Tuesday, March 13, 2012

Couponing: a verb with a giveaway

Winners announced:



Congratulations! I am emailing you both momentarily. Please watch your inboxes and spam folders. Janet Joplin, you are doing an amazing thing by helping the people of Joplin, MO, recover from the devastating tornado last May. I am also contacting you about the couponing workshop.

I'm not sure when "using coupons" became shortened to "couponing" and "saving on a grocery bill" became "paying only pennies for groceries." There was a time 30 years ago or so when I remember my mom telling me about people who clipped coupons and bought in bulk, using those coupons, and they saved a lot of money and didn't pay that much. I don't think this is a new thing. Our knowledge of it has expanded through the media and reality television, but I think it's been happening for a long time.

Are you in on the action? I have a coupon binder and I read a few blogs that highlight various "hot deals" throughout the week. I save some money, but I certainly spend more on groceries than I save. I don't know a single store in my area that doubles coupons, with the exception of K-Mart, if your purchase exceeds $25. That's why I'm attending a "Super-Couponing(R)" event at West Suburban Community Church in Elmhurst, Illinois. If you're local, you may want to know about this. Here is what the flier says:

"Join Jill Cataldo at a workshop to learn how to maximize your grocery savings and purchase hundreds of dollars of groceries for just pennies.

West Suburban Community Church
825 N. Van Auken, Elmhurst, IL

You need to purchase a ticket for this event!
$5 in advance - or $10 day of the event

Sorry, childcare is not available for young children...
... however, kids in K-5th grade are welcome to join our
Kids 4 Truth Club that night at the church, free of charge!
[children attending must arrive and be registered by 6:45 pm]

Wednesday, March 21, 2012
Workshop starts PROMPTLY at 7:00pm
Arrive by 6:45pm for Kids 4 Truth and Door Prizes!

Seating is limited!!
Purchase tickets at: That Coffee Shop 124 W. Park, Elmhurst -or-
West Suburban Community Church 825 W. Van Auken, Elmhurst"

Proceeds from this event will benefit the children's ministry at
West Suburban Community Church
Super-Couponing(R) is a registered trademark
of Super-Couponing, LLC and Jill Cataldo

You can attend by purchasing your ticket according to the above information.

Wait. Didn't I say something about a giveaway? Yes, I did. I've never done this before on my blog, so it's a first for me. I bought these tickets myself, so that's should be disclosure enough. No one gave them to me, there is no promotion or free anything that I received in doing this. If I have more giveaways, I will have to look further into this whole disclosure thing.

How To Enter
I am giving away 1 ticket to 2 different people (1 ticket each). To enter, leave me a comment and be sure to leave your email address for me to contact you. This contest ends on Sunday, March 18, 2012, at 12:00 noon central time. Sometime that afternoon, I will randomly draw 2 winners (1 ticket each) based on the comments using Random.org. Winners will have 24 hours to reply back to me or I will re-select winner(s).

Please do not enter if you are not local and will not be able to attend.

Friday, March 9, 2012

Sensory Processing Disorder: What has helped our kids

This is the second in my Sensory Processing Disorder Series. The first post can be found here.

In the first post, I gave you a glimpse of what SPD looks - or feels - like in our family. I failed to mention that often times a person will have qualities from both the seeking and aversive lists, they are not exclusive of each other, although one list may be more prevalent than the other.

You might be reading this just to become more aware of SPD or gain a better understanding of it. You might be reading this because someone you know has SPD. If you are reading this because you or one of you children might have SPD, then you might like to know what has been helpful for other people with SPD. I honestly don't know if there is a way to "recover" from SPD or if a person just has to learn to live with it. In this post I will share with you what we've done and what has been helpful.

Please understand that the same things don't work for each person and there is much trial and error. I will do my best to remember what we've tried, what's worked, and what hasn't. Again, I am not an expert, but rather I'm a mom to three daughters, two of whom have SPD.

Being aware of what a child is doing and why they may be doing it is a key element in helping a child with SPD. Child B used to climb; in fact, she climbed before she crawled. If she could pull herself up, she'd climb. Yes, there have been times she's gotten higher that her own comfort level and needed help down. It took a while for us to notice that she climbed when she was over-whelmed or over-stimulated. If there were a lot of people in a room and she didn't have another place to go, she'd climb as high as she could. Once when she was covered in mosquito bites, she climbed to get away from the itching, although she didn't even feel the itching on her skin. Once we realized that she climbed under these circumstances, we learned to take a look around at what might be bothering her so we could address that need first. Now, as a 9-year old, she climbs for fun and enjoys it.

The basic list of what we've done, without getting into the specifics of why or what it has helped (because that would be a book) follows:

  • A small plastic tub of beans for playing in (hands only, though the same could be done for feet)

  • A small plastic tub of rice for playing in (hands only, though the same could be done for feet)

  • Play with shaving cream or pudding or jello

  • Water play in the tub and sink

  • Lots of activity outside - running, climbing, swinging, hanging upside down

  • We installed a chin-up bar that screws into a door frame. It's low, so we have to duck under it to go in and out of that room, but the kids use it as in gymnastics

  • Gymnastics and swimming (if you have a boy, wrestling is another option)

  • Doing activities in small doses, being willing to cut something short if needed (getting used to that expectation is hard, but worth it to help these kids)

  • Letting the child wear what is comfortable, even when it's not what we wanted her to wear. (B wore sweats for a couple years, while C wore short skirts or no underwear under her pants. C was willing to give up sledding one winter when she wouldn't wear pants at all.) Avoid things that are "too loose" or "too tight", according to the child

  • Using velcro-type shoes or crocs instead of shoes with laces, which put more pressure on the top of the foot

  • Strong hugs (or light hugs)

  • Rubbing the arms and legs with varying amounts of pressure

  • Back and neck massages

  • Ankle weights

  • Weighted vest, blanket, lap pad, or heavy afghan

  • Body sock, even if your child doesn't have an autism diagnosis

  • Try different flavors of toothpaste and use whichever one the child tolerates

  • Foamy soaps and lotions, regular lotions

  • Candle or fragrance swatch to keep in the coat pocket (or your purse) for when odors are offensive - these kids can have a hyper sense of smell

  • Keep ear plugs in your purse

  • Line pockets with soft fabric

  • Playing "pizza" (the child lies on the floor or bed and you roll them back and forth like the child is the dough. Lie the child flat on the back, press firmly on the forehead and work your way down their body (avoiding any personal places for obvious reasons), ending at the feet - like you're patting out the dough. "Spread sauce" by using a lighter touch than working with the dough, starting at the head and working your way down to the feet. Then ask which ingredients the child likes on the pizza. Add those ingredients like your just putting them on the pizza, touching them firmly each time you put an ingredient on. Then sprinkle the cheese by using wiggly fingers starting at the top of the head and working your way down to the feet. Roll the child away a bit, as if putting the pizza in the oven. Then roll the child back and pretend to eat the child. Kids love this and usually laugh their way through it.

  • Carrying or pushing heavy things as a calming activity (filling and moving the laundry basket, filling the washer, and moving wet clothes to the dryer!) Moving books from one bookcase to another is another option. Pulling a wagon.

  • Audio books or calm with headphones when it's OK to tune everything out and need to calm down

  • Tug-of-war

External resources we've used:
Speech therapy for annunciation and feeding concerns
Occupational therapy for desensitization (where we learned much of what's on the list) and proper muscle tone (not one of our concerns, but is common in SPD)
Wilbarger Brushing Protocol (trained at OT and continued at home, even still using)
Chiropractics and neuro-retraining

I strongly encourage a parent to include the child by asking the child what is bothering them, if they even know, and working with that. I explain to the child why we are doing a particular activity so they can learn what to do when they feel a certain way and self-regulate. We are still working on getting our sensory-aversive daughter (C) through this. I think it's much easier to meet the sensory needs of a seeker than an aversive child. After all, if someone needs something, providing it meets that need. If someone can't stand something, then doing it anyway is very offensive to the child and their tolerance is very low. It takes more time, more energy, more patience, and smaller chunks of therapy.

Be sure to encourage an praise your child every time you do something therapeutic that they tolerated. Recognize their attempt if they didn't tolerate it well. It's hard work for these kids (and you) and progress can be slow. Don't give up and don't let your child give up.

One of the most important things, in my opinion, for a parent of a child with SPD is to find other parents of children with SPD. It helps to be able to exchange ideas and lend/receive support from one another. It truly is exhausting. When B was a toddler, I found some Yahoo groups of other SPD parents. Being a part of those networks was critical for me at that time. My days were very lonely and frustrating, working with my daughter and wondering if there was something wrong with her or me because life was so different than it was when A was that same age. It's important to accept this difference as your own "normal." Wanting your child to be like non-SPD kids is only going to set you and your child, both, up for failure. God made them who they are and He doesn't make mistakes. You are a strong person and He trusts you to trust Him to help your child learn to live with SPD.

Next in this series:
Sensory Processing Disorder: Discipline
Sensory Processing Disorder: Recommendations

Monday, March 5, 2012

Doing what's familiar

I love being able to witness my kids learn something new: things I would miss if they were in school outside our home, things that many parents probably don't even think about if they miss. Today that was Child C counting backwards from 50. She's been able to count to 50 for a couple years and can easily count to 100 now. It didn't seem to be much of a challenge for her to learn (unlike reading, which has been a huge challenge in which we are finally seeing some measurable progress.) Counting backwards from 10 also wasn't a remarkable moment - it came easily and she didn't have to put much thought into it all.

Today, she asked for a temporary tattoo and I was holding the washcloth on her arm. I decided to get creative (a big moment for me, to be honest) and I counted to 30 and then backwards from 30. While applying the second one, she wanted to count. She went up to 50 and then started counting backwards:
Me:46, 45
Me: 40, 39

You see where we are going with this. It was just so familiar for her to go forwards that she kept reverting back to that familiarity. She could have gone through this in a classroom, gotten it, come home, and been counting backwards from 50 without a hitch and I would have missed it. With all the chaos we have in our lives that I could do without, this is one thing that I am so glad not to miss!

Saturday, March 3, 2012

Sensory Processing Disorder: What it looks - or feels - like

I know I've been lacking in blogging and I'm torn because I don't know whether to write about what I think people want to read or if I just want to share what we are living. I like to believe that this blog is about parenting, homeschooling, living with SPD/Autism/ADHD, and the trials and joys of each of those and how they inter-twine. When I get an idea about what to write, I wonder if it's more for me to think about it or for me to share. I read other people's blogs because they help me see the lighter side of some things with which I struggle, so then I wonder if what I have to share does the same for others. I really don't know if it does or not.

Tonight I though I was going to write about balance, but then I was talking with a friend about something else and I think there is more of a need to share more about Sensory Processing Disorder (SPD). In this series, I'm going to give some insight into how to tell if a child might have SPD. Please understand that my only experience in this area is that I am the mother of 2 children with SPD, both on opposite ends of the disorder. I do not claim to know everything about the disorder, be an expert, nor will I tell anyone what to do about it. I will share my experience and what has worked for us. It's an exhausting road to travel. I hope and pray that sharing some of our voyage might help someone else.

It's hard for me to not let my life revolve around it. Yet, it takes up so much of my energy that my life does revolve around it. I see so many others whose lives revolve around it as well and they don't even know it. So let's talk about it.

What do I mean that many don't even know it? How could they not know? There are a lot of behavioral "issues" that are present in kids with SPD and it can be very difficult to differentiate between a behavioral problem and an unmet sensory need. Sensory kids don't tend to accept correction as easily as even strong-willed kids do. Here are some examples of what a sensory kid might do that you're trying to teach them not to do:

  • A child who frequently hugs or squeezes others too tightly, even though they've been told to loosen the grip.

  • A child who turns the volume on TV up very loudly.

  • A child who knocks other children down or lies on top of them.

  • A child who bumps into things (doorways or tables) or knocks stuff off of flat surfaces.

  • A child who jumps on the bed or couch or projects off of the bed or couch onto the floor.

  • A child who spins and spins (with or without getting dizzy).

  • A child who leans against you or is nearly on top of you as you stand or sit together.

  • A child who crams food into the mouth.

These are examples, though certainly not complete, of a sensory-seeking child who has an unmet need. Yes, all children enjoy many of these and they are normal childhood activities. However, it is when a child continues to do them in excess or without learning the correction (such as not squeezing another child too tightly, not turning the TV volume up past 4, not knocking other children down, not jumping on the furniture when told not to, etc.) that it may be time to start questioning if there is something else going on, something the child does not know how to control. There may not be a discipline problem with the child, although it may very well seem that way when the child doesn't heed to the correction.

Conversely, there are children who resist or are sensory-aversive. These children do not like various sensation and will often do anything to avoid the offensive sensation. This may look like:

  • A child who doesn't like to wear socks, shoes, or a coat.

  • A child who will only wear the same clothes over and over again.

  • A picky-eater.

  • A child who doesn't like close contact or hugs or kisses.

  • A child who covers ears or frequently believes that normal sound is too loud.

  • A child who turns off the light as they enter the room.

  • A child who insists the seat belt is too tight.

On the surface, any parent would read the lists above and say that their child is just like this. However, it is important to know that we all have preferences about our environment. A wise friend once told me that we have very complex nervous systems and we all have things that bother us. That is so true. What makes a difference between it being bothersome and a disorder is how well a person can function throughout the day. The child who is sensory-aversive will throw more tantrums than a child who isn't, because the feeling is so offensive and bothersome.

Don't all kids throw tantrums? Absolutely.
Should the tantrums rule the child's life? Absolutely not.
Shouldn't these children be able to learn to control themselves? Absolutely.
Let's look at an example of how this impacts a person, okay?

If you were starving, and I mean you haven't eaten for 3 weeks, and someone told you that you couldn't eat the bowl of food in front of you or you'd have to sit on the time-out bench, would you have enough self-control to not eat that bowl of food? Chances are, with a physical need for food and nutrition, you'd take the chance on the discipline in order to meet your need. It's the same thing with these sensory kids. No method or amount of discipline is going to be effective if their sensory needs aren't being met. With a functioning nervous system, a person can cope with a minor (or even major) discomfort for a period of time. However, these kids are trying to deal with it all the time. Yes, all the time. Imagine, for a moment, a straight pin stuck in a seam. You notice something poking your skin and it's irritating. You re-arrange your clothing, perhaps rub or scratch where it was rubbing, trying to be discreat. Eventually, you might excuse yourself and take a closer look at what might be causing the discomfort. If you don't find it, think about how eager you are to take off that piece of clothing when you get home. Looking back over the day, were you distracted at all? Were you able to give your undivided attention to those around you? Did you fidget at all? Do you think that fidgeting was distracting to others?

Now let's take that one step further, to a child who has a sensory disorder. They might feel that way all the time, but not just in a small place where the pin was in a seam. Maybe it's every seam. Maybe it's all over their skin or under their skin. They cannot get away from it. Imagine the only relief being when they have pressure on the areas that are bothersome - so they hug another child too tightly. It feels so good to get that relief they are oblivious that they other kid is squirming, maybe even crying, to get away. The spinning gives a calming sensation as the wind hits their skin and they can feel something different. They will risk the discipline because they have a basic need that isn't being met - just like eating.

Sensory children can have a very difficult time functioning throughout the day and this often isn't recognized until a child is old enough to participate in a full-day classroom at school. These kids often do not begin having these sensory needs met until the end of first grade or later. Instead of being able to focus on the activities and materials presented in the classroom, these kids are focused on filtering our their own nervous-system distractions. They are not free to learn; they are imprisoned, in a sense, within their own bodies. Some of them will learn, through their own devices, how to cope and filter out that distraction. Some of them will not learn as well in the classroom because they are busy trying to figure out how to pay attention when they are so otherwise distracted. It's a sad place to put a child, in that position, to figure that out on their own. Some of them will have social awkwardness or be teased because of what they may do to find relief. Some may receive some therapy through school to help them and it may be limited to helping them get through the school day and not be distracting, not how to get through life. If the child is otherwise smart and developmentally on track, chances are that the child will not receive therapy through the school.

It doesn't mean you aren't doing a good job as a parent. It certainly doesn't mean something is "wrong" with your child. Would you feel that way if your child had cerebral palsy or was without a leg? No. It just means you have an extra obligation to help your child learn some things that come easier for others. And guess what... there are some things that will come easily for your child that are more difficult for others, both with and without sensory disorders.

Does having a sensory disorder excuse any poor behavior that come about while the child is trying to meet those needs? No, it doesn't. And we'll get to that.

Next in this series:
Sensory Processing Disorder: What has helped our kids
Sensory Processing Disorder: Discipline
Sensory Processing Disorder: Recommendations