Monday, September 21, 2009

The powers of make-due parenting

That was a lively discussion on the post about including kids with special needs in mainstream classes (and all parts of life). The winners of the Including Samuel DVDs are Mary and Melanie. Congrats! Contact me at and I'll pass your e-mails along to the director (Samuel's dad), Dan Habib. He's awesome.

This weekend was absolutely bee-yoo-tiful. We were outdoors a lot; Max rode his tractor, Sabrina was on her bike. It was hard to get him inside—transitions unnerve him. So, yesterday, I made his lunch (ravioli and sweet potatoes, the kid can't get enough sweet potatoes), and Dave plopped him in the car seat and fed him in the car.

Over the years, we've learned to adapt to Max's sensitivities and needs in all sorts of ways. Clothes, for example. He is often insistent on wearing pajama tops out. I've figured out that if I start talking nonstop about Max going on an airplane, I can distract him enough to get on an actual top. And when he gets agitated or upset about something, I can calm him down by scooping him up in my arms and running back and forth and back and forth, jiggling him. When he's in a new place and hesitant, Dave puts him on his shoulders; being able to watch the world from up there soothes him.

I don't bend over backwards to appease Sabrina like this because I can reason with her (well, mostly). Max doesn't yet understand reason; he understands the simple joys in life, like sweet potatoes, airplanes and getting a ride from Mom or Dad. And so, that's what we give him.

What special accommodations have you been making for your kids lately?


  1. I love this. You guys are so in tune with both or your kids, which isn't something that every parent can honestly say.
    As for accommodations for Daniel, we have Wally (the Red Sox mascot). Daniel's stuffed Wally comes to every "big" appointment - the neurologist, the neurosurgeon, EEG's, etc. Whatever Daniel needs done, Wally has to have done as well. Wally is our therapeutic voodoo doll, if you will.
    Another one that I had to make in the past involved me wearing the most ridiculous looking monkey mask. Daniel got it at the zoo when he was two years old, which was when he was going through a particularly defiant stage when it came to therapy. However, he would do anything to get me to wear that mask. I would go around wearing it while we did stretches an PT exercises.
    Finally, there's tickling. Daniel can be brought out of just about any bad mood if I tickle him and toss him in the air.

  2. Me!? I got the DVD? Thank you!

    I'm sadly behind on reading and writing, but will catch up. This is a great topic. I'm sure we use lots of accommodations but my favorite is humor. I use tons of humor with Oscar to relieve any anxiety I see building or to distract him from a topic. I love making him laugh. The other night he was complaining about something (who knows? not getting to play enough? worried about the field trip?). I distracted him by "yelling" at the 15 stuffed giraffes with whom he shares his bed and telling them to move over, make space for Oscar. (If you can picture it, Oscar was hanging off the edge if his bed, while the giraffes shared the pillows.) I called them ungrateful bed hogs. I told them I would check on them in 1/2 hour to make sure they hadn't squeezed Oscar out again. Oscar was laughing so much that we both forgot whatever it was he was perseverating about.

    When I make accommodations things go a LOT more smoothly. But sometimes it is just so hard to be constantly thinking of ways to get out of sticky situations.

    I'll be interested to get some ideas from your followers!

  3. Oh! The list of accommodations is just so long that I can't list them! I came here tonight to catch up on your blog and found so much good stuff. It's rocking!

  4. I think our biggest accomodation with Graham is eating. He went for so long eating NOTHING, now that he is willing to sit and eat... he eats in front of the TV. We have a little table in the living room, and he eats many meals there, with Dottie. Sometimes I even park my big butt on a kiddie chair and eat with him. He does get a kick out of eating in the "Diamond Room" (dining room), but since I work evenings, there aren't a lot of opportunities for a big family meal in the dining room.

    Oh, and if the kid wants a cheese and mustard sandwich for breakfast, the kid gets it.

  5. I feed Kendall standing up, holding her in one arm, while singing songs in high pitched voices, and bouncing her up and down. I'm sure that will be a sight when she's 15.

    Oh, and when she's really in a mood, I call in the troops. My son sings and my husband dances.

  6. My kid likes pancakes for dinner and grilled cheese and popcorn for breakfast. As long as what he is eating is healthy, I don't care what the clock says.

  7. Does putting ear phones on your kid in a restaurant count as an accomodation? Hubs and I totally did that yesterday so we could have an enjoyable meal. Lately Charlie can be very particular about the music playing in a restuarant--as if we have any control over that!

    I'm sure we do other things, but since Charlie is our first I think we're less aware.

  8. I have become an expert on recognizing opera music thanks to my Max. He LOVES opera. And if we need him to calm, we can put on opera and he stops to listen.

    We also will spin him, and swing him to distract from his crying fits.

    Some days I think our entire existence is an accommodation to Max...but that's okay isn't it?

  9. Ellen, we don't have PJs in our house AT ALL--we have "sweat pants or flannel pants or elastic waist shorts and tee shirts" (some of the tee shirts have "cool" characters on them)! They go to bed clean at night in clean playclothes, and wake up in 'em, too. If they want to change, fine, if not, oh well (in summer and on weekends anyway). That way the little farts don't look like stubborn little kids in pajamas when they get ornery and refuse to cooperate when we're on a timeline to go somewhere! They have no dedicated sleepwear at all--all their playclothes are soft and zipper/button-free so they're comfy to sleep in. It's just....easier. I don't care who calls me a bad mother! They do have a school uniform of sorts (pants and a polo-ish shirt), but they don't argue about that because they want to fit in and look like the rest of the children.

    They also like to eat outdoors if they're in the yard having fun (like little Europeans, they are) so lunch at the pic-a-nic table (or even dinner if it isn't too dark out, depending on time of year) is not uncommon--even if it's cold, so long as they're bundled up. On a paper plate, too, to save washing up!

    I am very lucky that I don't have the feeding/eating issues of others and I admire their perseverence and creativity no end. In fact, my little hogs will inhale pretty much anything I put in front of them (and fight over the "good" stuff)--they aren't picky at all and they like trying new things (they're imitating their grandfather, who REALLY enjoys a good meal and loves to talk about how tasty the stuff he's eating is).

    My kids have two rooms (one at their grandparent's house) because I work nights often and it is easier to just park them there and fetch them in the morning than disrupt my mom's life by having her come here to babysit and then have to go home at midnight or three in the morning. It took almost a year for them to adjust to switching rooms. There'd be the waking up and whining, especially right after our family loss when our situation was really stressed. Now, though, they look at our two houses (we don't live too far apart--a long walk/short drive) as connected, since they spend so much time in both. They actually like "the house with the cable TV" (not ours) much better in some respects (cartoons and children's programming)! In both bedrooms, which are set up pretty much the same, they have NIGHTLIGHTS. They won't/can't sleep in near-total darkness, but they'll snore like champions with Sponge Bob shining out from the wall socket. This is not negotiable, either. If the light dies, they won't be satisfied or placated until there's a temporary solution and a suitable replacement installed.

    We are still working on impulsivity with the oldest (along with his scary-booming voice at times--he CAN modulate, but he "forgets to remember" as he terms it) so we avoid places that are very crowded because they're stressful. We also try to go places on the "off" times so we don't have to wait in long lines and suffer the fidgeting, whining, and impulse-control/temper tantrum difficulties associated with "learning patience."

  10. Oh, my goodness! There are so many things. We use a stroller just about any time we take Emmett to a new place. Otherwise, he just loses his mind and goes into sensory overload. When he's strapped into the stroller, it seems like he can deal with it better.
    I take a matchbox car and lollipops wherever we go. Spinning the wheels of a car or sucking on a lollipop helps to calm him down when he's having a rough time.
    I feed him pretty much whatever he wants, just to get the calories in him.
    I use humor and games to get him dressed and undressed (peekaboo, etc.).
    Looking forward to reading the rest of the comments and getting some more tips! LOVED Katy's headphone solution!!

  11. It is so great that you are so in tune with what Max needs. Emily is not quite 2 yet, so we are still picking up clues from her.

    She definitely struggles with transition, but loves bouncing. Normally when we come in the house, we will put her down on the couch before taking off our coats, putting our keys and stuff somewhere, etc. Well after being strapped into her carseat and then snuggled up to mom and dad, being put on the couce makes her cry. So we bounce the cushions until she starts to laugh - she cannot cry while she is laughing.

    We also bring her Gloworm with her everywhere. Remember Gloworm? Someone gave this to her for her first birthday and she loves it! We love it too because it has magical powers to calm her almost instantly when she cries.

    There are probably other things that we do, but cannot think of them off hand. Great post! You always get me thinking!

  12. From the time my daughter was 15months til about 2 1/2, we would push her on a ride on toy while she ate. My husband would push her through the kitchen, family room, dining room back to the kitchen where I was waiting with a spoonful of food. They'd stop to get "fuel" then take off again. After a while I'd have to do the pushing and hubby would do the feeding. It was a win/win for all of us. Hubby and I "toned our gluts" and she ate. Another trick was to put her on hubby's shoulders while I gave her spoonfuls of food. Now that she is 3 1/2 we don't have to go to such extremes, but we would if it was still necessary!

  13. The food accommodations reminded me of another one. Calories are also a concern for Daniel - he's a rather scrawny little guy, so we have to make sure he gets enough to eat. His all time favorite food is - get this - broccoli. He'll eat a serving of broccoli with every meal, and I let him. He's had cereal and milk with broccoli on the side for breakfast, and that's completely fine by me. As long as he eats a healthy diet, I'm all for it.

  14. We have a 23 year old, aspergers with anxiety, and we still need to make accomodations. For years I had to be as quick as possible when shopping, or she'd fall apart. It was in and out of the store. As a result we would buy the first pair of tennis shoes that she said were OK. She just this week discovered she is an 8 and 1/2 wide, versus size 9 and 1/2. She discovered this because she has patience enough now to actually go in a shoe store and be measured. She was excited by how much better her shoes fit.

  15. Oh yeah, accommodations are the essence of my parenting strategy. Generally, Emma is a very pleasant, easy to reason with child. I am fortunate. Part of it is due to her limited physical abilities. She can't get into much, but she can cause a bit of misery when she is ripe for it. So, when it comes to situations that may bore her to a fuss, I do all sorts of things that I probably shouldn't, including rewarding Emma for being nice in a restaurant. It may include a trip to Toys R Us post dinner. Yeah, we don't get out that much. I have not only taken earphones to dinner and the doctors office, but a portable DVD player is always in the diaper carry bag. I often let her watch TV while eating, a useful diversion. This is not my best plan, but it works. Calories are a big deal for us too. I also let her eat applesauce with many meals, as it makes the foods she hates go down with less fuss. I even mix her foods together to diquise those foods that she doesn't like. I know that I am not winning in parent of the year awards, but I am surviving and she is growing well.


Thanks for sharing!

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