Value of Music. Choir for the Previously Non-Verbal.

Therapy is Where You Make It.

We have talked before about piano dexterity and piano games.

We also added percussion over the summer.

Ms. Melanie, our music teacher, devised unique ways to teach John proper form:

where to stand (duct tape on the floor),

where to put the drum stand (more duct tape),

how to hold the drum sticks (tape again, for fingers 1 & 2),

where to position the “piece of pizza” (basket & the little red hearts for Left & Right),


counting out the beats with and without a metronome.

She even made the little

stand-up cards of music.

Percussion doesn’t use the grand staff, but does count notes and rests.

All this is in

preparation for trying out for band.

What about singing?

John now shows up twice a week, before school, for Mixed Choir.

An adventure for someone with lagging expressive language.

For many years, John didn’t have out-loud sentences.

Now we do, and yet still lagging (so far, so far) behind, compared to his neuro-typical peers.

So, quite humorous that John is showing up for choir at school now.

I drive through, he jumps out of the car, and is off on his own,

following the flow of peers to the Choir Room, 7:45am.


Then he gets to (the right) class on time for morning announcements.

This Choir idea started last year when I heard John singing Christmas songs with his buddies at the restaurant table.

So, at the next opportunity, a new intervention for expressive speech:  Choir.

I have paid $15 for a shirt.

$15 for a year?

Do you know how much speech interventions cost?

The bargain of the century!

Moving on to another intervention that is “free”, but will be harder than you think:


Always talking about patience, aren’t we?

The patience to just watch, when our kids are having a manipulative hissy-fit?

Randomly frequent.

And with a quick grin on his face.

(He’s just checking my boundaries, and if I still love him enough to hold them.)

So that you don’t think this happens only at your house,

the first response out of John’s mouth to anything is usually “NO!”

(That’s the pervasive developmental delays talking.)

My job at that moment is to have no response.  No increase in blood pressure.  No re-negotiation.

Maybe this gives you some ideas for music for your child.

It’s OK we have tape all over the floor.

It is there for the “moving from Middle C to E” game.

You can see the feet move from tape to tape.

Anything for teachable moments.

Peace be with us,


Talk While We Walk (Maybe Even Vitamins and Breakfast)

First Work, Then Announcements

Does your child understand the passing of time?

What it means to meet a deadline?

I am not so sure John does truly understand time,

but he sure is motivated when I say, “I hope we don’t miss the bus!”

So we are working on comprehending time in several ways.

When I communicate “4 minutes” (holding up 4 fingers), he knows that is 4 real minutes before something is going to change.

Same story for 7 or any other number.  Real clock minutes.

We also compare phone or clock time (both analog and digital) to the computer clock time.

(Look in the bottom right corner of the computer screen—-kids see it constantly.)

In the morning, we set an alarm for “time-to-stop-breakfast-and-get-ready-to-go”.

Another concept to master:  how about time to listen v. keep talking?

So, when it is appropriate, I say, “My turn!”, and make John be silent.

Sometimes, I take my sweet time before I use my turn.

Everything is about creating self-control.

He likes to say, “I have an announcement!”, but not always at appropriate times.

Like if we are trying to get out the door on time, and his need to proclaim is more a stim than a real-time shared communication.

I tell him we get our work done first, then announcements.

Something to engage in as we walk to the bus, or drive away in the car onto the next adventure.

There is another thing John stalls on:  eating his breakfast and taking his vitamins.

Granted, there are a lot of vitamins to swallow, and some taste icky (my opinion).

Any of you doing bio-med nutritional (methylation) interventions know about this.

Nonetheless, John’s methylation is working.

His immune system is a huge battlefield, and we are absolutely going in the right direction.

This morning, on our walk to the bus stop, he got to finish something he hadn’t started yet.



This morning was all about lollygagging (including his too-loud-voice), testing Mom’s boundaries.

I have learned to remove the audience whenever possible.

So, the breakfast-is-over alarm went off, and we walked out the door to the bus stop.

Yes, I am carrying breakfast and vitamins and a cup.

And, yes, he gets to chew and swallow as we walk.

And he is always proud of himself when it’s over.

I really try not to nag—-to say instead, “be proud of yourself”.

And he is.

I hope this helps in your house.

Peace be with us,



Walking Away

I Got This, Mom

Other kids wait at the school bus stops in the morning.

No adults nearby.

You see it everyday, right?

I needed to be somewhere else, so I walked away.

He was the first one there.

He waved bye.

I left.

It went fine.

The longer the rope, the better he learns to take care of himself by watching the world around him.

And please know, we work daily on these skills of awareness and independence.

We have been building up to ever greater independence, riding the bus.

Another example, letting your child walk away.

Walking the dog independently.

Losing my child on Halloween Night.

And when a mis-guided John headed off across a parking lot in search of an escaping Mom.

A minute of pure panic, and then a game was born.

We are also working on independence walking home from the bus stop after school.

That’s a game now also.

John knows he has to find me hiding in the bushes somewhere way down and around the corner.

What are your intervention games for growing Independence?

Peace be with us.


Magic: Because Other Kids Do It

Intrinsic Motivation Because of Neuro-Typical Peers

Do your neuro-diverse children (let’s call them “learning differences”) pay attention to other children?

Far more than they pay attention to you as parents?

So, here is what we did for academics during the recent Hurricane Harvey school hiatus:

Photos of academic and social-emotional learning for John.

It’s magic.  Peer pressure, from the inside out.

If I had tried to get him to do this…….oh, we would have had such push-back.

Just add a few peer models, and everything changes.

Miraculous teaching moments!

Nothing gets John’s attention like another kid.

So, I use that.  Shamelessly.

Cutting his own food in the restaurant:  His happy face here because his buddies were doing it also.

First mom-free monetary transaction.

May I suggest you build your child’s village?

There are so many pro-active ways.

With huge payout.

Peace be with us.




Buying Something Without Mom

Not Always Elegant, Sometimes Awesome

I know it’s not a big deal to most families.

But to some of us, having our kids make a purchase without us is a big step forward.

We have been practicing for many days, with friends around us.

We have used cash, and John has tried to cajole me into helping him.

I walked away, pretending not to care.

A little rough with the communication exchange at the counter.

Nonetheless, eventual success.

But not elegant.

The next time, we were at a restaurant where John is well known.

Mr. Greg (red shirt) knows all the kids in our neuro-typical social group.

He is always patient in helping each child order.

You can see John getting advice on how to use his debit card.

Isn’t it awesome when kids teach their peers?

So, hope this helps in your world.

Practice constantly.

Make and keep relationships in your village—-so very valuable.

Especially if your child is intrinsically motivated by neuro-typical peers.

You can see the joint attention in the conversation over chicken.

Learning: Academic & Social-Emotional that goes into long-term memory,

and builds self-esteem!

Peace be with us,




Further and Further From the Bus

Backward Chaining, Twice a Day

First, John figured out how to accept the neuro-typical bus.

That took watching, planning and practice.

And now he is riding the big-kid bus to and from intermediate school each day.

Next, we are stretching that independence so he can walk to and from the bus stop.

We are backward chaining by my parking further and further from the bus.

Both in the morning and in the afternoon.

(His preferred bus stop with lots of peers is further away. 

We also have had a Hurricane Harvey interruption to work through.)

So, the plan is that he gets to approach his peers as he wishes, walking away from the car.

He quite easily walks away from me without a backward glance.

He is learning that social/emotional IQ of how to approach and blend in.

Sometimes the kids re-arrange themselves to scoot closer to him.

(And that is a joy to see.)

And he has figured out how to get off the bus at school, with whatever re-directs he gets from peers and school officials.

We did grease the skids on this process over the summer.

Now we are working on the homeward journey:  from the bus stop all the way to the house, out of sight.

So we start one block away.

He gets off the bus, and walks to the car.

The next day, two blocks away.

Both in the morning and in the afternoon.

Eventually, he will be able to make the treks without seeing me for reassurance.

And he will be gaining continual growth in navigation, independence and self-esteem.

(I suggested to him a different bus stop, closer to home.

He adamantly rejected that idea.

He knows exactly which bus stop he wants, because of the social connections he has made.)

I hope this gives you some courage to try with your kids.

Risks are worth it, with proper training and practice.

Consider backward chaining.

Peace be with us,




Too Late! Opportunity Gone!

Regret, But Still an Opportunity to Learn

Recently, John had a chance to say hello to Jack, one of his friends.

But he was too scared (may I say “sensory averse”?) to walk over.

So Jack and his family left before John could get to their table.

John trailed after them toward the restaurant front entrance.

But never connected face-to-face.

So, trying from 30 feet away.

Too far.

We made it a teachable moment.

I became Jack, and we role-played at an outside table.

We laughed a lot, and had a good time practicing.

So, whenever a missed opportunity presents itself,

he has even more prior knowledge on what to do faster.

We re-defined what “missed” means.

Try again.

We are forever trying again.  Rehearsing for the next time, to get it right.

Maybe this can help in your world.

Peace be with us,


Our Kids Can Do Business Stuff

Practice Ordering Pizza, Paying Bills, Checking In & More

John got to help me order pizza.

We wrote the sentences he would say, and we practiced.

The word “medium” was difficult.  By the next day, John had mastered the word.

But for the phone call, we eventually went with “middle size”.

The lady taking the phone order was very kind.

I told her we were working on a social project.

John got a C+ and we will do better next time.

John also gets practice with business transactions by checking himself in for therapy.

And handling the credit card work at checkout:  Both at therapy and at restaurants.

And, he volunteered to run a letter to the mailbox.

Grinning all the way there and back.

So, think of little ways you can delegate to your children, including buying gas for the car.

We parents do too much on automatic pilot.

I hope this helps at your house.

Peace be with us,


Mom, Don’t Let the Doorknob Hit You on the Way Out

Back of My Head

So, a big day of independence practice:  first time to a new, noisy, chaotic church camp.

Day 2, four hours of activity.

John had missed Day 1.

So everyone pretty much knew what to do but him.

John is quite blessed that many of the kids know him, and some helped him find a group to join.

Love those kids.

At this first drop-off, John did not look back.

Same for the next day.

Nothing for Mom but the back of his head.

The greatest thing I could have dreamed of.

The loving goodbye wasn’t going to happen anyway, and I was OK with that loss.

Things much bigger were at stake.





So, we continue to stretch for everything coming at our kids.

We do all we can for intrinsic motivation.

Then shut up, drop back, and pray it all kicks in.

May we have many times to love the backs of their heads.

Peace be with us,


One of You is Going Outside

Or Maybe Both

Growing up in a family of five kids on our farm in Illinois,

I remember many times my parents would say:

“If you are going to wrassel, go do it outside”, and then throw us out of the house.

Circle of Life interventions, I think.

Sometimes John is too rough with Spike, our beagle.

I have sometimes put Spike outside, when it really isn’t his fault at all.

Or sometimes John has earned a time out in the bathroom.

Anyway, I got a new idea this last time when John made a poor decision to rough-house with Spike a bit too much.

I put John outside.

In the dark.

Out the back door.

And I told him he could come back inside when he was ready to make a good choice.

We have been working on vocabulary and nuance with John a long time on how to “make a good choice”.

I have modeled (demonstrated) and described (words) what a good choice could be, in a variety of circumstances.

I am trying to build a broad range of understanding (we call it “far transfer”).

Not just a list of specifics, but a deep and wide application of understanding.

Anyway, back to the little boy on the other side of the back door.

(Please keep in mind we have been working for years on his being a boomerang, with an ever-lengthening tether.

And there are many benefits of being outside:

playground (glorified swing set) in the backyard, lots of mid-line crossover and gross motor activities.)

Anyway, it took just two trips outside to make a dent.

Several days ago.

And, of course, he tested the boundary again.

I only had to offer that consequence, and John made a good choice immediately.

So, effective learning with some long-term memory involved.

(We have been working on the backward-chaining of this intervention for a long time.)

I wish I could tell you one day and done.

However, the next day, again John was too loud and not willing to sit down and work on his list.

Seeing if Mom will love him enough to hold the boundary.

John and the dog earned “out the door and come back when you can make a good choice”.

We tried variations of unlocked and locked back door.

John even made a run around the house, and knocked on the front door.

So, creative problem solving and practicing executive function, right?

So maybe this can help in your house, and be sure to hold those boundaries!

Peace be with us,



Are We Sparring?

Impulse Control Self-Monitoring

Impulse control is a daily challenge for my child, with two different arenas of performance.

Public.  Private.

Sounds familiar?

In public, at taekwondo, John is sensory-averse.

He is very hesitant to strike (“tag”) another child during sparring or in the self-defense hands-on practice.

However, at home, he can become sensory-seeking, usually as a consequence of frustration.

Now we have opportunity for teachable moments.

(I say) “If you want to spar, you have to tell me”.

We then go through the purposeful ceremony to begin official sparring.

We practice the hand and foot movements, always seeking faster, faster, faster.

On the other hand, sometimes he is just frustrated.

And now we are working on his own use of re-directs for impulse control.

Can he know the difference, and can he also use his skills?

We keep the boundaries of “no hitting”.  Zero tolerance for that (link).

I say, “It’s OK to be angry.  You get to do that in the bathroom, so give yourself a time out.” (link)

And he knows (because we have practiced it over and over), that he can come out when (and only then) he chooses to be ready.

Sometimes we go in and out of the bathroom for a while.

That happens.

But he knows there is no point in trying to renegotiate.

Sometimes my teenager is in the room, and has actually said (more than once), “do you think the answer is going to change, John?”

We talk about why his self-regulation and his self-control is so very vital for his future.

May this help in your house.

Peace be with us,



“I Don’t Know, You Pick”

An Invitation to Steer My Kid's Choices

Putting new foods in his own mouth,

overcoming oral defensiveness and thus sensory acceptance,

is a big deal,

a major achievement.

Mom wanted Mexican food, but he didn’t want anything on the kid’s menu.

I asked several ways, even asked him to circle what he wanted.

He kept saying he wanted me to choose.

So I did.

Tortilla soup:  Veggies and chicken.

It’s what I eat.

And so did he.

I couldn’t believe it.

I thanked the angels.

We were sitting in the loud chaotic bar area, eating vegetable soup.

For the first time.

And, as a bonus, when we were back home and I told him it had to be a “new” movie,

He told me to choose.

So I picked Mary Poppins.

Before that, Chitty Chitty Bang Bang.

Great old movies for kids and families.

So, if your child asks you to help him/her with a stretch,

give them a real stretch, the stretch of your dreams.

May this work at your house.

Peace be with us,





“Stand Like a Leader”

An X-Rays Strategy

John had to get some x-rays today.

Many of them.

Lots of “standing still”, “put your hands here”, “put your chin here”, “don’t breathe”, and “don’t move!”

Memories of your last mammogram experience?

Anyway, he decided to translate it all into the taekwondo playbook:

“Stand like a leader”

His face got all puckered up.  He stood at rigid attention.

Utter concentration.

It is glorious how dearly John treasures his time being ordered around by black-belts.

He did just great with the x-rays, generalizing the taekwondo mindset into the doctor world.

We also use piano concepts in taekwondo.

In fact, we cross-pollinate at every possible opportunity.

Maybe this can help in your world?

Peace be with us,



“Go Back And Get It”

Retrieving Left Behind Stuff

It is a simple thing to say:  make your child go back and get what they left behind,

but what if that was a risky journey?

John left a journal behind.

To retrieve it would include an elevator ride and a different floor in a big hospital.

I said I would wait for him.

He didn’t need much persuasion, as we have been practicing solo elevator rides and other-floor-journeys for some time.

We also practice shopping cart returns across busy parking lots.

We play “find Mom in the grocery store” games, in spite of Stranger Danger and fears of getting lost.

So, it turned out dandy.  John was proud of his accomplishment.

Loss of 5 minutes.

No big deal there,

given the trade-up in self-esteem and willingness to try the unknown.

Risk tolerance—practice it with our kids.

Failure or success:  both teach something.

Peace be with us,


Hanging Out in the Waiting Room

An Hour on His Own

Mom had a doctor appointment and no babysitter.

So John got an opportunity.

An hour or so cooling his heels in the doctor’s waiting room.

I set the WiFi on his iPad and waved goodbye.

I didn’t hear anything.

I didn’t ask.

I didn’t worry.

I tried not to think about it.

At the end of the hour, no one had died or screamed.

One of the massively awesome components of ever-greater expectations combined with relentless interventions and held boundaries

is that it works.

I swear to God with my hand on the Bible, it works.

Try this with your kids.

Peace be with us,



Wet…..The Power of Unintended Consequences

No Matter Where You Encounter Them

We were (trying to) eat breakfast at the local diner.

With Math Tiles and several books.

John didn’t want academics.  He wanted to play with my phone.

So he was pretty close to being mad.

The large cup of water had no lid.

And John whacked it, not paying attention.

And, unintended natural consequences, most everything on our table was no longer dry.

I didn’t say a thing, keeping my mom mouth shut.

He already knew everything I would have said.

He immediately calmed down, said, “it got all wet”.

He got to carry it out all by himself.

A big, soppy pile.

He got to carry it all back inside the house, flatten it out and do his best to dry the Math Tile cards.

I hope he remembers consequences.

Maybe this can help at your home.

Peace be with us,






Old Stuff Purged

We Can't Keep Comfort Zones

Sometimes we parents don’t notice that our child is making progress.

We get wrapped up in schedules and hurry.

We miss small things.

Until we trip over them.

So, the other day I found a box of old junk from my previous car.

You know, when you have to clean out the old vehicle to trade it in?

I had thrown everything from the trunk into a box, and forgot about it.

So, spring cleaning the garage, I unexpectedly found it.

It was filled with memories that brought me to my knees.

……stuff I used to carry around when we didn’t have #2’s going into the right place and

toys that I had hoped might (finally) make him curious

like other kids are curious.

I have since also passed on to others his collection of early childhood videos,

including the beloved Blues Clues.

Videos we watched over and over, somewhere between a stim and a prayer for learning.

It’s a necessary purge, to remove familiar/old/preferred videos (in this example),

to force John to progress on to new things.

Always pushing for age-appropriate.

He may wonder where they went.  Sometimes he asks for them.

I say, “good question!”, and re-direct him to something (anything) else.

Out with the old.

On to the new, we always hope.

He will get over the loss of the familiar.

Already he is paying new attention to new things.

This can work in your home:  Whatever it takes to scootch our kids into new neural pathways.

Peace be with us,



Chores – Because I Choose To

Self Esteem Can Be Intrinsically Motivated

Some days you get to see a miracle when you least expect it.

It was a rough getting-ready-for-school morning.

With no tampering from Mom, in the spark of a moment of intrinsic decision making,

John scampered over to the partially-opened dishwasher and started doing his chores.

The clean silverware matched into the cutlery drawer.

(That drawer is a mess of plastic and metal, and we do our best to keep it organized.

John has been trained to “match” stuff, to put the spoons with the spoons, etc.)

I knew enough to keep my big fat mom mouth shut.  I just stood there watching.

John very soon looked up at me with the biggest grin on his face.

He was proud of his actions, proud he had thought of it.

NOT because Mom had nagged or prompted.

This is the magic, secret sauce of what we seek for our young people,

that they make the best decisions they can because they choose to.

So please, dear fellow parents, keep giving them boundaries.

And you MUST hold those boundaries, without war.

I smile, zip it, and turn my attention somewhere (anywhere) else when he attempts re-negotiation.

Absolutely sure this can work in your home.

Peace be with us,


Power Struggles

So I Tried Tickling

Lately, John has been testing my boundaries.

Big surprise there, huh?

I have tried a river of maneuvers to get him moving forward once he’s decided he doesn’t want to.

Specifically, this morning, he decided it was far more fun to stay in bed than get up.

What could I try that didn’t involve mad, sad, or brute strength?

So I tickled him!

He said to stop it.  I said to get up.

It went in circles for a moment or so.

And it worked.

It is not an intrinsic motivator.

It is extrinsic, coming from the outside.

From a mom up against the clock who couldn’t find a better tool in the moment.

So when time is running out

(seems to be every school morning as we try to get out of the house),

maybe this can help in your home.

It is not a tool for forever.

But it did work.

Peace be with us,



(Thank you, PowerPoint Library, for the clip art)


Piano Games

Balancing Quarters and Duct Tape Floor Staff

Try piano with your child?

We have Music-On-The-Go come to the house.

30 minutes every week.

We use a pretend piano.

It’s a full-size 88-key Casio portable keyboard with weighted keys and pedals, on a stand.

So, less expensive and smaller than a regular piano.

John’s first public recital is this Saturday.

Our teacher, Ms. Melanie, has him playing these games:

Quarter Game – Balance a quarter on each hand as he plays.

Floor Games – Make a 5-line staff with duct tape on the floor.

Middle C is on a smaller line (shown here with black electrical tape).

Then use little kid feet, flash cards and other objects to practice moving up and down the scales and the staff.

You can put down a card for “treble” or “base”,

A, B, C, way of looking at music,

and the 5-lines, 4-spaces prospective, working on memorization.

She is teaching John how the notes relate going up and going down,

in different settings.

On the floor, on the keyboard and alphabetically.

It’s called multi-modal learning, using a variety of tools and prospective.

I can see John’s practice with piano positively affecting other areas of

his learning, and vice-versa.

Perhaps piano could work for your family’s learning?

Please try music and reading music.

Your kid will like having the community of band.

The pleasure of creating music is an added bonus.

We also use a metronome which helps build self-control, self-regulation and restraint.

Peace be with us,



Increasing Fine Motor Skills

With Silverware

We are working on John cutting his own food into smaller pieces.

So, hand-over-hand to start.

But I was inadvertently pinching, squeezing and hurting his fingers.

So instead, I now very lightly steer any part of the knife handle where his fingers aren’t.

(I do the same maneuver when inspecting his teeth brushing:  I do my best to not interfere with any toothbrush movement he might initiate.)

Pancakes are good for beginner cutting practice.

If he takes a few bites of anything new (and not on his nutritional plan), I accept the small dietary compromise.

And I try to be clever where I put the chair, plate, cup and cutlery, making him cross mid-line at every opportunity.

The rule is:  Mom does less and less.

And he has to stretch, reach, stab and saw.

We practice at home, but the best test is out in public.

I ignore his plate and his requests.

It isn’t pretty. Yet.

It ends up looking like a pile of mush.

And he gets to practice.

I hope this helps a bit with your eating adventures.

Peace be with us,








Bubble Riding, Gum Chewing & Zip Lines

Courage: Expanding Sensory Acceptance By Trying

Our kids can amaze us when they want to.

They have courage and capabilities we routinely underestimate.

We fear for them in all ways, and this causes low expectations.

John has decided he loves zip lines and running around in a bubble.

He’s not so sure he loves chewing gum yet (you can barely see it in his mouth here).

Every day there are opportunities to stretch his capabilities:  Ways he can show bravery.

So, every day, am I the limiting factor?

Are you?

Let them try it.  Whatever they want to try.

Ask, “Do you want to try this?”

And if it takes two hours for a “NO!” to slowly slide into a tentative

“…..yes, I think so…..”,

well then,

that’s what courage looks like for your child.

Celebrate that they are making their lives.

Peace be with us,


Paintball Sensory Overload

Patience Pays Off Because He Wants To

It hurts to get hit.

The helmet is hot, heavy and stinky.

The body pads, ditto.

And yet he wanted to because his friends were.

It took almost two hours of standing on the sidelines, trying to decide.

But eventually, he gave it a try.

And as soon as he got smacked,

he was out of there, off the field and out of his gear.  Fast.

And that was good enough.

His face said it was all worth it.

So, yet again, sensory deficits can step forward into the fray,

but it takes time and intrinsic motivation.

Try this waiting patience with baited hook on your young warriors-to-be at home?

Peace be with us,





Some Ideas to Get Out of the House Faster

Time is our greatest scarcity.   Never enough time to do all we want to do.

And we seem to still be trying to get our morning schedule back on track.

(Due to spring break, daylight savings time, and getting over being sick.)

And we often cope with slow-poke executive functioning.

So, here are some very recent re-direct tricks that may work as well for you.

  • “First one to buckle their seat belt wins!”
  • “Do you want to brush your teeth in the car or in the bathroom?”
  • “Do you want to eat your food at the table or in the car?”
  • “Bye!   Meet you in the car.”

I have given up on trying to make John eat.

I now ask, “Are you hungry?”, and leave it at that.

I will also say, “When you are done eating, put your bowl in the fridge.”

And I try to remember the “please”.

It has always seemed urgent and  important to me as a bio-med mom that he gets his nutritional supplements down the hatch each day.

For those of us who do this, it can be an exhausting daily game of  cajoling him to eat or drink it all.

Another trick that is working well now when John lollygags on eating, and we need to leave the house:

I ask him if he wants “to eat at the table or in the car?”

In fact, I further ask him if he wants to brush his teeth in the bathroom or in the car?

He usually does NOT want to eat in the car.

He does take action based on his decision (which is far more useful in his learning self-regulation than Mom nagging).

Many a school morning, I give up on re-directing him or getting him to move faster.

Instead, I say, “Meet you in the car!”

Either he or I have piled his stuff by the front door, and I just walk out.

Please understand we have back-ward chained the skills to process those decisions.

I have shared previously that I actually back the car down the driveway.

I have even driven around the cul-de-sac, as if I were driving away without him.

Most mornings I try to catch him (back) at the front door, so we can practice the key in the lock.

He wants to celebrate winning, but I remind him whoever buckles the seat belt first wins.

The photo of John grinning here was one morning when he “won”.

And I don’t always “let” him win.

I do my best to make it an honest, funny, laughing competition.

Maybe some of these ideas will help your mornings.

Peace be with us,


Cursive (Want To Try It?)

Winging It

I don’t think John has ever practiced cursive writing.

Oh dear God, we struggle enough with printing.

Until one day, John just decided to try this (instead of printing), with no prompting by Mom.

He said, “It says John’s List”.

Oh, you should have seen his face!

Surely many days of (monotonous) practice are ahead of us.

But for today, John has chosen to try cursive, heading up his loved/hated “list” we make daily.

Also (second photo), it doesn’t look like much, but here is something John lostCursive

(by making poor choices in school and at piano lessons).

By the time he got to “DropBox”, he smiled a huge one and said, “Box is in cursive”.

Because he wanted to.

What do our kids all want to do?

I suggest we use that desire shamelessly!

We may start out with extrinsic motivation.

(Extrinsic = coming from someone else.  Intrinsic = coming from inside the child.)Cursive1

Whatever you do with your child, let them take the lead.

And always look for the ways to make it their idea.

Before you know it, you both could  be up to your neck in intrinsic motivation and self-directed learning.

Peace be with us,


Paying Attention to Boundaries

Stretching to Reach Their Goal(s)

It took John’s friend Hunter to show us what this little finger-hold was for.

It has been in that door molding for more than one year.

Without his paying attention to it.

Now he uses it all the time.

Because by using that tool, he can close the door independently.

Without that finger-hold, he can’t.

And now let’s try to use that idea toward boundaries in self-directed learning.

No telling what it could be in your world, but for us, it was math homework.

And it started out so self-directed.

Joyous, in fact.

Then about halfway, he decided Mom wasn’t really going to hold her boundaries, and he went to the dark side.

In the blink of an eye, he was testing boundaries in every way possible.

And loudly.

We eventually ended up in the bathroom, with the vent fan on and the door shut.

We were visiting at my sister’s house some time ago, and I was mortified.

John lost his favorite thing (Mom’s phone), and lost it for the entire day.

I held my ground and re-directed him or ignored him every time he tried to re-negotiate.

He was fully aware.

He could tell me why he lost my phone.

Holding your parent boundaries may test you to the point of nearly “losing it”.

But it doesn’t mean holding those boundaries isn’t working.

As one of my mom friends says, “I love you too much to argue with you.”

So I didn’t.

Set your boundaries in a time of calm.  Make sure they understand.

Then, when the testing comes (and we know that it will), hold your ground.

Pay attention to the necessity of boundaries.

So your child can learn independently.

Learn self-awareness and self-regulation.

Try this with your kiddos?

Peace be with us,


Training For School Bus Independence By Backward Chaining

With A Backward Glance (Maybe)

Next year is 5th grade at a new (bigger, faster-paced) intermediate school.

So, we are building into our ARD (Admission, Review, Dismissal)

that he is riding the big kid bus.

We are practicing now, and here are some photos of how that looks.

It’s called Backward Chaining by occupational therapists, and Backward Design by educators.

You start with the last step and practice until your child masters it.

And then you add the previous step and include it to the process.

Keep this up, each time adding the previous step to the entire flow.

Soon, you will be at the beginning step and your child can do it all.

So, back to the bus independence:  Mom does less and less.  John does more and more.

Some days, when John is lollygagging, I have laid his stuff on the ground and walked away.

Toward school.  With neighbors and friends watching me.

I smile and wait out of sight.

Until John catches up.

I fade my prompt at every opportunity.

Once he gets ahead of me, I stay out of eye-sight as he rides on to school.

As our days of training have progressed,

sometimes he looks back,

sometimes not.

Twice now he has caught me peeking after him.

He was laughing and so was I at Mom busted.

Once he is at school, I do follow the sidewalk to the end, and wave at the crossing guard.

Don’t want the school thinking I am irresponsible : )

He eventually went by himself:  from the car, through the crossing guard, into school.

So try backward chaining (where we start with mastery of the last thing,

working our way backward toward mastery of the first thing),

fade from helping at each step after getting out the front door.

Also, I have been told to get John an assigned seat on the bus in the front row(s).

As he is able to master the sensory environment,

the new everything of the school,

and learn what to absorb (and what to NOT absorb) of the bus behaviors of peers,

then we can move toward a longer tether.

For now, one step at a time.

Backward chaining toward independence

and handling natural consequences of life.

Maybe this will be useful in your child’s life forward.

Peace be with us,