Sunday, October 17, 2010

Halloween Pumpkins - the week long activity

It occurred to me today, as I was carving out my very first pumpkin with my little ones, that for a normal household, this activity would probably be a one evening activity, that lasts maybe a few hours. For us, its a week-long activity that looks something like this:

Day 1 and 2: Talk about pumpkins, picking out pumpkins, look at pictures of pumpkins, talk about decorating them and draw some. Pick out pumpkins while driving etc..Locate a small shop/greenhouse/local store that is quiet, away from the road, and sells pumpkins (Sometimes this is harder than it sounds)Let the kids know that this year they'll be getting pumpkins to decorate. Give them a good heads up about what is expected, and what it will be like.

Day 3: Take girls to pick out pumpkins - expect to stay a while. Also expect crazy excitement, lots changed minds about pumpkin picking decisions, for people to stare, for your nerves to be shot and for your "Momma-cam" hawkeyedness to be in full effect. Let the girls know that they will be decorating the pumpkins, but not today. Trust me, you've all had enough excitement for one day, and if you take the time to tell them (again and again), it will be ok with them because they'll still get to decorate them in the foreseeable future.

Day 4: Carve the first pumpkin - let them pick out the design, help them poke the little dots into the pumpkin skin to cut it out, dig out the guts of the pumpkin etc. When finished, let them know that you'll carve the next pumpkin tomorrow.

Day 5: Repeat day 4 with pumpkin 2.

Day 6: Have them draw THE PUMPKINS THEY MADE.

Day 7: Light the pumpkins for them to see. Go over safety with pumpkins, no touching, walking by, playing with etc.. Take pictures of the great pumpkins and the wonderful kids who made them.

So as you can see, it can be easily done - but you may ask "Why doesn't she just give them the damn pumpkins and have them carved and everything all at once?! It would save time!!" - Indeed, it would. But if I did it all at once with my kids, who get overload at most of the things we consider "simple" - like going to the store, getting on the bus or being asked to two things at the same time - doing our "pumpkin thing" all in one go, would likely overload them, and not be enjoyable for them or me. Its interesting the things you find you're considering and thinking through more thoroughly when your kids enjoyment of "simple" tasks depends upon your abilities to judge their tolerance to sensory overload.

On a completely different note, Winnie has decided to be the impossible costume of the year.. has anyone ever seen BAT WINGS anywhere? I see fairy wings of all shapes and sizes.. but no pointy bat wings anywhere... I may have to make some from cardboard and string... Ah, the things I never knew I was capeable of until I had children. For instance, now, I'm crafty! (Not really "am" - more of "can be" really..) Necessity is certainly the mother of all invention!

Thursday, October 7, 2010

The holiday check in

The holiday weekend is upon us and I find myself looking at my girls with more joy, more understanding and more.. well.. giggles. They are little girls after all!

Winnie is enjoying school, although I have to drive her now as the special needs bus (the safest way for her to get to school) arrives at her school at about 9:15, when school starts at 8:35. This means that she actually misses a good deal of her schooling. We put her on the bus originally so that she would get the experience of the trip, although still within the safety of having an aid with her. Unfortunately, the bus being so late is completely unacceptable. To circumvent this, and still allow Winnie the opportunity of the bus experience, I now drive her to school in the morning, and she takes the bus home. So far, its working out well.

Her TA communicates with me through a notebook that she sends home with Winnie every day, although mostly the entries are "Winnie had a good day today, we painted with potato cut-outs." or something similarly vague. Of course, she is busy, I'm just used to knowing more. Winnie is getting better at telling me what her day is like though, or maybe I'm just getting better at deciphering her slightly erratic attempts at conversation. I think perhaps its a little of both.

Maggie is turning out to be a fashion diva. I dress her, and then she "completes the outfit" every day. A funky hat, some interesting shoes, beaded necklaces or, if nothing else, a princess crown purse made from fuzzy material, bright pink with purple fluff edging. Her compliance has come way up though, and I'm trying to shape her away from getting up at 4 and 5am every day. Today she slept in until 6ish, so I call that a win so far.

I did notice a post on asking about what books people would recommend for help with autistic kids, and I have a pretty good library right now. All of which are very helpful to me in their own way - MOST of which can be found in Fredericton at Chapters in the Regent Mall or Westminster Books on King Street. (A lot of them may also be available on loan from the Autism Connections Centre on the Lincoln Road).

My recommendations:
- Ten Things Every Child with Autism Wishes You Knew - by Ellen Notbohm
- The Way I See It by Temple Grandin
- Steps to Independence: Teaching Everyday Skills to Children With Special Needs by Bruce L. Baker and Alan J. Brightman
- The Autism Mom's Survival Guide by Susan Senator
- Early Intervention Games by Barbara Sher

I have LOADS of other books, but I find these are the ones I come back to again and again to help me cope, learn and get ideas for helping my kids discover and learn about the world around them. Hope this helps!

Have a great holiday weekend everyone! I'm sure we all can find things to be thankful for this year!