30 Day Challenge

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hand under water dripping with cold background

The  website High Existence has an article on 30 Challenges for 30 Days. After going through the list, I’m wondering if there is Anything I can do for 30 days. My attention span is so short, wait, oh yeah, challenge. #19 is Take a Cold Shower Every Day. That’s an intermediate level challenge, but Take a 30 Minute Walk Every Day is ranked as easy and I’ve never been successful at that. I have at least had some experience with cold showers. They are especially great in the summer, although I usually start off with hot water and then work down to cold water in steps. So, 30 cold showers, start to finish. We’ll see how this goes.

Texture cards for sensory stimulation

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photo of sample texture cards

We have started a new therapy with the kiddos called Mendability. It is a sensory enrichment program that helps the brain make new connections between the senses.  We are introducing more fragrances, textures, art, music and massage into their daily environment. The therapy is individual for each child and will be adjusted as they make progress in problem areas. So far we are excited about the process and encouraged by the therapy support provided!

Today I made texture cards. I took different items (sponge, wood, pipe cleaner, plastic, textured paper, terrycloth, paper bag, etc.) and attached them to 4 x 5 card stock.

We use these in different ways with each child. For the little engineer, we stroke the bottom of his feet with a different texture on each foot and then switch the textures and do it again. He finds this very relaxing and loves it! Sometimes he wants it done on his back as well!

Drama girl smells a scent and feels two different textures with each hand (a total of four textures).  She thinks this is fun as well although she has a hard time smelling and feeling at the same time. She loves the smell so much she keeps trying to get closer and closer. Her little nose follows the cotton ball like a puppy following a piece of bacon!

We are listening to classical music in the evenings as the kiddos go through their exercises, bathtime and (quietly) as they are going to sleep. This has cut down on the tv/ipad time, but they are not complaining! It makes for a more relaxing evening for everyone!

Will keep you posted.


Gettings Things Done – 20 Minutes at a Time

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The best app on my phone is the timer. I use it daily. And the setting I use most frequently is 20 minutes.

I started this routine after my surgery for colon cancer last year. The discharge instructions from my doctor included making sure I kept moving. He told me to forget about how long or how far  I could walk at a time and instead try to make sure that I got up and moved around every 20 minutes or so. Even just from the couch to the chair. A cancer diagnosis has a way of grabbing your attention so I was a motivated patient. Unfortunately, I have led a sedentary lifestyle and it was easy for me to go hours without moving. So I decided to use my trusty timer. When the timer went off, I got up and walked around the house a bit. Then I started it again when I sat down. It worked!

Before long I started adopting the 20 minute rule for other things. Every 20 minutes drink a cup of water; dance to one song; do a set of arm exercises with hand weights. Those were all things to do after the timer went off. The next step was to use the actual 20 minute timeframe to get things done.

As someone who works from home, on my own schedule, it’s often hard to be disciplined and focused. Especially working online. I found myself going through the same routine over and over. Check personal email, check business email, sigh over everything that needs to be done, check Facebook, check the news, check Facebook again, read a blog (or three), Google something that pops into my head, chastise myself for not getting anything accomplished. And then start the routine over again.

With my timer, the scenario changes. Start with a list. The act of physically writing the list by hand is important for me. It may or may not take 20 minutes to write my list for the day. If it takes less time, great! But if the timer goes off before my list is finished, I stop. Period. Walk around, get a drink of water and then come back to work. Set the timer again and pick an item on the list. Work that item until it’s complete or the timer goes off. Then stop. Get up, stretch, take some deep breaths, get a glass of water. I generally take around a 5 minute break after each session. After three sessions I take a longer break.

This may seem like a choppy way to work. Every task doesn’t fit neatly into a 20 minute time slot. But often the biggest hurdle to getting things done is to just get started. This is a way to get started. And you’ll be amazed at how much you CAN get done in 20 minutes.


Evolution of an autism grandma

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015My granddaughter just turned 6 and my grandson will soon be 8. Our family has dealt with various aspects of the autism spectrum since they were born. It is simply the way their brains are wired. Of course we didn’t realize that right away. We noticed it with the little engineer when he was slow to talk and achieve other milestones that “normal” children do. We lost two years to denial and inexperience. And it wasn’t just our denial. The state early intervention worker who came out to evaluate him told us that “he’s just like most two year old boys, he just doesn’t want to cooperate.” And so we lost another year. He was four before we were able to get a diagnosis and start the maze of IEP development, speech, occupational and physical therapies through the school system, special diets, and insurance.

With my granddaughter, the drama girl, it was obvious she having difficulty from the day she was born. She cried nonstop for weeks. After being in a hurry to see the world, it was too much for her. This time we had a clue and as we were navigating the system for my grandson, drama girl was right there next in line. It still took almost two years and by that time she had no language and almost no eye contact. Where the little engineer had been frustrated by his inability to communicate and be social, drama girl was content to stay locked up inside herself.

Fortunately, these children could not have been born to better parents. My daughter-in-law is a critical care nurse and she had previous job experience dealing with people with special needs. She understands the medical terminology and she isn’t intimidated by forms, reports or school administrators. She knows that she knows her children better than anyone and she will fight for what they need.

And so I became an autism grandma.