Sunday, December 16, 2012

AN ANGRY CHILD...Figuring out you can't put fire out with fire..

      An Angry Child.  Some children come into this world exuberant..filled with never ending joy & laughter.  Some are melancholy, so serious. Others are naturally inquisitive..filled with endless questions.

      Then some are Angry...just plain Angry.  A hard pill to swallow, especially when their parents are the joyful type.  That's how my Michael came into the world.  Angry.  Low on patience, tolerance for frustration non-existent, I watched in confusion and dismay as my child grew into a person I was unfamiliar with.  By age three, he was yelling out in anger, refusing to comply with basic rules, and  not responding at all to tried and true parenting techniques to turn him around.

     I was stymied.  By age five, he was mouthy, rebellious, volatile, and had put holes in his bedroom walls more then once.  He was angry.  Over time, I became angry.  He just was not responding to my positive influences.  Over time, getting up in the morning and wondering what my day would be like became daunting.  I felt like I was living in a war zone.  He was breaking me.  I was becoming the yelling, screaming mother that I never envisioned myself.   He was winning.  Coming to terms with that was humbling. 

     Sensory Issues.  Tuesday Child, in Chicago, IL. was the first place that I gleaned hope.  I learned all about Sensory Issues.  I learned how children with these issues, don't aways wake up the same way we do.  There moods fluctuate.  They have low tolerance for frustration levels.  They don't often hit maturity milestones at the same time as their peers. 

     I learned much that first year in trying to understand my Michael.  We made great great strides.  However, his angry disposition was still apparent and bothered me greatly.  Frankly, it really got under my skin. Most days, I worked the program.  I learned from a friend about Negative Attention, (check out that post), learned how to pick my battles, handle dressing issues....But that ongoing Anger...ugh.

     One day, as I gave into my own frustrations with Michael  we were really battling it out.  When he upped the anty, I upped mine.  It was apparent that I was losing.  And then the thought came.."You can't fight fire with fire".

   I was trying to end his Anger with  Anger.  "Can you put fire out with fire? Of course not".  "What is the opposite of Anger?".."Patience" was the answer I came up with.  It occurred to me in that moment that it was not anger and discipline that this child needed from me.  Michael had enough anger within..he did not need more. 

     What he was short on was patience.

     So I decided to give it to him.  Show him what patience looked like. 

     From that point on, when Michael least deserved it, I showed him patience, love and mercy.  When he was snarky and hurtful, I went to him with loving eyes not angry ones. I remember  one night  I got down on the floor with him after he hit the wall or brother, and  layed next to him when he tried to distance himself after an angry outburst.  I did not say much.  I just layed there.  "I'm sorry you are so angry.."  I said.  When Michael would say vindictive, hurtful words to me, I responded with.."that's okay, I have enough love for the both of us..."  Over and over, I gave this child what many behavior books told me not too.  My instincts told me that this child did not need consequences.  I gave this child rope.  I ignored his negative behavior and mirrored something back to him that he seemed not to possess. 

     The opposite of Anger is Patience, Love and Mercy.  That is what Michael needed from me as his mom.  He needed someone to show him a way out of his anger.  So that is what I did.

     And it has worked. 

     Michael and I have not spoken a single word to each other about what passed between us.  But I know he knows.  I know he is grateful for the life-raft I handed him. I know because I witnessed him receiving it.  I  watched this child, that night in the dark, while I layed quietly next to him  on his bedroom floor reach out and grab my hand  as words failed him.   I know he knows because Frustration, Angry words and actions have begun to diminish.  Replaced with tears, expressive words, and God..tolerance.  I know he knows because of the laughter I am seeing. The smiles that all seven year olds should wear...Michael is wearing.

     Once again, I humbled by motherhood, and what it has taught me, these children of mine. 

     At the end of the day, Michael is still somewhat type A.  That is okay, it will serve him well in this world.  He still at times, struggles with anger, but he has come a long way.  I am seeing a happier, more stable child. 

     At the end of the day, when I contemplate this child of mineI ask myself..."did I give him what he needs?"





Sunday, November 18, 2012


    BEHAVIOR MODIFICATION:  When it comes to creating positive changes with kids who are high strung or have sensory issues, it can be a little tricky.

     For one kids with these temperaments often are delayed in maturity, impulse control, and often there ability to reason falls a bit short.

     So what do you do?

     I have made a few changes that have worked well with my kids.

     Pre-qualify my expectations.
     Speak in calm, non-reactive firm tones.
     Pre-determine specific consequences that you can follow through on.
     Follow through on those consequences
     Allow natural consequences to happen and it will do the work for you.
     I did dress-rehearsals in my head, visualizing myself dealing with the situation without harsh  

     Dealing with young kids who can really push your buttons is difficult.  It is easy to lose your cool. I found it helpful to think ahead when it came to my reactions.  For example:  Dinner time.  For a long time my kids were just terrible when it came to sitting at any time for a meal at the kitchen table.  The poor behavior would start and my warnings and threats would begin, followed by heated emotions, and then the next thing I knew I would be yelling, threatening, losing my cool. The whole experience was re-played over and over, day after day with no improvement. 

     WHAT WORKED: First, I learned to always pre-qualify my expectations, and inform my kids what the consequences would be.  "Okay guys,we are sitting down for dinner.  I expect you to stay seated and eat your meal without goofing around.  If you can't do that, you will be excused from the table and...."  (some parents send there kids to their room for the duration of dinner, some do a time-out, others forfeit dinner until breakfast time).   By pre-qualifying your expectations, you will accomplish two things:  It serves as a reminder to the kids.  Believe it or not, they really do forget or just don't think about their own reactions.  It also takes the negotiating out of the loop.  Kids are great negotiators...they will start throwing every excuse in the book at you and hope something sticks and the next thing you know you are losing to a five year old.  You have all experienced that.  So pre-qualify.

     SECOND: I recognized that my kids just did not respond well to yelling or harsh tones. They could not handle it.  In fact, it often made the problems worse.  So lose the tactics.  When I thought ahead about my expectations and consequences, I was better prepared to react in a calm manner.  I would instantly go to my "poker face".  I also referred to this as my "teacher face".  Remember how your teacher could often stop you in your tracks with just a look?  That stare?  I think GOD instilled in all teachers that special ability.  I as a parent had to learn it.  With my "teacher face" in place, I would respond in a calm, non-reactive tone.  Something like this:  "Everett, I explained that if you started flipping your food off your plate, you would be excused and...."   No second chances, reminders, no negotiations, no more words..... The end. 

     Now, at first, your kids are going to try to give you the old royal battle.  Stay calm, stay firm.  Follow through.  Poker face.  Overtime it will get easier.

     THIRD:  Follow through.  By thinking ahead, pre-qualifying, and staying calm, your ability to follow through will be easier because you will be better prepared. By being prepared, the consequences that you have already pre-determined are less likely to be "over-kill".  In other words, in the heat of the moment you are less likely to threaten a consequence that you and your little one both know are not likely to follow through on.   Following through is tough, but is essential to behavior modification.  These little munchkins can sniff out hesitation in a New York second....and they will call your bluff.  I have to admit, I still drop the ball from time to time, but who doesn't. However, if your averaging a pretty good follow through record, your kids will take you more seriously.  I apply my 80/20 rule on this one.  Eighty percent follow through seems to be enough to get the job done.  The other 20 percent, I probably lost my own cool, did not practice what I know works and probably owe my kids an apology.  (I tell myself that I am now teaching the valuable lesson that when we are is important to own it and apologize...Ha).

     FOURTH:  Do a dress rehearsal in your head.  This is so important.  It really works so take some time for it.  Pick your battles, pre-qualify, stay calm, follow through.  Visualize the altercation in your mind, and practice how you are going to handle it in your new way.  I did this during down time, and right before I knew we were heading into "problem territory".  If its dinner time issues, practice in your mind while your cooking, if shopping is an issue then on the way to the store.  If picking up their toy's is the battle, practice in your head right before you ask them.  You get the picture.  Also, really take the time to think about the behaviors your want to change, and the consequences that you want to put forth.  Doing this ahead of time when you are calm, you are more likely to pick a well suited consequence as well.  I can't emphasize this tactic enough.  Practice, practice, practice...

     LAST BUT NOT LEAST:  My all time favorite.  Natural consequences.  There are certain behaviors that a natural consequence can nip in the bud.  To name a few:  They don't want to wear their jacket when it is 30 degrees outside?  Sure! Go for it munchkin....They won't fight you on that one again.  They are giving you a big fight over getting dressed for the party?  No problem.  Just get in your car and put them in with you as is...pajamas, naked....(this one takes nerve but I did it...I actually drove half way there before we turned around. The kids were mortified). We were also very late for the party and they missed out.... I do not even have to ask them to get dressed anymore.  It is the first thing they do when they  up.  Sometimes I help "natural consequence" to happen.  Pour restaurant behavior?  See my post on that...Think about how some of their behaviors can lend themselves to a well remembered lesson, a natural consequence.  It is a great parenting tool that takes the least amount of effort.

     These are some of the tips I have learned that have had the greatest impact on my kids.  Keep in mind, that nothing works perfectly in the beginning.  It will take time for your kids to adjust to your new approach. They will test it. Hold firm. Don't give up.  Lastly, cut yourself some slack when you screw up.  I have been practicing these things for a good year or so and I still mess up.  I'm human, and so are my kids.  Sometimes they need a little slack too.  When it comes to expectations with my kids, I do model it to who they are and their inborn temperaments.  That is really important.  As Phill Jackson once said..."know who you are"...."you can't fly with the eagles if you are a fish".....



Monday, October 29, 2012

Behavior Modification : Part 1

     Behavior Modification: Part 1 of 2
     This area has probably been my toughest as a mom.  Having high strung kids with mild sensory issue's along with "envelope pushing" personality styles....I had and still have at times my struggles.  However, I have figured some things out.

     Finding ways to instill in our children good morals, appropriate social behavior, and teaching them to understand that rules are important, and need to be followed is challenging for every mom.

     What Did Not Work:

     Yelling:  I'm by nature not a yeller, however, kids....... I remember the first time I
     lost my temper and really yelled at my kids. The first time I yelled, I was actually amazed. It got
     the kids attention and they responded. It seemed to work. However, in the end, it did not.
     Here is why:

     First: I noticed the kids become desensitized to yelling very fast. I soon had to yell louder and    
     louder to gain their attention. Not only was yelling losing its effects quickly, but I also noticed
     that my kids started yelling more. By yelling too much, I was teaching my children that when
     you are frustrated or mad about something, yelling is the appropriate way to handle it. 

    Second: Think about a time when somebody yelled at you?  Did you 
    hear what the person was actually saying?  Or were you more focused on the fact that somebody
    was yelling at you, and that you "did not like it".  Point: Nobody takes in information well if it
    is done in a loud, over-reactive style. Most likely, when you are yelling, your child is not focused
    at all on what you are saying, but rather the loudness/scary factor.

    Trying to change to many behaviors at the same time:

    Young kids just don't always have the recall yet to remember all the things that "they
    are not supposed to do".
    Behavior charts are a great tool, however, keep them simple. One or two goals with one or two
    rewards. Behavior charts never worked well for me because I made them to complicated: too many
    behavior changes, too many reward options....keep it simple. The kids could not understand it, so
    how could they be engaged.

    I did this, and my kids, after having hard earned rewards taken away too many times they gave 
    up...they knew that they were going to screw up, being that they were 6yr. why bother.

    To fix their thwarted enthusiasm, we had a family meeting and agreed that earned rewards can not
    be taken away.
     Inappropriate consequences - Consequences that you can't/won't follow thru on

      Example: It's 3pm.  your three year old has just sent you over the edge.  You say,
     "Susie,  if you take your brothers  toy away from him one more time, you are going to go to your
      room for the rest of the night". (Susie's normal bedtime is 7:30).  Mom: really?  You are
      going to send her to her room for  the rest of the night, no dinner, nothing, banished to her room.

      That's a tough one to follow thru on and easy to cave on.  And, if you cave, you have just
       taught Susie that consequences don't have to be taken seriously.                            
     Now I need to qualify my stance on that: Do I believe that their is a time and a place for a very
     firm consequence? Of course. But choose them wisely. Save the biggies for the lines that really
     need to be drawn in the sand. Otherwise, like yelling, overdone consequences, punishments that
     don't fit the crime will lose their effect.

      Choose Your Words Wisely:

     Picking consequences that are overkill or are not followed through on I think are the most
     common mistakes we can make as parents.  I have learned to really think seriously about  the
     consequences I am willing to dole out. Are they fair?  Does it fit the crime?  Is it a reasonable
     one that I as a parent can follow thru on?  EX: How many times have I heard a parent say (myself
      included) to a child, "If you don't stop right now, we are going home!" okay, if you are at the park
     that sounds reasonable....but said at an amusement park that you just paid $100.00 to enter...I
     highly doubt you are going to "follow through" on this one. Let's face does the kid.

    Use your words wisely

    Don't over talk. Dad's are better at this. I was terrible in this area.  I talked too much about the
    issue/behavior.  I went on and on, (like my mom did) about the dreaded offense. What they did,
    how could they?  What were you thinking?  Do you know what could have happened?  UGH.
    My come to Jesus meetings bounced right off of them ended up somewhere....definately not in
    there heads...well, as least Jesus  was possibly impressed. I talked to much. Too many words, too
    little retention. Now I keep it simple...much like I talk to my husband. Sorry hubby.

    Part 2 will include what worked.

    Have a goodnight, 'QAnnie47




Thursday, October 25, 2012

Sensory Issues: When dressing becomes a problem


     Ahhh. Yes. I remember those days. Dressing issues seem to heighten right around pre-school age.
  I think it's because by age 3-4 kids are able to better express themselves.  

      My hypersensitive child suddenly started limiting his shirt selection down to about four shirts.  The other shirts were suddenly highly scrutinized:  They were either "too big, too small, too rough, the shoulders were hitting in the wrong place, too long/short, and tags...well you can imagine.

    Socks: I started noticing the sock issue during bike rides.  About every 2 blocks, Michael did this stop/drop/pull up his socks thing.  "Don't worry mom", he would call out, "I'll catch up". What was happening is that Michael could not "stand" the feel of the sock slipping down his legs. As his Sensory Issues were not yet realized, his sock issues grew worse. Socks started to become the enemy.  It got to the point where there was not a sock in his drawer he would wear without a huge battle. Socks were starting to ruin his day.

     The simple act of dressing was starting to unravel my child...

     Jeans....ugh.  Not as out of control as socks/shirts, but still a problem.  He hated freshly laundered jeans. They were often a little stiff and he hated the feel so he would immediately remove them and rifle through his drawer, opting for a more "worn in", "softer" pair.

     It was the way he tightened his belts that caused me to pause.  He would tighten his belt to the
point that he had a permanent bruise on his belly button for about two years. (Sensory Integration therapy changed all that).  It was the "shifting" that drove him nuts.  Michael could feel the jeans shift  against his abdominal area if the jeans were even a little loose. Hence... the belt. 

     Arlingtion Pediatric Therapy help me to understand how this was all  "Sensory Related".
 I brainstormed and came up with some remedies that worked well.  Paired with Sensory Therapy, today, a year later, his dressing idiosyncrasy's are minimal.

     Shirts: 1)  I buy shirts that are exactly his size. (forget about the "he will grow into it approach).

                 2)  I make sure the material is ultra soft and ALWAYS wash it first with a laundry
                       softener the first time. (your child may often boycott a shirt forever if his first
                       encounter is a negative one).

                 3)  Sometimes sensory challenged kids will react to the "cold/stiff" feel against his body
                      that  a fresh "Laundered shirt can have and reject it for that reason.  Ask him to wear it
                      for 3-4 minutes. Sometimes their own body heat will fix the problem. If the material
                      feels to cold, it will warm and feel better.  If the material is to stiff, after he wears          
                      it for  a couple of minutes, his body/brain will acclimate.  Explain to  them
                      why you are having them try this. You might be surprised what they can understand.
                       This worked very well with Michael by the way.
                 4)  Never by a shirt with tags if you can't avoid it, or cut tag off. 

                 5)  Short sleeves seem to work best, even in the winter. Let your child guide you here in
                       these preferences.


                    1)  Stop buying socks in the children's department if your child is old enough.
                          The sock people all seem to be under the impression that kids
                          like highly cushioned, thick socks. Well  they don't. In the woman's department you
                          have a better selection and are more likely to find socks tailored to your child's
                          sock needs.  Lightweight and fewer seams.  I  have also found that ankle socks work
                          best. They don't fall down and  frustrate the child.

                        1)  Jeans that are soft, and are a really good fit I found work best. TIP: those jeans
                              that have the adjustable waist?  Cut off the buttons and forget the adjustable
                              options.  He/she may not wear them because they will feel the inner button.
                         2) Skinny Jeans seem to work well. (they hug the body and don't shift)
                         3)  Pre-washed ones are better too because of the softness.

                 EMOTIONAL SUPPORT:

                       1)  Make sure he/she has ample time to dress.

                       2)  Stay there with them to encourage and remind him about some of the tips I                           suggested.

                       3)  Make sure you stay calm. Your child will at times gage his reaction according
                             to what he is feeling off of you.  If you are stressed and frustrated, I can assure
                             you it will exascerbate the situation. On the flip-side, if you remain calm, and
                             supportive it will lend the emotional support that your child needs.

    Make a big deal about how well dressing went that day.."Boy Michael, I see that even though that shirt looked uncomfortable you remembered to give it a little time and it worked!!"

     Add one shirt/jean/sock, at a time to his wardrobe.  If you overwhelm him with too many options, it could put you back two steps.

     Last but not least...while I know it is difficult and disheartening to watch you child go through this phase of sensory issues, know that he/she will get through this, you will get through this.  Eventually you will start to figure out how to navigate dressing issues, eventually your child will start to sensory integrate and emotionally regulate and dressing issues will "be a thing of the past".  I promise.  They may still have preferences, but don't we all?  So hang tough, it's going to be OKAY.

     Hope this was helpful.



Monday, October 22, 2012

BEHAVIOR PROBLEMS AT SCHOOL..Dealing with teachers

     Both my children had a rough start as early as Kindergarten.  I had a rough start as well. I made some mistakes, and I did some things right.  Handling these issues wisely can often make a BIG difference in the outcome of your child's academic experience...

     1)  Assume your child is in a good school. (check school report card).

     2)  Assume your child's teacher is not only good, but cares.

     3)  When the first problem arises respond immediately: Either by email or phone call.

     4)  Be a good listener to what the teacher/principal has to say about the issue.

     5)  Do not give a defensive reaction: Remember, the teacher does not really know your child
          just yet.  Especially if it happens early on in the year.

     6)  Assume that the reason for the call/write-up is the teacher's attempt to solve the issue and
          genuinely wants your child to succeed in school.

     7)  Accept the fact that the teacher is going to "wonder" if this is a parenting issue.

     8)  Share information with the teacher.  Most likely, a call/write up is a teachers attempt to
          better understand your child.  Don't be afraid to share diagnosis's your child has received
          or any special therapies they may be receiving.

     9)  Don't be afraid of your child being "labeled".  The schools these days are filled with students
          whom are dealing with special needs: ADHD, ODD, Sensory Issues to name a few. The
          negative stigmas just don't happen anymore.  Educator are much more informed
          regarding the spectrum of issues many kids face these days.  Rather, special needs are often
          embraced  and viewed by schools as an opportunity to help your child.

    10)  Know that by being open, non-defensive, and  willing to share information will build a
           relationship with the teacher and it will change how they view you. When a teacher knows
           that a parent really cares you have a much higher chance of ending up with a teacher who
           is willing to go the extra mile and work with you to ensure that your child's academic
           experience is a successful one.

          I hope these tips are helpful.  When I changed my own perceptions and decided to work with
          these educators, instead of assuming the worst, it made the world of difference.



Thursday, October 18, 2012


      Sensory Issues.  I shared with you information about my son Michael, who is Hyper-Sensitive.  Now I would like to share what I learned about Everett, who also had some  Sensory Issues/Auditory Processing Issues.  Everett is Hypo-Sensitive.  Meaning, while his brother, being too sensitive to stimuli, feeling too much, his brother, Hypo, didn't feel enough.  The stimuli was there for him, but his system failed to take it in and organize it properly enough so that his brain could say, "okay, I'm good",

     Here is what it looked like for Everett.  Everett has always been high strung as well.  To an extreme.  If you watched my son in a room full of his peers, this is what you would have seen.  He was the loudest kid in the room.  He would be touching, leaning, bumping into other kids over and over again.  Navigating his environment included tripping, falling, bumping, rubbing ...into, and onto everything.  Person, place or thing.  He loved sitting on my lap.  Sitting in a chair was painful to watch:  fidgeting, turning around and around on it, hanging off to the side of it, falling off of it....can you see the visual?.   TOUCH.  Everett seemed to require a lot of it.  In any shape or form. From any person place or thing.

     Pain threshold.  While his brother cried bloody murder at the mildest infraction, Everett seemed to feel little or no pain at all.  He very rarely cries out in pain.  I've watched him take hard falls, falls where I would have cried..not him, nope. Everett would fall, appear to barely notice, pick himself back up, and keep on going.  One time I came home from work, and he had a big gash on his toe that looked like it required stitches.  When I asked him what had happened, he responded, "I don't know, I didn't know it was there."  Huh?  Geez. One time, at about age 3, during a doctors visit, his doctor noticed so many bruises on his shins that he ran a test for leukemia.  I knew he was fine, but I let him run the test and explained that Everett's mind/body connection seemed to have a disconnect.  He would kneel on very hard edges that would make any of us yelp out in pain and seemed to not feel a thing . Over time, I just chalked it up to the fact that he just had a very HIGH pain tolerance.

     When he was a baby, I was always combating diaper rashes.  Why? Where his brother cried immediately when his diaper was soiled, Everett was content to just sit in it for ever.  I learned to be very vigilant with him because he just never let me know. 

     Another quirk:  Everett does not seem to feel the temperature changes.  When it's hot, he is never hot.  When it's cold, it is a battle to get him to wear a jacket.  The other day it was 40 degrees outside and there he was, outside looking very content.  "Aren't you cold?"  I would ask, "no" he would reply.  Amazing.  Middle of winter, this child will sleep in shorts with no shirt and sometimes no blanket. 

     When it came to any form of stimuli, Everett just loved it.  Climbing high places, jumping from high places, trampolines, jumpies....if he got good physical feedback to his body/brain, he loved it.

     Emotional Control:  Non-existent.  He was very low on the spectrum and not reaching the milestones that other kids his ages were developing.  He was impulsive, over-stimulated easily, difficult to control, prone to temper-tantrums, and had no social awareness at all.

     He looked like a poster child for ADHD.

      He looked un-focused, (because he was always looking for the next sensory input), easily distracted, in constant movement.  Sitting for a book was impossible, so teaching him ABC...123....was difficult. 

     Food.  Another quirk:  Eating was interesting.  A. He was always missing his mouth. B. When he did get the food in his mouth, it was always big heaping spoonfuls and I was always waiting for him to choke.  Thank god he never did. If you gave him gum he would put jam 3 pieces in his mouth when I wasn't looking.  Fruit roll-ups for example were just  crammed in and swallowed.  We would laugh, the kid was  a coconut.  Just Everett being Everett.

     All the  pieces of the puzzle back then, meant nothing to me. 

     Tuesday's Child. An intensive program designed to help parents with kids who are having behavior problems.

     It was there that I gleaned my first insight in understanding my child.

     "I think Everett has Sensory Issues".  The psychologist said.  She then proceeded to go thru his sensory profile that she had done.  Huh.  Hypo-Sensitive.  Everett.  All those little quirks, the odd behaviors we did not understand.  The eating, over-active behavior, low emotional control, high pain threshold, needing to touch, bump and grind into everything.  Not ADHD.  Huh.  I cried.  Not sure of more fears or relief at the moment...but definitely of gratitude.  Somebody understood my child.

     Off  we went to Arlington Pediatric Mgmt.  Arlington Pediatric Mgmt   He was tested again, and the same diagnosis. Sensory Processing Disorder: Hypo-Sensitive along with some very mild Auditory Processing issues.  (I'll talk about the Auditory another time).

     Along with his brother, he too started the therapy.   His therapist was great.  She was very intuitive and "got" Everett right away.  The good news was that his issues were mild.  He went twice a week.  He responded very well and after about six months, he was released.  He was still a bit high strung, but his Auditory processing was now age appropriate.  This improvement  lended itself to greater comprehension, memory input/recall which allowed him to better following directions, express himself, which lead to better self control.  Everett himself noticed the difference and he was proud.  As well he should be.

     Down the road, Everett encountered some more hurdles, which eventually lead to a PANDAS diagnosis.  This was the final piece to the puzzle. (I have a post on PANDAS).

     I am happy to report that Everett is doing exceptionally well.  He is truly a different kid. He is sensory integrated. He is calm, focused, self-regulating, socially aware, and doing well in 1st grade.

     I am so grateful to all the excellent professionals that were sincere, diligent, and worked so hard to make Everett's world a more happier, well adjusted one.




Tuesday, October 16, 2012

BOOKS I Recommend


The Zones of Regulation, by Leah M. Kuypers, MA Ed. ORT/L
   A workbook you can use at home to help your child take control of his feelings/emotions

The Incredible years, by Carolyn Webster-Stratton, Ph.D.
   A great guide for trouble-shooting for kids ages 3-8

The Out of Sync Child, by Carol Stock Kranowitz
   A great resource to learn about sensory disorders


Zach Gets Frustrated, by William Mulcahy

My Feelings Have Names, by Shelia & Rae Simons

Why Should I Listen?, by Claire Llewell

Monday, October 15, 2012

Sensory Processing Disorders: Part 1 of 2

     SPD'S, SI, Sensory Processing Disorder, all the same thing really. Just a variety of terms.  They come packaged in many different ways, for example, there is Hyper-sensitive (my Michael) & Hypo-sensitive (Everett).  I guess God knows I like a variety.  Today I would like to share some of the characteristics of this disorder. I will start with Hyper-sensitive. Again, I am not a doctor, specialist, teacher...just a mom. A mom that has exerted an incredible amount of energy in the quest of "What in the world is wrong with my kid?".

     Over the last four years, Michael has several  received many possible diagnosis's. Nobody was willing to commit to one. For many good reasons.  For one, he was just three when I started to get concerned, and to the credit of the many professionals out there, most of them are very very careful when it came to putting a Big diagnosis on a child. Why? Mainly, as I now know, such young kids can change and change fast. What looks like ADHD at age three can be whole different monkey by age five. Kids are amazing, how they change, and while I was quite anxious in my quest to figure out my children, I am grateful for the many individuals  that were careful, methodical, and slow to paint my child with a big label. In the end, we landed on SPD. Sensory Processing Disorder.

      As I stated earlier, the clinical behavior, set of symptoms, is diverse and unique to each child. For my Michael it looked like this: Somewhere around age three is when I started to be a little concerned. Both my kids had SO much energy. People said, as they should, "they're boys!. I got that, but here was one difference. While I get the fundamental difference between boy/girls, what I was picking up on was a more erratic type of energy. Michael was never calm. I mean never calm. He never sat. Never.  He would not sit for a book, puzzle, and toys were never played with as intended.  He would attempt something, but quickly abandon it if he was the least bit frustrated.  Okay, still only two, I get it, and really there is a lot of wisdom to that.

       Age three. Time for preschool.   I was a wreck. By age three, Michael was still unable to sit for any period of time, (I had still yet been unable to get thru one book). So he did not know any of his letters or numbers yet.  No big deal, that's what preschool is for right? Usually. Preschool was unfortunately not Michael's finest hour. His teacher, "give him time", barely looked at me by the end of the year. Michael had made no improvement. He had no interest sitting at circle time, learning letters or numbers, and any form of behavior mgmt fell on deaf ears. He wasn't a  "bad child", but an out of control one. He ran when he wanted,  talked out of turn, blatantly ignored the teachers rules, and often took control of the classroom with his antics. I would try to talk to him, but his impulse control was minimal, his ability to self control was non-existent, and there seemed not to    be any one thing that motivated him to change.  "He is a bright child, the director said, don't worry", (she was actually right). At this time, however, I was starting to be concerned about ADHD.  However, for various reasons, he did not really fit the bill. "give him time" his teachers suggested, so I did. Kindergarten would perhaps be a whole different experience.

    With the summer ahead of us, I figured we had plenty of time for growth and maturity. Well, that did not go as planned either.  My mother radar was sensing dread, not excitement that first day of school. Unfortunately, my gut was right. After two weeks of a very ambitious half day kindergarten curriculum, my Michael completely fell apart. Unraveled.  From the minute of getting off the bus, the stress of having to sit still all afternoon, listen to books (I still had not accomplished one cover to cover read book), having to learn to read and write, Michael was a wreck. When he would come home, excuse my expression, all Hell broke lose. He would scream at me, punch, kick, hurt his brother, refuse to comply with any house rules ranging from sitting at the dinner table, picking up toys, jumping on furniture...while most of his peers were experiencing growth/maturity milestones, Michael was about at age 2.  I was unable to reach him with words or actions. When trying to talk to him about a problem, he would put his hands over his ears, refuse to look at me, tune me out, and shut down. He became mouthy, stubborn, and at times vindictive.  He no longer awakened in a chipper mood. Quite frankly, I didn't know what to expect when he awakened the next morning.

     As time went by, I noticed other alarming traits. Clothing was becoming a bigger issue. While he never loved button down shirts, long sleeve shirts, shirts that were too big/too small (by his standards), his wardrobe choices were becoming very limited. He had about thirty shirts in which to choose from and yet there were only about four  he would wear. Dressing became an ordeal. He cried. He cried a lot. As soon as I said it was time to dress, I could see the anxiety written all over his face. He now hated socks. The seams bothered him greatly and were capable of unraveling him and set the stage for a "not so great day". Tags on shirts I quickly cut off.  He cinched his belt so tightly because he could not stand feeling his jeans shift against  his skin. He had a permanent bruise across his belly button for two years.  He tied his shoes so tight, they looked like it hurt. Ugh.  Strings drove him crazy on any article of clothing.

    He hated water.  He hated water in the form of baths or showers. He screamed when we would wash is hair, I mean bloody murder. And that reminds me,any time he hurt himself, even in the smallest way, he would scream like it was just killing him.

    His nails? (fingers & toes) he became obsessed with cutting them very very short. I had to hide the clippers because he would cut them himself when I was not looking, and often too short.  I believe this was due his "over feeling" the sensations when his nails came in contact with something.

    He hated loud places like movie theaters... places that provided lots of stimuli caused him to become too wound up or he would completely shut down. He would go to a spot, look down, and refuse to look up, or talk.  I had no remedy for this except time had proven to me that I just had to give him his space until he could come out of it.

    He began to look like an ODD child.  He was moody, snarky, non-compliant, aggressive to the point of hurting others. When I tried to send him to his room for a time-out, he would kick the door until I thought it was going to fall off the hinges.  There was a time or two he even put holes in his walls.  I will never for get the time that he ripped half of the wall paper off  his walls.  He was miserable, and so was I. It broke my heart, this child of mine.

     That year was the year to get serious. The writing was on the wall. My child was not going to grow out of this, and no amount of behavior mgmt/consequence/talking to him was going to change him.  So I went to the professionals, the best I could find, and eventually enrolled him in a program that was called "Tuesdays Child", in Chicago IL.Tuesday's Child  Its a program that integrates classes for parents along with  a play based program in which their psychologist can evaluate your child.  Several weeks later, the results were in....Michael was dealing with Sensory Issues, believed to be the culprit behind all this crazy behavior.  Sensory Issues? Say what?!!!  What is that???  Not having any knowledge about what they were talking about, I took a deep breath, decided to trust them, bought the suggested book, The Out of Sync child, by Carol Stock Kranowitz, and read it. "HOLY CATS!" This book was my child. My husband's response, "you think every book is your child", okay I'll give him that one, but in this case, I had a feeling that this time I might be right.

     So off  we went to SI therapy. Michael's therapist was excellent. She was very intuitive, and handled Michael brilliantly. When he emerged from his first session, Cathy, his therapist said, "he did great". I looked down at Michael, I noticed he had his ever too tight belt in his hand. His laces, which were usually tightened up like ice skates, were now very loose. "He didn't like it", she smiled, "but he did it". Michael looked like he wanted to spit tacks....She smiled, let me be the bad guy. He's gonna be okay.  As we stomped out the door, Michael announced "I am never going here again!".

     This began Micheal's re-entry into the world in a more "sensory integrated way of being".  It took about 6 month, Luckily, as rough at it seemed, Michael was on the mild end of the spectrum, so he responded well and I can report today that He is doing really really well.  Therapy ended at the beginning of summer.  He went the whole season with no dressing, washing, gym shoe/belt issues. I don't think I saw one major tantrum all summer, and defiantly no door kicking or hole making. His demeanor, he now wakes up happier, more content, consistent. Regulating his emotions has included small, baby steps, but I see progress.

      The start of 1st grade has gone better then ever expected. Now don't get me wrong.  Some days are many times just great, others,  little bit hectic.  However, the hectic days are farther  between.  Michael still has some growth to do in regards to impulse control, snarky moments, and some aggression, the start of 1st grade has brought some stress to his inborn temperament. But I am thrilled. All in all, he his on his way to being  the well adjusted child that a mom hopes for.

      A word of caution. Please don't read this and think you have it all figured out if you can relate.  My advise, be wise, take your time, find professionals that you can trust and then trust your gut. Always trust your gut. And know, what I did not know, three years ago, things are going to be alright. Goodnight, QAnnie

                                    I tried to teach my child with books,
                                         He only gave me dirty looks

                                    I tried to teach my child with words
                                         They passed him by often unheard
                                    Desparingly I turned aside
                                         How do I teach this child I cried

                                     Into my hand he put the key........
                                         Come he said and play with me.
                                                                                                   author unknown

Friday, October 12, 2012

SENSORY ISSUES. Does Michael ever get to be Michael?

 Does Michael ever get to be Michael?

      A trusted friend asked me this question not that long ago.  It caused me to pause.

       Sensory Issues.  They come packaged in many different ways.  It has truly been a learning experience.  Michael's Sensory Issues, (he is hyper-sensitive) has taught me many things as a mom. It has taught me patience and  how to love deeper.  I have learned that when my world looks like its falling apart, I can dig deep, do the work, and set it back on it axis.  Most importantly, I have learned that I don't know everything, and I can make big mistakes. The good news is that I haven't found a mistake that can't be undone.

      So, back to the question.  The answer led to yet another "AHA" Oprah moment, and another shift in the way I view and understand my son. I had been sharing all along with my friend,  Michelle, my journey through the world of Sensory Issues. She knows my struggles, fears, accomplishments, and the  great leaps we have made in helping my son thru this.  One day I had been sharing my concerns and embarrassment over Michael's "snarkey, mouthy side". As a parent, you would understand why this side of him would be troubling. Yes? Yes. So, I was saying to Michelle, "Ugh, I can't wait until we work thru this snarky side with Michael. It just drives me crazy and there are days that it seems that no matter what I do, I just can't get him to stop this". My friend then tilted her head and asked, "When does Michael ever get to be Michael?", "I mean, you have spent quite a bit of time teaching me about Sensory Issues, and have pointed out that it seems to go hand in hand with delayed maturity, emotional regulation weaknesses, and poor impulse control. You have even shared with me that at this time, whether Michael is overly happy, say at a party, or anxious, say at school, that he often has the same response to stimuli. Snarky, loud, touching other kids. You have explained that at this time, when he is overwhelmed by stimuli such as these that he has not yet learned any other tools to cope. Yes? So I ask....Why are you trying to snuff out completely the only emotional release/tool that your son has at this time to express himself?" "So I ask again, Does Michael ever get to be Michael?".

     In that moment my mind flashed back to a day when Michael was sitting at our kitchen table, and I had just told him how perfect he was, and how much I loved him.  He looked at me square in the eye and said, "Then why are you trying to change me?".  He was five at the time.  Brilliant really.

      With Tears in my eyes, the truth  hitting me hard in the stomach. I answered my very smart friends question... " not so much."

     Wisdom....It comes from many places if your willing to embrace it. I realized in that moment that while I have done a lot of right things with my children, in this case I was wrong. I realized while I pondered the question, that as a mom, yes,  I needed to curb certain behaviors, and help my child to grow and mature.  I realized that loving Michael also meant accepting him, respecting his feelings, and giving him the gift of allowing him to be who he is at this time in his life.   That while I will work hard to teach Michael, and guide him, I also need to be his "soft place in which he can fall".

     As a mom, I have revised the plan again. I will dedicate certain times of the day in which I will embrace my son and allow him to let out his pent up emotions, frustrations....all the feelings that he should get out...needs to get out.  In those moments, I will Love him just a little bit more. And let Michael be Micheal. QAnnie

Wednesday, October 10, 2012

THE SKATE PARK...A Special Thanks to the "Boy's of Summer"

THE SKATE PARK.  This summer, my twins found a new love.  Skateboarding. Most towns these days seem to come equipped with skate parks, so off we went to Olympia Park in Schaumburg.  We arrived, and very quickly my "maybe not such a great idea", mommy radar was tripped. It was filled with teenagers. Teenage boys to be exact. Long haired, baggie jeans, skinny jeans, earrings in odd places, fully equiped with Trick bikes and skate boards. They were everywhere... Kids were zooming down ramps, flying down stairs, doing 360's out of this giant cement pit while simultaneously spinning in the air.

     For my boys it was love at first site, and with a sick feeling in my stomach I thought, Oh God, my boys are definately out of their league...But you have to know my kids to know that turning around on a dime and heading out of there was not going to be an easy feat. You see, my children are hedonists, action junkies really. They love to climb trees, jump off high places, ride their bikes at dangerously high speeds, got it? At that very moment, when as a mom I could only envision bloody faces and broken bones, my Everett and Michael, were positively glowing...Nope, this was going to have to be one of those, "let em try it and see occasions".  I will have to let them fall down, scrape their bodies up, get hassled by annoyed teenagers all in the name of not wanting to have that "No! We don't want to go!" argument that would escalate into tears and tantrums.  I thought a little of what I call "natural consequences" were in order. They would just have to find out for themselves that they were too young and unskilled for such a thing just now. Otherwise, I would never hear the end of it all summer.

      I took a deep breath, thought, I must be crazy,  and said, "okay, have fun". That very first day I had a million "almost" heart attacks.  I watched, (well I had my eyes closed allot of the time) them navigate ramps for the first time, attempt "grinds" along metal plated ledges, practice thier first "ollies", and fall...allot.  While I kept a firm eye on my two little dare-devels, I also took in what was surrounding them. The teenageers. Yep, they were somewhat of a motley looking crew. I leaned in a little closer, and waited.  I waited to hear the fowl language that could become my kids new education this summer. I waited for them to light up their cigarettes and toss them all over the ground. I waited for the bullying to start against the kid who had a stuttering problem.  I waited for my kids, whom were now following them around like little puppy dogs, to experience the brush off because they were getting in their way and on their nerves.

      Huh.....none of it happened. I heard no cursing, there was no blood shed or broken bones. There was no bullying, fighting, smoking, and most curiously, they did not seem to be the least bit bothered by my boys.  Huh...We left that first day, the boys grinning from ear to ear and me with my heart back in my chest. It has possibilities...

     My first lesson came the very next day. Bright and early, we were back. This time, smuggled in matchbox cars quickly came out on one of the skate decks, and as my boys were zooming them around I thought,  "oh no"....and was in the midst of explaining to Everett and Michael the many reasons why this was not an appropriate place for matchbox cars...when a young boy, about 13 came over. "Excuse me, Mam?" I looked up. "yes?", "um" he replied, "their okay, they are not bothering us. This place was built to have fun. Let them have fun". A little stupefied, I smiled, "your right, thanks". "your welcome" he said as he walked away. Wow, wisdom from the least expected place I thought, as I shook my head and went to sit down.

    What amazed me even more, was the fact that not one  teenage boy appeared annoyed at all by zooming 1 inch cars that could cripple them. On the contrary, I watched them all create quite a wide girth around my boys. They zoomed, jumped, 360'd all around them. Some of them even came over to inspect their inventory!! Wow again, I thought, boys are good. Boys get boys. I had to laugh, because my next thought was "can you imagine if their were girls here"" (now don't get me wrong, I love girls) I pictured girls with their hands on their hips, noses in the air, indignant voices admonishing my kids "YOU SHOULD NOT BE DOING THAT HERE....yadda yadda yadda". Yep, boys get boys.

     As the summer went by, I learned more things about these  teenage boys and realized I had much to be grateful for. For one, I recognized that  there was an "unspoken set of rules" amongst these boys at this particular park. They seemed to respect each others space, took turns while waiting patiently, and they all seemed to have a certain commorodity with anyone who entered. What really amazed me was the affect they had on my kids. When at the park, my kids behavior was in check. Six yr. olds, as some of you know, can be territorial, whiny, impatient, and prone to temper tantrums still. Not here though.  As the summer went by, I realized that my Michael, who has mild sensory issues and usually cries over any little scrape, (screams really), was falling...and huh....not crying.  Lesson one for Michael, big boys don't cry at the skate park. Ha! My Michael was starting to learn that he had control over his tears! I also watched them learn to wait their turns without whining, respect each others space, share their bikes, boards & scooters with other kids.  My my... these teenage boys were instilling in  my children effortlessly values that  I sometimes as a mom felt hopeless about on some days.

      I watched my boys be streeeeeetched this summer as their older peers took them under there wing,  teaching them tips, tricks, and "skateboard lingo". My kids came home exhausted, happy, and more confident in themselves.

      I also learned that boys are good. Really good. Simple. We as woman poke fun at our men/boys (sometimes) for their simplicity. But at its core, I saw how this simplicity amongst these boys: a few basic rules like respect my space and have fun can lend itself to simply wonderful things.


Wednesday, October 3, 2012


     Negative Attention

     For a long time I misunderstood this term. When a friend  first pointed this out to me I assumed that  he meant that I was giving Negative attention.   Kid's want attention. They thrive on it. They find all kinds of ways to get it. By being silly, sad, smart, helpful, whiny, sad, creative...and sometimes negative.

     It goes like this: whatever guarantees the greatest response... the kid goes with it.  I have been told that kids don't differentiate between the kinds of attention they get. Attention is attention. I also believe that most children accidentally stumble upon the ways in which to achieve it. For example, Johnnie was an early talker...."wow Johnnie is talking so early!" says grandma, "He must be really smart"  "Look!" brags dad, "he is putting together a five word sentences at age two!" His teacher reports,  " Johnnie is a bright kid, in class he is always the first to raise his hand and give the answer", You beam.  I believe, Johnnie,  by a fluke of being an early talker,  accidentally figured out that talking was his ticket!  To what? Why attention of course!!!! 

     Now lets look at Johnnies brother...(that would be my Michael), but we will call him Joe. Joe came into the world colicky. A beautiful child, really, but as he grew mom and dad noticed he was not quite as effervescent as his brother Johnnie. Things did not come as easy to Joe, he talked late,  crawled and walked early, and had high energy.  Joe was into EVERYTHING!  Mom was stymied, Johnnie was so easy and here Joe had to be watched constantly.  Every time she turned her back it seemed Joe got into everything. They loved him to death. He was just beautiful and had a really kind heart but lets face it, Joe drove mom and dad a little crazy. He tested everything. When they said no he did it anyway or threw a temper tantrum. He was high-strung, never sat down, and climbed on everything. He really was very sweet but getting through the day with him was exhausting. All attempts to correct behavior seemed to fall on deaf ears...Every day mom vowed not to lose her temper and yell, but lets face it the Joe's of the world can wear you down. So, what has Joe gleaned from his life so far, accidentally? That he gets attention from his over the top behavior. Joe's subconscious says "I am the naughty one".   Now remember, before you say... like I did, "BUT I GIVE JOE A LOT OF POSITIVE ATTENTION TO OFFSET THE ATTENTION HE GETS FOR NEGATIVE BEHAVIOR!"

     Kids will go with the behavior that gets the strongest response.  Now they don't sit around and analyze you, and think "oh yeah, I"m going with the bad behavior cause look at the attention I got for that one!". No they are not that sophisticated. I believe it's more of an innate drive/need thing.  I think a kids natural temperament  lends itself to what type of behavior they stumble upon first.  Kids come into the world with all kinds of inborn temperaments. Some are naturally bubbly, calm, patient, stubborn, more sensitive, I think you can get the picture.  A bubbly talkative kid has a good chance on stumbling on the:  If I talk and I am smart or funny...approach to  attention, like Johnnie.

      The behavior that seems to guarantee a good reaction/attention, as well as how much time spent on the    response can determine which behavior they are more likely to repeat. (ex: do you spend one minute telling him that his art is beautiful and five minutes balling him out for writing on the wall).   Hmmmmm.  If attention is your main goal, which one would you go with?

      Thus begins the vicious cycle of Negative Attention.  Let me be clear, if you are giving more time and attention to bad behavior then you stand a good chance at creating a Negative Cycle.   It took me years to learn this and when I did, the good news is that it is pretty simple to reverse. The one thing I must caution is, as with my Michael, if it goes on too long, it can go from an occasional blunder to who they are.  It can become their personality and it will. Witnessing  Michael become this child who was snarky, defensive and stubborn broke my heart.

     When my friend explained all this to me I made some changes.  Here is what I changed.

    When my  child does something positive/good behavior I  give it at least ten minutes of attention.  I make a VERY big deal about it.   I will also refer to the good deed/behavior frequently to others in his presence.   When my child does something negative/poor behavior  I now give it 30 seconds to 1 min. max time reaction.  I remark on the behavior, dole out the consequence, and move on.  I was amazed how well this worked. Very quickly, I noticed improvements.

   You will find that your child has a strength that he/she will naturally convert too as their new "go to"  approach/behavior for attention.  Ex:  Michael is funny. I never realized just how funny. So when I catch him being funny, I really yuk it up....really yuk it up. Amazingly, slowly, I am seeing Michael use humor much more frequently, instead of using  snarky comments or making  poor behavior choices.  Michael is re-defining himself as "I am funny" (his subconscious says...I'M GETTING ATTENTION!!)

    Michael is accidentally stumbling into a Positive Attention Rut!!!!

 Hope this helps! QAnnie

Monday, October 1, 2012

Eating Healthy Tips


      Disclaimer: Some of these ideas are my own, but most are borrowed.  Okay, you have already heard this but it's true. The worst thing a parent can do is offer to make a separate meal because Johnny "hates that". It's true. It's one of the smart things I did right from the gecko (mainly because I was too tired to cook something else)

      Kids by nature hate trying new things, and experts say that it can take ten times of eating a new food before a child will like it. If you offer to cook something separate you are  sending the message to your child that he can call the shots in regards to what he/she eats and you will set up a pattern that will be hard to break. I think mom's fall into this easy rut because we think that they are going to die or feel guilty if we send them to bed on a empty stomach. Guess what? They will survive!

      Here are my ground rules. I always cook something that truly is very good tasting and easy to chew, especially if they are pretty young. Beef stew is great, it is really tender and has all those veges drunk on yummy sauce. Swiss steak is good: you can puree some veges and add to the sauce and it's tender. I think that how tender/easy to chew a food is  often dictates how well a child acclimates to a new food. Kids sometimes have a sensitive gag reflex, so anything that does not go down smoothly could be taboo. I learned that from my Michael, he was my inspiration to cooking foods that were almost tender enough to melt in his mouth. Remember the boiled broccoli your mom put on your plate with a piece of over cooked dried chicken? UGH. Take a little extra time to make their food yummy.

      I always made sure that if their was a suspicious looking item on their plate it was complimented by two sure thing foods, (something they really like). I aways insisted that they had to at least try the new food once. I also would not let them up from the dinner table until 80% of the rest of the meal was consumed. (make sure the portions are reasonable).  Now of course I have to apply my 80/20 rule to this. Some of the time, 20% of the time,  their are exceptions: johnny ate a late snack so he might not be all that hungry, you have cooked a meal that is just a little out of their league and you can't really expect them to eat it (in that case, don't wait for the child to demand you cook something else, just make something else but don't call attention to the fact.)  That way it's your idea and not theirs). Johnnie is not feeling get the idea.     But 80% of the time, hold firm. If they whine and cry and make your meal unbearable, excuse him from the table and let him know that he is forfeiting any food for the rest of the night. Wait until you see how little they whine at breakfast.

      I apply my 80/20 rule to total food consumed during the day. EX: If 80% of the food eaten all day is healthy, I don't worry about the remaining 20%, chips, candy......fair game. Another thing I did, (I thought I created this idea but then Jerry Seinfeld's wife wrote a book on it) was to sneak healthy food into things that they love. For ex: when making spaghetti, I would mince up carrots, broccoli, spinach,  any kind of vege works well into the meat sauce.(Just saute in pan and they will wilt into nothing and disappear).  Pick two veges, chop the crap out of them  and throw it in. You can hide food in meatloaf, brownies, lasagna, and if your making a food that has a sauce like brown gravy puree vege's and add it in. Start being creative, you'll be surprised at the good ideas you will come up with. You would be surprised that your sauces will taste even better. Nobody will notice and you can be smug while they are eating it!

     You can mix potatoes half/half with cauliflower that you have nuked in the micro for 8 min and soft. Try smashing peas instead of serving as is...its easier for them to scoop up. You would be surprised to know that the reason some kids don't like peas is because they don't like the feeling of peas popping in their mouth. Make sure you add butter and salt. All those nutrients far out way a little fat/sodium. My kids eat about a half cup each when served this way..Don't ever try and make a kid eat frozen carrots, they are this the ones cut like waffle fries, saute them in butter and honey, your kids should love them.

      Another thing that made life easy, especially when the kids were young, I would freeze tiny portions in freezer bags with left overs. That way when you don't have time too cook, that little serving that you had leftover  and were going to toss becomes the perfect, instant meal for your little one. There was a time that I had forty little meals on hand at any given time ready to go...and it will cut down on your grocery bill dramatically. It's also great for babysitters.  You don't have to cook a meal when you are going out!

      I also like to buy adult protein bars (some are like candy), and diet drinks like slim fast (I called, they have no stimulants or suppressants..just all good stuff!) equalline is one I have bought allot of. Serve it with their meal or as a dessert or snack. I really liked the  V8 brand juice that has a serving of fruit and vegs for when they are really boycotting healthy food.

     Think out of the box.  Don't just shop the kid's isle when looking for good food ideas.  Sometimes the foods sold just for kids is less healthy and more expensive then adult food.  Just compare yogurt...UGH.   Anyway, hope this helps. QAnnie

Sunday, September 30, 2012


     How to get your child to appear civilized in a restaurant:

     I have to admit, I'm proud of this one. Here's what you do. Pick a day and announce to your little darling that we are going out to lunch! When they are not looking, eat lunch. Make sure the kids are good and hungry.

     Mission: You are going to the restaurant with the purpose of leaving.

     When you arrive at the destination lay out the ground should go something like this...I expect you to......and if you can't follow these rules:  WE ARE LEAVING.  Now if this tip catches your attention at all then I know your are hungry, your kids are hungry, and you are hoping that today is the day that they will show some signs of restaurant self control. And when they don't, the threats start, people are looking over at you, the food is already ordered, your committed....and you have to suffer through the whole miserable experience.

    Today is different though. Today is the day that you hope they act up!  That's right, because you have already notified the server that you really are not there to eat but to leave(trust me, if you pick a place that is somewhat kid friendly they will understand the plan)  .Okay, so what sit, and the minute one starts to act up you give one reminder. ONE. When a second offense is committed, your done. You get up and you leave. You do this whether their poor behavior starts in the first three minutes or when the server has just placed the plates on the table. (This little adventure might cost you a little with nothing to show for itself but empty stomachs, but the  payoff is huge)  You abruptly get up and march your little ones out the door, go home and make them their least favorite lunch, but edible.

    This works, it really does. It may take a couple of times  depending on how much your child tests limits, but well worth it.  What I really love about this idea is the fact that instead of feelings of dread when you take them out to the restaurant, your actually in a good mood, calm, and feeling in control knowing that you are in fact going to do what you probably would never do in this setting.

     You see, what I think is that kids are very smart. They figure out very quickly when a parent is most likely not going to carry out an impending consequence....restaurants are one of those settings. You can apply this approach to many places and situations. You could set up fake play dates, movie trips, the library.....the learning experiences are endless!! Pretty soon your little loved ones will know that you mean business and that while they might think your a little trigger happy...they will acquiesce...In fact, I'm convinced that if we were half as good at manipulating them as they are us, parenting would be a breeze. QAnnie

Friday, September 28, 2012

P.A.N.D.A.S. Another Episode

P.A.N.D.A.S...Thought I would share with you our latest brush with Pandas. Everett, received a tentative diagnosis last spring from Dr,  At that time he was past the episode so Dr. K said we needed to wait for the next episode to finalize the diagnosis.  Probably October or November (when strep rears it's ugly head).

     Sure enough, starting about a week ago, my Everett's behavior did a 180 on us. He went from the calm, sweet, well mannered, respectful, happy little boy to the boy that has "re-emerged" from last spring. 

     Our first warning signs came as they did before in the way of behavior. He started exhibiting a loss of  "emotional control".  He started having meltdowns over the simplest of things:  Like asking him to brush his teeth, put his pajamas on, come inside for dinner. I understand that I myself when I was six was still prone to meltdowns...however, our Everett was acting like a two year old. These meltdowns include: screaming, crying, mild hitting, sarcastic disrespectful comments. All ability to reason with him lost.  Over the past week, the frequency of such meltdowns increased to a constant.  He now gets mad if you touch his head, laugh at the wrong thing, cut up the apple instead of just handing it to him whole. Saying no to him about anything right now is a nightmare.

     We all started walking on egg shells again....Is it? The Pandas? Some important symptoms were not present, so maybe a phase?

     More symptoms came just today and decimated any thoughts that this was anything other then Pandas.

     Off the bus from school came the symptoms.  Everett, cranky and moody is now spinning, jumping, bumping, falling....all over the place... I watched him this evening,( I actually decided to tape it ) repeat the same repetitive movements over and over again. Three hours of his evening was
dedicated to this...over and over and over....


     I called Dr. K and he concluded that if Everett was showing symptoms, it was Pandas. He will see
him tomorrow. We will also get a blood strep test. Panda's is associated with strep so I am sure it will be positive.  Dr. K said that at this point, it does not matter, but he want the documentation.

     Bittersweet.  We have been waiting for the next episode...oddly enough because another episode means that he gets the diagnosis and finally the treatment. Steroid injections, followed by an IVIG treatment. Dr. K says it will cure him. Chances are extremely high that Everett will never have another episode again.

    Bittersweet because while I know that another episode is a "means to an end", it also means that I
have to watch him go through this. These symptoms. It is very hard to watch your son unravel. But I
will, and I will focus on the silver lining. The Cure.

    I will keep everyone updated about our next steps, how Everett does, and the end results.  I think it's important to share. Pandas gets misdiagnosed a lot.

    I have another post dedicated to explaining a lot more detail about this auto-immune disorder.

    I think every mom should read it.

    Goodnight, QAnnie


Pandas....the end of episode 3 ?

     If you have been following Everett's latest brush with Pandas, you have probably been wondering what has happened to us, why we fell of the radar.  Two words: Stomach Flu.  Everett came down with a monster case of it.  It involved several trips to his pediatrician, a trip to the E.R. at 3am, and many failed attempts of making it to the bathroom on time.  UGH.  Naturally, his twin brother, Michael eventually got it, and then gave it back to Everett.....UGH.

     Which brings me to Everett's long awaited appointment with Dr. K., this past Friday.  Well, we never made it.  We were actually on our way out the door when Everett relapsed.  Of course, he again, failed to make it to the bathroom on time.....

     So we have rescheduled.  This coming up Tuesday, the 19th.  11:15 to be exact. 

     As far as his symptoms, they have receded.  I am not sure if we are through with this episode, or if he is so depleted that he lacks the energy to even react.  The last three days, he has been lethargic and motionless.  A first for my Everett.  For two of the days I don't think he even spoke more than five words.  He was just worn down and exhausted.  Today I saw a little bit of life re-emerge.  I think he turned a corner.....we shall see.

     Meanwhile, I am exhausted and worn down.  I am tired of doctor's visits, and  middle of the night puke fests.  I am tired of running to the Jewel for Gatorade, crackers, and Clorox clean-ups. I am tired of telling my children that they can't drink anything when they are thirsty, and tired of begging them to drink something when they are not.   I am tired of worrying.  Mostly, I am just tired. 

     There, I feel much better.

      On that note, I am going to bed with hopes that is will be a fruitful endeavor.  I will be in touch.



     Hi there, I'm QAnnie.  I am a mom. A mom of twin boys. Everett and Michael. They are six yrs old. I decided to write a blog to share my journey as a mother  and share all that I have learned from professionals, friends, and the wise...

     Some things to know about me..I am a terrible speller. Sorry. I use lots of sarcasm (so don't take me to seriously). I love my boys...really love my boys. They have melted my heart, caused me to cry, laugh, yell, tested my limits, scared me to death, caused  sleepless nights, and yet they have  shown me a love that I never knew existed .

    My children have taught me how to think out of the box, be innovative during sticky moments, to believe in myself ...and in them. I have made mistakes, a lot of them.  I have also learned to do some things right.  Most importantly, I have learned to never give up or second guess my children.
 Especially at those moments when you are sure you think that you have them all figured out.

     I am not an expert, doctor, or  teacher.  I don't know everything and have been wrong many times.  I do know one thing.  Being a mother has taught me allot. There are things I know now that I didn't know then.  If I reflect back, I would not have sweated the small stuff, as well as know that I could and would handle the big stuff.

     I want to share my experience as a mother.  Everything from: sensory issues, Pandas, Highstrung Temperaments, negative attention, as well as some lightweighted but important issues: potty training (I really did it in one day!), fears of lightening/thunder, etc....

     The list is endless.

   So I hope you mothers, fathers, walk along with me on this journey, and perhaps all learn from each other!  We can only hope for wisdom and a good nights sleep,  Good night.  QAnnie                                                                                                                                                                             

Pandas update

     Everett has finished his two week round of antibiotics as of friday and I am sorry to say that there has not been any great improvement.  He is still waxing/waning in and out of temper-tantrums and still  being generally unreasonable....

      I touched base with Dr. K today and he was discouraged that Everett has not improved signifigantly with the round of meds.  He suggested giving Everett a couple of more weeks to see if there will be any more improvement.  The fact that he has not improved suggests to him that the antibiotics have "failed" to right his immune system.  He explained that all kids eventually fail to respond to the antibiotics and perhaps if he does not recover adequitely soon it would be time to discuss the IVIG treatments.

     I have to confess that  after a month or so of Everett's behaviors, and the ill effects it has had on the entire household,  I  too am ready for the IVIG.  After having four full months of Everett being calm, (a completely different kid after six weeks of antibiotics) I am just not used to the behaviors anymore.  I want my Everett back........

     So for now, we are still in a wait and see mode.




      It appears that Everett's Pandas episode has come to an end.  Last night, Thursday, I walked in the door and I once again immediately, intuitively, felt the difference.  It was his energy again  that I was feeling.  I knew the answer before I asked.   "How was Everett today?", "He was actually very good", came the reply.  That was last night.

     Last night was also the first night of many that he A) went to bed by himself  and  B) did not have a urinary accident.   This morning he woke up calm.  Gone was the frenetic energy.  Gone was the screeching, growling, jumping and bumping into his brother.  He was calm. CALM!  He came downstairs, ate breakfast, dressed, with no commotion, no arguing.

     I kissed him goodbye, wished him a good day at school, and crossed my fingers...He came home much the same.......and has remained that way.  My Everett is back!  I won't make is final until he gets through the weekend.  However, past experience has proven to me that I know when it has started, and I know when it has stopped.

     There are some residual symptoms.  Some very mild meltdowns.  However, Dr. K. told me that I can expect some of that.  The main difference is that for the past two weeks, when he went into a meltdown, they lasted for a long time, no self regulating at all.  Tonight, he has started to react a little, but he has quickly calmed down, and consistently he has  let the issue go.  Huge.

     Now, for some bragging rights.

     It is report card time....Both my boys came home with stellar report cards.  Yes, stellar.  They have both worked so hard and have come so far since Kindergarten.  My Michael, who was not reaching standards last period, has moved up in every single area.  His teacher wrote a note saying that Michael has made "extraordinary" leaps academically.  "Extraordinary!",  He is now meeting all school requirements.  Everett, who met most requirements last grading period, now has met all of them.   
His teacher wrote that she feels that Everett has "great" academic potential in all areas.  

    Last year I was worried about adhd, odd, learning name it.  We have worked so hard on behavior modification, sensory issues, academics.....It is so good to know as a mom that it has paid off.  

     Mother's day has come early.

    On that note,  I wish you all a very goodnight.