Monthly Archives: May 2013

Out of State But Not Out of Mind

ARM’s Debora Smith is a featured guest on the Grandparent Autism Network site. Image

She gives grandparents—particularly those who live out of town—some creative suggestions for staying in touch with their grandchildren. “8 Ways to Stay in Touch with Your Grandchild with ASDs.”


Skype is free—plus it beats a plain old telephone call any day because you get actual face time—and for families separated by miles, there’s nothing better.

At Your Service!

Summer is a great time for learning new life skills. Use this mnemonic device to help teach your kids how to set the table:

‘Left’ and ‘Fork’ both have 4 [four] letters. So, the fork goes on the left. And ‘F’ comes earliest in the alphabet, or first before ‘K’ and ‘S’ so it’s closest to the left.

‘Right,’ ‘Knife’ and ‘Spoon’ all have 5 [five] letters. So, the Knife and Spoon go on the right, in alphabetical order.Image

That’s it! 

OMG, The Best Thing Since…!

After years of making my own schedules for my son with online images that I would painstakingly download into a table, type in times of day and more, I feel like I struck gold when I stumbled across AutiPlan.  It’s a brilliant website [there’s an app, too!] that makes schedules so easy! Creating them is a snap now—just a drag-and-drop process. I love it!

ImageSelect time in 5-minute increments. AutiPlan features a seemingly endless library of pictures/icons for activities to schedule. What’s more, the descriptions that come with the icons can be tailored. For example, I changed “get dressed” to “get dressed for band concert.”


AutiPlan Planner. The drag-and-drop process makes schedule creation so simple!

I really like the analog clock that appears beside each picture icon for ‘time.’  

There’s a free, basic version and if you want all the bells and whistles – including apps – you pay a small fee. So far, I’ve done fine with the basic version. I can even upload my own graphics/photos! 

Do yourself a favor and check it out! In my opinion, the developers have done a fabulous job with this. Let us know what you think of this scheduling tool.


Act now to join a group that will start in June — facilitated by Alexander Gantman, Psy.D. and Kimberly Orliczky, BCBA. It will meet on Tuesdays from 6:30pm to 8pm in Newport Beach. Enrollment is limited and parent participation is required. 

For details contact Kimberly Orliczky at 949/607-8560.



The 411 on AT


Clip Tabs

This morning I attended an information-packed workshop on Assistive Technology: Tools for Transition at Area Board XI, presented by Laura Simmons-Martinez of TASK [Team of Advocates for Special Kids]. Learned about lots of websites, software and apps — some free, some not — but all were eyeopening. From low tech gadgets to sophisticated and savvy tools.  


Twist ‘n Write

TASK is a non-profit organization that trains and informs parents, serving all ages and all disabilities.The TASK Tech Labs are free to members. TASK Membership is an annual fee of $35 per family.

Don’t miss out on a new FREE e-newsletter focused on assistive technology [AT]. Send an email to with the subject line: E-Newsletter Add and you’ll be added to the email distribution list.

Thanks, Laura, for a great workshop!


Removable Highlighter Tape

New Favorite GFCF Cookie


Crispy quinoa cookies

Oh yum! We have a new favorite cookie and it’s so easy to make. I found the recipe on the back of the Ancient Harvest Quinoa Flakes box. To suit our dietary restrictions I made a few tweaks, but the result is a treat that I have to hide from the boys [otherwise they’d devour them all in one sitting].


Quinoa flakes

What is quinoa (pron. Keen-wa)? While actually a seed, it is widely considered a whole grain. It dates back over 5,000 years ago and was a staple for thousands of years for the Incas who cultivated quinoa in the Andes Mountains. This seed/grain provides all nine essential amino acids making it a complete protein. It’s from the beet [goosefoot] family, is gluten-free, cholesterol-free and is easily digestible. But if you ask my fellas, they’ll just tell you that they taste great!

Here’s the recipe:

Crispy Quinoa Cookies

½ cup           honey [or agave nectar]

1/3 cup         brown sugar [I don’t like to use a lot of sugar, so I don’t pack it tightly]

½ cup           butter [I use clarified butter]

½ cup           peanut butter [I use sunflower butter]

½ teaspoon    gluten-free vanilla

1 cup            rice flour [I use ½ cup rice flour and ½ cup quinoa flour]

¾ cup           quinoa flakes

1 teaspoon     baking soda

¼ teaspoon    salt [optional]

½ cup           nuts [optional; I add sunflower seeds, walnuts, cashews, whatever I have on  hand]

Heat oven to 350 degrees. Beat honey, brown sugar, butter, peanut butter and vanilla in medium bowl until creamy. Combine rice/quinoa flour, quinoa flakes, baking soda and salt in separate small bowl. Add dry ingredients to creamy mixture and beat until well blended and smooth. If desired, add nuts. Roll into balls and place about 2 inches apart on ungreased cookie sheet. Flatten with a fork. Bake 12 to 14 minutes or until light golden brown. Cool 1 minute before removing from cookie sheet. Yields about 3 dozen cookies.

10 Ways to Prepare Your Child for Independent Life After High School | SKILL #6

Two of my family members celebrated their graduation from college in the past week. Part two of my son’s ITP meeting was yesterday. The issue of transition to independent adult life couldn’t be more imminent. So we continue our discussion with our tip #6.
Whether your child is going on to post-secondary education, employment or both, personal hygiene is essentialGrooming and personal care tells others how you feel about yourself. So help your kids learn to send out the message that they care about themselves and how they look. A little effort can go a long way.
SKILL #6 – Teach your child proper grooming.
I divide this lesson into two categories:
    1-      Grooming practices
    2-      Vital personal info
Looking presentable on a consistent basis takes some work. Simplify the process by making
personal hygiene a routine.
–   Wash face morning and night
–   Reinforce hand washing        


–   Shampoo hair regularly
–   Comb hair and know when haircut is needed      
Image–   Shaving—Men shave facial  hair; Women shave legs and underarms

–   Brush teeth and tongue [at least twice a day]–   Floss
–   Have breath mints handy—bad breath is a big turnoff!

–   Exercise
–   Keep nails trimmed and clean [finger and toenails]
–   Use deodorant daily
–   Clean ears
–   Body spray or perfume—use sparingly [less is more]
–   Makeup for women—use sparingly [less is more]
–   Check zippers/buttons/snaps
–   Clean clothes on a clean body
–   “3 Fit Rule” – 1) Fit your body [not too large, not too small] 2) Fit the weather 3) Fit the occasion

First impressions are important. Start now to help your child make good grooming a habit, so it becomes easier when he’s out there on his own.


Maintaining some basic personal health info is another important skill.
–   Organize a system and stick to it
–   Know how to fill/refill a prescription [Have your teen call in for refills.]
–   Height, weight, DOB, SSN & blood type
–   Help your teen arrange this material into a binder.
–   Teach your teen the importance of keeping certain data private [SSN, etc.].
–   Have your teen make his own appointment [this is great practice!]

Being in charge of one’s body on various levels is just another step toward living independently—and successfully.

If you’ve missed any of my earlier lessons you can find them on my blog
at For more ideas, contact me today at

If You Want Your Kids To Think of You As Encouraging, Be Encouraging

How do you want your kids to remember you? Always nagging? Never satisfied? Too busy? When that question was put to me several years ago, I had a rude awakening, because my list of adjectives didn’t exactly mirror my actions. But the good thing was that over time I was able to change my behaviors to suit the descriptions.

With Mother’s Day coming, you and your child may both want to do this exercise.


In large letters, write P A R E N T vertically down the left side of a page. Using those six letters, write words that describe how you would like your child to think of you.

And if you’re not acting accordingly, you do have the power to change.

I encourage you to get your child to do the same. In large letters, write C H I L D [or S O N or  D A U G H T E R] vertically down the left side of a page. Using those letters, ask your child to write words that describe how he/she wants you to think of him or her. Maybe those words are caring. humorous, intelligent/inspiring, likeable/loving, dependable.

Post these important documents where you and your kids can see them so they become gentle reminders for desired results. These should be fluid papers, that change as needed.

Here’s to a Happy Mother’s Day!

WARNING: Graphic Tip


If your child has handwriting issues in math, make some large-square graph paper. Get your child comfortable putting one number or one symbol in each square.

multiwidth (3)

And this style graph paper works great with young ones and their writing [words, short sentences].