Discover how Chris Winfield's crazy idea can help special needs families succeed! via jennyherman.com

How Chris Winfield’s Crazy Idea of “Stupid Small” Can Help With Special Needs Success

If you’re a special needs parent, I’m guessing you’ve been there. Your child needs to grow or stretch in a specific area. Together, you’ve got this, you tell yourself! The day comes. You’re mentally geared up to coach and prompt and assist. Your child is fed, rested, and in comfortable clothing. The time has come to try something new or face a fear. And it flops. Meltdown city. Maybe it’s even meltdown city for both of you. Hang in there. Help is on the way! (more…)

Click for encouragement for autism parents! via jennyherman.com

Breaking News: God is Bigger Than Autism

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Do me a favor. Get a piece of paper and write down a challenge you’re facing. Then write down another. It’s ok–I’ll wait. Done?

I don’t know if you’re like me, but I’m task-oriented. I’m a fixer. It’s just my nature. But in that task orientation and fixing, I can get off track.

I focus on the problems, the trials, the challenges. I “just keep swimming”, pushing ever harder against the waves, forgetting there’s a boat next to me.

I get overwhelmed by the challenges I can’t fix. I cry because my son with autism can speak, but he can’t communicate. I ask him too many questions in an effort to understand, and I make him melt away more into himself. I wish I could fix the sensory issues that bother him so he and his brother could enjoy each other more despite their differences. I wish I could help my youngest understand a little better.

I wish, I wish, I wish. I push on, hanging on to the knowledge that God is in control.

But I forget.

I forget that God is bigger. God is bigger than autism. God is bigger than Sensory Processing Disorder. God is bigger than sibling squabbles and daily stress. God is bigger than my fear. God is bigger than my anxiety. God is bigger than my lack of faith.

God. Is. Bigger.

I was struck by the end of Psalm 46 the other day. “The God of Jacob is our fortress.” Now, David was writing that many years after Jacob, but the same is true for us. The God of Jacob, Isaac, Abraham, Paul, Rahab, Esther, Ruth, Moses…he’s still the same, and he’s a fortress!

He holds me in his hand. He holds my child in his hand. And there’s room to spare. He knows what my child cannot say. And he loves us.

Take that paper out. Write God is bigger than in front of each challenge you wrote down. Tape it to your mirror. Say it out loud. Write it on your hand. Make that your one thing for the next week. He is bigger and he is a fortress. Remember that. Rehearse it.

God is bigger than autism and in that knowledge I am humbled and ever so grateful.

If you’re a special needs parent hanging on, I recommend the book The Life We Never Expected (affiliate link). I read it while waiting for jury duty. It’s full of deep truths but put in extremely easy to read language. An autism mom and dad share their struggles, and even if your child doesn’t have autism, you’ll relate to a lot of the general struggle of life. If you’re not familiar with God’s sacrificial love for you, learn more here.

Where will you put your “God is bigger” note? Tell me!

I’ve got  75 survival tips for special needs parents! Get it…FOR FREE! Just click the picture below.

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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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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…)