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Wednesday, January 15, 2014

10 of my Favorite things for mothering my Autistic daughter!!


Yep. I love a child with Autism and she is my baby girl. My hindoya, peaches, lamb chop and lovey bear. Now that winter vacation is over, I thought it would be great to share with everyone how I survived almost three weeks of mostly staying in the house (Polar vortex, snow storms, low gas money - the usuals) with my sweet, busy body, mood swinging, moderately verbal, Epileptic, Autistic seven year old middle child (mashallah) without any breaks.

Alhamduleelah, in the last seven and half years, I have learned a piece of my daughter's puzzle. I know her triggers and generally, I wake each day with a plan on how to interact with her and my two other children as well. Many Autists do well with tight schedules and visual cues to help with their transitions. Some Autists who are higher functioning may not require them. However, the bottom line is that our special children are indeed human and humans vary in their needs, emotions, and their likes. As the parent over my special child, I have found it really important to stay a couple of steps ahead of her to ward off serious meltdowns and aggressive behaviors.

Part of that preparation includes 10 of the following items that made our time together good, at times fun, and most importantly quality moments, enshallah, in her childhood!

#10 Snack cups

I love the snack cups for Hindoya (and Bin, 19 months)
because they are really durable and small enough to stack in the fridge.
Hindoya usually stays up after Fajr and an hour later she is hungry. With the snack cups, I can fill them up with the right portions of quick and healthy snacks the night before.  I just  grab  them at Fajr and put them on the table for her and lay back down to sleep for another 30 minutes or so. She often takes the top off completely, but my toddler keeps them on.

#9 Nutribullet!

I don't know how I survived previously without my Nutribullet? I've had it for a year and it has been a great investment, Alhamduleelah. Breakfast in a cup? Sure, why not. Lunch in a cup? You betcha! Here's why it makes the list for raising my Autist: loads of essential vitamins and minerals in an appetizing taste! She loves her smoothies  (as do my two other children, even though the pre-teen balks at the sight of the beets and kale going in the machine). Mashallah, I bear witness to the fact that the extra, whole nutrients have had a positive effect on her totally, Alhamduleelah. Her skins is clearer, teeth look great, hair is growing like weeds and mashallah, I truly think it helps her behavior - plus it's really quick and clean up very minimal.

# 8 Giant coloring books

Hindoya is very artistic, mashallah. She loves coloring, writing, and painting. She has colored on the wall a few times with her crayons in her room and even though I know the conversation went over her head some, I still sat with her and explained plainly as I could that she was not allowed to color, write or paint on our walls. She may not have gotten it, but she did get that Mama made her use the Magic eraser and scrub the spots she colored on til they were all gone. Alhamduleelah, so when I saw these giant coloring books at WALMART, I stocked up for her. Because the coloring books' graphics are so large, they are much more visually appealing to her senses. I keep one in my van, in her travel bag for when she goes to her grandparents' house during the week when I am  at work, and I keep one in the living room in a bucket that she has access too. The crayons and markets are kept separately and safely out of her reach.

#7 Crayola Mess Free Markers and other supplies

Crayola gets it! Alhamduleelah, I was so pleased to come across this line of products that  unlocks all of that wonderful artistic exploration in children and is also Autistic friendly as well. No more regular crayons and markers that can end up scribbled on the floor, chairs, or walls. These really awesome Crayola products only work with the special coloring pages in the line. Hindoya colors on and off through out the day and I really feel like it is helping to build her attention span, enshallah.

# 6 Textured Balls

With the snow and then the extreme cold weather, we didn't really get a chance to get out much during winter vacation. But, I know Hindoya needs to burn energy through out the day or else eventually she will get frustrated and have some type of outburst. For physical activity every day we made our own ball pit (sorta) with just a couple of different textured balls put in my son's playpen. My 19 month old and Hindoya both enjoyed kicking, throwing, and running after all the balls all over our apartment. The different textured balls are great for sensory play because of the contrast in the way they feel. So we were able to get two lessons out of this play time.

#5 Story Time w/ the Ipod Touch

I am a author and I have lots of stories in my files. Most will never be published. So what do I do with them? I record them and load them to the Ipod of course! Story time is really big in our house. We do full productions with dress up and acts 1, 2, and 3! But some time, I don't have time for all of that.  I might be preoccupied and so the ipod is great. It can store tons of my stories and other story apps that will read aloud to the Hindoya and Bin. Grab another snack cup and turn on a story and my little ones are happy campers for at least 15 minutes. That's enough time to shower, comb my hair, and get dressed! (I'm super and I know it! j/k)

# 4 Jump Rope

Adhd, Add, busy bodies - meet my little friend: The Jump Rope! When Hindoya gets antsy, arguing/fighting with the baby brother or big sister , (especially because we were STUCK in the house for so long), a quick and fun physical activity cools her out. Jump ropes are inexpensive, but Hindoya's has a pretty pink one! She loves to jump in place and I used to just have her do that. But I added the jump rope to work on her coordination. It's hard work to move your feet and arms at the same time for many children with special needs and low muscle tone, its like being in boot camp. Any time Hindoya can actually get the rope over head and her feet up off the ground, she is delighted. I usually have her big sister count her tries as she jumps. And we all cheer her on, too! Most times she just falls down to the ground in laughter. Problems solved and long forgotten for the time being!

#3 Netflix

 Years ago when I had my first child, I invested in a lot educational dvds: My Baby Can Read, Baby Einstein, Signing Times and several PBS cartoons. I could pop the dvd into my laptop and play them because I didn't have a TV back then. Then I learned that carrying around hundreds of dvds wasn't practical, especially if you move around a lot like we do. So then we got a Netflix subscription around 2010 and I discovered many of the children programs that I had in dvd format were available in their online catalog! That was a great day. I listed all of my dvds on EBAY and haven't bought any new ones since. While some Muslim parents may shun  TV programming,  if you have a child with special needs, you just may need to reevaluate their needs versus your own! Many Autists are visual and auditory learners. Seeing and hearing highly graphic characters sing about numbers, phonics, and good types of behaviors builds connections in their brains and helps them to remember the information better.

#2 Time Outs

When I have used all of my tricks from the bag and she still has an outburst, tantrum, or meltdown - its time to deescalate. I try to keep all communication to a minimum and clearly and quickly explain that she is in time out because of her behavior.  Most of the times I remove her from the area that she is in because seeing the other two kids can trigger more negative behavior or even aggressive behavior, if she is really angry. Sometimes she bears her weight and refuses to leave, kicks and cries, and hits. When that happens, I simply pick her up and physically remove her from the area and take her to a quiet area. I give her a pillow, a time out bottle so that she visually can see her "time" and some times I turn off the light and leave her alone. If she comes out too soon, (and does often), I just redirect her back to her room without much convo. She may cry or continue to whine in her room, but Alhamduleelah, she stops quickly. Often times, she will even fall asleep on her pillow after a major meltdown. Which is fine. Often she doesn't have the ability to express higher emotional feelings like being over stimulated or angry. Time outs gives her a safe place to work through those feelings with comfort and visual cues to when it will be over.  You can make your own pillow pet and time out bottles, too!

#1 Nabi Tablet Systems

I love the Nabi tablet because it is really sturdy and durable. It's not super fast, but it gets the job done. It came preloaded with tons of apps that Hindoya could actually play and learn from and like with any tablet, you download additional apps. We can also access the internet and lock her into her playlists on Youtube that I have personally set up for her learning. She also can play the Qur'an from the tablet while she colors or snacks. She can also practice writing the alphabets, listen to stories, look at animals and hear the sounds they make, sing along and dance to the Laurie Berkner band, and Skype with family (while I cook dinner)! The tablet is a filler, but it is a great treat that helps support many areas of learning. The Nabi systems were great investments and gave us some fun during our winter vacation (in the house)!

What's your favorite list of things to have for your special needs child?

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