Tag Archives: occupational therapy

If only everyone could see…

7 Nov

the amount of progress and growth this one image shares….

My kid has his hand in a pumpkin.  He is helping with scooping out the pumpkin guts and seeds.

I rubbed my eyes and pinched myself when I saw this little bit of fantastic in his folder.

This is a kid who doesn’t like getting his hands dirty or grubby.  He has huge issues of tactile defensiveness.

This one picture captures 5 years of hard work and progress.  Alex has worked so hard, on his own and with the help of occupational therapists and with tactile challenges introduced here at home (I try to include him in every smooshy part of cooking and baking).

My amazing, sweet, kind, funny, smart kid.

He kept his hand in long enough for them to take the picture.  He confessed to me that it made him hiccup (made him very nearly vomit) and it was horrible.  I confessed that I was amazed he even put his hand within a foot of pumpkin guts.  I also told him that ladies put pumpkin guts on their faces to help them look pretty.  He thought that was (like most girly things) hilarious and weird.

So proud of him.  He is of the mindset though that he did this once and will never ever do it again (he passed up helping with pumpkin carving at home).   That’s fine by me.  I’m so proud of him for not hurling all over the place when he did it this once.  I’m so proud of him for not melting down over the idea of touching pumpkin guts.

Fantastically gigantic heaps of slimy progress!  YEAH!   (and there are more snapshots and tales of the amazing work he is doing.  I can’t wait to share them with all of you! I’m proud of him on any old day.  I’m bursting at the seams with all of the things he is mastering/conquering.)




Smashes Clay & Alex Bowls

10 Oct

I recently had the adventure of taking a parent & child class in hand building clay at Cape Coral Art Studio. Every Saturday morning for 8 weeks, Alex and I hopped in the car and dragged ourselves to the studio to play in the mud.

Our teacher, Teri Aldred, was fantastic. She is a talented clay and mosaic artist and also works as a substitute teacher in our local school system and she has experience teaching other parent-child pairs with Autism.

Class was a challenge, but definitely gave me insight into some of the quirks and challenges Alex has in a classroom situation, which I’m not privy to at home, and those insights were definitely priceless when writing his IEP for this school year.

We made a couple of things. Our first project was a bowl made by slump forming. Alex put “m” all over the outside of his, as he decided the bowl was going to be for something tasty that would make a person exclaim “mmmm”. I put his name and he stamped mine on my bowl, and we used netting from a bag of oranges to make sort of a fishing net/fish net stocking texture. I learned that Alex cannot sit and listen to directions and understand them in a lecture and then hands-on sort of a setting. He was hugely distracted by the stereo in the classroom and all of the features and buttons.

So the next week we got to class a few minutes early. We took a photo of the stereo system on my iPod touch (we aren’t cell phone people…no need for them.) so he could zoom in and look at all of the features after class. I then took notes of each step Miss Teri spoke of. Due to low muscle tone, Alex has some trouble manipulating a rolled slab of clay into anything more than a pile, and with my weakened (RA fun! I’m working on regaining my hand strength and dexterity now that the joint swelling has subsided some) hands I wasn’t exactly adept, but we made do. So I wound up rolling him a footed cylinder and he decorated it. I then went to work carving my footed pot.

Alex needed to move more so he puttered around the classroom, playing with a sponge and water. I decided the goal for next week would be to get him to not play with the sponge during class. He really enjoyed the tactile experience of the sponge and water, particularly after handling red clay and having dried out and dusty feeling clay hands. I promised him his own soft sponge at home, if he only used it when he was supposed to in class (and not to dribble over our work when we were waiting for coats of glaze to dry)…

Our bowls were bone dry, so Alex gently sanded his with a little square of scotchbrite pad, and I used my super pointy stick thingy (the technical term) to etch and carve sharper details into the sides of my bowl.

Then the inevitable happened.

It slipped from my hands and broke into a pile of dusty chunks. Our teacher was so upset. I didn’t even flinch. I’ve been dropping things my whole life. One of the reasons I chose to work primarily with vintage plastics/phenolics way back when is because of my unpredictable hands.

She told me I could glaze the pieces anyway, and use them for a mosaic. So all was not lost.

All in all, I learned so much about Alex and his learning style. I thought I knew that stuff pretty well, but add in actual real life scenarios with other kids and teachers and a new set of rules in a new location with all new sensory stimuli, and it’s the same beast, but it’s in high definition.

Alex and I had some great conversations going back and forth to class, particularly about how he wasn’t focused and wasn’t fully engaged and how he was not really enjoying the class but he was enjoying spending time with me. We realized that the reason class felt more stressful than we anticipated, is because we were basically working as parallel entities. Two projects, two people. Side by side. Two Aspies and parallel play. Not exactly a rarity, is it? To keep him engaged, and to enjoy more of the cooperative aspect of the experience, we decided to work on one project but make all of the decisions together. If I say that the surviving bowl is his bowl and that he made it, he corrects me “It’s our bowl, Mama. We share.” So sweet.

I was hoping to pick up another class with him, but he doesn’t want to do clay anymore.

The end result is that we have a gorgeous bowl on our kitchen/work table and two footed pots and a better understanding of each other. And we have shards. Lots of shards. When we have a yard and garden or our first real (non-condo/apartment) house I’m going to use them there. Someday…. I hope.



Alex’s Journey to Camp Cheerful UPDATE July 9

11 Jun
Alex’s Journey to Camp Cheerful UPDATE…
I want to thank all of the wonderfully generous friends who supported us in our fundraising to send Alex to this special camp.  Unfortunately, life had other plans for the time being.  Due to fairly dramatic health issues (more on that later), I am unable to accompany Alex to Ohio, so we are postponing his experience at Camp Cheerful until next year. I did return all funds raised, to their respective contributors, due to the change in plans.  Alex is disappointed, but he is very vocal about wanting me to get better.  We are working at getting new therapists on board for him, locally and hopefully camp will be in reach next summer and I will be 110% again!  Thanks again to everyone who continually roots for Alex.  Alex is well aware of the love everyone has shown us along our long journey.

Alex is my amazingly brilliant, funny, sweet kid who has Asperger Syndrome. Asperger’s is a neurological disorder, it is a developmental disability.

Alex is almost 7 years old. There is a summer camp (Camp Cheerful) in Ohio specially
designed for kids with Asperger’s. It includes things like Occupational
Therapy, which would be a huge help to Alex. The camp would help give
Alex the tools he needs to face his daily challenges, which are more
than most adults could tackle every day.

Here’s a wonderful description of Asperger’s Syndrome that recently aired on the PBS show “Arthur” (the meat of it is only until around 2:45… so if you aren’t into Arthur please don’t feel you need to watch all 7+ minutes!)

For a more straight facts, less dramatized (less animated) description please visit AANE’s AS facts. For our personal experiences please read the Asperger’s entries on my blog

Love and peace,
Bek, Jeff, and Alex

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Adventures of The Sneaky Chef in the Cave of the Aspie Kid

15 Jul

Boy Genius

A couple of months ago I intended to blog on this fabulous book (The Sneaky Chef) we had bought, hoping to increase nutritional value for our whole family, particularly Alex. I mentioned Alex’s food quirks and “rules” a little in my post “Islands in the Stream” and promised to check back in about the book.

Well, here I am. A little older, a little wiser, a lot more cooking under my belt than I typically do. I enjoyed my experiments and the creativity exercised in the kitchen. I really enjoyed that because of my abnormal level of fatigue and pain (yay, isn’t arthritis fun!) Jeff did the dishes and the grocery shopping so I could focus on inoculating tasty and fun foods with extra nutrition to make one of kiddo’s primary personal goals (and one of our goals as his parents) come to fruition.

Alex wants to grow up big and strong and healthy.

And we want him to grow up big and strong and healthy as well. (By big we mean: Not frail)

We have always avoided the concept of “the clean plate club” as in my million plus years of Weight Watchers meetings I had seen and heard of the fallout of such parenting & nutritional methods. And, as someone who has been on a diet since 3 weeks old (yes, you heard me: weeks) and I am still experiencing the fallout from that (I’ll cover that in another entry, at another time. Promise.)

So I am particularly sensitive to not taking the warden approach to nutrition. Our goal for Alex, in all aspects of his life, was to give him the tools to be able to make the best decisions, for himself, in his life. This applies to work, health, his personal life, etc… I do want to thank Early Intervention for asking us the important question of what we want for him and his life. We learned to keep it non-specific enough that we don’t suffocate him with our expectations, but enough that we can build goals. Good and important stuff.

So, we decided to start “Sneaky-cheffing” more nutrition into his regular foods and he even helped me (we both got so messy! he didn’t freak out completely! it was wonderful!) prepare a few recipes.

But guess what we found out? Our experiment reiterated that kiddo will probably never eat a casserole or anything remotely resembling a casserole- even homemade macaroni & cheese with real cheese rather than packet of powdery stuff is too much of a multiple texture experience for him. He’ll eat Annie’s Mac n’ Cheese but not the stuff I spent so much time planning and prepping and cooking. He also won’t eat any whole vegetables other than carrots. Think about it: Carrots are the same consistency all the way through- I can’t think of another vegetable that does that…Maybe peeled and cooked potato chunks-but then there’s a certain graininess, and with sweet potatoes a certain stringiness… Anyway, this goes beyond regular little kid dislikes and pickiness- these textures actually make Alex dry heave (or barf. Depending how deep we are into the meal.)

Some ideas from The Sneaky Chef worked beautifully- the idea of adding extra nutrition everywhere has stuck with me- even as far as adding water to a recipe (or instructions on a box)- I don’t add water (well not every time, I still need to work on the planning thing!) but use a nutritious liquid instead. I learned that blueberry juice doesn’t curdle milk and makes a fun colored alternative to plain white milk (or soy milk…Alex seems to change his preferences every couple of weeks)…

I also learned that we can sneak some of the purees suggested in the book into some foods, without objection.

Then Alex saw the jars. Ok, when I first started using the book I made my own purees. But as backups we had the recommended jars of baby food (not all of the purees are available as baby foods, and the homemade purees and mixes are much cheaper and not difficult to make and freeze).
Alex saw the jars. I took a deep breath. He voiced a little panic about baby food being for babies.

So I asked him (remember, he is deeply logical and literal and rule based. Think Spock to the nth power):
ME:Who eats baby food?
ALEX: Babies
ME: Are you a baby?
ALEX: No. I’m a big guy. BIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIGGGGGG! (makes war face and flexes and almost knocks himself over)
ME: What do you eat?
ALEX: Big Guy food.
ME: If you eat a cracker is it Big Guy food?
ALEX: Yes.
ME: So if you are not a baby and you eat the stuff in this jar then what is it?
ALEX: I’m not a baby!
ME: That’s right! You are a big guy! SO, if you eat the stuff in this jar & you are not a baby then the food in this jar cannot be baby food! It’s only baby food if a baby is eating it.
If a BIG GUY is eating it, it’s called “PUREE”!
ALEX: I like puree!

So, after all of our experiments trying to sneak “puree” into his foods we found out that Alex doesn’t like it mixed in. He likes it plain and separate from his regular food.

Of course, he has to announce, at the start of the meal, “It’s only baby food if a baby is eating it. If I eat it then it’s puree!”. Seriously. He says it every time.

Perhaps, if he adjusts to the taste this way, he’ll be more accepting of various textures eventually. Until then, I’m happy to serve him his vegetables in this manner.

A wise person once said, in regards to parenting, “Pick your battles”.

As he slugs down jars of summer vegetables (a sneaky way of disguising what actual veggies are in there- summer veggies are ok, broccoli & spinach, etc -not so much. Don’t forget, on top of our Adventures with Asperger’s, our Alex is still a kid. Sometimes, I guess that maybe it’s like having twins.) I realize that we both are winning and we can focus on moving forward to bigger and better things. I try to point out that it’s like a bisque, but he corrects me “Puree!”

I still think The Sneaky Chef is totally worth the purchase (Amazon has copies from <$2.00 + shipping to brand new…any which way, I think it's worth it) it was a great jumping off place for figuring out some small ways to enhance nutrition for the whole family.

(We have been getting various supplies through Amazon.com lately- yes, the Prime program is awesome! They do carry Earth's Best in 12 packs and Annie's Mac n' Cheese as a 6 pack- actually, with Prime, it winds up being less expensive than our chain supermarket and they are delivered right to our door. I'll post a link to my amazon store soon, where I'll have all of the things I have mentioned with links, to make things easier for everyone!)


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Hugs and Kisses

1 Feb


Originally uploaded by CleverIndie

Update: Kiddo seems to be doing a little better…. He seems out of his shell, but operating at a more immature level than we are used to (selective hearing… pretending it’s opposite day ’round the clock…Not answering questions…somewhat hyperactive compared to baseline)… I guess time will tell… Starting a new schedule for him tomorrow that will hopefully help him. Feeling the pressure to bring in info for school but at the same time don’t want to overwhelm his teachers… That and all of a sudden he’s rejecting the idea of bringing his weighted vest(he calls it his huggyvest) to school, so I need to dig deeper on that one and I need to write out a comprehensive (but not overwhelming) sheet on it so it isn’t used inappropriately… Ideally I would like the teachers to suggest that he use it and leave it up to him… It’s not weird looking with his clothes- it actually matches his uniform and doesn’t look weirdly therapeutic… When he got it last summer he didn’t want to wear it to school because he didn’t want the other kids to feel bad that they don’t have one… Hopefully this is still the case… I’ll update the blog this week with a breakdown of his “toolkit”…

Anyway, Happy Superbowl Sunday!

I’m making my famous chili…Some ingredients are so secret that I forget them, so it’s a long process…. I don’t use a recipe. I wing it, build the flavors, tweak the ingredients… It’s an epic meditative cooking experience.. But I recruited kiddo and hubby to remember to stir it every few minutes so I can still rest… Feeling pretty crummy as I’m sweeter than I should be… Nothing is working the same way twice with my diabetes these days, so I’m learning on my feet…Dreading my visit to the endocrinologist this week as I am still mad about the dexcom (he prescribed it even though it’s contraindicated in regards to my other prescriptions, and I want those other prescriptions back!) and last time he told me “Diabetes isn’t hard to control”….Ahhh spoken like a non-d person…. We shall see..

Back to the pretty picture….

The image shows shrinky dink hearts that has/is an occupationally therapeutic project. We are making Valentine cards for school (he loves hearts…hearts and starts are his favorites, but he sees a heart and says “a heart means love” and smile this sweet little smile…)…

So, he used his muscles and hand eye coordination to punch the shrinky dink hearts out using the giant hole puncher. When his arms and hands got tired he worked on his balance and stepped on the hole punch… Thankfully, those silicone baking mats are awesome for projects such as these- a little cushioning and a little non-slip grip…

Then he wrote xo on them which involved planning ahead for spacing…

Then we baked ’em up and he sat in front of the oven giggling like a madman as the hearts curled up and popped like jumping beans before shrinking completely and flattening out….

Next step? I think we have had a request for glitter… I’ll post an update when they are fully sparkly…

Until then….



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