Life And A Little Update

Hello all. It has been quite some time since I have posted here or on my social medias and I do apologize for that. It seems I have been struggling with a thing called life, and laundry but that’s another story.

In the past few months we have had our first hospital trip for a piece of metal in Bug’s eye (how in the…??!!!!), readjusting our school days and teachers, have had more than enough sick days to last a year, had the first kid-free overnight in six years, and so much more. So many meetings and classes and presentations and places to be and things to do. It is hard to do all that and run a blog/social media, so I took a break from it before it broke me.


I may continue to take a break from documenting our homeschooling, especially on Facebook since the algorithms were changed and small pages like mine may not be seen much anymore. I am focusing more on my first responder presentations and contacting people to get them involved with trainings as well. I can’t do it all, and I don’t want to push too hard in several directions at once.

So there is a little blog-y update, a little life-y update. But there is an update I would like to share with you. An update that has just reaffirmed my belief that homeschool is what is best for Bug. An update that has answered a lot of questions, and has made me breathe a little easier.

While I have known for a while I have a laundry list of issues including anxiety, depression, OCD, dyscalculia, and onychotillomania; I never really thought to delve deeper. After many sessions, it has been determined that I am on the autism spectrum, specifically Aspergers. Daddy is going to be evaluated as well because we are very similar and he shows a lot of the same characteristics.

A weight was lifted when she told me that. I have always know I was different, I never fit in, I was weird (which is a good thing!), I thought differently, I did things differently. I am different. I just like to have a name for it. A label if you will.

So with life being the way it is, it looks like I will be back with you guys intermittently. I still strive to share our homeschool, autism, feeding issue journey with you and will share when my head isn’t moments away from exploding. I may choose sleep over writing a blog, but it is always in the back of my mind.

I enjoy this, I love to share and I will continue to do so, but I won’t beat myself up if I don’t publish something every week.

Enjoy the ones you’re with, I have been. ❤


Our Favorite Story Time

Do you listen to podcasts? Do your kids listen? I have found such great learning experiences with many podcasts, I talk about some in this blog post and how we use them in our homeschool. That particular blog was written before I stumbled across the podcast I will be talking about today.

Circle Round Podcast. Great for adults who love to listen to stories and great for kids to build Theory of Mind as well as something everyone can agree on!

I am always on the search for podcasts. I have a few favorites, but I am always hoping to find something fun and interesting that I/we can learn something from. I have my just-for-mommy podcasts and I have some that I will gladly play for the girls any time they ask.

We listen while playing in a sensory bin, instead of me reading out loud at bedtime, in the car, while I make dinner, on no-tv days where they are getting too worked up, while they play outside, or even while they take a bubble bath!

With Circle Round, my girls have been asking for episodes by name! I surprise them every Tuesday (sometimes Wednesday if I haven’t been online much on Tuesday) with the newest installment. I always get a little bit giddy when it shows up in my RSS feed.

Personally, I love folktales and stories. I love being transported to a world where I need to think and ponder the events, to get out of my own head. I have yet to find the perfect just-for-mommy version of this, so I just love how Circle Round is not just a kids podcast. It really does rope in the grown ups as well!

I also love that at the beginning of each podcast, they say where the story is told. We have had to look at our world map to see where Thailand, Sweden, Nigeria, and Asia are located and I explain that people live there who have had the story told to them by their great grandparents (It is hard to explain generations to 4 and 6 year olds who have no concept of what day it is let alone the concept of time!).

Bug’s favorite story so far is called Onions and Garlic. She loves the actors’ intonation and silliness. This has been the go-to when we get in the car and I ask : Story or Music? and they respond with: STORY! 9 out of 10 times. I will then ask which story. Sometimes they want to listen to Stella And The Dragon, or The Princess In The Mirror. The Rice Cakes And The Oni sparked her curiosity to learn about mythical beasts and we went to find a book on mythical beasts at our local used book store. We learned about how it is mean to make fun of people in The Barber’s Secret, and we heard a folk tale about Why The Ocean Is Salty.

There are so many things to learn while listening to this great podcast. My girls ask a LOT of questions…why did she do that? Why is he talking like that? Why isn’t he happy? They are learning to think and question the world around them.

This is what Theory Of Mind is.

Theory Of Mind is how someone thinks and responds to other people’s thoughts. It is “the idea that each child develops an understanding of their own thoughts, desires, and beliefs—and can recognize that other people have their own thoughts, desires, and beliefs”.

Story telling is so important for building this skill. Asking questions is important for them to be able to understand other people having different ideas in a situation.

I know at leas, or especially, with Six, I can tire easily from all the “why” questions she throws at me all day every day. But I take a deep breath and remember that she truly does not know. She is still trying to understand the world around her and asking why to every.single.thing is her way of learning.

Bug is still learning that she can ask questions. When she starts asking, boy, she just won’t stop! Building Theory Of Mind in kids with autism can be a challenge. People with autism can sometimes not understand that other people around them have their own plans, thoughts, points of view, beliefs, and emotions. I am certainly no expert in how to help everyone with that difficulty, but every single article I have read of Theory of Mind, has said that reading stories can really build that skill.

I love that Circle Round was created for kids but is engaging for the grown ups as well. I love that it makes us all thinks and ask questions and maybe even learn a lesson in among the tale.

Not only do they produce a podcast every Tuesday, they also have coloring pages* for each of their stories available here. So for those of you homeschoolers out there, having your kiddo color one of these pages before/during/after listening to the podcast, can count for Social Studies and Art!

I hope that by sharing this podcast with you, I have helped build the desire to listen and learn. I wish for all of you to be as excited about this podcast as we are every week. Keep answering all the Whys, keep telling stories, and keep the spark to learn alive.


*If you do a coloring page and have an Instagram account, tag #CircleRound so they can see your artwork!

The Cure For Autism

I recently read a post by one of my favorite blogger/FB peeps, the wonderful and hilarious Mama Fry.

Mama Fry is wonderful. She finds the humor and tells it how it is. She was the first autism page on Facebook that I liked and followed after Bug got her diagnosis. Mama Fry has been in the autism world longer than I have, and I have learned so much from her and I enjoy and look forward to her blog posts.

This post was about a cure for autism. You can read about it here. And Mama Fry hits the nail on the head: “Your kid has autism and that doesn’t change a damn thing about them. It just explains their neurology. That’s it”.

I don’t believe there is a magical “cure” for autism. If there was, don’t you think everyone would have heard of it? Wouldn’t you think every doctor, speech therapist, feeding therapist, occupational therapist, resource teacher, behavioral therapist would be sharing the “magical cure”?

Essential oils do not cure autism (or ADHD or feeding issues).

Bleach enemas do NOT cure autism. Just no.

Rhythmic movements do not cure autism.

And while I’m here:

You cannot catch autism.

Vaccines do not cause autism (follow the link for SCIENCE) (Edited to add: this awesome info as well as more science, some Q&A, a Japanese study, this, even more science here, and more info on ASD specifically. Although I know that if there is any anti-vaccine person reading this blog, these articles will to them be poppycock, but I am aware we can all have different opinions so you do you ❤ ).

You did not eat some non-organic carrot that caused your kiddo to have autism.

I may have gone off on a slight tangent, but I am passionate, it is relevant, and it is important.

Bug has autism. So what?! It doesn’t change who she is! It is a label to get her help she needs to grow and learn to reach her potential.

The reason I say all of this, the reason I am so frustrated is because I have heard most every “cure” and every “reason” she has autism. And it hurts, as a parent, to hear “oh you must have not eaten organic foods that were pesticide free while you were pregnant” or ” oh it is because you vaccinated her, vaccines cause autism”. You know what I hear when someone callously TELLS me their OPINION? That it is something I did, that I failed as a parent, that I did this to her. That is not fair. That is not the truth.

I spent so many anxiety-filled nights till 2, 3, 4 am researching, doing my homework, trying to find out if it was truly something I did. I spent YEARS doing this research. I happen to trust peer-reviewed, scientific evidence when it comes to things I am not a PhD in. So I trust that if there was a cure, we would know about it.

That being said, even if there was a cure, I wouldn’t use it. Bug is the best kid I know. She is truly amazing, hilarious, loving, kind, smart, and so many other things. Autism does not define her.

So let me tell you a little story of why Mama Fry’s post really struck a chord for me.

When we started with occupational therapy back in September, I was expecting some fine motor games, some hand strengthening exercises, some techniques to use with pencils, writing surfaces, writing materials, games to play to promote writing skills, and things of that nature. What I have been told to do with Bug, however, is far, far from what I was expecting.

Rhythmic movements. I call them jiggling, because that is literally what it is.

Our OT at school has told me about her teacher/mentor who is apparently quite big in the OT community, or at least with a certain type of OT. And somehow I wound up on this lady’s email list….to this day I truly have no idea how. Now, I ranted and raved about cures for a good long while to get to this story that made smoke come out of my ears.

The subject line said: “I am usually skeptical of miracle cures but…”.

Before I even clicked on the link I was rolling my eyes so far back in my head I almost fell over. Remember, this is the lady that our OT seems to idolize. I clicked on the link despite my better judgement. It was screenshots of alleged emails this lady has received saying that the jiggles CURED someone’s ADHD, another one’s depression, someone else’s anxiety and someone’s kid’s autism.

I wanted to scream.

Firstly, how many other interventions and/or medications did these people have, how many YEARS were they involved with these other things? And you are solely crediting these movements for “curing” these diagnoses.

Secondly, what is the {scientific} proof that these movements do what you claim they do? And to be clear, they are claiming it can cure things ranging from anxiety to autism here. I have found little to none. Research on this particular topic is sparse. There are mainly claims to success with no real backing. And like I said above, I really like science and trust peer-reviewed, scientific journals.

Thirdly, is this particular form of therapies (not used by every OT, I should clarify) designed to be NOTHING BUT the movements? Because that is what our OT experience has been. We have been doing nothing but the movements in the 30 minute session once a week and I am expected to do them every day. We haven’t held a pencil since October, and that was for the initial evaluation.

I call hokum. Balderdash, nonsense, malarkey, poppycock, twaddle, drivel, bunk.

Wouldn’t every OT be using this form of therapy if it helped kids with Downs Syndrome, autism, ADHD etc?

Shouldn’t we be doing fine motor games, hand strengthening exercises, learning techniques to use with pencils, utilizing different writing surfaces, writing materials, games to promote writing skills, and things of that nature, not just waiting to see a result from the movements before we continue?

And I have no doubt that these movements could help build some reflexes and help overall. However…..THEY DO NOT CURE AUTISM.

Bug has shown some improvements in her writing skills. Want to know why? Because I went back to my anxiety-ridden self from four and a half years ago and have been staying up till 2, 3, 4 in the morning researching what OTs go to school for years to learn about.

Puddy play to promote hand strength and form, butcher paper scribbles to engage full body awareness that builds up to control of their body, weighted pencils, inclined writing surfaces, tiny pencils, pre-writing shapes, games involving hand-eye coordination and crossing the midline, and so many more.

pre-writing shapes

This was me.

A modified tripod grasp (I believe). Wrist down, elbow down.

Not jiggling her on the floor. Me.

I’m not even trying to brag here. I just don’t want credit for my hard work and dedication to Bug’s learning and development to be credited to this jiggling that I do occasionally, when I have 20 minutes with just Bug in the house and I remember.

I have to give credit to our wonderful aid for gifting Bug this game for Christmas this year, it has helped tremendously in building her tripod grasp as well as strengthening those fine motor muscles! ❤

This is something that could take years to “see progress from”. Meanwhile, we have an IEP goal date of May and I had expected to see more progress towards that (reachable) goal by now.

I fail to agree with the large expectations being placed on these movements and am very disappointed in the lack of evidence that they truly help with anything but reflex integration.

So to get back to my main point here today, there is no magical “cure” for autism. These comments and thoughts are still very prevalent, especially among those WITHOUT children on the spectrum.  But if you want to  improve your kiddo’s quality of life, their future; love them, support them, if possible, get them into any early interventions you possibly can, fight for them, believe in them, and be okay with them being their own person. Be their support, their rock, their shoulder, their cheerleader and their mama bear. Throw a drink in the face of anyone who thinks there is or wants to cure your child. They are amazing, you are amazing. Keep on keeping on.


Maybe This Is What I’m Supposed To Do?

In high school, everyone was so concerned what we were going to be or do after we graduated. What school we were going to, SAT or other tests, scholarships, majors, jobs, resumes. It was a lot to deal with, incredibly overwhelming and stressful. I had no idea what I wanted to do with my life, but everyone wanted me to make a decision.

I did make a decision. I didn’t participate in the SAT or ACT tests, I didn’t apply to colleges or for scholarships. I still don’t regret that decision, but it did eat at me. For years, people asked what I would do once the girls went to school; get a job or start a business. The stress was back. Should I do something more?

Well, then autism happened. Homeschooling happened. It felt like I was working, a job I loved with bosses that tested me to my limits then told me I was pretty.

Being a mom is a job. It is many many jobs in one. I am happy with where I am. I am with the tiny humans I love, I am married to a great, supportive guy, and we are molding future generations.

Being a mom, wife, teacher, cook and so many other things can be extremely hard to juggle at times. Often, my attention will go to one or two subjects and I will ignore the others. I do not “do it all” every day, heck, there are even some days where I am forced or I allow myself to do nothing.

I often think about the future; a room just for our classroom with sensory items everywhere, presenting to a meeting room of first responders on autism, laundry that is folded and put away nicely, a book published. Maybe my life is supposed to be filled with many things I can be good at. Not one job I go to daily. There are many things that I am good at, many things I have practiced, overcome and persevered, I am a Jane of all trades, master of none.

I am okay with that. My life is full of things that interest, inspire, drive and delight my heart and soul.

I would not have overcome my discomfort of speaking in front of a group of people if I had not believed what I was doing made a difference. I would not have taken on homeschooling if I had not known I had support, I would not be here had I made other life choices at a time where life was so uncertain and scary.

I have never seen a conversation involving a high schooler that didn’t have the question “so what are you planning to major in” or something of that nature. At 18, I had no idea what I wanted to do with my life. Had I been forced to choose something and go into debt following a subject I may or may not have ended up using/liking, I would be in a totally different place than I am now, not necessarily for the better.

I am 26, I still barely know what I want to do with my life. But maybe this is it. And maybe I am fine with that.

I want to raise my own kids, I want them to have quality family time, I want them to feel loved and important. I want them to know they are important, that they are smart and clever and silly. I want them to look back and remember all the fun times we all had together. Together.

One day I may have a “job”, but for now, they are my job and I love them.



In Defense Of The Short Order Cook

Eating is hard. No joke.

I have been taking for granted how easy most eating was for me for years. After marrying Hubby, and after Bug’s eating habits changed at a year and a half old, I have now seen that my slight-pickiness is nothing.

My pickiness? I like pretty basic foods. I don’t like almost any spices in my food. I do not like hot/spicy food. I do not like tofu/fake meats (yes, a vegan who doesn’t eat tofu! le gasp!).

Hubby’s pickiness? He does not like condiments (like, wouldn’t let me have mayo..vegan or not…in the house till recently). He does not like foods that are combined: soups, casseroles, most stirfrys. He does not like onions, peas, strong flavored vegetables, anything with lots of spices. He is pretty much one step away from having his foods on separate plates.

Bug’s pickiness? Anything that isn’t one particular brand/type of mac n cheese, bean and rice burritos from two specific restaurants, one type of pizza, cereal, one type of smoothie, a sandwich with just jam, and lots of breads and crackers. We recently lost spaghetti… will be missed.

I thank the universe that we have Six who will eat almost anything I make and prefers raspberries over cookies! (And yes I checked her temperature just in case 😉 ).

So eating in this house is just a stressful activity. I have written other blog posts about our trials and tricks that you can read here, here, here , here, or here and a recipe here. But we have since had Bug stand for dinners, she stands on a stool when she eats and surprisingly, she will stay still and eat more than if she were sitting! We have also included her in not only meal prep and making, but the girls are now in charge of putting their clean dishes away and setting their place for meal times.

We are getting another, more specific feeding evaluation done with our feeding therapist to get a diagnosis for Bug so we can continue with therapies. We are looking into a food class provided through our charter that teaches gardening, food safety, where foods come from, and trying new foods. No promises that she will taste test, but being in another environment besides our house with another person presenting foods to her in a non-threatening way may be a great thing for her.

Ninety three meals per month. Sixty two snacks per month. Bug cycles through her same four preferred meals each week. We have even started to go to one of the preferred restaurants at the end of the week at closing to clean them out of their rice because it is the ONLY rice Bug will eat.

After almost six years of this limited diet from Bug and eight years of the pickiness from Hubby, it is safe to say I am thoroughly exhausted of feeding people. So I have given up.

Hear me out.

After working with our feeding therapist, we decided to just take a break from trying to introduce new foods to Bug. Okay, I would like that break. Done.

After seven years of making foods that just weren’t quite right, I stopped making most meals for Hubby and he made his own.

So I am already not making food for Hubby most nights, he will make his own while I am making myself and Six food, Bug has so few foods, she is either capable of getting them herself or with some assistance. So I am now half as stressed. Hubby and Bug help themselves with meals.

I make foods that I need to stay healthy and share them with Six. Sometimes she steals food from Daddy or Bug, but we split most meals. So yes, I still make sure everyone is fed and full, yes I still make foods for Bug and Hubby, but it is better for everyone if the picky eaters stick together and the non picky eaters stick together.

Now Hubby shops for Bug and himself and then I go shopping for Six and I. Two shopping trips, split the budget, everyone is happy and will be well fed.

I went through years of being the short order cook. I spent years making sure everyone would eat. But I realized it wasn’t just my responsibility. Hubby is an equal part and I was trying to do it all myself. I feel most moms out there can relate. We had no problem being short order cooks, yes it was exhausting, but everyone was eating food to help them grow, everyone was happy at the end of meal time, and everyone was eating. No tears, no running away. Eating.

Because fed is best. I would rather be a little more stressed out about keeping track of 2-3 different meals than know that one or two of my loves are hungry. We will continue to do what works for us.

We Do What Works
A hangry kid will not be fun to be around. I would rather them fed and happy.

Fire Prevention Week And Autism


This October has taken on a new meaning for me. In years past, October 1 has meant the start of fall, the coming of Halloween and my birth-month. October has been my favorite month since I was little.

This past March I started We Do What Works and I had no idea where it would lead me but I was in it for the long haul. In July, I began giving presentations on autism to some local fire departments. This development made me realize that there were not only no trainings for first responders (other than police here locally) but also no help or suggestions for parents of kiddos on the spectrum to help get our kiddos safe around fire or prepare for an emergency.

I know thinking of emergency situations is hard, each time I give a presentation and talk about the parent not being available for any reason, makes me think of the what if…what if that is me and my girls? That is a hard thing to think about. But we need to think about it, we need to prepare for the worst and hope for the best. We need to help our kids be safe, whether that is teaching them to handle a situation or help prepare our first responders for a situation, you can read about some of my tips for this here.

October is Fire Safety and Prevention Month, sponsored by the National Fire Prevention Agency. Not only is there a month devoted to this topic, there is a specific week that has been declared Fire Safety and Prevention Week. It is always the Sunday through Saturday of the week that October 9 falls. You can read about why in this blog post.

This year’s theme is “Every Second Counts; Plan 2 Ways Out!”

Teaching almost anything to a kiddo with autism or other learning disability can be hard. I know, we have been teaching Bug numerous things that just haven’t stuck yet and some things that stuck immediately. It can be hard and take a long time. And I want to acknowledge that because I don’t want you reading this and thinking I want you to teach your kid these things in a week. I want you to be able to use this as a guideline on what to teach your kiddo over a period of time; no matter how long it takes.

We all want our kids to be safe, so teaching them how to be safe is so important, even if we are scared of the what-if monster.

So, for this Fire Prevention Week, I have come up with a daily challenge. We are going to do this together. You can follow my attempts on my Facebook and Instagram.

Sunday October 8, 2017:

Things we will learn about today:

  1. What is fire?
  2. Where do fires start?
  3. What does our smoke detector do?

First, talk about what fire is use the word dangerous, use the sign for danger if you do ASL.

Talk about where fires start; matches, lighters, stove, grills, fireplace etc. We have a red duct tape box around our stove area so they know that it is a dangerous area.

Who is allowed to be near fires; only moms or dads, grown ups, however you want to define it, whatever works for your family. In our family, if you can drive a car, you can be near fire.

Go around your house and find the smoke alarms, talk about the noise they make when is detects smoke or fire. for example, our girls are little and that is the “fire watcher” and it yells really loud because he hates smoke.

Talking about things in a way they understand is something only you know how to do. So you do what works for you and talk!


Monday October 9, 2017

Things we will learn about today:

  1. Cooking Safety
  2. Smoke
  3. What smoke detectors sound like

As I mentioned for Sunday’s, we have a red box around our stove/oven. Our girls know they have to be invited in the box to help cook something and each and every time they get to come into the box we go over safety. What part of the stove is really hot? Do we put our hands in this boiling water? Why? Pour some boiling water from a pot onto a styrofoam cup and explain that would be your skin if you touched it. Maybe a little too scary for some, but my Bug has no concept of danger and would put her hand straight into that pot of boiling water if I wasn’t there to remind her, so we had to go a bit drastic…but it worked.

Talk about smoke, Hubby has burned his bacon a few times (he is the only meat eater of the house so he gets to prepare it himself), and the kitchen filled with smoke. Talk about how smoke is poisonous and we want to crawl away from a lot of smoke.

Today I am going to ask you to check your smoke detectors. It needs to be done periodically, and why not during Fire Prevention week? This has caused many a meltdown at our house, but I am going to ask you to do this with your kiddo. Test it, make it ring. Let your kiddo cover their ears with their hands or a small pillow, but make sure they can hear it. Talk about that sound, what to do if they hear that sound, and how it is there to help.


Tuesday October 10, 2017

Things we will learn about today:

  1. Every fire is dangerous.
  2. What to do if there is a fire.

Going back to Sunday, repeat where fires start, talk about how no matter where the fire is, it is dangerous. We explain it to our girls that fires are dangerous but help us to do things. If we don’t play nice with the fire, then the fire could hurt us.

What to do if there is a fire can be a bit daunting. I learned from a local fire Chief how they teach neuro-typical kiddos on their school presentations on what to do if there is a fire. I’m not going to lie, I got a little confused after step 5. There are a lot of things that goes into getting out of a fire, and honestly, I have yet to teach Bug this information. Why? Because I know she won’t understand it yet. She thought it was so funny and wanted to do it again when we got into a minor car accident. She isn’t going to understand the magnitude of a house fire. And I will not be teaching her to feel the door with the back of her hand to see if it’s hot, even though I should. And I will not be teaching her two ways out, even though I should. Our social story* is basically this: if the fire alarm is going off, she jumps out the window of her room or the living room and touch car. I will add more detail as she progresses in her understanding.


Wednesday October 11, 2017

Things we will learn today:

  1. What we need to make a fire kit.
  2. What is your meeting place?

A fire kit is something your kiddo could be in charge of! Bug loves being put in charge of making sure things are where they are supposed to be. So every few days she checks to make sure ours is still on the bottom shelf of our bakers rack in the kitchen and ever so often will look inside to make sure everything is there. Our fire kit includes: A fire extinguisher, three flashlights, and our escape map that marks two ways out. We are in a single story or it would also include escape ladders. The map is a great visual for Bug. She knows that the pink box is their room and where to go if something happens. She loves the idea of jumping out a window and we have had to make a social story on when it is okay to jump out windows.

Meeting place. We decided to do “touch car”. She knows that from us training her to be safe in parking lots. You could meet at your mailbox or a neighbors house; figure out where is safe but easy to teach your kiddo.


Thursday October 12, 2017

Things we will learn today:

  1. Fire Fighters; what their job is.
  2. What you might see during a fire.

Fire fighters have a hard job, at times. Stories my dad told me of some of the fires he worked were not fun. But these guys are fire fighters because they want to help. So talk to your kiddo about what fire fighters do, read some books about fire fighters and Call your local department for a private tour!! (I’m sure to say this again soon ;))

What you may see during a fire can be scary. Sirens, lights, hoses/water, fire fighters, and trucks. Fire fighters are our friends, they are there to help us, they don’t want to scare us. Those sirens can be really difficult to deal with, the lights could be really distracting. Talk about all those things. But, even better, call your local fire department to set up a private tour. Some of them may even spray the hose or give a ride in a fire truck. But that is the best way to get your kiddos more familiar with these awesome guys who are there to help.


Friday October 13, 2017

Things we will learn today:

  1. Fire Fighters; what you may see if you meet one.
  2. Books to read to your kiddo.

Fire fighters are just like any of us when they aren’t in their turnouts. Your kiddo may even know a fire fighter! But when the turnouts go on, they can be a totally new thing for your kiddo to deal with. And again, the best way to get your kiddo familiar with fire fighters is to schedule a private tour with your local department. I’m not kidding when I say these guys are awesome, every department I have talked to has said they would love to do tours, people just don’t ask!

Meeting a fire fighter and seeing the gear they wear can also help your kiddo not be afraid of one if there is ever a situation you need them. Their helmet and hood, mask, airpack and any tools they may be carrying in a fire can make them look scary to little kids. Google a picture of a fire fighter to see all the gear they have to carry. It’s a lot, but they make it look easy.

There are tons of books out there about fire fighters for all age ranges. I found that Fire! by Joy Masoff and A Kids Guide To Staying Safe Around Fire by Maribeth Boelts, both of which I found at my local library, were very informative and interesting, however they may be better suited for older kiddos.

Head to your library to see what kind of books on fire fighters they have available. We used this as an outing with our ABA; make it work!


Saturday October 14, 2017

Things we will learn today:

  1. Your job in a fire.
  2. What you can do to prevent a fire.

Your job in a fire: Get out and stay out. And, this is one of the hardest sentences I need to type: you get yourself out, don’t go back in for anyone, you get out and stay out. And my heart hurt a little from that. It is harder than it sounds. But you get out and stay there. Teach your kiddo to get out and stay out. I don’t care if this takes eight years to teach; if there is a fire in nine years and you were able to get out and your kiddo knew to get out and stay out, wouldn’t that be a better outcome than the alternative?? START TODAY!!

Preventing a fire is, hopefully, something we do daily; don’t leave the stove on, don’t cover up outlets, not overloading outlets. But teaching your kiddo “dangerous” and “fire” can be fire prevention as well.



It is our job to keep our kiddos safe, teaching them fire safety may be hard but could be so worth it one day (although hopefully not). So join me in 2017’s Fire Prevention Week and let’s teach our kids as much as we can no matter how long it takes!


*Social stories are a very useful tool for kiddos on the spectrum. They can be as short or as long as your kiddo can handle and can be tailor made specifically for your family/situation. That being said, I have yet to find a book (in a social story format or basic-ness) for kiddos on the spectrum about fire safety and fire fighters. That is why, in collaboration with my local regional center as well as a few local fire departments, I will be bringing to you a social story just for kiddos on the spectrum about fire prevention/safety and fire fighters. Unfortunately, it won’t be coming out this month, my timing was lacking, but when it does I will share it with you all and hopefully have a way for you to get one of your own. Stay tuned!!








October Fire Prevention and Safety Month and Autism

Every October since 1922, The National Fire Protection Association has sponsored Fire Prevention Week. This is always the Sunday through Saturday of the week that October 9th falls, this is to commemorate the Great Chicago Fire that started on October 8, 1871 and did most of its damage on October 9. The fire was blamed on a cow, but  that’s another blog post!

Fire Prevention Month focuses on a different aspect of fire safety each year. One year it could be preventing forest fires, another year it may be creating an escape route from your home in case of a fire.

When I was in school, the local fire department visited our school for a demonstration and petting zoo. They taught us how to get out of a burning building, what to do if somehow you are on fire, and showed us how their engine worked. We got to see them dressed in their turnouts, we got to sit in their truck. It was fun and great for us to start learning fire safety at such a young age.

Goodie bags!

All of this is wonderful if you have a neurotypical kiddo in public school.

But what about a kiddo with autism, or other disability? What about a homeschooled kiddo?

This is where I want to come in.

I have had the wonderful opportunity to be able to give presentations on autism awareness to some great fire fighters. So far I have spoken at three separate departments with three more on the docket. I am so grateful that these guys see the need I see and are willing to learn more about a topic that is so complex.

I have been able to collaborate with these awesome fire fighters on what parents can do to help the first responders if ever there is an emergency situation involving you and your kiddo on the spectrum and have made an entire blog post about that here.

But what I want to do for Fire Prevention Month is to share what you as a parent can do for your kiddo with autism or other disabilities to learn about fire safety and fire fighters.

This can be difficult as I am well aware. Bug has no concept of danger. She laughed when we got into a minor car accident because she thought it was fun. She would run right out into the street when we go to cross if I didn’t stop her, she can and will jump straight into the deep end of the pool without caring if someone was there to help her, and she will put her hand straight into a flame because it is pretty if we weren’t vigilant.

Making S’mores the first few times was very difficult. We now put a hula hoop on the ground so she has a visual limit to how close she can get to the flames.

Bug’s safety is our top priority. It always has been. She would elope, she would try to touch flames, and she would run away from us in the parking lot. All of these things I have dealt with and I understand how hard it can be to teach a kiddo with autism how to be safe.

We still have a long ways to go, but we have had a massive improvement. Why? because we work really hard. And I don’t say that to brag. Autism is hard work. But I am determined to produce a productive member of society and if that means reading the same social story 50 times a day for three months until she gets it, then so be it. That is what needs to be done, so we will do it.

I hope that you all are as determined as I am, because safety is important and we need to do whatever it takes to help our kids be as safe as they can be.

So, here are a few tips to help teach your kiddo some fire safety:

  1.  Social stories. Social stories are individualized short stories that illustrate a social situation that your kiddo may encounter. These stories model appropriate interactions using social cues and responses to a situation. I am in the process of creating a social story for kiddos on the spectrum about fire safety and fire fighters, however, it will not be completed before the end of October 2017 Fire Prevention month sadly. Creating a social story about the dangers of fire as well as what to do in case of a fire and what to do if you see a fire fighter could be very useful. Repetition works.
  2. Visit your local fire department for a tour. Until recently, I never would have thought to call a fire department to ask for a private tour. I thought I would be bothering them. No! You’re not bothering them. And if you live in a small town with a volunteer fire department, you might just know a fire fighter, or in my case, live next to the chief! Call and explain you have an awesome kiddo on the spectrum, or with another disability, and would like to bring them down to meet a fire fighter and would like for them to become familiar with fire fighters and talk about fire safety. These guys don’t mind kiddos checking out their gear or trucks (inside and out!), they do tours at elementary schools and are great with kids! At the meet and greets I’ve been able to coordinate, I have seen some amazing interactions between these kiddos and fire fighters, it was heart warming and amazing to watch. So call and ask!
  3. Having a fire drill. Much like a social story, acting out what to do in a fire can help our kiddos not stress too much if the real thing happens. Show them a picture of a fire and smoke then explain what to do to get out of the house. Do this once a month, repetition is important and it works! So if you go through the motions of a fire escape from your house every month for 3 years, then one day they have to use that information, yes it will still be scary and stressful, but it is a routine for them now, they know what to do without thinking. That could be the difference between a successful escape and a difficult escape.

Fire safety can look like many things; I just ask that you think about the fire safety you have in your home now. Yes teaching fire safety to a kiddo with autism is hard, we are still working on it and it may take a while, but it is a needed skill to know. Try, try your best to teach your kiddo about fire safety.

And for kiddos who may be a little more advanced than needing red tape on the floor around the stove to know where the danger is (currently part of our kitchen decor), I found a wonderful “report” from Arthur (the TV show):

Be Smart

  1. Don’t touch matches. Stay away from lighters and candles, too.
  2. Don’t touch radiators or heaters. Ask a grown-up to turn a heater on or off for you. Don’t stand too close to a fireplace or wood stove, either.
  3. Don’t play with electrical cords. And don’t stick anything into an electrical socket.
  4. Don’t play around in the kitchen. If you want to cook something, be sure to check with a grown-up first.
  5. Don’t put anything over a lamp. Things thrown over a lamp (like blankets or clothing) could catch fire.

If there is a fire:

Be Prepared

  1. Make an escape plan. Work with your family to plan how to get out of your home if there is a fire.
  2. Plan two ways out of every room. The first way out should be a door.
  3. Choose a meeting place. Pick a safe and easy-to-remember spot outside your home where you will meet your family after you get out.
  4. Practice! Every escape path needs to be planned and practiced with grown-ups.
  5. Test smoke alarms. Help grown-ups remember to test smoke alarms monthly and to put in new batteries twice a year when the clocks change.

Be Safe

  1. Get out fast! When you hear the loud beep of the smoke alarm, get out of the house. Never hide or take time to grab your belongings or pets.
  2. Follow your escape plan. After all, you’ve been practicing!
  3. Feel a door before you open it. If it is hot, there may be fire on the other side. Try to get out another way.
  4. Stay low to the floor. Since smoke rises, the safest air for breathing is down low.
  5. Call 9-1-1 or the fire department. Be sure to do this after you get out of the house. Remember: Only call 9-1-1 if there is a real emergency.
  6. Stay out! Once you’re out, stay out. Don’t go back for anything!

And Remember…

Stop, Drop, and Roll. If your clothing catches fire, remember to stop where you are and drop to the ground. Cover your face and mouth with your hands, and roll over and over until the flames are out.


Meet & Greet

Fire safety is a difficult topic, and I get it. We tend not to want to think about the worst case scenario, I am guilty of it too, but despite it making us uncomfortable we need to find the strength to think about how beneficial it could be one day (but hopefully will never be needed) to have prepared for it today.

Homeschooling On A Budget

Homeschooling can be expensive. Curriculums and games and toys and supplies can all cost a pretty penny. But I am here to help you if you don’t want to spend a fortune on homeschooling and still be successful.

Through our charter we have a budget for the year. This budget covers on-site classes, curriculums, games, toys, supplies, and even local classes. If the item is non-consumable (teachers guides, toys that aren’t made, books, etc) we have to return it to the charter eventually; if we ever leave the school or we no longer have a need for it. BUT I am a weirdo and don’t want to give things back. This is probably one of the main reasons we have so much stuff because I become attached to all our stuff and never want to get rid of it. But I digress.

So, because I want to keep the things we have our eye on, we buy them ourselves.

There are a few things we do get through our budget: printer paper and ink, gymnastics classes once a week, two on-site classes a semester and curriculums we don’t actually use but we get to keep our CT happy.

Most of the things we use on a daily basis, however, we bought or were gifted to us. So I would like to share some tips to not break the bank as well as some of our most-used, favorite homeschool must-haves.

First up: homeschooling on a budget.

  1. Shop around. Walmart, the Dollar Store, and even Target and Costco have workbooks, and of course school supplies. I was shocked when I went to our local Dollar Store for buckets and found half an aisle of beginning writing paper, workbooks, flash cards, calenders, and learning supplies.
  2. Yard Sales, curriculum shares/swaps, craigslist, and sales/clearance. I have found so many amazing toys and learning resources at yard sales, and have been fortunate (and unlucky) to live in a town that has lost a few awesome toy and school supply stores. So when they went out of business, I jumped on a ton of sale and clearance items that cost over half off of original prices!
  3. Share. Do you know any homeschoolers in your area? Maybe they have a kiddo a little older than yours? Ask if they have any unused or lightly used curriculums if you are going the curriculum route. Ask what their favorite homeschool resources are and ask to borrow them.
  4. Library! If you are not following a curriculum and are going more in the delight-directed homeschool route (aka unschooling), the library is an awesome place for resources. Our library had videos, CDs, books on tape and so much more besides books as well as some free classes and events.
  5. DIY. Getting an all-in-one curriculum sounds so nice, and there are some great ones out there! But if you are anything like us, a full-blown curriculum just doesn’t work for you. That isn’t the end of the world! There are still tons of stuff you can do to keep up learning! Podcasts, Youtube, the library, field trips, games, and so many more. One of my favorite bloggers Jill Krause has recently embarked on a homeschooling journey with two of her four kids and she has a fantastic idea for getting homeschooling done in a fun way! You can check that out here.
  6. Wish Lists. I am a HUGE fan of Amazon wish lists. I’m not going to lie, I abuse the wish list button a lot. I have so many wish lists for so many different things. But it has been really great for birthdays and Christmas. My family is awesome at asking what we would like or what we already have, so I create a wish list each birthday/Christmas and share it with them. My mom will usually take the items on my list as suggestions and get a ton of similar items, whereas my sister and aunt stick to the list. Either way is great, we are getting toys and games and books that will support us in our homeschool journey because our family wants us to be successful.

Next: homeschool must-haves

  1. A Laminator. You may think this is a frivolous purchase, but let me tell you something: this is my most used homeschool-related gadget. I use this thing so much sometimes I have to turn it off to let it cool down because I have been using it all day. You can make worksheets reusable to be used with a white-board marker, you can make your own books or photo albums, you can preserve artwork (I have many subject dividers in my homeschool binder that are the girls’ artwork), you can do so many things with a simple laminator. We got ours on sale for under $25!
    Hey! Laminating another favorite!
  2. Bananagrams. I genuinely love all the Bananagrams products. We started with the original banana and it was great, but then we were given the My First banana, and Word-A-Melon and they have changed our homeschool days. We use one or both of these games DAILY. I’m not kidding, they are amazing! The original and My First bananas are $15 on the Bananagrams website or at Target!
  3. Rory’s Story Cubes. I go into depth about how we use these in my blog post, but in a nutshell; use to build imagination, a speech building game or to practice writing! There are MANY different packs/themes you can find, all of which I want desperately! But the original 3 packs can be found at Target for $8 each! We loved them so much I gifted one pack each to our Speech therapist and resource teacher at our charter.

  4. Mobi. I plan to do a review of Mobi Kids if I ever get my hands on one! But for now I will tell you about the original Mobi. This is another zipper-pouch game (we have a thing for pouch games apparently!), that is full of number tiles and math symbols. Think Bananagrams for math equations. There are so many uses for this game and not just as it is intended to be used. This is an ongoing theme in our homeschool, I don’t think we use many things as they were intended. But, this is a wonderful math skills game!20170324_183533-1
  5. Chapter books for reading out loud and Level Readers. We are raising readers in this household. My girls LOVE reading/looking through books/being read to. We have found bunches of children’s books, chapter books and level readers at yard sales, used book stores and curriculum swaps. They can be up to $5 at our local (tiny) toy store, or Target, but if you find clearance books they can be $2-3, or at used book stores for $1-2. Shop around! Chapter books such as The BFG or The Phantom Tollbooth are great for reading out loud. We read a LOT, we usually get through one chapter book a week. I have noticed a significant difference in both girls’ language since we started reading together last year.

    Our last used book store haul!
  6. A basic all-in-one workbook (Brainquest or Scholastic brands can be found at Costco and Target). For us, we don’t follow one curriculum. I am currently in the middle of writing my own all-in-one lesson plan/curriculum I hope to publish someday soon. But for now, I jump around from book to book of the curriculums we bought through our charter. However, I have returned more often than not to the $15 Scholastic workbook Gwama got us at Costco (we don’t have a membership). It is really straightforward and laid out well. Because of Bug’s hatred of worksheets though, we don’t usually finish or use the worksheets, but I use them to play a game off of: let’s spell this word, let’s do this math problem etc.
  7. Internet + Printer; if you have access to the internet and a printer, you can do anything! I have Googled what 1st graders are taught or are expected to know at the end of the year and have based our learning off those guidelines. I have printed off worksheets and games and made our own Velcro game binder. I have found board games and their rules that I have printed and laminated then 3-hole punched and put in our binder.

These must-haves truly got us through our first year of homeschool. We made them a bigger part of this year’s homeschool after seeing how well they worked for Bug last year.

I was not paid for any of my reviews, I genuinely love using these products, and we love how versatile they can be. If you can think outside the box, you can think of some fun games to play, adding some fun to your daily homeschool!

I wish you luck on your homeschool journey. Please know, though, that just because someone is doing something, doesn’t mean you have to. That is the beauty of homeschooling, you do what works for you and your kiddo and family. Don’t let anyone tell you you are doing it wrong; if you are moving forward, if your kids are learning, then you are doing a great job.


Homeschool: Year Two

We are headed into our second year of homeschooling. We have all learned a lot on this journey. One very important topic I have learned quite a bit about is curriculum.

There are SO many different choices. It can be very intimidating and stressful, and unfortunately we chose wrong last year. I made the mistake of not doing the research on a curriculum someone on our team suggested for us and ordered it blindly. We were expected to follow it the entire year. The year we were still learning about Bug and her learning methods, the year we realized her hatred of worksheets, the year we were trying to get in any kind of groove.

Don’t do this. If someone tells you this one particular curriculum is just so amazing…Google it, research it, ask to borrow it. Make sure it is something that will work for your kiddo first and foremost. I know, there are probably some seasoned homeschoolers out there reading this rolling their eyes at me…rookie mistake. Well I know now.

This year, we chose to go an alternate route to our teaching strategy which included a new curriculum game plan. We ordered many curriculums. One was an all-in-one which cost a good chunk of our budget through our charter, but it was on sale so I chanced it. It had every subject covered as well as additional brain benders and logic workbooks so it seemed like a good addition to our library. We also chose just single subjects from a variety of curriculum companies.

I will try to do an update on the companies we use and what has or has not worked in a later blog post later in the year.

We got a free curriculum from our charter, as well as many different workbooks that can be part of a complete curriculum.

So our plan is to, at the beginning of the week (Sunday for us), Hubby and I will pick out one worksheet from each subject that we have a curriculum for and play games throughout the week that go with the worksheets.

For an example, say our math worksheet for the week has 4 problems on it: 4+8=, 3+7=, 2+0=, and 9+2=. I can play our addition board game one day and have her add those problems up to determine how many moves she can make, Hubby can play with mathlink cubes with her one day, we can play dominoes another day. As long as we are teaching her those problems. Then at the end of the week, with all of our table time supports in place, we will have/help her do the worksheets.

I am still at a loss as to why worksheets are so evil to her, however, I know that worksheets are just not how she learns. So with this plan in place, we will be able to continue to have worksheets available for our teacher at the charter, as well as teaching her skills on how to get through something she dislikes, but it does not create a worksheets-all-day-long-every-day environment.

In addition to our new game plan, we had a bit of an organizational upheaval as well. I am a huge organization junkie, lists, boxes, and labels make me so happy. So do sales. I found seven pink containers on sale and cleared off a shelf of one of our bookshelves and labeled them the days of the week.

As well as choosing our worksheets at the beginning of the week, I will plan our weekly “game schedule”. As I mentioned above, we play a lot of games, they are little and that is how we learn here. So I will plan our daily buckets around our weekly schedule. This Tuesday is filled with appointments and meetings? Maybe just one game and a few books. Nothing happening on Wednesday? Lets put in 5 games and a lot of books! And in Friday’s box will be a highly preferred game and the worksheets.

This is also a very visual plan. She can see what we are going to do throughout the week, she can read the day of the week from the box, she can see we have worksheets in the Friday bucket, or a daddy-bug game in one. She is a very visual kiddo and I feel this plan of attack will work well for all of us.

I even put a reminder in my calendar to acquire the worksheets on Sundays so we won’t forget.

I am determined for this year to be the best year yet….you know, better than last year at least since this is only year two…..