Monday, November 28, 2011

Straterra for ADHD with Autism

Please remember I am NOT a doctor.  I am not giving you medical advice, this is not intended to diagnose, treat or cure any disease or disorder.

I thought that I would tell you a little bit about what has been going on with Cutie recently.  The only major change is that he is now taking Straterra.

Cutie started 2nd grade in August and has since made the honor roll- he is even doing some more advanced work and most importantly- he is held to the same academic expectations as his neurotypical peers.  The only modifications to his education are that there is a wonderful teacher who sits with him and keeps him on task and helps him manage sensory issues while he is working and because of his extreme ADHD, he takes his tests in a different, quiet room.

His ADHD has been more difficult to manage over the past few months.  Simple worksheets that should take him less than 10 minutes were taking over 5 hours because he could not actually look at the paper, his foot somehow kept managing to be wrapped around his head, he became very skilled at using a pencil as a catapult, if it was in any way unrelated to the task, you name it- he was doing it.  The worst part however was that he REALLY was trying to focus on the work- he would start to cry from the frustration and say "I want finish work, I can't look at it- I trying".   We asked him if he wanted to try a new medicine as he had not taken any for over a year, he said yes and handed me the phone to call his doctor.

He has tried ADHD medications before, they failed - miserably.  When he tried Adderall he became violent immediately and saw no improvement in his ADHD.  He tried Concerta and it was terrifying- he looked like he was dying- his eyes were rolled into the back of his head and he was pale and his dry mouth just hung open, he lay motionless for days on end- we gave it the suggested amount of time to "adjust" and it only got worse.  There were a few others, none helped at all.

This time we got to the doctor and he asked if we would consider a non-stimulant ADHD medication.  We were thrilled!  He wrote the script for Straterra and we were on our way.

Four hours after Cutie's first dose on a friday afternoon, he came up to me and asked if he could try a "money maker".  His "moneymakers" are math worksheets with about 60 math problems- the deal is that if he completes the entire thing with 100% accuracy in under ten minutes, he gets a dollar.  He finished it in 98 seconds.

I was excited, but still trying not to get my hopes up too much.  He went to school monday and when he came home, there was a note from his teacher-he had been able to focus without reminders on a test- he also took a standardized test (which he had done well on before) and "drastically improved his score".  He had focused during speech therapy and was engaged in classroom activities!

OK, when is this going to wear off?  This HAS to be too good to be true.  So far, a month in and his scores for everything have gone from 96% to 100%, he does better every day!  The best news however is that when he does start to tolerate the medication, he is currently on the lowest possible dose (because of his bad reactions to other medications) there is a lot of room for dose increases!

We have seen very little effect on his appetite.  He has always been really hard to feed, he is now at least agreeable to eating breakfast because he wants to take the Straterra!  He has not lost any weight at all, he does not get angry or violent....

The only negative effect we have seen so far is that he seems to be more sensitive.  When the kids go inside he takes it personally -even when their mothers call them in for dinner.  He says "they wanted to get away from me because they hate me".  While this is troubling, he is getting better at rationalizing- I think a part of what is going on there is that before the Straterra he rarely actually noticed when they went inside because he really could not focus on anything, including them.  Hopefully this will start to level out soon- it does not appear to be depression really as he is happy and stress free, he just has those moments a couple times a day, 5 minutes later he perks up and is playing Star Wars with a different friend.

Wednesday, October 5, 2011

Balancing Discipline and Building Character

It is important to use discipline effectively and to help your child build character.  What kind of adult is your child going to be?  Do you envision your child being a violent criminal or a productive member of society?  While it is not your job to dictate their future, it IS your job to help shape it by teaching right from wrong and building a positive character.

You have far more power than you think.  To a young child a parent is like a God- they may just not feel as if you are serious or will not follow through with consequences.  Many parents that I volunteer with state that their child has no respect for them and simply will not listen to them.   My son behaved like that for a while as well and I felt powerless to help him.  I can't give you a "magic technique that works every time"- it really all depends upon you and your child- what works for one family might not work for another.  That said, in this type of situation there are basic principles that you may need reminding of.

Balance punishment and rewards-  the rewards should outweigh punishment.  What do I mean by "punishment"?  Really just consistent use of consequences...

For example:  Yesterday I asked my son to clean his room.  He came down stairs and asked me to check his work because he wanted to go play baseball.  I went and his room was technically clean- his closet however was where he had hidden the mess- as if with a bulldozer.

I told him this was unacceptable- he had not cleaned, merely moved the mess from one area to another (we have had this talk before, it was nothing new to him).  For trying to take shortcuts and "cheat", he did not get to go outside to play baseball.


When he had corrected the situation, I still did not let him go out to play baseball as that would have sent the message that my consequences are alterable.  I did however go through his room, bit by bit and praised him for what he had done correctly "good job putting all of the books together!  "I love how you used these Star Wars characters to decorate your shelf!" "THIS is prefect!  THIS is how I want you to remember to do it next time! You did an awesome job!

It seems simple enough and it is common sense.  The challenge herein is fairness and the parents' will-power not to give into those tears.  This decision was particularly challenging for me as my son has autism and experiences frequent social isolation and yesterday his friend was outside hoping to play- I want him to experience all of the joy of being a child- but that does give an excuse to allow for bad behaviors.

Now, I did not want to continue to punish him all night since he DID correct the situation so instead of going outside to play baseball, he and I did a science experiment in the kitchen and then we watched jeopardy together (he got a few of the answers!).

He will attempt to shove everything in the closet again someday and again I will stand firm.  I doubt it will be anytime soon as missing the fun outside was devastating to him.

The closet story is cute, but it does not address serious behavioral problems.... if you think about it though, it does.  My son used to have serious behavioral issues.   He actually broke my nose at one point.  We used rewards and consequences combined and we used behavior charts as well.

The teachers just kept saying "be more consistent"  ok, that is great, it is true and very important but what we were missing back then was "consistent with what?"  Nothing seemed to work, he did not appear to care in the slightest.  We could tell him the consequences until we were blue in the face and it made no difference.

Don't try to be scary and yell- I found that my son seems far more concerned that "mom means business" when I speak very softly.  It gets his attention quite well although sometimes I do need to yell his name (if there are other noises- not yelling AT him, initially gaining his attention) and occasionally I will either clap or flick the lights (like they do at school) but he always listens to me now!


When you are consistent and encouraging good behaviors, your child will build character.  When you start to notice a change in their behavior, really show them how proud you are!

If you are having serious problems managing your child's behavior, the best advice I can give you is DON"T give up, know that you are certainly not alone, speak to your child's doctors and ask for referrals if necessary, talk to your child's school counselor, learn everything you can about what might be causing your child's bad behavior and be honest with yourself.  Keep trying rewards, incentives and use behavior charts consistently, do not be cruel to your child, but if you say "no new toys, no going outside or any other consequence like that, stick to it!  Here are a few books that you might find helpful in modifying your child's behavior!  These are some of the most popular behavior books.

Monday, October 3, 2011

When is ABA appropriate?

One of the first therapies recommended to parents when their child is diagnosed with autism is ABA therapy (Applied Behavioral Analysis).  While I have nothing against ABA in and of itself, I am frustrated with the manner in which professionals tout it as if it were 100% effective for every child on the spectrum.

There are cases in which it is clearly the best resource, but there are also cases in which it is possible that it will not only be ineffective, but potentially add to the child's isolation.

When my son was really young, and violent and non verbal, it was a lifesaver- we did it full time for nearly a year and tapered off (still using it daily) for a few more months until the total time was about 18 months.  We had a few very bad experiences with it during that time, but it was not the therapy itself that was the problem- ethics were not adhered to.

I know many children for whom ABA therapy is the single best therapy. I also know a few who are not good candidates.  My son (I use him as an example as I don't like to use other people's kids without permission) is now 7 years old.  He is verbal- extremely verbal- he still has some speech problems but he tries very hard!  He has extreme sensory issues which we do sensory integration therapy for and he is happily engaged in all of those activities.  He does not argue or refuse to do things very often (occasionally there will be an icky piece of food that he says no to)  and he actively seeks out advice in confusing social situations.

He already has very robotic movements and speech- he appears to be "programmed" at times and he is actively trying to correct that.

Why do I bring this up?  I have been asked "Why do you not have him in full time ABA? It is the only therapy which can be effective for him- don't you think that is irresponsible?"  I was asked this by a peds nurse.  My son has a team of many many professionals- including annual evaluations from.... an ABA therapist!  The therapist feels that if he were to start full time ABA again then he would simply become more "robotic".  The therapist has not really found anything as far as issues that the therapy would be beneficial for- he works hard in regular speech and OT and SIT, he is "compliant" so it seems that at least right now ABA therapy is NOT necessary for him.

I had a run in with that nurse before, it was the same issue.  Sadly she is not the only healthcare professional that we have worked with who does not seem to understand that although it is effective, ABA is not a one size fits all "cure".

If you are being pressured into ANY therapy for your child that makes you uncomfortable or that you truly doubt is the best approach for your individual child, please... speak up, get a second opinion!  Often simply following through with the therapy evaluation will answer any questions you have as to whether it is necessary or not as the therapist can explain it far better than the doctor and nurse.  Our ABA therapist does not see a benefit in my son's case, but we would not have known if we hadn't at least done the eval.

Saturday, September 17, 2011

When the experts are wrong!

When my son was in Pre school we went to an ARD with all of his school therapists, psychologists and teachers and the principal.  The results of his IQ test were above average which we had always felt would be the case but it was good to hear again.

We set about discussing speech therapy, no big changes from what I had expected.  He was receiving ST and OT full time at home as well.

Then the OT spoke...  she said he would not be receiving services because he did not need help with anything.  Given that I was fully active in his full time OT at home, I knew this was wrong and asked "What about writing?  He has poor proprioception and can't make a mark on paper?"

The OT's reply was that he did not need to know how to write.  Because he has autism, he would likely be given a type pad to use instead when he got older.

I went nuclear.  Of course he needs to write!  He is fully capable of writing (not every child with autism is able to, but many are and he is one of those many).  Is it laziness or money that would be the motive for not wanting to help a child with autism learn to write?

Her next comment did it for me....  "Because of his problems he will never  have a chance to be an A student, the best we can expect are C's and D's-  that would require a lot of work for the type of results we would see."

Needless to say, we filed complaints and wrote nasty grams to the school board and he did end up getting OT through the school with a different therapist.

I was still livid when we took him to see his developmentalist soon after.  I mentioned it to him.  THE DOCTOR concurred that we would never see any type of academic achievements and that he would not be held to the same standards.

Here we are three years later.  My son is in second grade in a much better school where they DO hold him to the same academic standards.  He is in an advanced reading group, there is nothing he can't spell!  He is really good at math and science as well!

He once again brought home a report card with straight A's.

So yes, I wanted to brag a little bit, but also want people to think ... how many kids with autism may not be doing well in school because of their challenges, and how many of the kids with autism are not doing well in school because the experts have lowered the bar so far and given up on them?

We push him hard to do his best, we use every thing we can to help him succeed.  I expect more from him because of his autism and he will prove to the world that no expert gets to dictate his future.

So yes, there is still the possibility that in the future his grades will decline, but clearly teaching him to write was NOT a waste of time and if his progress halted here, he would still have enough academic skills to work somewhere and fill out forms.

Thursday, September 8, 2011

Preparing for Halloween

I have started writing lots of Halloween Articles some are regular Halloween articles (cool costumes for pets, costumes for kids, decorating, recipes, scaring people etc).

SOME of them are special Halloween Articles for families of little kids with autism.  The first one I wrote I have been particularly proud of because I liked how it came out.

Tips for Trick or Treating With A Child Who Has Autism

I liked the article, but it got pretty much NO traffic and I was not really surprised- it is a very niche topic and most of the other writers there do not have a child with autism- I wasn't upset by it by any means, I hadn't expected much traffic because it is such a niche topic and I am just learning how to use keywords.

So today when I woke up I saw that it had been awarded the coveted "Lens of the Day"!!!  I was shocked and delighted!  About an hour later.... it had 180 visits, just today!  Now as I am typing this it is up to 275 visits today!  I can't believe it!

Anyway, the reason I am so excited is that I am pretty sure that it will help some families of kids with autism prepare their child for Halloween.  Kids with autism usually take things so literally that seeing all of the creepy decorations and costumes can really be terrifying as the child has difficulty understanding that this is fun.

More and more parents of little kids with autism are finding themselves so overwhelmed with fears about the rude comments from strangers, their child's difficult behavior and concern over sensory needs that they wind up keeping the child away from anything that might trigger an issue.  While this does prevent a meltdown, it not only deprives them of any type of fun but it prevents them from facing their challenges and growing beyond their current capabilities.

It can be terrifying, thinking of taking an extremely sensory or behavioral child trick or treating for the first time, but usually there is not as much to worry about as you had thought and careful preparation is good for both you and the child- you will have a better idea of what may or may not be difficult for them to cope with!

Hopefully, anyone who is giving out candy and sees a child having difficulty coping will remember the article and help by temporarily turning off strobes or animated monsters etc and help to make it a Happy and Fun night for everyone!

Social Stories and lots of practice being around costumes and props (trips to the store to explore these things in the daylight) can really help a child with autism cope and have FUN!

If you are having any doubts about trying this tradition with your child, why not practice a bit, get a special education teacher or therapist involved and see how you feel after some practice?




Trick or Treat Autism Button button
Trick or Treat Autism Button by Sidther
View other Autism Buttons


I am trying to write a total of fifteen Halloween Articles because I do love it so much, so far I have 11!

My son and I had a great time making the Halloween cookies and hopefully we will have time to make a full sized Papier Mache Fluffy (the three Headed dog from Harry Potter) before Halloween although it might be a close call for this year- either way we can make it, write about it and store it for next year.

Animated Halloween Decorations
There are a few special animated Halloween decorations that can really create the best centerpiece for your haunted house or yard!

Batman Costumes for Boys
With so many Batman Dark Knight, DC Classic and Brave and the Bold costumes to choose from, it can be hard to find the perfect one for your boy at a reasonable price.

Cool Halloween Party Supplies
Make sure that your Halloween party is memorable and exciting! Learn what subtle and cheap (even free) details can really give your party that extra little something special.

How to Create a Scary Halloween Display
Get scary! Whether you use every decoration you can find or just want to use tricks to enhance the ones you have everything you need to know is here

Cool Halloween Pet Costumes
Don't forget Fluffy! Whether you have a cat or a 150 lb dog, there are lots of great pet halloween costumes to choose from!

Affordable Super Hero Costumes
Looking for a superhero costume like the Green Lantern, Captain America, Superman, Batman or Spiderman? Here are some great ones with great deals from Amazon!

Free Printable Halloween Coloring Pages
Coloring pages are good- free ones are better! Come check out some free printable coloring pages to get your little ghost or ghoul in the spirit!

Princess Halloween Costumes for Girls
Which Princess does your little girl want to be this year? Many, many choices of Princess costumes are available

Star Wars Halloween Costumes for the Whole Family
Star Wars fans, this Halloween costume (or, just for fun) page is for you! Vote on the best characters and share your Star Wars Knowledge!

Have a Harry Halloween
Harry Potter, Hermione, Ron, Dumbledore, Mc Gonagall, Dementors, Hufflepuff, Slytherin, Ravenclaw, Gryffindor, Death Eaters, Bellatrix Costumes for die hard Harry Potter Fans!




Wednesday, August 31, 2011

Back to School!

Cutie has been back in school for a week now. This year he has an amazing teacher who really seems to enjoy teaching!  He is happy in his class, but a few social issues have started to pop up.

Last year he had a best friend- in fact, he thought they would get married.  She matured a bit over the summer and was surprised that he had not.  She is no longer speaking to him and he is confused as to why. Cutie has been noticing lately when the other kids make comments about his speech or call him weird.  Usually, they are just simple observations that the child has not yet learned to keep to themselves, sometimes they are trying to hurt his feelings.

One of the other issues he is having right now is understanding bullying.  With Cutie, everything is ALL or NOTHING!  They have been discussing bullying at school and he has taken what they say too literally-

Yesterday he came home and said (paraphased so that you will understand what he said better)

"MY teacher is being a bully- that means she's a bucket dripper.... she tells us that we all have to give her our lunch money and then she takes it."

We spent an hour role playing to show him why the teacher takes the lunch money and how she keeps it safe because kids lose things-  he does not really believe me yet, but more practice and he will get it!

I thought I would write about this because if your child also has autism, maybe they are dealing with the same thing, maybe they are not there yet and maybe they never will but if they are then it is good for you to know that this is all normal for kids with autism and they do eventually get through this phase!

Whether the outcome is good or not varies, I know in Cutie's case he will be fine because he has so much help and we all collaborate together to figure out even small details of how to teach him this type of material!

You don't have to face this type of confusion alone- talk to the school psychologist and the Special Education teacher and ask if they can include goals for this very thing in your child's IEP - if they will/can not, you can also ask if they could help you get, make or borrow relevant social stories.

Monday, August 29, 2011

Fun Math Games 4 Kids!

Fun Math Games 4 Kids!

Math and science are the future so it is important that our kids become better at both subjects. Children may avoid doing may homework when they don't fully understand why the problems work out the way that they do. While a math tutor is often the best solution, many families simply can't afford one which leaves the child in a vulnerable position.

It is possible to make math fun! When kids have fun doing math they tend to try harder AND the information sticks better!

Try some free online games which use graphics to demonstrate what you might not be able to express yourself or some board games for the whole family!

We play count across regularly now and Cutie just loves it!

There are so many free online games available which is wonderful because it opens up the possibility of a better education to ALL children- not just those who can afford a tutor!

This will be added to my collection of free stuff for kids!

Monday, August 22, 2011

Back to School!

Cutie is currently getting ready for his first day of second grade!

He is very excited and he has an amazing teacher- she made "magic confetti" to help the kids sleep through the night the night before school and she has one of those contagious smiles with lots of energy- he is going to have a great year!

He was so excited that he was running down the stairs to show me his spiffy outfit an he says "it looked like there were more steps... but there weren't".  He is ok aside from a small bruise, but this reminds me that another important topic that I need to write about!

Kids with autism usually have poor proprioception which can cause clumsiness and when they get excited, their proprioception seems to diminish further.  I plan to write a full article about the challenges of poor proprioception especially when coupled with ADHD in the next few weeks.

For today I need to work on some new visual cues to help him and other kids adjust to their new routines!


Thursday, August 18, 2011

Star Wars Halloween Costumes for the whole family

Cutie has been working with me!

Star Wars Halloween Costumes for the whole family

It started as me trying to create a lens to earn a little money before christmas... he wanted to help, so then he chose one of EVERY costume available for Star Wars including a few not commonly found!

Despite the fact that the lens has now turned into his own personal shopping list (and will probably cost me more money than it makes) it was wonderful to make!

The coolest thing about this lens was that we used it for speech modelling while making it. He wants his opinion on various characters and episodes to go on record, so we have been practicing lots of speech as he dictates what he would like me to type!
We have not yet finished adding all of his thoughts as it is a very long lens, but this will likely be an ongoing project for us- especially with all of the speech benefits.

As an example of how we are using this to expand his language skills....

Mom- "What do you want to tell people about General Grievous?"
Cutie- "He bad guy ultima badder than vader"
Mom "He IS A bad guy?"
Cutie " Yeah, he IS A ULTIMA bad guy."
Mom- "do you mean, He is an ultimate bad guy?"
Cutie- " Yeah! He is an ultimate bad guy! He is Worse than Vader!"

Now, he the improvements that appear immediately are usually only retained during the activity, but with enough practice using a subject that he enjoys this much... eventually we will see some of the improvements stick! Notice at the end, the previously forgotten IS by Vader? During intense speech practice, Cutie is able to self correct, this ability disappears when the practice is over.

Hopefully within a week or two the lens will be over flowing with words from Cutie!

Monday, August 15, 2011

Working on Visual Cues for the Holidays and other special events!

I have started working on some Holiday designs and articles!

Birthdays, Christmas and Hanukkah can be challenging times for kids with autism.  While the holidays are often their favorite time of the year, there are more social expectations and more visual stimulation, olfactory and auditory stimulation.

It can become overwhelming for the kids and may lead to meltdowns, or worse ... they might not have fun at Birthdays, Christmas or Hanukkah :(

A few simple things can make their lives easier which allows them to enjoy themselves more!

So far, I have designed a few cute little visual cue cards for gifts to help them clearly identify who a gift is from and who is the intended recipient!  This eliminates issues that may cause distress such as opening someone else's gift accidentally, not understanding who it came from if the person is not physically present and helps them adapt to the spirit of giving a little bit easier!



Icy Visual Cues Card for gifts invitation
Icy Visual Cues Card for gifts by Sidther
announcement designs created online at zazzle

The overall designs have been kept simple to prevent visual distraction and allow for the visual cues to remain the focus for the child.

These cards can also come in handy when giving gifts to a loved one with Alzheimer's or any other neurological disorder effecting receptive language, memory or social skills.

Saturday, August 6, 2011

Please, support our Troops!

Our men and women in uniform have once again found their benefits at risk because of budget cuts.  These are tough economic times and spending needs to be cut, but to take away the generous retirement plan that had been promised to the soldiers who have already served this country for over ten years is unconscionable.

While the new plan does offer something to everyone, it robs those who have already dedicated their lives to protecting our freedoms while simultaneously devaluing the long respected term "retired military".

With all of the waste that occurs within the military, why is a board of civilians being allowed to dictate that stealing the retirement of the few soldiers who make it to 20 years is the way to save money?  Why not stop requiring soldiers to hand carry 30 copies of their orders, every time they sign in to a new unit, filling out redundant paperwork that is immediately lost amidst a sea of other redundant paperwork, having every 3rd page in the 4 inch tall paper medical records saying  "this page intentionally left blank"?  After all, this is a "paperless" system.

Seriously, they need to get a team of military wives in there to show them how to live on a budget and still have everything they need.

After the near government shutdowns and threats that military members would not be getting paid, many service members feel that a sacred trust has been broken.  As much as the service members must already sacrifice, they had trusted that our government would ensure the safety and security of their families- especially when they are deployed.

Please show your support for our troops by visiting my new article Our Government is asking too much of our soldiers for more details about the retirement package and links to lawmakers.  If you do visit- why not take a moment to leave a nice message for our men and women in uniform?



Our soldiers are NOT political pawns....

Wednesday, July 27, 2011

A perfect learning moment!

About a month ago, we had a storm.  Wind gusts were about 35 mph with some recorded even higher.  We have a metal hanging basket on our back patio (relatively close to a window) which was full of beautiful flowers spilling over the sides.  Since it had been over 100 degrees for so long, we were very excited about the storm, but to prevent damage or injuries, we quickly ran out and secured / brought in anything that could become a projectile.

To my surprise, as I entered the kitchen with the hanging basket, I noticed something under the leaves, terrified that it was something icky or with a stinger, I quickly set the basket down and pulled the leaves back.

There was a little bird's nest with three tiny eggs no bigger than a peanut M&M!

We taught Cutie not to touch the eggs or nest and had to make a hard decision.  Scare the Mama bird, but secure the basket possibly saving the three eggs but risking her rejecting them, or return it to it's hook, hope she did not notice that it had been moved and hope it survived the storm.

We opted to secure it outside, on the ground within a few feet of it's hanging area so she could easily find it  if she returned.

After the storm passed I was returning it to it's usual home when Mama bird returned.  She perched on the fence a few feet from me.  She stared intently, making sure I did not touch her eggs and as soon as I stepped off of the chair I had been standing on, she fluttered up to the nest, checked it out a bit and sat back on her eggs.


I have no idea if she knew that we had been trying to protect them, but somehow it felt like she did know.  Since the storm I have not watered it at all, not wanting to hurt them- the plant is dead but oh-well.  I have also gone out and given her food a few times, she stays close and occasionally hops down and rummages for food on the lawn.  I am not sure if she is going for worms or the seed that fell from our old bird feeder, but she clearly feels secure enough with us to be within arms reach!

Cutie has been checking on the eggs daily, hoping for them to hatch and telling Mama bird that he wants to help her keep them safe.  She does not seem to mind most of the time, when she has had enough, she poses like an eagle.


Today I was sitting outside and heard the faintest little chirps!  I looked up and there was a fluffy head with a ginormous beak sticking up!

All three eggs hatched safely and Mama Bird Stood nearby as we took some pictures! She even fed them while we watched from only 2 feet away.

Cutie is enjoying learning about these precious little birds.  We are going to try to identify them so that we can leave the proper food out for them!

During the time leading up to the hatching, Cutie was able to use the eggs as speech practice for future tense and now, we will be able to use them for past tense, plurals and future tense (they will learn to fly, they will fly away , they will get bigger etc)!

Trick or Treating with a child who has autism

Trick or Treating with a child who has autism
I thought I would get an early start on Halloween articles so that when October comes I will have more time to play with Cutie! Here is my first ever SquidBoo Lens with simple tips on how to help prepare a child with autism to go trick or treating!

I have also started making a few little inexpensive Zazzle things to help kids with autism on Halloween!

Trick or Treat Autism Button button
Trick or Treat Autism Button by Sidther
View other Autism Buttons

Much more to come!

Sunday, July 24, 2011

The Vaccine debate

The vaccine debate seems to be a never ending drama.  Parents are basing their decision not to vaccinate their children on advice from certain organizations and celebrities despite the overwhelming scientific evidence and advice from medical providers.  While I absolutely understand the desire to protect your child and use caution, I am frustrated that the media seems to have done so little to present these concerned parents with the evidence or the alternatives.

When we choose not to vaccinate, we risk not only our child's life, but the lives of those around them.  Some will argue that the diseases have been eradicated or that the diseases are not life threatening and vaccines are therefor unnecessary.  These ideas are untrue, the diseases still exist, they are not "dormant" or dead.  They are out there, living on surfaces, animals and other areas where we may or may not come into contact with them.   We rarely see active infections anymore, but that is because the majority of our population has been vaccinated.

As to the severity of the diseases, the disease may have a low mortality rate, but many have high rates for serious complications that could drastically reduce an individual's quality of life.  A child who has a mild infection of Measles may not show any symptoms at all, that is true... but when they have a mild case, they do not always build immunity, leaving them open for a second infection later which will likely be more serious.  What if a child with a mild infection goes to school (if it is mild enough, the parent may not even suspect they are ill) and plays with a child who has a parent who is receiving Chemotherapy for cancer?  The disease may be passed along to the cancer patient, which may very well kill them.  The elderly, organ transplant recipients, patients with AIDS or any other type of disorders that compromises the immune system is at risk.

Do vaccines cause autism?  No.

Over the past 12 years, well over a hundred studies have been done, many of which were trying to find a link,  were unable to find one.  The few studies that suggested there may be a link, were found to be flawed or fraudulent after peer review.  Certain procedures must always be followed when conducting a study like this- the few that found the link failed to meet certain scientific standards- these standards prevent studies from finding biased results.

Autism has been around for a very long time- since well before vaccines were even a twinkle in Edward Jenner's eyes.  That was a long time ago, when everything was different including the names of diagnosis and treatments.  People with autism were 'diagnosed' as "disturbed", "derranged","mad" "afflicted","deluded" or "insane" and either died as children or were forced to live in asylums or sanitariums.

There are many theories about famous historical persons having autism spectrum disorders, but without a time machine no one can ever be certain.

Children in areas of the world where vaccines do not exist still have autism.

How can you protect your child if you are worried about vaccines?

Thimerosal (a preservative) was the center of the debate for a while but it has been removed from childhood vaccines and most adult vaccines to help ease public fears.  If a child needs a vaccine and it does contain thimerosal, the parent can request thimerosal free- it will possibly require special ordering and occasionally a doctor's office will try to convince them "it is not possible" if this happens, simply call around to a few other clinics or hospitals because they are probably either unaware or being lazy.

Schedule:  Today's vaccination schedules are a bit crazy.  With kids needing so many so close together, the newer concern amongst anti vaccine advocates has been that giving so many so close together  causes an overload.  You can talk to your child's doctor about adjusting the schedule so that your child receives only one or two at a time and space them out 2 weeks apart as opposed to 5 shots in one visit.  Usually the schedule is so intense because it is more convenient which increases the likelihood that a parent will remember to get all of the vaccines for the child.

If you feel strongly that you do not want your child to have a particular vaccine- what about the others?  Do some research yourself (beyond autism forums please)   Give them as many as you are comfortable with to help protect them. Perhaps you are concerned about the child being too young? If you have already waived vaccines, consider giving them when your child is older- it is best to follow the schedule (as far as age goes), but late is better than never.

If you decide to change the schedule and you have a newborn, it is a good idea to keep them home and take a few extra precautions (wash hands more frequently than usual)  until they are caught up on all of their initial doses- your doctor can explain it to you when you discuss it.

Saturday, July 16, 2011

Trying to make a little therapy $ just turned into a crazy weekend!

So after I finished my lens on Boys Backpacks I was left a bit frustrated because it did not come out quite the way I wanted it to- I wanted to have it be much prettier and with a LOT more choices!  So, then my husband suggested what I had been hoping not to do...  create a series, do a separate one for each theme!



That sounds like work!  It IS work!  So, I just created a whole separate one JUST for Superhero back packs!  It has turned into a fun little quest for the entire family as we all sit here remembering things about the superheroes!

 We have also created an entire one about Star Wars backpacks which was a lot of fun because Cutie actually did most of it and was SO into it I had trouble getting the mouse or my chair back from him!

We will be adding a nice little blurb about each hero, but as this is not my area of expertise, I will have to wait on that until hubby has a few spare minutes!

Now my original lens for Boys Backpacks will be turning into a hub for linking to my theme related collections... oh what a busy week ahead!

Cutie is actually enjoying helping with this!  He loves Amazon and he has been approving or denying the backpacks for inclusion in the lens (and wow is he picky).  He was going to pick his, but now he needs to "think about it for a few days because a few of them are too awesome"

We have also been working on a great collection of cute backpacks for girls!

We are using this fun little experiment to see if I can make money online as a learning opportunity for him! He helps construct the lens, design the layout but most importantly, we are actually practicing speech while we do it!  Each image we view together offers an opportunity to prompt speech in some way and we are taking full advantage of that!

I hope that (if anyone is there)  you have a fun and wonderful, happy weekend!
Autism Awareness card profilecard
Autism Awareness card by Sidther
More Autism Business Cards


Updated July 27th, 2010
Cutie has FINALLY chosen THE backpack!  He opted for this Star Wars the Clone Wars backpack!
It matches his other Clone Wars stuff and with this line of Clone Wars Products
(we have MANY of the 3D clone wars items) you can see it in 3d with special glasses- which we now have so many of I fall over them all the time! The picture looks normal without the glasses too though which is super cool as most 3D stuff looks weird without them!

I am also excited that it was FREE shipping!!!!

Friday, July 15, 2011

Really revising some of my old articles!

Choosing a gift for a child with Special Needs

Newly updated with better descriptions of HOW the products may be used to help the child in a therapeutic way to help people choose the PERFECT gift for their friend's child with special needs!

Free Printable behavior and reward charts

HUGE revisions!  It does not even look like the same page!  Now that I have got a better idea of how I eventually want it to look, I will be better able to manage it!  Check back frequently to see how it changes!

Free printable visual cues
are coming along nicely, I should be able to add a few more page of visual cues soon!  So far I have 8 pages up and 3 more waiting to be uploaded!


Sidther autism on Zazzle
is growing quickly!  LOTS of additions today!  Please let me know if you would like to have your Zazzle store added!


Free printable autism information cards 
has been drastically updated!  I hope to add some better paper designs and more text options soon- having a bit of a block today though!


A few new nifty designs on my Zazzle account!  Check out the shoes in the Fractal Flame Products file!





OK, I just spent HOURS trying to make a sales lens! :)
My brain is fried, my butt hurts and my toes are tickly but dagnabbit, I WILL make a little bit of money from a sale on Squidoo someday!

I will be continuing to edit this one to give it a more comfortable, welcoming feel, but here are
backpacks for boys

I am having difficulty with that article because it is SO hard to find that balance between too much sales, enough content etc  I will get it though someday!
http://www.squidoo.com/sidthers-favorite-back-to-school-backpacks-for-boys

Thursday, July 14, 2011

Cutie's Mental State and Summer cautions

The past few weeks have been really hard on Cutie.  My Husband has had a different work schedule- we are used to him being home a heck of a lot more as he normally works long hours, but fewer days.  I have not written much anywhere, nor have I been keeping up with any of my Facebook, Twitter, Amplify or Websites because Cutie is bored.

Normally, I wake up in the morning around 0600, write a new article and by the time he wakes up I am adding photos and getting ready to publish.  Then we play together, eat, do some therapy exercises etc  and eventually, when he does his workbooks and reading I sit next to him and do the promoting for that morning's article- then we play outside for the rest of the day and I check on things now and then for the rest of the day.  If my husband is home, I spend an extra hour or so on the computer while they spend time together.

Lately, Cutie has been acting depressed.  He has had issues with bullying, now that he is no longer near his tormentor he was very excited to spend the summer playing with friends in the neighborhood.  Unfortunately, they are rarely available to play.  He waits all day for his friends and usually, they never come.  He knocks on doors hopefully, and walks away a little bit more teary each time.

I think that Theory of Mind is playing a significant role in his disappointment- he expects everyone to be available because he is available.  I have tried to alter my schedule so that if they are playing in the morning we can go out earlier, but they rarely are out there at all.

Cutie spends nearly every day in tears.  He is now crying about everything which is concerning as he is a child who so rarely cries that he was actually hospitalized for NOT crying....  If things do not turn around soon, we may have to intervene.


RANDOM THOUGHTS........
The other thing he is not understanding about the  situation is that it is incredibly hot.  Too hot to safely play out doors for very long and way to hot for heavy activity.  Every time he tries to play basketball, I am terrified-  FYI did you know that two of the leading causes of death in kids with autism are...

Drowning (especially dry drowning hours after swimming)
Thermal dysregulation (Hyper or hypo thermia)

Both are frightening because they seem so innocuous.  If you go swimming with your child and watch them carefully, use floatation devices etc, would you think that afterwards a simple tummy ache or fatigue 4 hours after getting out of the water could indicate that your child is actively drowning?

Hyperthermia and Hypothermia are of particular concern with kids who have autism as they tend to not dress appropriately and despite their incredible hypersensitivity to everything... they seem to be oblivious to the fact that they are over heating or freezing cold.  They may not notice that they need water.  It is important that you be extra vigilant during extreme weather and remind them frequently to take breaks and dink water and help them to dress appropriately.

Another concern with Hperthermia is that somehow, the body does not always regulate itself correctly in many  people with autism-  extreme heat may NOT even be present when a person with autism suffers heat stroke.  There have been numerous reports of early teen year kids with autism dying from hyperthermia during strenuous activities (even hiking) when the ambient temperature was only in the mid 80s.

Wow, I actually made some money!

When I started writing about autism online, I had the intent of helping families who were struggling to cope and hopefully making a little bit of money to help to pay for Cutie's therapy expenses.  After reading about how hard it can be to earn any decent amount of money on Squidoo or Zazzle (you have to be REALLY talented and good at SEO) I set my goal a little lower financially, but I still want to educate people about autism and help families.

I hear that on Squidoo, most people who make significant amounts of money don't necessarily see their real results/ income start to pick up for about a year- and they usually say they make more in sales than royalties.  My financial goal was to make  $2 a month from Squidoo for my first year.  I have been there since the end of January, and am now averaging $6 per month in royalties!  I still have never made a sale on Squidoo (I do not count my husband purchasing through my lenses)  but hope to really figure out how to do that soon.

The biggest surprise.... last night, I logged on to Zazzle to see if anyone had viewed any of my products (I really was not expecting any sales for a few more months) and I made 2 sales there yesterday!!!!! Here is one of my favorite products....



Of course I still want to teach the world about autism, but it looks like if I keep working on learning this internet stuff I might be able to figure out how to earn some money to put toward's Cutie's therapies!



I know I have kind of derailed here on my blog a bit- it was supposed to be about autism all the time but if I am able to do this... why not other Mom's with kids who have autism?  I know I am certainly not the first to try, nor am I that successful- YET.  But I think if I continue learning about the "magical internet" then maybe.... based upon the upward trend in my online earnings over the past few months, maybe maybe someday ....

Please vist my store to see my latest designs!


Wednesday, July 13, 2011

Updates to one of my freebie lenses on Squidoo

Before I forget to give you the link,   http://www.squidoo.com/free-printable-autism-information-cards

I have been trying to update a few of my freebies etc.  I have also been working on my autism awareness cards to purchase and have made a better version (I think) of my most popular design!


Saturday, July 9, 2011

Lovely Pink iPad case from Zazzle.com

Lovely Pink iPad case from Zazzle.com

I did it!  I got something very similar to what I had in mind to appear on the computer!!!!!!!!

Lovely Pink iPad case speckcase
Lovely Pink iPad case by Sidther
See more iphone cases

I am too excited- I just want to plaster ALL the products at Zazzle with this design!!!!! (don't worry, I will restrain myself). 

Friday, July 8, 2011

Learning new things....

and having WAY more fun than I would have expected!  I have been experimenting with Zazzle for a while, but I have had difficulty getting any of my products viewed- and, they really weren't that great.  The intention was to raise autism awareness, and hopefully a little cash to cover Sensory Integration Therapy- but, the products need to be better for that to happen.

I could clearly see in my head exactly what I want to design, but no matter what I did in photoshop, it just wasn't coming out right and ended up looking exactly like what it was- shapes with text slapped on top.

One lensmaster (actually a group of 5 that run one account at Squidoo)- Lab Kitty, reminded me of something I had not heard of in years.  The Mandelbrot set.   Back when I played with it, it was pretty boring because it was in school and our computers could not handle it, so we were given a photocopy of some  segments of it.

The reminder made me wonder how far it has come in the past few years so I found some Fractal software...

After only a few hours of playing with it, I went from designing stuff like





to stuff like




and also

WOW, the difference the right software can make!  I have actually created 30 designs in the past 24 hours like the Dancing Lights and the Red Satin and there are infinite possibilities!

I hope that I will be able to use these nifty fractals to create a unique line of autism awareness products!  For now, I am just playing and experimenting with it though as I start to get the hang of it.

Please feel free to check them out and offer any suggestions!

Tuesday, June 28, 2011

My NEW Websites!

I thought it might help if I organized my niches a little bit better so I have started a few websites to do that.  My current projects are...

Sidther's Free Printables     for free printable stuff that parents of kids with autism may find useful (still customizable)

and then...

sidther to welcome parents of kids who recently received the diagnosis with separate pages for each of the most pressing social issues faced by families with autism.

When those are complete, I will build one dedicated to the medical and genetic aspects of autism...yeah baby, I get to dig around in CDH8 and NSD1!!!!!

Anyhooo,

I thought it might help it I was better organized, maybe the ads will pay a bit too to help keep my custom designed services free. (ummm, right now, I'm paying to do it.......)

Sunday, June 26, 2011

The "R" Word

I wish that I did not have to write about this. My new article on Squidoo is about the use of The "R" word.
I felt that I had to write it, I am so sick of hearing the children call my child a retard and it is obviously becoming worse as the issue has made national news multiple times- lawmakers have even been discussing options to eliminates it's usage as an insult or joke.

The problem with eliminating the word however, is that it is a legitimate word with legitimate uses in science and medicine as well as the rest of the english language in general.  If we officially removed the word from our language, what would happen in those areas where the word is commonly used in it's proper form? In medicine for example, removing the word may have dire consequences as  "Mental retardation" is an actual diagnosis- much like how the term "aspergers" marks the severity of  an individual's symptoms on the autism spectrum, the term "retardation" does depict the severity of an individual's intellectual impairment.  Removing the word may cause more than inconvenience- if a doctor or nurse does not keep up with the change and say for example that  they are one of the very few lazy providers who will not look things up- or the one with an attitude who insists that the patient's family is lying or has made up the new diagnosis because they had not heard of it- what happens to the patient when the provider is confused about the terminology?

Anyway, thinking about the r-word is upsetting on many levels. I get furious when people call Cutie the "R" word- in part because he is autistic and I do not want him to feel that retardation is part of his diagnosis. On a side note- Cutie's IQ after being tested repeatedly came out ridiculously high, I do take some guilty pleasure in knowing that he is probably smarter than the children calling him the "R" word!  I know that doesn't really matter, but I have to find something to think about to avoid screaming at the kids- this helps me tell them nicely that it is wrong to use the word....

I am also infuriated by the causal way that young people have been throwing the word around as a way to indicate that their "friend" has been irritating or done something clumsy or stupid- it is an insult to people with the official diagnosis everywhere. Aside from showing compassion for people who have mental retardation, I think people should consider how brave these individuals and their families are- as brutal and cruel as our society is, they continue to enjoy life and make the best of it.  On some level, I wonder if some people are envious of people with mental retardation- their ability to appreciate the simple things and see beauty in the world where others can't is an amazing gift that very few other people have.


Friday, June 24, 2011

Another glorious trip to Sea World

Today my Cutie  is relaxed and calm because we spent yesterday at Sea World AGAIN!  It was great!

Yesterday, we actually started at Dolphin Cove where Cutie fed the Dolphins and named one Mr Piggy.  He got lots of special animal connection and interaction time as well as some sensory input from splashing around and petting the dolphins.  He was super brave though when he had to touch the icky fish! The dolphins have a new enrichment toy and they were swimming around it all excited and a little confused.


We then made our way over to the aquarium and watched the sharks and fish for a while while cutie actually asked questions....  Not just any questions though.  He acutally asked "why do sharks have those bumpy things on the ends of their tails?"   If you have a child with autism- you know what a big deal a why question like that is, especially when it is actually being asked (as opposed to parroted) and the child really expects an answer!  So, in our visit with the sharks Cutie actually met 2 of his speech goals that he has been struggling with for years!!!



Then we visited the Sea lions- there were a few adorable babies there but we had to leave rather quickly as a stranger took it upon herself to try teaching my son about God and the Birds and bees- neither the time nor the place to introduce these subjects to him.


We did some wandering around, Rio Loco had an insanely long line so we skipped it. We got a few snacks and checked out the penguins although since this is their winter time and the lights must stay off, we did not stick around for too long.


Then we headed to the NEW Shamu show!  We have been to the Shamu show "Believe" for years, it was great, but it got a bit old seeing the same show every week.  Now there is a sparkly new show- yes it really is sparkly!  They added a backdrop with twinkly blue lights!  The new show "One Ocean" was good.  There did seem to be more waiting around in between tricks BUT the tricks were more impressive than before- so it balanced out quite well!  I LOVE the baby Shamu!!!!


We spent most of the remainder of the visit at the Lost Lagoon playing in the water and having LOTS of Sensory input!  We stayed until the Lost Lagoon closed, but then we had to go... Cutie did not have a tantrum or attitude when we told him it was time to go this time!  He finally understands that because we live right down the street and we have season passes, it is OK to leave because we will be back in a few days!

Currently, he is writing a few pages in his journal about his fantastic adventures at Sea World and is practicing his speech!  He will soon have a few more visual cues on his ring that I am making from our visit yesterday!

C6PHRZ5A73J3
I am so surprised at the ratings that this lens has achieved!  I threw FREE Printable Behavior Charts, Reward Charts and Visual Cues together, partly for myself as I do use them very often.  I get very upset when I think I find a site and it causes pop ups or is not actually free so I gathered the best together and categorized them- then I also uploaded some of my own printables to it.  I am absolutely amazed by the response I have gotten!  This is officially the highest ranking lens I have ever created!

I want to keep it going strong so if anyone has any suggestions for designs or visual cues ( I will custom make some if you need them- no charge) I would really appreciate it!
As always, if you wish to print any of my work out, go for it! If you would like to use it online please link back- attribution is appreciated but not required.

If you would like to see more of my available FREE Printables,
please click for PECS,Behavior and reward charts


click here for fine motor practice printables


click here for free printable chore charts


click here for free printable preschool level coloring pages

click here for free printable worksheets 



I am trying to make FREE printable Social stories- I am finding this to be the most challenging venture as I do not have a template yet.  Once I create my template (I usually play with a few, then build my own) I hope it will be easier.

Free printable preschool level coloring pages



Free printable preschool level coloring pages a new freebie article! I put together a list of free printable coloring pages. I screened these pages for simplicity and pop ups, registration etc. My goal is to provide links to the sites that offer skill appropriate coloring pages so that parents of kids with autism could locate them more quickly- if the child can not yet put a mark on the paper, then a coloring page containing cartoon characters and complex scenery is not appropriate.

I have created a few simple coloring pages for you to print- some are basic shapes and there is a collection of fruits- I recommend starting with the banana, then the orange, then apple, then grapes, then strawberry  as they get more complex in that order.













I will be creating another article with more complex coloring pages soon- I am still learning how to draw with my mouse....

Wednesday, June 22, 2011

Free printable fine motor practice to help kids with special needs

Here is my shiny new freebies article! Free printable fine motor practice to help kids with special needs

Kids with autism often have poor proprioception and sometimes lax muscles in their forearms, both of which significantly effect the child's ability to write legibly. It is important to have them continue to practice, and free printable practice sheets can make a huge difference! I try to make my designs fun so that the child will be engaged, to save money on ink, I do recommend printing only one or two in color and using black and white copies (simply set the printer to grayscale) more frequently. I save the full color copies for rewards!

Some of the designs such as "Trace the falling stars" were designed so that the color would be so light, it should use fairly little ink- I know I can print a few hundred copies of that one with no problem- I have the HP Deskjet F4280, I used to have an Epson, the Epson ran through ink VERY quickly and was expensive to replace so please.... try one or two out and see if your child even likes them before you go too crazy!

Cutie was having fun helping me with a few of the designs, the "girl's writing practice" was tough- neither of us understand this princessy obsession that has taken over the US, the page is so girly, I nearly threw up on my keyboard!



Tuesday, June 21, 2011

http://www.squidoo.com/autisms-gifts

Here is an older article that I wrote as I was learning how to use Squidoo! http://www.squidoo.com/autisms-gifts


Please note, I am not suggesting that having autism is the best thing ever, I am merely reminding people that the diagnosis does not need to define the individual and that there are a few little perks that come along with it. My personal favorite perk- a renewed appreciation for my child every single day as he perseveres to accomplish what doctors said would never be possible for him, and doing so with a smile on his face and great pride in his progress!



Choosing your battles in Autism therapies and education

So very many challenges that all need attention. What do you target first? When the choices are as simple as "running out in to traffic" vs "napkin on the lap" it is pretty easy to know that the traffic issue needs addressing immediately while the napkin, although frustrating, can wait. What do you do though when there are multiple safety related behaviors and ALL need addressing at the same time? Sometimes, each behavior must be addressed individually, however, there is often a common underlying theme....

If you figure out the common theme, you can address that and see improvements (maybe not absolute fixes immediately, but improvement is still good!) across all of the behaviors in question.

For example: Cutie used to A) run into traffic, B) get out of his seatbelt, C) touch the stove, D) leave the house without an adult (until I put chains on the doors).

What do all of those issues have in common? A physical boundary....
In the house, we used red tape and stop signs to note where he could and could not go. Out side, I got up every morning and drew a boundary line with sidewalk chalk- beyond that line, he had to hold hands. For the traffic- luckily we lived on a military base where everyone knew each other, people drove slowly and most of the neighbors drew a line on their sidewalk near the street to help him see that the road was off limits. We all practiced with him together.

Once he understood more about the physical boundaries, it was easier to work with him on the individual behaviors- all of which are now resolved.

If your child has multiple behaviors that need targeting, please visit
Choosing your battles in Autism therapies and education to see how to identify the common thread and prioritize the behaviors.

Monday, June 20, 2011

Father's Day was yesterday!

So, Cutie was his adorable self!

We went to the store the other day and he chose this special edition Jedi fighter transformer hybrid thing for "DAD's" father's day present.   He decorated the wrapping paper beautifully and wrapped the present all spiffy.


Yesterday, when Dad got up, Cutie brought him the present.  My husband was great, and very excited about this wonderful gift and VERY proud of Cutie for thinking of him on FAther's day as well as actually GIVING a gift.

Not 30 seconds after the wrapping paper fell to the floor.....
"Dad, can I just show you how to play with this toy?"
My husband of course says "that would really be nice, we could play with it together!"
Cutie got into "a zone" and disappeared with the toy.  Twice I recovered it for my husband.

This morning I found the toy tucked safely under Cutie's pillow....

"I'm just keeping it safe for Dad!"

I have been working very hard on my free printable visual cues!

I have been working on them for a few days now..... I have created a few for different occasions.  I have been using the public domain clipart from CLKR to create most of these ones because they have such a great variety!  If you like what I have made, please feel free to print it out.  If you would like to use it online, I do ask that you link each image back to my original page and credit "Sidther".
That link is   http://www.squidoo.com/free-printables-to-help-with-autism   there are more free printable visual aids and other items there as well, I just wanted to share a few here.

Technology visual cues: help your child feel more familiar with items that surround them at home- especially those that they may learn to use as a means to communicate better or use during therapy.  Hopefully you will be modeling speech when using these cards, so these would be good for your child to learn to verbalize!


Getting dressed visual cues: help your child with their daily routine and learn what each item of their clothing is called!  I included the fedora because my son LOVES to wear one with a three piece suit! 

 Christmas visual aids: help your child know what to expect around christmas time! Bells, carolers and parties can be un nerving, so can Santa claus for some kids!  I included the kiss to help kids with severe aversions to physical contact prepare for distant relatives who may not understand not to smother them!



I feel visual cues: If your child can not express their mood, they will likely resort to tantrums to get their message across.  Visual cues can help decrease the likelihood of that while reducing their level of frustration!


So, those are my four latest, I hope that you find them to be helpful in some way!  Please feel free to leave comments or contact me if there are any events or topics that you feel I should make some visual cues or other printables for!