Sharing recipes, crafts and frugal living, the challenges and triumphs of parenting a neurotypical child and a child on the Autism Spectrum. Yoga Instructor said goodbye to her nightly glass of Chardonnay to give up habits that were not serving her purpose in life! The CocktailMom name remains, however with a new focus on healthy and authentic living.


Autism- Classroom Expectations

Something that most of us think of as so simple is often times really hard for a child on the Autism Spectrum. We are taught from Kindergarten through college and even beyond that when you have a question in a classroom type of setting to raise your hand and wait to be called upon.

Children on the spectrum struggle with multi-step directions. In the classroom, first they are trying to process all of the stimuli going on in the room. The smells and sounds of the other children, the hum of the overhead fluorescent lights, the feel of the seat under them, not to mention the temperature of the room, the volume at which the teacher is speaking and the general clutter of the classroom walls displaying student's artwork or motivational pictures.

The next challenge for kids on the spectrum is to pay attention to what the teacher is talking about, it's so easy for them to become distracted by all the other stimuli going on in the room. Then when the teacher asks a question, for them to be able to remember to raise their hand after first thinking of the answer is a challenge for these kids. My son, who is on the Autism Spectrum and is in a mainstream classroom, often times will not raise his hand even though he knows the answer to the question. I snapped this picture of him during a classroom sharing circle several years ago, the teacher had asked the kids: "Raise your hand if you are excited about winter break!"

Every year I like to sit in the back of the classroom and simply observe Logan in his environment before a scheduled IEP (Individualized Education Plan) meeting. That way I have a general understanding of what a day looks like for him. If you have a child with an IEP, I highly recommend sitting in on his/her classroom for the entire day. See what your child is like with your own eyes so that you have a better understanding when the teachers are sharing with you their observations at the IEP meeting. You might leave the classroom with ideas for the teacher that might help to keep your child engaged in learning or accomplish other goals listed in their IEP.


Autism- Finding Friends in Unexpected Places

My oldest son, Logan, is on the Autism Spectrum and children on the spectrum have a really hard time making friends. They are socially delayed and typically don't understand social cues that everyone else seems to understand naturally. For example; looking a person in the eye, asking a question to keep the conversation going or simply greeting the person you know when you see them.

We continue to work on these social cues year after year. Hoping that someday he'll make a friend and want to have playdates like his younger brother does with his friends. We found a community for Logan in a very unexpected place: Yu-Gi-Oh tournaments. A local comic book store hosts Yu-gi-oh tournaments every month and the room is packed with (mostly) boys of various ages who enjoy playing Yu-gi-oh. 

This is where my son can shine in his Autism! It's okay that he's rattling off stats of various cards to everyone who sits in front of him, they want to hear it! It's alright that he isn't looking them in the eye because they are playing a game that requires you to look at your cards. He can stand when everyone else is sitting, he can walk on his toes, he can chew on his tongue...none of this matters because he is playing a game that the room of kids are interested in playing. And for once no one notices his Autism. Several times I have observed my son in this environment and welled up with tears because finally after so many "failed" experiences in extra-curricular activities that he couldn't do or wasn't coordinated enough or didn't have the attention span for.... finally he fits in! I have such gratitude for this amazing little community, the open-mindedness of the kids who attend and for the owners of the store for creating this very welcoming environment! 

If you live in Maryland check out the Dream Wizards store.


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