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,



Buttons and Zippers

Building Independence in Self Care

Up to now, we have always taken the easy way out on pants, shorts, shirts and shoes.

Elastic waist pants & shorts.  Over-the-head shirts.  Velcro shoes.

Avoiding buttons, zippers, snaps and tying.

Not any more.

Here is a way that Alma, one of John’s occupational therapists, told me to help him practice big-boy waistlines.

Using an old pair of pants (or shorts), pull back all the excess fabric (actually cut it off if necessary) around a flexible box.

And I got “upgraded” pants and shirts for him.

So now John gets to practice daily the button at the top (more challenging than shirt buttons) and zipper (harder than a backpack zipper).

And John “gets” to wear a button-down-the-front shirt every day now.

He protests, and tries to negotiate “no buttons today”.

Mom isn’t listening.

These pants you see have adjustable elastic tabs & buttons on the inside waistband.

So they don’t slide down, and we can delay on the belt (the next thing to add).

Also, John is getting more agile with his backpack zipping.

He is actually using the backpack now, as if he is curious about what is in it.

This is a new thing.

We have “practiced” backpack stuff, but never before did John show any interest or self-determination about what was in it (or not).

It seems that now he cares.

We are also working on the shoe tying, a story for another time.

So, dear parents, keep raising the bar on self care.

And allow more time for them to do it themselves, right?

Peace be with us,


Lunchbox, Backpack, Grocery Store

When He Chooses to Start Taking More Responsibility

John is using this sentence more and more:    (Thank you, dear angels)

“That’s my job, Mom.”

In many little and important ways each day.

We continue to work on John’s chores.

These tasks have recently fallen off Mom’s list and gone to his:

Packing his school snacks.

Buying special purchases at the grocery store with his debit card (special account, small amount).

Packing / unpacking and zipping / unzipping his backpack.

Seriously—John is now constantly puttering with the backpack, putting stuff in and taking it out.

For the first time in his life!

Meanwhile, I stay vigilant to anything I should quit doing for him.

The timing is important:  We can train for independence.

So when he (finally) voluntarily chooses to do anything,

Mom has to let go fast!

Motor Planning

Wish I Had More Hands, But At Least My Ticket's In My Pocket!

Zipping and unzipping suitcases and backpacks.

Stuffing things into suitcases and backpacks.

Holding awkwardly shaped things.

All are challenges that need practice to improve.

It is called motor planning.

Often comes with facial expressions of concentration.

Oh, how to use those fingers and hands as he wrestles with what he wants to do!

Mom shouldn’t help, other than show patience and offer some prompts

(starting with hand-over-hand and always moving toward less).

Here is motor planning practice in his beloved and highly-motivating world of taekwondo.

And you never know when another tool will pop up:

John has recently started talking about his ticket from school.

By now, a well-worn little chunk of paper.

First time ever he has talked about any reward system from school.

So, I ask his teacher what the story is.

It’s a school-wide reward system, recognizing students who demonstrate various aspects of character.

And John earned one.

It goes in and out of his zipper pocket, a treasured possession.

And even that is improving motor planning, right?

So, keep your eyes open for any and all efforts your child makes on doing things with his hands and fingers.

It’s all free therapy.,

Peace be with us,


The Need For Speed

Aware Of The Joy Of Winning

Ever hear of the Pinewood Derby?   It’s famous in the world of Scouts.

Each child gets a chunk of wood, four wheels and some goofy little axle pins.

Not too many rules:  just a maximum racing weight limit.

Other than that, Scouts can do pretty much anything they want in design.

This year, John has been paying more attention.

He decorated his car with a marker.

His name and a smiley face.

Apparently enough to win “Unique Design”.

Everyone wins something, right?

And his car came in #2, overall, among about 20 Scouts.

This caused great clamor among his peers, lots of cheering and lots of heats (times they run the cars).

You can see here an elaborate track.

When they announced his name as overall #2 winner, John let out a whoop and ran toward the announcer.

Quite joyous.  Quite aware.

Self-aware of his buddies happy and shouting for him.

Self-aware that his little car had done well.

Aware.  Alive.  In this world with us.

What we parents urgently seek:  our kids being aware.

So, keep putting your child in situations where self-awareness can grow.

And it may.  Don’t give up.

Peace be with us,



Get A Grip

Thumb is One, Says Piano Teacher

How to get him to hold a pencil the right way?

John’s extensive team is still trying to help him learn this oh-so-elusive skill.

So, as John would say, “How about this?”

Thus, we have blended piano fingering with occupational therapy with academic skills.

So, to standardize:

Thumb is 1.

Index Finger is 2.

Middle Finger is 3.

Ring Finger is 4.

Pinky is 5.

With the very faintest of prompts, I am to help John put 1 in the 1 hole.

The rest he has to figure out.

And no one says anything.

Eventually, the written number 1 will be purged from the grip.

And John finally grips a pencil in a 3-finger tripod grip.

Like the other kids.

And you know the secret, right?

Practice.  Practice.  Practice.

Try this with your kids?

Peace be with us,

And thanks, Alma Liotta!




And Then He Was Gone.

Mom Outsmarts Herself

On Christmas day,  I let John have a very long leash:  Walking the dog.

But I forgot something hugely important.

I forgot my words.

And so, I ended up seeking help from a 911 dispatcher (she was very kind) and seven (7) deputies in a local search.

It started when Mom handed John the leash with a dog attached, and said to take Spike for a walk.

It was a beautiful day, and he needed a brain re-boot from too much holiday TV.

I watched them meander down the street and turn right, out of sight.

I then realized I hadn’t actually said out-loud to come back at the stop sign.

(Also John didn’t say, “Mom, there is a secret path I know of, and I am coming home that way.”)

John has become an excellent boomerang, and so I waited a few moments.

Still nothing back in sight.

So I tried to catch up with them.

In my pajamas and bare feet.

And failed.

In a very visible-to-the-neighborhood way.

About ten minutes later, I decided I needed professional help.

My bellowing, my questioning of everyone I met, my searching up and down the streets hadn’t found them.

I came back to the house to use the toilet and check in with my teenager.

Still with the dispatcher on the phone.

I opened the door, and found John and Spike back safely at home.

John was playing on the Nintendo, like any other day.

So what did I learn?   That there was a secret path in the neighborhood I didn’t know about.

And now I do.

My teenager had taught John how to make a lap with Spike and how to come back home that way.

And that is what he had done.

Like a big boy.

Like a neuro-typical approach to a chore.

Seems I was was the only one who didn’t know of the secret path.

We thanked all the professionals for their rapid response.

Then we walked the same circuit together, with John and Spike as leaders.

Again, what did I learn?

Say things out loud.  Get a plan for meeting up, if we are going to allow for an independent journey.

(I do this when we part for public bathrooms or shopping in the store.  I just forgot that day with the dog.)

The sheriff who stopped by the house suggested a wristwatch tracking device or sending a cell phone with him.

All good ideas to check into.

And we shall continue to practice with this walking-the-dog-independence, with all the risks it brings.

Peace be with us,



Jumping Drills, Jumping Jacks, Jumping Anything

Ways To Build A Critically Important Two-Footed Launch

Call it cognitive overload.

Call it dendrite building.

The drill is to jump as far as you can, like a kangaroo.

Then do it again.

Until you get to the end.

Turn around and do it back.


Ah yes, jumping.

Here is John trying to be a kangaroo, in a taekwondo warmup exercise.

Jumping jacks or high-knees running in place are equally challenging (and entertaining to watch).

A good 2-footed launch.

Like a 2-year old has.

Except John was easily 6 before he could get both feet off the ground together.

And back then we had to practice a long time, jumping on a large white exercise ball, to gain the underlying skills.

We also embedded social engagement, expressive speech, and shameless use of a preferred stim.

This is how Rosemary taught me, and how you can do it at home with your child:

Wedge with your knee a big exercise ball into a corner.

Like a small domed wobbly trampoline.

Tell your child to climb up on top, only supported (barely) by your two index fingers

(stick out only your index finger on each hand and let him hold on).

Make him count 20 good jumps, launching from both feet simultaneously.

At the same time, he counts each jump out loud, while you look each other in the eyes.


After 20, he gets to do one thing he loves (like open a cabinet door).

After another 20, he gets to close that door.

Eventually your child will build the muscles, the dendrites and the confidence to take both feet off the ground at the same time.

Because now they know where their body is and where the floor is.

Jumping, in all its forms, builds many forms of body confidence.

It also naturally shifts the child forward into fine motor and oral motor skills.

So, try this at home with your kids?

You will be helping them move forward in their learning.

At a very reasonable cost.

Peace be with us,



Body Back, Body Front. Body Down, Body Up.

Helping a Child To Swing and Steer a Nintendo

Alma, John’s occupational therapist, explained it this way:

John’s ability to pump himself while swinging needs some help.

So use new words about the body, not just the feet kicking.

Forget “Pump your feet, John!”    Didn’t work.

Instead, try, “Body Back” (to go forward), “Body Front” (to go backward).

or “Body Down” (to go forward), “Body Up” (to go backward).

Whole-body, physical-moving leaning and learning, using new words to overcome inertia.

Try this with your child who keeps asking you to push them on the swing.

Also, I have noticed John is now leaning his body to keep Mario and Luigi on the road.

Steering to the left

Turning Left

John has figured out how to use our old Nintendo DS (the original handheld).

Not the Sports Wii while standing up.

Instead, when he is sitting.

This skill has been a long time in coming.

And I have not been able to help him, because I don’t understand the machine controls.

Besides, it is best that he (with peer modeling) figured it out by himself, right?

John is now full body into the road maneuvering, with those glazed-over eyeballs.

I don’t mind that he’s super-absorbed into the game, because that’s what other kids do, right?

That is the major litmus test I use.

If other (neuro-typical) kids do it, he gets to do it.

Most of the time.

And I am surely going to count all this physical movement as therapy.

Steering to the right

Turning Right

So, see if these ideas help your child?

Peace be with us,



“What Are You Doing?!”

Extrinsic Incentives

incentive4 incentive3Sometimes removing something beloved works wonders for John.

This type of motivation is extrinsic, from the outside.

Not as stellar as intrinsic (motivation from within—even when no one is looking).incentive1

So, sadly, when all else fails, when my kind, repeated, verbal requests are ignored,

I pick up the Wii remote and click it.


Done with requests, threats, words.

When the protests rise:  “What are you doing?!” (said by John with either a smirk or fake indignation),

he then hears, “you can earn it back.  Next time.”

(Something short like that.)

He knows he is manipulating me, and won’t respect me or my words if I fail to give him what he expects.

He now expects me to keep my word.

I have heard moms say, “I love you too much to argue with you.”incentive

Same concept here.

Another top beloved thing John can lose:  the taped-on taekwondo stripes on his belt.

Like the one you see here in the photo that used to be such a stripe.

His instructor, Ms. Coleman, awesome black belt mom that she is, has said if it becomes necessary, then rip it off the belt.

No words of  bargaining or re-negotiation.




Then, a quick re-direct back to business, whatever that is.

Try this with your kids?   It is utterly golden at our home.

Peace be with us,


The Power of Distal Phalangeals

Fingertip DIP Joints, And Why We Must Keep Moving

Today Alma, one of John’s occupational therapists (OTRs), was explaining why John’s fingertips don’t work.

It isn’t his fault or his choice.   It’s the brain/nerve system (neurology) unique wiring that he was born with.

His is lax, loose, and stretched out.

Compared to typical.

And to use those fingertips, to continue to build and keep strength in all those joints,

John must continue the movements we learn in therapies and in life.

Because if his growing muscle strength diminshes, so will his fine motor ability.

Here is a photo of his fingertips.

He had to work harder to get this configuration than I do.

John’s joints (all of them) are more stretched out.

All the time.

And so, he has to work far harder than I do to make his fingertips work.

To hold a pencil.  Zip a zipper.  Button a button.  Play a piano.

Anything fine motor.

And he will always have to work harder than typical.

But he can.

If he wants to, right?

And for the rest of his life.

Try this with your kids, and be aware?

Peace be with us,



Piano Dexterity

Spider Fingers


Can your child move his fingers individually?

As in playing one piano key at a time, with hand placement like this photo.

John couldn’t.

So, we have been playing spider fingers.

Trying to get those rigidly straight little non-jointed fingers to realize they can actually bend.

As for motivation, I can just say, “Mom is going to win!”, and try to move in.

John hates that.

Glad he is developing a sense of friendly competition.

So then it’s time to advance to both hands.

One silent, listening.

The other hand doing the talking.

One note at a time.

You see here Ms. Melanie, Music on the Go, providing wrist support.

Then the support fades.

We practice quiet body, quiet hands.

The proper walk-up-and-sit-down approach,

the proper positions of everything,

the proper patience and self restraint.

Secret weapon:  Someone says, “Mom is going to win!”

and then I take over the keyboard.

Oh, John hates that, with a happy face.

Five minutes a day practice.

We are making progress.

Perhaps your child can learn the keys and play music with fading supports.

The prettiest noises you will be hearing.

So, try this at your house?

Peace be with us,



Natural Consequences—Not Mom’s Agenda

Packing Your Own Suitcase

I re-learn every day that I can’t make anyone do anything they aren’t motivated to do.

Never mind whatever vision of success I had in mind for them.

If they want something, they will make the effort.

Or they won’t.2016-11-02-18-29-09

I can help provide the opportunity to earn that feeling of accomplishment.

And then, they have to do for themselves.

His effort must come before his success.

Or he won’t respect his success and accomplishment.

It won’t be dear to him.

So, I asked John what did he want……

……in his suitcase?

(You realize any activity could be inserted here, right?)

I flopped the suitcase open on the floor, and asked him to put in the stuff he wanted.

He gets to haul that suitcase on, off, in and out when he travels.

The suitcase is just a silly example of a powerful concept:

A huge component of John’s successful launch into independence will be when he feels the natural consequences of each decision.

Tough love.

So very hard for parents who love so dearly.

John gains nothing when I hand everything to him.

I would then be robbing him of any reason to do anything.

So try this with your child, and you may see a great pride in accomplishment.

When he is ready to try.

Or it won’t happen yet.

And I must wait until he is ready to try.

It can’t be my agenda.

Peace be with us,


“I’m Gonna Win!”

A Little Friendly Competition Really Works

2016-11-10-19-50-06Getting out of the house on time on school mornings has recently become so very much easier.

Because John wants to win.

I just yell, “I’m gonna win!”, and walk out the door to the car.

Keep in mind, this is a DEFCON-5 intervention.

For those mornings when nothing else works, and Mom is about to make a bad choice.

I get my stuff into the car, sit and calm down.

So far, depending on the morning, I have backed up, driven around the circle cul de sac, and (even) pulled back up into the driveway.

I watch to see him running toward me, some form of emotion on his face.

(Only the second time was sad and worried.  The first time, he didn’t believe me.   Now it has evolved into a laughing game, so not sure who is out-smarting who….)

I say something like, “where were you?”, “oh, I missed you!”, and “I forgot you!”.

With either a sad or happy face.

And please remember:  we had to work up to this level of freedom.gonna-win

When we are (finally) ready, I get out of the car and lock the front door.

And we are gone.

Next thing is to teach him how to close and lock the front door.

I use this process of “I’m gonna win!”  also with piano lessons and any other time my pile of re-directs fail to get “fast” going.

Another thing:  we practice “fast”.   A lot.  Sometimes successfully.

Perhaps this can work at your home?

Peace be with us,



I Lost My Kid

And It's In The Dark of Halloween

lost-dark-halloweenSome kids are runners.   John was more a wanderer.

Once, our neighbors found him several streets away.

So, for years we have practiced skills to help John become a boomerang.

He might go somewhere (independence) and still could find his way back.

So, the other night, we were Trick-or-Treating with little friends in a nearby subdivision.

In the dark.

Mom wasn’t wearing any of her glasses.

And she was distracted taking a video on her camera.

John was roving from house to house with several of his peers.

I blinked, and lost him.

I stayed calm enough, knowing that if there was anywhere in the unfamiliar dark to get lost,

it would be in that area with those friends.

I wandered around, asking.

About 30 minutes later, I found them.

On the front porch of the house where I had lost them.

Perfectly logical:  they had gone inside the boy’s house.

And that’s where I had lost the trail, because I was distracted and all turned around in the dark.

John didn’t act the least bit worried or even glad to see Mom.

I am sure he was loving the independence, never giving me a thought.

So what did I learn?

  1.  I should have discussed a plan with him in case we got separated.
  2. He has good instincts to stay with friends.
  3. Wear my glasses in the dark.

He was exactly where he should have been.

At the last place we were together with his peers.

Mom was messed up, not John.

Maybe this might help in your world.

Peace be with us,






When Birthday Presents Are Too Much

Stretching Kid Engagement

birthday-presents So, we made it through John’s 10th birthday party.

First time in his life that he wanted to blow out the candles at the party.

We had 27+ children at our local Main Event for bowling, pizza, cookie cake and arcade madness.

And then there was the pile of gifts.

One month later, these gifts are still sitting on the table, yet to be opened.

So, I could put them still unopened under the Christmas tree, like previous years.

Or we could have a post-party party.

Have the kids over to the house, to help John open and then play with whatever is there.

So we did.

And the funny thing is, the kids had so much fun in the front yard, the back yard, upstairs, downstairs, swimming and eatingbirthday-presents1

that nobody wanted to stop what they were engaged with, to open his presents.

So, maybe this idea may work for your gift-resistant child.

Invite everyone back for further-connection play.

Maybe the gifts will still end up under the tree.

(Epilogue:  it took a second post-party party to finally get them all opened.   Fun, no matter how you look at it.)

Peace be with us,



Sacred Things: Blue Stripe and Ralphie

"I Hope You Earn It"

Blue StripeJohn has two sacred things these days.

The first is the blue stripe on the taekwondo belt he earns by great behavior choices.

The blue stripe that is lost (ripped off like a bandaid by Mom) for poor behavior choices.

There are other colors of stripes earned, but blue is very special.

Here is the corpse of such a blue stripe, no longer on John’s belt.

It is an intervention of last resort, and hard to earn back.

The second sacred thing is a movie (A Christmas Story),

but he sort of socially stims on the “Daddy is going to kill Ralphie” part, blurting it out in public out of context.

After too many warnings, I hid the movie.

Months later, I found it and brought it out of time-out.

2016-07-18 21.48.48

Eyes of a hawk, John spotted it like the opiate it is, and begged for the movie again.

I said OK, after his list was done.

And then, suddenly, it was past bedtime on a school night.

I said, “turn it off now or I will hide it again.”

Wow.  It worked.

My favorite re-direct when John is nagging (perseverating) about something he wants:

I say, “Earn it”.

Short and sweet works quite well under this roof.

Maybe something here may help you.

Peace be with us,



Swallowing On Purpose, Part 2

Bigger, More, Diversity and Practice

swallow-2First, a bit about capsule sizes:  #5 is the smallest, working up through #00, then on to horse-sized.

If he can swallow these vitamins and nutritional supplements instead of Mom mushing everything up sugar-laden juice cocktails, then I will get more sleep.

Oops, I mean . . . . . . . John will grow in independence.

And travel will become far less stressful and more  normal.

Whatever normal is.

Also, some of what John needs to swallow tastes wretched; I know because I taste everything myself.

So I re-package it inside tasteless capsules.

I have mentioned the help of Rosemary Slade, OTR, and daily practice.

John has grown in skill: moving through #5’s, #3’s and round uncoated tablets (slightly smaller than an M&M)

The oval tablets I cut in half.swallow-more

Because John has started resisting the “sugar-laden juice cocktail” with all the stuff in it.

Thus causing an exhausting power-struggle.

Now John has grown into swallowing a pile like this (second photo) twice daily, with water in a cup with a straw.

Hardly any juice, less power struggle.

And increased oral motor skills and swallowing ability.

And this morning, I added two (far bigger) #0 capsules.  

John said “too big!”

I said “try, you are a big boy!”

And then they were gone.

Try this with your kids?

Peace be with us,


Building Banter Via Drive-Throughs

Creative Compromise, Longer Tethers of Independence

2016-06-30 18.04.53-2John wanted Burger King (they have paper towels in their bathrooms).

I wanted McDonald’s (they have chocolate dip cones).

So we were bantering back and forth in the car.

I was using every variation of voice, tone, pitch and silliness I could think of.

John was mirroring these that back, and creating some of his own.

Huge grin on his face.

Finally, John offered a creative solution.

“First Burger King, then McDonald’s.”

(Like he’s never heard, “first this, then that” ever before in his life!)

His solution just popped out of his mouth, and I hadn’t thought of it.

(To be honest, this was not the first time we have gone through more than one drive-through to appease everyone.)

I had to say “OK!”

And I didn’t get out of the car at Burger King.

I pulled up close to the door, and like we often do to stretch his independence,

John went in solo, and came out solo.

Big boy, intrinsic motivation stuff.

So maybe this might give you some ideas to try.

Peace be with us,


Take Kids on Errands

Stretching the Social Teachable Moment

2016-09-23-15-35-51-1See that pink paper in John’s friend’s hand?

That’s the birthday cookie cakes receipt.

I could have picked up the bakery goods myself.

Instead, I chose to wait until I had a car full of boys.

It took only 15 minutes to run the errand, which turned into a grocery story ice cream party when we coincidentally met other families running errands also.

A rich social experience followed, which would never  have occurred if I had been an efficient mom, doing errands when solo.

And then, the only place in the car to put the two birthday pans was in the back, on top of that flexible cover that pulls out like a window shade.

And there they stayed for hours, sliding around while we did other stuff.

Not so pretty anymore, but the kids didn’t care the next day.

Perfection is for adults.

So, think of ways to include your kids in errands.2016-09-23-21-32-35-1

They learn how to do things.

Also, I emotionally connected the kids to a big part of the next day.

They got the cakes from the counter out to my car.

Gaining skin in the game.  The cake game.

And these same kids were the ones who ate the cakes the following day at John’s birthday party.

Twenty-seven (27) kids for bowling, pizza, cookie cake and arcade chaos.

More opportunities for emotional bonding.

Liquid gold to John.

Maybe this can work in your world.

Peace be with us,