Archive | Parenting RSS feed for this section

Dad, what happens when you die?

My cat, Prince, my friend for 17 years, is dying. He hasn’t eaten in over a month. He’s very skinny, moving slowly. The kind of thing that even my children can’t miss. Which lead to a talk about preparing for Prince, the cat that is the combined age of both of my children put together, to die soon.

Often while putting my boys to bed, they’ll ask me a question. It’s usually a science question. I figure the reasons being that they truly are interested in science combined with the fact that they know I’ll sit and talk about it rather than tell them to just go to sleep.

Tonight, they asked me what happens when a person dies.

I explained to them that some people believe that if we are good enough, we go to heaven after we die and we see friends and family that have died before us. Some other people believe that we simply… stop, like going to sleep and never waking up but never dreaming either, just no longer existing.

This is heavy stuff for a 10 and 7 year old.

Big BangThen I said that I believe it’s somewhere in the middle because of what I know about science.

I told them that scientists have looked into our molecules, into our atoms and found the very same elements from the big bang… the very start of our universe. The same things that are found in stars and galaxies billions of years ago, billions of light years away, are found right here, in us. Everything in the universe is connected and can be traced back to the big bang… when time and space, as we know it, began.

Again, pretty heavy stuff for a 10 and 7 year old.

So I said “Do you remember when we talked about the Sun? How it’s a big fiery ball of plasma in space and how it’s putting out a ton of energy all the time? It’s moving, it’s emitting light and it’s emitting heat… all of that is energy that the Sun is sending out into the universe all the time. Remember how I said that energy never dies? There is never more or less energy? It just goes somewhere else or becomes something else?”

I continued “We are basically bones and muscles and hair and stuff that is holding in our energy. Some people call it a soul. It’s you and me. It’s the energy that allows us to think, to remember, to move and control our bodies. It’s the energy that stays inside of us until we die. But then when we die, what happens to it? Energy doesn’t die. It doesn’t stop existing. So where does it go?”

They just stared at me. Yup, heavy stuff for a 10 and 7 year old.

So I went on, “That energy goes outward from you, like it does from a star, like our Sun. Some of it goes back into the Earth where it’s used to create new life. Some of it goes to others around us where it becomes a part of them. Some of it goes up into the sky. Maybe some of it rejoins the Sun while other bits go along with the energy that the Sun is releasing, out into the universe, traveling for billions of years over billions of light years. Maybe some of that energy will find new stars, maybe even stars just being born. And those stars will have new planets around them. Some of those planets will get the same energy from their star that we get from ours and maybe… just maybe, life will grow. Maybe plants, animals… maybe a new civilization, not like humans but just as smart, maybe smarter? Maybe those aliens way out there, way off into the future… maybe one day they’ll look inside themselves and their molecules and atoms and elements and they’ll find traces going all the way back to the start of the universe, the big bang. And along with that, they’ll be seeing bits and pieces of…”

At which point Cameron, 10 years old, jumped up and said “Me!”

I finished off by saying “It’s not as nice and convenient as heaven, thinking that we’ll still be us and fine and happy but it’s also not as gloomy as just closing our eyes and no longer existing. But it’s what I believe will happen to us. I think we’ll rejoin the Earth, we’ll rejoin our friends and family and we’ll rejoin the universe. We might not know it or remember it or really be us anymore but we’ll be a part of something as big and vast as space and time itself. And for right now, while we’re alive and able to appreciate that, I think it’s pretty incredible.”

“The truth is that I don’t really know what happens. No one actually does. We can only make our best guesses and believe what we choose to believe. But now you know what I believe. It’s up to you to figure out what you believe will happen for yourself.”

I turned off the light and left the room. They did not sleep. For two hours, while I worked, I heard them talking about it. I was supposed to go in and tell them to stop. I was supposed to tell them to go to sleep.

But I didn’t.


Comments { 2 }

How to Safely Motivate Autistic Children

Children with autism have problems interacting with others and may suffer from impaired communication skills. A challenge for parents and teachers is to find a method to motivate these children that is both safe and effective. Developing language, behavioral and social skills can be extremely challenging for some autistic children; however, some tips to aid this effort are highlighted here.


Getting to know the child

Before you can get started on any type of learning strategy, it is essential you get to know the child in question. This includes:

  • Creating and updated a list of the child’s interests and strengths. Include any fascinations or preoccupations that could be strange.
  • Take not of activities that cause anxiety of frustration.
  • Notice any pacing or processing issues that may be present.

When you understand these things, you can create a strategy that will be conducive to the way the autistic child will learn best. No two children are exactly the same, which means you need to carefully observe and evaluate prior to trying to motivate.

Methods of motivation

There are a number of methods that can be used to motivate an autistic child. Some of the most common motivators are highlighted here.

  • Play therapy

You can motivate autistic children with play therapy, which can help to provide a sense of accomplishment, encourage self-expression and teach new skills.

  • Provide choices

It is also possible to motivate autistic children when you allow them to select the stimulus activity, such as dancing or jumping. You can join them in with this activity until the child successfully makes eye contact or they communicate spontaneously.

  • Utilize positive reinforcement

When you are actively learning or providing therapy, prompting for another try after the wrong answer, or praising a correct choice will encourage a child to respond more often.

You can also use other types of reinforces to help children learn new skills. In some cases, children who suffer from autism are not able to be adequately motivated with traditional, social feedback. In these instances you will have to find a reinforcer that works for your child.

One way to find an effective reinforcer is to set out a number of different items and see which the child chooses. Take note of what they choose and how long they interact with that item. In most cases, the first item selected will be the most powerful reinforcing tool.

Once you have discovered the reinforcer that works best for your child, then you should deliver it directly after a correct response is give. Be sure that this is always paired with some type of verbal praise, such as “good job.” This will help them also understand the importance and effectiveness of verbal praise.

  • Cover new and familiar skills

It is important to keep learning fun and interesting for your autistic child. This means you should introduce both new activities and skills, as well as ones they are familiar with. While it is important to create a routine and sense of familiarity, studies have also shown that autistic children remain focused, give more right answers and are better behaved when the activities are varied.

Autism 5

To illustrate, you might want to help them create motivational posters with inspiring quotes such as, “Smile” or “Be Awesome.” Then, as they look as these posters they will experience both inspiration and pride knowing they helped to make them.

  • Integrate sensory activities

Utilizing sensory based activities can help autistic children learn new skills more quickly. However, it is important to introduce these slowly to begin with in order to ensure it does not become sensory overload.

  • Use music therapy

There are a number of autistic children who can sing, even when they are unable to speak, and when you expose them to songs that have repetitive, simple phrases can help them to develop new language skills. Singing may also be beneficial in helping to eliminate monotone speech patterns and by learning to match various musical rhythms. It can also help to enhance a child’s social interaction by encouraging them to participate in a group activity, such as a music group or class.

  • Implement rewards

While reinforcers and rewards are similar, you can use rewards for good behavior, or a day of completed lessons. These rewards can be something that is given at a certain time of day, if they have completed the necessary tasks and activities.

Motivating autistic children is more difficult than those without the disorder; however, there are still a number of methods that can be used to do this successfully. When you read the information here and take some time to get to know your child better, you will be able to create a plan or strategy that can help to successfully motivate children that suffer from autism.

Be sure that you work with teachers for the child in order to ensure the same reinforcers or rewards are used, which will help the child better understand the verbal cues that go along with these items. This will help to further motivate your child and help them pick up on new skills much more easily.

Comments { 0 }

5 Things I wish I knew before Autism

Tamara Wood is a proud mother of two amazing boys. After searching for a solution for her son Alex, who is affected by Autism, Tamara found the AngelSense solution for her family. It gave her a great deal of peace of mind, and her enthusiasm for the company only increased – she joined the AngelSense team as a customer care specialist.

tamara's familyI am the mother to two wonderful little boys, one who has autism and one who is “normal” (whatever that is!). There are many things we didn’t know before we became parents, and even less when you hear a word like “autism.” There are somethings I wish I had known before my son was born, and I wish I could share them with every parent out there.



Before autism, the most I cared to know – or needed to know – about insurance was copay, deductible, out-of-pocket, yada, yada, yada… I wish I had known all of the loopholes and red tape that can make your head spin concerning HPCPS and ICD-9 codes and all of those neat little “tricks” that you should really do to make your life easier. Like keeping track of who I spoke to and that gosh darnit they did say that! – this is more than just a good idea, it is crucial people! Or how a medical/insurance journal with a history of therapies, doctors, important health info, and bills is beyond just being organized; it is a savior of brain cells at those times when my brain hurts on marathon phone call days.


I wish I had known that I was going to be learning another language for school/therapy. ARD, AU, IEP, BIP, AT, ESY, LRE, OT, PT, ST, etc., just to name a few. Now these acronyms have been a part of our lives for almost 7 years and just slip off the tongue, but boy, can those ARD meetings be confusing when they are literally speaking a different language.

The AUsomeness of the autism community

I wish I had known going in that I was going to be a part of a very special group of families that are so free with advice, support, resources, and all around laughs to help you through. I can’t express how much of a release it is to talk to others that understand and can find the humor in our daily lives. Swapping public meltdown stories, how talented my son is at finger painting his whole room at 3am (that smell is not funny at 3am), and just being able to relax with others who “get it” is very important.


I wish I had known that the definition of romance was going to change. Finding an experienced sitter, having money, having time, and honestly just having the energy are just some of the factors. Romance in our house is my husband doing the dishes for me, helping each other clean up the 3am finger painting, being an eternal tag team for when the other has just had too much, and dates that are only retreating to another room to sit and watch TV because we just don’t have the energy to do much else. And finding that this can be enough.

The Box

I wish that I had known that thinking outside of the box was going to actually be the only way of thinking from then on. Our life is the equivalent of having a beautiful boy with the curiosity and development of a toddler and the physical ability of a 10 year old – for the past 8 years. This makes thinking about safety (and sanity) a very big part of our lives. Going out to eat, planning a date, going to the store, holidays, and even just rearranging the furniture require quite a bit of resourcefulness and thinking outside the box.

It has been a rough road at times, but I can’t imagine our lives any differently and I wouldn’t trade our kids for anything – we love them just the way they are. The autism community has brought me something else – recently, I have been blessed to be able to work from home in order to take care of him. And I am doubly blessed to be able to work for AngelSense, a company that helps us keep him safe by knowing where he is at all times and being able to listen to him throughout his day.

Founded by parents of special needs children, and employing other special needs’ parents, AngelSense provides so much peace of mind in so many ways. With the Guardian GPS device I can monitor my son through out his day, when he is out of our sight. I can check on him from my smartphone or the computer, and make sure he’s where I want him to be! Working for a company that understands me and my family has been just another example of the wonderful way we all support each other. I know so much now and hope that sharing my experience helps someone who might feel alone today.

Visit AngelSense at:


Comments { 0 }

Countering snoring in children with Autism

It is not uncommon for toddlers and kids to experience trouble in enjoying an uninterrupted night’s sleep. Discomfort with the darkness, snoring, fear of dreams, and even the habits of sleep walking are deemed pretty routine affairs with children. However, if a child has had a history of autism spectrum disorder (ASD), any instances of troubled sleeping should never be ignored. These problems could well be taken as a measure of the ravages of ASD caused in the body. More importantly, by being conscious of the need to identify such uncommon sleep habits in children is the first step towards alleviating them, as it is certainly possible to do so, with just a few easy to understand and implement behavior strategies. Here, we try to understand the links between autism and sleeping troubles such as snoring, and also try to tell you more about the simple remedies for such situations.


Why children suffering from Autism are more prone to develop the habit of snoring?

There’s enough medical literature and research documentation to establish that children suffering from ASD are not great sleepers. Among the most common sleeping problems they exhibit are insomnia and sleep apnoea, which is primarily linked to snoring. Here are some of the causes that lead to these observations –

  • Children with ASD also suffer from problems such as throat infections, ear infections, and coughing. This leads them into sleeping with their mouths open, a natural reaction when clogged body airways necessitate more inhalation of air. This majorly leads to snoring in children diagnosed with autism.
  • Lack of communicative powers rendering children unable to tell their parents as to what they want to be able to sleep better, and unnatural emotional attachment to sleeping patterns which can get easily violated, are two lesser known yet correlated causes leading to disturbed sleep patterns, sleep apnea in general, and snoring in particular.
  • Anxiety is a serious deterrent for sleep in children being afflicted with ASD, which slowly but surely leads children into the habit of waking up a few minutes after falling asleep. This is known to worsen snoring in children.

Autism 2

Snoring solutions to bless children with uninterrupted sleep

A child losing their sleep is certainly not a great sign, and needs to be set right at the earliest, as lack of proper sleep can lead to several health complications in the child. Here are some effective snoring solutions and tips that can help children sleep better.

  • Among the simplest anti-snoring aids is an elevated neck position for the child. Such a position prevents the tongue from falling back in the mouth, and hence prevents snoring.
  • Give a warm bath to the child before putting it off to sleep, so that the airways in the nostrils and throat get cleared up and snoring can be avoided.
  • Consider using anti-snoring devices such as masks and mouthguards, as there are several manufacturers that make child-safe anti-snoring devices.
Comments { 1 }

Eat more than 3 foods? Never in a million years. Eat more than 3 video game controllers? No problem!

So my son has developed a new habit/stim/quirk/etc and that is chewing stuff. In the winter, he chewed his coat and his hat and his gloves. Since those were replaced with.. uhmm… nothing, it’s warm… he’s now taken to chewing other random odd things. Most notably, video game remotes.

It started with those rubber grippy things on the Wii remotes. I easily solved that problem, I removed the rubber grippy things. Wait, that’s not what they’re called? Well, what ever. You know what I’m talking about.

I thought, ever so foolishly of me, that the Xbox remotes would be pretty safe since they’re really quite solid and hard. I mean, he wouldn’t chew on those right? Wrong.

xbox chew toy

xbox chew toy

So yeah, now I have 2 rubber grippy things that are trashed (just the edges are nibbled on really but you just can not hold them in your hand with those edges like that) and I also now have 2 Xbox remotes that look like what you see in the photo (click for full size).

Yes, I have other stuff for him to chew, but does that stop him? No, it just gives him other stuff to chew.

If it’s not his nails, it’s random threads from clothing and if it’s not that, it’s my appliances.

Is this an autism thing? I don’t know. I’d like to think not. I mean, kids do these things sometimes.

Still though, not every child does. And that makes it one of those things that I can write about. Not to shame him or make him feel bad when he’s older and possibly reading this (Hi Cameron!!), but just as something for other parents to read and go “I totally know how frustrating that is!”

And hey, who knows, maybe one day Cameron will have a child and that child will eat his rubber grippy things. Or… new age polymer type stuff. What ever those new fangled toys kids will be playing with then.

If that happens and he tells me about it, I’ll refer him to this post. (Hi again Cameron!!)

Comments { 5 }