Come Out When You Are Ready

Yet Another Use For a Bathroom

If I were going to give John every opportunity to exercise his own decision-making,

to cultivate his intrinsic motivationCome Out

(when he is motivated from within himself, not because I bribe or coerce him),

how might that look (for example, on vacation)?

How about this:  him on the inside, me on the outside.

And I say, “Come out when you are ready.”

It worked.

And, funny thing, it has started a habit now for him that he elects a time-out,

a time to self-calm.

In the bathroom.

And he is now locking the door.

Good or bad, most of our biggest adventures involve bathrooms.

Maybe this will be useful to you.

Peace be with us.




How Long Do They Last?

The rainbow I saw recently lasted 13 minutes.   I stood there and timed it.


I know others in the local area saw the rainbow also.  Their posts shared unique thoughts about what the rainbow meant to them.

When we have a rainbow moment with our kids, what does that mean for you?

How long does your rainbow last?

My rainbow moment (with John here at taekwondo) lasted 15 seconds.  The joy of a child who is in the flow.

Don’t listen when fear or discouragement says “no!”

John says “no!” all the time.

It doesn’t matter.

Rainbow 20 secs Taekwondo1

I validate his feelings, and we wait a moment.

Then we do it anyway.

He has a deep neural pathway of saying “no!” that we are un-learning and re-learning.

Try this with your child?

Peace be with us,



And Picasso Looked Like "Pizza"

museum2 museum1museum3museum7
museum9museum8museum10The Fine Arts Museum, huh? Something Mom chose selfishly instead of the Kids Museum.

So, I was happy with the self-indulgent adventure.

But John wasn’t.  And I made things worse by making him pay attention to the paintings.museum4

In the classics, he counted the beards. museum12  In the modern art section, I pointed to different paintings and asked him what he saw.

At one Kandinsky, he said “1,2,3,4,5,6,7,8,9,10 eyes”.  And a Picasso looked like “pizza” (as colorful as it was, I would have added “veggie”).

John also described some paintings as women, green hat, trees, brown, yellow, and so on.

At one of a river, he started singing “Row Row Row Your Boat”.

To help him with “quiet body” and “hands off the exhibits”, I made John carry two books and/or keep his hands in his pockets.

I let him be leader as much as possible.

He seemed drawn to the white marble nudes—so maybe a little sex education thrown in for free.

(We haven’t done much of “the talk” yet but when we do, we use proper terms.  His gazes tell me he is increasingly aware.)

We made it fine and dandy through the ever-changing lighted tunnel museum11many times (with and without other people), the cafe and his first-ever panini-style grilled cheese.

We made adventures of all the museum5escalators, even going up backwards while holding his books for motor-planning fun.

I even got lucky with a little bonus cuddling while we read together in the cafe.

Guess he was tired.

Please don’t feel alone if you fear taking your child into such a place.  It may work out just great.

If not this time, then the next time.

Peace be with us,


The “I Would Never Drive Away and Leave You in the Store” Game

So Let's Keep This Learning Tether Growing Longer

John was horsing around in the bathroom.

I was ready to leave, done with shopping.

So, I asked an employee walking by if he would please tell John to come out.Never Leave You Store Game

He went into the Gents and said instead, “John, your mom has left the store and is driving away”.

I was standing right there, and didn’t correct his bad joke.

I truly thought nothing of it.

I waited for a while, paid the cashier, and waited some more.

Eventually, another employee of the store asked if he could help me.

I said I was still waiting on my young son, blue shirt, in the bathroom.

“But I saw him run out of the store” came out of his mouth.

Guess you know what I did next, right?

I found John safely by our car, far out in the parking lot.


We have since talked many times about how I would never leave him in a store.

About being “lost”, and where he should wait for me.

He knows how proud I am of him deciding what to do.

How scared I was.

How happy I was he was safe.

So many lessons to learn, and to share with you to discuss with your kids.

So you can practice, and be prepared for something similar.

And so to extend the teachable moment, the next time in the grocery store, we played a new game.

The “OK, go to the bathroom, and then find Mom wherever she is in the store” game.

And it worked great.

So, from fear to a ever-longer tether, right?

Maybe trying this, in tiny steps forward, might work with your family?

We play this game every time we are in a store.

Peace be with us,



(Clip art courtesy of PowerPoint Clip Art Library)

Shopping Cart Return

How far away can he go?

ShoppingCart1ShoppingCartJohn wanted to return the empty shopping cart to the right place.

It had been a very good shopping adventure.  John had driven well.

He had helped load it all onto the conveyor belt, and helped load stuff into the car.

As good as it gets.

But now he wanted to take the empty back.


But he didn’t go the the closest clump (the thin white circle).

Nor to the next closest cluster (the thin white oval).

He kept going.  I have no idea what his selection criteria was.

I just kept praying for all those parking lot angels to kick in.

He eventually trotted back, fine and dandy.

A tether extended.  Risk rewarded.

And most importantly:  Practice.

Try this with your kids?

Peace be with us,


You Are Going to Need That Shoulder

(so don't do what I did)

So you are often sitting in the car, in the driver’s seat, right?need that shoulder 1

You reach back into the back seat to do many things, even lift heavy items.

Probably over-use your right arm and shoulder.

I did this far too much.


You will give yourself shoulder trouble:  rotator cuff, frozen shoulder, etc.

And then you will spend months in pain and rehab, more money than you wish, and possibly endure surgery.

Instead, let the kids do it themselves or move to a smarter body position.


Do this in your car.

Peace be with us,


Oh, Poor Choice! You Now Have to Cuddle!

Forced Cuddling, Part 2

Today John wasn’t happy with my forcing him to watch a new movie.

How horrible could watching Ice Age for the first time be?

(Maybe your child is afraid of new movies?)

Anyway, he wanted to swim and I made him watch for 30 minutes to earn swimming.Forced Cuddling 2

He wasn’t happy about this, and made a really poor choice, in rebellion.

So I created a new intervention, rather than using an existing one,

(like peeling off a Taekwondo stripe).

Very precious thing, that stripe.

Rather, I made him sit in my lap watching the movie for another 30 minutes.

Yes, it did make me sit down (not so bad, right?)

And we watched a new movie, and I made him cuddle with me.

I even set the timer.

Mean old mom.

Maybe this might work at your home, for all kinds of reasons.

Peace be with us,


“You Have to Cuddle”

("and if you wiggle, I am adding more time"

One of the lost kinds of parent pleasure with kids of learning differences are too few moments of cuddling.cuddle

So we now have a new intervention, “Forced Cuddling”, to build those neural pathways.

We started with 4 minutes.

I said, “Wiggle, and I am adding a minute”.

John stopped wiggling.

Then it became a fun exercise in silliness and negotiating minutes.

John got to laughing and having some moments of happiness and joy.

The way it was supposed to have been.

And so did mom.

cuddle 1

And we are building neural pathways for his future.

Try this at home?

Peace be with us,


Rainy Day Dodge Ball

For all our unexpected predators

The house of John is often a field of battle.

Especially on rainy days.

Especially when other kids are playing with him.

John has become an unlikely predator on the dodge ball courts at Sky Zone.

Rainy Day Dodgeball

And at home, it’s fair game also.

Any kind of moving play is OK—-more than OK.


So, put your fancy stuff somewhere safe.

Bring out the Nerf guns, small balls, jumpy toys, bouncy anythings.

Game on!

Because mid-line crossover is anywhere you can find it.

Occupational therapy done right is so fun the kids don’t know it.

And joy in movement means learning and progressing.

Try this at your home?

Fancy vases are for someone else.

Peace be with us,


“Please oh Please Let Me Bite This Cone”

(a prayer from oral sensory fear)

It almost looks like biting the cone.

But not quite.  And Mom was nagging him to try.

bite that cone

For the cone is wet, squishy and far too scary.

So, it is possible to be almost 10 years old, and still fear a squishy ice cream cone.

And yet there is hope.

John loves to practice brave in the bathrooms where those blow dryers lurk.

And he can now eat a grilled cheese sandwich and a cheese burger.

So, some day soon, the squishy ice cream cone will bite the dust, and another tiny neural pathway victory will be won.

On the road to sensory integration normal.

Whatever normal will be.

So, keep encouraging your kids in this kind of stretch.

And if you have no idea what I am talking about, count your blessings.

Peace be with us,




(The Joys of)

When you get a big cardboard box, what do you do with it?box2

Remember this old-fashioned idea?

And I just left it sitting in the middle of the room.

Eventually, John must have thought it looked like a comfy reading place.

What do your kids do with a box?

Do they earn it?

Or just keep stumbling over it until they decide it is valuable?

Some of the best ideas are the old ones.

If it is a little bit boring (or isn’t electronic), that’s OK.

Kids need to be a bit bored before their imaginations kick in.

Peace be with us,



“I Did a Good Job . . . . !”

Shiny, Dancing Eyes

The task sounds so simple to most kids:  Wash your hands. shiny dancing eyes2

Except when it isn’t simple.

For some kids, it’s a complicated process.

And too-many re-directs from a hovering adult kills the joy.

So this morning, as I was watching, I tried NOT to think about the clock.

I just watched him as he kept glancing at me in the mirror, each step of the process.

You could tell he knew he was doing every part right, and the joy was building in his face.

Then, he turned toward me and said in a #3 voice, “I did a good job washing my hands!”

I also got a huge happy hug with that smile.

Last thing he said scootering off to school 20 minutes later was “I did a good job washing my hands!”

Just in case I had forgotten.

It was a face of joy.  Joy as from the angels.

Watch for your kid doing such stuff?

Peace be with us.



“You Are Miserable Because You Are Stalling”

An Intervention for Kid Accountability

My son has a daily list of things he must do.

Then he earns electronics.

Sometimes John stalls in magnificent ways.Stalling

I continue to learn new ways to remove myself emotionally from his poor choices.

I use these words, “John, you are miserable right now because you are stalling.”

Of course, electronics is at the bottom of his list.

And now, the basketballs are up in the window.

For anyone who has been in our house, it is a kid house.

A therapy house.

Everything bounces, wiggles, rolls, moves.

Balls are frequently in the air, or about to hit what would be a forbidden surface in a “normal” home.Stalling1

But now, the balls are on the list, and up on the high ledge.

And Mom has to hold her ground.

Maybe this work in your home?

Peace be with us,


He Wants It That Badly

2+ Hours in a Large Sensory Overload Box

Recently, John spent hours in a small portable Mario Brothers heaven/hell,  for the joy of being with his neuro-typical peers.

Then on to all the other stuff that goes with a little boys’ birthday party.

Including catching pollywogs from the creek with a paper cup.

He even ate a whole piece of pizza.  (A big deal!)Mario Bros

Doesn’t sound like much for many kids, but it was a super sensory stretch of time.

And he wanted to because there were other kids there.

And out of his mouth came some of his very best sentences ever.

So, continue to encourage your kid community for invites to parties.

New sensory neural pathways can grow every day, if we give them a reason to stretch.

Peace to us,


“So, Do You Get to Keep the Rope?”

Advocacy in Unexpected Places

Rope“So, do you get to keep the rope?” he asked me on the way out of the Township Development Standards Committee meeting.

I was there, with son John in tow, because my neighbor complained about John’s therapy climbing rope in a front-yard tree.

I started my 3-minutes at the hearing by saying,

“This is a sad affair.  My neighbor’s wife is a retired special ed teacher, and I don’t understand this.”

I went on to briefly discuss John’s interventions, mid-line crossover, primitive reflexes, building skills for the classroom, my role in community learning projects, and why I couldn’t give up on his interventions.

I said we had only 1 branch on the entire property which supports his (physical, educational) learning.

I finished by respectfully reminding the full room of two national laws protecting the rights of the disabled:

  • Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA), 2004, Part B, which discusses physical learning and physical education.
  • Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) Amendments Act, 2008, which discusses how the law can be “interpreted broadly”.

(I have been prepping for John’s annual ARD, so the laws have been very weighty in my vertical learning curve these days.)

After brief discussion, they gave me the conditions of the temporary approval of my “improvement”.

So, on our way out, when asked, I got to tell him, “Yes”.

He nodded in approval, and I took it for a vote for Underdog John.

John did quite well during the meeting, and got excited when he saw his house, front yard, and rope up on the big screen.

He shook hands and thanked the men at the door as we left.

And, of course, he just had to make a poor behavior choice, so I had to make him “do it right”, with a small audience.

Oh well.

So, maybe this helps you when you face yet another unexpected teachable moment.

As John says, “practice brave”, and speak up.

Peace be with us,


Car Nerf Gun War – For Boys to Fit In

Whatever It Takes For Social Modeling, I Guess

Boys like to shoot guns.  It’s a fact, I guess.

So here is an idea that may work in your world.

In the car, with the windows up.nerf gun1

Little boys who know how to do it are the teacher.

John is the learner.nerf gun2

The driver minds her own mommy business of chauffeuring safely.

Not sure if it is best practices, or just social “whatever it takes” for neuro-typical peer modeling.

But it is also sharing teachable moments with anyone who will listen.

For we are teaching the next generation of teachers, therapists, doctors, nurses, and other experts about our kids with learning differences.

In John’s life, his neuro-typical friends teach John how to climb ropes, shoot nerf guns, and so much more.

Active learning, kinestetic learning at its very best practices.

For both sides of the learning:  the seekers who both give and receive.  And sometimes vice-versa.

Peace be with us,




More Than One Way to Skin a Cat

Creative Problem Solving: Sleeping in the Bathroom

2016-04-15 21.28.12Last night, John wanted to sleep anywhere but in his room.

I had to get up early the next morning, so not with me.

Not in the playroom, out in the open.   Too noisy.

He was in his room, lights out, and told me to go.

Good—we train for independence constantly.

Later on, I heard a very large squirrel making rearranging noises in the bathroom, but I didn’t investigate until I went to bed.

This is what I found.

Now, we sometimes play here, but very very very seldom is this where we start the night.

John won.  Mom lost.  If you want to call it losing.  (I didn’t really, because it was creative and solved his problem of loneliness.)

I wish I could tell you I elegantly relocated him, but the truth is way closer to dragging him by the arms through the door, into his room.

So, if you notice opposition in your home, if it borders on creative problem solving, kid-style, think about it as a step forward in critical thinking.

Peace be with us,


So I Must Start Earlier

Because My Kid Stalls, Manipulates, Cajoles, Re-negotiates, and is Sometimes More Determined Than I Am.

Yikes! This morning I promised myself to start earlier on everything:  getting up, getting out the door, going to bed, anything with a clock on it.

I am holding my ground on No Electronics Until The List is Done.  oxygen mask

The List is made each day, at John’s request, and works more profoundly on paper than in the air.


I do doing pretty good on No Re-Negotiating, and give myself a C+ on Just Say It Once.

And, this oxygen mask process:  “You First, Then Your Child” also works with Peace, Joy, Time-Outs, Walking Away, No More Nagging, on and on.

I must put this mask of Calm on me FIRST.   Then on my child.

The other way round doesn’t serve my joy or helps me make good decisions on how much I let the stress of each event pile up on me.

Peace to us all,



P.S.  Clip Art courtesy of PowerPoint Library

“Another One Bites The Dust”

(And the Joke is on Mom)

Another One Bites The DustYesterday at bedtime my son was doing what he wanted to do.

Not what I wanted him to do.

So, I got out my secret weapon.

I laid the blow dryer on the floor beside John.

Thought I was so sneaky and clever.

John picked it up, started to play with it, plugged it in, and blew air all over his face and body.

Grinning so broadly.  So proudly.

We both started laughing and celebrating.

A former instrument of terror had just bitten the dust.

Of course, I had lost my best secret weapon.

But today, I wrote on his list that he could earn “playing with the blow dryer tonight” as a motivator.

It worked.   Two nights in a row.

I was afraid to say anything last night, but here on Evening #2 is proof.

How could this help you?

Peace be with us,



“I Want To Go Home”

Self Awareness and Emotional Self-Regulation

For 2 long loud days,

John has held together:

Good behavior choices at school, after-school speech, playing at the park with kids,  basketball & Cub Scouts Pinewood Derby celebration.Metacognition

Two nights in a row, John has told Dad, “I want to go home”.

He was able to choose telling Dad instead of having a public melt-down.

(This hasn’t always happened, right?)

This is called “meta-cognition” (“I am thinking about my thinking”).

Let this encourage you to keep working with your kids for their self-awareness.

And then the victory of telling you what they need.

John and I practice this all the time.

Our kids can use this skill for their entire life.

Peace be with us.




Will He Cheat?

Or Will Intrinsic Motivation Kick In? And What About the Joy of the List?

Usually when John reads his (required) 30 minutes a day, Cop Mom hovers.

This morning, I told John he was in charge of the book, his reading, the timer, his breakfast.2016-02-21 21.52.12-1

I went upstairs, “to get clean”.   So we could go to Sunday school.

I admit I did peek from time-to-time, and I saw no cheating.

Instead, he read more loudly so that I could hear it upstairs.

Usually, he sandbags the reading by keeping it all in his head.  I can only assume he is actually reading.

Today, I heard it loud and clear.

He did rebel against 30 minutes on the timer.

Instead, he did 25 + 5.

OK with me.

And he joyfully got in my face to declare his victory.2016-03-18 19.03.52-1

I wonder how it will work for all the tomorrows?

Try this with your kids?

Another bonus has been the sheer joy John has learned—crossing off his things to do from his list.

This photo doesn’t do it justice.  He is excited, so purposefully editing his daily list.

He is becoming goal (checking-it-off-the-list) oriented.

I think that kinda counts, don’t you?

Peace be with us,



Dear Overwhelmed Parent: If Your Child Has An ARD & IEP, What is The Code?

That Code Determines Inclusion or Not. Not is Against the Law.

I just learned that for almost 4 years, I have signed ARDs by our school district putting my son in Code 44.

Section 7, Instructional Arrangement.

Code 44.  >60% in Self-Contained.

John has changed tons in 4 years.   His Code 44 hasn’t.

John isn’t motivated by seclusion.  He is increasingly motivated by his peers.  The Joy of Children.  Codes

Neuro-typical peers whom he can model and maybe even show off for.

So, if you have an ARD and IEP, you have a Code.

Is your child motivated by inclusion?  Or seclusion?

My son is highly motivated TO LEARN because of other kids.  He really could care less about another adult bossing him around.

He’s had 24/7 therapy for almost 8 years.  He’s done with adults.

Here is the link to the new law. 

Here is the YouTube Channel for OSERS (Office of Special Education and Rehabilitative Services)

OSERS Home page

(and 1 link takes you to another link)

Don’t kick yourself, like I have been doing—-parenting of learning differences is exhausting.

Instead, be knowledgeable of what your school district is doing and why.

Kids change.

So must Codes.

Peace be with us,


Where Are My Remotes?

Good Question!

Up high on the shelf.  That’s where.

And all the electronics are unplugged.

Because John is testing Mom, to see if he can get away with something.2016-02-07 18.27.41

You see, everything was going smoothly, according to (Mom’s) schedule this morning, on target for getting to Sunday school on time.

But then, unexpectedly (although anything is expected, so nothing should be unexpected, right?), John started making bad choices.

So the remotes are up very high, everything opiate is unplugged, and John has learned cheating doesn’t pay when using my phone timer for reading minutes.

Also, he needs to eat his breakfast.

The more I hover, the worse his decisions.

So I left the area, and got myself ready.

After a short time, John tracked me down to tell me good news.

He wanted his remotes back, also.

At my house, sometimes when the audience leaves, the best stuff happens.

Maybe this might work in your world.

Peace be with us,


“I Watched the Movie by Reading the Book”

More Than One Kind of Super Heroes Comic Book

Graphic NovelJohn usually fights required reading.

Today was different.   He picked out the graphic novel (comic book) of “Inside Out”.

Usually he doesn’t share his quality reading with me.  I just get the bad stuff.

Today was different.  He lingered over the pages, talking, inventing, recalling, sharing with me, looking at me.

Not at all in a bad way.

He was in the flow.  Reading a comic book.   About some heroes he loves.

Remember the old Carl the dog storybook series?   Just pictures, you made your own words and story.

Well, if John needs to increase his imagination (AND HE DOES), then what he did today would count toward imaginary play.

Don’t you think?

So, maybe for our kids lagging in expressive language, try a high-quality “comic book” of someone or something they love.

Maybe they will make a movie in their heads.

That’s what John said to me, “I watched the movie by reading the book”.

Bet you find some joy also.

Peace be with us.



Look What We Found in the Park in the Dark

We will take it home. We will call it Clark.

It is a football.   2016-02-17 19.33.48

A kid playing with a football, in the dark, trying to throw it, catch it, kick it.

No big deal, right?

But remember that some kids don’t learn how to play with toys at the right age.

And parents of those kids keep buying toys, hoping that the next toy will be the one that makes play “normal”.

So, for all us parents who dread toys, birthday parties, unwrapping gifts, and childhood play in general,

please be encouraged to keep giving your child the opportunities to grow into them.

Let them see other kids play with stuff.   That is how John learns—–by watching other kids.

This photo isn’t remarkable to most parents.

But to some of us, it is a hope for tomorrow’s toys.

In the park in the dark.

Peace be with us,


“It’s Always Something” (Rosanna Rosanna Danna)

Uncertainty to Fear to Anger to Remorse to Peace to Joy

FearAngerRemorseJoyJohn made a string of decisions that broke Mom’s heart.

The natural consequences of these decisions conjured up Uncertainty of the future.

From Uncertainty, Fear set in.

From Fear to Anger. (Mom got mad on the inside and the outside.)

Then Remorse set in, and we (son & mom) talked about how we were both going to make better choices next time.

By the time dear Rosemary Slade, OTR, arrived, I was still neck-high in Remorse and Sadness.

By the time we had transferred wisdom from Rosie to Gayle, Peace and Joy were trickling back in.

Key points to share with you (in case it helps you):

  1.  If he doesn’t want to yet, he won’t.  (Mom, remember intrinsic motivation?)
  2. If it weren’t this thing, it would be that thing.  There will always be something else.
  3. He is going to go through childhood. So let him.
  4. Hold your boundaries, Mom.  Hold your ground.  With Peace.

(Mom, you are moving too fast through today!)

Maybe this can help you with your daily path toward joy.

Peace be with us,


No Chair for You, Young Man!

No "just standing" either

2016-01-24 11.00.18Every opportunity to cause movement, mid-line crossover, off-balance anything, is worthy.

No Chair for me

So, never a chair if I can avoid it.

Always something that wiggles, rolls, moves, slides around.

I always try to position his body and his stuff so that he has to reach across to the other side.

So, if you have one of these kind of balls, let your child sit on it.

Point legs the opposite way, put cups on the wrong side.

Try this at your house every day.

Also, this balance board is nifty, and we use it for playing Wii and anything else that is just standing.

These balance-building interventions are working in my world.

I hope it will work for your child.

The science is there.

Peace be with us,


Eckhart Tolle, Anger, Apology & Awareness

Mom/Kid Strategy for Next Time

John made a decision I didn’t want.  Over and over.

Mom uses humor initially, but eventually my laughing becomes anger.

Then yelling happens.

(On one hand, having a verbal jousting with a child learning how to use expressive language is a great achievement, even adventure.)

But yelling isn’t a good empowerment, right?

Then we cool down, I apologize to John (and vice versa).  We then talk about what went wrong.

And we come up with a plan on what to do and not to do next time.

This happens twice in 14 hours.

So, when the third opportunity to yell arrives, Mom remembers the new plan.

Much better!

Later, I was watching Eckhart Tolle, and found his conversation on anger.

Hope this helps you as it has helped me re-find my joy.  Check out what he says at 9:25.

Peace be with us.

Erasing the Whiteboard is Cheating

So We Will Use Paper & Pen----And You Own It.

2016-01-24 09.08.22John has been learning that cheating is not OK.

He used to think it was really funny when he grabbed the white board and wiped the list clean.

Then he found out we would just write the list (of stuff to do) on paper instead.

With a penalty—more of whatever he was trying to avoid.

And no electronics until the list was done.

And I tell him, “John, you are miserable right now because YOU are making bad choices.”

I know he understands.

I just have to keep my ego out of his rebellion.

I hope this helps in your home.

Peace to us,