“You Will Get In a Lot of Trouble Saying That”

Re-directing Anger and Mischief.

My son used to keep all his words inside his head.

Now he is sharing those sentences out loud.

Sometimes in anger.

Sometimes in mischief.

And with good words comes bad words.

Impulse control is still something we are learning,

and developmental delays live with us every day.

The consequences get more profound with each day.

(If a child is working through developmental delays, becoming more aware of the world, more self-aware, and gaining expressive language, there is more of the world that intrudes into their decision-making process.)

John LOVES this movie.  This movie is a gift of concrete depiction of a child’s processing joy, fear, happiness, worry, peer pressure, frustration, motivation (intrinsic and extrinsic) and navigating socialization.

Kids with developmental delays may still need “concrete” learning tools longer than their peers.

So we use this gift to help John learn to process and practice decision making—the best decision making possible—for the best possible independent adult life.

Of course, he LOVES to push Mom’s buttons.

Sound familiar?

So, as a cinematic gift of the universe to our homes, may I re-introduce Ralphie.

Oh yes, Ralphie and his decisions.  Good and bad.

Except we used soap made from essential oils.

And I used the words straight from the movie.

John thought it was funny.

Until the flavor hit his taste buds.

And that consequence really really struck home and built a good strong neural pathway.

Because there was one day when no re-direct was working.

When even my best DefCon 5 re-directs had no effect.

John was persisting in saying “s**t” for the game of it, and no amount of “say shoot or dang instead” was working.

All that was left was “hard way”, and “hard way always hurts”.

And thus we used Ralphie.

Since then, I heard from one of his teachers that someone had said “crap” in class recently—and that John “was not having it.” 

He had then said, “don’t say that” with a giggle.

Mom is thankful for that knowledge of right and wrong,

given that he seems to take great delight in saying the wrong words around me.

Learning to lock and unlock the door purposefully

With a very large grin on his face.

Testing our boundaries.

We have had many conversations about what words are OK to say.

We use the Lord Valdemort technique:  We don’t say (the bad words’) names.

Why would we want to build any neural pathways toward choosing harmful words?

So we re-direct over and over back to the socially-acceptable words.

And, of course, he also tries to get the wrong kind of attention from me by

stringing out that “fffffffffff…….” line from the movie.

I ignore that, and re-direct him to something else.

(I remove the audience.  No audience, no reason for the performance.)

I haven’t asked him if he knows what that fffffffff……… means.

Another day, maybe.

Maybe not.

And, as the days have gone by, he now will remind others when they say a bad word:

“Don’t say that word, that could get you into a lot of trouble”,

(I am happy to report that admonition sure sounds like it came from Mom programming.)

What about the life lessons from Home Alone #1 and Home Alone#2?

Conversations and teachable moments on both sides of Kevin’s decisions.

We don’t waste those opportunities.

Practice, re-direct, take something away, consequences.

We are building social habits for his lifetime.

You know in your own lives, right?  When you aren’t here anymore.

What do you use for top reinforcers?

Moving on from the movies, here’s another way re-directs work at our house.

(Now that we have built it together by practice and backward chaining.)

Getting out of the house on time.

“I’ll meet you in the car.”

I used to have to go back and lock the door after we met in the car.

Now he locks the door on his way out.

We back-ward chained that also.

Self-Control and Zero Tolerance for Hitting

To spank or not.

I make no judgements on others.

I am speaking only for my experience with John.

$80 on eBay. Hung from a professionally-installed hook into the ceiling joist.

Big mistake me spanking him.

It always escalates our mutual use of force.

And my shame is that I have been at this crossroad before.

And promised myself I have to find better ways of managing nuclear war.

I have apologized to John, and we have promised no more whacking.

Not me on him, or he on the dog or on me.

We also re-direct and re-channel motivation by our top reinforcers.

For example:  taekwondo stripes.

And for self-soothing, the eBay sling-swing you see in this photo is highly effective.

Especially in the night-time process.

John puts himself in and out of it.

Again, we are building habits of self-regulation and self-control for his best possible adult life.

Peace be with us,


We have used games as re-directs when frustration was high.







Body Language “May I Join You?” (No Words Required)

Helping Your Kid Create Social Opportunities

Shy joiner, not asking permission, boy style

Does your child lag in expressive language?

That doesn’t need to stall their social skills!

You can help them learn to read the social signals that are everywhere.

Body language is 80% of communication.

Body language doesn’t even use words!

Which is good, as John doesn’t have mastery of expressive language.

He has learned how to move, try and try again!

Because we practice this over and over.

Recently, he was at a school event, in a loud kid place, holding his lunch tray of pizza.

He slid into a chair at a table for two (photo).

Someone else was already there.

The boy in the center needed helpers. John jumped in without prompts or words.

He just did it, without words or asking permission.

At another time, recently at taekwondo, someone needed help.

Some kids grabbed a kick pad and jumped in.

John was one of those kids (photo).

Last weekend, he was at a birthday party at a loud kid place.

He saw a round booth with kids starting to collect.

He gave me a quick look, I nodded my head, and he left where we were sitting.

He wordlessly wormed himself into that table of other kids.

This has happened before, where kids were sitting together playing electronics.

I used to encourage him to move in, and now he doesn’t need my suggestions.

Here’s a link to trying again with Jack’s family.

So, start today.

Look for small ways, and begin your child’s building those social neural pathways.

May this help in your world.

Peace be with us,


New Neural Pathways for Impulse Control, Sometimes the Hard Way

Interventions When They Choose (Hard Way or Easy Way)

It was hiding on the couch

You know that stalling is a actual choice, right?

So when John wasted time this morning instead doing what he knows to do (The List),

he was choosing his own intervention the hard way.

Time Management: Crisis Mode.

Because time awareness is an intervention.

(And we often talk about decisions in a very primal way:  “Hard Way or Easy Way”.)

He wanted desperately to carry his drumstick bag to school on the bus.

He puts a lot of his identity in matching the other kids.

But we ran out of time this morning.

Unless he wanted to miss the bus.

He would rather die than miss the bus.

It has really helped that he has seen other kids almost miss the bus,

and that has become a deep neural pathway.

So this morning, ultimately, John chose to control a deep neural impulse

and inch a bit toward more sensory integration.

He couldn’t find his beloved drumstick bag to carry on the bus.

And carrying just his percussion binder now isn’t good enough.

The bag trumps the binder.

Swallowing vitamins are part of the daily routine

So he searched wildly and loudly at the last minute.

(For the record, we practice nightly getting everything ready for the next day.

It is a habit that has served Mom well.)

He couldn’t find the drumstick bag.

It was on the sofa.

Mom didn’t rescue him.

So he had to choose the bus or the bag.

Once out the door, he had to face the consequences of an earlier choice he had made:

“You decided to take your vitamins while we walked”

instead of with breakfast.

Which of course would have been easier.

Out of the corner of my eye, I could see him twirl around in a little hissy fit.

Mom just kept walking silently toward the bus (a non-verbal, minimal prompt).

In a few seconds, he decided to start walking toward the bus stop.

Tears in his eyes.

We talked about how time goes too fast when he yells.

We talked about how surely we will find the bag in the house.

And how we will try again and do better next time.

So, back to the vitamins, a question he hears daily is “Now or in the car?” or

“Now or walking to the bus?

He does not like swallowing vitamins (and he takes a pile of them for methylation support and healing).

And if he stalls in the car, I pull over and just wait.

Oh, he hates that.

So, he is time aware at times.

If he stalls while we are walking to the bus, we just stop.

We use this same location decision of “here or there?” for our Neuhaus Scientific Spelling and other academics.

In fact, this option gets offered to John constantly, to encourage him toward good choices.

So, to let your children feel empowered, let them choose.

But make all the options something you can live with.

As a bonus: Fun times with your children will occur as they practice making choices.

For example, last night driving home from taekwondo,

he leaned his seat way back, almost flat.

“I want to be more comfortable”, he said.

First time in his life those words have come out.

So, keep stretching your kids, and use the power of their own decisions.

Peace be with us,



Language Processing, Graphemes, Phonemes, Penmanship and Blue Stripes

Some Ideas on Re-Direction and Intrinsic Motivation

There was a time when I didn’t have dyslexia on my radar.

Those days are gone.

John does have language processing challenges.

So, with all that I have learned recently,

there are some things we can do to squeeze in yet another intervention.

With the advice of Neuhaus-trained professionals, I took two on-line courses in Scientific Spelling.

And we are doing the best version now at home daily.

It goes on The List.

We built the habit over the school break and on weekends, so John doesn’t try much any more to re-negotiate.

We are also concentrating on getting p’s, d’s, b’s and q’s looking the right way.

Even sent in all his pages to school, to keep John’s school team in the loop.

Qu (kw) has been a special challenge so we repeated that day.

Time for instruction is a precious thing.

If a child receives a pull-out for specialized instruction/intervention at school, they miss something else.

John has spent years “missing something else” while the rest of the pack moved on.

Trying to find balance in this continues to keep our days efficient.

We use The List daily.

We use “earn it” daily.

I couldn’t tell you how many times I have said, “How’s the list coming?”

to genius, conniving, relentless attempts at re-negotiation.

Another thing out of my mouth constantly is “I hope you earn it”.

That works in many circumstances.

Like when John decides to make bad choices when Ms. Rosemary (QRI, OT, Nutritional Balancing) and Ms. Melanie (piano) come to the house.

Eventually, his precious taekwondo blue stripe ends up on the door jamb, to be earned back with Ms. Rosemary,

and his favorite movie videos are to be earned back with Ms. Melanie.

I have to deal with my shame when he makes those kinds of choices,

and yet we build interventions for intrinsic motivation and who has the power.

May some of these ideas help in your world.

Peace  be with us,



The Joy of Sensory Integration Therapy in the Cold and Dark

The Unexpected Things a Kid Will Do Because of Other Kids

Athletics and other kids are very power motivators in John’s life.

It was the end of a long first day back to school in January.

Also the first night with his new Boy Scouts shirt.

Tonight:  Physical Fitness.

We (the 2 dad leaders, all the boys and myself) walked through the darkening cold to the nearby high school track.

Time for laps.

John joined in the pack, and off they went.

Some of the time, I could track him by the red flashing lights in his shoes.

Sometimes he was close to a running buddy.

Sometimes not.

Really too dark to tell.

After 3 laps, he comes off the track and heads over to the bleachers

where the other boys are gathering.

He should have done 4 laps, but I didn’t interfere.

Not too many days before, he was sick.

And his 3 laps coincided with the other kids doing 4 laps.

He talked about that experience and victory until he went to bed.

Who would have predicted his great joy in running in the dark cold

with his Scout buddies?

The next night, taekwondo class went out into the cold dark for a jong bong seminar.

Too many kids twirling long poles for inside the studio.

Forty-tive minutes of mid-line crossover, proprioceptive and vestibular movement-based learning.

Therapy that no one would call therapy (or boring).

So we never pass up an opportunity to stretch our kids.

Stretch them past the cold, the dark, the fear, the social isolation.

Bring them into the joyful camaraderie with other kids who are also learning.

Hope this helps in your world, to try new ideas that offer themselves.

Peace be with us,


Car Electronics Put to Useful Training

Maps, Navigation, Reading & Decision Making

“Exit 87A!”

John was getting into this co-pilot job.

Usually I don’t let him have electronics in the car.

I want him looking out the window, talking to me.

Being “mindful” as a kid.

But, let’s look at the Garmin or other phone-based GPS (Waze, Google Maps) navigation as something to learn.

There is clock sense, direction (left, right, north, south, east & west), distances in miles, street names, speed limits, and developing “earth sense” to master.

When we have other kids in the car, they show him all the menu options, turning features on and off.

Some features are voice-activated, and that is a whole new playground.

There are look-up menus for names of places.

He gets to practice spelling and typing.

When he looks for a place and finds it, he gets excited.

And when our destination wasn’t in the database, we found a place next door, and used that to navigate our way.

Once we arrived, we walked over to the other storefront, and had a little teachable moment on the power of substitutions.

So, now John is in charge of driving shot-gun, and giving me driving directions.

He has been elated with the fun-ness of it.

In the light of day, or the dark of night.

He always has had a great sense of where he was (in the car), and this reinforces that problem-solving.

Let’s just not tell him that he is learning.

I hope this helps at your house with all your young drivers-to-be.

Peace be with us,


The Value of The List

On Paper. Otherwise, Too Many Words

May I suggest to you the invaluable piece of paper.

And a pencil.

“Low Tech, High Touch” (for all you John Naisbett fans out there).

Saturday mornings we still and always have learning modules.

We call this his “list”.

When there is push-back on too many words,

a noble yet humble piece of paper saves the day.

Consistency, meeting expectations, and the structure of building good habits for the rest of his life.

As we put the teachable moments into improving neural pathways in his working memory, executive function & language processing.

Sure, he hollers about it.

That’s when I walk away and let the list speak for itself.

No negotiation, re-negotiation or bargaining.

Just another day’s work of building neural pathways in the right directions.

That doesn’t change just because it is the weekend or a school holiday break.

We have added Fast ForWord and Scientific Spelling.

Because we need to.

We have worked on academics all but two days this holiday, working through “sick”.

And if there is too much push-back from John,

we write on his list, “OR you can do Mom’s list”.

Nothing is more boring than Mom’s list.

It’s a total buzz-kill to John.

Fastest thing I have found to help him with good choices.

So maybe this helps in your world.

Peace be with us,


Where Am I Meeting You?

At the Fountain.....the Flag......the Fire Hydrant.....the House

My son wants to match his neuro-typical peers, and (even better), he knows it.

This includes “showing off” his growing independence.

He is now walking home from the bus stop by himself.

This aerial map shows his trek home.

We have been building this by backward chaining.

Initially, I practically hid in the bushes, around each corner, watching for safety, working backward toward home.

Eventually, he made it past each checkpoint.

And he can lock and unlock the door.

So far, he hasn’t chosen yet to keep the key all day.

(He gives it to me for keeping.)

We have also been practicing the “boomerang effect” out in public.

At a recent neighborhood concert in the park,

when he was on his own to play, even running off in the dark to the playground.

(We had practiced meeting up.)

And during the concert, he cycled back about every 20 minutes, to confirm I was still at the same spot.

At an outdoor-music-venue restaurant recently, he disappeared for a while.

He found me, some minutes later.

Also, as he continues to build his independence, he has strong ideas of how he wants to look to other kids.

So he makes purposeful decisions daily to carry his percussion binder and drum sticks on the bus.

So he matches the band kids who haul their musical instruments each day.

All this involves accepting risks and practicing for mastery.

All worth it.

May this help in your world.

Peace be with us,


Looking Back to Validate and Confirm

Giving Themselves Permission To Take Risks

We had collected a full jar of coins for an offering.

And I had spilled it inside the car more than once, so it was time to get rid of it.

I handed it to John as he was hopping out of the car at our place of worship.

Ready to make his trek across the parking lot, all by himself as he has done for months now.

We had practiced saying in the car, “This is for the missionaries.”

(“Missionaries” is apparently not an easy word to say for some.)

Halfway to the church, he looked back at me (something he no longer does).

Lifted the canister, pointed at it, and nodded his head.

A combination of “I got this, Mom” and “Right, Mom?”

I gave him a nod back, and he was gone.

It all worked OK.

You see, he wanted to look back for joint attention, validation & confirmation.

These components of communication are what we seek with our kids.

It isn’t so much what they accomplish when we hover them.

But rather, it’s that they can think for themselves, take the risks, and transfer to their next encounter with life.

And in our world, it’s always the little things, the quick look of ever-brighter eyes.

Giving themselves permission to fail, to test, to try, to try again.

I hope this helps in your home.

Peace be with us,


Karaoke Therapy

Sensory Hell? No! That's Social Joy on Their Faces!

You wouldn’t think so, but I’ve seen proof.

A joyful, no-cost, and mainstream intervention that combines:

Expressive speech,


The power of music lighting up so much of the brain,

Social settings with other people,

Eye contact with the crowd,


(and some 2017 research behind a happiness study).

Oh, John’s eyes were so shiny when he watched his very first karaoke song.

Sweet Caroline had everyone in the room chiming in.

Because Sweet Caroline (thank you, all the Neil Diamonds of the world) was in his 4th grade play,

and all the kids performed it.

(So he had prior knowledge and social joy already connected to that neural pathway, and that lit up his eyes!)

Recently, we took some kids to Friday night karaoke at our local Mexican food restaurant.

They loved it.

They monopolized the microphone.

(Please know the majority of this batch of kids have some version of neural-diverse sensory and learning issues.)

So, what if our kids of learning differences were tired of being sequestered?

What if they truly desired real life?

John proves this time after time, in many activities.

And specifically, in music also.

He loves Mixed Choir in intermediate school.

First day back after Thanksgiving week off, with jet lag:

No problem getting out of the house early this morning.

He said he “didn’t want to be the last kid to Choir” practice before school.

So, maybe this gives you some ideas for your home:   What intrinsically motivates our children?

Do we waste that?

Peace be with us,



(thanks to PowerPoint Clip Art for the graphic.)

Hustle, Buddy

Building Urgency into Your Child's Day

“Going to be late for Choir!”

“Going to miss the bus!”

Most mornings, either of these sentences puts John into gear.

He tells me he is “not going to be the last kid going to Choir”!

And he has seen other kids have to run to make the school bus in the morning.

But some mornings, he still goofs around.

So, I have learned that we start sooner.

No snooze alarms for us.

I have asked John if he was choosing to be the last kid into Choir?

When he continued to stall, I have said, “When you are done eating breakfast, you can put your food in the fridge.”

“I will meet you in the car.”

(John does his best work when I am gone.)

“You lock the door.”

(We have been backward-chaining the whole door/key process, and

John can come and go through the door as he decides.)

So, the sentences get said that he is choosing to be hungry, to waste his time, to be late.

I don’t rub it in or nag (nagging does NO good at our house).

But I do declare those facts in a calm Mom voice.

This morning, we had a version of  “We’ll just have to wait until you are ready”.

I carried his vitamins and his toothbrush to the car.

During the drive to early Choir drop-off, I pulled onto a side street.

He immediately asked me what I am doing.

He’s very aware of location.

We just sat there until he took his vitamins (which he stalls on every day).

We talked about “hard way” and “easy way”.

He decided very quickly to do what he should have done at home.

Because he didn’t want to be the last kid to walk into Choir.

Because he knew he wasn’t going to get away with stalling and avoidance.

Because he didn’t want to be the last kid into Choir.

I offer these ideas to hopefully help in your daily routines.

Whatever our kids are intrinsically motivated by,

use that to help them learn habits and routines that will become muscle memory and be useful their entire lives.

He must feel the natural, unintended consequences of his choices,

and know he is choosing.

Peace be with us,


Kids Learn To Drive Sooner Than You Think

They Are Also Learning While They Are Riding

Recently, I ran some very-yellow lights.

John called me on it.

He was aware I had cheated.

“Mom, you made a bad choice!” was what I heard.

“Red means stop!  Do not go!”

It was quite a little sermonette.

And he was right.

No wrecks, no tickets, lucky me.

These days, I continue to discuss Rules of the Road with John as we drive.

I make him look out the window.

He can also read, if he prefers.

But no electronics.

He can wear his listening therapy headphones, but that’s as close to electricity as we get.

I see him watching everything out the window, which prompts sentences.

We play “read the sign” games.

Or my favorite, “Tell Mom when the light turns green” game.

Just in case my head isn’t in the game at that particular intersection, waiting.

And we talk about lights, directions, who gets to go next and other drivers.

“Chargers” was what my teenager taking drivers ed used to call them.

Drivers to be watchful for.

And the “point of no return” as the stoplight goes from “stale” green to yellow to

“ohhhh,  !*#%@*&!”

As John has gotten bigger, he can now legally sit up front with me, which I like much better.

Easier to chat that way.

Yes, a few more risks, with him in the front seat.

The rewards outweigh the risks, in my analysis.

Because sometimes I slip into my head too much, and ignore the young learner in the back seat.

Let us continue to always chat with our less-verbal kids.

Their brains are very aware.

Peace be with us,



Neck and Above

A Mis-Firing Trigeminal Nerve System

Understanding the Trigeminal Nerve system (Wikipedia) helps to explain sensory battlefields in our children.

Especially when you realize how much sensory activity there is in the neck and above.

Another link to help you understand the body’s wiring.

Until this nerve system is “integrated”, your child will have issues of oral defensiveness.

Building new, stronger neural pathways is the only path to success.

So, expect greater adventures in hair cuts, brushing teeth (flossing—ha!), dental checkups, and eating a variety of foods.

How can you help your child make progress?

Here are some of the ways we are building this sensory peace.

Haircuts:  Does your child hate hair cuts?

For years, I have wrestled John during haircuts, trying any tool and distraction.

It was always never fun.

Then one day, I was forced to take John into the hair salon with me.

He watched what was happening to me.  When I asked him if he “wanted to try this?“, he said “yes”.

Here are two photos of that unexpected gift from the angels (Ms. Monica and Ms. Dell).

Now, he gets to choose a store-bought hair cut or one at home.

Either way, he looks less shaggy.

Loud Noises:  Your child can learn to accept noise terror:



Dental Checkups (this link to growing natural curiosity in the face of sensory overload):

In the blurry photo of John in the blue shirt, you can see what our current pediatric dentistry practice uses:

Sunglasses, headphones, slow and easy approach.

John still comes out of his skin, nearly.

But at least we aren’t holding him down.

I helped hold him down once, age 3, and it took several of us.

We don’t go to that dentistry practice anymore.

Brushing Teeth:   The motor planning can be also be a challenge.

Sometimes it’s a battle to even hold still long enough to check his work.

Or to help him get them brushed when you are running out of time.

Birthday Candles:   Help your child with breath control, learning how to enjoy a birthday cake.

Breathing In and Out:   This process happens automatically when he isn’t aware.

But ask him to do it purposely, and he couldn’t.

Until we trained for it.

Swallowing PillsStarting small.

Working bigger.

New Foods:  Here is John’s first voluntary spoon of oatmeal.

He now really likes it.

But, I made him put it in his mouth for the first few bites.

Of course, he didn’t want to.  So, “we’ll just stand here until you do it.

Maybe these ideas can help in your house.

Peace be with us,


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,