“My Legs and Feet”

What is that1handwriting1In the August 2015 issue of WIRED, they discuss kids’ handwriting and if being terrible was a problem.   The author closes with the muse, “we should take a second to think about how beautiful it can be”.


As compared to the beauty of all the kids starting cursive while the boy living with me is struggling with the mere grip of a pencil?

I am grateful he has learned to write his name.  Never to be taken for granted.  Nor compared to other children’s work.

How about Art Class?  This is the first drawing he has made by himself.  Not cheating with other people holding the crayons and markers.   I had to ask him what it was.   He told me.   And he had to correct my question of in whose class he had made it (that was a piece of processing itself.)

Never by himself has he drawn anything solo or willingly, let alone his own legs and feet.  That is what this is, in his words.

So, we all can take the advice of WIRED, of joy in the beauty of whatever our kids create.

I would rather have this, made by himself, than a masterpiece with cheating.

How about you?



1 Mouth + 2 Ears = What are you trying to say?

Ears ListeningRemember the old saying:   We have 2 ears but only 1 mouth?

(So we can hear twice as much as we speak, right?)

“NeuroTribes” (by Steve Silberman)  in the review at http://www.wired.com/2015/08/neurotribes-with-steve-silberman/

would say that when our kids with speech delays show self-harming:

Maybe it is frustration.  (Please, tell me why?)

Maybe our 1 mouth needs to zip it & our 2 ears REALLY listen to whatever is being communicated, elegantly or not.

Neuro-diversity (as an increasingly appreciated set of skills) + Intrinsic Motivation = Hope of the employment open road ahead for learning differences.

So when we pray for expressive speech, maybe our answers are in a new tongue—-coming from one not as agile as others might be.

May I listen better today.

Peace be with us,




“It is Wrong”

Over the summer, John has had some practice being around kids who ridiculed his speech.

Not easy for Mom to step back, and teach him how to self-advocate.   2015-08-19 13.11.48-1

It is far easier to hover and try to shield him from the hurt of others.   But then I fail to give him tools for the next time.

Because the next time will come.  Won’t it?

So, we have these little signs in the home.  We practice saying in a strong voice this straightforward sentence:  “It is wrong to hurt other people”.  Practice helps John with a quicker reaction of what to do.

John can stand up for himself appropriately (kinda) to family.   Easier for John to say this to people he loves and is comfortable with than to other kids.

The unknown is more sensory stressful.    So he turns away and avoids.   He clutches (imperfect auditory processing and flow of receptive speech to expressive speech), and then knows he can’t keep up in said words.

This has happened twice that I know of on playgrounds, and twice someone has stuck up for him.

It will happen again.   Will there always be a friend to fight his war for him?

When this happens around me, I always try to help kids to understand what it feels like “when their tongues don’t work”.   I tell them to grab their tongues (I grab my own tongue), and then try to talk.   They get it.

And we extend the teachable moment by laughing and trying to say sentences together.

StopBullying.govAlso, a thank you, The Forsberg Law Firm, P.C., for sharing this 4-page Bullying Tip Sheet (more info at StopBullying.gov)



It’s All in the Wanting

IMG_5323It must really be something John wants, to tolerate this.   And he does want it.

First meeting, 2nd year, 3rd grade boys, Cub Scouts.

Fully participated in all the team games.

What must that battle be like in his head:  to have joy override sensory defensiveness, building neural pathways to make it increasingly OK?

This stuff stayed on that face all the way home in the car, and up the stairs to bed after playing after he got home.

No facial claw marks proving, “OK, I endured it all and now I want this junk off!”

None of that in the 20-minute care ride home plus home time.

So, never give up on stretching our children past the comfort zones.

New neural pathways are the trophies of interventions.

And let’s not forget intrinsic motivation, right?

What does your child WANT to do?

I ask John all the time.   It’s a good conversation, no matter how the expressive speech goes.

(I also share this shortcut with you—his badges are stapled on.    And they haven’t fallen off yet.)





Today, I Yelled Back

Lion RoarMore like a roar, actually.  A bellowing lion in a very small space.

No words, just mirroring back (and magnifying) all that boy-lioncub yelling in the wee-little, closed-in bathroom.  (We call it the (time-out)  “Loud Room”, the “Angry Room”.)

And then I heard a mom’s voice saying, “John, sometimes you make Mommy so sad I want to cry and cry and cry all day.”

So then, we decided to try again.  Start over.   Do better next time.

It is called natural consequences, a part of interventions (from the Latininterventiō”), a “systematic process of assessment and planning employed to re-mediate or prevent a social, educational, or developmental problem: early intervention for at-risk toddlers.” (Wikipedia)

You see, no other tool was working.  None of the redirects were working.  None of my “best laid plans of mice and men”.

When nothing else works, it’s sometimes “an eye for an eye”—to better understand the future social consequences of a loud, lousy decision.

He understood.   He made better choices.

It probably won’t last all day.   But each time, the understanding of the consequence lasts longer.

No other choice, it seems, than reciprocity every once in a while. (“that is what it feels like”.)

Randomly, reflecting the learning of B.F. Skinner’s chickens pecking at the corn.

“Tough Love” interventions build the respect John needs to function within society.

No time to lose.  He gets older and bigger by the day.

Peace be with us,


(P.S.  Clip art available to anyone via PowerPoint.  Thank you.  Simba, roar on !)

“They Will Be Expecting That” (Buzz Lightyear)

The other day, I gave two 8-year-old boys a reprieve from our daily morning TouchMath because ……   (I had a good reason).

That omission of expected summer academic routine threw everything into chaos  (exactly the opposite of when kids complain about something, begging to escape it.)

Well, I can promise you I only made that mistake once.   The next morning, we were right back to “nothing fun happens until we get our TouchMath done”.

They had come to expect it and took comfort from the ritual.UglyWorkSmileyFace

I learned that John wants to (sometimes) do good work.

He had just done “ugly” work and I said so. The smiley face on the paper wasn’t smiling.

He then begged to do another TouchMath problem to earn a happy face.  Gave me NO lip—-did it with a smile.    With a huge grin on his face, he received the expected  happy face.UglyNot SmileyFace

So, a secret you already knew: Kids (with learning differences OR NOT) like structure.  Tough, direct, loving structure.

Nice leverage to take advantage of, don’t you think?




In Over My Head

“Please mute me.  I am drowning . . . .”

We therapy moms who dream of sentences get in a certain method of talking…..saying things to reinforce learning, first in one way, then another.  You could easily call it “too many words”.

(Two adults have chided me for this over-informing, so I try to be better self-aware.)

For 2 weeks, I added another 8-year-old boy (my step-grandson who is like a same-age cousin to my boy), a very verbal little charmer.   (So, I have one 8-year-old who talks like a 2-year-old, and the other an 8-year-old teenager with attitude.)

There came a hour when I was overwhelmed with the 2 boys yakking in opposite directions.   It took me a few minutes to realize I didn’t have to respond to “everything”.

I went non-verbal myself for a while.

I sort-of directed traffic with hand motions, facial expressions, and body language.

It was utterly bliss.  I stopped trying to keep up.

Not a long-term child-raising strategy.  But an oasis of calm when I needed it.

You deserve the time of peace to think.



Sneaking Up On It

Love movies, unless we hate them.

My 8-year-old son John has never made it through a movie at the theater.    The theater is always too loud, too scary, too everything-too-much.

But then Inside Out showed up:  Emotions with cute little voices, faces, behaviors and a story to tell.   Gotta try, right?

So, Cousin/Nephew Adam got recruited to help.   Here are some photos of the elaborate plan to get John through the closing credits.

We rehearsed at home, got to the theater early, and used every trick Mom could think of. Including playing in the dark before anyone else got there and using headphones for sensory boundaries.

Try this.

We made it.  John has a new experience, a new neural pathway network to keep deepening.  Something to do next time with friends.

It probably wouldn’t have worked without a buddy.  This is the magic of peer-modeling.   When kids help kids.  There is nothing better.

Matching Emotions