Posted in Uncategorized

Blog #35~Looking for the Light

candle pic Newton Victims

Blog #35~ Looking for the Light

A dark cloud has cast upon us during a time when we all look forward to the holidays and rejoice. My heart breaks into a million different pieces.

Throat tightens, gulp
Tears shed, hearts broken, lives crushed, innocence lost
Hard to breathe and fathom; unthinkable
*Brumous skies clung densely above, silent… over heavy hearts……

None of us saw this coming. I planned on cheerful, easy piece about Christmas over the years this week……But all of that doesn’t feel right. You may be wondering about Nick’s feelings now. Nick has no idea of this tragic, horrific event. He leads a life of innocence that I wish we all could experience to some degree. But Nick feels sadness and has empathy when others are in pain. If someone is crying he will too. It’s a silent cry that tears at your heartstrings.

Light a candle and take a few moments to reflect….. This life we have is but one, and might be cut short in an instance. Hug those you love a little tighter and remind them how much they mean to you.

That’s what is in my noggin this week.
*Brumous– Of grey skies and winter days; filled with heavy clouds or fog; relating to winter or cold, sunless weather.

Posted in Behavior/ ABA, Speech and Occupational Therapy

Blog #34~ Holiday Stress

Blog #34~ Holiday Stress

The holidays should be a time of joy and celebration.  This is not always the case for families of children with special needs, especially autism. The pressures we all experience with the demands of extra shopping, cooking, cleaning, decorating and the barrage of company can be daunting.  The level of anxiety you have may be tenfold for someone who has autism.  We all handle stress in different ways.

“What can I say?  Its Christmas and we’re all miserable”……Oh I love that movie Christmas Vacation. 🙂

Christmas vacation cig pic

A few weeks ago in Blog #30~ 7 Senses of the World, I wrote about sensory processing disorder.  Taking in the senses in the environment can be both over and underwhelming and Blog #30 showed specific ways to cope.  I heard from many of you on what you found aversive along with ways you handle sensory overload.  Some of you struggle with crowds and people moving into your personal space.  Another was overhead lights. My son Hank and I can’t stand them and use indirect lights as often as we can.  Aversion to color and textures was another that my readers expressed.  So Ali it’s not just you and green slimy food like olives and artichokes. One of my friends has trouble with any foods that are white (sour cream, cottage cheese, milk, etc….)  I learned so much from my readers like how the color orange bothers one along with brown which reminds her of vomit.  Isn’t the sensory processing machine fascinating? 🙂

Regarding ways to cope, many readers mentioned using quiet background noise such as soft music or fountains (my favorite) to help to stay calm.  Visual and auditory ways to cope were sitting by a fireplace or hearing the waves of the ocean. One of my friends finds that someone brushing her hair is an instant calmer.  I know whenever I get to be with my mom, I want her to stroke her fingers through my hair.  Tell me how you manage the stress.  How do you deal with those quirky sensory issues that come at you….Does anyone else avoid cranberries  because it leaches all over the food on the plate? …..That would be Al, Nick’s Dad. 🙂  I want to hear more, message me at or leave a comment at the end of this blog.

Let’s look at some ways to navigate the holidays with a child who has autism.  It doesn’t mean you can’t partake in activities but you may need to plan better and be prepared to scale back to some degree.  Decorations might be overwhelming for some kids.  Flashing lights or musical decorations can disturb some children (not Nick, he craves it!) 🙂 Decorating might need to be done in gradual stages.  Be sure to allow your child to help out if they can tolerate it. This gives some control when they are losing some from changes in their environment.  Going out shopping and other public places can bombard anyone with a cacophony of sights, sounds, smells and ringing bells. Intense stimuli while shopping  might be too much.  Try to plan a time when the mall and super box stores are not as busy during the week.

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Changes in routines can be hard as well.  Using behavior supports like social stories and  visual schedules can help prepare for complicated days.  Be sure to prep your child by including pictures of family members and friends you will be seeing. Provide them a blueprint to follow. Whether written or in picture icon form, it will give them predictability which keeps the stress level down.  Regarding gifts, you may need to work ahead of time to teach the concept that gifts are not to be opened.  An advent calendar could be a visual cue to countdown until Christmas.  This year I just hid the gifts.  Nick has tried to open them twice already (I am picking my battles)

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Finally, know how much noise and sensory input your child can take.  Watch for signs of tension. Nick will put his hands over his ears or pinch his cheeks really hard.  Allow them a safe place to decompress that is quiet and away from everyone.  This will help to act as a grounding place amongst the turmoil.

Let there be peace, at last….. my sleeping angel, Nick 🙂


If all else fails then take some advice from Clark Griswold’s Dad……

Griswald's Dad pic

Clark:  “Our holidays were such a mess.”

Clark Sr.:  “Oh, yeah”

Clark: “How’d you get through it?”

Clark Sr.: “I had a lot of help from Jack Daniels.”

That’s what is in my noggin this week.  May you find your own way to deal with the holiday stress and have the “hap, hap, happiest Christmas!”  Cheers to all and fingers crossed that the little lights will be twinkling. 🙂


Posted in Autism, Down syndrome, Fun Side of Nick

Blog #33~ Stuff on my Cat

Blog #33~ Stuff on my Cat

December is such a crazy, busy month so I am going to keep the posts light and quick.  I have yet to talk about one important member of the family.  That is Miss Mellie, our 16 year grey tabby.  She has a rough life following the sun coming into the house and basking in the glow……

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When she’s not soaking up the rays she is usually on somebody’s lap.  Here she is not quite a year old with Hank, age 4……


When the boys were toddlers I had an orange tabby named Woody who lived to the ripe old age of 17.  Woody didn’t have much to do with the boys. Note Nick again leaning on his brother.  You can see his low muscle tone which is a characteristic of Down syndrome…


My sister, Laura pointed out a great website called “Stuff on my Cat” a few years back.  This site is a hoot, check it out at

stuff on my cat post its

For as long as I can remember we have been putting random things on our cats.  By the way cat lovers, they also have a book and calendar too. We’ve had a lot of fun with this.  So have Hank and Nick!

Hank put a toy cowboy hat on top of Miss Mellie. Howdy partner…… 🙂


Then he put a Superman cape on my sister’s cat, Paco……It’s a bird, it’s a plane, no its Super Cat!


Nick has followed suit with putting stuff on our cat… not always to Miss Mellie’s liking.  He likes to give her love pats and he thinks it’s hilarious to sneeze on her too.  Nick has Down syndrome and autism.

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Poor Mellie has fallen victim to some of Nick’s dumping (Blog #3 Getting your Goat has the complete list of dumps!)  Let’s see…. baby powder, fajita seasoning, PEC icons, then splat…. Head and Shoulders shampoo….

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Nick thought that was so cool he gave himself a couple of dollops…… 🙂

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Here kitty, hope you enjoy one of my stim toys…..

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Who needs a Velcro strip, Nick just uses the cat…..

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If there are no other laps available she will get desperate and settle for Nick.


Mellie is pretty lazy but there are two things she will jump up for.  The sound of the can opener sends her sprinting to the kitchen.  “Oh yes it must be tuna!”

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The other is the dryer door closing.  That means warm laundry and maybe a dryer sheet on her head………

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Meow to the Easter Kitty…..

mellie with ears

Mellie stoned on Christmas cat nip…..




She seems to be doing well despite the stuff we put on her.  That’s what is in my noggin this week.  Until next Monday may you take time during the holiday hustle and bustle to enjoy what makes you happy like a good cozy lap!


Meow….. 🙂