Friday, May 29, 2009

Asperger's Q & A

A commenter had some questions for me, and instead of responding just in a comment, I thought I'd post the answer here in case anyone else was interested. I may do this periodically if anyone's got a question that requires more than a couple of lines of reply.

Q: How old was Gus when you found out about him? Did you know before he was born? I ask this because I don't know how you learned to be so good with handling him. Was it all learning as he aged?

A: Gus was about eighteen months old when we noticed that he wasn't taking much interest in other children. I'd pick him up from day care and see him at one end of the play yard while the rest of the class was at the opposite end. At home when we'd take him to the park, he'd always gravitate away from other children. That was what gave us the first inkling that something was different about him. However, he had sensitivities right from birth. He was always hyper-alert and extremely sensitive to noise. I'm sure plenty of people thought I was a complete, overprotective psycho the way I insisted on total silence when I was trying to get him to sleep, but it was necessary. He was always fidgety and in constant motion - it's largely the way he processes information. Things like fine motor development were delayed, but since he was my first child, I had no point of comparison. I didn't think of anything as 'problematic' until that toddler stage. Another thing that tipped us off around that time was that Gus had been acquiring language and vocabulary at a remarkable rate, but then he stopped for a while. That was the point when we started to see a lot of tantrums, and I started having trouble managing his behavior. But once he got into Early Intervention and was given some communication tools, the meltdowns became much less of an issue. So to answer that part of the question, we didn't know anything before Gus was born, there were signs almost immediately after he was born, but we didn't definitively know that he'd need some special help until he was about 2.

As for handling him (I'm not sure I always handle him so well), it's all been a learning process, and I've had a great deal of help. One thing that made a big difference for us was that my husband and I made the decision that I would spend the majority of my time at home with Gus (and later MM). This allowed me to really learn who he is and how to meet his needs. In addition to that, we've been very lucky with the professionals who have worked with Gus from teachers to pediatricians to therapists. When Gus was in his uncommunicative stage, a parent trainer (social worker from our school district) worked with me to help me manage my own reactions to his behavior. The support of family and friends has been a great help, and the network of autism bloggers I've come across over the past few years has been wonderful resource for information and support as well. So I can't take all the credit for learning how to deal with the challenges of Asperger's - it's been a real group effort, and I'm always refining my approach because my amazing boy changes constantly.

I hope that answers the question! If you have questions or would like to share similar experiences with your child, please feel free to chime in! Have a great weekend!

Thursday, May 28, 2009

Thankful It's Thursday

Asperger's, autism, book recommendations, affiliate links, family, parenting, Pokemon, safety, silliness, thankfulness, art
Because that means tomorrow is Friday! I had my post all mapped out in my head, and I really should have written it first thing this morning. But fear not - I think I can capture the essence of what I am thankful for today!

1. I am thankful that my sister-in-law and brother-in-law have safely completed their trek up Machu Picchu! I would have never told them before they left, but I was a little worried. Fortunately for me, I have learned to keep a lid on my anxiety over other people's activities, especially my own kids'. I'm sure many parents can relate to that!

How many times do we watch our kids doing something that we would swear is nothing short of lethal (like getting on the school bus in the morning) and swallow all our fears lest we raise a paranoid kid? The parenting manual said two paranoid people per family is the standard allowance. As our kids get older, and their activities get more dangerous (no way am I ever allowing my kids behind the wheel of anything bigger than a Tonka truck), it gets harder to keep our doom-mongering to ourselves, but we do it anyway. Last night I told my daughter I'd be walking her to the bus stop when she's a grown-up (she thought I was joking). And here's how I envision life with Gus a few short years from now:

My words: Maybe you should do that outside in case it spills? And put down some newspaper...remember to clean up when you're done! Have fun, honey!
My thoughts: He's going to mix those things together, blow up the neighborhood, and Boom! here comes the zombie apocalypse. And I just swept!

His words: I said I'd clean up, Mom! Stop nagging!
His thought: She probably thinks I'm going to cause a zombie apocalypse or something. I wonder if that could happen? Nah, she would have said something. Can't have zombies eating Mom's brains - who'd clean up the mess? What did those instructions say again?

I give the parentals-in-law lots of credit for not stifling SIL's adventurous spirit. Despite some mishaps, which apparently included a monsoon, the world travellers are safely in a Peruvian hotel chillin' out. Yay!

2. I am thankful for laughter and for things that make my kids laugh because kid laughter is just the best. Last night I was reading Gus a book about the Klondike Gold Rush [Gold in the Hills: A tale of the Klondike Gold Rush (Time Spies) by Candace Ransom], and some of the characters had some pretty hilarious names like Old Pancake and Blueberry Pete. Of course, any eight-year-old boy worth his salt will crumble into gales of giggles over names like that. Laughs before bed are always a good deal! I've decided that Gus will have to be renamed Pokemon Gus and I think I will probably end up with a name like Old Chocolate Chip.

3. I am thankful for Gus's art teacher! He came home yesterday with some amazing artwork

including a kente cloth he made, a stained glass painting and a Cezanne styled, textured landscape made (I think) on a plastic bag, which is going to have to go in a frame. Since Gus never draws or paints or anything at home (his choice) I never realized just how talented he is artistically. She's done a great job in bringing that out in him!

What are you thankful for today? Share it here in a comment and have a great day!

Disclosure: This post contains an affiliate link.

Wednesday, May 27, 2009

Time Article on ADHD

ADHD, Asperger's, autism, brain development, Least Restrictive Environment, medication, Pokemon, school, sensory issues, sensory integration disorder, studies, Time
Thanks to a Tweet by Dana Jonson, I saw this Time article entitled Kids with ADHD May Learn Better by Fidgeting. In essence, the article highlights a small but thorough study done by Mark Rapport that demonstrates when kids with ADHD are fidgeting, their brains are stimulated in a similar way as with stimulant medications. It seems that if they are allowed to fidget (obviously not to the point of climbing walls) they may actually focus better (even if that seems backwards to a teacher whose brain doesn't work the same way).

I love coming across studies like this because they validate what I've always known about Gus. From the time he was born, two things were very evident: he was extremely alert and taking everything in, and he was never still. Before he could walk, his little legs were always going. I remember trying to teach him to count when he was about 18 months old. Whenever I would ask him something or tell him something, he'd always run to the opposite end of our apartment and then come back with a response. Clearly, this was his way of processing information. So, this day when I worked on counting with him, I took a bunch of apples to the living room and gave them to him, one at a time. Each time he would run and put the apple in the kitchen and we counted up as he returned for the next one. He learned many things doing laps around our apartment.

One of the things I appreciate about his current school program is that when he needs to fidget or move around, he can communicate that to his teacher and be allowed to do so. Before coming into class, he might hop through the hall like a kangaroo to his seat. Then he can start his morning assignment. The movement seems to help a lot.

ADHD is only part of Gus's trouble with focus, because he also has a bunch of sensory integration issues, but ADHD is also the one that we've been advised on occasion to try to medicate. Maybe this study will bring about a shift away from medication and toward giving ADHD kids a little more freedom so their minds can work the way they're wired to. And maybe 'Least Restrictive Environment' might take on a more literal meaning.

And maybe now I won't feel so bad when I don't stop Gus from running the length of the house. He's just stimulating his brain!

*image from

Monday, May 25, 2009

Teaching Safe Cycling to the Wandering Aspie

affiliate links, Asperger's, aspie, autism, cycling, safety, sports

We went for a bike ride with the kids Saturday morning, and I gave some thought to the process we use when riding with him to keep him from accidentally harming himself or anyone else. Gus has the balance to ride a two-wheeler, but at this point, he's still a dangerous cyclist. Because he has such a hard time focusing, he is very unaware of anyone or anything around him. He tends to zigzag and weave along the path. It's actually frustrating for me to ride near him because he so often will swerve right in front of me, and if I'm not careful, I'll either plow into him or fall over or both. Obviously, we can't ride along a road or anything like that with him. Here are some of the strategies we use.

Choose places and times to ride that are the least congested

We've found a trail nearby that will give the kids a 3.5 mile ride, but sometimes (like Mother's Day in the afternoon) it can get a little busy. We went there yesterday at about 8:30 in the morning. That way, although there were still a few people, Gus had lots of space. He still had a close call with an older gentleman on a unicycle, but it was a mostly uneventful ride.

Ride alongside him so he develops the ability to ride in a straight line

Usually when I ride with Gus, I ride on his left and match his pace (usually frustrating and more on this later). My less stellar parenting skills tend to come out at those times, but it does make a difference, and I notice that he tends to stay straighter than when he's left on his own. The problem with this strategy is that we're not riding single file and I end up in people's way. There's also the tendency he has of suddenly getting too close and nearly knocking me over so I don't fall on him. But he improves each time we go out, so I'm trying to be patient about that.

Use a lower gear

I don't know why I never thought of this before. One of the things that was difficult for me riding with either of my kids is that they ride so much slower. I typically ride in a middle gear, but then it always felt like I was crawling. I've seen my husband get off his bike and walk because Gus was in meandering mode. But yesterday I got the idea to just use a lower gear. This allowed me to pedal and my usually rhythm without getting very far so I could pace the kids. It felt like a more enjoyable ride because of that.

Try a trailer or tow bar

I've been considering this option for quite a while, but the thing that stops me from getting a trailer like these (which I'm still considering – just have to figure out if they would work for us and for how long):

I am very seriously considering one of these tag-alongs, particularly the tow bar, which attached a regular child's bike to an adult bike. We'd still have some flexibility with that one, and Gus could ride until he was tired or until we got to an area that was unsafe for him (like crossing a road) and then get a tow. I'd also be able to do some longer rides with MM because she could go on Gus's bigger bike without having to worry about the size too much. Or maybe I'd just get two tow bars (as soon as I hit Lotto - I'll start playing right away). A friend of ours was considering getting the WeeRide style trailer for his daughter who has Arthrogryposis. She needs to exercise and strengthen her leg muscles, but tires easily. This would be a way for him to take her riding for some father-daughter bonding. Being able to handle longer distances with her family would give her self-esteem a boost as well. Lots of uses for these handy gadgets.

So I've offered a few tips for a safer ride with your special needs child. If you ride with your child, how do you teach them to follow safety rules?

Happy Memorial Day if you're in the US, and Happy Monday no matter where you are!

Disclosure: This post contains affiliate links.

Friday, May 22, 2009

Days Off CAN Be Peaceful!

Asperger's, autism, days off, gardening, outings, Pokemon, tomato plant
The kids had off today for the holiday weekend, and I was a little worried about what we'd do because it was supposed to be very hot today. We started our day with french toast, which they'd earned by getting dressed with a minimum of fuss (Gus didn't even need to be asked today). We went to the nursery to get some deer repellent and fertilizer stuff for our plants. We ended up with a new tomato plant. MM named the new one Aim (short for Aimee I later learned).

After getting home with our new friend, I realized I had no way to hang the hanging vines. So we had lunch and then headed back out to the hardware store for hooks and a chain. I have to say, the kids were very good in both stores. We went over the rules in the car each time and I asked that they keep their hands to themselves. I also pointed out that we would be around living things and we wouldn't want to hurt them by accidentally knocking anything over. Seemed to work.

Gus's tomato (who does not have a name) has gotten too big for the kitchen, so we've relocated it outside (thus the deer repellent, which by the way stinks to high heaven, as my mom used to say).

Gus stayed inside most of the afternoon playing Pokemon, but came out to play with the kids with water guns and the neighbor's hose. By the time he came out, most of the kids had gone, but he still had a good time.

All in all, a better than average day! How was yours? Leave a comment and if you've got a sec, please vote in my sidebar poll! Have a great weekend!

Thursday, May 21, 2009

Thursday Thankfulness

Asperger's, autism, book recommendations, childrens theater, friends, gardening, outings, Pokemon, school, thankfulness, tomato plant, exercise, parenting
I know it looks like I've been slacking, and that's probably because I have. After being cooped up for the fall and winter (which to me all equates to 'winter' once it drops below 40 degrees) I've been like a big kid, wanting to be out in the open air as much as possible. So you'll probably notice that I've only been posting a few times a week. That'll change come the fall, but I will definitely keep up my Thursdays - they're good for morale! This week I am thankful for:

My tomato plant which is not only still alive after the transplanting, but growing at a frightful rate! I would have felt awful if I'd killed it. Now we just have to figure out what to do when it starts to reach the ceiling, as my father-in-law wisely pointed out. I'm envisioning some sort of Jack and the Beanstalk-esque post coming before the end of the summer.

I am thankful that Gus's field trip was a success! Monday, we went on an epic journey, to the wilds of Queens, NY to see a production of Alexander and the Terrible, Horrible, No Good, Very Bad Day. Originally, the whole family was going to attend the trip, but MM decided to stay home with her dad instead of taking the 2+ hour bus ride each way. So I had the rare chance to spend some time with Gus. The show was a blast. I never got the name of the actress who was playing Alexander, but I have to say it was exhausting just watching her. She never stood still for a second on the stage - I've never seen an adult with that much energy (and living with my husband, that's saying quite a bit)! And she had to sing! I don't know how she didn't pass out, but she was amazing. The show held lots of laughs and was totally worth the ride. The trip back was entertaining for me as well. At one point, Gus was seated behind his friend who is also a Pokemon expert. I had brought one of Gus's Pokemon encyclopedias to keep him from getting too antsy on the trip. The boy in front started passing back notes about the Pokemon DS game and then would ask Gus to turn to a specific Pokemon in the book and then pass the book through that space between the window and the seat. Then I'd hear, "Aw, that one looks great!" or something similar. This went on for well over half an hour. Hilarious! More importantly, I got to see Gus bonding with a friend. Priceless.

I am thankful that it's nice out so that I can go for a bike ride as soon as I finish this post. One thing I've noticed is that I've got a lot more patience when I a) do something for myself once in a while and b) get exercise c) get out of the house. It seems like this should be so simple as to be unworthy of mentioning, but any parent, especially those who work from home, can attest that it is often hard to pull yourself away and trust that the world won't stop turning when you stop turning the crank. I'm still not convinced, but the sun is out and telling me to be a little selfish. So if the world stops because I'm not sitting at my computer working, or doing laundry, or any of the other 3,950,242,538,408 things I need to do in the next hour...blame it on the sun. I'm out of here!

What are you thankful for today?

Tuesday, May 19, 2009

What Would You Like to See in an Autism E-book?

Asperger's, autism, e-book, opinions,
Hi there, readers! I've had the notion to write an e-book about what I've learned over the years about living with an autistic child - sort of an extended 'tips for parents' kind of thing. But before I move on to the next step, I'd love to hear from you. What topics would be most useful to you? Would you like to read about more practical things like prepping for IEP meetings, or would you be more interested in strategies for keeping your sanity when it's packed up and is waving at you from the doorway? Maybe a bit of both? I though of putting up a poll (and still may at a later point in time) but it seems a little limiting, especially coming from someone who hates being limited.

So, please share your thoughts and I'll thank you in advance! Have a great day!

*Image from

Sunday, May 17, 2009

The Autistic Child and Social Functions – Preparation is the Key to Success

Asperger's, autism, crowds, friends, growing, meltdowns, outings, party, planning, Pokemon, preparation, soccer, social events, social skills

Social functions can be a nightmare for parents of a child with autism (and for the child for that matter). But they don't have to be. With enough planning and preparation, your child can attend those functions with relatively few problems. Yesterday, we took Gus to an engagement party for a good friend of ours. I'll be honest – I had a knot in my stomach from last week until well after we had gotten to the party, which had about 50 or so people present and is usually a recipe for disaster. But he did just fine. Now, let me point out that Gus's age and the amount of education and behavioral training he's received for the last 6 years made a big difference. If we had taken him to a similar party 3 years ago, we would have had a much different experience. So the first thing to consider is where your child is developmentally. If you can realistically give your child a 50/50 chance of success, then go for it. But if you know your child is just really not ready to stretch his wings, maybe it's best to wait.

Know and Prepare the Environment

I almost never take Gus to places that are completely foreign to us. If we're going to a new place, like yesterday, I do some homework ahead of time to get an idea of what he can get into and what we'll be dealing with. We knew about how many people would be attending the party and that the number was likely more than he could manage, so a few conversations with our friend solved that problem. He very kindly agreed to set up a game system for Gus away from the party area so that Gus wouldn't be overwhelmed. We also knew that the area was not fenced in (we had to be on alert that he could elope very easily), and that there would be 2 dogs outside. This prior knowledge allowed us to plan for two major issues ahead of time. Our friend also let his family (our hosts) know about Gus's challenges, and that was a big help because there was less pressure on us about offending the hosts by being upstairs most of the time (for the most part one of us was at the party at any given time – more on that later). I think it was helpful for them as well because it took the guesswork out of why that little boy was holed up in that room, or why he kept running laps around the house before going back up to the room, or why we had to be so on-top of him. I have found that when we are up front with people about Gus's situation, they have tended to be understanding and helpful. Sometimes they still don't get it, but since our friend knows Gus pretty well, he knew exactly what we would be dealing with.

Prepare Yourself and Your Child

We did a few things to prep Gus about the party. For one thing, he had some choices about what we would bring for him and whether or not we'd go to soccer first or just skip it (we skipped). We gave him plenty of time to get used to the idea that there would be dogs and reassured him about that. On the trip there, as we usually do, we went over the rules and expectations. For ourselves, we made sure we had plenty of snacks, movies and games to keep him busy. We also use a sort of tag—team system for these situations to share the responsibility of watching the kids. You may have wondered where MM was in all this. Although she is 'neurotypical' we still prepare her the same way we prepare Gus. But she usually can be given a little more freedom, and she spent most of the party making friends with the other kids and playing outside. So we kept switching off – one of us would stay with Gus and the other would mingle and keep an eye on MM. Gus even ventured out several times to walk around and then went back to his game. Neither of us was being too rude and each got to enjoy the party a little.

Use the Objects of Obsession to Your Advantage

When deciding what to bring to keep Gus entertained it was really a no-brainer, but I'll mention it anyway. We brought a bunch of games, and our friend brought his Wii, but there was no way we were leaving the Pokémon games behind. We could have made the mistake of just letting Gus play whatever Wii games our friend had, but thankfully, we didn't. Gus got frustrated with the new games, and if that was all we had to work with, we would have had a major problem. With the Pokémon game, however, he was more than happy to play it for most of the 5 hours we were there (yes, you read that number right – I was surprised we lasted that long too). I was even able to leave him alone for a few minutes at a time to get him food or to check on the party.

Be Flexible and Know When to Call it Quits

For people on the spectrum, it can take more energy to regulate themselves that for the average person, and Gus is no different. We always have to be aware of when his reserves of self-control are starting to slip. What I've learned is that when I see those signs, we have to go and people just have to understand. We used to try to stay until at events until it was 'polite' to leave – usually after dessert, but that is a good way to ask for a meltdown. Better to cut the losses – people appreciate not having a scene much more than having you eat dessert, I think. As I mentioned before, Gus wanted to go outside every now and them and for the most part, he stuck to the rule of staying at the party. But when I saw that he didn't want to sit and eat, and then started wandering into the next property, I knew he was done. As much as I hate to 'eat and run' that's pretty much what we did, because he can lose it pretty quickly. By the time I was getting him to the car, he'd started struggling with me to start running around, and he'd stopped listening. Staying, at that point, would have been dumb on our parts (which I know from first hand experience).

Even the Way We Party Isn't Typical Anymore

So we've had to make some refinements to the way we socialize when we take the kid with us. We can't just go to a party and hang out with friends while the kids run around and entertain themselves. But whereas we used to just take them places and be miserable chasing after a very wound up Gus, we're learning how to make the situation more manageable for everyone. And as he grows and matures, he's able to handle more for longer periods of time. Yesterday, he even petted and played with the dogs once he saw how calm and well-behaved they were. It's gotten better. We're still not ready for Disney World, but give us another few years.

*painting by Albert Chevalier Tayler

Thursday, May 14, 2009

Thankfulness Thursday

Asperger's, autism, book recommendations, difference, gardening, quirks, fine motor skills, thankfulness, silliness
Good afternoon, reader! It's a beautiful, rainy day here but that will not stop us from being grateful that we're still breathing, right? Of course not! Here's what I'm feeling thankful for today:

  • I am thankful that my finger is almost better (at least I'm telling myself it is because then I can ignore all the people who keep advising me to get it X-rayed). I've been able to get it out of the splint for long periods today. It keeps swelling back up, so that's probably not the best idea. Using it to type seems particularly problematic, but...well, take my word for it - it's almost better. That's the story I'm sticking to. Moving on...
  • I am thankful that I am sometimes just as quirky as Gus. Not only does it help me to understand him, but it also gives me a good excuse when I do things that other people might give me strange looks for. The example would be how I spent part of my morning: gardening. What's weird about that? It was raining. Not just drizzling or pouring, but it was fully raining - drops bouncing off the blacktop and everything. My neighbor came out to get his newspaper and gave me that look that said, "what the hell is she doing?" I was planting. It occurred to me that a lot of people do their planting when it's nice out, but then complain when they get all hot and sweaty because the sun's beating down on them. Anyway, I planted some flowers that I bought this morning (before it rained) and transplanted my tomato plant. I found out that they are Better Boy tomatoes, by the way. It helped that we have a pretty deep overhang on the house, so I wasn't getting drenched, but I could see myself planting out back if it wasn't raining too hard as long as I had a raincoat and hood. What do you think? Would you garden in the rain or am I nuts?
  • I am thankful for the Magic Tree House series of books by Mary Pope Osborne. I've learned some interesting things from these books. The latest Monday with a Mad Genius was all about Leonardo DaVinci.

    Osborne mentioned DaVinci's mirror writing, and now guess who's interested in learning to do that? Anything that helps my kids, who both have trouble with fine motor skills, to gain strength and control with their hands is a good deal. Sure, I'll be building confusion with letter direction at the same time, but really, let's just look at the positives for now!
Clearly, I'm feeling a little silly this afternoon, but a little silliness is good for the soul especially on a rainy day. What are you thankful for today?

Disclosure: This post contains an affiliate link.

Wednesday, May 13, 2009

Update on Burt's Bees for Eczema

Asperger's, autism, Burt's Bees Apricot Oil, eczema,
Not too long ago, I posted about how I have started using Burt's Bees Apricot oil for Gus's eczema. Now that I've been able to observe the results for a couple of weeks, I wanted to point out a couple of things.

It seems to work really well for mild to moderate cases of eczema. For more severe cases, it does help and has greatly lessened the latest flareup, but there is still a little bit of a rash trying to take hold. So my guess is that I'll be using the steroid cream, but much less than I normally would.

Another interesting thing I'm noticing is that the parts of Gus that have been covered at night (i.e. his legs since he's been wearing long pajamas with short-sleeved pj shirts) are doing better than the uncovered parts - arms and hands in MM's case. For Gus at least, this presents a slight problem, because the hotter he gets, the worse the rashes get, so I can't cover his arms as it gets warmer. Pretty soon, he'll be wearing shorts as well, so I'm curious to see how the backs of his legs do then.

I still stand by my opinion that the apricot oil is working better than anything else we've tried, but it does have its limitations.

Monday, May 11, 2009

The Gift Beneath the Mother's Day Present

Asperger's, autism, empathy, gardening, growing, mistakes, Mother's Day, nature, social skillsLast Thursday, Gus's school had a plant sale for Mother's Day. I gave him $20 and told him he could spend up to $5 on whatever he wanted if he saw something he liked. That afternoon, he came home with a 2 foot tall plant - a tomato plant to be precise - and handed it to me along with change. If you've read about our past adventures with tomato plants, you'll understand the deep significance of such a gift.

I wrote a note to his teacher the next day to find out if someone had perhaps suggested to him that it might be nice to replace the (now completely dead) tomato plant we were trying to grow. Nope. He picked out the plant all on his own (and by the way, stayed within his budget, which is something I probably would not have done).

What has this told me? Gus may not be meeting some of the social goals on his IEP, but the work and social skills training that happens every day, here and at school, are getting through to him. I always knew that he had empathy, but he's also learning to be considerate of others and to correct his mistakes. I told a friend about my gift and she mused that many grown men - even the neurotypical ones - wouldn't have been so considerate.

So as sweet as the plant was, I really loved the deeper gift of knowing that Gus really is gaining those skills that he'll need to function in the world. It's been a struggle and there will be many, many more struggles, but a plant showed me a sign that all the hardship has never been for nothing. Every day he gets a little better, grows a little more, and I think he's going to be all right.

Sunday, May 10, 2009

Pseudo Post

I've had a post in my head for 3 days now and haven't had 2 minutes to sit down and post it. so why am I not just posting it now? Because it's Mother's Day and I am (sort of) taking the day off! Just stopped by to wish all my friends across the blogosphere a Happy Mother's Day!!

I'll be back tomorrow with the actual post! Enjoy!

Thursday, May 7, 2009

Thursday Thankfulness and A New Layout

Asperger's, autism, birthday, family, friends, sensory integration disorder, thankfulness, toy recommendations
Hello all! Notice anything new? I've been toying with my layout this morning - what do you think?

Today I am thankful for:
  1. Three Column Blogger for a wonderfully easy tutorial on adding a third column to a Blogger blog. I'm definitely a DIY type of person so I was thrilled that I could do this on my own. I'm hoping to add in some tabbed pages as well for blogrolls, just to keep things tidy. I'm feeling quite accomplished this morning!
  2. I am thankful for being so slow to throw things out. This morning, hidden in the invoice from my last tea order, I found a sample of a tea blossom from Adagio teas. It's whole leaf tea wrapped around a little flower. Aside from being quite good, I can't express the entertainment value of one of those things! It had to steep for 5 minutes; BOTH my kids stood still for at least 3 of those minutes watching it unfold. Completely mesmerizing. I may order some just for those days when everyone is bouncing off the walls! Conversely, I am thankful that we have the bulk dumpster this week because I got rid of some things I've been dying to throw out. It may take me a while, but getting rid of clutter is sure liberating.
  3. I am thankful for the creativity and insight of Gus & MM's aunts and uncles (even if they don't realize just how creative and insightful they are). I almost never give very useful guidance as to what to get the kids for their birthdays or holidays, etc., yet our extended family members always come up with the most awesome things. Some of the big hits lately have been: an anatomy game called Skeletons in the Closet and a 14' jump rope. Why were these great gifts? Well, Aspies tend to be great learners and fond of facts. So educational games or books often go over well. Uncle C, who gave the kids the Skeletons game, has also hit home runs with animal encyclopedias, a globe, and a book about the Way Things Work. The jump rope is just plain fun, but also good for developing coordination and generally getting in some exercise. Jumping also provides sensory input for those kids who need it. So, my sister gets props for that one!
What toys or games are your favorites for kids on the spectrum?

Tuesday, May 5, 2009

Burt's Bees for Eczema?

allergies, Asperger's, autism, eczema, siblings, reviews,  product reviews, Burt's Bees Apricot Oil
I may have mentioned in the past that Gus suffers from terrible eczema all summer long. Our recent brief heat wave caused a lovely, bumpy red flareup and he has been itchy ever since. I think I have tried about everything possible over the years: steroid creams and ointments, petroleum jelly, pure aloe vera gel, sesame oil, diet, oatmeal baths... You name it; we've tried it. We've typically had the best results with a combination of Aveeno lotion and petroleum jelly over it, but for a number of reasons I've kept searching for something to relieve the eczema that isn't petroleum based. I believe I may have found just the thing.

At one of the natural markets in our area, I had a conversation with a couple of the clerks about the situation. Initially I went in looking for Vitamin E oil. The problem we usually have with oil formulations is that many of them contain some sort of almond or other nut oils, which Gus's skin reacts to (he can eat nuts, just can't wear them). So I was leery about the Vitamin E (with almond oil). The clerk suggested Burt's Bees Apricot Oil and said that it worked wonders for her grandchild's eczema. It was pricey, but I thought it worth a shot.

I've used it only a couple of times on Gus - right after his bath at night and I've been amazed. Both times his skin was almost completely clear by the next morning. But since the weather also cooled off, I didn't want to get too excited. Then I tried it on MM last night. Because it cooled down, her rashes suddenly flared to the point that she had broken the skin on her wrist from scratching at school yesterday (yeah - the flareups come that fast). I rubbed her down with the apricot oil last night and the spot she'd scratched raw was not completely healed, but it was much, much better. The rash on the backs of her hands - almost completely gone. I'm convinced!

The only minor downside, and this is only for Gus, is that the oil is quite sweet smelling. Pretty is an appropriate description. The smell isn't bothering him; he just smells...pretty. But I'm confident that my 8 year old is secure enough in his boyhood to handle it, especially if it stops that darned itching without the greasy feeling of the other stuff!

Have you tried this oil for eczema? How has it worked for you?

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