Students At Home

For Everyone Who Learns at Home

Meet Julia, the Sesame Street Puppet With Autism

I’ve always been a Sesame Street fan. I remember watching the show as a child (Bert, Mr. Snuffleupagus and Slimey were my favorite characters!), and I introduced my kids to it. We watched every morning. My daughter especially loved Elmo!

This week, I learned that a new puppet is joining the show. Her name is Julia, and she has autism.

Autism is a spectrum, and every child experiences it differently. That means Julia won’t represent every kid with autism, including my son. However, I am encouraged that such an influential show is including a puppet with the disorder that affects one in 48 children. And the other characters eagerly welcome her into their neighborhood and look for ways to include her as they play.

Want to learn more? Watch Sesame Street! Or check out these links.

60 Minutes

The Autism Daddy

 

 

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When Frustrations Become Blessings

My son has autism and other issues, which means he takes several medications every day.

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His weekly pill organizer, my awesome hubby’s idea!

So far, we haven’t noticed negative side effects, but we’re always looking for natural products that address his challenges without harming his body or mind.

His autism med doctor recently suggested NAC (also known as N-acetylcysteine or N-acetyl-L-cysteine, a derivative of the amino acid L-cysteine). NAC is a supplement that is shown to help kids with autism and includes no adverse side effects. Awesome!

There were only two problems – our pharmacy doesn’t carry it on the store shelves and insurance doesn’t cover it. In fact, since it’s a supplement, we don’t even get a prescription for it.

My pharmacy is pretty helpful and willingly ordered the pills the first time. And when I called last week for a refill, they said they’d order it again no problem. Except there was a problem. The pharmacy didn’t place the order. When I stopped by yesterday to pick up the pills, they told me they would not order it.

Now usually, I try to be nice. Honey gets more results than vinegar! But when it comes to my kids or my family, mama bear sometimes shows her claws. And I got a little huffy at the pharmacy yesterday when they said they wouldn’t order the pills my son needs. I clearly expressed my frustration that this supplement can help my son get off the other meds that could be harmful, and it’s frustrating that they won’t help.

I stewed on the frustration for almost an hour as I drove home, unloaded groceries from the car and prepped lunch. Finally, I did what I should have done in the first place. I prayed and asked God to show me what to do next. He prompted me to look up the medicine online, and guess what – I found it on Amazon where we can buy 250 pills for less than half of what the pharmacy charged for 90!

My frustration at the pharmacy was actually a blessing. Now, we can order the medicine a few days before we need it, have it delivered directly to our house and save money! I called the pharmacy, apologized for my attitude and told them that I found the medicine. They rejoiced with me.

What about you? What frustrations have you seen become blessings in your life? Despite the roadblock, you could see the negative turn into a positive! Share your story so we all can be encouraged to keep looking for the silver lining in all things!

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Photo credit: printsforartssake.com

For more information on NAC:

https://sfari.org/funding/grants/abstracts/efficacy-of-n-acetyl-cysteine-in-autism

http://www.herbwisdom.com/herb-nac.html

 

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Zones of Regulation: A Behavior Breakthrough

It’s a yellow/blue kind of day. I woke up feeling blah, and I’m not sure why.

Maybe it’s because I didn’t sleep well. Maybe it’s the donut I ate for breakfast. Maybe it’s the busy day I had yesterday at the pool.

Whatever the reason, I’m glad to be able to use the Zones of Regulation. They help me acknowledge how I feel and give me actionable steps to fix my day and prevent me from going into the angry zone.

I discovered the Zones of Regulation a few years ago. My son’s speech, occupational and behavior therapists encouraged us to use the Zones as part of our behavior toolbox. With the Zones, my son can figure out how he’s feeling. That’s the first step to regulating his behavior and helping him stay on an even keel so that he can learn.

Over the years, I’ve adopted the Zones, too. After all, I have emotions like my kids do. Plus, I can’t parent well if I’m not taking care of myself. Especially in the past few months, I’ve been using the Zones to keep in touch with my emotions and process my feelings.

What are the Zones of Regulation?

According to the Zones of Regulation website, the Zones is a “systematic, cognitive behavior approach used to teach self-regulation by categorizing all the different ways we feel and states of alertness we experience into four concrete zones.  The Zones curriculum provides strategies to teach students to become more aware of, and independent in controlling their emotions and impulses, managing their sensory needs, and improving their ability to problem solve conflicts.”

In a nutshell, the Zones help us figure out how we’re feeling. They also give us tools to help us manage and regulate our emotions. It’s a tool many therapists use, and it’s been a beneficial tool in our home.

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Think of the Zones as Traffic Signals

In an ideal world, everyone would be in the Green Zone all the time. As we all know, though, emotions change. Sometimes, we can go from Green to Yellow in a matter of seconds. Don’t believe me? Try saying no to a toddler and watch them change from cooperative to obstinate in a hurry!

That’s where the Zone traffic signals come into play. Like traffic signals tell you how to drive on the road, we use traffic signals to identify our Zones.

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Green means you’re good to go. In the Green Zone, run errands, clean the house and play games without worrying that someone will be overwhelmed, throw a fit or object to the activity.

Yellow cautions you to be aware. Slow down and take a few minutes to identify how you’re feeling. Then take steps to address the anxiety, get out the wiggles or deal with nervousness so that you can move forward.

Blue gives you an opportunity to rest or re-energize. Take it easy, rest and relax.

Red means stop. Make sure everyone is safe and step back. Don’t push, prod, nag or move forward until you have calmed down and are out of Red.

What Zone are you In?

The Zones of Regulation are a constant part of my family’s daily routine. We often ask each other, “What Zone are you in?” It helps us figure out where we’re at emotionally. Depending on the Zone we’re in, we can change our schedule or use other coping strategies like exercise or games to help us calm down, rest or feel better.

The Zones help my family, and they can help your family, too. Take a look at these resources for more information.

zonesofregulation.com

socialthinking.com

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We All Learn at Home

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When I first started this blog, I was homeschooling my two children. Home education had always been a dream of mine because I wanted my kids to have the opportunity to learn at their own pace and study topics that interested them. I also wanted a flexible schedule that allowed us to sleep in if necessary, enjoy a short school day and help my husband in his business.

We homeschooled for five years until my daughter asked to attend public school for third grade. To be honest, I resisted at first. It took a few weeks for me to let go of my dream. And it turned out to be the best decision we could have made for her because she flourished in her classroom.

The next year, her younger brother started public school under different circumstances. He has autism and other special needs, and his needs because more than I could handle at home. Because his transition to school was a little more challenging and because I was no longer homeschooling, I stopped writing this blog.

A month ago, I decided to revive it. I was reading through my journals over the last three years and realized that we have learned a ton of lessons in our home even though we were no longer doing school at home. I’m also a writer at heart and needed a space to express my thoughts, opinions and things I’m learning.

Seth Godin‘s blog post from July 3 hit a chord with me. He’s a writer and business mentor, and here are his words.

We are all home schooled

“Day after day, year after year, it’s the interactions we have at home that have the biggest impact on who we become.

Public school is an essential part of our culture. But the inputs and foundations that parents create are essential and they are truly difficult to outsource.

What would happen if you figured out how to spend two hours a day, every day, without electronics, with your kids? Looking them in the eye, being present, doing projects, setting standards, raising the bar, learning, seeing, hearing, connecting, challenging, questioning, being questioned…”

Whether you home, public, cyber or combo educate your kids, they and you are learning when you’re at home. You make an impact on  your kids, and they can teach  you lessons, too. I know my kids teach me new things every week. What have you learned today?

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Let the Music Calm You

Ever have one of those days where anxiety, worry, anger or stress sit just under the surface of your “I have it all together” mask? Do you ever feel like those ugly emotions are waiting to bubble up and spew out at the slightest provocation?

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Scream (Courtesy Mingo Hagen, Flickr)

Okay, you don’t have to admit it.

But I will.

Parenting a kiddo with special needs takes more emotional strength than I can muster sometimes. Although, to be honest, just navigating a busy grocery store, parking at Walmart or paying bills can be enough to set my internal thermometer rising.

And when I feel the internal frustration begin to bubble and threaten to spill over with ugly and hurtful words or mean glances, I try to turn to music.

It soothes and calms me like few relaxation techniques can. And believe me, I’ve tried tons of relaxation methods!

Listening to this song by Hillsong United is one of my favorite ways to restore peace and calm to my soul. I simply close my eyes and let the words and the song’s truths pour over me. Sometimes, I have to listen to it a few times before the truths sink in, but I remain incredibly grateful for the calming lyrics and peaceful message.

What is your go-to relaxation method? You might not need one today, but in case you ever experience one of those days where you’re frazzled, angry, anxious or unrestful, give this song a listen and let the music calm you.

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