Just Say Yes, to Children With Special Needs!

say yes 3
Being denied requests, having limits imposed upon them, and being told, “no” are common triggers to the massive meltdowns of many children with autism and other special needs.

Let’s face it, the truth is that everyone experiences negative, angry emotions when they are denied what they believe they deserve and people with special needs are no exception to that rule! The problem is that individuals with special needs especially those with autism have the added challenge of lacking the ability and resources to regulate and manage their anger.

Language processing issues which affect many children with special needs often make it difficult if not impossible for them to understand why they are being denied what they feel is of the utmost importance. This can make the management of disappointments and anger extra challenging!

I have learned a few helpful hints in dealing with meltdowns that you may find useful too!

o Avoid saying the word no.
Early on I realized that saying “yes” to Bethany would prevent meltdowns from happening so I began avoiding the need to say “no” whenever possible. I only tell Bethany “no” for really important reasons like- “No, you can’t go potty in the men’s room. You are a girl” “No, you can’t eat the “bad” marshmallows. They have corn syrup in them!” or “No, I can’t buy that game right now because I don’t have enough money with me.”

o Give up your power trip!
If what Bethany wants won’t hurt her and it is within my ability to give it to her, I let her have it. I don’t worry about power and control issues. I don’t make her “practice” being denied something just to prove that I’m the one in control. I don’t need to prove that I’m the boss! I’ve learned to pick and choose my battles very carefully.

o Say “no” without saying “no”!
Of course there are times when I simply must say “no”. When a situation arises where denying a request is absolutely unavoidable, I’ve developed ways to creatively avoid saying the actual word “no”. I can sometimes say no without triggering meltdowns by saying things like, “Not right now” “We’ll see”, “Maybe later”, “I understand you want that”, “We can get it another day”, “I will think about it”, or “I heard you!”
o Plan ahead: Create picture or written rules.
Another way to avoid power struggles when denying requests is to create picture or written rules for different situations with the denial “built in”. The rules then become the “bad guy” not you!

Any time I take Bethany in the car, I know that she will ask for marshmallows, chocolate and pizza. If I don’t want her to have all those things I will print out a picture rules list of all three treats. I then draw a big red “No” symbol along with the word no written in red over the things I don’t want to buy her. I write a big green “yes” next to what I am willing to let her have. This trick has proven to be very successful for us many times!

o Teach “First-Then skills.
An extremely important and useful skill to work on is the “First- Then” concept. Sometimes our children can’t have what they want immediately but they can have it later or on another day. Use pictures or written rules to show what needs to be done first to get the request. A temporary denial is much easier for Bethany to tolerate when she knows her wants and needs are not being totally ignored.

Example: “First we need to see the doctor. Then we can get pizza for lunch.” “First Dad needs to get paid on Friday. Then we can buy that game that you want””

o Celebrate a job well done!
When we find ourselves in the wonderful situation of our child having handled a denial well, we should always praise them for it. This will reinforce the good behavior and improve the chances for it happening again!

o Gradually add in more denials.
After your child has learned to accept denials and handle disappointments well you can slowly, gently, and gradually add in more denial situations as the need arises!

Obviously, it is unrealistic to believe that we can always give our children everything they want. Sometimes setting limits is unavoidable. If we do find ourselves and our children in the middle of a meltdown over being denied something we should kindly, sympathetically, and respectfully acknowledge their distress while also calmly and firmly letting them know that the answer is still,”no”.

We can try distracting them by reminding them of other activities that we need to be doing or offer them other choices that they can make. However, I recommend keeping conversation to a minimum during a meltdown. Its been my experience that too much language usually exacerbates the issue.

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Whatever Wednesday XVI

Friendship Friday: Spring Break!

Welcome one and all to Friendship Friday! I’m so glad you came! Please feel free to linkup your favorite blog post here!

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This week’s featured blogger is Chris from Tales of a House Husband. Chris is a SAHD who homeschools his three children as well!

I enjoy Chris’ unique perspective as a homeschooling stay at home dad, although most of the time his perspective is not really all that different from most of the stay at home moms that I know, including my own. When all is said and done, he’s a parent who loves and enjoys being with his kids and doing the best he can for them!

Chris is also a fellow childhood cancer parent so I feel a little extra connection with him in that regard.

Please visit Chris’ blog where you will find curriculum ideas, organizational ideas, and recipes. Also be sure to visit his funny You Know You Are a House Husband When page!

Rachel has been home this week. I have to say that it’s really nice that Rebekah can drive down to the college to bring her and William home for breaks now!

This time she took Jeremiah along for the ride again and they stayed over night before coming home. That meant eating a couple of meals out. Always a good thing in Jerry’s book! However, apparently Chipotle does not agree with him!

I am overjoyed to announce that Rachel has now raised enough money to buy her plane ticket to China and have money left over for living expenses while she’s there this summer teaching English to nine and ten year olds!

We are all very happy and excited for her! She will be there in July and August. I would appreciate your prayers for her safety while she’s there! Thank you to everyone who donated to make her dream come true!

When Rachel was little I nick named her Rachel “Stewart” because she was always creating something!  During her last break home she began making a t-shirt bath mat for me.  This week she finished it!

I wish I had thought to tape her making it.  I put this you tube video in just in case anyone is inspired to learn how to make one too!

This is Rachel’s creation from this week!



Bethany Moments
Last Sunday we had no Flash Club meltdowns, but we did experience A Drama Filled Weekend of Another Kind, when Bethany got lost in the grocery store! Talk about having a heart attack!

Bethany doing the Hokey Pokey and working on her comfort collage!  Yes those bugs are doing what you think they're doing!

Bethany doing the Hokey Pokey and working on her comfort collage! Yes those bugs are doing what you think they’re doing!

On bowling night for some odd reason Bethany couldn’t decide which lane to bowl on so she laid down on aisle 17 instead! After about fifteen minutes of this we decided to just leave, but surprise, surprise, she wouldn’t do that either!

The director of bowling told us to leave her there go on ahead to Walmart so we did! Of course we waited in the parking lot for a few minutes to make sure she wouldn’t come running after us. Guess what? She didn’t so we proceeded on to Walmart with much fear and trepidation.

When we returned to the bowling alley, Bethany was happily singing happy birthday to another bowler. She had been bowling and behaving and was just as happy as a clam!

The girls gave Bethany a facial this week!

The girls gave Bethany a facial this week!

Jeremiah sleeping late!  Bethany calling Jerry and Rebekah in the trampoline and talking to her friend from bowling while she ate her lunch. Plus a cute dog we saw!

Jeremiah sleeping late! Bethany calling Jerry and Rebekah in the trampoline and talking to her friend from bowling while she ate her lunch. Plus a cute dog we saw!

It’s not too late to enter my giveaway!
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Now it’s your turn! What’s been going on with you?

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Wordless Wednesday: Shar-Pei

I could not resist making Malcolm take a picture of these cute guys when he was going into the grocery store! They were both hanging out the window, but every time Malcolm held up the camera the other one would hide!


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A Drama Filled Weekend of Another Kind!

I can’t believe we made it through the weekend without too much drama…well there was that little incident in Tops, a local grocery store, but there was no misbehavior whatsoever this past weekend!

Bethany got ready to go to Flash Club without a hitch. However, despite it being a lovely, sunny 78 degree afternoon she absolutely refused to leave the house without her winter coat, boots, and gloves on!!! It has always taken her nearly forever to transition through the seasons!

It was extremely difficult for me to keep my mouth shut about it and just let her wear her winter gear, but I knew that if I insisted she take them off, I would definitely dampen her enthusiasm and possibly destroy our chances of even going. It was more important to me that she enjoy going than to make an issue out of it.

Beth enjoyed making her “Calming” Collage. Her assignment was to bring in pictures of things that calm her, so I printed out photos of her marbles, flowers, her Spider Man blanket, her sitting on the beach and riding the Carousel.

The leader of Flash Club also brought in magazines for the kids to cut out more pictures if they wanted to. Bethany added a small picture of a frog and a huge picture of two bugs to her collage. The leader was quite embarrassed when she realized what the bugs were doing!!!

Bethany is sorting through the photos that she brought from home!

Bethany is sorting through the photos that she brought from home!

She was excited to show off this one of her riding the carousel!

She was excited to show off this one of her riding the carousel!

This is Bethany's "Calming" Collage!

This is Bethany’s “Calming” Collage!

Notice what the bugs are doing?!

Notice what the bugs are doing?!

I couldn’t believe my eyes when Bethany followed the group outside to do the Hokey Pokey without insisting upon wearing her coat! The poor girl did her very best to do the Hokey Pokey while remaining in the shade, though. She never has enjoyed sitting or standing in direct sunlight, unlike her mother! I love the beach!
hokey pokey

After Club was over we ordered and picked up her pizza without incident. I needed to get a few things from Tops. I went in by myself while she and dad remained in the car so she could eat her pizza.

When I returned she asked if she could go in the Dollar Store to look at the toys. We were a bit apprehensive to let her because we didn’t want a fight over the forbidden Easter candy that was sure to be inside. Never the less we did agree to take her in the store. Glutton for punishment are we!

Much to our surprise and delight, she was very well behaved inside. She found a work book that she wanted, tried on some sun glasses, and looked at and touched numerous candies but replaced each one without a fuss. We checked out and got in the car.

Nicely looking at candy.

Nicely looking at candy.

Dad putting candy back on the shelf!

Dad putting candy back on the shelf!

Calmly agreeing to leave the store!

Calmly agreeing to leave the store!

Once we were all safely (or so I thought!) inside the car she asked for the “good” Gummy Bears. I guess eye balling and touching all that candy without buying any was just a bit too much to ask of her! Dad went back into Tops to see if they had some, We didn’t let her go in because we knew we’d have a problem on our hands if they didn’t have any.

Unfortunately unbeknownst to me the child lock in one of the back doors doesn’t work anymore. After about ten minutes of waiting in the car Bethany decided to follow Dad inside! She got out and disappeared into the store before I could even get my old aching bones out of the car!

Bethany always walks faster than me but she also (up until now that is!) always without fail gets to the door of stores and then waits for me. She has never gotten out of my sight before!

Well, I guess she had Gummy bears on the brain! She was fast tracking it to the Gummy Bear aisle and just kept right on going! I was terrified when I entered the store and couldn’t find her. I asked the cashier to put the store on lock down but she never did!!!!

Malcolm heard me frantically yelling Beth’s name and came running to help find her. Thank God we found her hiding behind a white pillar in the produce section just a few feet away from us. She thought it was funny!!! We paid for the Gummy Bears, high tailed it to the car, and headed home!

I’d say I was never so scared in my life, but I’d be lying because I was pretty much equally as scared when she was diagnosed with brain cancer nearly fourteen years ago!

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Friendship Friday: Oh What a Week!

Welcome to Friendship Friday. I’m so glad you came! Please feel free to link up your favorite blog post here!

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This week’s featured blogger is Phyllis from All Things Beautiful! Phyllis blogs mostly about the truly fun and creative ways she homeschools her children. She and her kids come up with the most amazing learning experiences and projects!

I love how Phyllis and her family always find something to celebrate even when life throws some pretty intense challenges at them!

Phyllis hosts a History and Geography Link Up. She’s also got tons of info and ideas on many other subjects including Legos, Science, crafts, Fine Arts, Math and a few other goodies as well! Please visit Phyllis at All things Beautiful and see for yourself how amazing this family really is!

Sunday was a very rough day for us! We had a misunderstanding about what would be happening at Flash Club and Bethany did not handle it well at all. She ended up laying on the floor for the whole session of Flash Club.
club fit
Then later at Pizza Hut she had a fit about not being allowed into the men’s room. This happened once before at Walmart. (Please visit Rages Just in Time for Summer to read that story!) Malcolm was able to back her out to the parking lot but could not get her into the car so she lay in the parking lot for twenty minutes!
pizza hut

If you’d like to read the whole sordid story about our day from hell and find out just what set her off you can at Just When I Thought Things Were Getting Better…This!

Unfortunately, Beth’s bad mood lingered until Wednesday night when her aide A. arrived to take her bowling. All afternoon on Wednesday she had been throwing things, trying to hit me, push me, and otherwise intimidate me all because she didn’t want to take a shower!

I seriously considered not allowing her to go bowling, but her aide had driven 20 miles to take her and really having her stay home would have been more of a punishment for me than for her. I desperately needed a break from her! We did decide not to let her get pizza afterwards though. We did not want a repeat of the Pizza Hut fiasco!

I am so thankful that Bethany was able to hold it together long enough for a successful visit to a new Adult Neurologist on Tuesday afternoon. I’m very grateful that the new doctor agreed to accept her as a patient because this now means that we will never again have to endure six hours of driving for a thirty minute Neurology visit ever again! I don’t think my words can do justice to how utterly liberating this is!

The new office at Bassett Medical Center in Cooperstown NY is only a 25 mile drive from home!! We made it there and back in about two hours! We like the easy going, laid back grandfatherly new doctor very much! I hope we have a very long and fruitful relationship!

dr collage

On Sunday Rebekah took Jeremiah to visit Rachel and William at their College! This was Rebekah’s first long distance road trip of a about 50 miles! Even though she got a little lost and ended up on the highway and dreaded circle, she handled it well. She had Jerry call Rachel to find out which exit to get off and all was well with the world. Thank God for cell phones!

Rebekah having her own wheels has proven to be part of our solution to getting Jeremiah off his computer and out of the house! He is willing to go places with Rebekah that he had no interest in going to before! It’s so much more cool and fun going places with your sister than your mother and father!

Speaking of Jeremiah…he was studying statistics this week. I know what mean, median, and range are, but I had never in my life ever heard of “mean absolute deviation” or “interquartile ranges” before! I had to do some googling!



Well now it’s your turn! How was your week?

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Thankful Thursday: A New Doctor

I am overjoyed that despite a very treacherous weekend, Bethany cooperated and behaved well just long enough to convince the new Adult Neurologist to accept her as a patient! I was having major anxiety over this appointment and the impression we would have on the doctor.

After what we went through last Sunday, I was doubtful that Bethany would even get in the car to go let alone get back out of the car if she had gotten in it in the first place! I was terrified that she’d have a major meltdown in the office and destroy our chances of “getting in”.

The new doctor, Dr.D is a very nice, understanding, easy going, and laid back grandfatherly type which is just the kind of doctor Bethany needs! We like him very much and are grateful that it all worked out…Now just wait til next time!!!

Since this new doctor’s office is a mere 25 miles away, gone forever are our days of driving three hours (one way) for Beth’s Neurology appointments! After just two hours (including the drive), we were back home already. I feel like a huge weight has been lifted off my shoulders! It is very liberating!

In the waiting room. Doesn't she look happy?

In the waiting room. Doesn’t she look happy?

She actually likies the squeeze of the blood pressure cuff!

She actually likies the squeeze of the blood pressure cuff!

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Wordless Wednesday: The Great Awakening!

This chubby little guy has awakened from his big sleep hungry!


I have a love/hate relationship with squirrels! They are cute, yes! They deserve to eat too, but they eat ALL my birdseed up in a matter of seconds it seems! And they are so destructive!

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