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!

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.

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,

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

Lovely Pink iPad case from

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!