Monday, February 1, 2016

Show Them What "It" Looks Like

Teaching Emma has certainly made my creative side come out.  As we move into math I have quickly realized that teaching her 1+1=2 is not going to be enough.  Memorizing math facts is the easy part, understanding what 1 and 2 really look like will require a different approach.   Emma needs to understand the following:


1 and

are all the same.

A dozen eggs looks like this


And when we have family game night I want her to see 11 instead of 3 dice.

But like a lot of our kids, you better make it fun.  Emma will hit the road on you if she smells work.  For us, the answer for some time has been Task Boxes.  They are super easy to make, you can get extremely creative and they store very nicely.  Task boxes are single, organized activities with a clear beginning and end.  All task materials are contained within clearly defined boundaries-trays, boxes, baskets, tubs, folders or binders.  Each task is presented with visual organization and clarity.  The materials clearly define the activity and help complete the task.  Task boxes emphasize visual learning styles, avoiding the need for auditory processing of verbal directions, an area of deficit for many of our kids.  Emma has really started fighting me on auditory learning (which has always been her strongest area) so I am cutting her a bit of a break and mixing it up a little.

We started with 0-8 sorting which was a great success.  We will slowly move up the ladder.  Maybe combining two for her to add or subtract.

From there we moved to Under, Over, Left and Right.

I picked up the little pink containers at the dollar store, 4 for $1.  The cards are index cards cut in half with cheap stickers stuck on them and laminated.

You can pick up a very inexpensive laminating machine here.  We have had this one for over 2 years and I have certainly put it to the test and it is still holding up great.

Here is the best bang for your buck I have seen on laminating sheets and laminating pouches.

When the fun is over they fit nicely in these little containers from Wal-Mart.

Shoe boxes are just as effective.  Get creative and have fun.

Saturday, December 26, 2015

Removing MSG could help your family. Here is why.

As the new year is approaching, many people will re-evaluate their diets.  Many moms will re-evaluate their children's diets.  Could it be more healthy or more nutritionally valuable?   I have read many times that what you eat either helps you or hurts you.  I wanted to share some important information for you to ponder over that could positively affect your family and your children, especially if they have the diagnosis DS, ADHD, Autism, anxiety, depression, or have unusual repetitive behaviors.   
Glutamate initially came to my attention when we obtained urinary neurotransmitters on Presley when she was 2 years old.  Glutamate, among others, were double outside the high reference range.  We cleaned up her diet and discussed keeping a watch on it with Dr Erica Peirson.  Dr Peirson had been doing a lot of research on this topic and found it very  relevant for our children with DS.  Here she is discussing glutamate at the AutismOne conference. (I am having internet issues and can not access it currently or I would comment more about it, will try to update later)
MSG is basically everywhere.   In this informative article, Dr Mercola says "MSG is one of the worst food additives on the market and is used in canned soups, crackers, meats, salad dressings, frozen dinners and much more.  It's found in your local supermarket and restaurants, in your child's school cafeteria and, amazingly, even in baby food and infant formula.  MSG is more than just a seasoning like salt and pepper, it actually enhances the flavor of foods, making processed meats and frozen dinners taste fresher and smell better, salad dressings more tasty, and canned foods less tinny."
The Mayo Clinic says: The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has classified MSG as a food ingredient that's "generally recognized as safe," but its use remains controversial. For this reason, when MSG is added to food, the FDA requires that it be listed on the label.   Keep reading to see what names they use to hide it though.
This video sparked my interest in MSG again.  I highly recommend you listen to this 16 minute video. This is Dr Katy Reid from Unblind MyMind,  She is a biochemist and a mom of five children.  Her youngest daughter has autism and through dietary interventions/removing MSG, she was able to resolve all her symptoms of autism.  She mentions the connection of gluten/casein/MSG and why some children improve removing gluten or casein, stating reducing gluten and casein also reduces the free glutamate load as well.  Here I read that wheat, barley, oats, and dairy have the highest contents of glutamate. Foods that have lower amounts are fruits, vegetables, potatoes, eggs and tree nuts like pecans, walnuts, and macadamias

She also states: while glutamate, a naturally occurring amino acid, is produced by our bodies and found in many protein-rich foods, including, meat, vegetables, dairy, eggs, fish and poultry, MSG is derived from the synthetic processing of glutamate and found in nearly 95% of processed foods. In 1908, MSG was developed by a Japanese man for the purpose of enhancing flavor in food. He later went on to form Ajinomoto, the world's leading MSG producer and, ironically, also a drug company.

MSG is approximately 78 percent free glutamic acid, 21 percent sodium, and up to 1 percent contaminants.  MSG is an excitotoxin, which means it can overexcite your cells to the point of damage or death, causing brain damage to varying degrees -- and potentially even triggering or worsening learning disabilities, Alzheimer's disease, Parkinson's disease, Lou Gehrig's disease and more. (source).  Per Dr Reid, this free glutamate from MSG is a single amino acid, not linked to other amino acids.  It can immediately enter the blood rapidly and cause surges of varying levels and a variety of symptoms.  Dr Reid says bound glutamate is linked by amino acids to make a series of amino acids and through digestion, there is a slow, controlled release into the blood according to what the body needs. MSG/free glutamate is made when bound glutamate is released from its bond to other amino acids or it can also be chemically created.   It takes a half hour or less for MSG/free glutamate to reach the brain but it takes 4-6 hours for “bound glutamate in food” to get there (source).

Our bodies require glutamate for learning and developmental processes. The amino acids in glutamate are the building blocks of proteins, and subsequently responsible for metabolism and brain function.  Glutamate is also responsible for transmitting signals between neurons and other cells.  We have glutamate receptors all over body, especially the brain, central nervous system, and spinal cord.  When excessive free glutamate/MSG is consumed, it will quickly stimulate this receptors potentially causing a multitude of symptoms within the nervous system and brain.  Receptors are also located in the pancreas and this overstimulation causes excessive insulin release, lowering blood glucose (sugar), thus stimulating your appetite.  Think of eating Chinese food, which is notorious for using MSG, and you can't understand why you are hungry again not long after eating.  There is also 10,000 times the amount of glutamate inside the cells than outside the cells.   It has to be kept in balance, because if glutamate gets outside the cells, it can turn into a toxin an kill neurons.   It can also overly excite the cell, causing it to open its pores excessively and let in large quantities of substances that are normally allowed to enter only in limited amounts (source).

Here is a good video explaining MSG on a simple level and it's effects on different systems of the body.  She also states MSG could be added to dirt and it would make it taste good, which is why it is added to processed foods so they have some type of flavor.  She also states that MSG is given to lab rats to cause obesity and diabetes to do testing of diabetic medications on them.  So why wouldn't it do the same in humans?  There are many opinions and articles stating yes and no.

MSG can be hidden under numerous names.  Per Dr Mercola:
These foods ALWAYS contain MSG 
Autolyzed YeastCalcium Caseinate Gelatin
Glutamate Glutamic Acid Hydrolyzed Protein
Monopotassium Glutamate Monosodium Glutamate  Sodium Caseinate
Textured Protein Yeast Extract Yeast Food
Yeast Nutrient


These foods OFTEN contain or create MSG during processing:

Flavors and FlavoringsSeasonings Natural Flavors and Flavorings Natural Pork FlavoringNatural Beef Flavoring
Natural Chicken FlavoringSoy Sauce Soy Protein Isolate Soy Protein Bouillon
Stock Broth Malt Extract Malt Flavoring
Barley Malt
Anything Enzyme ModifiedCarrageenan Maltodextrin Pectin Enzymes
Protease Corn Starch Citric Acid Powdered Milk Anything Protein Fortified
Anything Ultra-Pasteurized

Here is a comprehensive article listing restaurants and foods by brand that contain MSG.  We like Chick Fil A, so I also looked on their website to see the ingredients and it does show MSG in the form of yeast extract and maltodextrin.  I did find this good homemade recipe for their chicken sandwich though. So, you can possibly look up your favorite restaurants to see if they list their ingredients.

I hope this information peaks your interest on this topic.  There is an abundance of information about MSG available, some quite controversial, so please do your own research and decide what is best for your family.  As for our family, we will try our best to avoid MSG by eating more real foods and avoiding processed foods.  Processed foods are convenient foods, and moms of children with special needs sometimes need convenience just to survive the day, so make changes slowly and keep moving forward.  Best healthy wishes in 2016.

Robin T.

Sunday, December 13, 2015

Nightly Rituals...Make It More than Bath and Bed

Robin and I talked tonight regarding some new directions we are going to go with this blog.  We have both had our children on a ND program for the last 4 years.  We have both reached out to physicians that are willing to treat our children bio-medically.  We have realized how alike yet how different our girls really are.  In the past 4 years we have probably talked every day searching for new ideas on how to handle roadblocks, how to make therapy appear fun, how to hold our chin up when faced with struggles, how to balance life between nuerotypical children and special needs, and how to help someone else with their current struggles.

We quickly came to realize that everyday was a different path and a different mountain to climb.  Sometimes a slight incline and others Mt. Everest.  No matter the climb, no matters who's journey it was, we made a silent pact 4 years ago to never walk away from fear.  Along our journey we have met some amazing families.  For some it is DS, others Autism, or Sensory Processing, or a learning disorder and then there are those that just can not put their finger on it.  We have now grown into a small group of mothers that text, message and call each other regarding struggles, opinions and new ideas.  

We decided the ideas we share among ourselves could certainly benefit someone else.  The teaching methods that we discover today with our older children can be revisited in a couple of years for our younger kids.  We will be opening this blog to guest bloggers in hopes of gathering as many ideas as possible to make your job as parent, teacher, counselor, advocate, therapist and researcher easier.

We will not share parts of our ND program on these posts. ND programs are child specific and what is right for one may not be right for another.  If you are not currently on a ND program I strongly encourage you to reach out to one of the following neurodevelopementalists.  

NACD     or     ICAN

Let us move on to why you are reading this particular post. Nightly Rituals...Make It More Than Bath And Bed

Not one of our nightly rituals but certainly a great chore for all ages....LAUNDRY!

We just returned home from a trip so it was added to our "To do list" tonight.

  • Emma's job is to put clothes in the appropriate basket which involves reading the the label, following direction and staying on task.

  • Olivia's job is to decide where each clothing item belongs, relay that information to Emma and ensure Emma is following her direction.
  • They both help take the clothes to the laundry room and put the clothes in the washer.  It is Olivia's job to set the washing machine on the appropriate settings and start the wash.
  • Grant's job is to hang and help fold.  He will point out that his clothes are first priority when he has a load to hang dry. 

My labels originally were: whites, lights, colors and gentle, but light and whites sounded too much alike for Emma so Chad changed it to gray.  Works out perfect now.

Next we were off to bath.  Each bath consists of Epsom salt and lavender for detoxing and relaxation benefits.  I try to have the girls stay in the bath at least 20 minutes to get the full benefit from the soak.  If it was a day that involved swimming in chlorine I will add vitamin c to the bathwater. Wellness Mama put together a great post on the Health Benefits of Magnesium Salt Baths. Here is a great article regarding the importance of removing chloramines after swimming. 

After bath I apply coconut oil to their skin while applying deep pressure.  It is also a great time for Emma to practice dressing herself.  Check out Andi Durkin's post on the benefits of coconut oil. 

Next it is time to feed the baby, give the baby a bath, put the baby to bed, sing to the baby and clean the dishes.  

Olivia and Emma choose the songs for the night.  Tonight it was the ABC song and Finger Family.  This is also a great time to sneak in some processing.

Next it is time to get clothes for tomorrow and take them downstairs.  

Both girls gather their outfits for the next day and place them on a chair downstairs.  So so many lessons taught in such a short period of time.

When I have a sound sleeping Emma in her bed I take a little over 10 minutes and do rhythmic therapy.  Learn more at Move Play Thrive

I turn on Emma's classical music and her essential oil diffuser and fill the air with Idaho Balsam Fir which has been known to enhance the production of hGH and reduce levels of cortisol.

Each night, after they are resting comfortably, I quietly enter their rooms for a prayer focus with a matching verse.

Tonight I prayed for kindness.

Loving Father; as (Grant, Olivia, Emma) comes in contact with new people in his/her life, may he/her treat them as a friend.  Help (Grant, Olivia, Emma) to love, accept and show compassion for the people he/she encounters.

 "Do to others as you would have them do to you."  
Luke 6:31


Monday, October 19, 2015

Auditory input: 25 ideas to get you going

Presley is a very visual little girl. She sees it, she remembers it, and she imitates it.  She is four years old and last month, she began taking ballet classes once a week, so I recorded the routines on my phone and she has learned them fairly well this way.  This is great, but she also needs to keep the visual and auditory input balanced.  We have a great neurodevelopmentist, Lyn Waldeck, with NACD.    This is a personalized program with assessments every 3 months.  Lyn is able to assess and monitor Presley and make recommendations whether we are balanced which allows us to move forward in learning.  Children are naturally visual learners  in the beginning.  So we have to work at increasing the auditory input.   One way we do this is to increase our auditory input is by using a recorder like this.  It can be found here on amazon for $29.95.  Some people use the recorder option on their phone, but Presley would begin playing on my phone if she go get ahold of it, so instead she will push play on this recorder to hear what's next.  I put something she likes, such a song followed by something factual to keep her guessing.  I try not to use too many things she has memorized visually so that she doesn't just "play the movie in her head". 

Now on to what information we record. 
1.  Animal sounds - real sounds or us saying them really silly or here
2.  Family members full names, addresses, phone numbers, birthdays
3.  Days of the week, months of the year
4.  Colors of the rainbow
5.  Spelling words: cat, dog, mom, fish
6.  Appropriate social interactions "Hi, my name is Presley", "please"....
7.  Opposites
8.  Facts about our state: bird, flower, tree...
9.  Fruits versus vegetables
10. Five senses
11. Record bird's songs. On this one you have to say the name of each.
12. Following directions practice "touch your hair, mouth, eye. s".
13. ABC phonics.
14. Our dance routine songs.
15. Self esteem booster: you are smart, loved... or here is a cute story
16. Speech sounds you may be working on
17. Money values - a penny is worth 1 cent,...
17. Planets (song we like)
17. Math: 
      - counting, skip counting, addition, subtraction, even/odd numbers....
      - youtube videos: addition counting with exercies
      - read your flashcards you are working on
18.  Nursery rhymes:
      - I read her favorite nursery rhyme book
      - you tube videos
19.  Books:
     - Rainbow Fish
     - Hungry Catepillar
     - Ladybug girl
     - Move Over Rover
     - Pete the Cat
     - Frozen
     - Chicka Chicka Boom Boom (to music though)
     - Disney's 5 minute bedtime stories
     - Andi Durkin has a great list of books for children on her website here.
     - We also checked out some at the library for my 6 year old read aloud
20.  Music - our favorite to disperse throughout
     - Readeez - super fun and informative. We have four of the CD's, but you can also check out some of the videos here.
     - Let it go 
     - Strawberry shortcake's Anything is Possible, which is our theme song
     - My Little Pony
     - Do Re Mi or the Sound of Music version
     - Elvis Presleys Suspicious Mind is one of Presley's favorites.
     - variety of instrument sounds: example
21.  Spanish words, colors, counting
22.  States/capitols.  Readeez has a great states song, Pledge of allegiance.
23.  Poems  or artists or fun sayings such as:
24.  Facts: animal facts, state facts (Arkansas for us),
25.  Religious information:
       -  Bible Cd from Readeez  
       -  ABC bible verses - we printed these free cards too
       -  Psalms 23
       - Ten Commandment Boogie
       - Right now media has a lot of Christian stories to see and hear
       - The rizers are on Right Now media and on youtube
       - Read stories from a children's bible
       - we recorded our night time prayer too
NACD will be starting a lending library soon.  See here for more information.
Here is an article about the importance of a good auditory environment.
Hope this gives you some ideas for your own child.  These are right for Presley, based on her NACD assessments, so please remember to use what is appropriate for your child and to check with your neurodevelopmentalist if you are on program.