#AdventCalendar Days 9 – 16

If you follow me on Facebook or Twitter, you’ll know that I created a new activities-based Advent Calendar this year. No more cheap (and yucky!) chocolate! Here are the activities we did for December 9 through 16:

Dec 9 Make Christmas cookies – We made some Christmas-shaped sugar cookies. My daughter helped me make the cookies, and they both helped decorate them.

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Dec 10 Christmas party near the Grandparents – Every year, my dad’s Rotary Club has a Christmas party for the kids and grandkids of the Rotarians, but the real focus is the kids who attend/use services at a local organization who works with kids with special needs. When we lived at the family farm, my son was part of their IBI program. I was so proud of my kids…they had to wait for almost an hour for their turn with Santa, and they did awesome!

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Dec 11 Write letters to Santa – My daughter gets very frustrated with written expression so, instead of doing a “traditional” letter to Santa, we got together with my man’s son and the daughter of a friend of his. They cut out items from a toy catalogue, and created their letters for Santa, with one rule, they needed to include something in their lists for someone else. It looked like a disaster zone for a while…

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Dec 12 & 13 Turn the fridge into a snowman – I added this to the list twice because we just plain didn’t get around to doing it…two days in a row! Maybe it will make another appearance. Not sure yet.

Dec 14 Playdate – My daughter had a playdate with a girlfriend. Nothing necessarily Christmas-y but she was so excited (and it gave me some time to study for my exam which was on Monday). They got to play outside a lot because we had a huge dump of snow. They had a great time, including using one neighbour’s driveway entrance as a slide. 😉

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Dec 15 Autism Ontario Christmas party – Our local chapter of Autism Ontario had their annual Christmas party this afternoon. It was chaotic and wonderful all at once. Kids could eat and see Santa in one room; crafts upstairs in another room. Santa was fantastic! He was so patient, giving every child the time and space each needed, and every child went home with a gift.

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Dec 16 Play in the snow – I had my final exam in the evening so honestly, I was too focused on studying to really organize anything, so the activity in the Advent Calendar for today was to play in the snow when they came home from school. Happy kids!

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World #Autism Awareness Day FAQs – Day 2

Autism 21

Question from one of my friends when I invited them to ask questions on my personal Facebook:

I want to know just how wide is the diagnosed spectrum?”.

Well, the saying “When you’ve met one person with Autism, you’ve only met one person with Autism” is true. Some children are considered to be low-functioning, some high-functioning, and some in between, all in comparison to other kids without Autism of the same age. So the width of the Spectrum is frankly, huge…but always presents characteristics and behavioural traits that lead specialists to diagnose that child with Autism. The definition of Autism according to Wikipedia is:

“as a disorder of neural development characterized by impaired

social interaction and communication,

and by restricted and repetitive behaviour”

 

Common characteristics that parents initially present to their family doctor include some and/or all of the following:

  • no eye contact
  • don’t point using their index finger
  • using someone else to point
  • start talking and stop
  • line up items such as toys, etc
  • toe-walking
  • stimming (repeated body movements such as hand flapping, rocking, head butting)
  • unusual responses to people or attachments to objects
  • resistance to changes in routines
  • sensitivities (hyper- or under-) to things like sounds, tastes, etc

More information is available on the Autism Ontario website.

 

When we started on this journey, we approached the doctor when my son was 18months old, saying that he had been talking but stopped (whereas his sister started a bit later but kept on talking), didn’t make eye contact with anyone but me, used his father and I’s hands to point to items, and was lining up all his toys. It took another 2 years to get official diagnosis, where he was classified as “severe” but for those who know my son in person, they are amazed as this. He’s a happy little boy, with a smile that lights up the room, can work his way around Youtube like no one’s business, has made amazing developmental leaps in the last couple of years, is a funny dancer, and best of all…is talking! He doesn’t speak the way other 7, almost 8 year old little boys do, but his speech is one of the sweetest sounds I’ve ever heard…primarily because I’ve waited so long to hear it.

What is #Autism?

I had the honour of speaking on the local radio station (thank you The Grand 92.9FM!) this morning about Autism. We concentrated the interview on what Autism looks like in our little family so I thought I would extend the reach of the discussion through my blog as well.

According to Autism Ontario’s website, Autism is:

“a complex developmental disability that typically appears during the first three years of life: it is the result of a neurological disorder that affects the functioning of the brain. Autism impacts the typical development of the brain in the areas of social interaction and communication skills. Children and adults with autism typically have difficulties in verbal and non-verbal communication, social interactions, and leisure or play activities. They find it hard to communicate with others and relate to the outside world.”

My interpretation of this statement is that my son’s brain isn’t “wired” the same as others who are considered to be “typical”. He needs to learn through repetitive teaching how to identify and respond to social cues (the example I gave Vic off air was to teach my son to learn to read situations where it’s appropriate to greet someone with a handshake vs a hug vs a “good morning”, etc), and why most people use verbal language to communicate and how to figure out which words to use, and to physically form the words to use to facilitate that communication.

More from Autism Ontario’s website:

“In some cases, aggressive and/or self-injurious behaviour may be present. Persons with autism may exhibit repeated body movements (hand flapping, rocking), unusual responses to people or attachments to objects and resistance to changes in routines. Individuals may also experience sensitivities in sight, hearing, touch, smell, and taste.”

My son doesn’t have many of the repeating body movements (otherwise known as “stimming” in the Autism community), but he used to stim with headbanging against any surface he could (wall, floor, other people, etc). He has an abnormal reaction to people/kids crying as he’ll usually go over and hit them…not hard, but it definitely catches them off guard, sometimes stopping them from crying or making them cry more. My son is learning how to self-regulate through this over-stimulus he feels when others are crying. It’ll just take time…and for me to be quick on my feet to ensure he doesn’t hit the person crying.

30 Days About Me: Day 22 – Fav Websites

Day 22- Some of Your Favourite Websites

The websites I frequent are: 

Autism Ontario

CharityVillage

Facebook

Gmail

Hotmail

ScaryMommy

Triberr

Twitter

 WordPress (specifically my blog…tee hee…)

YouTube

What are your favourite websites?