Monthly Archives: March 2013

You Don’t Have to Dread Your Spring Break Stay-cation

Today is the first day of my teenager’s spring break—but who’s counting? He’s enjoying sleeping in and just vegging, but I know that he needs more structure than that for the next nine days of our stay-cation. 

So before he went to bed last night, I asked him to sit with me for five minutes and review some ideas I had. For example, I gave him the website of an upcoming local film fest so he can contact them for volunteering opportunities. And I want him to figure out how to get a work permit, and then begin to apply for part-time summer jobs. To make him feel that he’s in control, I’ve thrown in a few more activities—of which he has to select only two.

Most importantly, I asked him to put together a daily schedule that would include wake-up times and bedtimes, meals, chores/responsibilities, exercise, homework, music practice, writing for his blog, reading, getting together with friends, relaxing, etc.—all things that are part of his daily routine. God willing, my son will draft this schedule today.   

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Let me digress a moment. On another topic, there’s a cool website www.scholarshipexperts.com that offers monthly opportunities to try for a college scholarship. Each month there’s a new 250-word essay to write and he’s been doing this for the past four months. I see it as good practice at the least. Well, he has a list of all 12 essay topics for 2013 along with the deadlines—last day of the month at 11:59pm. I happen to know for a fact that March’s entry is not complete yet.

While there aren’t any demerits or punishments from me for not completing the essays, there are bonuses for doing so. And trust me, I know how to make those rewards pretty darn attractive to a teen who lives and breathes cinema. But, well, let’s just say the clock is ticking…

OMG, he just threw me a bone! He looked up from his computer and said, “Mom, I’m typing up that scholarship essay now.” Oh, yippee-ki-yay! [As I asked him how to spell that, he asked why I was quoting Bruce Willis from “Die Hard” (1988). Everything, I mean everything, relates back to movies for him, and that’s just fine.]

Back to his daily schedule, without the structure of the regular school day, it’s easy for him to lose track of time and all else. The schedule provides him with a road map for his day. He’s much more productive, and much more calm because he knows what to expect. And when he knows what to expect, he can be mentally prepared for the challenges that each day presents.

So do yourselves—and your kids—a big favor during spring break, whether you’re traveling or not. Maintain some form of structure for them. Eat lunch the same time each day. Watch TV the same time each day. Play outside, have quiet time, do chores, sightsee, etc. the same time each day. When your child can mentally prepare for what’s next, his/her anxiety levels can drop.

Here’s to a relaxing Spring Break for everyone! [Don’t mind me. I’ll just be drooling over last year’s pictures of our trip to Hawaii as I help my son get his working permit.]Image

Yummy GFCFSF Cranberry Scones

Just pulled these cranberry scones out of the oven. Mmmmm my kitchen smells heavenly!

Yes, they are gluten-free, casein-free and soy-free. But oh-so-yummy! Put the coffee [or tea] on and pull up a chair.

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Preparing Your Child for Independent Life After High School | SKILL #3: Teach Your Child Basic Food Prep

INDEPENDENT LIVING SKILLS
 
With graduation season just a few months away, we are reminded of the importance of transition to independent adult life. I realize those can be scary words—at least to us parents and caregivers. Nonetheless, we need to give our kids the skills necessary so they can succeed.
 
Here we continue our focus on transitions with this third installment of ways to prepare your child for life after high school. Sure, I know as well as you do, that many times it’s quicker and less messy if we just ‘do it for them.’ But a young, independent adult should know how to prepare or cook two or three breakfast, lunch and dinner items for him/herself.
 
SKILL #3:   Teach your child basic food preparation.
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For example:
  • Wash hands first!
  • Use knives and kitchen appliances safely
  • Use a stove, microwave and oven safely
    • Don’t put metal items in microwave.
    • Know how to preheat oven, use potholders and timer and turn off the oven when done. 
    • Be careful with gas/electric stove tops. 
  • Follow proper food handling procedures
    • Refrigerate foods needing refrigeration.
    • Wash fruits and veggies prior to eating.
    • Be aware of expiration dates and toss expired items.
  • Clean up
    • Store food in covered containers, throw out any trash and always wipe down the work surface. 
    • Scrape and rinse the dishes/utensils and either wash them or put them in the dishwasher.
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Start with meals that don’t require cooking. A breakfast with fruit, cereal with milk, yogurt and juice, for example. When those skills are mastered, move on to cooking one breakfast meal. Then cooking one meal for lunch. Then dinner. Repeat the process to become proficient with several different items for each meal. Bon appétit! 
 
As the mother of a son with autism, I’ve committed myself over the years to learning, understanding and sharing the most effective ways to nurture, protect and prepare a child with autism. Strategies with the potential to reap great rewards for our kids. Strategies for transitions and more, which I’ll
gladly share with you. 
 
Contact me at 714-501-8735 or debora@autismresourcemom.com
 

Your Turn!

A fun, easy and inexpensive way to teach and reinforce turn-taking skills is with a Bingo game. And for maximum cooperation from my son, I made our own, based on his particular interests—U.S. Presidents, U.S. states/cities/capitals, flags of the world, book titles, you name it. It’s easy with Google images.

A homemade favorite!
A homemade favorite!

High School Anxieties

OK, my son is in high school. As an individual on the autism spectrum, his biggest challenges are socialization. But he tries. He tries so very hard. And that does my heart good.

I was touched recently as he reached out to me and shared his fears. At 16-and-a-half, this man-child with facial hair who stands over 6 feet tall, still needs me for something.

I am no longer able to help him with homework—especially math and science. He takes care of himself so much of the time. Aside from the fact that he doesn’t drive yet, he gets by nicely without my constant intervention.

And that’s bittersweet for me, for sure.

But recently he asked for my help, and that was wonderful on several levels. Selfishly, it’s always nice to be needed. But more importantly, I am thrilled that he spoke up and asked for help. As you know, that’s not always the case with our kids. I guess the talk therapy is paying off.

Here’s the story: He joined a new club on campus and was going to his third meeting. He got to the room but his anxiety kept him from opening the door and entering. So he called me. Me! His mom! And he articulated his fears:

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Keep your teen talking — if not to you, to someone. Other family members, clergy, counselors, therapists. The more they verbalize their emotions, the less build up there will be. It’s just healthy!

“Mom, I’ve passed by the room a few times, looking in, but, I’m kinda anxious. I don’t think I should go in. I don’t know what to do.”      

I tried to savor that—while also acknowledging his apprehensions but offering assurances and urging him to push through his anxieties. After a brief pep talk, he said he’d give it a shot. Then he hung up.

I must confess, a teeny-tiny small part of me was hoping he’d call right back. Hey, I’m human. And I’m a mom. But a much bigger part of me was relieved when my phone did not ring. And after school his very first words to me were, “I’m so glad I went to the club meeting! It was great! I did it!”

Ahhh, sweet victory! I urged him to recognize the good, happy feeling so he could recall it the next time his anxiety crept up—and use this euphoria as an incentive to push through the angst.

Here endeth the lesson. [My movie-guru son would appreciate this line—it’s a quote from ‘The Untouchables’, the 1987 movie directed by Brian De Palma and written by David Mamet, of course.]

ARM will be at Transition Night 2013 in Anaheim — March 21!

Stop by ARM’s vendor table tomorrow evening, March 21, from 6 to 8:30pm, at Transition Night 2013The Opportunities Are Endless.

North Orange County Community College District Anaheim Campus, 1830 W. Romneya Dr., Anaheim.Image 

This annual event is presented by North Orange County Community College District, School of Continuing Education and Disabled Student Programs & Services.

Teach Your Child Proper Phone Skills

 
INDEPENDENT LIVING SKILLS
 
We continue our focus on transitions with this second installment of ways to prepare your child for life after high school.
 
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Granted, kids these days communicate mainly through texting, Facebook or Instant Messaging, but they still need to know how to start and end a phone call.

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SKILL #2:   Teach your child proper use of the phone.
For example:
  • Initiating the call
    • Say your name and who you are calling for. “This is Joe Smith and I’m calling for Bill.”
    • Explain why you’re calling. “Hey Bill, it’s Joe from Spanish class. I have a question about the homework—do you have a second to talk?”
  • Ending the call
    • Explain why you have to hang up. “Thanks man, now I get it. Gotta finish my homework.”
    • Say you enjoyed talking to the person and you’ll talk to him/her later.
    • Say good-bye. “Later, dude.”
  • Leaving a Voice-Mail Message
    • Don’t assume you’re being recognized—say your name—and who you’re calling for. “This is Mike Jones calling for Tony.”
    • Explain the reason for the call. “Tony, just wanted to see if you’re up for a 
      movie on Saturday. Gimme a call.”
    • Say the day and time of your call. “I’m calling on Thursday around 4pm.”
    • Slowly, give your phone number.  “You can reach me on my cell — 123-4567.”
    • Say good-bye. “Hope you’re available on Saturday. Later, man.”
  • Know how/when to call 911—and when not to.
  • Know how to call for a cab/shuttle and to order take-out.
  • Know how to retrieve messages on your phone.
Mastery of telephone skills is an important step toward independence. Good luck!
 

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As the mother of a son with autism, I’ve committed myself over the years to learning, understanding and sharing the most
effective ways to nurture, protect and prepare a child with autism. Strategies with the potential to reap great rewards for our kids.
Strategies for transitions and more, which I’ll gladly share with you.
 
And right now I’m offering speaking engagements to parent groups, educators, autism support groups, government agencies
and community organizations. 
 
Reserve your booking by calling 714-501-8735. The talk is free. The information is priceless.

 

Go Bake a Cake!

Happy National Pi Day!

Today we celebrate Pi, the ratio of a circle’s circumference to its diameter! Log onto the official National Pi Day website for activities and info.

What’s cool about pi is that it’s infinite – no mathematical operation can be equal to its approximate 3.14 value. But then, all you math gurus already knew that.

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SAVE THE DATE! March 21, 2013 — Transition Night

Transition Night 2013
THE OPPORTUNITIES ARE ENDLESS

“Let’s Get to Work”
Thursday, March 21, 2013
6:00 – 8:30 p.m.
North Orange County Community College District Anaheim Campus
1830 W. Romneya Drive, Anaheim, CA 92801

It’s the annual School of Continuing Education Disabled Student Programs and Services TRANSITION NIGHT. More than 60 vendors [ARM included!] will be on-hand and special presentations will take place all evening. You can visit with reps from the Dept of Rehab, RCOC, Cypress College, Fullerton College, School of Continuing Education and transportation programs. The North Orange County Community College District’s School of Continuing Education Administrative Offices are located at 1830 W. Romneya Drive, Anaheim, CA 92801. For more information call (714) 808-4500 or log onto http://www.sce.edu. 

Remember to set your clocks ahead one hour!

Daylight Saving Time Begins Sunday, March 10: Spring AHEAD One Hour
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Set clocks ahead Saturday night; it’s Daylight Saving Time.

Don’t forget to set your clocks AHEAD one hour when you go to bed Saturday night. Great opportunity to practice time management and responsibility with your child. Encourage them to help change all the clocks — and to set their alarm for the next morning.