Wordy Wednesday…Perspective

It’s easy to get caught up in the day to day hubbub. What’s for dinner, who broke that lamp, you have to work howlate, etc… But then I’ll come across stuff like this that catches my breath.

When you’ve said goodbye to your loved one for a deployment you get a heaping spoonful of perspective. But, it can be easy to forget once they’re home again, safe and sound. The next time I’m irritated with traffic, annoyed with a long line or frustrated with my family, I’ll try to think of those whose loved ones are deployed. Those who would give anything to have their better half there to be annoyed with. Hope all is well out there and wishing everyone a good day!


How Do You Explain Thankfulness to Your Kids?

I have created a few fall DIY projects for around our home. The one I am most excited about is our “Thanksgiving Tree”. Its a take on the 30 days of thankfulness that spam Facebook every year. I strive really hard to make sure my children know the sacrifice their father makes and people who came before their dad and people who will come after their dad; including maybe them. But then we get into a slight issue that always makes explaining the definition of the words very hard. I was taught long ago, not to include the word you are defining in the definition. After I had children the questions of “w’ started to appear. Some are easy, and so are not. However, the problem I soon discovered was that with my children’s unique challenges explaining something to them they can not touch or see is harder than explaining the word. So how do you explain thankfulness to children? How do you explain it to children who do not understand anything than a tangible concept? For my “Thanksgiving Tree” idea to work, I first have to  explain what thankfulness is. And here we are on day 11 and I still can not come up with a formidable solution.

I looked around Google and Pinterest for some ideas for activities or speeches to give and nothing really popped out at me. However, as I was looking I realized a few things that did seem to help me.

1) Children are children. They are egotistical and self-centered. Eventually, by the grace of God, they won’t be. But until they learn by life lessons what thankful means, they will all be greedy little creatures.

I typically get upset and irritated by their “I want” attitudes. They seem to think owning some ridiculous toy on TV will fill their happy bubble for life, or until the batteries run out. But after accepting the realization that they are egotistical and self-centered, I realized their normal for now. Until they are able to comprehend a life outside of theirs is just as worthy as theirs, I must pat their egos and lead them down a path to one day have that self realization.

One way I can do that is being positive. I used to be a Eeyore, as my mom called me. Much of my life with gloomy and grey. Then one day I had my own self-realization (mine was at age 30, I hope my children’s is before that!). Every day was the way I made it; the way I saw it. I realized always yelling at my kids on my gloomy days was turning them into me. I saw their sad faces and their cracked hearts from my words and realized words hurt (another lesson that took me too long to learn). One day I stopped pointing out all the negative- “stop hitting your sister”, “be quite”, “your room looks horrible”. And I started pointing out the positive- “You are being so nice to your sister”, “great job using your inside voice”, “I’m so proud of you for cleaning your room”. Eventually, I started seeing the result. My children are complimenting each other, giving hi-5’s when they have good reports for school and cheering each other on when trying something new for dinner. Trust me, I am not perfect, and I still have those gloomy days. But the realization that they do actually listen and learn from you is astounding.

So I may not be able to teach them what thankfulness is today; but maybe in a few years, without some intellectual speech, they will discover the definition on their own. There is always the chance they never will. I accept that. It will be a hard lesson for me to learn; but I will love my children regardless of their understanding of thankfulness. I know that every day I am thankful for my children and their presence on this earth. Even if that includes gloomy days.

Found the following image circulating around Facebook today.

We Are Army Strong- part 2 Helping ASD Kids Understand Memorial Day

Yesterday I shared with you a sampling of what it is like as a military family and all the emotions that come along with it. I also shared how I wanted to educate and explain those feelings to my two ASD kids. It is already a challenge to explain a holiday that has such a significant meaning in our lives, let alone trying to explain a intangible emotion and holiday to children who don’t understand emotions and feelings.
Instead of telling them all about the pride and love we have for our military the best way to help them understand is to give everything a tangible format. I know with my kids they do not do grey. They take everything at face value and sarcasm and jokes are lost on them. But for them to be able to “see” how much we care, I thought up a few ways to show them.

First, define. We are in the “why” stage of life with two of our kids. Why is the grass green? Why can’t we fly? We do we have to take a shower? Personally I love giving sarcastic answers, but that won’t fly. Ill just be barrated with more questions. I learned fast simple and honest answers are the best for ASD kids. They want book answers not sarcastic one (and I have some great answers to those questions!)

So- what is Memorial Day?
me·mo·ri·al day
A day, the last Monday in May, on which those who died in active military service are remembered.
(in the Southern states) Any of various days (esp. the fourth Monday in April) for similar remembrances.

Notice how it specifically says “those who died”. Memorial Day is not the same as Veterans Day, where we celebrate all those who have served; living and passed.

Simply put- Memorial Day we remember those men and women who have died but at one time served in the military. That’s it. Nothing more. No grey.

Next, visual. My kids have amazing memories (it’s a blessing and a curse) but every memory or emotion they do know is tied to a visual cue. Most parents of ASD kids know about visual cues. My kids ABA’s use them constantly.

In order to help kids understand Memorial Day better we need to attach a visual cue to the memory and emotion we want to them experience. Ideas can include volunteering to place flags at military cemetery’s, making cards to donate to nursing homes for Veterans, visiting local VFW halls and bake cookies and brownies to take to local Veterans hospitals. Having the kids involved in making something to give away to a veteran is a great way to connect a memory to Memorial Day.

There are numerous other ways to get your child involved and thinking about the meaning behind Memorial Day. There is a Medal of Honor coloring book that explains the awards and medals. And what kid doesn’t like coloring and cool medals!

Lastly, the most impactful is hearing. Even if you child is nonverbal and non attentive, most still hear the everyday nosies that surround them. This Memorial Day play some of America’s songs. Such as the Star Spangled Banner and America the Beautiful. Hearing the songs, feeling the rhythm and beat can be just as powerful as a memory invoker as baking cookies and being told the encyclopedia definition.

If your child does like story telling and listening to the spoken word, I highly recommend trying to find a veteran who is willing to share their story.

I have two ASD children on the higher end of the spectrum. Most of what I suggested is gear towards their learning level. Please take that into consideration and adjust activities as needed. We want our children to grasp at least a small part of what Memorial Day is about. We don’t want them to end up frustrated for more than what its worth. I hope this gave some of you ideas you can share in your own home. I know today we will be remembering the fallen in ours.