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Tuesday, 31 July 2012 19:12

Always protect her

“Are Carly and I always going to go to the same school?” Brady asked.

“Why?” I replied.

“Because I always want to be able to protect her!” Brady replied.

“Protect her from what?” I asked.

“From mean people.” Brady said

Two thoughts crossed my mind. Carly has a cool older brother who wants to make sure she is safe and sound each and every school day.  The second thought was he is right there are mean people out there who are going to want to pick on Carly each and every day.

How sad is it that there are people in the world who do not know how to act around someone with a disability so their natural reaction is to pick on them?  Because someone is just a bit different, it is okay to abuse them verbally abuse (or worse) them each and every day?

This is something that I will never understand.

I know it is not something that I can fix so it never happens to Carly, however; I am proud that Carly has a brother who wants to make sure he is there to protect her each and every day.

Published in everyday life
Wednesday, 25 July 2012 06:16

More Than Words

Jack came into our to bed the other night. It was the strangest thing, he hasn't done that for such a long time. Katie has come in on her own since she could walk, but I think Jack never really did it on his own because there were so many physical barriers like the sides of a crib, and door knobs, but I used to bring him into our bed every morning too when he was little. I love snuggling with the kids in the morning. I’ve always thought that if you start your days the right way with your children, most of the mistakes we make as parents during the day will be forgotten with a lullaby if we then end their day the right way at bedtime.

I heard the door twist open (Yay! Improved fine motor skills!) just after I’d fallen asleep, and was surprised when it was not our littler one, but my 11.5-year-old son. He walked in to the room so quietly, then deftly popped onto the bed. He settled right in between my husband and me, and buried his head into the pillows. He fell back asleep right away.

But it was a restless night. Jack tossed and turned, and with a foot in my stomach and his head pressed into my husband’s back Jack made us into a family “H” where my husband and I had been two lower case “l’s” peacefully lying. Then he would flip, his feet at our heads, and his arms dangling off the bed. He curled up in to a ball, then stretched out, his limbs casually draped across us. He is no longer a tiny boy. Though he is trim, without an extra ounce of fat on him, he is about 5’2” now, so he used all of the space left on the bed, and most of my share too.

I could have walked him back to his room, where he probably would have stayed, but I know he only came in for a good reason, and whatever it was, I can certainly suffer a night’s sleep to ease whatever was troubling him. These are the moments that I want to read his mind, to help him work through the pre-teen angst that must be brewing. I want to comfort him, speak to him some tidbits of advice.

Half-way through the night Jack reached over and took my hand and pulled it around him, his body relaxed, and we both fell asleep. Sometimes that might be all any of us need, and once again Jack has reminded me that there is so much more to communication than words.

Published in everyday life
Monday, 23 July 2012 20:04

Super Easy Make at Home Instruments!

Kids love crafts-especially the ones that make a lot of noise! There are a lot of ways to make instruments that make music. Now, I will be the first to admit that I am not very crafty or talented making things with my hands. So I like projects that are extremely easy with very few supplies.

Instrument #1  Paper Plate Tambourine

Supplies needed: 

paper plates,


markers or crayons


Color the outside of the paper plate.

Fold the paper plate in half.

Put some beans in the plate.

Staple along the edge of the plate to keep the beans from falling out.


Ta-da!  You have a tambourine!


Instrument #2 The Tin Can


a tin can with ridges, label removed

metal spoon.


Run the spoon up and down the ridges for a wash-board kind of sound. This instrument is extremely easy but is one of the most popular! It is amazing that something as plain as a tin can will make such an interesting sound.


Instrument #3 Water Bottle Shakers


clean and dry water bottles

small objects to put inside such as beans, cut up straws or beads


Put the beans, straws or beads in the bottles and put the lids on.  This is also a great activity to work on fine motor skills.  My girls put the beads in the small water bottle openings one at a time.  Put the lids on and you have shakers!


Now the fun part - making music!  Form your own band with everyone using their new instrument.  Sing simple songs that you already know such as The Alphabet Song or Twinkle, Twinkle Little Star.  Or you can turn on some music and keep to the beat with your shakers, tambourines and cans!  My girls love forming their own band.  After we made a bunch of these instruments they continued singing for an hour after I went back into the house! 


For more homemade instrument ideas visit my blog at Strings, Keys, and Melodies


Published in education
Sunday, 15 July 2012 01:22

5 Little Ducks - Finger Plays are Fun!

Finger plays are a great teaching tool. Children learn best while having fun and engaging with their whole bodies.

Finger plays teach math, reading skills, rhyming, social skills as well as fine motor skills!


Last week my girls and I pulled out some felt and the glue gun and made some finger puppets.  We made 5 little ducks and one mama duck.  Of course we made two sets so I could play with them too!


I made this video that I hope you enjoy after you make some finger puppets for your own little ones!  Enjoy!

Trouble seeing the video?  Click here.

Here are the lyrics to Five Little Ducks

Five little ducks
Went out one day
Over the hill and far away
Mother duck said
"Quack, quack, quack, quack."
But only four little ducks came back.

Four little ducks
Went out one day
Over the hill and far away
Mother duck said
"Quack, quack, quack, quack."
But only three little ducks came back.

Three little ducks
Went out one day
Over the hill and far away
Mother duck said
"Quack, quack, quack, quack."
But only two little ducks came back.

Two little ducks
Went out one day
Over the hill and far away
Mother duck said
"Quack, quack, quack, quack."
But only one little duck came back.

One little duck
Went out one day
Over the hill and far away
Mother duck said
"Quack, quack, quack, quack."
But none of the five little ducks came back.

Sad mother duck
Went out one day
Over the hill and far away
The sad mother duck said
"Quack, quack, quack."
And all of the five little ducks came back.

copyright free lyrics from

Published in education
Sunday, 08 July 2012 22:43

Most likely to succeed

Class of ’89 “Most Likely to Succeed”  -- Yep, that was me.

Back then I had a much different view of success then I do today.  Back then success was defined as power, money, and intelligence.  To give you an idea, I wanted to be a CEO of a Fortune 10 company or an investment banker those were my career aspirations.

Fast forward some 20+ years and my life is quite different then I imagined.  I made 1 out of 3 of myself defined “success” goals (Intelligence and always wanting to learn more) but have not hit the six figure salary mark nor am I a CEO of a Fortune 10 company.

However, I am an extremely successful Father who has a lovely wife and three amazing kids. 

I am successful in raising a child who is blessed with an extra chromosome when sadly many fathers would walk away or suggest terminating the pregnancy.

I am successful because I write a blog and also post here, to hopefully help other parents who go through the same challenges and share the same successes as I do.

I am successful because I cherish my time with my family while trying to maintain a favorable life/work balance.

I am successful because I love my family and what I have become.

I am successful because there is no one else I would rather be.

You are successful because there is no one in the world who is just like you.

Published in everyday life
Wednesday, 04 July 2012 21:02

Development at the beach

The beach is the perfect place for fun and development.

  1. Fun to splash and feel the water/waves against the body.
  2. Sand so crunchy and all different types of textures.
  3. Seaweed, tough to grasp, works on hand eye coordination.
  4. Seagulls, a new sound to listen to and helps the eyes by tracking the seagull’s flight.
  5. Diaper full of sand, neat storage area to take the beach home with Carly.

Most of all, time to hang out with the family and love and enjoy life.

Published in development
Wednesday, 04 July 2012 14:15

American Music and Art Project

Happy 4th of July!

In honor of our great country’s birthday I have an American music and art project for you to do!

Step 1:  Listen to Stars and Stripes Forever by John Phillip Sousa.  John Phillip Sousa is known for his American patriotic music.  Stars and Stripes Forever is known as a parade march.  When you listen do not tell your children anything about the song and do not let them see a picture representing the song.  Just listen!  We listened to this version of Stars and Stripes Forever on YouTube.

Step 2:  Ask your child what pictures come to mind while listening to this song.  Do you think of a story?  Do you see different colors?  Is it a happy song?  Is it dark and gloomy?

When I asked my daughter what she thought of the Stars and Stripes Forever, she said it made her think of a parade so she probably recognized the song from somewhere.  But then I asked her what colors it made her think of and she did not say red, white and blue.  She said red and yellow!

  Get out the art supplies.  The supplies can be simple paper and crayons or you can get elaborate with watercolors or paints.  Then while you play the song again ask your child to draw the story and emotions of the song. 

My daughter did a wonderful picture of a parade.  She drew about 5 men who looked like they were a part of a marching band except they didn’t have any instruments.  Their hats were red and yellow like she said were the colors she had thought of but she did add blue pants.  So it is almost a patriotic picture with red and blue and a splash of yellow on their hats!

You can do this project with lots of different songs of course.  Another fun one to try it with is Bach’s Toccata in D Minor.  This song was written for the church but most of us have come to associate it with a dark and scary castle. 

Have fun with this project! 

Happy Birthday to the United States of America!

Published in education
Tuesday, 03 July 2012 22:01

Senate Bill 946

California is officially the 28th state to enact autism insurance reform by signing SB.946, which requires coverage of proven behavioral treatment therapies starting in July 2012.

"Courage and common sense have prevailed as Governor Brown has chosen to side with California families and taxpayers, rather than the health insurance lobby," said Autism Speaks Co-founder Bob Wright. "Autism Speaks singles out Senate President Pro Tem Darrell Steinberg whose unwavering leadership and commitment led to this success."

Authored by Senator Steinberg, SB.946 clarifies settlements negotiated by the Brown administration last summer with two major health plans that behavioral health treatments, such as applied behavior analysis (ABA), are eligible benefits with no caps on age or amount of benefits. The settlements initially appeared to provide the needed coverage, but contained a flaw that substantially negated their intended impact, requiring the legislative remedy provided through SB. 946.

The law began taking effect July 1, 2012, as health plans renew policies and sunset in 2014. By virtue of the early intervention provided through ABA, California taxpayers are expected to save $140 million a year in special education and social service costs, according to an independent analysis by the California Health Benefits Review Program. In addition, the improved access to ABA therapy could create at least 20,000 new jobs.

"This is a victory for the thousands of California families who have had to pay out-of-pocket costs for autism treatment considered medically necessary," said Steinberg. "I commend the Governor for signing SB. 946 and adding California to the long list of states mandating that health plans pay their fair share. This day would have never happened if it were not for the countless families and advocates who have been working tirelessly on this issue for many years. Our work is not done. As soon as our economy improves I will work to ensure every child, every young adult, and every family in California has affordable access to this therapy."

The new law explicitly preserves the obligation of health plans and insurers to provide services under California's existing mental health parity law, through which many families have been able to secure coverage for other treatments such as occupational therapy, speech therapy, physical therapy, and treatment of co-morbid physical health issues.

Thousands of California families, in the absence of insurance coverage, have been forced to pay out-of-pocket or rely on taxpayer-funded programs for behavioral health treatments, which can cost $50,000 a year or more. Autism Speaks has helped lead the fight in statehouses across the nation to end such insurance company discrimination. This year alone, laws have been enacted in Arkansas, Virginia, West Virginia and Rhode Island; and a bill passed this summer by the New York Legislature awaits Gov. Andrew Cuomo's signature.

Since 2006, the prevalence of autism has risen to 1 in 110, including 1 in 70 boys, prompting the national Centers for Disease Control and Prevention to call autism a public health challenge. Estimates of the annual cost of autism to the nation have ranged as high as $90 billion. The number of California children with autism has not been calculated precisely, but estimates range at 30,000 children.

"The use of early intervention treatments, such as ABA, can substantially increase a child's independence, thereby reducing future taxpayer costs for special education and social services," said Peter Bell, Autism Speaks' executive vice president for programs and services. "In states that have enacted autism insurance reform, actual experience has demonstrated the impact on premiums has been far below estimates offered by insurance industry lobbyists."

Courtesy of Autism Votes.

Published in do-gooding
Dandelion is a free quarterly magazine that serves as a resource for Bay Area and Sacramento families of children with special needs: autism and Asperger’s, cerebral palsy, Down syndrome, those who are blind, deaf, in wheelchairs, learning disorders, sensory issues and every special need in between. Dandelion’s mission is to create and empower a community of local families through a variety of media by providing a database of resources, trusted and thought-provoking editorial content, an up-to-date calendar of special needs-specific events, noteworthy news, as well as contributions to the community.