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Solving life's special needs.


Solutions for families and corporations dealing with autism, ADHD, and similar social challenges at all ages.

It's Father's Day - touch Dad's big heart

May was Mom's turn to be spoiled. But now that it's almost June, we get to think about how to touch Dad's big heart. Dads are always hard to buy for, but coming up with that perfect "I love you" gift is not impossible. It just takes some thought and personalization! Dads are so important in a child's life, and every parent knows that raising a child entails more than just providing for them. It is rare to find a parent that wants recognition for being a parent, but we celebrate their dedication regardless.

 Father’s Day is not just a day to buy presents; it is a day to appreciate what fathers do for their families. Fathers are the men that help you learn how to ride a bike and make sure that you never give up. Fathers will help you grow and show you what unconditional love is. Fathers are men young boys look up to everyday.  They know that they must set good examples. Fathers never expect praise or grace for the job that they do. However on Father’s Day, we show our love for them. Give your father a hug and tell him how important he is to you this year. For those families without a full-time Dad, we praise Mom for doing Daddy duty, so give your mom a hug!

 Usually when a father is asked what type of gift he wants, he always begrudgingly says, “Nothing Dear.”  This year purchase a gift with purpose for your father. Aspire Accessories, a program of Social Motion, Inc., is a work shop where young adults with autism and similar special needs create, produce, embellish, assemble, package and ship beautiful leather accessories, crafts, home goods and laser engraved specialty products. These are just right for fathers! View the spectrum of gifts you can purchase for your father, from a leather flask to an RTIC Tumbler engraved with his initials. Whatever the desire, Aspire Accessories has you covered. Show your father that his love is undeniable, and make a purchase with a purpose!

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When your child is different, unique, quirky...

Here's the know-how on nurturing your child's quirks without encouraging the additional chaos.

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"Soft Skills" most likely to help youth succeed in the job market

A study by Child Trends identifies the "soft skills" most likely to help youths succeed in the job market: communication, social skills, self-control, higher-order thinking and positive self-concept (self-awareness, not just self-esteem). The problem is that "those kinds of things are not visible on the Internet" Read on .....

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Rinsta or Finsta - say what? What you should know...

I found this article particularly interesting becasue we totally teach that you have to keep a "clean" image on social media. We teach that your personna on social media is important and people look at it and make value judgements. Have the kids found a way to get around the rule??? 

I also find it interesting that there is a need for a real and fake identities.... too bad they seem to be at opposite ends of the spectrum. 

Read on ...

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Meet Denise - the inspiration behind ASPIRE Accessories

 

Hello Friends-As we continue our focus on autism this month, I want to shine the light today on my friend Denise Hazen who started Aspire Accessories with her son, Nick.

The organization was founded in 2011 and now operates as a program of Social Motion Skills, which we featured here on the blog last week. The artisans of Aspire create beautiful handcrafted accessories in their studio here in Houston. I am thrilled to feature their necklaces and bracelets in my boutiques and online.

What I love about Aspire Accessories and Social Motion Skills is that their programs bring these kids together in a productive, fulfilling way while also creating a community and fostering friendships. In this video, Denise shares how she really honed in on her son’s strengths and that is what inspired her to start Aspire.

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Work Early, Work Often - Why SOMO has a transition program

Work Early, Work Often Video Campaign

 

“Work Early, Work Often” is a video campaign created by the Youth Transitions Collaborative’s career preparation and management working group. Together, the three-part series highlights the importance of work and work-based experiences in an individual’s transition to adulthood, particularly for young adults with disabilities. Each storyline focuses on a different subject and narrative, told from the perspective of key audiences that are part of the transition journey. All videos include open captioning and audio descriptions. Click here to view the videos as a series, or download the campaign overview.

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Autistic Character Portrayal in the Media - Autism Awareness - April 2017

With the recent inclusions of characters with Asperger’s/autism in Sesame Street and the 2017 film adaptation of Power Rangers, the awareness of Asperger’s/autism is improving. These following portrayals from past television shows and movies have unique ways, based on and assisted by research, of depicting their characterization.

1) In Arthur’s 2010 episode “When Carl Met George,” George explains to the audience how he met his friend Carl.  At the community center, he sees Carl work on a train puzzle and is impressed by Carl’s detailed knowledge of trains.  The next day, George learns that Carl has Asperger’s Syndrome when he surprises Carl with his ventriloquist puppet which Carl becomes uncomfortable with.  The Brain (another Arthur character) then tells George how his uncle, who has the same condition, explained how having it would feel like via an outer space-themed analogy.  In the show’s segment “A Word from Us Kids,” children like Carl from the real world are featured visiting Lovelane Special Needs Horseback Riding Program and also inside their classroom.  This episode of Arthur can be streamed on Amazon Video.

2) At the beginning of the 2010 television series of Parenthood, Adam and Kristina learn that their son Max has been diagnosed with Asperger’s.  On a side note, the young actor who plays Max has the same diagnosis as his character does.  In the fourth season, Max runs for class president at his middle school. During his speech, he includes his Asperger’s as a way to describe why his characteristics would match ideal qualities for class president.  One of which is tenacity to express his goal of bringing back the school’s vending machines.  Parenthood can be viewed on Netflix.

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Reaching the Screen Generation

From Baby Boomers to Millenials and now the commonly refered to "screen generation", how do parents stay in touch with the new digital "norms" that are so natural and important to our children?  How does a parent connect to their child's joy that comes from playing Minecraft or Overwatch or some other sandbox, FPS, MMO, RTS, RPG game? ( Our teens mentoring teens had a whole session on these acronyms and I took notes!!)

Who are they playing with? How much time do they spend playing and WHY? What is the fascination that we don't understand and is it akin to what we did that our parents thought was abhorent?

How are they connecting via social media to people they've never even met? Why is it easier yet social relations harder? What about our kids with social deficits ....it is easier or harder?

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The Lost Boys (and Girls) - Autism Awareness part 4 - April 2017

I’ve come across this observation.  It said “Do you remember how eager we were to grow up as a child?  What were we thinking?!”  I’m trying to transition myself.  There are life skills like cooking, laundry, personal hygiene, and many others.  There are things like the basics of finance, investment, balancing your checkbook, budgeting, and paying taxes.  I’m presently learning the latter list, which neither grade school nor college taught.  I still have to learn how to cook, too.  It’s a cliché, but growing up is very difficult.  I cannot imagine how much more challenging it is for someone with ASD.

Transition begins at 16 for a student with U.S. special education services.  Teachers ask about interests and goals to be put in the IEP.  That same student may be eligible for adult services.  However, whether he or she receives them depends on funding.  Guidelines for eligibility and funding are set by each state. Zosia Zaks, a rehab counselor who works with adults with ASD, summarized: When you get to be 18 or 21, it’s like falling off a cliff.  We don’t do a great job of educating parents about what’s going to happen after school ends.”

What is to be done with this process?  Experts have said planning optimally begins when children are  young.  “Parents ask me, ‘When should I start with transition planning?’” said Ernst O. VanBergeijik Ph.D., M.S.W.  “I say ‘Age six,’ and people look at me like I’m out of my mind.  ‘That’s way too early, they say.’  But I say, you need to visualize your child at age 21.”  Daily living skills can be taught early, while complex ones can be broken into small steps and increased in complexity, he explained.

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A Mom’s Musings

A  Mom’s Musings:

Years ago while at a local grocery store, my very special daughter did something amazing.

In the cold glass-covered display freezer aisle, a tall man dressed in a black knit cap, black shirt, black pants and black knit gloves was putting out ice cream into the freezer section and removing the ice cream that was out-of-date.

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Academic Eudaimonia - Autism Awareness Week 3 April 2017

Academic Eudaemonia

Given the unique difficulties of ASD, performance in school can suffer.  “My school just doesn’t get it,” a parent who wished to remain anonymous told WebMD. 

A child is expected to be attentive, obedient to teachers, and maintain good standing with his or her classmates at school.  ASD can complicate matters.  One child might be disruptive during class, often interrupting.  Another may have trouble sharing.  In extreme cases, a child can become physically violent and pose a danger to his or her classmates and teachers.  It should be noted that this manifests in severe cases of ASD, which does not presuppose non-verbal disability.  However, high-functioning individuals may have little to no trouble in succeeding academically and socially.

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"Meet Wendy Dawson of Social Motion Skills!" By: Elaine Turner

Hello My Friends-

Last week I wrote about a special Saturday morning working with my son Harrison, his friends and their buddies at Social Motion Skills. It was a morning full of inspiration and I was thrilled to meet Social Motion Skills Founder Wendy Dawson and learn about her organization.

That day I also met Aspire Accessories Creative Director Denise Hazen. Aspire is a program that’s part of the Social Motion Skills organization, and I am thrilled to partner with these organizations and feature their merchandise in-store and online in celebration of Autism Awareness Month.

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"Your Brain Doesn't Want to Change: 5 Ways to Make It"

Challenges are hard, but at Social Motion we believe that, "If it doesn't challange you, it won't change you." 

 

Take a moment and cross your arms. Now, cross them in the opposite direction. Which way was more awkward?

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The Challenge - Autism Awareness Week 2 - April 2017

“Peek-a-boo!” your face stretches into a silly grin as the baby’s face lights up.  You wiggle your index finger near your little nephew’s tiny hands when he grasps your finger with a strong grip.  Babies are just as social as adults. 

However, by 8 to 10 months, babies that develop autism may not respond to their name.  The development of babbling is slowed.  Symptoms become more pronounced during toddlerhood.  They might not desire to “help” Mommy or Daddy through mimicry, or they might respond to parents’ affection or anger in an unusual way.

Children with autism frequently have trouble controlling their emotions.  There are temper tantrums in inappropriate places.  They may also express disruptive or physically aggressive behavior.  The risk of outbursts increases in unfamiliar, overwhelming, or frustrating situations.  In turn, this may lead to self-injurious behavior like head-banging, hair-pulling, or self-biting.  Finally, children with ASD may express comorbidity through genetic or generalized health disorders. The former includes Fragile X syndrome, Angelman syndrome, tuberous sclerosis, and chromosome 15 duplication.  The latter includes Gastrointestinal (GI) disorders, seizure disorders, sleep disorders, and sensory processing disorders.

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"A Sweet, Serendipitous Saturday at Social Motion Skills"

Our dearest and newest friend Elaine Turner and her son, Harrison Turner, were able to spend a Saturday morning at Social Motion volunteering with our Teens Mentoring Teens Group. These are the sweet words she had to say in her blog. 

 

Dear Friends-

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A Generalized Guide for Autism Spectrum Disorders - Autism Awareness Week 1 - April 2017

 

Part 1 of 4 - Autism Awareness Month - April 2017

From Rain Man to Julia’s premier in Sesame Street, autism has slowly emerged into public consciousness.  Perhaps you know someone with Asperger’s Syndrome or are a parent with a child on the spectrum. Exposure is well and good, but I believe awareness must be bolstered with knowledge. 

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