four years ago who said they were not required to buy a freezer.

The more I read, the less interested I am.

If we tell them "not interested", do ya think they'll quit calling?

Friday, July 15, 2011

Pet Peeves

When my homeschooler was in a public school setting, I complained when the school let the children sit on an idling school bus or wait on the curb for classmates to arrive in other buses.

I was told that I was the only parent who complained. (I heard that a lot, actually.)

I really like this sign in the bus loop and car pick up loop outside the school building where 'Rella is at camp.

Someone here in our new town gets what staff in our former town did not.

Thursday, July 14, 2011

Baby Bluebirds

Mom and Dad have had a bluebird house in the back yard for just about as long as I can remember.

And the bluebirds are still building nests there and raising families.

A few weeks ago when we visited, there were four beautiful eggs in the nest. (See pics here.)

Last weekend, there were four baby birds.

The adult birds have built the nest quite high in front, which interferes with my picture taking. Here's one that I did manage to snap.

Aren't they cute?!

Wednesday, July 13, 2011

Compassion Fatigue

I have experienced "compassion fatigue". Read a great post about it here. I didn't know there is a name for it. Being on the receiving end of it is tough when you're living with little sleep in the chaos of autism when you need physical help from others.

Have you experienced compassion fatigue?

Tuesday, July 12, 2011

Regulation baby steps

My 'Rella is at camp again this week, a 9 am - 3 pm camp for children with special needs. She has enjoyed herself. One day last week she got into the car with me and exclaimed, "This is the best day of my whole life!"

Yesterday and today, she resisted going to camp. I struggled a little to convince her to get dressed, to get in the car, and once we were at the camp venue, to get out of the car and go inside. (She did get dressed, get in the car, etc, but she was protesting the entire time, and not very nice about it.)

Today, her resistance was worse than yesterday. She was really drawn to her restrictive interests (Wii and an animated movie).

Sidebar: I remembered midday that we caught her with gluten and casein at my mom and dad's, Saturday. Dietary infractions show up in her behavior several days later, and her resistance to leave her stims could be related to Ritz crackers and M&Ms from Saturday. (I'll watch for eczema on Thursday - I usually see the eczema on the fifth day.)

I'm better at staying calm through her dysregulation, although it dysregulates me, too. I know I need to stay calm and regulated so that she can feed off of my regulation and calmness. Co-regulating. Dr Gutstein always said it is co-regulation and co-control are the training wheels for self-regulation and self-control.

Thank goodness for the wonderful camp staff. They took a protesting 'Rella back to her classroom (her body and actions were participating, but her mouth was protesting). I left and waited for the phone call to come get her. Yes, I was dysregulated. Her upset can really knock me off balance. I have to work on that.

After the staff member walked her to the classroom, I talked to the other staff members about her competence. I don't want to leave her in a situation where she feels incompetent to deal with her own dysregulation. She is beginning to handle it herself, something that is a joy to watch. I also don't want to reinforce the idea that she gets to escape when she feels incompetent, either.

After I headed home, I learned that one of the staff had a talk with 'Rella, asking her if she would try one hour of camp and if she still wanted to go home, they'd call me to come get her. "Deal," she told the counselor, and she offered her hand to shake on it. And she stayed all day and had a great day!


Sunday, July 10, 2011

Summer Supper - Salad w/ Orange Vinaigrette

I bought a couple of sweet oranges, thinking we'd eat them for a snack or maybe I'd prep them for a salad. Arrived home from an overnight trip to Mom and Dad's and decided on a salad. Thought I'd add slivered almonds and dried cranberries and then look for a dressing recipe.

Googled dressings to go with oranges and landed on this gem.

And it tastes yummy on a salad that is sitting next to salmon patties on the plate, too.

A keeper.

Friday, July 8, 2011

The Blackberry Bush a novel by David Housholder

The Blackberry Bush by David Housholder is a novel that is a little bit historical fiction, a little bit current fiction, a little bit future fiction, that takes readers through the lives of distant cousins who are related in ways their families do not know, born on different continents on the same day in 1989 (the day, the actual moment that the Berlin Wall came down).

We follow Josh and Kati, their unknown connection to one another, even though they don't know one another, and we learn the back story that connects them. We see them grow as we learn what factors from the past play roles in who these individuals become.

The story makes me wonder about my back story.

I thought that this book would be a novel that I would read for the mere pleasure of it, the pleasure of being taken far away, a respite from recent challenges of moving across the country, settling into a new place with three children, including one w/ autism. It wasn't the easy pleasure read I was expecting, and honestly, for me, would have been better saved for another time, a time when I have more space and energy for a book with layers of symbolism and meaning, a book that prompts a deep look inside me at times.

I typically read magazines from back to front; not with books. I do wish I'd have looked at the back of this book first. Reading the interview with the author and the section of questions for reflection and/or book clubs would have helped me frame the story as I began it.

Housholder gives us a genealogy outline of the characters and he gives us maps that, quite frankly, are not useful for me until I have met the characters and can put them into some sort of context in my mind. I struggled to follow the story told out of order, switching chapter to chapter from recent past, to World War II past, to present, to future.

Having said that, the story is interesting and kept me coming back to learn what happens next when I had to put the book down to drive a child to camp or make a meal or do laundry. It is a book that I suspect that I would like to read again with my new perspective and insight now that I've read the author interview and book club study questions. I was challenged to process all the layers of meaning and symbols in just one reading as I tried to connect the back story to the story of the two main characters. (Perhaps I had too many interruptions.) I think I would enjoy discussing The Blackberry Bush in a group setting, which would allow me to process it aloud in relationship with others.

The book is a 204 page paperback list priced at $14.99. (A pet peeve: The edges of the pages are annoyingly, deliberately uneven and torn, making it difficult for me to turn just one page.)

The web site for the book is HERE. Be sure to check it out; the author has put a great deal of information there, including the author interview and study guide that I wish I'd read first.

David Housholder blogs HERE.

The Blackberry Bush
has a facebook page HERE.
The B&B Media Group sent me a review copy of The Blackberry Bush. I was not paid for this review and am not obligated to provide a positive review.

Wednesday, July 6, 2011

Healing Autism Naturally by Becky Cash

Autism mom Becky Cash's new book, "Healing Autism Naturally" ($15.95) is a book about Cash's journey with several children who were very sick that happens to include children who are on the autism spectrum.

Why did she write a book?

"'I think I'm going to put my daughter on a probiotic,' I said. I don't know what kind of reaction I was expecting.

'Oh, I could have told you to do that,' he said.

After that, I went to my father, the guy who had worked for the Food and Drug Administration as a food qlaity tester, among other things, and said, 'I'm taking a good probiotic, and I started Faustina on a good probiotic, and she's doing a lot better.'

Do you know what he said? The same thing. 'Oh! I could have told you to do that.'

Now, you have to understand that my daghter had been screaming in pain for months.

So to have my pediatrician and my dad tell me that they could have told me about probiotics and didn't? To know that there was something that wasn't a guaranteed solution but wasn't a medication that we could have tried?

That was a defining moment for me. That was the moment I realized that I had to take control of my families health."

Becky Cash wrote this book for parents like her, for parents who didn't know, whose doctors didn't tell them, and about much more than probiotics.

If you have a child with developmental delays, with digestive problems, celiac sprue, diabetes, autoimmune issues, you'll related to something in this book. No, it's not an indepth guide, yet it is a decent introduction into how to approach and intervene for children with issues and challenges.

I relate to Cash's story in many ways. I've seen my daughter's regulation, health and general functioning improve with the right supplements (based upon labwork under the supervision of a doctor, not on guessing - I always recommend working with a doctor).

I have a couple of issues with the book. One is that my own experience is quite different from Cash's. She saw success with a behavioral approach and she covers it more extensively in her book, and she created a consulting business around it. A behavioral approach for us did everything the professionals promised it would not - it created a robotic, prompt dependent, more autistic little girl. She was rigid and weird and could not interact, although we gave her lots and lots of words. (She learned everything we taught her, actually. We just taught her out of developmental order.) We have been intervening for almost seven years with RDI(r), undoing, unraveling three-plus years of damage by ABA. (Part of our story is here.) Cash mentions RDI(r) as a social intervention and describes it briefly, but not enough to do it justice. My advice, from my mistakes and my journey: If you are trying to establish a game plan for your child who is on the autism spectrum, take a hard look at RDI(r) as your primary intervention.

The other is a smaller issue and that sometimes the book feels a little bit like a Shaklee commercial.

My favorite chapter, one I wish I'd read early in our journey, is chapter seven, ASD and Your Family.

If you are looking outside of mainstream medicine for what, exactly, is involved in a "biomedical" approach to treating autism, Healing Autism Naturally is a good primer for explaining the basics. The 226 page paperback is easy to read; Cash's writing style is warm and welcoming and she shares a lot of her own journey with her readers. If you've been on the pathway a while, you may have read more in-depth books than this one, although if you're like me, you may enjoy reading the story of another mom. We have a lot in common.

I was given a review copy of Healing Autism Naturally. I received no financial compensation for the review and am not obligated to provide a positive review.

Monday, July 4, 2011


The county park and rec dept in our new town has a camp for individuals w/ special needs. I applied for 'Rella- late - because we moved here as registration was winding up. The camp has openings for her for two weeks in July.

I have been reluctant to leave her with people I don't know and so this camp is outside my comfort zone, although I was extremely impressed with the staff during the assessment/screening process. And 'Rella is beginning to be able to tell me things that she experienced while we are apart. I would not send her to SCAMP in Michigan when she was younger b/c she couldn't tell me if she was mistreated. The news stories of autistic campers being left asleep on a school bus, forgotten all day, were enough for me to skip that camp.

I was impressed with the assessment/screening. The screener spoke TO "Rella(instead of asking me, "What does she like to do?"), and gave her plenty of processing time without repeating questions as if my 'Rella did not hear her. She took "Rella on a tour of the park and rec building
while I completed paperwork - interesting, because the camp is NOT located at the park and rec building (it is at a school building). In the car on the way home, I asked 'Rella what she saw on the tour and she told me several things, including the fact that they saw the place where moms
leave their babies while they go exercise.

It's heavily activity and play based and they seem thrilled to have a group of girls for 'Rella. I think I'm relaxing somewhat because 'Rella is beginning to tell me things that happened when she is apart from me. The lack of ABAisms and behavioral techniques during the screening certainly impressed me. There was not a single command for "Rella to make eye contact; not a single artificial "good job!"

"Rella has not done anything from 9 am to 3 pm since December of 2007. I figure she'll be PooPed when she gets home. The park and rec dept also hosts get-togethers for parents of campers at the camp, so maybe I will meet some other parents of kids w/ special needs.

The staff is excited to have a class of all girls for her. She continues to ask me for some friends.

I would appreciate your praying with me for a positive week, that the staff will communicate with me, that 'Rella will make some friends - and most important - that I'll get enough information to know early in the week if I need to pull her from the camp, if that makes any sense.

Saturday, July 2, 2011

The Spirit in Baseball

The B&B Media Group offered me a book for children about baseball and the fruits of the Spirit. 'Rella needs simple text and pictures, still, and her brother plays baseball. I thought it would be a wonderful book to have at home. And I was right.

The Spirit in Baseball by Kathryn Nixon and Ana Boudreautakes is a 28 pg hardback priced at $14.99 (it is priced at $10 through Amazon dot com at the moment), which takes each one of the fruits of the Spirit and on the left side of the page provides the verse for that fruit and on the right side of the page, illustrates a way to practice that fruit within the context of a baseball game. (There is also a book about football. Click through to the link to the web site of the series.)
Take a peek inside:

I brought the book to my Mom & Dads specifically for my nephew to read when my sis's family came to visit. He is a rising second grader and a baseball nut like my son. He and I read it together, talked a little bit about some of the fruits, about how waiting for your turn at bat is hard. The teams in the photo look like his teams, with both girls and boys playing. The illustrations and text are simple.

sidebar: Miss 'Rella and I read it a few weeks ago when it arrived. It fit right in with one of her Vacation Bible School lessons where they were to look for ways to show Jesus's love to others. (We need a figure skating or gymnastics version for her. *grin*)

My nephew hopped up to play with his cousins, and later in the afternoon, I noticed he'd gotten the book to look at again. He spent quite a bit of time looking at each page. I think I'll let him take it home with him.

Two thumbs up - one from my family and one from my sister's family. ;)

The B&B Media Group sent me a review copy of The Spirit In Baseball. I received no financial compensation for this review and am not obligated to provide a positive review.
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