I was recently interviewed as the Featured Artist for a website and blog called “Rock Painting Guide.” I’m so excited to share my story on how my Alleluia Rocks shop came to be, and how I spread kindness and encouragement through my painted stones. In particular, I talk about the creation of Story Stones and how I developed them to help with Peter’s therapies.
NOTE: This excerpt is a continuation of a manuscript written from the point of view of an older sibling. See previous Episodes.
When Peter is frustrated or upset about something, he will sometimes bang his head on the floor or slap his head with his hands. It’s as if his emotions are so strong he has to let them out somehow. Thankfully, he doesn’t hit other people. He hits himself.
He’s smart about it, though. When he bangs his head on the floor, his head isn’t really hitting the floor. Instead, he folds his hands together, places his hands on the floor, and bangs his head on his hands. From a distance, it looks like he’s banging his head on the floor. It gets people running, that’s for sure, and maybe that’s the point. He gets people’s attention. Even when he slaps himself on the head, it’s not very hard.
This type of behavior is called “self-injurious,” meaning the person is injuring himself. In Peter’s case he doesn’t really hurt himself, but it’s not a behavior that’s acceptable. Some people with autism really do hurt themselves, so there are ways taught by therapists to prevent that kind of behavior.
With Peter, we either ignore the behavior (if he’s not really hurting himself,) or we use a method called “redirection.” That basically means that if we see any signs of the head-banging, we redirect his attention to something else, something he likes to do, something that makes him happy instead of frustrated.
Ideally, you want to redirect him before the self-injurious behavior starts, which means we have to be Super Heroes and read his mind, right? But, actually, most of the time you can tell when Peter is about to get super upset. That’s when you pull out the big Redirect Guns.
It’s not fun watching your little brother hit himself, even if it’s not really hurting him. But it helps to know that this is one of his ways to show frustration, and that there are things we can do to help him.
I recently wrote an article for the Family Forum column in “Army Aviation Association of America” magazine. This is a resource for the military and their families. It was published in the November 2018 issue. I thought I’d share the article here to reach more people.
I have a child with autism. He is nine years old, completely nonverbal, and must be supervised at all times. Though I am not in a military family now, I grew up in one (my Dad was career Army), so I have a good idea of how families are affected by the military lifestyle. We lived in many different cities and countries, moved every few years, and constantly faced new schools, new homes, new friends, new languages, and new cultures. Continue reading “Support for Military Families”
At what point does a child learn that sometimes you can only LOOK but you can’t TOUCH? I don’t recall ever thinking about this with my older boys, but yesterday, at the South Carolina State Fair, this issue came up for Peter, and it was a difficult concept for him. Continue reading “The Fair and the Elephant”
Story Stones have recently become very popular despite the fact that the concept has been around for centuries. What, exactly, are Story Stones and how are they used? This article discusses how these sets of rocks can be used by parents, educators, and therapists as tools to help develop a variety of skills such as language development, communication, and pretend play.
LANGUAGE DEVELOPMENT/SPEECH THERAPY
To encourage the use of new vocabulary and expressive language, give a child a bag of Story Stones and have him pull out a stone one at a time. Encourage him to describe what he sees on the rocks, and to tell a story about them. Be a passive listener, but interject more advanced vocabulary when it makes sense to do so. This method is fun for children and can be used by parents, educators, and therapists.
When we were children, most of us never gave “pretend play” any special consideration. We were constantly making up stories and games, pretending to be superheroes or princess, inventing elaborate imaginary worlds to keep ourselves entertained. My sister and I played “Little House on the Prairie” often, and I even had an invisible friend. He was a ghost named George. However, there are many children with disabilities who have trouble with pretend play.
Story Stones can be a fun way to develop pretend play. Guide a child through a made-up story using the stones. Start the story, then prompt the child to finish an idea or a sentence.
Use the Story Stones as a memory game. Turn them face-down while the child is watching. Then prompt with a question such as “Can you remember where the frog is?” Story Stones can also be used with adults who experience memory impairments. They can look at a stone and talk about any memory the image brings forth.
SENSORY & OCCUPATIONAL THERAPY
Smooth, little stones are a joy to handle. They just feel great in your hand. Children (and adults) with sensory issues might enjoy handling the stones. They also help develop fine motor skills and dexterity.
JUST FOR FUN!
Children will enjoy Story Stones in a variety of ways. Mostly, though, they are simply fun. These sets make great stocking stuffers, birthday gifts, and Christmas gifts.
Visit my shop, ALLELUIA ROCKS, to see the 25+ sets of Story Stones available!
Many of my readers know that I have a little business called Alleluia Rocks in which I sell painted rocks and stones offering words of encouragement, faith, and affirmation. I also specialize in Story Stones for children, which helps promote language development, social interaction, and pretend play. All of which tie into my journey through autism in different ways. Continue reading “A National Phenomenon: The Kindness Rocks Movement”
Have you ever had a nightmare about showing up to school in your pajamas, or being on stage in just your underwear? Do you remember the feeling of horror and shock, and wanting to BOLT? Yeah, lots of people have those nightmares. It involves acute embarrassment due to something that’s totally inappropriate socially. Continue reading “The Funny Things You Hear in Our House-EPISODE 4: He’s Naked Again!”
Probably our family should invest in the Duct Tape stock market, or however that works. Also packing tape, superglue, and batteries. When we say that Peter wears out his toys, we really mean it! At our house, you’ll see toys all over the place in various states of destruction – wheels missing from trucks, gouges and scratches on plastic toys, and pages torn or missing from books. Peter is destructive. He doesn’t do it on purpose, that’s just the way he is. He likes to pull things and smash things and rip things. He also likes to chew on books. He’d rather chew on a book than on real food, like an apple or a carrot. This is another example of him being unaware of what is socially unacceptable. Do I rip my textbooks up at school and pull apart my classmates’ backpacks? Do I chew on the corners of my Algebra book? No way, because I know that’s not the way to act at school. Peter doesn’t have that awareness, so he does whatever he feels compelled to do. Continue reading “The Funny Things You Hear in Our House-EPISODE 3: We Need More Duct Tape!”
NOTE: See the Introduction for an overview of this “manuscript” told from a sibling’s viewpoint.
Though Peter is 9 years old, he has never said one word. Like, ever. He can’t talk. Nobody knows why. Doctors have done all kinds of tests on him, and we know that he can hear and see just fine. He makes sounds so he’s not mute. He just can’t seem to speak. Continue reading “The Funny Things You Hear in Our House-EPISODE 2: Tell Me What You Want on Your Talker!”