Saturday, February 26, 2011

2 Minutes of Hollywood Inspiration

Taking it easy this afternoon...Enjoy!

40 Inspirational Speeches in 2 Minutes

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Thursday, February 24, 2011

Autism Yodaisms

I remember anxiously waiting on line with my parents and older brother, at the Jackson movie theater on 82nd Street, for Star Wars.  (the original trilogy.)  I'm not sure if my love for Star Wars is due to its amazing story or because its a memory that links me, my parents and brother doing something as a family.  Usually it was either my mother or father took my brother and I to the movies.  For my brother and I to go with both parents, was something special. But, I digress.

The Boy's middle name is Luke - as in Skywalker.  During my pregnancy, I believed that this name would be significant.  That my son would inherit the qualities of my favorite hero.  And then The Boy was diagnosed with autism. And I still hope that he will inherit the qualities of Luke Skywalker, Jedi Master.  And embrace the ways of The Force.     
"Do or Do Not.  There is No Try."
In our world, trying is not an option.  We don't try anything.  We DO everything we possibly can.  I've learned that if there is a service or method or strategy - we do it.  And I realized that it's when we try something we are unsuccessful.  It's only when we commit to doing, that we see progress.   

"Fear is the path to the dark side. Fear leads to anger. Anger leads to hate. Hate leads to suffering."
I would be lying if I said, that I wasn't scared or angry or even full of hate.  And I suffered  from those feelings, in those first few weeks, months after The Boy's diagnosis.  But what purpose did those feelings serve?  Nothing.  Fear, anger, hate - those feelings are normal.  And I believe you need to experience them to move on.  But moving on, is the key.  You need to move on from those feelings.  Otherwise those feelings will consume you and destroy you - and then what good will you be to the person who needs you the most.            

"Size matters not. Look at me. Judge me by my size, do you? Hmm? Hmm. And well you should not. For my ally is the Force, and a powerful ally it is."
The Boy - though his head barely touches my waist - has taught me so much in so little time.  I am truly amazed and inspired by him.  Those moments during ABA or therapy sessions when he's tired and crying and cranky and still performing the required task.  And with his face flushed from tears, chest heaving he looks to me or the therapist looking for approval, for praise. I am not a religious person, but I believe that there is some thing, some force driving us, giving us the will to go on in spite of all obstacles.  The Boy has proved that to me.         

Yodaisms: Which one sounds more like Yoda?
(1) Progress you will see, if patient you are. 
(2) If patient are you, progress you will see.  

The Husband and I are having a Yodaism contest (NERD ALERT!) Leave a comment - let me know!!

Wednesday, February 23, 2011

No Expiration Date Required

My mother and I often have this argument about expirations.  I adhere to them, tossing food items out of my fridge and cabinets in disgust.  My mother believes throwing away anything - especially food - is a sin; the expiration date, she argues, is more of a "suggestion."   

So it shouldn't have surprised me that when I first started to express my concern about The Boy's development, my mother waved her hands - dismissing my concern.  "He's a boy." 

My concerns were validated months later after a series of evaluations.  The Boy was way off the milestone chart.  At two years old, he couldn't talk, point, clap, wave, imitate and had no imaginative play.  Developmentally, he was between six to nine months old.

Upon reading the twenty page evaluation of all the things The Boy couldn't do, I was devestated.  How could I have missed this?  Still my mother waved my concerns away.  "Norrin is fine," she insisted.  "You can't pay attention to those things.  He'll get the services and he'll be fine."

It's been almost three years since The Boy's diagnosis.  This morning he looked me in the eye and said, "I want something to eat." When I asked him what he wanted to eat, he answered, "How about cereal."  We can have a simple back and forth conversation.  The Boy also points, claps, waves and his imaginitive play skills are slowly starting to emerge.  And I no longer obsess over the milestone chart the way I used to. There is no more wondering if - only when.  There is no expiration date for achievement.  Only suggestions.* 

Food, however, is still a whole other story.

Is your baby on track? Early Intervention (birth to 3)  is imperative. If you suspect your child may have a developemental delay, talk to your peditrician immediately. 

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Monday, February 21, 2011

Billy the Kid (2007 documentary)

Photo of Billy by Shane Sigler - Eight Films/Isotope Films
Directed by Jennifer Venditti, Billy the Kid, is a coming age of story.  Venditti documents fifteen year old Billy's lonely life in small town Maine. It is poignant and painful - there are moments that we all can relate to.  Billy describes himself: "I'm not black, I'm not white, not foreign, just different in the mind. Different brains, that's all."

The relationship between Billy and his mother, Penny, is especially beautiful to watch.  They have an honest and open relationship. Penny is both Billy's only friend and parent and you can sense the struggle within her to be both. I won't say anymore - this is an absolutle must watch.             

Friday, February 18, 2011

Dear Dr. Oz (My response to his show on Autism aired 2/17/11)

Last night, I watched your show on Autism.  (thank goodess for DVR) Not only was it incredibly disappointing but it also made me angry.  My son has not been “robbed” of an emotional foundation. 

No. My son is not “broken” so let’s not try to “fix” him. 

And no, Autism is not a “nightmare.”

The audience you so carefully selected was nothing more than a pity party of parents.  Instead of creating awareness and acceptance, your show promoted fear and despair.  I remember when my son was initially diagnosed with autism at 2 years 5 months old – my heart was broken. (He's 5 now.) It was not the way I imagined our lives to be. 

And what I really wanted was hope.  I needed someone to tell me – it’s going to be fine; your son is going to be okay.  I needed to hear it from a parent who had gone through a diagnosis.  No one could offer me that.  I had to find it within myself and create my own community of autism support.  And my heart has healed.  I don’t want anyone feeling sorry for me or my family.

Autism itself, is not the “nightmare.”  The nightmare is dealing with the Board of Education, budget cuts, insurance companies, attaining medicaid waivers, never ending waiting lists, phone calls and photo copies, run-arounds with agencies, lawyers to secure appropriate school placement (because our kids are not entitled to the best), lack of services, lack of awareness and lack of acceptance.  We have learned to live, love and laugh with autism in our lives.  We’ve let go of some dreams, but that’s not to say dreams do not exist – they’ve just been modified.  We are okay.  My son will be okay. 

I’m not saying that autism is easy.  Our life is challenging but again, not from autism.  If I lived in a community where services were readily available, if every 30 minutes of speech, OT or PT wasn’t a fight for approval and if I had an abundant amount of wealth to pay for the best services – yeah, I’d be a whole lot happier.  But I wouldn’t trade or change my son for anything in the world.  Autism adds to his personality, it doesn’t diminish it. 

That being said, children with autism are not “broken,” and they don’t need to be “fixed” – they need to be taught.  Dr. Lovaas said, “If a child cannot learn in the way we teach ... we must teach in a way the child can learn.”  We live in this superficial cookie cutter society where everyone needs to be absolutely perfect, everyone needs to fit in.  And if you don’t – well, what the hell is wrong with you?  Autism is not a disease to be cured. I wish parents would let go of their mainstream dreams and just learn to let the labels and classifications go.  I don’t care what kind of classroom my kid sits in, so long as he is being taught in a way that is most effective for him. 

At the end of the segment – you said Early Intervention was essential.  And the audience agreed.  Dr. Oz, you missed the opportunity for Early Intervention success stories.  Because yes!  There are success stories.  There is hope and laughter and happiness. (see the picture - Does my kid look like a child "robbed" of emotion?)

So NO, Dr. Oz, children with autism are not “robbed” of an emotional foundation.  I’ve seen so many children with autism laugh and cry and love; maybe not in the “typical” way, but those feelings are there.  There are moments when I look at my son and there is a sparkle in his eye and sheer joy in his giggle.  Many children flap their hands when excited.  Others pace back and forth or cover their ears when scared.  Emotion does exist.  Sometimes we need to look a little harder to see it.  What they are robbed of is – unconditional acceptance for who they are and the possibility of what they can achieve if given the appropriate tools to learn.  Society and government agencies rob children, adults and families daily.  Where is the show on that? 

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Thursday, February 17, 2011

Through the Looking Glass: Making the Possible, Impossible!

by Silvia Santiago

This is what was said to me by my friend over fifteen years when I was expressing to her my struggles with childcare and making time for, “me!”  I cried! Let me tell you why.    

I am a speech therapist who has worked with special needs children for over 12 years.  However, when my beautiful son was diagnosed at 19 months with Autism Spectrum Disorder, my life changed more than words can express.  As if motherhood is not a complete life altering experience, receiving this diagnosis is indescribable. 

I remember working with many families in my career that cried and vented to me as to how difficult it is to deal with a special needs child.  Not only because of the actual diagnosis, but of the difficulties they faced to find the appropriate therapies for there child, getting approved for services.  And, of course, it does not end there, because once you get the services now you have to find “good” therapists that are invested, not only in your child and his/her progress but really truly enjoy what they do.  I remember sympathizing with them and, at times, even holding there hands and saying, “It’s going to be ok.”

Now, I am the parent.  Now I am the one in tears.  Now I am the parent who has gone through several therapists.  (I am currently on my fourth ABA therapist since September and changed OT’s.)  

Making the possible, impossible.  I don’t ever feel like I do enough.  I cry out of guilt because I don’t work enough with my child, I am not providing enough appropriate language models for him, because of course, since I am a therapist I know everything. NOT… He is my son, not my client or student.  It is emotional for me, therefore when it comes to him, I feel stuck on stupid!  I could tell a parent of one of my students what to do with him/her but when it comes to my own, I struggle! I’ve learned, I AM NOT HIS THERAPIST! I am his mother!  I AM NOT HIS THERAPIST CHECKING DEVELOPMENTAL CHECKLISTS!

I get him ready for school. Show him some computer games, color with him, and sometimes, I even just play with him but of course playing for me is different.  I, instinctively, evaluate his progress.  How is he playing? Is he playing appropriately? Is he using his language appropriately?  Is he transitioning well?  My mind is constantly going.

Making the possible, impossible. “You need time for yourself!”  Yes, I do but I don’t. My time is dedicated to my son and his therapies, food shopping, and picking up the disaster of my house. The rest of the time, I attempt at being a therapist, a daughter, a friend, and a partner for a strained relationship.  I must admit I have fallen short.  I readily have childcare, so I do what I need to do.  Do I get tired?  Yes.  Have I felt like I can’t do this anymore?  YES!  Do I want to run out my house and scream sometimes because my son has had a rough day and is having a tantrum? YES!  But, I don’t.   

I make the impossible, possible!  I redirect my son when he is having a tantrum and make him smile.  I tell him, “it’s ok,” without totally losing my mind. I go to work every morning after getting up three times a night and somehow manage to smile and work with my students. I take him to school, to his therapies and deal with some highly insensitive people.  But always with some type of composure, I smile.  And I smile with my family and friends when the depth of my soul just wants to sleep and cry. 

I make the impossible, possible!  I work day in and day out to keep positive.  To rejoice in every single accomplishment my son exhibits.  My son is worth all my time and energy.  He is my heart and soul.  That is why I take on everyday and make it into a day of possibility. 

Beautiful smiles: Silvia Santiago with her son, Aidan

Wednesday, February 16, 2011

Best of the Best 3: School Issues

I am proud to say that for the 2nd month in a row, I've been selected as one of the Best of the Best bloggers on Help! S-O-S for Parents.  This month's topic is school issues - from bullies to school work to IEPs to morning routines and everything else in between!  Note the Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,  

My post that was selected was Manic Weekday Mornings.

It's wonderful to be associated with so many amazing bloggers.  So I urge you to take a moment and read the Best of the Best blog posts, follow the blogs and most especially comment.   

Happy Reading!

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Tuesday, February 15, 2011

Settling isn't an option

Yesterday, I had a conversation with a very close family member.  A woman whose opinion I respect.  But yesterday she said something that has stuck.  I was explaining the Turning 5 process and she said, "You're going to have to settle and send him to public school."  And while it may be the truth, sometimes the truth is the last thing I want to hear.  Because why should I settle? 

If I settled, The Boy wouldn't have made the progress he's made.  I'm not asking for the impossible.  I'm asking for what I feel is the most appropriate.  I know some of my options are out of my reach.  I'm realistic about my finances.  I'm not against a public school so long as its the right public school.  And if he's accepted into a funded private school, I will do whatever necessary to make sure he can attend. 

I've settled on many things in my life.  I'll settle for a few less hours of sleep.  I'll settle for tuna sandwiches on weeks when money is tight.  I'll settle for generic clothes when what I really want is fabulous designer digs.  I will settle on holes in the sofa until I can buy a new one.  And I'll settle on taking one class at a time until I graduate.  But to settle on The Boy's education?  Sorry, that can not be an option.

That being said, I wanted to post one of my favorite poems -

Listen to the Mustn'ts by Shel Silverstein
Listen to the MUSTN’TS, child,
      Listen to the DON’TS
      Listen to the SHOULDN’TS
      Listen to the NEVER HAVES
Then listen close to me-
      Anything can happen, child,
  ANYTHING can be
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Monday, February 14, 2011

Love is Patient...

Love is patient, love is kind. 
Being the mother of a special needs child has given me considerable patience.  I remember when we were going through the initial evaluations.  One of things that was brought to my attention was that at 2.5 years old he wasn't following 1 step commands.  I spent an hour asking The Boy to bring me his cup.  I wouldn't let him out of the room until he did.  I stood in the doorway of his room asking him to bring me the cup. He'd walk toward me without the cup and I'd walk him back to the cup on the floor.  I held the cup in my hand and put it in his face and say "cup."  I ran back to the doorway and repeat "Bring me the cup." This went on several times.  There was a lot of crying - and I wanted to just say, screw it.  Because I was crying just as much as The Boy.  But I was determined to get through.  Eventually I did.  I was applying ABA methodology before I even knew what it was. 

It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud.
Well...maybe it does envy a little.  Sometimes I look at other moms and I wish that our lives were easier.  That we didn't have this ongoing parade of therapists, evals and goals.  That the basic need of services wasn't a fight.  That a bureaucratic agency didn't have a say in our future. That we could just be like everyone else.  Don't get me wrong - I adore my boy.  But the personal and financial toll it takes on the spirit is tough. And believe me, that's nothing to boast about.  

However, our love is most certainly not proud.  I've learned that in the last few weeks as I've called attorney after attorney saying "I don't have enough money to pay the legal fees."  Admiting to strangers that we are unable to provide for our child has been extremely difficult.  But I'd beg at the side of the road if I knew it would help.                

It is not rude, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs. 
Every decision I make is well thought out and always with someone else in mind.  Since The Boy's diagnosis, I never thought how will autims impact or interfere with my life.  In fact, immediately, after his diagnosis, I shut almost everyone out.  Nothing and noone else mattered, only The Boy and his services.  It took me a while to stop being angry.  Not angry at what this was doing to our family but angry at myself - for not seeing the signs sooner.  I am the greatest record keeper of my wrongs.  One day I will have to let them go.     

Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth. 
I look at my boy and other children on the spectrum and am amazed by their innocence, the purity of their spirit.  They do not lie - lies are too complex for them to understand.  And yet they are considered atypical?    

It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres.
We are The Boy's protector.  When initially evaluated, we weren't given much hope.  We had to find it within ourselves.  Over the years, we have hoped and we have perservered.  Without love, hope and pererverance wouldn't have been possible.

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Saturday, February 12, 2011

"Off With Their Heads!"

"I warn you dear child, if I lose my temper, you lose your head. Understand?"
~ The Queen of Hearts

Okay, okay. I'm exaggerating.  No one will lose their heads.  But this week I've managed to piss quite a few people off.  And instead of 'off with your head,' it's more like - Off  With Your Services!  I've pissed off the SEIT, the SEIT agency and the CPSE Administrator.  

Not only did The Boy's SEIT drop the case but the entire agency dropped the case.  In fact I got a phone call from the director of the agency - a woman I have never spoken to in the year and half they've provided services - and she said, "as of February 18th, we are no longer able to provide services.  I've contacted your CPSE Administrator.  She will find a new agency."  And that was it.  Even though the Supervisor had promised me that they would always be able to provide services.  Promises, promises.

There is too much of a back story to get into. And I am not mentioning names.  But I will tell you why I've pissed them off.  There's a double edge sword of advocacy in CPSE/CSE. 

So often I've heard educators and politicians complain about parents - minority parents, especially - who are uneducated, ignorant, unaware and uninvolved in their child's education.  If I were that parent who didn't advocate for services - I'm part of the problem. I'm bringing society down.  Shame on me.

But I'm educated.  I'm aware.  I'm involved.  I advocate for services. I ask questions.  I ask for make-ups when service providers cancel.  I hold people accountable. I advocate for the services my child needs.  But that's a problem.  I'm blackballed and labeled as a difficult parent.  Shame on me.  

I understand the Board of Education has a job to do.  It's to deter parents from fighting.  It's to provide the bare minimum of services.  Not the best.  But the appropriate.  But I have a job too.  And I'll keep doing it.  

[The SEIT is is a licensed special education teacher who is able to work with young children with disabilities participating in early childhood programs. The Special Education Itinerant Teacher or SEIT serves children in different groups and/or programs, and therefore "travels" from group to group or program to program.   CPSE refers to a team that is responsible for the special education needs and services for children 3 - 5 years of age. Every school district and/or county has a Committee on Preschool Special Education.]

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Friday, February 11, 2011

Manic Weekday Mornings

Five mornings out of seven the alarm goes off at 5:30 am.  I am often tempted to hit snooze, however, my alarm clock is strategically placed in the bathroom.  Getting up out of bed and walking down the hall to the bathroom to hit snooze for another five minutes of sleep doesn't seem worth it.   

Once I'm up. I'm up.  And I have one hour to take a shower, get dressed, apply my mask of makeup, make lunch, make breakfast, make coffee and wash last night's dishes. I have to make The Boy's bed (because at some point in the middle of the night, he has wandered into our bed but that's for a whole other post.) and pick up his toys and books.  I get The Boy's clothes and take them into the living room where I will help him get dressed.  I pour out a bowl of cereal - sans milk.  I drink my coffee while watching the local news and I try to figure out what to wear for myself.  Though my own outfit, takes much less thought than The Boy's. 

By 6:28 I'm back in my room, ready to wake The Boy.  Some days he's ready to go at 6 am, other days I have to grab him by the ankles and pull him out of bed.  Often bribes of cereal bars or muffins are involved.  Not today.  I tickle him awake.  His pull-up is heavy and ready to burst.  (Yes, he's 5 and sleeps in a pull-up.  Again, that's for another post.)

I drag him out of our bed and walk him into the bathroom. His eyes are half closed, his bare flat feet slapping the wood floor.  I pull down his pajama pants, yank off his shirt and pull off his pull-up.

"Pee pee in the potty?" I ask.

"No way," he says.  The Boy isn't a morning person.

"Norrin. Fix it." I say.  We say 'fix it' when he needs to fix his tone of voice or when he's being disrespectful.

"No I do not wish to do pee pee in the potty," he says.

This response kind of makes me giggle. 'I do not wish...' is his latest phrase thanks to The Cat in the Hat

I wash his hands and face.  "Now it's time to brush teeth," I announce. And this is the hardest part of our morning routine.  The Boy hates brushing his teeth. "No! No! No!" He screams and starts to make a run for it.  But I grab him.  Now this next part is always a little dramatic.  I stand him on the step stool in front of the sink. I stand behind him, the weight of my body pinning him against the sink.  I bend slightly, wrapping my left arm around his body and with the toothbrush in my right hand, I press my elbow against his chest, holding him down to brush his teeth.  I pry his mouth open with the toothbrush and my index finger.  This is tricky business.  The Boy has been known to bite.  

By now it's 6:50 and I still need to get him dressed and hope he eats some cereal before heading out.  I get him dressed while we watch Good Day New York.      

I realize the dressing and tooth brushing are opportunities for The Boy to work on his self-help IEP goals.  But who has that kind of time when bus pick up is at 7:19?  That has to wait for the weekend when there's more time.

The Boy sits at the table and picks the pink cheerios out of the bowl - he'll eat those first before the plain cheerios.  I rush around, doing the last minute thing: spritzing perfume, lotion on hands, grab the cell phone, check the book bag. It's 7:07 by now and we have to go.  

The Boy is no longer at the table but in the bathroom - standing on the step stool, brushing his teeth.  Well, more like eating the toothpaste.  "Good job Norrin!" And I pull out of the bathroom because now we really have to go. I realize that he doesn't exactly hate brushing his teeth, he hates me brushing his teeth.       

Hats. Scarves. Coats. Bags.  We are out the door.  I see the bus already in front of our building and I tell The Boy to run.  I hate making them wait. 

I kiss The Boy goodbye and prompt him to say good morning to the driver and matron. 

"I'm so sorry. Am I late or are you early?" I ask the driver. 
"Actually we're right on time," she says.

And that seems to sum up our manic weekday mornings.  Never too early. Never too late.  Always right on time, with some seconds to spare.                

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Free talk on "Life After EI" this Monday, February 14

Does your child receive Early Intervention services? Is he or she turning 3 in 2011?
Come hear a free presentation by Sarah Birnbaum of New York Special Needs Support on how to:

  • Figure out whether your child will still need services after EI
  • Obtain the best evaluations and guidance
  • Find an appropriate preschool
  • Set up the right therapy and preschool program
  • Get the best outcome from your CPSE meeting

Monday, February 14

221 E. 71st Street
, 2nd Fl., Peruggi Room

For more information please visit Sarah’s website,

If you know anyone whose child is turning 3 in 2011, please forward this on so they can attend a free talk, meet other parents in the same situation, and get crucial support and information about this upcoming transition.

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Thursday, February 10, 2011

Through the Looking Glass: Fun with Floortime

By: Cindy Tovar, M.S.Ed. - Special Education Teacher

            When I graduated college, my first job was at an early intervention agency.  They gave me a three-day training in ABA, and I was on my way.
            After a couple of weeks, I realized that ABA made me uncomfortable.  I didn’t like the feeling it gave me when I gave a child a potato chip after performing each discrete trial. I felt that the world didn’t function that way, and I saw first-hand the difficulty of generalizing the skills I was teaching them.
            I grew discouraged, unhappy with the way I was teaching these children.  I felt that the small breaks of play in between each trial had more teachable moments in them than the actual ABA instruction.  I loved the challenge of trying to connect with them. 
            One day, while speaking with another therapist, I was introduced to Floortime, which consists of following the child’s lead, and opening and closing circles of communication.  This was what I had been doing with the kids during our short breaks!  I just didn’t know it had a name. 
            Inspired, I quickly read both of Dr. Stanley Greenspan’s books, “Engaging Autism”, and “The Child with Special Needs.”  I started to experiment my newly learned techniques with one child in particular, a two year old named George.  My task was to find what he was interested in, join him, and then playfully, but strategically, obstruct his play. 
            George spent a lot of time rolling a Thomas train back and forth on the floor.  I joined him and rolled my own train back and forth.  After a little while, I made my train crash into his, which caught his attention and made him move the train to the side.  This was good! He was reacting to me.  I did this for a while, and then decided it was time to move in: I placed a small doll on his train. 
            He took the toy off, of course, but then I pretended that the doll was crying hysterically.  He looked at me like I was crazy. 
            Wait a minute.  What did he just do?  He looked at me! Success!
            So I quickly put the doll back on.  He took it off, I cried, and he looked at me again, with a little smile.  This was turning into a game. I was elated.
            The game continued, and over time, I tried new things as he reacted to my shenanigans.  He would move the train further away, and my doll would run after the train, which ended up in me chasing him around the room with the doll. 
            Our game stretched out for longer periods of time, and morphed into different things.  For up to 10 minutes at a time, George played with me like a typically developing two year old.  Some days it would be harder to draw him out of his world and pull him into a shared world with me, but persistence is the key.
            Extending the interactions with your child and adding new ideas to the play is the heart of Floortime.  It’s fun and challenging at the same time, because you have to think on your feet and be creative.  However, as a parent, you know your child best, so it might come easier to you than for me.  The best part is that it can be done anywhere at anytime, which I believe makes the difficult role of acting both as parent and therapist much easier to fulfill. 
            Some parents swear by ABA, and perhaps that’s what works best for their child.  As we know, not every child with autism is the same, and what works for one may not work for another.  However, I encourage you to give the Floortime approach a chance.  If it doesn’t work, at least you will have spent some quality time playing with your child, and there’s definitely no harm in that at all.

For more on Cindy Tovar, M.S.Ed. please visit Dagny's Dichotomy

The Through the Looking Glass series will feature blog posts written by parents, relatives, siblings, service providers, special education teachers and therapists of children/adults with Autism.        

If you would like to be considered, please email me at with your name, connection to Autism, contact information and a writing sample or link to writing sample.

Please allow 5 to 10 days for review. Once accepted, you may write on any topic  - as long as it relates to Autism. Word count: 500 - 650

Wednesday, February 9, 2011

Turning 5: 3 Different Ways

Sometimes I get so caught up in my own whirlwind of Turning Five madness, that I forget - other moms are going through it too.  Whether you have a child with special needs or not, the need - the want for the best is still there.  Today's post on BronxMama was dedicated to just that.  Three Bronx Mamas (myself included) going through the Turning Five process and one Bronx Teacher listing must ask questions.  So please check out the new BronxMama Series: Turning Five.

Nicole Perrino: Not Living Near the School You Like and Not Knowing Exact Details of Your Work and Home Situation 

Lisa Quinones-Fontanez: Finding the Best Education for Your Child with Special Needs when You're Not a Millionaire

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Monday, February 7, 2011

The Upside to Autism

Yes - there's an upside.

The last few weeks I've been feeling discouraged, overwhelmed, disgusted, frustrated.  The stress of the Turning 5 process is weighing down on me.  But this weekend, being away from The Boy made me realize what I was doing it for and made me appreciate the life that was given to me.  Having a child on the Autism Spectrum is difficult.  However, there are so many things to celebrate and be grateful for.  I wanted to name a few:

  1. I've met some pretty amazing people since The Boy's diagnosis.  I have received so much encouragement and support.  And I've met some people that have been true inspirations.  I've been able to create a network of people that I never would have met, if not for Autism.  
  2. Structure.  We all need it.  But it's never been one of my strong suits.  Autism forced me to become more structured and organized. 
  3. Compassion.  I don't think I really understood this word until becoming a mother of a special needs child.  It's made me look at the world differently.
  4. Confidence. The Boy has given me an enormous sense of confidence.  I have my moments, where I break down.  We all have them.  But I really believe that I am at my personal best, just being his mother.      
  5. The Boy rarely looks me in the eye.  And on the rare occassion when he says "I love you," he still doesn't really look me in the eye.  But he says it, sometimes spontaneously, sometimes not.  And whether or not he looks me in the eye - I know he means it.  He may not understand all emotions but he understands that one.  And that makes me especially grateful. I will never take those three words for granted.  I will never take any of his words for granted.  I will always stop and listen to what he has to say.          

So yes, The Boy is a handflapper, stim-talker, relay racer, door closer, liner upper, plastice chewer.  But he's mine.  And he makes me smile every single day.