Foraging for Comfort

It’s been over two weeks since my son has seen anyone in person besides his parents.
Well, we’ve waved to a few neighbors on walks around our block, so at least he’s had a glimpse that the world still exists. 
But he hasn’t seen “his” world in awhile. 
I’m seeing a bit more stress in his eyes, as the novelty of a “vacation at home” with mom and dad is starting to wear off.
But I think this will be our new reality for a while longer.
I’ve tried to explain to him what’s going on, using some “social stories” like this one and offering some simple language like “We have to stay home to stay safe. People are getting sick and we want to stay well. We are safe at home.”
We don’t have our regular supports of respite providers and day program and therapies and recreational activities. It feels strange and worrisome—I want our “team” to be safe in their homes, but to also have income. We are trying out some video conferencing sessions for some of his therapies and adapted recreation, and that looks promising. At least to give this kid something to do, connect with some familiar faces, and give these valuable people a way to have an income from a distance. Read More

Deck the Halls

My husband and I were brought up in different decorating traditions. His mother always put up their (artificial) Christmas tree and all the decorations on Thanksgiving weekend, and within a day or two after Christmas, everything was put away. My mother’s house was usually decorated sometime in mid-December, but the (real) tree itself was not trimmed until Christmas Eve. We kept our decorations up until Epiphany on January 6th (the traditional 12 days of Christmas). Yes, we were usually the last on the block to pack it all up.

As a married couple, we gradually created our own tradition that splits the difference, decorating in early December and taking it all down around New Year’s. (The artificial vs. real tree is still up for debate).


Regardless of the timing, we both want our house to look festive this time of year. But this can be challenging when the third member of our household really doesn’t like change. Our son used to enjoy the lights and atmosphere of Christmas, and the box of familiar holiday toys, books, music, and movies that appears along with the tinsel and ornaments. Not to mention the promise of never-ending cookies. Read More

What a Picture is Worth

Show, don’t tell.

Or, at least show while you tell.

That’s a cardinal rule around here.

If you want my kid to do or learn something, show him what you mean. Visually. Write it down. Give him a live demonstration. Show him a picture. Or even better, a video.

Honestly, I’d have a hard time parenting this kid without Google Image search and YouTube. And I’m forever grateful to all of the people who post pictures and videos about the most mundane things and make them accessible to the whole world. They’re so darned useful. 

I’ve used photos or videos to prepare my kid for everything from rollercoasters to EEGs. 

This past week, he needed to get a blood draw. He’s generally pretty good now about getting that done, after years of trying, but there’s still always a risk that anxiety could capsize the effort. So, before we went, I pulled up a photo on Google of another young man getting his blood drawn at a similar lab. Read More

The Crowd-iest Place on Earth

Do you want to test your tolerance for being inadvertently touched, jostled, and crowded by random strangers?

Go to Disneyland in mid-July.

On the “aversion-to-touch” scale, my kid is in the middle. He’ll allow himself to be touched, many times even requests it—a tickle, a squeeze, a wrestle—but it’s got to be on his terms. He has to know it’s coming.

But when you’re winding your way through a massive sea of people—many carrying oversize backpacks and multiple bags bulging with unwieldy souvenirs; others pushing strollers while wrangling toddlers who insist on managing their own larger-than-toddler balloons or stuffed Pixar characters; not to mention the few patrons walking in zig-zag obliviousness while gnawing on large turkey legs or cotton candy—it’s just impossible to keep from being touched.

Monsters Inc 2319“There’s nothing more toxic, more deadly than a human child. A single touch could kill you!” – Mr. Waternoose, Monsters Inc.

There is no “fast pass” around the summer swarms at Disney theme parks. As a family, we are not early risers—at least not the talk-to-others-in-public-and-ride-roller-coasters type of early risers—so getting into the parks before the biggest crowds was not a realistic goal. We went in the afternoons and evenings. Along with half the universe. Read More