Going to the Dentist

One of the things I try to do during the summer, when the kids don’t have their school schedule to contend with, is to catch up on non-emergent appointments like the dentist.

I will be honest here; Matt hasn’t ever been to the dentist for his own appointment. Now, he has gone with his brothers and sat in the chair (more like ran around the office like a nutcase) and has even had an appointment made for him, but he hasn’t actually gone. My bad.

One of my many goals this summer is to get Matthew to the dentist and get his teeth checked.

And I am nervous as all get out at just the thought of it.

Having a child with sensory issues, control issues (agenda issues?) and who generally doesn’t like doctors (a new concept rooted in his broken arm trauma, although he had a successful check up at our new pediatrician two weeks ago) means that I have to be creative – at a minimum.

Here are some ideas that I am going to use, that I have used for Gabe and Nick, or that my friends have used. Maybe one will work for your tooth-brush avoider?

1. Take a tour: Take your child into check out the dentist office before their appointment. Make it all what they want to do – do they want to look at the water pick? Do they want to sit in the chair? Let them explore. You can even schedule extra appointments, and go a few extra times just for exploring and practicing – desensitize them to the office environment.

Interview with Tracy Anglada -- Author and Advocate for Bipolar Children

I was reading a blog post the other day that I found through the Child & Adolescent Bipolar Association (CABF) by Tracy Anglada and it struck me -- hard.  I think the simple fact that this woman was raising 4 children, two of which were diagnosed with Bipolar was pretty amazing -- but when I read that her children inspired her to write a book about Bipolar, I knew we had something special in common.

When Tracy heard her children's diagnosis, like so many of us, she wanted a book to explain the illness to her then 7 year old son. That was not available in 2000 - neither was a book for siblings, a book for teachers, or a book that gave these kids a voice.

So she wrote them.

Tracy is the author of Brandon and the Bipolar Bear (also available in Spanish), Turbo Max, The Childhood Bipolar Answer Book, SWIVEL to Success (Bipolar Kids in the Classroom), as well as Intense Minds:  Through the Eyes of Kids With Bipolar Disorder and all of her books can be found on her website.

Tracy says, "That sad state of affairs lit a fire inside of me that would begin what has turned into a decade of advocacy. I'm proud to say that today mothers who are faced with the same news I was ten years ago have far more resources available to them. I'm happy to have been a part of that but I also hope that new advocates will still feel the same fire I did and make a difference for future generations."

As a mom, writer, author and advocate for my own children -- I knew that I needed to talk with Tracy to learn more about her, her family and Bipolar Disorder.  And lucky for me, she agreed.  She even agreed to give away a copy of TRHEE of her books -- Brandon and the Bipolar Bear and Intense Minds and SWIVEL to Success.  (Boy do I wish I could win this one!).

So, for those of you who are parenting, teaching or caring for a child like Gabriel -- with many labels, including Bipolar Disorder -- this one is for you.

SPD Blog Carnival -- SPD Dads

June's theme is “SPD Dads” – whatever you want to blog about that fits into this, a rant, a rave, a wordless photo, a tribute for Father’s Day, a post about your child’s biological dad/adoptive dad, a post about how your father/husband relates to your kid, advice on how dads can be more connected to their kiddos – whatever you want to say about Fathers, now's your chance.

And I would love to have all of you join! This is an amazing way to take the best of the best from the SPD Blogging Community every month, and publish it in one location -- kind of like having a monthly 'magazine' that people can come to and read. Everyone of you that reads this (even you lurkers!) can participate -- you DO NOT have to be part of the SPD Blogger Network to participate in the carnival. (But, if you blog about SPD, please consider joining because we would love to have you!)

I also encourage you to check out the other links posted here -- explore other blogs and learn more about what the SPD journey is like for families all over -- we have many new SPDBN members to learn from!

If you have any questions, feel free to email me.

Please share this post on your facebook and on twitter -- and any where else you can reach more SPD parents!

Now link up!

Tactile Defensiveness


I open my eyes – the clock reads 5:00 am.

What is that sound?

THUD! THUD! “MOM!” I hear Nick yell.

“My foot hurts!” he yells.


“Come in here Nick!” I yell still lying in bed with my eyes shut, “What is wrong?” I immediately begin having pseudo dreams about having to take him to the doctor and finding out that there is something horribly wrong with his foot.

But that isn’t what happened.

He comes hobbling in – hopping clear across the house with one foot in the air.

Nick climbs in bed, and places the bottom of his foot within an inch of my face. I squint to see – it is early and I don’t have my glasses on, not to mention it is still pretty dark in the room.

I can’t see anything. Maybe a small red non-descript area, but that’s it.

“Show your dad,” I say, “he is in the shower.”

I hear Jeff and Nick in the bathroom and Jeff is insisting that Nick sit still – and Nick is insisting that it hurts.


“You have to sit still.”

Sensory-Friendly 4th of July

You probably already have a pretty strong opinion of the 4th of July. It isn't exactly our favorite holiday either. Technically, we dsilke most holidays simply because of the intense amount of prolonged anxiety and lack of routine--and that is just my problem.

But back to the current holiday.

With 4th of July coming we are in need of taking many many precautions to prevent a meltdown worse than anticipated.  Irnocially, this year, I am much more worried about Matthew than Gabe.  Why?  Because Gabe goes to my mom's house for a fireworks-free night.  Matt on the other hand, he'll be home.  I have already ordered his noise canceling headphones to compliment his all-boy love of all-things fire related.  He is Jeff's mini-me afterall.

I am going to give you a list of things that *have* worked for us in the past, but are obviously no guarantee for your sensational kiddo, so as always, adjust where you see fit. : )

1. Give limited warning--it is my experience that if I talk too much about the noise that is coming and the problems Gabriel may or may not have he gets overwhelmed. I think the anticipation is just as bad, if not worse, than the event. Yes, Gabriel is clear on what 4th of July is and that it is coming, but we don't harp on it.  Same goes for Matthew -- he'll know it is coming, but we aren't going to focus on the 'noise'.

30 Stories in 30 Days

In case you haven't heard -- I am working on putting together a fundraiser to honor the SPD Foundation's 30th Anniversary this October -- and I need your help!

I posted this on my blog just a few weeks ago, explaining what I am planning and asking for 30 families that wanted to tell their story of how Sensory Processing Disorder has affected their family. My promise was to post a new story each day throughout the month of October -- making it 30 stories in 30 days. And I have had a HUGE response!

First of all, thank you to everyone who has volunteered -- and for those who haven't, please consider joining us (we have over 40 families already)! This event is going to be the first of its kind, and promises to be monumental for SPD awareness! Every story will get a chance to be involved -- your story is still needed!

The response has been so great, that I even received a wonderful email from Dr. Lucy Jane Miller herself who is excited about our efforts to raise awareness through this 30/30 Event. She is even going to write a little something herself in honor of the event -- you'll have to check back and see what she says ...

It gets better (hard to believe, huh?).

Oh, Yes He Did

I haven’t blogged about Matthew’s antics in awhile and was worried that maybe I would forget all of the chaos he creates on a daily basis – so I am dedicating this post to his unique aptitudes. (Sounds better that “jackass behavior”).

Matthew spends most weeks on learning how to master a new skill. I think some of you are already thinking, “Oh, how nice.” But really, these aren’t the kind of skills you want your kid to learn; we are not talking about cleaning up toys, making beds or trying new foods. We are talking about Matthew’s little Engineer-In-The-Making brain that is wired to solve any mechanical dilemma. The primary focus these days is to first determine how things work – in order to apply those scientific principles to other more mundane tasks. Or at least that is what I like to think he is doing . . .

May/June found Matthew interested in the power and function of water. This little obsession has historically been focused on the hose, what you can spray, how far it goes, how much pressure is required, and of course, the need to turn it on and off repeatedly at will.

But, since every year spring brings new life, this year, spring brought new life to Matthew’s old water ideas.

He decided that he wanted to see if he could flood the kitchen with water.

Yes, you read that right, he wanted to flood the kitchen intentionally. Just to see what happened.

(Birth) Father's Day Questions

Gabriel’s birthfather lives in Texas. I am sure of that. As a matter of fact, I have his full contact info, should I want to contact him. And something about holidays, especially Father’s Day, always brings up the subject of whether or not I should.

When we were placed with Gabriel, through foster care, he had two fathers on paper – a ‘legal’ father, the man his birth mother was married to at the time of his birth, and a ‘biological’ father – the man listed on the birth certificate. His legal father quickly relinquished his rights, but his birth father did not. The state contacted him directly through certified mail, ‘published’ for him and contacted his extended relatives, requesting he take a paternity test. But, no response from him.

The state moved their case forward, after 3 years of waiting for him to respond, and begun the process of terminating his rights. After all, there had been no word from this man in over three years.

Jeff and I got to court one spring morning, anxious for the judge to terminate his biological father’s rights *this* time – the last piece in the puzzle to Gabriel being legally free. When we arrived, our social worker greeted us.

“I have bad news,” she started. It seemed every time we talked to her those days that is how it went. “We heard from Gabriel’s biological father, and he completed the paternity test yesterday.”

“What were the results?” Jeff and I asked immediately – if it didn’t prove paternity, then we had nothing to fear.

“I don’t know, I don’t have the results yet, I just heard from the lab that he came to the appointment. But there is more bad news.”

The Lesson of Proprioception

I often look back on my older posts to see what I was doing last year. I am especially looking for help this time of year when the It's-Almost-Summer-Crazy has a hold of my kids and can't seem to let them go -- they act like I put them in the washing machine on spin cycle. Not that they wouldn't love that, but . . .

How do you solve this? The answer for us is always more propriocpetion.

If the boys won't sleep, or can't sit still at the dinner table (or stand in one spot as the case may be), or are so squirrely in the mornings that we are late to school every day for the last week (was that just us?!), I have to go back to basics: Proprioception.

So, as I was thinking this, and reading old blog posts, I came across this one, and I wanted to share!  It was written the end of May last year, just a day before Gabe's 8th birthday -- so it seemed fitting that the photo here is of Gabe's 9th birthday -- just two weeks ago.

I hope it helps calm your last days of school (or first days of summer!). 



Let them Deliver Pickles

My friend made an analogy using the "Dog Whisperer" today at lunch. It sparked my own reference to a "Cesar Milan" episode I saw the other day. He was putting a dog backpack on this Pit Mix (which I feel my kid sure can act like sometimes) and the only thing he had to fill it with was pickles.

Cesar says, and I am paraphrasing, "When you put the backpack on the dog it gives him a job. He is clearly more focused, because now he isn't just walking, he is delivering the pickles."

But we'll get to how that ties into my day in just a second.

Changes in Attitude

I have a friend that is struggling right now.  Struggling like we all do from time to time.  A crisis of life -- of where we are going, of why we are on the path we are on, of how to find balance.  It is a deep thing to deal with. 

That said, I also find that as special needs parents these types of personal struggles are usually a sign of growth.  Personal growth that says, "Wait.  What about me?  Is this the way I want my life to go?"  And sometimes, we need to hit 'refresh' on our brains. 

Sometimes, not always, but sometimes, it is our perspectives that need changing more than our lives.  It is one of those "Don't throw the baby out with the bathwater" things.  Don't decide you need a new job, or a new husband, or a new house -- when what you might need is less of a physical change and more of a mental one.

And I thought, why not share that with all of my 'friends'?  Who knows what you all are going through -- but someone might just need this advice right now.

So, here is the letter (modified slightly) that I wrote one of my best girlfriends -- one that has special kiddos just like us. 

Unsolicited advice – because I care.

Here is what works for me when I am feeling like things are out of control, disproportionate or that my marriage is bound to buckle under our current stress:

Spreading Awareness

Yesterday I had the great fun of being on Seattle's KOMO 4 News promoting my book, and more importantly Sensory Processing Disorder Awareness.  I could do that every day of my life, and never get tired of it.  It inspires and refreshes me (coming only second to speaking at support groups, or doing Q&A with SPD families!).

When I got on set yesterday, the anchor, Mary Nam, said to me, "I'd never heard of this before!"  Not surprising, but we have to change that. 

So, to remind all of us why we do what we do -- why we blog, why we educate, why we share our story, I am posting my take on what being an SPD Advocate is all about -- with a dash of humor. 

We all are SPD Advocates for our children and all kids with SPD. Spread the word.

Turn On Your Senses (TOYS); Giveaway and Interview with Dawn Brauer

I came across the website Turn On Your Senses a few months back and loved – not only the name – but the message their founder Dawn Brauer was sending: Let kids play!  I just had to talk with her. And when I did, I was struck by her dedication to children and passion for her work.

Dawn says “Play is becoming a lost art form” and I agree with her. We as parents seem to like the word ‘therapy’ more than ‘play’, but really, when therapy is play, our kids are eager to participate – and it stands to reason that children who are engaged in their own therapy are more successful. Mastering challenges, learning new skills and enjoying the art of play give our kids an optimistic outlook on life – one of the most valuable things for any child to learn.

So, you remember how to play, right? Between all of the appointments, conferences and Google searches, you may just have forgotten (I sure have). But Dawn is here to remind us of the value of play for our kids and give us some fresh new ideas to add a little something new to the same old games.

Oh, and she has also offered to give away FOUR free puzzles from Melissa and Doug – and you KNOW how awesome those are, right?  The more winners, the better -- that's what I say! A big THANK YOU to Dawn for her generosity!

Now, as the playwright George Bernard Shaw once said, “We don’t stop playing because we grow old; we grow old because we stop playing.”

So, let’s turn back the clock, shall we?

It's Not Regression!

This is the time of year where parents all over the world are wondering, worrying and asking, “Why is my child regressing?” with a level of terror usually reserved for things like walking into your kitchen and finding your 4 year old has stuck the hose in the French doors and proceeded to turn it on, effectively flooding the kitchen with water – for the third time this week.

Oh, actually, that probably isn’t your life (the hose thing), just mine. . .

But the regression question is at the forefront of everyone’s minds these days. Isn’t it?

Teachers, parents, therapists, are all watching as our kids, who normally can perform a certain task, or have acceptable behavior in a given situation, are now magically unable to.

And it scares us. The idea that all of the therapy and consistency is somehow erased one spring day without so much as a warning – that it will all be for not, because our child has regressed.

I hate the word regression. It is so permanent. It is so damaging. It suggests that our kids have LOST skills that took them months, maybe years, to attain.  But so you know, I don’t think what we parents see this time of year is true regression.  Ah, then what is it?

FTF “Togetherness; A Dad’s Perspective on Marriage” by Gavin Bollard

Here is June's First Things First article, which was written by Gavin Bollard who is not only raising two darling kiddos with ASD, but also has Aspergers himself.  You can find him blogging at Life With Aspergers. : )

For more information about First Things First click here. There is also a list of the previous First Things First articles under the "Favorite Posts Tab" at the top -- with the obvious title of "First Things First Articles".


In traditional society, mothers and fathers tend to live in completely different worlds. The home, the kids and school are all in the mother’s realm while the father is more likely to take care of breadwinning and financial matters.

The working week has expanded to take in weekends and the hours of work have lengthened too, courtesy of the traffic problems. Many fathers today hardly see their children and not because of the high divorce rate either. It’s simply that they have to leave before the kids are awake and they don’t get home until after bedtime. Some fathers have frequent out of state business which further reduces their family time.

Today’s fathers are simply fighting for free time. We are weekend fathers, trying desperately to squeeze a week of family time into a few spare hours on the weekend.