Tuesday, September 8, 2009

Sensory Integration Impacts Behavior & Learning

September 24, 2009
Abilities Center
2075 E. West Maple Ste 204
Commerce Twp, MI

Speaker: Dave Uchalki, OTR/L Cost: $15

Registration: 248-926-0909 ext 0 or http://www.abilitiescenter.com/

Monday, August 3, 2009

Financial Help for Michigan Families

MICHIGAN has a program to help families who care for their children with disabilities. Called the Family Support Subsidy Program. I think its a great program!!!

A monthly payment (subsidy) is provided for treatment, medical equipment, medical bills, special diets, diapers, family counseling, special transportation, respite care, etc. Each family decides how they want to allocate their $ they receive to help the child.

Some of the
Eligibility Requirements are : 1. child's birth certificate 2. current tax return
3. child's social security no.
4. written certification from child's teacher stating diagnosis of
Cognitive Impairment, Severe Multiple Impairment or Autism
5. child must be under 18 years old
6. Your families taxable income must not exceed $60 k annually

For further Information about this program: Michigan Department of Community Health Family Support Subsidy Program office in Lansing: 517-241-5773

Thursday, May 7, 2009









Monday, March 23, 2009

A Step For Me - I Found A Support Group and New Resources

The last few months I've been really trying to dig my heels into this. What am I looking for? I need to be assured that I am doing all I can to help my son grow up and be the best he can be. And unfortunately I'm not so positive that I'm doing all that I can. Of coarse I do not have the ability to make that happen, so I need help. Help in the form of what therapies, or activities, can make a positive difference in his life. Yes, I can give him all my love, patience and the most effective parenting I know how, and have learned so far but I honestly admit, this child needs more than what I can give to him. I want to be sure he will able to become successful in future relationships, employment, and as possibly a daddy one day.
We have just discontinued his weekly therapy sessions because we were at a crossroads at the therapist, and it was a good place to pause. Also Jacob is continuing under chiropractic care, which has gladly regulated his digestive system and Jake's teacher has been commenting how his attitude has improved.
I have been searching for an area support group on the web, and found a local support group that meets once every other month. For those who are interested and local, and ladies only (sorry guys) we gather at the Canton Township Applebee's on Ford Road. (You can contact me if you want to join us so I can verify the date we are meeting each other).
It was so refreshing to meet other moms who are in the same position as I, and feeling like I was sane again! I wasn't making Jacob's symptoms up, there ARE other people that have a son just like mine!! (with the same quirks, and personality traits). Oh how wonderful it was to verify my observations and experiences about Aspergers! All of us relaxed over a drink or two and old our "stories" about our kids, most moms were just happy to get out of the house for a little down time, as I and had high functioning children. It was also a time to swap information: a summertime grant for all Wayne County children with disabilities, A referral to a Physician that specializes in Autistic children, The Autism Book (written by the organizer of the ladies group), and names and numbers of the other moms who attended. It was a wonderful evening! I wish I would have done this sooner!!!!! Here is what I have learned:

The Autism Book Answers to Your Most Pressing Questions by S. Joanna Robeldo and Dawn Ham-Kucharski

Futures Health Core Therapy Center- Therapy services for children birth to 18 with autism spectrum disorders, cerebral palsy, developmental delays, ADD/ADHD, brain injuries, downs syndrome, sensory integration dysfunction. Located in Dearborn, MI 877-407-2500

Wayne County Parent Advisory Committee Mini Grant - Gives a maximum of $200 to eligible students: ASD, HI, VI, SLD OHI, POHI, CI, EI, PI, ECDD, TBI. To be used for anything that will bring the student personal happiness. Deadline in April 6, 2009 (You can contact me for additional info if you would like). You must live in Wayne County and have a current IEP classification.
Michigan Miracle Network - http://www.michiganmiracle.org/ A softball league for kids with disabilities of all types. Everyone plays and is equal here! Your child will feel secure and have lots of fun!! The field is in Southfield, MI
Canton Aspergers Network - http://www.cantonaspergersnetwork.com/ Support and resources for Asperger families in the Metro Detroit Area.

Tuesday, January 13, 2009

Chiropractic Care?

I have been in touch with a newly graduated Chiropractor. He has brought up some findings how Chiropractors can be a part of treatment for kids with disabilities including autistic kids. I have done some reading up on it, and it seems pretty interesting so we are going to give it a try. Jake and I have an appointment this week. I am hoping it would relieve some of the odd sleeping patterns Jacob has had the last few months, and maybe even some of the anxiety that he feels. We will give it a try.....

March 2009 Update: We are continuing Jacobs care under Dr. Ryan Cooper because Jacob has shown significant improvement in his digestive issues as well as some focusing improvement at school. As long as this improvements do not involve adding another drug into his system, he will continue under care. Dr. Ryan is very fond of children and works very well with Jacob. He takes his time with him, and even feel he is a positive role model. You can contact Dr. Ryan Cooper at Health for Life Chiropractic, 248-449-1558. He is located at 43059 Seven Mile, Northville, MI 48167 www.hflchiro.net You may even see Jacobs pictures on his web site!

Adjusting the School Cirriculum

The teachers have gotten it this year, thank GOD! They have adjusted the curriculum around HIM. Another huge thing is Jake is graded on what he does, not the amount of work he puts out. His poor handwriting is not an issue, they do not pay attention to that. They encourage use of the Alphasmart and the computer. Total adaptation!!! It has really given him more self esteem, which is badly needed. Its okay if he is not doing long or short division, if he is still in need of work with addition and subtraction-that's where his daily math practice lies. The other stuff just goes way over his head and the teacher would rather have him stay interested, than just sit with a blank look on his face while the teacher explains finding areas of shapes, etc. Now I wish he could stay in 5th grade forever!!!

Monday, October 20, 2008

Baby Steps

A meeting with the teachers was a very good idea. His main teacher attended, science teacher, principal, and resource room teacher was included. I mainly put in my 2 cents about Jacobs characteristics, and how I know what how he learns. All of them were very attentive, and I was extremely happy that I got to put my thoughts out there.

A planner is used for all the students at school, however it has been very difficult for Jacob to use. The spaces were just too small for him to write in and very confusing to look at. He did not know where to write what. The teacher was open to it, so I made a new one up for Jacob. I printed it on plain white paper, and had larger spaces to write in, one page per day, and easier to read.

There has been a huge problem with lost papers,so I also came up with the idea of having only 1 - 3 ring binder to organize all subjects. It includes dividers and pockets, paper, and a pencil pouch. I divided it up: 1 pocket for "Assignments Completed - Need to Turn In", 1 pocket for his organizer (officially call the SAB), and 1 pocket for each subject. He can punch holes in any study papers, or any packets he needs to take to any class and put them in the folder. On the inside of the folder cover I printed out a check list for him to remind himself: Before Class and After Class, such as: check desk for any papers, turn in any assignments completed, etc. I told him every paper must go in here, no papers should be left in his desk, plus I want this folder home every day.

To reinforce this new folder idea, I will pick him up every day, check his backpack, then go into the school and check his desk. I will do this until he gets the hang of taking his folder home everyday, and hope he will take on some responsibility.

The teachers are very open to e mail-and even try to respond the same night if there is a question about homework.

Sunday, October 5, 2008

Problems with Organization

A big attribute of kids with LD's are lack of organizational skills. I am a huge organizational nut at home, so I have been showing my son the ways but it hasn't helped so far. I will keep plugging away though. I do know he hates it when his room is messy, although he can't break it into small tasks and clean it up himself. He gets overwhelmed just looking at it. So we break it down into categories: 1. pick up all the clothes on the floor and put them in the hamper 2. pick up all the papers and trash and put it in the garbage can. 3. then go to different areas: like the bed-make the bed, desk-straighten up the desk-tv area, put all the games in the cases and wind up cords, etc. etc.

School and Memory Problems
Remembering what to bring home an important information is a huge problem. Again, it is not a matter of misbehavior. It is just that the child doesn't have the ability.

The AlphaSmart
At school he is constantly loosing papers, not bringing home his assignments, and forgetting what the teachers tell him. This year I hope to solve some of these problems. So far the school has lent him a AlphaSmart. Its a mini computer, like a laptop so he can type out his assignments instead of hand write. He has just started using it and am thinking this will make a huge dent in his organization and his attention too! He likes to type on the computer, so hopefully this will help! It seems cool to him!

Cognitive Abilities
Are thinking and learning abilities. There is a variety for AS people. Unfortunately my son has considerable delay in academic skills with learning problems. He is very easily distracted. As he moves on to the older grades - now in 5th-we are seeing a lot of organization issues: homework, missing papers, etc. He seems like he doesn't know how to organize and has a hard time following directions. He is slower than most, a slow processing speed. The issue with perceiving what he hears also plays a part, along with memory, and multi-tasking. All these are associated with the wiring of the brain. A change of instruction methods, and alternative academics has shown great success. Jake learns best 1 on 1 and with computers.

Executive Skills
Are significantly delayed in children and adults with AS. They are
1. organizational and planning abilities
2. working memory
3. inhibition and impulse control
4. self -reflection and self-monitoring
5. prioritizing
6. understanding complex or abstract concepts
7. using new strategies

Saturday, September 20, 2008


These are some of the medications we have tried and their results. Remember, I am a protective momma, so putting my child on a drug was huge for me. I was not quick to administer a drug into my child's virgin system. I was so against it at first: trying other methods , procrastinated, researched and finally tried them. I advise anyone to do the same. If your not comfortable, don't do it. And maybe behavior strategies may work-but they did not for Jacob. I feel when giving a biochemical to a child, there must be HUGE benefits to a child, if there is little change-forget it.

Melatonin - a natural supplement given at bedtime to induce sleep. It is something that your body makes. I get it at the health food store, and started with a low 1 mg. Jacob has always had a hard time getting to sleep. Even as a baby, he never slept. No matter what I tried to make him sleepy, nothing worked. We tried routines, reading, quiet time, hot milk, being very active during the say, music, soft lights, back grout noise, a warm bath, etc. etc. Feeling as though Jake was not getting enough sleep at night, I needed to try and find something. His Pediatrician told me to try a small dose of melatonin about an hour or so before bedtime. This absolutely works for him and he is still on the low dose. There are no side effects, he awakes on time and refreshed in the morning. I only give it to him during the week, but it sure does the trick! I thank God for this! Since it is natural, I do tell his doctors that he is taking this for any drug interactions-including his Psychiatrist, and Therapist, and Dentist.

Adderall, Ritalin, Straterra, Daytrana Patch

We tried these medication for his ADHD between 1st and 3rd grade. All it did was make his enhance his paranoia, anxiety, and meltdowns. They clearly were not for Jacob at all. They made him feel worse!


Currently Jacob is on 20 mg of this. Celexa is an anti depressant. Jacob was at the point where he had started therapy and it wasn't having any effect on him. He was so very depressed I thought he may have hurt himself. It was heartbreaking to say the least to see a little kid with depression symptoms. I felt helpless. But after pondering and praying, we started this late Spring on a very low dose and increased it slowly into his system. The Psychiatrist seemed very knowledgeable about Aspergers and medications. He also told us that Jacob appeared to be very sensitive to drugs due to the other effects on the ADHD drugs, so he was going to be very careful. The Psychiatrist also said typical ASD kids are on 3 different medications. Within the first few weeks I noticed a change in Jacob, over the summer increased the dosage slowly. It was done wonders for my son-he is back to his self, no more anxiety, less anger, and able to handle every day occurrences with ease, and limited melt downs! Clearly this was the right choice for Jacob! Currently we see the Psychiatrist once a month to monitor how Jacob is doing, and there is not need to administer anything else since Celexa is working beautifully! Another Thank God!

Friday, September 19, 2008

Some Resources

CHADD (chadd.org) is a good website to go to for support for ADD/ADHD. They have local chapter meetings and area conferences too.

OASIS(aspergersyndrome.org) is a very valuble site for Aspergers Information, Support and Conferences, it is full of resources!!

New Horizons puts on conferences all over the U.S. with renown speakers and are very reasonable $ for Autism/Aspergers

Friday, September 5, 2008

If you know something is wrong, what do you do?

If you suspect Asperger's or another learning disorder, these are some steps to take, as I did:

  • Talk to your friends, teachers, other moms. See if they are having any similar experiences. School is a good place where moms network. Don't be shy, approaching different people may even strike up a new friendship. I made friends with another parent whom has a child with Aspergers Syndrome, that's how I got my ball rolling.

  • Talk to your child's teacher, ask them if they are seeing some problems in school. Not all teachers can recognize learning disabilities, they simply haven't been trained to. Remember the Aspergers Syndrome diagnosis is fairly new, so some professionals, even doctors don't know what the characteristics are.

  • If you are not happy with your childs school, research other schools, in and out of your district. Do some leg work and find options. Some districts have an open enrollment or school of choice. Check out Charter and Religious schools. You have to find out what they will do for your child, and if they are willing to adapt. You may have to drive them to and from school, but it would be worth it if your child is getting a good education and is treated fairly.

  • If your child goes to a private school, go to your local public school district. Even if your child does not go to public school, they have to help. In Jacobs case, it was his best interest to change to a public school. They were staffed with specialists, social workers, speech pathologists, etc. I found they were also better at accepting and working with a child with learning disabilities, as the private school had a one size fits all attitude.

  • Talk to the schools special ed teacher, school psychologist, or principal. Ask for an IEP. They have certain tests to give for cognitive, speech and language skills, behavior, etc. They can also just sit and observe the child in the classroom.

  • Be persistent! You have to call people, get their e mail addresses, don't let them drop the ball. There maybe hundreds of kids they are working with. Its easy to get lost in the system.

  • Don't take NO for an answer. If you are not happy with the answers you get- keep searching and trust your instincts. I had to ask for 3 evaluations in 3 seperate years from the school district before they recognized there was something aside from Jacobs ADHD affecting him. I just knew there was something more.

  • Make an appointment with a therapist/or counselor whom specializes in children and learning disorders, and get their opinions.

  • Talk to your pediatrician. If they don't have the answers, ask for a referral.

  • Make an appointment with a Neuropsychologist for an evaluation. Some insurances do not cover this, as my insurance did not, it was thousands but well worth every penny. However, you will know a definitive answer if there is something wrong or where else you should take your child. A Neuropsychologist was finally the answer for Jacob. He was diagnosed in January 1996. Our pediatrician gave us a referral when I suggested that there was something wrong.

  • Take notes of your child's behavior-when this is occurring, and anything unusual. You never know when things will tie together. Even write down what the child eats. I have heard of food allergies that cause attention or behavior problems!

  • Know your rights, check out the No Child Left Behind Act and IDEA.

  • A whole research world is at your tips-use the Internet! I have researched symptoms, learning disabilities, science papers, university publications, found groups, conferences, etc. all on line.

Thursday, September 4, 2008

How did I find out it was Aspergers?

I had to do a lot of leg work and perseverance which took me about 3 years to get a final diagnosis. I had an evaluation done through the school when Jacob was in Kindergarten, which turned up basically nothing. The consultant believed that is was just too early in Jacobs life to give an opinion of a learning disability. After consultation with Jacobs Pediatrician, he gave a diagnosis of ADHD/ADD when he was in first grade. There was 2nd evaluation done in school, and it support the ADHD/ADD result, but nothing else. Different medications were introduced and tried for 2 years with side effects of hallucinations and uncontrolled crying fits. Jacob still continued doing badly in school, and not responding to suggested altered school program. I just knew there had to be something else. At that time I met a family new to our school/church. Our 4 children were in the same classrooms how perfect! Their oldest son had Aspergers. As I began talking to the mother, her son with Aspergers had the same quirky personality traits as my Jacob. She heard all about our trials, and how I just didn't know where or whom to go to for help. Ultimately she gave me advice to go to a Neuropsychologist, that's where her son got the diagnosis years before. I asked the Pediatrician for a referral, and it took about 8 weeks to get an appointment for a Neuropsychological Evaluation. At that appointment Jacob was tested up and down, orally, by computer, and written. All kinds of written scales needed to be filled out by me asking about Jake's characteristics and behaviors, in all his testing took about 4 hours. After another approximately 6-8 weeks for all his tests to be graded and the report to get typed up, we had to come back in for for the results. The results shown Jacob had Aspergers Disorder Syndrome.

Tuesday, September 2, 2008

These things May Help

More Sleep

Weighted Blanket/Vests used consistently

Omega 3 Supplements

Lots of Exercise

Special Diets

Proper Nutrition-small snacks

Get Serious and Treat Depression and Anxiety

Some Medications - Low Doses are Found Especially Helpful

Mentors, Children and Adults

Sensory Integration

Speech Therapy

Occupational Therapy

Look for other Medical Issues

Find Triggers for Sensory Overload: florescent lights, blinds clicking,
loud environment, lots of movement

Slow Speaking Teacher

Replace handwriting with computers

Limit Video Games and TV

Build on Obsessions to Motivate Child

Show Many Different Examples in Different Places

Game of 20 Questions

Print on Pastel Paper

Pale Color Glasses

Auditory Training

Headphones to block out noise

White Noise Machine

Teach Self Talk

Family Supports

Social Skills Instruction

Recognize Over Stimulation, and Triggers-avoid them

Modified Educational Program

Teach Relaxation Techniques

Avoid too Many New things at Once (including medication, changes)

Simplify Ideas

Ease Transitions

Books for Kids

Cool Cats Calm Kids
Relaxation and Stress Management for Young People

by Mary L. Williams

Jacobs therapist loaned us this book when we were getting ready for school to start. We had to find ways for Jacob to relax. This title says it all. Its a short and sweet book. My son adores cats, so he can identify with it well.

Monday, September 1, 2008

Things To Do Before School Starts in the Fall

A parent can do a number of things BEFORE school starts to get a leg up, instead of trying to extinguish fires during the year. Try to be proactive.

  1. Don't start talking about school during the summer, only near the end of the summer. Otherwise anxiety may start, and a cloud may loom for weeks of endless worrying. Take advatage of a restful summer as much as possible.

  2. Don't start anything new upon starting school. That goes for clubs, routines, medications, vitamins.

  3. Start getting the child into a routine for mornings again so its a habit of getting up and ready, instead of laying around in p.j.s all day. Get up at 7, eat breakfast, get dressed, brush teeth all by 7:30.

  4. Make an appointment at the school to meet the Secretary and Principal one day. A few days later meet the Librarian and visit the Media Center. Next week go again and meet another staff member and ask for a tour. Visit the school 4-5 times before school starts. Check out the playground, cafeteria, gym, locker rooms. The more times your child visit the school, the more comfortable and confident he becomes. Find out where the buses line up, where the kids line up before school, what time lunch is. This will save a lot of anxiety and confusion for your child the first weeks if he knows ahead of time of these things. Because we did these things, has been a great first week of school for my son at his new school!

  5. Request the locker to be on the end of a row, and also to have no locker mate. This is almost an essential for the socially misunderstood child whom has a problem with sensory.

  6. Get a supply of these cool mechanical pencils. They are specially for kids who have handwriting issues. They are called Twist'nWrite. I found them at Holcombs Knowit Place, or on line. They are easy to grip unlike a long skinny pencil.

  7. Ask for your child to use a Alpha Smart or computer for written assignments. Experts including Tony Atwood, says to forget the handwriting all together, its the age of computers now anyways!

  8. Before school starts, have a short informal meeting including your child with your child's main teacher. If the teacher has not seen the child's file and IEP information, you can explain a little about ASD. Also talk about your concerns and the child's characteristics. You can even have a print out explaining about ASD so the teacher can review it for later. At that time, your child can ask questions about the classroom rules and you can ask about homework, etc. Its a good way to get started for the year, so you know both of you are on the same page. After that, I would let the teacher take the lead. You don't want to seem like an over bearing, yappy parent, and get off on the wrong foot, but you do want to be involved and take part in your child's education, and make sure your child gets what ever services he is entitled to.

  9. This was suggested to us by the Resource Room Teacher, although we haven't done this yet. Instead of lining up before school with the other children, the child would come directly into the school and wait in a certain room. Or during lunch time, have them eat lunch in the classroom instead of the lunchroom. For kids with sensory issues, this would be a great help to avoid these high stimulus times of the day.