Autism app: Chore Pad

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This week will be our first week to try Chore Pad to keep track of chores. I will post a review of this app next week.

The twins are 18, but they have developmental delays and need help staying on task. I’m terrible about charts that hang on the fridge. Our lives are so busy that they either get forgotten or fall off. But the twins love their iPads and iPhones and when I stumbled upon this app I was tickled. I introduced it to them today and they already enjoy navigating it and bringing it to me to see what they’ve accomplished.

Chorepad1Description from the iTunes app store:

“Chore Pad HD is a powerful, fun tool for motivating your kids to complete chores. Each child completes their assigned chores to earn stars which are redeemable for rewards that you create! Give bonus stars for a job well done or penalty stars to let your child know they should strive to do better.

Chore Pad HD’s beautiful artwork is fully optimized for the iPad Retina Display. Check out Chore Pad on the iPhone and iPod touch for the same great features in a smaller form factor.”

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It has won the following rewards:

Featured by Apple in *Education > New & Noteworthy* in over 20 countries.

148Apps Best App Ever Award
2012 – Won 1st Place in Parenting Category
2011 – Won 2nd Place in Parenting Category
2011 – Received an Honorable Mention in Teaching Category

GeekMom.com
“Chore Pad HD is fantastic for helping organize the family chores around the house.”

AppsForHomeSchooling.com
5 star rating and Golden App Award

A4CWSN.COM
Feature in top 100 favorite apps for 2011

CBS-MONEY WATCH
Money and Kids: Teaching Kids to Earn Money

iPhone Life Magazine
Top pick for most used app by Leigh Shulman, September/October 2011 issue

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Other important info:

NO-HASSLE SYNCING
Use a free Dropbox account to sync your data between all of your Chore Pad installations. Syncing happens automatically whenever you open or close Chore Pad, so keeping up to date with changes is effortless.

ENGAGING USER CARDS
Each child has their own card showing their star and checkmark totals under their portrait. Tap a child’s card to show their Chore Chart, where chores are completed to earn stars. Give out bonus stars to acknowledge a job well done or penalty stars to show more effort may be needed. Flip cards over to show stats for today, this week, last week or two weeks ago.

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SECURE PARENT MODE
Parent Mode keeps Chore Pad kid-friendly by tucking the important setup features safely away. Use Parent Mode to configure users, chores, rewards, syncing, passcode protection and more!

MOTIVATING REWARDS
Your child earns stars as chores are completed, and uses those stars to redeem rewards that you’ve created! Watch happily as your child learns to save up their stars for long-term goals!

TROPHY COLLECTION
Completing chores unlocks trophies over time, which are displayed on each child’s card and in their Chore Chart. A trophy shelf for each child displays their earned trophies!

BEAUTIFUL THEMES
Each child can select their own theme for their Chore Chart, with nine currently available and more to come!

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POWERFUL CUSTOMIZATION
Create template chores that can be copied to any number of children and customized individually for each. Specify a wide range of repeat intervals, star values and select from dozens of available chore icons.

From the Developers:

We’re here to help! Please don’t hesitate to contact us with any questions, comments or suggestions.

Support Email: support@nannek.com
Twitter: @chorepad
Facebook: http://www.facebook.com/ChorePad
Website: http://www.nannek.com

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Tweet This: What do you use to keep track of your child’s chores?

 
 What do you use to keep track of your child’s chores? How much do you pay per chore? I am paying .50 per star. Is that too much or too little (keeping in mind developmental delays). I’d love your input!

 

When parents of disabled children kill

Autism-Awareness

I hear it all the time.

A parent gets overwhelmed and they kill their child with a disability because one more day is just too much.

Kelli Stapleton, age 45 of Michigan, wrote on her blog, The Status Woe, in September:  “I have to admit that I’m suffering from a severe case of battle fatigue.”

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It was on this blog that she vented about the challenges of raising her 14-year-old daughter, Isabelle, who has a diagnosis of autism and a history of violent outbursts. Something went wrong with her school program and it made things worse.

Why did something go wrong with the school program?

One of the reasons I want my degree in special education is because I have insight as a parent of special needs children.

Autism_awareness

When will the schools realize that SAMENESS is one of the most important factors in educating students with autism? Especially severe autism? And especially severe autism in the teen years?

Later that day, this Mom and her daughter were found unconscious from carbon monoxide poisoning  in a van in which charcoal was burned with the windows all closed. The child survived and Mom is now in jail awaiting trial.

muchpainI’m not condoning her actions. But I understand what it’s like to lose hope. It’s the worst feeling in the world. You can’t think straight after being pummeled by your child day in and day out with no end in sight. There just isn’t enough support for parents in this country. We love our children. We love having them with us in our home. But where is the support?

School is not enough.

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Kelli’s friends are blogging for her now on her blog, and raising money for her legal fees.

Kelli’s Blog: The Status Woe

Fund Raiser: Friends of Kelli Stapleton

And a beautiful blog post about this situation is here: A Line in the Sand. It says so well all that I wanted to say here but couldn’t find the words as my heart breaks for this child and her mother.

Please read it. Even if you have no interest in special needs families. Read it and learn. There are hurting people out there and you just might be an answer to their prayer.

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Tweet This: There isn’t enough support for parents of special needs kids in this country.

Christmas Eve traditions

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Our family is weird.

But tradition is tradition and when you live with autism, you cling to a tradition that works like Velcro.

Here’s what we’re doing today (although, I admit I’m limited today due to my surgery recovery):

  • Frantically cleaning every corner and wrapping every forgotten gift we can find.
  • I usually cook all day but that won’t happen this year. So I’m going to be directing traffic in the kitchen.
  • The grandchildren will be here so it will be great fun watching them lick the bowls and decorate the cookies. I put out nativity scenes that are made for little hands and I love watching them play with them.
  • Around 4:00 PM, everyone cleans up, dresses up fancy, and gets ready to go to the church Christmas Eve Candlelight Service at 5 PM.

Origin-Christmas-candleAnd here’s where it gets weird.

  • After the service we go to Pizza Hut.

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Yeah. I know. Not very dignified are we?

But this has been the tradition in this wee little town since we moved here 14 years ago. We discovered that Pizza Hut is rather empty on Christmas Eve and with two boys with autism, the peace there was perfect. We could feed the kids and grandkids to the gills and enjoy one another’s company. Sometimes if someone shows up to the Christmas Eve service with nowhere to go afterward, we invite them along.

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Three of my seven granddaughters: Trinity Grace, Maggie Ellen Faith, Avery Hope

After we get home it’s time to open gifts from out-of-town relatives and friends, and the grandchildren open gifts from us before they go home. There are tons of cookies, egg nog, and other goodies to enjoy before sending them home to their own beds so they can wake up for their own family Christmases.

Do you have a strange family Christmas tradition you enjoy? I’d love to know about it!

Merry Christmas!

 

 

Autism, Christmas and Miracles

 

tumblr_my4e9nQE6g1r1vjs5o1_500Source: Facebook

I am home from the hospital recovering from surgery and I am not a very good patient. I whine, cry, moan and throw little fits.

In my defense, I am allergic to most pain medications. They make me so nauseous and dizzy I simply can’t take them. I’ve been dealing with recovering from a major surgery while on Tylenol. So, I think it’s safe to say others in my shoes may be as whiny as I. Or not.

On Saturday I was particularly blue. Very discouraged. Tired of feeling so badly. I was crying a lot. So Mr. Himself thought it was a good time to cheer me up with the gift the twins made for me at vocational school. Isn’t it gorgeous?

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It’s made from 100-year-old barn wood.

I never dreamed my boys would be able to do such a thing. Of course, they had a lot of help and guidance from their shop teacher, but still. This table is an enormous symbol.

  • A symbol of how far they’ve come
  • A symbol of how much favor they find with teachers
  • A symbol of their undying, loyal, faithful love for family
  • A symbol of taking something scarred and making it beautiful.

This table will never leave me. Until the day I die, this is my Christmas table.

Young moms with autism out there — never stop hoping and dreaming. The twins have gone from severe to mild with a ton of work and a lot of help from others.

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At vocational school. Isaac (L), Isaiah (R)

I am very grateful to the Lord for these beautiful boys. So very grateful to be their Mom.

 

 

 

 

Autism + Christmas = Nightmare

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Let’s get something out of the way up front.

Autism and Christmas don’t mix.  (Tweet this.)

For so long I dreaded the holiday because of the stress it brought to our house. From the week prior to Thanksgiving until January 1, the tension in our home was through the roof. The screaming and tantrums were non-stop. I was covered head to toe in bruises.

Candy for Christmas Wallpaper

Looking back, I marvel at how we survived in the beginning when the twins were severe. Christmas was a nightmare for them when they were small.

After the first few years (they showed autistic symptoms as infants), we learned that we had to open our gifts without them because they screamed and banged their heads during the ceremony. For this idealistic mother who worked toward and longed for a Walton-family-style Christmas, this was devastating.

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But the fact is, Christmas meant nothing to the twins but scary unpredictable change. Kids with autism long for sameness. It’s how they keep fear at bay. The fact that there was a tree–that belonged OUTSIDE– standing in the living room completely freaked them out.

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Not to mention the people unwrapping the very gifts that for weeks they’d been told to leave alone. And then there’s the color red. There’s so much red.

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Frankly, Christmas simply made no sense. And some of our traditions are kind of silly when you think about it. But that’s part of the “hidden curriculum” that people with autism struggle with. All those unwritten social rules that those of us without autism just “get.”

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Thank God the twins eventually grew to accept Christmas and trees standing inside houses and fat guys in red suits.

Now, they are 18 and I’m happy to say that it’s a holiday they enjoy and look forward to. Christmas is still the most stressful time for them, and they do have more conflicts with us and their siblings (all adults now) during this time of the year. But it’s soooo much better than it used to be. They even look forward to watching their nieces open their gifts.

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If you have a relative with a child with autism, don’t judge them. Be patient and offer to help. Give them hope. It can get better. And most likely it will. My guys who used to be self-injurious head bangers and biters (of themselves and each other) no longer hurt themselves this way at Christmas. Now they put themselves to bed early on Christmas Eve so they can get up early the next day.

And instead of screaming there are squeals.

 

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There’s not a more pure spirit of Christmas than a soul with special needs grinning ear to ear after opening a simple gift. Even if its socks, the twins are thrilled. (And there’s always socks. It’s a tradition in our house.)

Really, when you think about it, every day that’s a good day with autism is like Christmas. I’m thankful we’re having more of those these days than we used to.

Here’s hoping you do, too.

14All images via Bing search of free use images.

Where is Avonte?

National Center for Missing & Exploited Children

National Center for Missing & Exploited Children

While the news focuses on the nightmare of Obamacare, there’s a much more urgent story that isn’t being told.

Avonte Oquendo, a 14-year-old autistic child is missing. He walked out of his school in Queens, New York 23 days ago and hasn’t been seen since.

His disappearance highlights several disturbing trends for families with autism in this country.

1. Public schools are often ill-equipped to truly understand the keen attention these children need.
autism ribbon
2. Public schools sometimes do a poor job of training and informing staff of the great importance of constant supervision of children with autism and other disabilities. Because these students often have trouble communicating verbally, every single person on staff of that school should have been informed or at the very least trained on how kids with autism do or do not communicate. One in 88 children in the U.S. have autism. 40% of them are non-verbal (National Autism Association).

3. Kids with autism are curious and prone to wandering. Why was Avonte not supervised more closely? According to the Interactive Autism Network and the Kennedy Krieger Institute, children with autism wander off at a rate four times higher than siblings without autism. As they grow older, they are at an increased risk for wandering off.

pastorswifeIn my book, The Pastor’s Wife Wears Biker Boots, one of the characters who has autism, Timmy, wanders off and gets lost. When I wrote about that, I had no idea how prevalent this habit is among children with autism.

That’s not to say I didn’t know they would wander. I have twins of my own, age 18, with autism. I’ve been blessed that their wandering hasn’t been too far. But they are insatiably curious, and I can find them in odd places sometimes.

My second son who has autistic characteristics wandered a lot as a toddler. He had no fear of anything. I had to put a bell on the door to keep him safe because he’d wander down the road and walk into people’s houses. One lady brought him home from the cemetery. Another saved him from getting lost in a corn field and crossing a busy highway.

5033250Please go to the Facebook page and share this flyer with your Facebook friends. Tweet about it.

And most of all, pray for this young man and his family.

Click to tweet:

Pray for missing child with autism: Avonte Oquendo.

Help find Avonte. Retweet.

Help find non-verbal missing child Avonte!