I read this article in the NY Times’ parenting section and started laughing to myself because someone else has made the magical discovery of Daniel Tiger’s Neighborhood – yes, the cartoon tiger that took the helm for Mister Roger’s.
The author talks about how Daniel Tiger – not the thousands of dollars spent on therapy, countless hours of playdates, etc. – but little ole’ Daniel Tiger who should receive credit for her high-functioning autistic son’s newfound ability to connect with others. If you’re reading this – or read the NY Times article – and know Daniel Tiger, then you’ll know why that’s the case. But if you’re new to Daniel Tiger, each program follows Daniel and his friends and covers a specific topic – getting frustrated, sharing your toys, trying new foods, problem-solving, going potty…the list goes on. And not only does it give kids a great visual, each topic has a catchy little song attached to it. We use one of the little jingles – if not several – on a daily basis in our house to remind the kids about something – and they work (ok, for the most part, at least)! For example:
Trying new foods – You got to try new foods ‘cause they might taste good
Going potty – If you have to go potty, stop, and go right away. Then flush, and wash, and be on your way
Taking turns – You can take a turn, and then I’ll get it back
Getting frustrated – When you’re feeling frustrated, take a step back, and ask for help
These don’t look like much, but throw a little music on them and they are catchy and easy to remember.
The topics are so relevant to every preschool age child and they really do serve as a great tool to deal with emotions, social lessons, self-care and many other things we work to teach our children.
Lynsey, Community Manger
So this is an interesting one…a new study suggests that it may be possible to diagnose autism by giving children a sniff test. Yes, that’s right, the act of smelling may be able to provide tremendous insight.
Why? As covered in the NY Times, most people instinctively alter their breathing when they come in contact with certain smells – they take a big whiff with pleasant smells and limit their breathing with foul smells. However, as discussed in this research, children with autism do not make this natural adjustment. Based on their sniff test, the researchers – who were not told which participants had autism – were able to correctly identify which children did have autism 81% of the time.
Plus, what they also found was that the further removed an autistic child’s sniff response was from the average for ‘typically’ developing children, the more severe the child’s social impairments were.
Looking back on the impact of odors, different smells definitely affected Kyle when he was younger – like smoking and garbage smells. Those smells would actually make him gag or throw up, which made it a bit tricky being out in public – he would either be holding his nose, or commenting on someone smoking, or even throwing up after walking by a smelly trash can or dumpster! (And speaking of gross smells, if Kyle heard someone let off gas, he would giggle uncontrollably – as Jenifer says, it was something!)
Lynsey, Community Manager
The child birthday party invitation. It’s a little piece of paper in the mail – or an email to be opened – but it can be an immediate stress inducer. Stress was likely the feeling Tricia Rhynold would have when she opened invites from her son’s classmates. Tricia – mom to seven-year-old Timothy who has nonverbal autism – explains that they’ve received tons of invites over the years, which she appreciates, but she understandably wonders, “if the parents know what would happen if I brought Timothy? The interruptions…the meltdowns…how I would hate to take the spotlight from the birthday child.” So, she would respectfully decline every invite.
But that all changed with one simple note. Tricia received a party invite with a note from a mom of a child (Carter) in Timothy’s class – and she made it very clear that she truly wanted Timothy to come to the birthday party writing:
Carter sat beside Timothy at school and he always talks about him I really hope he can come. We are renting a bounce castle that we can attach a small bounce slide at the bottom. We will also have water balloons and water guns. Maybe Timothy can come earlier in the day if it would be too much with the whole class. Let me know so we can make it work.
There are a lot of amazing people in this world who are kind and understanding – we hope you’ve got some of them in your life. It’s hard to remember that kindness sometimes when you’re overwhelmed or maybe feeling a little stuck. In Tricia’s case, it took someone else – a complete stranger – to extend an offer with Timothy’s needs in mind that would make all the difference. As Tricia said on her blog, The Book of Timothy, “I don’t know this Mom or even this child personally. I want to. Desperately….The Mom is everything I strive to be.” Agree.
Lynsey, Community Manager