Many Hats Mommy

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My Guest Post: Autism is Strong

My life was so crazy after getting back from 2:1 Conference last Sunday that I never got a chance to tell you I wrote a guest post for my friend Jennifer Janes. She is running an interesting series, “Autism is…”. Each guest finishes the sentence. Many of my friends are writing for her. It’s a very insightful series if you do not live around autism, and encouraging if you do.

My way of filling in the blank was …strong.

These kids, teens, and adults on the autism spectrum face more than I will ever realize, and they keep going. For most of them, the world around them is on the highest volume and brightest screen possible in a foreign language. Well, I’m going to stop there.

When I wrote this post, I cried as I thought about their strength.

Follow me to Jennifer’s blog to see why autism is strong.

autismisstrongJAJ

 

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The Power of One Tweak

It has been almost two years since I last tried getting Dr. J’s hair cut at a public place. I’ve been cutting it at home, and once in a while Daddy takes a shot at it. I had a revelation last time I cut his hair–ask him to tell you something else that is as scary as getting his hair cut. Then you can understand his fear better. 

So I did. For my son, getting his hair cut is as scary as Continue reading


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What Do YOU See?

I plan on writing a full post about this picture, but before I do, I’m curious. What do YOU see when you look at this playscape? What would your child see?

Take a moment. Look at all of the different elements–the slides, the bridge, the children, the wood chips, etc. Absorb it. Ponder it. Continue reading


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Review: Learn to Have Fun with Your Senses

Many parents strive to teach their children independence. Parents of children on the autism spectrum desire independence for their children, too, but sometimes that is harder than it sounds. John Taylor, PhD, offers tweens and teens with sensory issues a chance to take charge of their sensory needs, and that is one of the reasons I love Learn to Have Fun with Your Senses: the Sensory Avoider’s Survival Guide. Continue reading


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Interview with Joye Newman and Carol Kranowitz

Do you know a child with sensory processing issues?  Or maybe it’s you who has a really acute sense or hearing or smell, or is really particular about the feel of clothing?  Well, do we have a treat for you!  I’m Bobbi Sheahan, and Jenny let me take over her blog today!  (How cool is THAT?)  And, wait, it gets better.  I brought Joye Newman and Carol Kranowitz with me!   When I think of helping kids with sensory processing issues, I think of Carol and Joye.  Joye has been working as a perceptual motor therapist since the late 1970’s, and she founded and continues to direct a popular organization called Kids Moving Company.  Her website is www.kidsmovingco.com.  Carol has been a hero of mine since her book, The Out-of-Sync Child, helped me to begin to understand my daughter’s sensory issues.  She is the author of several books on the subject and the Editor in Chief of S.I. Focus Magazine.  She is also a board member of the Sensory Therapy and Research (STAR) Center.   Her website is www.out-of-sync-child.com

QUESTION:  I am so excited to bring you to Jenny’s readers, and I thank Jenny for having us on her blog!  I want to talk about your new In-Sync Activity Cards.  Why did you create them, and who did you create them for? Continue reading


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Discount for you at Sensory Conference!

Here are a couple of interesting facts about Jackson Mississippi, first it’s the largest city in the state, and second, two experts in the world of Sensory Processing Disorder (Carol Kranowitz & Britt Collins) will be there on February 17th, at Jackson Convention Complex, for one day only, to talk to you about; different types of SPD, recognizing co-existing problems, discussing  research studies, defining sensory diets and describing how they work, employing sensory activities that kids LOVE, assisting students with difficult transitions and much, much more!  Visit www.FHautism.com  or www.SensoryWorld.com for more information.  Use the code HATS for a 15% discount!


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Picky Eaters & Sensory Issues

Last week we had a different article on picky eaters. Here are a few more tips, sent courtesy of the fine folks at Future Horizons!

Autism Asperger’s Digest                March-April 2011 issue

Column: Sensory Smarts                  www.autismdigest.com

Happy Mouths, Happy Meals

Sensory Problems Usually Are the Problem with Difficult Eaters

Dear Sensory Smarts,

My five-year-old is such a picky eater! There are only a few foods she’ll eat: pasta, pizza, and ice cream. She wants to eat macaroni n’ cheese almost every meal, but it has to be one particular brand. If the store is out, she will not eat another brand. My parents and in-laws think it’s because I spoil her. They all say I should serve her what everyone else is having and if she doesn’t eat, then tough. I did try it once and she simply did not eat. Help!

From,

Mac n’ Cheese Maven’s Mom

Dear Maven’s Mom,

Kids with oral sensory issues and food aversions will not eat foods they find repulsive and may wind up with nutritional deficiencies. Your child did not become an extremely selective eater because of something you did. It may help to consider the underlying factors that may be impacting your child’s inability to tolerate a wider variety of foods.

Oral Sensory Problems

Kids with sensory challenges, especially those on the autism spectrum, often have sensory issues in and around the mouth. Remember that the lips, tongue, inside cheeks, and throat are lined with skin. A child may be exquisitely sensitive to textures, and unable to tolerate foods that are lumpy, slippery, chewy, crunchy, or a combination of textures, like yogurt with granola. Some kids are particular about flavors, and may only eat foods that are bland, sweet, or even highly spiced. Some kids are particular about temperatures and insist on or refuse foods that are cold, hot, or lukewarm. Some kids stuff their mouths to feel there’s something in there. Other kids object to the way food looks or when items touch each other on a plate.

Some problem feeders have oral-motor weakness, and lack strength and stability in the lips, tongue, and jaw for nursing and later for eating solid foods. Jaw weakness makes chewing difficult while tongue weakness makes it hard to form a bolus (round food mass) to swallow. High or low muscle tone in the mouth can also be an issue. A child may have a hyperactive gag reflex and avoids eating and gagging. At its most extreme, a child may throw up when an offending food is tasted, smelled, or simply mentioned.

Most kids on the spectrum crave predictability. Your daughter may insist on exactly the same brand of mac n’ cheese cooked exactly the same way as a form of control in a world that sometimes feels out of control. If she has successfully eaten that one type of mac n’ cheese in the past, it’s got to be the very same kind in the future.

It sounds like your daughter sticks to “the white diet,” consisting of carbs and cheese, a common diet among kids with sensory issues. These foods are relatively soft and have an easy “mouth feel.” Unfortunately, these foods consist of gluten and dairy, which many kids with autism do not tolerate well. Gluten is the main protein in wheat and other grains and casein is a protein in cheese and other dairy products. The theory is that these proteins trigger immune responses in some kids, resulting in a pleasurable, druglike response. Gluten and casein sensitivities are worth exploring with a nutritionist or allergist.

When a child has a significantly limited food repertoire, do not withhold the few foods that are acceptable. If you take away that one brand of mac n’ cheese, you’re taking away one of the few sources of nutrition for your child, even if it is a poor one. Pizza can be healthy if you buy or make it with high-quality ingredients.

I start by identifying one food the parent would like to add to a child’s diet, typically a fruit or vegetable. If possible, the child selects the particular fruit or vegetable.

Find more on eating difficulties and other sensory challenges in Raising a Sensory Smart Child and at sensorysmarts.com. You may also want to check out these books: Just Take a Bite (by Lori Ernsperger, available in bookstores and online) and Happy Mealtimes with Happy Kids (by Melanie Potock, available at MyMunchBug.com).

Got a question? I’d love to hear from you. Please email questions to Lindsey@sensorysmarts.com.