Thursday, May 22, 2014

It's Okay To Forget The Bad Days

originally posted at

A rare sighting of the spontaneous hug

Parenting kids with special needs can be tough.
There are good days, bad days and just-can’t-make-it-another-day days.

But while you may not have a whole lotta control over which kind of day you’re going to have, you do have control over how you remember it.

Memories aren't just stored automatically. Our temporary short-term memories are only consolidated into long-term ones if we repeat them and make connections with other memories. So replaying stuff in our minds actually encodes it for long term storage. 

That’s great news, because it means we have some choice over which memories make it onto our permanent record. Memories will fade over time if you don’t bring them out for a re-run or link them up to other memories, so you can choose which memories to strengthen and renew by bringing them out of your mental closet more often.

So how can you train yourself to remember the good and let the bad fade away?
Well here's a little trick that works for me...

Make a good day library

When things are tough, it’s easy to get snowed under by the weight of not just the current bad day but of ALL the bad days you’ve ever had. Stress is really good at highlighting the bad stuff and making you forget all the good. It’s like being in the trenches of a war - when all you can hear is the whizzing of bullets flying past your head, you start to forget what home looks like.

So make yourself a collection of good day memory triggers. Stuff that reminds you of the fun times, the days when the kids were happy, the moments that make you smile.

My good day library has these kinds of things in it...

  • Photos of fun times and victories (no matter how small)
  • Clippings of artwork and achievements
  • Videos of laughter and smiles
  • Souvenirs from vacations
  • Much-loved stuffed animals and toys
  • A container of baby powder

Yes, baby powder. Don’t limit yourself to just photos, put all of your senses to work sparking those happy memories and strengthening the connections in your mind for all the things that make you feel good. Sounds, sights, touch, smell and maybe even taste! Although I don't recommend putting bacon in your good day library. But pictures of bacon? Totally awesome idea.

To read more, click here....

Thursday, May 15, 2014

Using Prior Written Notice as a Tool

How many parents attended IEP's recently where you requested changes to your child's IEP only to be met with resistance and ultimately the School District refused to make the change?  This happens often and many times the parents leave the meeting unsatisfied and not understanding why their request was not approved.  If that is the case the School District is not adequately following the requirements under Prior Written Notice (PWN).  Not only are decisions about your child's IEP supposed to be Team decisions BUT they are also supposed to be fully thought out, based in facts and put in writing.  This is why the Prior Written Notice requirement was put in place.  It's easy for a School to say no, it's not always so easy for them to articulate why they said no.  It becomes increasingly more difficult for the School to explain if the real reason they said no was not based on your child's individual needs but based on budget concerns or other monetary issues.  

Wednesday, May 7, 2014

How To Make Choices Easier

originally posted on

Max has a tough time making decisions. In fact, asking him to choose makes him so anxious that it can rapidly escalate to the point of meltdown, even with apparently simple yes/no questions.

This means he often goes to great lengths to avoid having to make a choice, delaying it until there are no options left (even if it means ending up with a bad result).

And that’s the way it can be for a lot of autistic kids and adults. 
But why is decision making so stressful? And what can you do to help?

Why is it tough?

Decision making belongs to a set of thinking skills known as executive functions, which also includes stuff like planning, organizing, attention, problem solving and the ability to multi-task. These skills are complex because they involve the bringing together of many other brain functions, just like an executive of a large corporation.

Making a decision involves a sequence of thinking skills that looks something like this:
  1. Understand the problem
  2. Think of the options
  3. Compare them
  4. Choose one
  5. Act on your decision
Let’s take a look at how autistic skill sets and cognitive styles can impact each of these steps.

To read more, click here....