Tuesday, May 26, 2015

Building Independence

Very useful information from an article located at

On how you can help your child with autism increase their independence at home, at school, and in the community no matter their age. By introducing these skills early and building block by block, you can help your loved one with autism gain the tools that will allow them to be more independent throughout their lives.

Early Childhood and Preschool Age

1. Strengthen Communication
Some individuals with autism may have communication challenges and difficulty learning to use spoken language. If your child struggles with spoken language, a critical step for increasing independence is strengthening their ability to communicate by building skills and providing tools to help express preferences, desires, and feelings. Consider introducing Alternative/Augmentative Communication (AAC) and visual supports. Common types of AAC include picture exchange communication systems (PECS), speech output devices (such as DynaVox, iPad, etc.) and sign language.
For more information on AAC, technology and communication visit Autism Speaks Technology Central and click here to find out how to get an AAC Technology assessment for your child.
2. Introduce a Visual Schedule
Children with autism often do well with pictures and visuals. In particular, visual schedules provide a way to help understand what to expect throughout the day. Using a schedule with your child can help them transition from activity to activity with less prompting, lets your child select certain activities themselves, and choose when to complete them. When you first introduce a schedule, your child may need some cues to follow it. Review each item on the schedule with your child, and then remind them to check their schedule before every transition. Over time, they will be able to complete this task with increasing independence, practice decision making and pursue the activities that interest them. 
You can learn more about using visual supports by downloading the ATN/AIR-P Visual Supports and Autism Spectrum Disorder Tool Kit.
3. Work on Self-Care Skills
This is a good age to introduce self-care activities into your child’s routine. Brushing teeth, combing hair, and other activities of daily living (ADLs) are important life skills, and introducing them as early as possible can allow your child to master them down the line. Make sure to include these things on your child’s schedule so they get used to having them as part of the daily routine.

School Age

4. Teach Your Child to Ask for a Break
Make sure your child has a way to request a break – add a “Break” button on their communication device, a picture in their PECS book, etc. Identify an area that is quiet where your child can go when feeling overwhelmed. Alternatively, consider offering headphones or other tools to help regulate sensory input. Although it may seem like a simple thing, knowing how to ask for a break can allow your child to regain control over themselves and their environment.
5. Work on Household Chores
Having your child complete household chores can teach them responsibility, get them involved in family routines and impart useful skills to take with them as they get older. If you think your child may have trouble understanding how to complete a whole chore, you can consider using a task analysis. This is a method that involves breaking down large tasks into smaller steps. Be sure to model the steps yourself or provide prompts if your child has trouble at first! Also, try using My Job Chart: a great tool to help both kids and adults learn to complete tasks and manage time.

Middle School – Beginning of Adolescence

6. Practice Money Skills
Learning how to use money is a very important skill that can help your child become independent when out and about in the community. No matter what abilities your child currently has, there are ways that he or she can begin to learn money skills. At school, consider adding money skills to your child’s IEP and when you are with your child in a store or supermarket, allow them to hand over the money to the cashier. Step by step, you can teach them each part of this process. They can then begin using their skills in many different settings in the community.
7. Teach Community Safety Skills 
Safety is a big concern for many families, so here are a few steps you can take to teach community safety. Teach and practice travel training including pedestrian safety, identifying signs and other important safety markers; and becoming familiar with public transportation. The GET Going pocket guide has many useful tips to help individuals with autism navigate public transportation. Consider having your child carry an ID card which can be very helpful to provide their name, a brief explanation of their autism, and a contact person. You can find examples of ID cards and other great safety materials available in our Resource Library.
8. Build Leisure Skills
Being able to engage in independent leisure and recreation is something that will serve your child well throughout their life. Many people with autism have special interests in one or two subjects; it can help to translate those interests into age appropriate recreational activities. Our Resource Guidecontains activities that your child can get involved with in your community; including team sports, swim lessons, martial arts, music groups, and more. 
For more information about participation in youth and community organizations, see our Leading the Way: Autism-Friendly Youth Organizations guide.
9. Teach Self-Care During Adolescence 
Entering adolescence and beginning puberty can bring many changes for a teen with autism, so this is an important time to introduce many hygiene and self-care skills. Getting your teens into the habit of self-care will set them up for success and allow them to become much more independent as they approach adulthood. Visual aids can be really useful to help your teen complete their personal hygiene routine each day. Consider making a checklist of activities to help them keep track of what to do, and post it in the bathroom. This can include items such as showering, washing face, putting on deodorant, and brushing hair. To stay organized, you can put together a hygiene “kit” to keep everything your teen needs in one place.
For additional help with puberty and teens, see these resources:

High School Age

10. Work on Vocational Skills
Starting at age 14, your child should have some vocational skills included on their IEP. No matter what abilities your child currently has, there are a variety of activities they can sample to see which jobs and vocations could be a good fit in the future. Make a list of their strengths, skills, and interests and use them to guide the type of vocational activities that are included as objectives. 
This is also a time to start planning for the future. Consider all of the ways up to this point that you have been fostering your child’s independence: communication abilities, self-care, interests and activities, and goals for the future. What programs and supports will your child need after high school? The Community-based Skills Assessment (CSA) can help you answer this question and evaluate your child’s current skills and abilities to create an individualized transition plan. 
For additional help, download our Transition Tool Kit here.
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Sunday, May 24, 2015

Shirt Sale!

Go check out our t-shirt shop:

The Boog-tique!

All shirts are on sale for $19.99 (regularly $24.99) and if you sign up to get emails from Skreened, you get 15% off your order!

Buy something memorable this Memorial Day!

All puns intended,
Boog's Mommy

Saturday, May 16, 2015

If You Don't Take Care of Yourself...

... You can't take care of anyone else. How many times have you heard that one? Well, I suppose it is true. The only thing is that when I actually do get a break I still have things to clean, bills to pay, errands to run and so on. I'm sure all of you guys are in the same stressed-out little boat :)

So what can we do? Well, if we're going to "pamper" ourselves at all, there are qualifications:
1. It must be cheap
2. It must be convenient
3. It must not take a lot of time

Doesn't leave much to choose from, huh? Well, I think I may have an answer!! Subscription boxes!! You know, those increasingly popular companies that charge you a flat free each month and you get a box shipped right to you containing all sorts of things based on what subscription you sign up for. 

There are literally *hundreds* of these types of boxes these days and the products they deliver range anywhere from cosmetics to dog treats. Some subscriptions are very affordable (yay!) and some can get super pricey (no!). As most of us count our pennies, I decided to let you know a couple boxes that won't break the bank and offer moms some products to pamper.

Who: Walmart Beauty Subscription Box

What: From Walmart's Site: Each new season brings different product needs and a reason to refresh your beauty cabinet. In your Walmart Beauty Box, you’ll find sample beauty products and tips on how to use those and other items sold at Walmart and on Receiving your Walmart Beauty Box will be another reason to welcome each new season.

When: One box delivered each season


Why: Great way to try out new products and get travel sizes (since we're always on the go!)

How much: $5 four times a year. The $5 is for shipping, the products are free.

What:  Ipsy is a beauty subscription box that sends you 4-5 deluxe or full sized beauty products in a very cute (and functional) zippered bag in a different design each month.

When: One bag delivered each month


Why: The products sent to you are based on a style quiz you take when you sign up. Ipsy is a great way to get some of the higher-end, more expensive makeup brands without spending a ton of cash.

How much: $10 a month and shipping is free

Want to learn more about subscription boxes before you commit? These awesome sites actually post honest reviews and photos of all types of subscription boxes:

My Subscription Addiction

Subscription Box Mom


Must Have Boxes

I hope this gives you a guilt free way to sneak in a little pampering!

Much Love,
Boog's Mommy

Monday, May 4, 2015


I'm going to begin this post by defining two common words.

The first word is "dream". defines a dream as: 

a succession of images, thoughts, oremotions passing through the mind duringsleep.
the sleeping state in which this occurs.
an object seen in a dream.
an involuntary vision occurring to a personwhen awake.
a vision voluntarily indulged in while awake;daydreamreverie.
an aspiration; goal; aim:
A trip to Europe is his dream.
a wild or vain fancy.

The second word is "nightmare". defines a nightmare as:

a terrifying dream in which the dreamerexperiences feelings of helplessness,extreme anxiety, sorrow, etc.
a condition, thought, or experiencesuggestive of a nightmare:
the nightmare of his years in prison.
(formerly) a monster or evil spirit believed tooppress persons during sleep.

So, dreams occur when you are usually asleep and they can also be aspirations you think of while awake. A nightmare is a "terrifying" dream that makes you feel extremely unpleasant while asleep.

Those definitions I understand. Dreams and nightmares are easy to explain and define. You dream you won the lottery and can suddenly fly = good dream. You dream you are being audited by the IRS while ants continuously bite you = nightmare. Then what I sometimes have cannot be considered a dream or a nightmare. It is somewhere mysteriously between the two; a combination of my constant state of worry for my son and my subconscious mind trying to "fix" the situation while I sleep. You see, I dream that my son speaks to me. 

The dream varies each time, but some things occur in every one: Boog speaks, I can understand him clearly, his words are appropriate to the situation, I hear his voice, I am overjoyed, I quickly run to tell someone dear to me (my husband, my parents or sometimes a teacher/therapist). Everyone is relieved and happy. Boog is smiling. I am smiling. I have tears of joy. Elation doesn't describe how wonderful I feel. And then I wake up. For a few seconds I'm confused about reality, but it slowly sinks in. It was a dream. My son did not talk. He is well sleeping soundly beside me, and for that I am thankful, but I did not hear him form his first words. It was a dream. And one that takes me most of the following day to shake out of.

Last night's dream had me with Boog playing and he suddenly looks me in the eye and says "I love you, Daddy". It was so realistic because in the dream I knew he had inadvertently switched "Daddy" when he meant "Mommy". I was so excited I ran with Boog in my arms to tell my husband what had just happened. And then I woke up.

Dreams happen when you are asleep and can be good or bad. Nightmares make you feel terrible while you're asleep. What do you call a dream that makes you feel so much happiness that you are absolutely crushed inside when you wake up only to realize it never occurred? I don't think there is a word for that. There should be.