Temple Grandin is my favorite speaker/writer when it comes to all things Autism. She gives such practical advice. Here she shares excellent insights for the UC Davis Mind Institute’s Distinguished Lecturer Series of 2007. I highly recommend this video, as well as all of her books on Autism.Read More
My husband and I were blessed with 6 wonderful children whose ages range from 6 to 26 years old. We have a couple of extra challenges however.
The first one is that we had our youngest 3 children after a 9 year gap between the older three and they were born when we were much older.
The second and most difficult challenge is that our youngest daughter is Autistic.
As the mother of a special needs daughter I understand the daily challenges parents of special needs children face. Simple tasks can become such a burden and things that should take only a moment to do can take hours to accomplish. We not only have to teach our children what to be able to do but how to be able to do it. We have to be able to instill the art of interpersonal communication so that our children can survive in an ever-changing world. This is not an easy task for parents of children who do not face special challenges. It is nigh impossible for those of us who do. But Thank the Lord for tools that can help us along.
About 4 years ago I stumbled upon the concept of “visuals”. Visuals are tools that help non-verbal people communicate in a verbal world. Our daughter struggled not only in verbal communication, but because of her disability she could not stay focused for more than a few hours without tripping over into her “own world.” In her world, she was happy, loud but happy, and life would stop for the rest of us as we tried to manage the noise levels, and the chaos that ensued.
Grocery shopping would leave me exhausted for hours, as my daughter “flapped” her way nosily throughout the store, knocking cans and produce everywhere, and screaming throughout the meat and dairy section. I remember once at a Walmart, EllaBella was “flapping” and making a high-pitched shrill noise in the laundry aisle, (most special needs kids are very sensitive to smells) and the floor manager of all people, who saw that it was her, said rather loudly, “I wish the parent of whatever brat that is making all that noise would make it shut up.” My first thought was “me too buddy, if you only knew..” Yes, I did give him a small piece of my mind, in a nice way of course.
It was at this point that I found BeeVisual and after a few months we discovered our lives became more organized and peaceful. Every day I would set up her boards, use the tiles to get through the tasks, and the books when we had problems. The timer and wait boards were invaluable. However, the original boards and books were too bulky to take along on outings. We could only manage her outbursts and problems at home. Going out was a huge challenge.
Recently, I was asked to try the new app for IPhone. What a GODSEND, this was. I have an ITouch and carry it with me everywhere so this was going to make life easier for us all. I downloaded the app in seconds and was able to even take pictures and recordings of Ella doing tasks and such that are unique to our family and lifestyle. I could even make different boards for different parts of the day and different situations. She eagerly stays on task as the visuals keep her motivated. It is portable because it is on my ITouch and it comes with everything the original version does.
Here is how I use the app. I set up the boards I will need for the next day, which takes but a few minutes. The boards are reusable and you can have as many as you like. I even use this for my younger son Noah, just because it is easy to keep him on task as well. Then in the morning when Ella wakes up she gives me a hug and we go through Ella’s Wake-up Board. She has five simply things to do, go to the bathroom, wash her hands, eat breakfast, wash hands and face, and get dressed. After she does these things she can choose between to activities which are timed at the bottom of the board. Off she goes to have fun. She has learned, responsibility, she has made good choices, the morning has gone smoother because I am not frustrated trying to get her to go to the bathroom. She sees what she needs to do, the boards speak the task and she does it. So wonderful.
Visuals are not a new concept for special needs children. There are many kids of visuals as well. We are ever grateful to the Lord that our dear Ella is so high functioning and very articulate. We use the Waiting Boards and Feelings Board a lot as she has great difficulties with managing feelings and understanding boundaries. The Timer is invaluable.
I highly recommend this app for ANY parent of ANY child under age 10, special needs or no, because it is an invaluable mom helper tool. As I mentioned, I also use this for our son Noah, aged 6, who is just your normal rambunctious boy. It helps me to use this with both of them simultaneously and keep them on track, learning responsibility and interpersonal communication. I love this app! It has made my life so much easier.
Our daughter Gabriella has PDD-NOS, a form of Autism. She is incredibly artistic and very high functioning. A true creator, she is constantly designing something new and putting it on display for all to see.
All of us as parents have places on the refrigerator where we proudly hang our children’s artwork. However, Ella has so much artwork, there is no way to display it all. So in trying to accommodate all my children, I put her artwork up on a huge clip and rotate the rest. Yet, when one of her masterpieces is missing, she remembers. She remembers every piece and will go to any length to find it and display it. She marvels over each creation as if it were the first and best of all of her art.