Wednesday, November 11, 2015

Autism and routines -written by anonymous

While all children benefit from routine in their day to day lives, children with autism thrive on it! Routines will provide predictability and relieve much anxiety and uncertainty about what is happening around them. A routine will allow your child to have greater control over their environment.

Provide your child with schedules and timers so that they can see clearly what is happening and when. An egg timer works well as a visual cue for children with autism – or alternatively, put markings on the wall clock to show the times for different parts of the daily routine. Alarm clocks and oven timers can also be used as part of a routine to remind a child that it is time to change tasks, get ready for bed, or leave for school. Establish daily routines as early as possible and stick to them as best you can.
Having said that, change is inevitable in life, and with change comes disruptions to routines which can be a potential nightmare for a child with autism.  There are many strategies that can be used to help a child with autism work through day to day change. Picture cards and visual schedules are fabulous and are a strategy that we use regularly in our home. The picture cards show images and photos of the many things that we do during the day, places we visit, and tasks that need to be completed. At the beginning of a day, we select the cards that represent what will be happening for that day. We stick the cards up on a velcro strip, and as we move through the day we remove each card and ‘post’ it in a ‘completed’ box as we finish with a task or scenario. The benefit of the cards is that the child is able to see the full day’s ‘story’ and can predict what will happen next. We also use picture cards for getting ready for kindergarten, getting ready for dinner, or getting ready for bed – the cards outline the tasks that need to be completed, one after the other.
Again, the best made plans can go out the window when an unexpected visitor knocks on the door, or we run out of milk and need to make a quick trip to the store. We have a ‘?’ or ‘what if’ card that we use for these times. It is a card that can be thrown into the mix at any time, and the child understands that this card can means change. To begin with the ‘?’ card is unpredictable, and a lot of time and patience is required with its use. However, the ‘?’ card used consistently when a change arises will eventually give the child a sense of predictability.  The child begins to associate it with change and begins to realize what sort of things to expect from this and is better able to cope.
Remember that children with Autism love routine. When changes to your child’s routine need to occur, make sure you allow them plenty of time to adjust to the change, use visual cues when you can, and provide plenty of support to help them through it. The result will be a more relaxed child and a less stressed parent!

Thursday, November 5, 2015

What is a social story and how to write one

Social stories are short descriptions of a particular situation, event or activity, which include specific information about what to expect in that situation and why. 

Social stories have a huge range of applications, including:

  • to develop self-care skills (eg how to clean teeth, wash hands or get dressed), social skills (eg sharing, asking for help, saying thank you, interrupting) and academic abilities 
  • to help a person with autism to understand how others might behave or respond in a particular situation, and therefore how they might be expected to behave 
  • to help others understand the perspective of a person with autism and why they may respond or behave in a particular way 
  • to help a person to cope with changes to routine and unexpected or distressing events (eg absence of teacher, moving house, thunderstorms) 
  • to provide positive feedback to a person about an area of strength or achievement in order to develop self-esteem 
  • as a behavioural strategy (eg what to do when angry, how to cope with obsessions).

The information on this page is based on Carol Gray's social story guidelines, published in The new social story book (1994). 

Picture the goal

Consider the social story's purpose. For example, the goal may be to teach a child to cover their mouth when coughing.

Now think about what the child needs to understand to achieve this goal. For example, they need to understand why covering their mouth when coughing is important, ie it stops germs from being spread which may make other people sick.

Gather information

The next stage is to gather information about the person including their age, interests, attention span, level of ability and understanding. 

As well as this, collect information about the situation you want to describe in your social story. For example: where does the situation occur, who is it with, how does it begin and end, how long does it last, what actually happens in the situation and why?

Tailor the text

A social story is made up of several different types of sentences that are presented in a particular combination. Sentence types are described in the Figure 1 below:

Figure 1

Sentence type 

What is it? 





Answers the 'wh' questions wheredoes the situation occur, who is it with, what happens and why?Descriptive sentences need to present information from an accurate and objective perspective.

Christmas Day is 25 December. 

Most children go to school. 

Sometimes I get sick.





Refers to the opinions, feelings, ideas, beliefs or physical/mental well being of others. 



My Mum and Dad knowwhen it is time for me to go to bed. 

Teachers like it when students raise their hand to ask a question in the classroom. 

Some children believe in Santa Claus.



Gently offers a response or range of responses for behaviour in a particular situation. It is important that these sentences have a positive focus and are constructed in ways which allow flexibility (ie avoid statements like I must or I have to). 


will try to cover my mouth when I cough. 

might like to play outside during lunchtime. 

When I am angry, I can

  •          take three deep breaths 
  •          go for a walk 
  •          jump on the trampoline.





Statements that enhance the meaning of the previous sentence (which may be a descriptive, perspective or directive sentence) and can be used to emphasise the importance of the message or to provide reassurance to the person. 

(I will try to hold an adults hand when crossing the road). This is very important.

(Thunder can be very loud).This is ok.




Sentences which identify how others may be of assistance to the person(developed by Dr Demetrious Haracopos in Denmark). 



Mum and Dad can help me wash my hands. 

An adult will help me when I cross the road.  

My teacher will help me to try to stay calm in class.




Statements written by the person with autism to provide personal meaning to a particular situation and to assist them to recall and apply information.

My body needs food several times per day; just like a steam train needs coal to stay running. 





Incomplete sentences, which allow the person to guess the next step in a situation, and may be used with descriptive, perspective, directive, affirmative, co-operative and control sentences. 

My name is  ___________  (descriptive sentence) 

Mum and Dad will feel ____________ if I finish all my dinner  (perspective sentence)

The sentence types described in the above table need to be put together in a particular combination to make a social story (referred to as the social story ratio).

In each story, there should be no more than one directive or control sentence and at least two (but no more than five) of the remaining sentence types. 

Sunday, August 30, 2015

Five Mistakes That Moms Make

This blog was inspired by a conversation with a new mom as well as the mistakes I made four years ago. I think the underline issue with these mistakes are based on guilt. I want you all to know it's OKAY to lose the guilt and learn to love yourself as a mother, a wife and a person! 

1. Not Following Your Gut:
All moms can distern their baby's needs, but often times new mom second guess themselves. Don't second guess the voice inside side your head. You are the only one that knows what your child needs! You and your baby were attached for nine months, you know each other better than you think, so don't second guess yourself!  

2. Not Putting Your Baby on a Schedule:
Let me say this first, I am not telling you how to raise your child. I am smipling giving you a tool to make your life and your child's life easier. Your child should be placed on a schedule by six weeks olds. This will help your baby know what expect and help get him/her into a better sleeping and eating pattern. (If you are nursing, then speak to your doctor about how offten your child needs to eat)

3. Not Allowing Your Child to Learn How to Self-Sooth 
All children need to learn how to sooth themselves, it's OKAY to let you child cry for a few minutes (I know it breaks your heart, but we have to strong to teach our children a VERY important coping skill.)  Self soothing is the first part of self-regulation and if we don't teach our kids how to regulate their emotions we are doing them a disservice. 
If you hear your child cry give them the words to describe how they feel. You can say "I know you're sad because you want play, but it's bedtime."

4. Not Focusing  on Lanaguage at an Early Age:  
Babies can learn sign language at three months, they won't be able to mimic signs until they have more control over their body parts (around six months), however, they are learning! Sign the word milk when your baby is drinking and sign the word eat when you are feeding them. Babies who are exposed to sign language are able to communicate their needs earlier, this gives them more control, they also tantrum less! (If you want to learn how to teach sign lanague contact me, I LOVE teaching baby sings :-)

5. Not Giving Yourself a Break
Moms by nature are critical of themselves DON'T be! Being a parent is the hardest job in the world, don't get down on yourself if you have a bad day. Give yourself a break! It's ok to have a messy house,  piles of laundry and toys all over! Don't try to be the prefect wife and  mother. (This one took me FOUR years to learn, don't make the same mistake I did)

I hope this helps you. I wish someone would have told me this after giving birth to my first child. Good luck and let's start giving ourselves a break and lose the gulit.

Thursday, August 27, 2015

There are only 4 reasons why ANY human being participates in a behavior:

Last week, I touched on the four reasons of behavior, here they are broken down: 

Here are the four fictions of behavior 

1) Access 

2) Escape

3) Attention

4) Self -Stimulatory

Any and all behaviors can be broken down into one of these categories.

We seem to be much more aware of this fact when our children are infants. We actually spend a lot of time trying to decipher their behavior and are very attuned to their needs and desires based on that behavior. For example you knew that your child was hungry by the tone of their cry and tug of your shirt (access to tangible – milk/food). If they were still crying even after having a full belly you knew that they probably needed their diaper changed (crying = escape – dirty diaper). When they sucked on their pacifier it was self- stimulatory (my son used to rub his ear – too cute). And when they became toddlers and said “Mom watch!” ( a hundred times :)while they jumped into a pile of  leaves they were looking for attention.

Somewhere after infancy you may have lost sight of these reasons.

The good news is that any and all of their behaviors are based on this 4 reason model. If you memorize this you will find that you are much more patient with your child(ren) and even your husband, coworkers, family and friends.

Just as an adult wakes up in the morning and goes to  work everyday (access to tangible – money), participates in a hobby (self stim) or an addiction (escape), children also have their reasons. They are never  “acting out”  just to torture you (although it can certainly feel like it); they are behaving that way for a reason.

The really good news is that once you define the reason you are better equipped at understanding the behavior. You can then handle the need appropriately. Your reactions will change. Your understanding will play a role now in how you handle that behavior and your love and respect for each other will blossom.

If this helpful and you want to know more about why your child is acting up PM me and we can talk about it. We can also discuss consequences(not negative things, a consequence in behavior terms is just a reaction to a behavior) for the behavior. 

If you like this and would like more, like me on Facebook:

Monday, August 17, 2015

Weekly meal plan

Here's a time saving tip:
Make a weekly meal plan list and go to the grocery store once a week. This will save you several trips to store and if you cook all 6 meals on Sunday you will save 6 hours a week!!!
Here's what my family will be eating this week:
Turkey burgers

Chicken adobo
With rice 


Chicken stri fry 


Homemade Pizza 

Ribs and corn 

Wednesday, August 5, 2015

Unplug Your Kids and Reconnect

Unplug Your Kids and Reconnect

Do you remember your childhood days when you would play outside until the street lights came on, or fall asleep to the dim flickering diode of an old (non-LED) night light?  This generation (our kids) may never if rarely experience those key memory markers. Our kids can hack and navigate our phones and tablets with reckless abandon at the age of two, and have unlimited streaming kid content.  Of course, they now (struggle to)fall asleep, not because of the flickering night light, but because of the artificial backlight of our always-on electronic devices!  Their endearing eyes once gazed upon us in absolute wonder; eager for inspiration, affirmation, love and support.  Now, their disconnected glances rarely seek us out, if only for the power cord or headphone.  Our glances rarely meet those of our children, for they have found a replacement you, a more HD version of you...rather the the artificial replacement of you!  

The truth is, we relinquish our position of power as parents. Supplanted instead by electronics, not by force or fear, but incrementally (in thirty minute cartoon episodes, or the always looping five minute DIY toy videos).  It is at its core with good intentions, but we are losing the narrative of what it is to be a parent.

I understand the integral part tablets, phones, and laptops play in our cloud based culture, but for the little discretionary time with our families we do have, lets maximize our influence as parents!  Here are some ways that my husband and I reconnect with our two kids. 

Limiting Screen Time: 
This includes both duration and the actual time-of-day of consumption.  Limiting *discretionary* electronic consumption allows other functions of our learning to occur.  My husband and I have a rule that our kids must play or do something constructive for at least three hours before they watch TV.

Family Game Night: 
Our kids are younger (under five), so we use board games and puzzles. Consistency is important, this needs to be a scheduled and dedicated family event; even if your don’t finish the entire game.

Having Play Dates:
Make friends in the neighborhood and get those kids over and play! It benefits all.  Invite their parents over for lunch (with their kids), show your kids how to be social.  Knowing who your kids are hanging out with will help you maintain influence over them as they grow, being the house where the kids go is also a great way to stay updated on your kids lives. We have kids over two or three nights a week. 

Cooking and Eating Together: 
Teaching our kids how to cook is an invaluable life skill. Our kitchen will often times mimic that of a high school science lab.  It is where our kids go to experiment and be creative with different food and flavors.  Our kids have a tangible and (most times) edible learning experience, they want to express themselves through the cooking of food.  Our kids have been more willing to eat what they cook which cuts down on the pickiness a two year old and a four year would tend to have. 

Take Walks with Your Kids: 
Walking around our neighborhood at dusk brings us back to the days when one-on-one time meant actual face-to-face. This creates the opportunity for our kids to inquire about the sights and sounds around where they live while exercising too.

Get into the Pool and Have Fun:
Most kids love water.  We get our kids into the pool and confident being around water (it’s also life insurance for them if they ever fall in). After swim lesson we teach our kids how to jump into the water and how to play pool games.  My daughter and I had a 10 minute water gun fight!  Do not sit on the sidelines watching your kids having fun, join them!

Reading Books Together:
Books open an opportunity for our kids to escape into another world.  It also gives us time to reconnect.  Our kids get to hear our passionate reading voices and laugh at or storytelling.  Spending at least 15 minutes a day reading to your kid is a good starting point.

Good Old Fashioned Playing:
Unscripted and fun.  Teach your child how to play (we as parents forget how to play).  My husband was casually taking some cardboard boxes to the recycling bin, when out of the blue, he turns around in the living room and looks at our kids.  Ten minutes later, they had cut out and decorated two rocket ships and were soon off to space! The kids loved it. Go back to your inner kid and (seriously) play for your kids, kids don't judge you and they want to connect with you!  

Unplug and reconnect with your kids.  Include them as much as possible into your daily activities absent electronics.  They long for that connection and everyone will be better off because of it!

Going potty in public-scary noises

Going potty in public-scary noises 

Sometimes when I’m going places, I have to use the bathroom. Sometimes I feel scared because the bathroom might have a fan that would be noisy.

ceiling fan with light

small ceiling light and fan

Fans do a special job. They can blow hot air to dry your hands or make you warm, or cold air to cool you off on a hot day. Fans in bathroom ceilings blow fresh air to get rid of stinky smells.

hand dryer

ceiling fan over stall

The noise that a fan makes comes from an engine that makes the blades turn around. The moving of the blades makes a breeze. Without the noise of the engine, a fan won’t work. Then people would be too hot, too cold, or have to smell stinky bathroom smells.

window fan

Engines also make noise when they cause cars, trains, and roller coasters to move. When I hear an engine sound that scares me, I can remember that the engine is making the blades of the fan blow the air, and that it cannot hurt me.

Hermie Sadler Autism Race Car

Amtrak Locomotive

Medusa Roller Coaster

white hand dryer

Some bathrooms have fans in the ceiling and some don’t. It’s important to use bathrooms when I’m not at home even if I’m nervous about a fan, so that I won’t have to hold myself until I get home. If I have to use the bathroom I will remember that the fan is doing a job and will not hurt me.

ceiling light and fan

If I can be brave and use different bathrooms, I can think of each bathroom as being a different roller coaster – like the Franklin, the Medusa, or the Vortex Monster Coaster! 

Medusa Roller Coaster

Vortex Roller Coaster

If I can be brave and use strange bathrooms, I can go lots of places without having to hold myself, feel nervous or scared. I can remember that fans may be noisy, but they can’t hurt me


Tuesday, August 4, 2015

Potty Training Made Simple

Your Potty Training Guide 

ARE you ready to potty train your child and say bye-bye to diapers!

This is a guide intended to help parents potty train their little ones. Please read the following guide and start saving money on diapers!!

Signs of Potty Training Readiness 

Physical Signs

Your Child...

-Is coordinated enough to walk, and even run, steadily.

-Urinates a fair amount at one time.

-Has regular, well-formed bowel movements at relatively predictable times.

-Has "dry" periods of at least two hours or during naps, which shows that his bladder muscles are developed enough to hold urine.

Behavioral Signs

Your Child...

-Can sit down quietly in one position for two to five minutes.

-Can pull their pants up and down.

-Dislikes the feeling of wearing a wet or soiled diaper.

-Shows interest in others' bathroom habits (washing hands, wants to watch you go to the bathroom

-Gives a physical or verbal sign when he's having a bowel movement such as grunting, watery eyes, squatting, or telling you.

-Demonstrates a desire for independence (remaining in bathroom by oneself).

-Takes pride in his accomplishments.

-Isn't resistant to learning to use the toilet.

-Is in a generally cooperative stage, not a negative or contrary one.

Cognitive Signs

Your Child...

-Understands the physical signals that mean he has to go and can tell you before it happens or even hold it until he has time to get to the potty.

-Can follow simple instructions, such as "go get the toy."

-Understands the value of putting things where they belong.

-Has words for urine and stool.

Reminder: You don't have to wait until you've checked off every item to start training. Just look for a general trend toward independence and an understanding of what it means to go to the bathroom like a grown-up!

Introducing Your Child to the Potty Training Experience

Now that we know the signs, let's talk about how to introduce the potty. I would suggest buying a child potty seat (one that goes directly over the toilet) so you don't need to make the transition from the over the potty chair to the regular toilet seat.  At what age should you introduce the potty?  By 18 months, every time your child takes a bath, ask them to sit on the potty.  As your child gets older (20-24 months) have your child sit on the potty three times a day. 

What You Will Need to Fully Potty Training Your Child 

Items Include…

  • -A potty seat that is placed on top of the normal toilet seat.

  • -Candy, treat or a reward that your child likes (that must be nearby and readily accessible once they properly use the potty).

  • -Lots of liquids!  Have up to 128 oz of available liquid(s) (amounts actually consumed may vary depending on age and other variables), a drink your child enjoys or regularly consumes. 

  • -A timer (I use my phone timer, but a kitchen timer will work also).

  • -Availability, patience, and persistence.  Be ready to devote your time to your child’s entire waking day over the course of at least three days (implementing and monitoring potty training).

  • -30-40 “big kids undies”cotton type underwear (this is so you don't have to do that much laundry. You can buy as many as you'd like, if you have access to laundry).  

  • -Patience (again).

  • -Persistence (again). 

  • -Floor cleaner (there will be accidents).

Step by Step Potty Plan: 

1.Make the potty as fun as possible!!! Having fun in the potty is the most important thing you can do while potty training your child. Take toys or bubbles into the potty.

2. Give your child a LOT of liquid. 

3.Allow your child to choose what undies he/she wants to wear.

4.Set your timer for every 30 minutes (you can have your child set one too) and take your child to the bathroom once time goes off. Allow your child to take a nap and sleep through the night until he/she makes the link with voiding in potty. You can night train once your child is daytime potty trained. 

5. EVERY time your child voids (pees/poops) in the potty give them a treat/reward (within 3 seconds) of the action. After day three of potty training you can give your child the reward after every two voids(pees/poops), do that for two days.You want to gradually increase the number of voids(pees/poops) your child does to get the reward. It’s best to increase the number of voids (pees/poops) every day or two.  

6.After your child voids (pees/poops), continue to give your child the liquids. 

7.Repeat the above methods for three to seven days and you should have a potty trained kiddo!!! 

In summary, be consistent, keep your child on the same routine (expect some resistance) and know that help is just  a call away. Good luck on your journey, you are one step closer to never having to buy diapers  again!!    

*If you need help, or get stuck, contact me at:; (760)-275-3555

About the Author

 Sri Hatharasinghe-Gerschler, M.A., provides energetic, impartial, and personalized parent coaching, as well as educational advocacy (IEP) services. Her parent coaching style includes solutions that are rooted in applied behavior analysis (ABA) and refined through her nearly decade-long submersion in the field working within school districts and directly with child services.

She is a full-time working professional and mother of two toddlers. Sri is passionate about helping you navigate the complexities and unique demands of parenting. She established Sri Parent Coach & Educational Advocate to fully realize this commitment.

As a parent, she feels that it is often incredibly difficult to ask for help. "How do I...?" "When do I...?" "Why is it that...?" "Why won't they...?" She is a resource that understands the time constraints that we nearly all exist under and can work with you to find better answers to these questions.


• National University, Master of Arts in Human Behavior

• University of California San Diego California, Bachelor of Arts in Psychology