Wednesday, June 30, 2010

Life Lessons from Jillian

I don't think one should take all life lessons from Jillian Michaels but she said something on Losing It this week that struck a chord with me:

When you give yourself credit for something and take pride in what you do, it doesn't mean you think you're better than someone less. It just means that you value who you are and you send that message to the world.

This gels and seems to be just one more confirmation in many areas of my life that are melding together. It also seems to meet up with the previous post on The Road Not Taken. It is difficult to take pride in something that you are doing when it is not apparent to others that it is the 'right' way to do things. Questions abound, people tell you that you are intimidating..when in fact they are the ones that are being intimidating whether they realize it or not. Not all the choices we have made have been easy..homeschooling, RDI, biomed, implant. And they look 'different' to outsiders. I have been trying to 'justify' RDI to quite a few folks this week. People say that I am using technical language because it is so foreign. Slow down your speech, slow down your actions, wait for the child to answer, WAIT for them to look to you. Sloooowwwww.. .slooooowwwww.... waaaaiiiiittt.....waaaaiiiittt... That's it. That is MUCH of what we do. You can do that in ANY activity. It does not matter what it is. I don't understand how that is so confusing. We don't script, we don't do charts, we do very little behaviorally. We set limits, but work with Andrew's developmental age and we use daily activities to accomplish the objectives we are working on. The activities stay the same- but the objectives change.

That is basically it. We are taking things developmentally. We are not working with Andrew at at forth grade level. When I tell people that Andrew is a 12 month old developmentally I can hear over the phone, people's eyes roll in the back of their head. Seriously. They don't GET it. Because they are constantly trying to put putty in the holes instead of breaking apart the whole stinking bridge and starting from scratch. Putty starts to leak after awhile. And breaking will happen again. Maybe not until college or real life. But when you build a life around static situations, you learn to BE static. Yet..i was told more than once today..that is what parents want. be it. We are taking the road less traveled. But we are breaking apart the bridge (and there has been some serious breakage around here over the past 6 months) and we are BUILDING ON A STRONG FOUNDATION! I mean that from a spiritual, emotional and physical sense. (I could write a whole other blog entry on my own spiritual breakage but that would be to intense I believe.)

So I don't think we are better than anyone else but I do value what we are doing. I don't mean to be flip truly but RDI, although 'hard' to DO because you have to do it yourself (as a parent with a consultant), is just basic child development. It is about being present and available. I am just tired of the uphill battle in a land where people have out their putty knives.

And that has made all the difference.....

The Road Not Taken

Two roads diverged in a yellow wood,
And sorry I could not travel both
And be one traveler, long I stood
And looked down one as far as I could
To where it bent in the undergrowth.

Then took the other, as just as fair,
And having perhaps the better claim,
Because it was grassy and wanted wear;
Though as for that the passing there
Had worn them really about the same.

And both that morning equally lay
In leaves no step had trodden black.
Oh, I kept the first for another day!
Yet knowing how way leads on to way,
I doubted if I should ever come back.

I shall be telling this with a sigh
Somewhere ages and ages hence:
Two roads diverged in a wood, and I--
I took the one less traveled by,
And that has made all the difference.

Robert Frost

Sunday, June 27, 2010

Blog Walk

The new TOS Crew is blog walking 10 blogs at a time of those that are on the Crew. I missed week 1 and 2 but here is week three. There are some very fun blogs in here. Don't forget to subscribe to the blogs while you are there.

Friday, June 25, 2010

The mind of Andrew....

We have regular "Andrew-isms" around here... he is the pun master and joke teller extraordinaire. He also asks some great questions. The past few evenings we have been working on a geography e-book that I received for review from TOS. Andrew says, with all sincerity, "mom, why do we have to know this?" And I do not have a good answer. I told him that it is 'important' to know geography. I think we may have to 'dig deeper' to connect the dots for him. It is funny- on math and handwriting, he balks, but he never asks 'why.' He gets the connection. "Just because I said so" doesn't cut it with him. And I like that about him. He will never be one to run with the crowd and give in to peer pressure.

There is a fantastic story about an autistic girl (embedded below) that has been listening, and thinking for YEARS and now has a voice by typing out her words. We assume things about people and those on the spectrum..that they all think like us (or don't get things at all). But it is interesting that Andrew seems to get better than most that PERSPECTIVE difference is "OK." I blogged about that a few days ago. This girl in the story is precious. She has quite a little sassy personality on her. She just can't get it out! Well, she couldn't but now she can. I am quite sure that many of the things she has done over the years have come across as 'naughty' were just an attempt at expression.

But Andrew speaks so well...and his language is incredible! Especially given that he didn't hear until he was 13 months old. So CLEARLY he MUST understand since he has great language and is so smart. It MUST be 'bad behavior.' RIGHT? These are the biases that I come up against on a regular basis. I will tell you that children are very very forgiving. Those on the spectrum and 'neurotypical' kids. Some adults- not so much. Sure there is the occassional kid who says, "hey dude. you are weird." But when an adult says something that shows me they 'assume Andrew must know he is behaving badly' sticks with me for days. This could be splashing in the pool, tagging too hard at tag, knocking over someones blocks, or kicking sand. As one example, we went to the Hands On Muesum this week. It was a 'block party' and they had oodles of large soft blocks to build with. I could see this as an accident waiting to happen. I could see throwing of the blocks, knocking down someone's tower...etc. I previewed with Andrew what was acceptable behavior and he did quite well. But I was right there giving guidance and there were enough other things around to capture his attention.

In another instance Andrew threw water on someone and an adult said, "maybe we should throw water back on him." They said that out loud. It wasn't 'right' what Andrew did but he was playing and we did have water out. And I don't teach him 'tit for tat.' Actually splashing him would have been a better response.. vs. stating it out loud. That is a natural reaction. This is one reason I was so glad the squirt guns were not brought out at park day yesterday. He wouldn't have had his listener on and would have been squirting everyone including adults. We often play the game with adults at home. So he would have a hard time shifting his brain to think differently in a new situation. When Andrew gets hurt (physically) he often erupts. This is not the time to reason with him, to have him see how the other person feels etc. Often another person getting physically hurt will effect him in the same way. These are all things that show me that his brain is wired differently. He needs to learn (and is) how to reference me to gauge his emotions. He is just starting to look to me, as a 1 year old might, on gestures. The other will come..I know it will because of the progress we have seen. But it will take time. That is what RDI is all about..... going after the core deficits (and I believe re-wiring the brain. That is another post too- the negatives that are showing up with the positives as Andrew's brain is re-wired.)

So how CAN you react with a child who is acting socially inappropriate?

One of the biggest instances of grace we have received was when Andrew hit a little girl about half his size. This happened a year ago at our homeschool co-op. Andrew was sorry and expressed that. She said, "I forgive you." I was still mortified a week later and spoke to the mom. She said, "Julie (kid) and I just talked about how it was not acceptable but Andrew is learning social issues a bit older than most because of his disability. We talked about God's grace and how we need to extend that to Andrew." I still tear up at this interaction.

A final thought...all of this is independent of IQ. The core deficits of autism are independent of IQ. I know people all over the "IQ" spectrum that, when they begin RDI they are back at square one of 'development.' Sometimes the high IQ has made the 'behavior' worse over time because they have been able how to manipulate the situation (their world) to make it as static as possible. That high IQ can also help them fly through the stages but initially resistance to become an apprentice is high. But there are no formulas.

Here is just one article on the core deficits of autism. If you google 'core deficits RDI' there are a number of hits. Not all of them are 'valid.' If you are interested in more info on it for yourself or a loved one, or just to learn, please email me and I can give you more of an overview. I think I will blog it myself at some time.

Anyway this is my little Saturday Morning Rambling. Maybe I should start a MEME for it.

additional note added: As I read through this again it makes it seem like we see this behavior all the time. We don't. But he also does do many mis-steps and we have to deal with them as they come. He is such a great kid to be around..and oodles of fun.

Five Question Friday

1. Do you know how to play a musical instrument?
I have tried many. Played the flute, violin, piano at various intervals. Went to Interlochen summer camp and all that jazz. Now I play drums.

2. What is your pet peeve while driving? Construction and my minds ability to not remember where the construction is located. Went the same route in 2 days...duh.

3. Would you rather have a housekeeper or unlimited spa services? Do I have to choose?? Apparently not.. as the inventor of this little meme said both. I laughed because I had thought originally...I"ll put both but I can't really DO that. Well if i HAVE to choose I think I will take the housekeeper. I can put massages under medical expense :)

4. Is there a song that you hear that will take you back to the moment, like in junior high or hight school dance?
Stairway to Heaven... the long slow dance. Depending on your perspective that was either the greatest song on earth or TORTURE!!!

5. What song best represents your life right now?
Going to pick a few
The Climb my Miley Cyrus.
In the Blink of an Eye by MercyMe
Only Grace by Matthew West
More Beautiful You by Jonny Diaz
Casualties by Addison Road
You are a Child of Mine by Mark Schultz
Walk on Water by Britt Nicole
Your Hands by JJ Heller
Burn the Ships by Stephen Curtis Chapman
but probably the Best for me is:
He is with you by Mandissa

Not sure if THIS LINK will work for the play list i created because Youtube has changed some things. But I put the above songs in a playlist called "life." enjoy

Thursday, June 24, 2010

"I don't mean to offend you but.."

Andrew has a habit of saying the above and then adding..."you look fat." He did that a few weeks ago to a child at OT. Things went from bad to worse when the adults involved tried to logic him to stop saying it. That just made him say, "I'm sorry..but you are fat." (over and over again...)

People think- well just tell him DON'T SAY stuff like that. He has probably said that fat thing about 100 times. I heard him say it to someone at a grad party this weekend. But truly he thinks it is 'ok' to say it and telling him not to seems illogical to him. He also doesn't place value on it. I told him I was going to loose some weight and he said.."no mommy! I like you squishy." yea .. sorry kid. I gotta loose the squishy.

Our RDI consultant recommended a book: Look Me In The Eye. It is written by an adult w/ Apsergers. I don't really like that much of the book. The text is somewhat boring to me and there is some 'naughty' language but I think I will buy it (I have a library copy) just for one chapter called, Logic vs. Small Talk. (There is also some in there on how he feels his brain has been re-wired over the years. The second half of the book is better.) There are several pages that are most interesting but let me type out a couple of paragraphs. Starting on page 192:

As to weight...if he looked bigger, I'd say, "You seem fatter than the last time I saw you." I've learned by life experience that people get fatter for any number of reason, most of which are benign. I am aware that people may not like having their deficiencies- increased bulk, for instance- pointed out. But my mouth may spit out, "You look fatter!" before my brain concludes, It would be rude to say he looks fatter!

Losing weight is another matter. If someone looks a lot thinner, I might say, "You look a lot thinner..are you sick?" I know people go on diets. But people my age are just as likely to be thinner because there's something wrong with them. ....

The chapter has much more than discussing just this but it points to the fact that even as an ADULT, he struggles with saying inappropriate things. He was not diagnosed until he was 40..he has tools... yet sometimes his inborn brain wiring just doesn't quite get things 'right.' So be compassionate and patient with those on the spectrum when it comes to communicating. The closing paragraph of the chapter:

With me, though there is no external sign that I am conversationally handicapped. So folks hear some conversational misstep and say, "What an arrogant jerk!" I look forward to the day when my handicap will afford me the same respect accorded to the guy in a wheelchair.

Sunday, June 20, 2010

Welcome to GNOWFGLINS eCourse!

I am going to finally delve into this e-course. I had originally asked the creator if I could 'sample' the classes to review them and she has recently changed the pay structure to donate when you can. I am going to post these over on my Picking Fruit blog...but wanted to give it some press here as well. So stay tuned and subscribe or follow Picking Fruit! If you want to know what GNOWFGLINS.... go to her website. Just a little tease.

Learn the fundamentals of traditional cooking in a 14-lesson multi-media online class!

Saturday, June 19, 2010


A friend posted the video below on facebook. It is so rich. I have seen the movie and it is excellent but this clip in particular is just all (Of course they knew that when they put it in, but still watching it again and again it brings strong emotions. What can I say? I'm a sucker for stuff like this.)

This can be applied to so many areas of my life. I think back to when Andrew was first diagnosed with a hearing impairment and then he was implanted with his "listener." It took some time before it 'took.' We kept crawling....

We still do that today with Andrew's other issues. We keep crawling along and some days it feels like this video. And we do have a blind fold on. Where is the finish line? But we have a coach in God. I am not sure he yells like this coach..but he does sometimes. And at other times he is silent. I also think that there are times that we can and should rest but even then God is moving us along.

I also think this is applicable to health. So many friends are struggling with their health right now. It is hard for some of them to even get out of bed in the morning because of the issues they struggle with. But somehow they continue to move- not defeated- with encouragement from God and friends. I too feel a bit defeated especially in the weight loss department. I keep trying but when everything else is out of control I have 'control' over what I eat. And so i do.. I am beginning to feel that I have more value than what I give myself when I shove food in my mouth.

My favorite line from the clip is, "If you walk around defeated so will they." It is so important to be able to be REAL with some friends about your daily struggles but we are victors when we have Jesus in our lives. I have recently been reflecting with a friend on how God gives us all dreams and visions in our hearts. They are personal to us. When we listen to that as well as the direction for achieving those, even though there are some days that are like the death crawl, the yoke is easy and the burden is light because we are in His plan.

Tuesday, June 15, 2010

The Presidential Observations...

I DVR'd Losing it with Jillian Michaels. I debated between popcorn or ice cream. I made popcorn.. I poured myself a big glass of ice water, grabbed the remote, sat down to relax after a really long day and promptly started watching..The President. Andrew came in and made it all worth while. So many things he said I can not possibly remember them. These are just a couple of highlights:

  • "I gave the President a high five mom! We need to respect the President. But we need to respect God more."

  • He was reading the captions and said, "party?? what party??" I quizzed him and he remembered the Republicans and the Democrats. He remembered that Obama is a Democrat and then said, "Well he should probably listen to the Republicans since he already knows what the Democrats think."

  • He was very very excited to hear about new jobs and the economy. He would like to let everyone know that Andrew's window washing is open for business.

  • He is pretty sure that the President knows Jesus given that he kept talking about prayer and all....

Maybe I will add a few more tomorrow but I just wanted to 'journal' these. I love my kid. (I think I've said that before.)

First Glimpse into sound

There has been a recent video circulated on the facebook that shows when a child's cochlear implant has been turned on.

Most of the comments on youtube and facebook are 'WOW' and "Amazing!" The cochlear implant is on my top five list of "best things we have ever done for Andrew." But I do remember the day he was implanted. I remember feeling...nothing. Yep...nothing. I wasn't 'numb' or sad or excited or happy. And I wasn't on Prozac. The audiologist said, "that's good that you don't feel too excited. Don't have expectations because it will be a process." And she was right. Because of Andrew's other issues, it has been quite a marathon. Most kids who are implanted young can be mainstreamed from the get-go with intensive Auditory Verbal Therapy. We did do AVT and it payed off..eventually.

I guess I wanted to post this for parents out there who have gotten their child an implant and they didn't get a reaction or progress right away. Often audiologist do things slowly so as to not startle a child. And if a child doesn't take off right away, that is OK too. With Andrew it was many years before we knew he was truly understand and a few more before we could understand him. Don't give up! Adults and older implanted children will also respond differently but there are still so many benefits.

I leave you with a few pictures. First we have our family the day Andrew was activated.

A few years after that we went to Chicago to be part of a volunteer training. My sissy went along to help us.

And finally a snippet of a video we shot today while Andrew was acting on stage at a children's museum. A few things to keep in mind. First, it was very noisy and he heard what I said from a few feet away. (I wasn't yelling. I was just next to the camera.) In addition his speech is quite clear. I kept trying to get him to do the whole speech over for the camera. He was trying to tell everyone about Jesus. I just love my kid.

Saturday, June 12, 2010


We were taking the long way home from errands today through a 'fancy' neighborhood and drove by a house. I mentioned that I thought it was one of the bigger on the street. Andrew said..."That's a mansion!" Mark said, "No that isn't a mansion. It's a big house but it's not a mansion." Andrew's response:

"Dad. I think that is a difference in perspective."

To be a survivor in this amazing race....

Friday, June 11, 2010

Going Crazy with New Templates

Blogger just started posting some really cool backgrounds. Since the blog is called Growing Fruit I thought, why not put fruit as a background..but there were no fruits in the 100 or so templates. But there were coffee beans. Are coffee beans a fruit? They should be. Or do these look like hot dog buns?? (If you are reading this at a later date the background might look different.)

I am starting a new blog for the reviews I will be doing for TOS. Most people I polled...all ten of them..stated they would rather see them on a separate blog. So you can find that HERE. Or if you want to cut and paste into a new tab or widow it can be found at:

I am really looking forward to applying our RDI objectives and using new curriculum as the framework. It should be very fun!

Wednesday, June 9, 2010

Unschooling Moments

Homeschooling, and specifically Unschooling have been in the news quite a bit. It is portrayed as being unparenting, unruly and even...feral. Here is one article posted on ABC news.

Headline: No Testing No Books No Bedtime. Lets start with the books. Nowhere do they say in the article "no books." In fact, look closely at the video and you will see a bookcase in the background of one of the clips. I am sure there are more in the house. No Testing...NCLB. Need I say more? No Bedtime... We have odd hours here at The Andrews Academy but we do get our 8-10 hours. Please don't call before 9 am.

This is all very timely for me. A few weeks ago, a person approached me offering to test my son. I told her that my son is behind in some subjects and ahead in others. We were 180 degrees apart from each other in our thinking because she took that as meaning there was a need to fill in the gaps. She said testing would identify those shortcomings and then her testing program could "print out worksheets to fill in the gaps." To me, the gaps are meaningless. We have goals. Andrew does not know those goals. I 'guide' him to meet those goals but usually he learns facts and skills best when self directed. (Relationship learning is a different story...and another post.)

As I am writing this Andrew is laughing like crazy while reading Henry and the Clubhouse. When I tried to direct him to read that book, it was tedious. When he was in the mood to do it, he could not put it down. It isn't always that he does not want to be led (although that is an issue and RDI is getting at that.) I think we all have to be in the right frame of mind to learn. My schedule is not always Andrew's. He is a night person...I am a morning gal. He likes background noise. I can't stand it. Sometimes we are hungry or tired or just cranky. That is not the best time to learn.

Just today we had a few more unschooling moments. On the way to the zoo Andrew was reading his Bible. He was reading the parable of the seeds..changing seeds to popcorn. He was explaining and reading out of the book that "sometimes we only go to God when it is convenient." And then added.."that's a fair weather friend." I asked if it was in the book. He said no. He thought of that on his own. Quite a good connection I think. Something we could all noodle on.

It was sprinkling when we got there and he said.."Mom! You should have looked for nimbus clouds before we left." I can't tell you the number of times I try and teach him this type of science info but when he reads and discovers it for himself it seems to 'take.'

Tonight dad opened up a fraction book for him. He turned to a different page and decided to do pentominoes. I am not even sure what that is but spell check seems to think it is a word. I guess I should go look it up.

And right now he is thoughtfully going over why he might have been born with ears, after saying "God gave us ears to hear." And he isn't saddened by it..he's just..thinking.

In the article she talks about giving her kids as many cookies as they want. I don't let Andrew do that but I do offer up many choices and sometimes let him eat more of things than I would choose. (Sometimes I eat more than I should of the wrong things...I digress.) But with this method of choice, he has just this week eaten swiss chard, tomatoes, basil and cliantro from the garden. Just a few minutes ago I was sitting here with my ice cream and Andrew asks for a peach. Like I said, we all make choices.

We don't 'unschool' and I am sure most true unschoolers would not even like to put us in the same sentence. But I think we bend more to this than to true 'school at home' folks. I do think many different educational frameworks are valid and I am thankful that we currently live in a country where it is legal to homeschool how we believe we should. The key truly is to ask God's guidance on how to raise our specific child and then follow His lead.

Train up a child in the way he should go and he will not depart from it. Proverbs 22:6

Monday, June 7, 2010

Sun and Fun...2010

My friend Jen at The Black Pearl Academy first introduced me to Fun and Sun. Andrew requested it so we are going to do it again this year with a few changes. The basic premise is that you earn paper ‘suns’ and can spend them on various things. This year we will only be doing schoolwork for the suns..not chores. Chores are working very well as a framework for RDI and so we will keep them separate. I am not ‘demanding’ any work from him. I simply tell him that if he wants to earn the suns, he has to do the work. I can frame these any way I want by simply saying that a worksheet is worth 2 suns or perhaps he has to do 2 worksheets for one sun. That way if he has a goal in mind I can speed up the process. Some of the prize items are things he wants daily (ice cream) or he can ‘save them up.’ He is the ultimate saver so we are encouraging him to spend a few on lesser items that he can enjoy now versus saving up for only big ticket items. Our prize list is somewhat fluid but i am NOT including computer time on it this year. He tries to use computer to control us and so I am leaving the control of that in mom and dad's hands by not using it with the Fun and Sun program. Here is a list of our current prizes

MD’s french fries…3 suns

Ice Cream… 3 suns

Video game rental…7 suns

Build a bear or webkins clothes…. 4 suns

New Stuffed Animal… 10 suns

Restaurant with mom and dad…. 15 suns

Build a bear… 20 suns

New Wii or DS game… 20 suns

The beauty of this program is that you can do it however you want. He can earn suns by worksheets but also quiet reading time, chapter reading and “other things mom indicates as sun worthy." Black Pearl Academy has their own way and others do as well. This can be great for school kids too during the summer if you want them to keep up their skills they learned during the school year.

Wednesday, June 2, 2010


I can't believe it has been a WHOLE YEAR since I have seen my sissy!!! I blogged about it last year here. Even though many of you may have seen these same pictures on Facebook, I want to upload them here for my 'permanent record.' I am planning on printing my blog replace my scrapbooking habit. I have so many to upload that I was going to do 'small' thumbnails or a picture show but truly am going to print out my blog every year so I want a great record of fun times. I really have to pick up an 'html for dummies' book because i want to format these better and add captions in the right place which I seem unable to do. Perhaps I will 'fix it up' later. You can gather what we did... super soakers, bubbles and all around good fun!

Healthy Snacks to Go. An e-book review

I was given the opportunity to review a great ebook called Healthy Snacks To Go by Katie Kimbell at Kitchen The book can be found here. It is a great e-book for only $6.95. You can see some of the pages from the book at that website as well.

First, I must tell you that I do love my paper cookbooks but am slowly becoming accustomed to e-books. I love that I can just pop in to it, print off the recipe or bring the computer to the kitchen. (I remember thinking, about 15 years ago, that I would love one of those computers for the kitchen where I could keep all my recipes. I guess those never took off eh?)

The book starts out with tips on healthy snacks and even how to use an e-book. The premise of the book is REAL cooking... from scratch. Katie lists her own kitchen supplies as well as where to potentially purchase them. There are lots of shortcuts and tips to help you make real food.

One feature of this e-book that I loved was that each recipe had icons indicating not only allergens but also relative cost, backpack friendly, and even a 'slight indulgence' icon for those that might be watching calories. A page early in the text lists these out clearly and each recipe shows the appropriate icons. The relative work intensity and storage options are also noted. Sure I could figure out for myself which recipe has an allergy we need to avoid, but you can flip quickly through the page views and pick out some favorites right away. Most of those that were not gfcf could be easily modified and indeed she gives tips to do just that.

We really struggle with the yeastie beasties around here. There are even tips included to 'trick your tongue' into thinking you are getting more sugar. And I'm not talking about artificial sweeteners. Other tips include choosing cookware and various ways to 'upgrade' the health factor in recipes in general. The book also contains hyperlinks to the website to further explain certain recipe items.

There is an entire section on making your own power bars. Above is the picture of the ones I made. There are very specific and detailed 'how to' instructions and over a dozen potential varieties follow. The ones I made were delicious. I also tried the granola bars. I used a gluten free flour mixture (the recipe called for regular) and although they didn't stick together like glue, it was unanimous that it was the best granola I had ever made. There were many goodies and sweet treats that I will be trying over the next weeks and the granola will be come a regular menu item.

But wait..there's more. The book doesn't just have sweet treats. There were some great grain salad options included such as Cold Balsamic Spelt salad and also a Potato salad. There is also a section for smoothies and how to make those healthy.

Overall I think this book is quite a deal at $6.95. I certainly recommend it!!
This e-book was given to me by Kitchen Stewardship for my review.

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