Come on over and discover some new articles to read! via jennyherman.com

For My Readers: New People to Read

Happy Monday, friends! Today is the last day of Darren Rowse’s Blogging Groove challenge. If you’ve missed the rest of my posts from this challenge, here you go…

Day 1: List (Ironically, I wrote this one the day before I knew about the challenge, and it fit!) “7 Reasons I Homeschool My Child with Special Needs Instead of Sending Him to School

Day 2: FAQ, “How Do You Deal with Those Who Think You Shouldn’t Homeschool Your Child with Special Needs?”

Day 3: Review, “The Special Needs SCHOOL Survival Guide

Day 4: Story, “The Day My Son with Autism Broke My Heart

Day 5: How-To, “How to Be a Friend to an Autism Parent During a Child’s Meltdown

Day 6: Discussion Starter, “How Do You Do Special Needs Therapy at Home?

Do you know what one of the best parts of the challenge has been? Meeting new bloggers and seeing the different ways people respond to blog post challenges–the variety of topics and twists.

I’ve come across some posts that I thought you might like. They all relate to my readers in one way or another. Let me know which one interests you the most!

  • When I read this post by an autism mum in Australia, it struck me how much alike we special needs parents are. Though each of our children have different challenges, we experience many of the same things.
  • I know many of my readers like alternatives to chemical cleaners. Over at the Hippy Home, you can learn about non-toxic cleaners.
  • Many of you are busy parents like me. I don’t know about you, but because I work from home and my job uses the computer, I feel like I’m on the computer much of the day. I often feel like I’m neglecting my boys. I love the Post-It Note idea in this post idea in this post on saying yes to our kids and no to distractions!

There’s a new kid on the special needs homeschooling block, and I hope you’ll click on over and say hello. To get an idea for her voice, read this post on why she chose to homeschool her son with severe autism.

It’s your turn! Which one of those new-to-me posts did you enjoy the most? Tell me in the comments!

Join the discussion! Tell us how YOU provide therapy at home for your child with special needs! via jennyherman.com

Join the Discussion: How Do You Do Special Needs Therapy at Home?

The other day I published a post titled 7 Reasons I Homeschool My Child with Special Needs Instead of Sending Him to School. In five days it had over 2,600 views. Wow!

One of the roadblocks for people who want to homeschool their special needs child is school services. Many parents doubt their ability to provide the needed therapy for their child.

So, here’s my question for you today, and really you don’t have to be a homeschooler to answer it.

What therapy do you do at home for your child with special needs? There are all kinds of therapies out there–percolate and ponder for a minute. You may be doing therapy and not even realize it!

I’d love to start a discussion in the comments. I am going to be writing a blog post about this later on. I’d love to hear what therapies you do, how you do them, what your favorite resources are, etc.

Thanks for joining the discussion! Your answers will help others. I know it.

I’ve got a super-duper ebook of survival tips for special needs parents! I’ll send it to you FOR FREE! Just click the button below.

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Get 5 tips for being a friend to an autism parent! via jennyherman.com

How to Be a Friend to an Autism Parent During a Child’s Meltdown

Years ago, a friend did something for me as an autism mom that I’ll never forget. Following a meeting, she took me to pick up my boys from a sitter. My son with autism was not ready to leave. He was young then and transitions were still hard for him. Things fell apart. I could barely get him into her van. Throughout the meltdown, she remained calm and quiet. She didn’t yell at him to sit down. She didn’t try to tell me what to do. She just calmly put the van in drive and drove the less than a quarter mile to get us home.

My son still in meltdown mode, she grabbed backpacks and my youngest. Still calm, she took stuff to the door of our apartment building. She never made me feel badly about the situation. Her calm enabled me to stress less. I knew I didn’t have to worry what she was thinking. It was a gift.

How can you be a good friend to an autism parent during a meltdown?

  • Just like my friend, remain calm during meltdowns or other intense situations. Almost every child, special needs or not, has a meltdown at one time or another. It’s just part of life. Your composed demeanor allows your friend to focus on what needs to be done.
  • Help. If it is a situation like an all-out falling apart, do what you know would help–pick up items that need to go home, hold the hand of a younger sibling and walk them wherever they need to go, get a child’s comfort item, etc. If you don’t know what would help and it is possible, just ask, “How can I help?” Sometimes you might not be able to ask, but a simple face gesture or mouthing of words could work. Note: If your friend says there’s nothing for you to do, be okay with that.
  • Don’t tell your friend how to handle a situation. Unless you’ve experienced something similar and you have a good rapport with your friend, don’t say anything. Definitely don’t say anything in the middle of a challenge.
  • Don’t try to take over a situation. The more people and voices added to a situation, the more the child with autism spirals into fight or flight mode. If a bunch of people are talking, he cannot hear his parent’s voice. He needs less noise, not more. Of course, if you are part of a pre-established exit plan, that is a different story.
  • Offer encouragement. A smile, a hug, a “you’re doing great” strengthens your friend while she works through the challenging moments. Bringing a cup of coffee or sending a quick text encourages her when she wants to cry.

Do you know that those five suggestions have in common? They’re not hard. They’re not expensive. With these simple tips, you , too, can be a good friend to an autism parent when their child has a meltdown.

Are you an autism parent? How has someone helped you, during a meltdown or otherwise? Tell me in the comments!

I’ve got a super-duper ebook of 75 survival tips for special needs parents! Get it…FOR FREE! Just click the button below.

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Click to read this autism mom's story! via jennyherman.com

The Day My Son with Autism Broke My Heart

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Communication represents a big challenge for most people on the autism spectrum. For some, they seem quite capable of communicating, but it is extremely difficult for them. Others are considered non-verbal, and some folks fall somewhere in between. So when my son with autism opens up for a few minutes, I stop and pay attention.

Two or three weeks ago I thought I’d go sit next to my son while he played Minecraft. I don’t remember exactly now, but I think I asked him to tell me about what he was doing. He started talking and then he said the words that both broke my heart and made me excited.

“I might be better at video game life than real life.”

Oh, my heart. Now here’s the catch. I can jump all over that and get in his space and he’ll shut down (which I’ve learned from many mistakes). Or, I could go the casual route and see if I could get him to say anything else.

For once I was able to control myself and say something like, “Yeah? What makes you say that?”

And what made me excited was that he actually answered me! Lately he’s been afraid to answer questions because he doesn’t want to give a wrong answer, even when we tell him there’s no wrong answer. It can be a little taxing to say the least.

He told me how in real life he can’t communicate well and that he deals with bullies.

I was so proud of him for being able to get that out. I pointed out that sometimes what seems like bullying is an energetic child who can’t stay out of someone else’s space (something we deal with around here). That’s as far as I got. He wouldn’t tell me about other bullying other than it isn’t physical.

And that’s ok. I told my hubby because sometimes he can get stuff out that I can’t. We’ll keep an eye on things and patiently wait for the day when he can say more.

So in one sentence my son broke my heart and made me want to cheer. I understand video games are so much easier to deal with than people. I know it wears him out to try to explain himself. Even though my son has made tremendous progress and “doesn’t look autistic”, his challenges are very real.

I know I’m not the only parent in this situation, a parent who has a verbal child who can’t talk. Hang in there. You are not alone.

It’s really hard to coax and coach our verbal kids who have communication challenges. Do you have something that helps you? Tell me about it!

I’m putting together a super-duper ebook of survival tips for special needs parents! My newsletters subscribers will be the first to get it…FOR FREE! Just click the button below to sign up and you’ll be in the know.

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Discover what to expect your first year homeschooling a child with special needs! via jennyherman.com

7 Things To Expect In Your First Year Homeschooling A Child With Special Needs

I am super excited to introduce you to Gabriella Volpe today! If you are a special needs homeschooler, you need to check out her site. Today she’s going to share with you what to expect in your first year of homeschooling a child with special needs.

If you’re embarking on this homeschooling voyage with a child with special needs for the first time this year, here are tips based on what I learned in my first year as a homeschooler. (more…)

Read on to see how to deal with people who think you shouldn't homeschool your child with special needs. via jennyherman.com

FAQ: How Do You Deal With Those Who Think You Shouldn’t Homeschool Your Child With Special Needs?

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Though homeschooling has become more mainstream over the past few years, there are still those who will ask you why you homeschool your child with special needs. Some will ask, listen, and thank you for your reply. Others will come back with some sort of criticism. One reader asks,

“How do you deal with less than understanding responses and attitudes (complaints) from people you and your child will be around regularly? At what point do you just NOT explain or ask for accommodation, and just try to be diplomatic?”

Good question!

(more…)

Click over to discover why one autism mom homeschools her child! via jennyherman.com

7 Reasons I Homeschool My Child with Special Needs Instead of Sending Him to School

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When my son was three-and-a-half, I took him for an evaluation through the local school district. The social worker said to me, “I understand why you’re concerned, but I can’t check off enough boxes for autism. His coping skills are good enough for now. My recommendation is to put him in a regular preschool room. Either they’ll never know he’s in the building, or his world will fall apart.”

His world fell apart.

It was probably the worst six weeks of our lives. Too much noise and too many kids overwhelmed my son’s system, turning him into someone else. I made the tough decision to put him into the developmental delay prechool room in the district.

It worked. A smaller class with a higher adult-to-child ratio provided my son with a better setting. BUT

But as is common with many kids on the autism spectrum, the teacher got the great kid and I dealt with the fallout. The second year was rough. Getting him onto the bus–a one-hour ride for a few miles–and dealing with him after school challenged me. I basically had to leave him alone for an hour after school to let him decompress. He eventually started bring home regressive behaviors.

I never intended to homeschool my children, despite my experience as an elementary classroom teacher. That year, when the regressive behaviors became too much, we pulled my son.

This is why I homeschool my son with special needs… (more…)

What can you do when special needs siblings have opposite sensory needs? Click to get ideas at jennyherman.com.

Special Needs Siblings: When Opposite Sensory Needs React

A little while ago, Shawna of Not the Former Things wrote a post for my readers about special needs siblings. Many parents stopped by. I think they felt that she understood what they were going through. I sure did. Which brings me to another episode of As the Special Needs Siblings Turn.

I know I’m supposed to stretch my child and push him to deal with sensory issues. But here’s the rub. When another child is involved, how far do you push? How often? At what expense?

This came up again the other day when I tried to teach spelling together. My youngest is a good speller and has reached the point he can be at the same point in All About Spelling as his brother. I thought this would save me some time.

Nope.

The first day we tried it was a lesson day, where you walk through a new spelling rule, practice on the board, etc. Their sensory needs and personalities clashed and I needed a chocolate IV.

So, I thought surely I could do the spelling practice days together. All it requires is telling them a word, phrase, or sentence, they repeat, and then write it. Once again the sensory needs clashed. Youngest is a mover, a shaker, a music maker. He’s tapping his pencil while he writes. “Please stop it.” Tap. “PLEASE stop it.” Tap, tap. “I SAID PLEASE STOP IT!” To put it nicely, it went downhill from there.

Of course, trying to talk it out didn’t work. I’ll spare you the details. Let’s just say sometimes I feel like my life could be titled Clash of the Titans.

I know I’m not the only special needs parent dealing with this. How do you deal with the differing needs of special needs siblings? HOW?

Sigh. The next day in The Loving Push, Drs. Grandin and Moore tell me, “You need to know your child’s rhythms so that you can plan ahead. The worst time to try to push your child out of their comfort zone is when they are already annoyed or distressed. Find a time they are rested, not hungry, and not overwhelmed by sensory input.” (p. 71) Yeah, so trying on a full moon Monday is probably not my best bet. (You can learn more about  The Loving Push here. That’s an affiliate link, so if you choose to purchase anything, I make a small commission at no cost to you. Thank you for your support.).

Sometimes special needs siblings have opposing sensory needsI still don’t have all the answers. Life with special needs siblings is a roller coaster and there’s nothing I can do about that. It always will be. But, I do have some ideas. I chatted with my husband and some other special needs parents. Here’s what they had to say.

Me: I still have to stretch him. Currently the rule is you can’t shush if you’re not willing to put your headphones on. And for little brother, you don’t always have to stop, but you do need to turn it down. Additionally, I’ve decided to move the location of our spelling lessons. I used to do my All About Spelling lessons in the bedroom because I could shut the door to minimize distractions. Now I’ll do it at the dining room table to make it a little more formal and hopefully cut down on the need to use silly voices and maybe reduce some tapping.

Hubby: “The other day I had him leave the room to calm down, and it worked. He was much calmer after. Maybe that would help?”

Jennifer: “I try to balance the needs of each child. I work really hard to find a way to help my child with sensory needs meet her needs in ways that don’t drive her sister nuts. We spend a lot of time talking about having compassion for others and realizing that your needs are not the only ones that matter. This requires so much prayer on my part. I want both of my children to understand and work to meet their needs while not trampling the needs of others in the process – and to sometimes sacrifice their needs for someone else.”

You can read Jennifer’s post about the challenges special needs siblings face here.

Sandra:  “Because James’s special-needs are so severe, we can’t push him into much. We do push David, our 10 year old typical son. And my parents pushed me in my relationship with my older sister who has Down syndrome. Like last week, we were at the splash pad and James was in full melt-down mode—crying, screaming, hitting, and trying to take his clothes off. I can’t push him. So David has to be understanding that we have to go and we will try another time. If it’s an activity that’s important to David (like seeing a movie), then just my husband Lee or I take him.”

Sandra has written an article, “7 Phrases Every Special Needs Sibling Needs to Hear.

 

Now it’s your turn. I want to know how you handle the balancing act of special needs siblings with different needs. Have something that has worked for you? Tell me in the comments!

I’ve got a super-duper ebook of 75 survival tips for special needs parents! Get it…FOR FREE! Just click the button below.

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I do adore All About Learning Press. I work for them now, but have always loved their multisensory, easy-to-teach curriculum. If you’re looking for some spelling help for your child, why not click on over and grab some FREE colorful spelling rules posters you can print. (That is an affiliate link. I make a small commission at no cost to you should you decide to purchase something. Thank you for your support!)

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Click to discover one of the invisible aspects of Aspergers syndrome! via jennyherman.com

The Invisible Side of Aspergers Syndrome

I remember reading last year that perhaps the most difficult part of Aspergers syndrome is that which is invisible. In her book How to Teach Life Skills to Kids with Autism and Aspergers, Jennifer McIlwee Myers describes Aspergers as “invisible but crippling”. That resonated with me. Whether you call it autism, high-functioning autism, or Aspergers syndrome, one of the hardest things my son deals with is the inability to communicate. Even when my son tried to tell me communication is hard, he couldn’t quite explain it.

Answering why questions is extremely hard for him. I usually have to turn it into a “what about this…” question. Sometimes it seems like it physically hurts my son with autism when I’m trying to get him to explain something. He scrunches up his face, put his hands on his head, asks if he can just not answer.

How can a parent help with that? I can’t get inside his head and do the talking for him. I do my best to help him walk through it, to offer possibilities. Then I wonder if the answers he comes up with are really his, or if I’m projecting what I think is his answer, but not really.

My ten-year old has made tremendous progress. He is now able to deal with unexpected situations much more easily. The other night he dumped some of his food and didn’t have a meltdown. He can handle touch better now. Nowadays if I tell him he needs to do something else, he’s usually ok with that.

People will tell me, “He doesn’t look autistic.” I think they are referring to his coping skills and how far he’s come. I think they mean it in a good way.

However, he is autistic. And perhaps his greatest challenges are the ones you can’t see, including communication.

So, if you ask him a question and he doesn’t say anything, he just stares at you, please don’t think he’s rude. He just doesn’t know what to say, and sometimes he freezes up. In fact, I’m willing to bet there are a lot of people on the autism spectrum who would like your patience in this area. They simply don’t know what to say or how to respond.

If you need help teaching your child life skills, I recommend Jennifer’s book. One of the best aspects of the book is that Jennifer herself has Aspergers syndrom. You can learn more about it here. (Affiliate link. Should you purchase anything, I make a small commission at no cost to you. Thank you for your support.)

Does your child deal with invisible challenges? Tell me in the comments!

I’m putting together a super-duper ebook of survival tips for special needs parents! My newsletters subscribers will be the first to get it…FOR FREE! Just click the button below to sign up and you’ll be in the know.

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Special Needs & Siblings: The Good, The Bad, & The Hopeful

I am really excited to bring you a guest post from Shawna today. I’ve been struggling with the special needs sibling aspect of parenting, and I invited her to share on that topic. Shawna’s a great writer and a great mom, and I hope you are blessed by her post and comforted that you are not alone.

We spend a lot of time on my oldest son, around here.

We spend a lot of time talking – trying to help him calm down, help him socially navigate tough situations, discussing his topic of interest.

We spend a lot of time worrying – if he can handle tomorrow’s play date with the weather so hot, if he will sleep tonight or be up for hours, if he will make it through dinner and eat something healthy.

We spend hours cleaning up – after horrible meltdowns, a lack of executive function in the kitchen making pretzels/sourdough bread starters/pickles/homemade cheese, food eaten in his room under the lycra sheets with the door shut because he just can’t eat with us at the table tonight.

We do this because he has autism, anxiety disorder and autoimmune diseases. (more…)