Help for Haiti

Help for Haiti
This organization has been in Haiti for many years. They are trustworthy.

Thursday, September 25, 2008

Sequins in the Socks

When Josh was young, he liked to collect rubber bands. We'd go for walks and he would pick up rubber bands that were left behind along the sidewalks. Josh liked to wear as many rubber bands as he could find to put on both wrists. If it left grooves in his skin, he didn't mind. In fact, I finally figured out that what Josh really liked was the deep pressure it gave him on his wrists. He didn't have good awareness of his body, so the input from the rubber bands felt good to him. I was concerned about circulation and that it looked odd for Josh to be wearing so many rubber bands, so I bought some terrycloth wrist bands from a sporting goods store and had Josh wear those instead. The rubber bands were meeting a need for him, so I didn't want to just take them away without an alternative replacement item. But then Josh started collecting sequins that were used for art projects. Because his pockets were usually full of paper clips and other found treasures, Josh decided the best place to store sequins was inside his socks. I think it would drive me crazy to have just about anything besides my foot inside my sock, but it didn't bother Josh at all. Plus, he wasn't doing his own laundry yet so getting them out of the socks was not an issue for him. I gave Josh Zip-loc bags to store his sequins in, because in this case it was an issue of storage and not a sensory need. He was just doing a little sorting and problem solving to keep the sequins in a separate place from his other collections, and if you think about it...socks are pretty handy and convenient for storing small items. Unlike storage containers, in cold weather you almost always have socks on, and once an item or items are in the sock it's ready to go wherever you do.
Most of us wouldn't think to use our socks that way, but for a little guy like Josh with a different way of thinking it makes perfect sense.

Friday, September 19, 2008

The Library Basket

I am going to share a very good idea with you, to help you keep track of library books and library DVDs. Get a medium-sized basket and keep it in a central location such as the living room of your house. Inform every family member to keep all library materials in that particular basket, and not to put anything except library materials in it. This will help your family to avoid library fines and the stress of having to hunt for missing items, since it will be easy to keep track of when materials are due back to the library. Before the next trip there you can check the library basket and pull out all of the materials that need to be returned. Ta-Da! No more late notices and overdue fines. Now I should tell you that although I still think that it's an excellent idea, this has NEVER worked for my family. They drag library books into every room of the house as well as every vehicle and backpack they can find. You'd think they like having library fines or something. Beckie has had a weekly paper route for years, but has yet to realize a profit because every cent she makes has to go toward library fines. That job is the only thing keeping her out of debt at the library. This morning, I got a notice that a DVD I had checked out was overdue - by a couple of weeks! That fine adds up fast, and I was appalled because I had checked with Scott the day it was due back and he thought he had returned it. I even had him double check for it to make sure, and he didn't find it which made it seem likely he actually had returned it. After I got the notice, I asked Beckie if she had seen the DVD, and she remembered seeing it "under a pile of stuff upstairs". Now, I never took it upstairs, and we watched it downstairs. So how did it end up in another part of the house? No one knows. No one remembers taking it up there, or seeing someone else take it up there. Yet fortunately someone remembered seeing it or it would still be missing. So go ahead and try the library basket idea. I hope it works for you. Just remember that it's like all the planners you buy - they only work if you actually use them.

Saturday, September 13, 2008

I found it! Lost it! Found it again!

About a week ago, I heard Scott give an excited "whoop" as he yelled out to me "I found it!" Since Scott frequently loses and re-finds things, I had to go see which item had been "found". This time it was the book I had given him for his birthday last December, "ADD-Friendly Ways to Organize Your Life" by Judith Kolberg & Kathleen Nadeau. I actually met Kathleen Nadeau at the CHADD conference last fall, and had her autograph the book. I asked her to write something like "Scott, this will only work if you USE the ideas", but instead she wrote "All the best" which was probably nicer. Personally, I love organization and office supplies that help keep things neat and tidy. But it's been well established over our 24 years together that my ways of organizing do not work for Scott. I was hoping that strategies that work for others with ADD might give him some ideas that would actually work well for him, because I have no new ideas at this point. Unfortunately, the book remains unopened and in pristine (unread) condition. As I write this, the book has already been buried a couple inches deep under one of the piles of paper on the desk. Maybe it will eventually end up on the shelf next to another book that Scott lost and found and lost and found over the years. It's title is "Driven to Distraction" by Edward M. Hallowell. I just checked and it is still on the shelf, so it's possible that those two books can hang out together when "ADD-Friendly Ways" resurfaces and Scott has another "Eureka! I found it!" moment.

Monday, September 01, 2008

Should screen time be limited?

Many of our children with AD/HD and autism are visually stimulated. They love video games, computer games, and movies. These things hold their attention often longer than anything else. So should we limit the time we allow our children to engage in "screen" activities including t.v., video games, and computer games?

I don't think there's any hard and fast rule about how much time to let our children play video games, watch t.v., etc. but there are some things to keep in mind as you think about your specific child. When my son Josh was young, I limited his t.v. viewing to one hour per day. He was always able to attend to movies and video games, so it was tempting to let him do more because he actually stayed in one place with sustained attention for awhile. But I wanted him to learn from reality, and much of the "screen" world is fantasy based. I also wanted him to interact with others, and "screen" activities can be done as solitary activities. Even when there are games for more than one person to play at a time, the topics of conversation are severely restricted. I also noticed with Josh that when he was engaged in a video game or movie he would lose track of time and if allowed to he would spend hours playing screen games with really nothing gained from that time other than making it to the next level of the game. The skills learned in video games aren't really transferable to life skills, and often the content is not something we'd want our kids to imitate. For some people, screen activities can be like an addiction and can decrease both the desire and opportunity for social interaction.
On the other hand, when Josh was about 6 years old I realized that he was a strong visual learner and that he could remember what he'd seen in a movie 6 months ago but not what I'd said to him a minute earlier. So I realized that by restricting Josh's screen time I was limiting one of his best ways to learn, and started supplementing our school work with educational shows and library DVDs on topics of interest. You will need to monitor the content of any movies, but they can be a great teaching tool for history, science, and more. We also did some virtual field trips on the computer. Since Josh struggled socially, having knowledge of some video games and movies gave him the opportunity to join in conversations with others. Having a video game available made waiting rooms and long car trips more tolerable for him.
My suggestion is to consider what all the screen time might be replacing for your child, and what kind of things she is taking in while engaging in those activities. Then put some limits in place. You can be strategic and use some of the screen time to make it educational, and once your limits are in place you can offer an incentive of additional screen time to be earned by an activity of your choosing. The bottom line is that screen activity need not be entirely eliminated, but it should not take the place of real life, socially engaging activities.