Why I hate the C-word

As I was reviewing my son's IEP goals today, my heart stopped when I saw the C-word.

No, not THAT C-word.

The special needs C-word.


MAN OH MAN OH MAN do I hate it when parents, educators and therapists use choice to describe behavior. 

Yes, I hear the argument that by using the word choice, adults are putting control into the child's hand. 

I just don't believe it.

Instead, I think the C-word is used to shame children into compliance. It also takes adults off the hook for failing to effectively understand a child's attempts to communicate and teach them to use assistive methods.

It also completely dismisses the reality that these are kids with impaired nervous systems, and the health of the nervous system determines behavioral response. This isn't just an autism thing, anyone can be overstimulated to the point of losing control of their behavior. 

Think of the last time you lost it on your kids. Since...

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Perseverating! Perseverating! Perseverating! Perseverating!

When Tosh gets upset, he gets caught in what I call “the loop.”

For example, when he gets hurt, he needs me to tell him “it’s okay” over and over and over and over again. Long after he feels any pain, he still needs to relive the experience and be reassured that everything is okay. 

I know when he’s in the loop when I have to repeat myself three times. Two times may not be the loop, it could be impaired receptive communication.

But three times? We’re screwed.

Now I know there’s a psychiatric term for that behavior: perseverating.

My description of preservation as “the loop” is actually pretty accurate. Tosh’s brain, and the brain of many people with autism, get stuck on a particularly phrase or activity long after the stimulus has passed.

Imagine driving and getting stuck in a roundabout. You're going around and around and around, unable to exit to the correct street or any street, for that...

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The perfect party

therapies Apr 15, 2019

Something really amazing happened last Friday.

We went to a birthday party. There were a lot of kids, as you can see. (Tosh is top row right)

The party lasted three hours, he ate way too much candy and cookies and there was a bounce house and balloon fights. It was extremely stimulating.

And yet, for the first time ever, NOT ONCE did I hear somebody complain about his behavior. No Tosh pushed me, or Tosh took my toy, or Tosh won’t stop kissing me, or Tosh won't stop screaming.

He even sat still on a stone wall and waited patiently for the other kids to line up for a photo.

Now, you can see him sitting off by himself in the photo. He stayed in the jumper with the little siblings while the other second graders went inside to watch Mary Poppins Returns. He didn't always participate like his neurotypical peers.

But who cares? He did plenty of things with them and most importantly, he had a freaken blast without having to be corrected all afternoon.

I credit at least part of this...

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3 ways your ABA provider should support academics

education therapies Mar 20, 2019

Tosh is making tremendous academic progress this year, and a lot of the credit goes to cooperation among his therapy and education providers.
Autism support services aren’t as effective when they’re served ala carte. Each service should dove tail the others and work together to achieve shared goals.
In particular, if your child receives outside ABA or other behavioral therapy, like RDI or sensory integration, these providers should work with your child’s teacher to address behavioral problems at school. At a minimum, someone from your ABA provider should attend IEP meetings to provide input regarding goals and how to address behavioral issues.

We are fortunate that the Center for Autism and Related Disorders (CARD), our ABA provider, is all in when it comes to supporting Tosh’s educational and speech goals. Since he spends 20 hours a week there, that’s a must. Otherwise, there wouldn’t be enough time in the day for ABA, school,...

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Dave Ramsey's Snowball Method can help you with autism

Parenting a child with autism comes with the longest to-do list in the history of forever. There are IEPs and educational issues, behavioral issues, health issues, diet, sleep and it goes on and on and on and on (and on).

I've spent almost my entire career in credit unions, most recently producing financial education content. One day, while reviewing an article about strategies to get out of debt, it hit me: autism is kind of like being buried in debt.

It's overwhelming, exhausting, depressing and you don't even know where to begin.

Which is why financial management guru Dave Ramsey can offer the perfect advice to autism parents. When it comes to tackling your child's laundry list of challenges, treat it like debt and use Dave's Snowball Method.

If you're not familiar with Dave Ramsey, here's how it works: tackle the easiest thing first, so you gain a feeling of accomplishment. Plus, with every problem solved you gain more time and energy.

Without realizing it, I've applied the Snowball...

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