Taking the Scenic Route

Testing out the Sprinklers

14th April 2010

Testing out the Sprinklers

Zach needed to check if the sprinklers were working properly and the kids decided it was time to have some fun.

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13th April 2010

Sequencing activities

Sequencing is an important language and pre-literacy skill.  We have done a lot of sequencing work with Zane, and now Zora needs help in that area too.  She was having problems with the sequencing activities using more abstract pictures, so we decided to take a step backwards and make it something that was very concrete for her by taking pictures of “real life” sequences that are relevant to her.  This is something that is easy to replicate by parents, so I thought I would share the concept.

As you can see, the pictures aren’t all great quality, but it is functional, is working, and it is easy.  Take a series of pictures, print them up (doesn’t have to be on photopaper for this), cut them into individual cards, and have her put them in order and “tell the story”.  I took longer series of photos that allows for growth.  The first time she does this, just use 3 from each batch, and later you can build the sequence by adding more photos from the set.  When taking pictures, try to take pictures that have some clues in them to help her determine the sequence.

(click on pictures if you want to see bigger images)

Drawing a picture

Making a PB sandwich a note here: with a super literal autistic kiddo, I would have been more precise…use a proper plate, the most used brand of PB, etc, because you are inadvertently setting “rules” in place when you do stuff like this with a child who is super literal.  I didn’t bother with Zora because she doesn’t think like that (although she is amused by the lack of a plate).  I also wouldn’t have taken pictures of her destroying the sandwich afterward because then it would have permanently been part of the sequence, but, again, she doesn’t think that way and it amuses her, so it is actually more effective for her (because it is engaging), but would be a real problem for Zane.

Swimming Lessons

Brushing Teeth

So, you can see the pictures aren’t fabulous or anything (and you could easily use even a phone camera), but it is simple to do, very cheap (especially compared to the board games/puzzles that target this skill) and effective.  Going back to concrete pictures is good because you can teach them how to look for “clues” within the pictures to determine the order, and that skill can be generalized as the sequences get more abstract.

posted in Autistic Life, Homeschool, Language Development, ST | Comments Off

9th April 2010


Carrie, Zane’s first Speech Therapist, gave us tickets for the Shriner’s Circus (Rainbow’s United gives out passes to SN families).  She ended up having enough leftovers for us to take Robert’s family with us.

I have some reservations about circuses in general (treatment of animals, et cetera), but decided that the Shriner’s Circus was “mainstream” enough that I could convince myself that the animals were treated ok (and, honestly, they did seem to be treated well when we were there, so it wasn’t as uncomfortable for me as I was anticipating).  Plus, the Shriners are known for being a major supporter of kids with Special Needs, especially with their Children’s hospitals, and we have a significant tradition of Masons in our family (although Zach is not yet involved with them), which is another draw for us.  At any rate, the experience of “CIRCUS” is one that I wanted the kids, particularly Zane (because he “gets it” a lot better with concrete examples) to have.

Interestingly, I didn’t remember ever having seen a circus.  After talking to my mom, I discovered I had gone to one as a child.  Apparently, she had been so disturbed by the treatment of the animals that she had been distracting me through much of it because it bothered her so much.  I found that interesting, since animal treatment was my primary concern and I didn’t remember the circus.  (so, essentially, I would guess her efforts worked, on more than one level).

Thankfully, this circus seemed to have somewhat boring (to me, but the kids loved them), but humane, animal acts.  The part I really loved were the acrobats.  My biggest memory of circuses was a combination of “CIRCUS OF THE STARS” and the episode of “Little House on the Prairie” where they had a circus (and Laura dressed as a clown), and the “Little House” episode where a kid pretended he was blind but did a high wire act.  (I think it was acted by a guy who ended up being a famous figure skater, IIRC).  So, from my perspective, it was a new experience for me too.

We ended up on the upper tier of the auditorium, which was good for us because it wasn’t overwhelming, but we were in the front seats, right in front of the spotlight, so it was like having a big finger pointing the right direction the whole time.  It was great for the kids through most of the program.   (although the motorcycle guy in the “globe of death” was across the building, but hey, it isn’t like I want my kids imitating that anyway).

Much flapping and joy watching the events unfold.

Zora’s favorite (she is the shape in the foreground), the elephants.

A “Phantom of the Opera” themed Acrobatic act.  I loved it.

Robert’s boys.  (wish I would have gotten as good of picture of my kids, but I loved this one of Robert’s boys)

Both families had a lot of fun.  In anticipation we got a bunch of Circus themed books from the library, and they were even more interested in reading them after the event, which was fabulous for us.  It was great to see all the kids (and the adults) have so much fun.  On our way home we asked the kids what their favorite thing was.  Zora’s immediate response was “WATCHING!”  (as opposed to “waiting”, I would guess).  She then said that the Elephants were her favorite thing.  Zane said “EVERYTHING!” and then listed the entire program, in order (as far as we remembered), to demonstrate that he loved every single aspect of the Circus.  A grand success.

A big thank you to Carrie for thinking of us and giving us the tickets.  :D

posted in Autistic Life, The Kids | 1 Comment

4th April 2010

Easter Morning

“MOM!  DAD!  HURRY!  The Easter Bunny was here!”

The night before they left their baskets with the decorated eggs outside for the Easter Bunny, and in the morning, the Easter Bunny hid the eggs and filled the baskets with a chocolate bunny, a game (for Zane) and craft kit (for Zora) and some candy.

With the  extreme change in schedule, trying to get ready for church turned into a disaster.  A few meltdowns later and realizing we had just minutes until church started, we realized that even if we forcibly got everybody dressed (and redressed, as the case may be), and carried them to the car, it was not conducive to a meaningful morning at church.  So, we switched gears, got everybody into casual clothes and re-booted.  That gave Zora some time to decorate the box she got from the Easter Bunny, which thrilled her.

posted in Autistic Life, Easter, Zane, Zora | 1 Comment

4th April 2010

Easter Day with the Family

Out to my parent’s farm for Easter.  It was a truly wonderful day.  Relaxed, happy, and a lot of fun.  We had a wonderful meal, great conversation (including some fabulous stories from the newest person at the table), and a windy, warm Kansas day to play in.

Upon arrival, Zora wanted to show off the box she made to Great-Grandma, who was, naturally, enthused that her great grand-daughter had a love of arts inherited from her.

After a wonderful dinner the kids were on a mission to find the Easter eggs hidden around the room.

The eggs at Oma’s had booty in them: candy and coins.

And the most fun of all, watching new love bloom.  It is so wonderful to see my brother so happy.  They are so wonderful together, comfortable together on a level that many people who have been together for years don’t get to.  Reminds me of when Zach & I were dating.  Happy times.

Steve spent considerable time pushing Zora around on the tricycle, much to her utter delight.

When we pulled the bicycle out we realized, much to our chagrin, that the tires were flat.  This is a “BIG PROBLEM” for Zach and I, who are not particularly good at stuff like that, but Steve and Nora took care of it for us.  (THANK YOU!)  They probably don’t even realize that it meant so much to us, but it did.

This picture would make me a bundle of nerves if I hadn’t seen it in person.  My dad is going really slowly and being very careful, which made this “hover mom” feel less anxious than I normally would have been about 2 kids, a 4-wheeler and no helmets.  lol.  If I remember correctly, Zora also talked dad into a ride in the tractor, but I was busy talking to mom and grandma when that happened.

They charged up the Hummer Remote Control vehicle, which was formally a point of contention when it was given to a toddler Zane (and was powerful enough to run over the Christmas tree when we tested it out after he got it).  It immediately was sent out to the farm because Zane was using it as a step stool to reach things and was too powerful (and complicated) for him to use at that time.  (plus, who would think a Hummer was the appropriate thing to give the toddler of two hippy type people?)  Now it is  a lot of fun to use, but I still have to laugh at the fact it takes many more hours to charge the batteries than it does to run (seems appropriate for a Hummer, doesn’t it).  At any rate, we had a ball with the Hummer, especailly when teasing the dogs with it.  (The dogs LOVED it…it was so much fun for all of us watching them chase it around the farm.)

And now the kids are both able to control it well, so they have a lot of fun with it too.

After the food had settled a bit, it was time to make dessert…homemade ice cream.  Steve has a great, easy recipe for it and always invites the kids to help make it.  Zane isn’t as interested in the process, but Zora sure is.  She will brag for days later that she helped make the ice cream.

Our favorite boy, with the hair that drives moms and grandmas crazy, was loving the feeling of the wind in his hair.

And then we attempted a group photo.  Apparently, it is asking too much for both kids to smile at the same time and pose appropriately.  Oh well, it is the real deal, which is better any way.

I can’t for the life of me remember the dog’s name, but she was beautiful and very good with the kids.  She also made me want to fall asleep just watching her stretch out in the sunshine.  Nora is a vet and the dog was abandoned by the owner after an injury.  Honestly, it was probably the best thing that could have happened because she has a great life now, including a loving owner and a new friend in Shelby (Steve’s dog).

Steve showed Nora this diabolical game from our Grandpa S.  (paternal grandfather) Nora worked on it for a while, making good progress on it, then Steve showed her the solution.  She fits great in this family…brilliant and nerdy enough to enjoy puzzles like the rest of us.

A fantastically relaxing and fun day for all.  We really enjoyed the day with the family, in more ways than we can say.

The vitality of our Savior risen permeated the jubilance of the day.  It was a fitting celebration, filled with love and peace.  I look forward to more.

posted in Autistic Life, Easter, Extended Family, The 2 Opas (J's Parents), Zane, Zora | Comments Off

3rd April 2010

Easter Eggs

Egg art.  We should have made a few more dozen this year because they really enjoyed it and enjoyed finding different ways to decorate.  It was perfectly messy fun.

Easter “Memory” game

posted in Autistic Life, Easter, Zane, Zora | Comments Off

2nd April 2010

Spring has arrived

posted in Spring | Comments Off

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