Discover what video games have taught a mom about living with autism! via jennyherman.com

What Minecraft & Angry Birds Go! Taught Me About Living With Autism

Those of us who do not have autism cannot understand what living with autism is like. After all, we can’t get inside another person’s head or body. But recently I’ve discovered I can get a feeling for what it’s like. Thanks to Minecraft and Angry Birds Go! I’ve had a little peek into the autism world.

  • My son with autism is a Minecraft expert. He can talk to you for hours about Minecraft, and he understands it. For me, it’s like he is talking a different language. Sometimes my eyes glaze over and I feel myself hearing Charlie Brown’s teacher, even though I want to understand. I imagine that is what it is like for some of our friends living with autism. They want to understand social cues, they want to be able to communicate with others. It’s just not working for them.
  • When I play Angry Birds Go! with my boys, I feel very out of control. The go carts race down the virtual track and I stink at steering. I end up crashing. I go upside down. I’ve even gone backwards down the track. It’s a very disconcerting feeling. Think about those living with autism. There are lots of things they can’t control every day. Consider living with that stress all the time!
  • I’m pretty bad at navigating inside Minecraft and I already told you how horrible I am at steering in Angry Birds Go! Working inside these games gives me another perspective of my autistic son’s sensory issues. I have to turn the music down so I can concentrate. I experience motion sickness watching him move quickly through Minecraft or doing the loop on the Angry Birds Go! stunt track. What if your sensory issues didn’t go away? What if you were always unsure of your balance, or voices made your ears hurt? What if eating simple foods made you want to gag? What if you couldn’t stand being touched and the slightest bump set you on edge? For many folks living with autism, that’s how it is every day, every hour.
  • When my son gets to talk about Minecraft with someone else, you can see the excitement. Someone is interested in him. They’re speaking his language, so to speak, by allowing him to talk about one of his favorite things. Minecraft gives him a bridge, a way to make friends and have something to discuss, something to do together. It always helps to have a common interest, doesn’t it?

I have to say, I never expected to learn about autism from video games. These experiences have given me some valuable insights into my son’s life with autism. Where have you found unexpected lessons?

To see 27 other things I’ve learned from being an autism parent, click here.

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Click to see what one special needs mom says about various quotes! via jennyherman.com

“Say Goodbye to Survival Mode”, “God Doesn’t Give You More Than You Can Handle” and Other Things Special Needs Parents Want to Laugh At

Friday was one of those days. I woke up discouraged about a project. I started thinking about other things and anxiety crept in. I had to get ready for a weekend family trip. I made a packing list with the boys so they could learn how to pack for themselves. Of course then we get into other things.

Anxiety kept building as I found new steps to add to my list. Before I could pack I had to vacuum out my bag (long story). Before I could do laundry I had to shower so I could wash the clothes I was wearing. Before I could…

While vacuuming, I hit the ceiling fan with the nozzle as I moved the vacuum to get spider webs, and dust balls rained down on me. I went to change laundry and something had shredded all over the clothes in the washer.

I kept mulling over the things on my mind and my anxiety level increased. Intermittently a child needed to ask me this or that seemingly unimportant question. I had to wash some of my husband’s dress shirts in the bathroom sink because the washing machine has been making them look worse than when they go in…

And I still hadn’t… (more…)

Click to see the surprising benefs this lady has found from being an #autism mom! via jennyherman.com

Surprise Benefits of Being an Autism Mom

Seven years ago I became an autism mom. I drowned in information and was overwhelmed by my child’s needs and delays. I’m pretty sure I never imagined the progress my son with autism would make. He’s come so far!

Though there are still many challenging days, I have found some benefits from being an autism mom that I did not expect. If you’re in the special needs trenches like I am, and you’re having a rough patch, I hope this list of benefits will help you find some silver linings.

  • I’ve become stronger and resilient.
  • Because of my own autism journey, I can help others understand.
  • I am able to use what I’ve learned to help other kids.
  • God has taught me ways to help my son, enabling me to lead a special needs class at church so other parents can go to church.
  • I’ve learned to be more understanding of what is going on when I see situations in public.
  • Due to what I’ve been through, I am able to offer support to other autism and special needs parents.
  • I can help neighbors and their families and friends.
  • Through my blog, I can share what has helped me, thereby helping others.
  • My experience gives me the ability to help other kids at events.
  • I’ve learned to advocate for my autistic son and others.

Though this post is short, I hope it has big impact. Special needs parent, your trials and challenges give you the power to help others. You may not have realized it, but they do.

I’m curious. Has this brought something to your mind? Have you realized a benefit from your role as autism parent? I’d love to hear in the comments!

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Discover How 99 Cents Can Change Your Life

When I was in my 20’s, I had the privilege of hearing Elisabeth Elliot speak. At the time, I didn’t realize I’d need her story fifteen or so years down the road.

Mrs. Elliot shared her story. She relayed how her husband and some other men who were missionaries to a dangerous tribe of Auca Indians were brutally murdered. Of course the next day she woke up in grief and shock. If I remember correctly, she said her daughter was two years old. Mrs. Elliot wondered what she and the other now-single women with children would do.

I can’t even imagine. (more…)

Discover why this #autism mom tried a #gfcf diet for her son! via jennyherman.com

5 Reasons I Tried a Gluten-Free Casein-Free Diet for My Son with Autism (and What Happened)

Wow, I can’t believe it’s been almost seven years since I started down the autism road! Back then my son was three-and-a-half years old. He didn’t really care if people were around. He walked diagonally down the hallway and sometimes ran into the wall. Pretending was not party of his 3 year-old life. His sense of hearing and sensitivity to touch were off the charts, plus much more.

When you’re new to the autism world, you can drown in facts and suggestions. Your mind shuts down from information overload. There are so many therapies, treatments, specialists, needs to get diagnosed…it is more than overwhelming.

In my research I discovered the “GFCF” (Gluten-free, casein-free) diet. Here’s the short explanation: Some people have reactions to various proteins. These reactions can cause many of the behaviors evidenced in people with autism, ADD, and other diagnoses. Gluten, the protein in wheat, barley and rye, and casein, the protein in cow’s milk, are among the top culprits. When you remove these foods, the brain can function better.

(Please note I am not a doctor, I am simply condensing it into laymen’s terms and sharing my personal experience.)

So, why would I bother trying such a treatment for my autistic son’s sensory and behavioral issues? (more…)

Click to read more about the Autism Alliance of Michigan! via jennyherman.com

Autism Alliance of Michigan: Helping Families with Autism Succeed

One of the thing that excites me as an autism mom is meeting those who are making an effort to make life better for autism families. This month the Autism Alliance of Michigan (AAOM) partnered with various Michigan attractions to help them offer Sensory Friendly Saturdays. I met some of the ladies when I attended two events. They were all extremely friendly and happy to chat. I decided to learn a little more about AAOM. Thanks to Tammy and Emma for helping me with this interview!

How did Autism Alliance of Michigan start? (more…)

Click for 9 easy things to do when you feel like you can't relax! via jennyherman.com

9 Simple Things to Do When You Can’t Relax

Are you like me? Two or three years ago I realized I am rarely relaxed. I happened to notice my hands were somewhat clenched and I wasn’t in the middle of an argument or anything. They were just down by my side in a partial fist. Special needs parents are “on” almost all of the time. You may not be a special needs parent, but you’re dealing with financial challenges, health issues, job stress, or many other stressors or a combination of them. You may think, “Relax? You’ve got to be kidding me!”

No, I’m not. There are some ways that we can get our bodies to at least unwind a little, if not fully relax. Here are nine things I’ve done that have helped my body calm down. (more…)

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