Saturday, June 13, 2015

Urban Hiking, A Travel Review

Well, I didn't travel but I have great destinations in my own backyard.  Last Saturday I ventured to the wild side and went on community adventure with Essential Pieces to Norfolk Zoo.  I found Essential pieces while looking for resources for my younger son and found yet another organization that had something to offer both by boys.  Catering to various disabilities to include topics of interest for my twice exceptional son as well as my older son with his more complex needs.  I was so excited to do a field trip with them both.  I didn't even worry about who my plus one adult would be.  I just signed up.  My oldest son's helper was working adjusted schedule that Saturday.  I was not detoured.  It was going to be family fun day!  Papa went with us.  I always have at least two adult for my Tortoise and the Hare.  Three is it's going to be overstimulating or not self paced for my oldest.

So of course I must make this review about accessibility.  The Norfolk Zoo is one of the most disability friendly places that I can think of.

1. There are three possibly four rows of accessible parking.  I don't use my parking placard often but crowded places is when I do use it.  My older son has a lot of sensory issues which could mean that he could have a sensory shutdown in which he sits on the ground in the middle of the parking.  He's a grown man now so all I can do is direct traffic if that happens.  It's better to avoid it happening and park close.

2. Norfolk Zoo offers free admission to individuals with a disability plus one caretaker.  That is pretty welcoming isn't it!?  You don't even have to show any proof for hidden disabilities.  They just trust ya.  I usually pay for my younger son.  He has a disability but he gets his money's worth.  ADHD isn't a problem here.  There is plenty for an active mind to be attentive to.  In fact this is how he learns the best by moving and seeing and on occasion you can touch at the zoo. On top of all that, the way the entrance is set up is really great for kids on the spectrum who don't understand the social custom of standing in line.  Once you are in line there are partisans separating the lines.  I've never had to chase my older son to get him back in line like I do trying to buy ticket at places that use ropes for crowd control.

3.  As soon as you enter THE Zoo (now that isn't biased is it?), your sensory seeker will want to stop for a long while at the fountain to splash.  Last Saturday it was 97 degrees and heat index of 100+ with humidity.  That is typical Norfolk weather.  I think your sensory avoidant child might be tempted to get wet.  Check out the water plaza.  So suit them up before you come and bring a towel and change of clothing.  There are several fountains on either side of the Trail of the Tiger.

4.  There are strollers and wheelchair rentals near the gift shop.  You won mobility gadgets are allowed and long as they aren't child powered.  I tried to bring a trike once and it wasn't allowed because it didn't have a toddler handle for the parent.

5. There are TONS of benches and my oldest has their locations memorized.  There are a lot

SCORES for the day.
Eldest- Tortoise
* played in every fountain there is
* watched the otters (usually doesn't look at the animals)
* walked 3 miles (the usual is 1 mile)
* sat down on the ground maybe three times and only after he walked 2 miles.
* walked away zero times
* stolen fries, just one
* lost shoes zero
* too tired to make it to the goats but I think their habitat was under construction anyway
* he knows the path and didn't need any hand holding
* slow and steady wins the race.  that's right he beat the hare back to the fountains with enough time to coll off in the shade and watch the crowd of children splash.

Youngest- Hare
* saw EVERYTHING including snake house which eldest skipped
* stayed with Papa
* left when it was time to

clearly you see which boy I was with.  I'm sure the younger said lots of clever things to Papa.

Thursday, March 26, 2015

God's measuring cup.

"My name is Mark.

When you look at me,
You will measure me my awareness my response my age, my development
And you will shake your head
and find me lacking.

But, for me, you are measuring
With the wrong cup.
For I have one possession
Which brims and overflows
Beyond all others.

I have my parents’ love.

This cup they give me holds also their
...agony and helplessness
...waiting and hoping
...tears and pain
...aloneness and fear.

But in the end, all these are swallowed up
in the deepness of their love
Which now, in each same moment,
Both lets me go
And will never let me go.

So measure me, if you must...
But measure me, too, with my cup
And you will find me Full.”
from Go Out In Joy! by Nina Herrmann Donnelley, Atlanta: John Knox Press, 1977.

I know I've already posted this poem (here) with different verses it reminded me of.  I had always thought of my older more challenged son when I read this poem but recently God gave me a reminder to not judge myself or my younger son by other standards but His.  Yes, ADHD makes it harder to fit in to behavioral standards.  People don't give much lead-way for ADHD or Asperger's like people do for more obvious disabilities such as intellectual disability, down syndrome, and more severe autism.  Does this mean I should not hold my son accountable?  No, but I should recognize that his efforts at self control and self discipline.  God doesn't measure by how well he fits in. The Lord set his children apart.  The goal of child training is not conformity to behavioral standards.

For thou art an holy people unto the LORD thy God, and the LORD hath chosen thee to be a peculiar people unto himself, above all the nations that are upon the earth.
Deut 14:2

So what was this reminder?  A virtual friend in the Christian ADHD group posted about applying the Widow's Mite (Luke 21:1-4)  to self control and self discipline.  I used to feel conflicted and/or judged for offering so much grace to my son and rewarding his efforts so freely.  I wrote about how teaching my son Proverb 25:28 just made him cry because he couldn't meet his goals.  No one is harder on my youngest son than himself.  I don't need to add to it.  So to think of this verse in a new light is freedom. 

And he said, Of a truth I say unto you, that this poor widow hath cast in more than they all:  For all these have of their abundance cast in unto the offerings of God: but she of her penury hath cast in all the living that she had.
Luke 21:3-4

Monday, January 12, 2015

Sally is humming again.

I received some girly tools for Christmas from my Dad.  So the first thing I fixed was the bobbin tension on my favorite sewing machine.  I had been using denim thread when I lost my tiny bobbin screwdriver.  Sally, my sewing machine is humming again.

Now I can make curtains, body pillow, duvet to cover the new down comforter, and make some themed throw pillows.  I'm going to hook my oldest son up.  He's never had a decorated room.  When he was young he shared with his sister and then we weren't at the starter house long enough for me to do much there.

Thursday, December 25, 2014

Gluten Free Pancakes

I've been experimenting with gluten free pancakes.  This is my way to get more nutritious flours into my boys diets.  Gluten free flours tend to have more protein in them.  However, the flours don't behave as I'm used to.  Thus far all the gluten free pancakes I've made stick more than regular.  Have some oil at the ready.

Pamela's Pancakes were a hit.  this is the mix my chiropractor recommended.  These are light but substantial with the almond meal in them.  Everyone including my super taster husband liked them. 

However, the following week we were out of mix and eggs.  So I made some from scratch with an egg-less recipe and Bob's Red Mill gluten all purpose flour.  I purchased one package and have it on hand but now that I see I can order a case (6 pounds) online, I might do that.  The egg-less butternut squash pancakes were easy to double up and make enough for the week, which were gone in three days since they tasted good.  This flour has Sourghum in it which sucks the moisture out of everything.  I needed a lot more oil in the pan.  I liked the taste.  I'm a big fan of Sorghum. 

Next I tried Sweet Potato Pancakes with Bisquick Gluten Free Baking mix.  These pancakes were actually the waffle recipe (from the box) gone bad.  The waffles were too soft to get out of my waffle maker so I quit and made it all into pancakes. This mix is all brown rice flour or rice flour.  It's very tender and soft.  Very fluffy pancakes.  This mix would probably work well for muffins.  I'm not a fan of overly soft pancakes so it's not my pick.  There are some recipes on the website which I'll have to check out since I have just a small amount left.

Today I'm making Spiced Pancakes with King Arthur's baking mix. I'm adding cinnamon, nutmeg, cloves, and molasses.  It's almost gingerbread but I'm out of fresh ginger and don't keep ground ginger on hand due to caking.

For some extra Vitamin C this cold season, beta carotene for good vision,  and a good source of fiber just add 3/4 of butternut squash puree or pumpkin or sweet potato to you favorite pancake recipe.

Merry Christmas!

Friday, December 19, 2014

Holidays and Special Diets

It's that time of year again.  The time of year when sticking to a diet is really hard.  I'm not even talking about calories and waistlines.  My boys need different things in their diet but there are a few common things.

No BHA,BHT,TBHQ - the nastiest preservatives.  There are others that I try to avoid but I'm a working Mom so I do the best I can with my limited time.  Sometimes I need prepared foods.

No concentrated sweets for my older son due to past history of SIBO, that's small intestine bacteria overgrowth.  He gets 4-6 oz of juice twice a day and that is only to mask a liquid medication that he takes for seizures. He does not have a sweet tooth so it's not as hard as it sounds but he does like cookies. My younger son is on Paleo so no or low refined sugars or flour (or red sauce!). He burns them up too quick.  This helps avoid the sugar hype and the sugar crash that make his ADHD look more like a mood disorder.  Sometimes I can't keep my honey and high protein flours stocked.

My replacement for Ritz.
We are not currently gluten free but headed that way.  Why?  Because one or both boys are not going to be compliant if I haven't replaced their favorite foods.  My older son will grab other people's food and my younger will sneak it.  So far they are not in cahoots.  So, I'm working on getting my husband and daughter on board too so that the whole house will be GF and prevent contamination. My older son is more sensitive and gets GI issues from it.

I'm sure you can tell I'm not a food nazi.  Getting into power struggles with my family doesn't help with compliance to the diet I would have them eat nor does it teach them how to make goo choices when they are in someone else's care.  My older son is awesome as long as I make what he likes, he's full, and people don't leave stuff sitting out.  He's an opportunist.  He also has people always taking care of him and documented GI issues.  No one wants to give him off diet foods.  It makes their job harder.

My younger son is learning to draw conclusions of how different food affect his mood, energy, and behavior.  This is not to be confused with causing his behavior.  It's just harder to make good decisions when you tend towards impulsivity and burning off sugars gives you tons of quick energy.  He's learning how to eat for long term success and not just immediate gratification. He has to work for off diet sugary treats and he only gets one.  I get to determine how much homework, chores, and good behavior earns the treat.  Sometimes he will trade for Mom-approved treats if I've had time and money to shop for them or make them.  Often he just wants to have them and forgets to eat them one he gets the treat home. 

I found a double size package of my Salmon at Wal-mart near me.

So what am I sending for my younger son's class Winter Fest?  Salmon, Cream Cheese, and Glutino Crackers.

The smoked salmon has full of good ADHD stuff like lean protein, omega 3s, and choline.  These Crackers taste just like Ritz.  We usually keep Japanese rice crackers on hand because everyone likes them but they don't go well with cream cheese and salmon.  School only allows packaged foods to be sent in so they can read the labels for kids with allergies.  No one in the class is allergic to fish.  My son normally bring this in his lunch box so I'm just sending more of it.

Stay tuned for GF pancake reviews this weekend.  
This is my older son's favorite Holiday food.  (besides the ham).

Tuesday, December 16, 2014


I take my younger son for neurofeedback.  It shows my son what he's doing with his brain and throws in a few exercises to train his brain to do things a little differently.  It helps train the brain to function at certain brain wave frequencies.  All of those numbers are left to our neurofeedback provider.  I can't say I totally understand all those numbers.  All I can say is that my son says it "makes him smarter."  Sometimes he says he feels "calmer."  That tells me that he finds it helpful.

I particularly like that our provider does play therapy to work on social skills as well.  So she is able to assess progress from something other than report, build rapport, and work on social emotional skills.  All in an hour's time.  Parent training occurs at the same time as the neurofeeback.  Since my boy is occupied.  I couldn't tell you how other providers set up their appointments but this is how ours goes.

If you are considering neurofeedback, be prepared to pay out of pocket because insurance doesn't usually cover it.  Side effects are few but if the settings are uncomfortable there can be some mood, energy level, and behavioral changes.  In my son it looks like a horrendous temper tantrum.  Bigger than usual and difficulty recovering from the outburst.  Be ready to commit for at least a year.  Average is 20-40 weekly sessions.  A year is 52 weeks.  We are at 7 months.

If brain mapping is needed that is an extra assessment.  QEEG is different than SPECT you may have read about in reference to Dr. Amen. QEEG is non-radiation and therefor less invasive.  It's also less costly, I believe.  I haven't priced SPECT so I can't say for sure.

Neurofeedback is a drug free option but there still may be a need for medication depending on your situation.  In our case, the demands of school increased faster than the benefits of neurofeedback so we added medication.  Neurofeedback takes time to work.  The benefits are cumulative over time.  In the mean time my son needed to be able to focus on learning new cognitive (thinking) skills to self manage his own behavior at school.  We didn't need medication at first because we started in May and there were low demands over the summer.  I was hoping that neurofeedback would be helpful enough in that time to avoid medication.  Perhaps he won't need medication forever.  We'll see.  I keep hearing and reading the medication eventually stops being helpful. 

Our experience with neurofeedback is a work in progress.  This is just where we are at right now.

Some information:
The National Resource Center on ADHD
Fly Family Therapy: Neurofeedback
Spectrum Psychological: Neurofeedback 
Brain Mapping

Thursday, December 11, 2014

The Daily Grind: Mornings

I currently have several posts in draft.  You can expect some upcoming posts about neurofeedback, vision therapy, a guest blog post ADHD book review, and autism & anxiety.  Every morning I get started on something but don't post it because I haven't had time to proof it.

Transition home for my oldest son has gone smoother than anticipated but not without a few bumps.  One of which being not much time once I returned to work.  Here is a typical schedule.

5am wake up call - I adjusted to this easier than I thought.  2 hours earlier than usual.  The clock is set 20 minutes fast per my husband's brilliant idea years and years ago.  I hit snooze at least three times even though I put the clock just far enough away that I have to get halfway out of bed to do it.

6am high school bus - yup, only an hour to get my oldest son up, toleted, dressed, fed, and medicated.  My husband was up with me for the first two to two and a half weeks.  He would cook eggs and bacon and I would do all the hygeine and dressing.  This early wake up affected his RA.  By week three his hands were stiff and gripping things was hard.  So I try to have a batch of pancakes in the fridge to re-heat so my husband can sleep later.  Usually there is 15m to watch an episode of Clifford the Big Red Dog on Netflix.  My QT with my oldest son.

Then I have an hour to read my Bible, pray, write, and have coffee.   Unless the bus was late but that only happens when there is a substitute driver.  The usual driver if very consistent.  So I pray for her when the bus is off schedule because I know that means she is out sick.

7am elementary school wake up call - easier said than done.  I hear this is common with kids with ADHD but maybe it's just because he's a kid and he's comfortable in his bed.  Or he just takes after me.  Basically, even though he goes to be on time and gets enough sleep- I still have to literally steal his blankets and drag him out of bed.  This is more cheerful than it sounds.  There is lots of giggling involved.

This calls for contingency plans.  So depending on how long this takes he might not eat breakfast at home.  I keep his school lunch account filled up so he can eat breakfast there at a more relaxed pace.  If he's really having a hard morning, which might include refusal to wear pants and insistence on wearing shorts, then I have cereal bars that he can eat in the five minutes it takes to get to school.

7:30am college and elementary Mom-mobile - ok. This is the time were are supposed to leave.  Sometimes it's later.  If all goes as planned, college drop off if first and then elementary school because it's closer to my job.  Worst case scenario is elementary drop off first then work and then a break a few hours later to run my college student.  It helps that as a job coach I have a work site near there.

8am My calling.  Their job is my job. No changes to this but my oldest son goes from school directly to day support services.  I'm out of time this morning so, transition talk shall have to be continued.


Time to steal the blankets! 

and wake up the mini-figs!