Monday, December 30, 2013
Essental First Steps for Parents of Children with Autism by Lara Delmolino, Ph.D., BCBA-D & Sandra L. Harris, Ph.D.
Disclaimer: I was given the book at no charge to me. I am not obligated to provide a positive opinion.
Essential First Steps is written for parents of toddlers through kindergartners with a recent autism diagnosis. It's a good size to slip into your purse or diaper bag to read in a waiting room (parents of kids on the autism spectrum tend to spend a lot of time in waiting rooms), a soft cover of 152 pages. Priced at $21.95, at the time I am writing this post, the book is on sale for $12.71 via Woodbine House.
Essential First Steps gives readers ten chapters, with each chapter beginning with a relatable vignette about a family.
Chapter 1 describes and defines autism and terms related to diagnosis and treatment.
Chapter 2 is a very basic intro to ABA.
Personal sidebar: ABA is one of the interventions I wish we had not done.
Chapter 3 is a cheerleading section for ABA.
Personal sidebar: I'll have to admit, ABA worked. Yes, my child did learn everything we taught her in ABA. However, we checked off skills from the ABLLS one by one as if the things we were teaching were discreet skills and not part of a continuous process model; for example, we taught her pointing as if it were merely a mand and not a huge expression of joint attention. We created the robotic, prompt dependent child they promised would not happen and we left her with a bizarre set of splinter skills with no foundations because none of our behaviorists (we had five or six in three years) understood development.
Chapter 4 is about early intervention and school, IEPs (and ABA).
Chapter 5 is about helping your child relate to others, ABA style.
Personal sidebar: Developmental approaches worked far better than behavioral approaches in terms of social reciprocity and joint attention at my house.
Chapter 6 is about verbal communication.
Personal sidebar: There is heavy emphasis on manding, or requesting. From page 88, "Of course, children with ASD eventually need to learn words for things they are not requesting, but this type of language instruction is a secondary priority at the early stages of teaching." I strongly disagree with this philosophy based on our experience with it. A developmental approach beginning with non-verbal interaction is better in my experience.
Chapter 7 covers play from a behavioral perspective. See my sidebars above.
Chapter 8 covers self-help skills toward independence.
Chapter 9 is about sensory and behavior challenges.
Chapter 10 reminds parents where to look for support.
Essential First Steps is a basic introduction to behavioral intervention and parents new to the diagnosis who are interested in behavioral intervention may find the guide helpful.
Tuesday, December 24, 2013
Sunday, December 22, 2013
Dear Food Network: I would like to pitch an idea for a new show, a new show that features not a self-righteous grandmother who declares that children should eat what you set before them (Nancy Fuller/Farmhouse Rules who says she raised her children that way and expects the same of her grandchildren) but a show that features someone who cooks for kids with a long list of food allergies and for problem feeders.
Posted by Penny at 12:14 PM
Saturday, December 21, 2013
Thursday, December 19, 2013
Tuesday, December 17, 2013
Random Tuesday Post:
UPS is using not the big brown truck, but a bright yellow tricycle and trailer to deliver packages in our subdivision this week.
UPS is using not the big brown truck, but a bright yellow tricycle and trailer to deliver packages in our subdivision this week.
Monday, December 16, 2013
A girls night out to view Christmas lights was a fun night of respite for this mom over the weekend.
Friday, December 13, 2013
"Cooking made easier for everyone!"
Hello Fresh is a service that provides home cooks with recipes and fresh ingredients. Hello Fresh buys the recipe ingredients and delivers them to your house.
Hello Fresh provides the recipes and ingredients; you provide the pots and pans and plates and utensils, you provide a few ingredients (olive oil and butter were two I used from my own pantry) and the cooking and the clean-up.You need basic skills to prepare the recipes, peeling, cutting, dicing, slicing, stirring. We used both the stovetop and the oven.
Shoppers order a week ahead and boxes arrive on Wednesdays. Shoppers choose each week between meals for two people or meals for four people and between a "classic box" option (with meat) and a "veggie" option for meals that can be prepared in 30 minutes or less. Shoppers receive three meals for two or four people in a subscription service that can be paused or cancelled at any time (there is no contract, no minimum subscription length).
Setting up an account was straightforward. NOTE: Hello Fresh charges a dollar to your credit card or pay pal to ensure it is a working card and then donates that dollar to charity.
DISCLAIMER: I received this box for free in exchange for a review on this blog. I did have to pay a dollar to register on the Hello Fresh web site. I was not paid for this review and am not obligated to provide a positive review.
The box arrived on a Wednesday morning. I was not home; Fed Ex left it on my front steps. I like that I didn't have to be home to sign for it. (My homeschooler had a doctor's appointment for a Special Olympics physical that we'd scheduled several weeks before; I did not want to reschedule it to sign for a box, and was happy that I didn't have to.)
I was given three step-by-step picture recipe cards (here's one) and the ingredients to make each recipe. I do like the visual piece here-it is great for our kids with special learning needs. The cards are sturdy and stand up to drips and messy kitchen work.
The other two dishes contained allergens and if I could have exchanged them for other recipes and ingredients I would have. Hello Fresh does not allow any substitutions on the veggie box. I would not choose or buy these two dishes/ingredients/recipes because there are too many allergens in the recipes. I am looking for recipes we can all eat together instead of my having to make separate meals for different people in my house.
My 16 year old helped me make these two dishes, and we spent a lot of time trying to figure out what the pot of salted water was for in the tofu dish. The instructions were not clear and we were frustrated:
The owner of Hello Fresh is making changes to this card based on our questions about the directions, so this recipe will be clear in the future.
We made this recipe six days after our box arrived. The broccoli, the tomatoes, the garlic were all still lovely and fresh. Each ingredient is packaged separately and sealed. However, from an allergy standpoint, I don't know if the cashews came in contact with other food products during packaging. Our finished tofu dish contained several allergens (tofu, soy sauce, cashews and gluten in the veggie stock cube). It smelled wonderful, but we are not tofu eaters. The broccoli was good. We prefer rice cooked in water instead of a veggie stock cube.
The polenta-chick pea-tomato recipe card was easier to follow than the tofu recipe.
I love that Hello Fresh sent organic tomatoes!
The finished product:
The recipe was easy to prepare and we had all of the ingredients in one place, quantities measured, everything ready to go. We'd never had polenta before and none of us liked it. Chick peas, onions, tomatoes are not our thing, a personal non-preference. One of my children is allergic to legumes, so chick peas are not something I'd cook with if I had a choice.
The short story: If you have no food allergies in your family and your family is adventurous in eating, you may appreciate Hello Fresh. If you're cooking around food allergies, Hello Fresh has too many challenges for our situation to recommend it to those with allergies or food intolerances. Study the web site, study the other reviews, decide if the service will work for your particular situation. Read what other reviewers had to say about Hello Fresh here: http://mosaicreviews.com/hello-fresh/
I know people who spend a week or two at a time at a condo or timeshare in Florida every year who cook some meals in the condo rather than eat in a restaurant every meal. I think a Hello Fresh box would be perfect for a vacation where you have access to a kitchen.
Please go here to read the experiences of other reviewers who cooked from other box choices.
When I browsed the web site, my mind saw, "You choose what you like and we send you the ingredients" and "Cooking made easy for everyone!" and "Do you offer plans for people with special dietary requirements? While we don't offer specific dietary plans, because our ingredients are delivered to you in separate packets, if you have any specific dislikes you can simply omit or replace these ingredients from a recipe."and "But if there's a recipe you're just not sure about, you can choose another meal! Don't eat fish? Swap it for a beef recipe. Not a fan of coriander? You have options!"
I thought I had a winner.
A delivery service that sends you ingredients and recipes - right to your door. Substitutions for picky eaters and allergies?! Reality was different from the way I interpreted the web site. Hello Fresh is more like the school cafeteria when I was a kid- take it or leave it. I thought there would be more options and I feel misled by the web site. However, in fairness to Hello Fresh, please know that I studied the web site not as a typical home cook, but as a mother of a child with a very long list of food allergies and four picky eaters in the family. My filter is not the norm.
Unfortunately, the week assigned to me was full of menu items I would not choose to buy or make on my own. The web site says all ingredients are packaged separately so shoppers may omit ingredients they don't like or are allergic to, but how do you omit chick peas from a chick pea dish? How do you omit soy from a tofu dish? For my review box, both the classic box ($69) and veggie box ($59) choices were incredibly allergen heavy: Shrimp. Gluten. Cashews. Soy. Dairy (sour cream). Legumes. The ingredients we need to omit (because they are allergens) are critical to the success of the recipes.
The vegetable stock cube arrived unlabeled and I went to Hello Fresh for ingredients. It contains wheat, an allergen and MSG, something we try to avoid (an excitotoxin). Hello Fresh suggested I make my own stock in place of the cube next time.
I asked Hello Fresh about packaging. Are the nuts packaged in a separate area? The answer: "...we cannot guarantee 100% non-cross contamination although the nuts are packaged separately. For anyone with a very serious nut allergy we would sadly not advise them using our product."
The web site says substitutions are allowed in the ordering process. I spent some time trying to decide which recipes that I disliked the least - and it was a tie. (Please read other reviews as other reviewers are assigned to different weeks and had different recipe choices. Perhaps I was assigned the only week of recipes so unfriendly to those with food allergies.) I used the eeenie-meenie-miny-moe method to choose the veggie box - and entered my ordering information only to be told that no substitutions are allowed. I learned the hard way that substitutions are allowed on the classic box but not the veggie box. That information is in the FAQ. I missed that important information in my hurry to order during a chaotic week where I was preparing to leave with my daughter's band Bands of America Grand Nationals, a three-day, 91 band marching competition. Don't study the web site in a hurry like I did.
I thought I'd be able to substitute quinoa or rice for pasta in a dish to make it gluten free, or to remove shrimp and add tilapia to a recipe. Hello Fresh does not allow shoppers to do that. In the classic box (with meat), from what I understand, there are three main recipe choices with two alternate choices and shoppers may choose from any three of them, and that is what Hello Fresh means when the company says that substitutions are allowed.
BOTTOM LINE: If your family is not picky and if you have no major food allergies in your family, you might love Hello Fresh. The registration and ordering processes were easy; stopping your subscription is easy. The box arrives at your front door without needing a signature and you didn't have to shop for ingredients. The ingredients arrive pre-measured, separately packaged,, well insulated with big freezer packs and are well organized within the box and are packed in a way to take up minimal space in the refrigerator. The recipes are creative, yet brief in terms of preparation time; the ingredients are (for the most part) fresh (we waited six days to make two of the recipes with all ingredients but one still fresh), and $10 per person per meal is reasonable, in my opinion, for a restaurant quality meal at home. You'd pay more than $10 per person for these meals at a restaurant and you might wait longer at a restaurant than the recipes take to make at home. You do have to wash the dishes but you don't have to leave a tip. ;)
If you are interested in Hello Fresh, please use this referral code to receive $20 off your first box: 6MZ4QS.
Sunday, December 8, 2013
Friday, December 6, 2013
The National Christmas Tree Lighting Ceremony happens today at 4:30 EASTERN time, 3:30 central time. Watch it here, live: http://thenationaltree.org/ or replayed on PBS. Here is my daughter's contribution, representing our state: