Understanding ASD
Posted By Faith Clarke 04/02/2012
Connections form in the brain throughout our lifespan.
Fixing Me
Posted By Melody of Autism 03/13/2014
Have you ever just wanted your child to be fixed? I have. Sometimes I just want everything to be done with: rigorous supplementing routines, special diets, expenses, babysitting challenges, conversations with therapists and specialists... Some days I want to yell STOP WORLD! and get off for a while, sit by a waterfall somewhere and pretend none of it is happening.
Ignoring the mental chatter
Posted By Melody of Autism 01/21/2014

Ignoring the Mental Chatter

Let's say you decide this is the year to learn to drive (or knit or play a sport). Do you immediately set goals like an expert driver? Do you decide to rent a car and do a cross country run within the first few weeks? Probably not. But if you did, you would probably be very frustrated and feel like giving up as you try to accomplish this ambitious goal. And what if you kept saying to yourself "You should be doing this better! It's very important that you drive across country and your child would have been recovered already if you had done this...." (Oops! I started to mix stories!) Your unsupportive mental chatter would just probably add to your anxiety and upset and reduce your chances of doing this cross country drive.
Posted By Melody of Autism 03/04/2014
"I was already on a spiritual journey, but engaging this process with my son and ASD has me on another level!" - Monica, mom of an 8 year old boy with autism.

Many parents start their journey with autism feeling powerless to create the changes they want. The diagnosis can felt like being thrown a 5 ton basketball and being expected to score for the team. Yet, the more I learned, the more I recognized that my son only looked like a challenge. He is really a gift. The gift was wrapped in many layers of wrapping paper. Even the paper is part of the gift. One sheet is the gift of patience, another is hope. Another sheet is love and yet another resilience. One sheet is faith, another tenacity. The more I peeled, the more gifts emerged. There is perseverance and one of my favorites, the power to choose. This is the gift that keeps on giving, it sparks transformation as each layer is exposed. I became aware of how powerful I really am. The layers of gift wrapping are like food to my undernourished self. I eat and I grow. The giant within is awakening. A tremendous metamorphosis is catalyzed by this very simple gift!
Curiosity Made the Difference
Posted By Melody of Autism 03/11/2014
Curiosity Made the Difference
When we received Jaedon’s diagnosis, he was 30 months old. I remember looking at everything that he did, that I hadn’t known to be autistic, and suddenly hating it, judging it for what it represented to us. One day, he sat exploring his fingers with wonder and fascination, holding them up to the light, turning them around and just staring at them. I became so angry, I snapped at him “Stop staring at your fingers! That’s why people think something is wrong with you!” He just ignored me, and continued his exploration.
Posted By Melody of Autism 03/25/2014
It does take a village, and often, the village needs orienting to life in an ASD household. This is a beautiful snapshot of life in a multi-generational household from the Thinking Moms. Everybody gets to learn something new. Everyone get to become more flexible. Enjoy A Grandfather’s Dilemma – Educating the Village:
Posted By Melody of Autism 03/21/2014
I race towards the open kitchen door. Who left this open? I yell in my mind as I grab the open bottle of sunflower seed butter from Jay just before he dipped his entire hand in to scoop out as much as could be removed. No more butter, I say, in a forced calm voice as I think about all the hiding spots. My hesitation in thought was all the opportunity needed, and Jay raced out of the kitchen to grab the medicine ball, check the door, find it unlocked, and throw the ball out unto the grass. I look at him stunned, the butter still in hand. I had been looking for the keys to lock the front door, when I spied him and the jar of nutbutter. I experience a confused disorientation. A nagging thought pushes through.... Did he distract me from locking the door with the grabbing of the nutbutter?
Rita’s 5 musts for every ASD family
Posted By Melody of Autism 03/18/2014
CREATE YOUR VILLAGE – It is essential to surround yourself with people who are able to understand your journey with your special child. These are people who you can be yourself with, can share your most difficult moments with and who will be positive and non-judgmental with your transparency. These individuals are the backbone of your journey and can help you have a harmonious life while parenting a child with special needs (ASD). You need people who will be there for you and for your child. Therapists, teachers and social workers are obvious candidates, but you also need friends, coaches, cheerleaders, childcare people, errand running people, ‘give me a moment so I can breathe’ people. And they need you and the experience of being in your space and in your life.
Posted By Melody of Autism 03/27/2014
Today as Faith and I were leading one of our MOA training sessions, she surprised me by asking me to show the group a few Tango steps. I jumped on this opportunity thinking what a great idea. Yet, I wasn’t actually sure how to present it. I asked Katya to be the follower and I was the leader. Katya has very little Tango experience so I knew I had to be very clear in my directions.
Posted By Melody of Autism 04/02/2014
Every day, in every moment, we get to choose what we believe our children's actions mean. Johnny throws a toy, Suzie pees on the floor. Is it excessive defiance? Perseveration? Strong, accurate gross motor movement? Imaginative play (Suzie is creating a waterfall)? As parents, we are never 100% certain about the meaning of any of our children's behaviors.
Posted By Melody of Autism 04/08/2014
In one of my conversations with my friend Josha, we spoke about the various things we want to be doing with our sons (both with autism). One of the things on my list is teaching Jaedon to read. Jaedon is 15 years old, and communicates with single words and some 2-3 word combinations. He is visually very strong, so could learn to recognize and match words if taught, but has shown no interest in the value of words for reading. I don’t want to train him to read. I want to inspire him to read.
Posted By Melody of Autism 04/08/2014
Calm down:

First, make sure both you and your child are safe. Then, sit down and relax. Breathe. Don’t do anything. The thoughts below won’t work for every child. As with anything else, it’s an experiment. As you deeply understand your child and your environment, be willing to courageously experiment with the ideas that feel supportive to both you and your child.
Posted By Melody of Autism 04/13/2014
Have you ever watched one of those shows where the bad guy is being chased by the hero, and the hero turns his head one way, just missing the bad guy running in the other direction? That's how I feel about autism intervention sometimes. So close, and yet so far. As parents, there isn't a stone we wouldn't look under to help our kids, yet sometimes we are looking under the stone, and the solution was on top of the stone, and it slides off as we lift the stone.
Posted By Melody of Autism 04/13/2014
A few years ago, Jaedon had a fascination with spit. He collected it in his mouth, filling up his cheeks until he had a natural fish face. He swished it around in his mouth, making the most interesting noises. He often wanted to speak, and finding his mouth full, he then hummed the words. Sometimes he even tried to speak.... though that wasn’t much clearer than humming. Sometimes he would start to giggle and spit would come trickling, or gushing out.
Posted By Melody of Autism 04/13/2014
Atypical behaviors of children are a window in to their unique world

I have had the pleasure of working with many beautiful autistic children who have behaviors ranging from biting themselves or others, intensely banging their heads, staring into space without movement, lying on the floor while licking the mirror, lining up objects, reciting all kinds of cartoons, etc. My training has allowed me to look at these behaviors from a very empowering perspective, while most of the world sees them as unacceptable. I view these so called "bizarre" behaviors as a window in that child's world and in the process gain an in-depth understanding of how I can best help this child connect to his/her internal (body) and external environment and begin to see the world around him as a friendly extension of him self.
Posted By Melody of Autism 04/28/2014
I remember seeing the Broadway play In The Heights as part of our Valentine’s Day celebrations one year. It was amazing!! In particular, Abuela Claudia's Paciencia y Fe was very impacting for me. She described the immigrant journey, constantly working and hoping for dreams to come true. Her strong refrain of Patience and Faith reminded me of so many moments in my journey with Jay.
Posted By Melody of Autism 05/01/2014
Some years ago, I had the pleasure of observing a HANDLE (Holistic Approach to Neuro-Development & Learning Efficiency) evaluation done by a HANDLE practitioner, (we will call her Jessica) with Joe, one of the special children that I work with on a regular basis.

Actions Are Words
Posted By Melody of Autism 05/08/2014
I’m an occupational therapist trained in the sensory processing approach and its applications with children on the spectrum. I’m also an enthusiastic, creative explorer who likes to venture outside the box of my conventional training. I recently added this wonderful new tool to my bag of tricks: the Himalayan Singing bowl.
Posted By Melody of Autism 05/06/2014
I was training a new person to help with Jaedon’s home program, and went into Jay’s play area about half hour before her scheduled arrival to listen to the best teacher of all. Jaedon and I had a great time playing with lotion. I would say he was moderately interactive, perhaps a 6, on a scale of 1-10. He practiced saying the word 'lotion', approximating it as 'who-shah'. The 'L' sound is challenging. I worked on NOT being on an agenda with him, just doing what he was interested in when he was being repetitive, being easy and helpful, and challenging him to say 'lotion' as often as he would allow. In that moment, it was just me and Jaedon, him doing whatever he wanted, me loving him. What a gift it is, to be with someone that way! No judgments, no agenda, just wanting to be there with him. It felt great, a wonderful loving thing to do.
Posted By Kari Murphy 05/09/2014
Now, you might as well enjoy him. Not everyone gets to have a Jaedon to enjoy, and to grow from. So many people are bored, just raising ordinary children. I glanced at Tanya as she waxed philosophical. Poor girl, I thought. No kids. No idea. This was thought a little sarcastically, because Tanya is my current angel. She donates 2 days of her week to me, helping me around the house and caring for the kids so I can get a few ordinary things done. Tanya's stint with me is winding down, and I will miss her tremendously.
Posted By Kari Murphy 05/21/2014
Today, my day started with the most powerful connection with a very special autistic boy. No amount of words can describe the feeling of joy and love that I had the pleasure to experience. That is why I invite you to read this blog from your heart more then your mind since it's where I am speaking from and only then you might have a chance to experience a piece of my joy, my life.
Posted By Melody of Autism 05/21/2014
I remember the first time a doctor told me I had to help Jaedon learn some skill (like looking in my eyes) that he was not doing and that typical kids did effortlessly. I was freaked out! If my son has no inclination to do a particular thing, how in the world could I make him???

I've discovered that I may not be able to make him do anything, but I can encourage him, celebrate him and even ask him to do a whole lot of things. So many of the not-so solid skills, the missed steps that our kids are challenged by, are things that they already do, perhaps infrequently, unintentionally and with a looong delay. Yet, whatever we focus our energies on becomes bigger. I've decided to be a detective for my son's hidden skills so I can celebrate them like crazy. If I don't believe they are there, I won't even see them when they show up. So I have a built in curiosity about what he does. Everything is examined for the value, the possibilities, the learnings. When I see something that I want to see more of, I celebrate it. When I haven't seen it yet, or not seen it in a long while, I ask for it. I explain why I'd like to see that thing. You know what? Sometimes he just does it!
Posted By Melody of Autism 05/27/2014
I am very excited to share with you my recent experience with a 12 year old autistic boy whose name is Kyle. Kyle is very unique. He is unique in regard to the sensitivity of his senses. He intensely reacts to smells, light, noise, touch and seeks lots of opportunities for movement. His heightened sensitivity affects Kyle’s behavior in many different ways. One of the way in which it impacts his behavior is expressed by his extreme vigilance and avoidance of people, objects and any new situations.