Monday, January 30, 2012

Carmen B Pingree

What a fabulous day! I was able to meet on of my heroes, Carmen B Pingree, founder of the Carmen B Pingree Center for Children with Autism. She is a woman with decades of experience and has been instrumental in improving the lives for those who have autism and their families. She has a copy of my book, Autism: Understanding the Puzzle, and began reading it right away. She told me later, "This is a Great Book." Here her say that made my day! She was really sweet and complimented me in my role as a mother. Our conversation today inspired me to keep going as a mother and advocate. I hope this book continues to reach others, be a guide, bring about hope, and educate others.

Saturday, January 28, 2012

The Invisibility of Autism

Autism can seem invisible at times.
One moment (s)he is behaving 
like a typical child and the next, 
(s)he is not. 

Autism Bumper Sticker

I have seen this bumper sticker before and laughed hysterically. 

Tuesday, January 24, 2012

The Face of Autism

Abby Alger is a graduate from BYU and a photographer. She had a photography exhibit, The Face of Autism, to showcase her work and help raise awareness for autism spectrum disorder in February of 2011. Here are a few of her pictures. She is looking for additional places for her photography to be displayed, especially if it will help raise awareness. You can contact her at

Free Soccer Clinic

FREE Red Devils Soccer Clinic

Children with Autism Spectrum Disorder ages 4-9

Tuesday, May 1st and Thursday, May 3rd, 2012  3:30-4:30pm

Carmen B. Pingree School     780 Guardsman Way 
Salt Lake City, UT

Registration is due by February 1, 2012 

For more information please contact:
Michelle Jensen
1670 E. Emerson Ave.
Salt Lake City, Utah 84105

Friday, January 20, 2012

Instructions for the Homemade, Washable, and Adjustable Weighted Blankets

There have been several interested in receiving instructions for the 
Homemade, Washable, and Adjustable Weighted Blankets. 

For more pictures 
and descriptions of the blanket click here

Supplies for twin mattress:
Flannel fabric -   2 ½ yards, 45 inch wide.
Flat Sheet – twin or full size.
Close woven fabric to support snaps – 1 ¼ yards
Scrap fabric for bean bags
Heavy duty snaps, six boxes of 8 nickel snaps. (
Velcro – 12 yards, 5/8 inch width (
Thread, ruler, marking pen or pencil.
Dry Pinto beans - 8lbs

Preparation – Wash and dry all fabrics.  Square off the cut edges to make good rectangles as long as possible. On the long side of the flannel fabric fold over edges 1 ½ inches and sew to make a hem for snaps.
Pockets - Measure the width between side hems of flannel to determine finished length of rows of pockets. Lay out flat sheet, mark and cut strips of fabric to make 10 rows of pockets. If you have a Serger sewing machine cut rows 6 ½ inches wide and the finished length for rows of pockets. Serge all edges for finished look on rows of pockets.  If you don’t have a serger cut the rows a little wider and longer to give yourself enough fabric to make a narrow hem on all the edges of the rows of pockets.
A finished row should be 6 inches wide and the correct length to fit inside both hemmed edges of the flannel fabric. Measure the length of the row and mark the fabric for six pockets. The size of the pocket will determine the size of the bean bags.
Bean bags - Make your finished bean bags ½ inch smaller in width and length than the pocket. For example: if your pocket measures 6 X 6 ½ inches, the finished bean bag should measure 5 ½ X 6 inches. This will give enough room to comfortably fit the full bean bag into the finished pocket.
The easiest way to make bean bags is to cut rectangles from the rest of the sheet. Since you need 60 bean bags to complete the weighted blanket add-on, you will need to use scrap fabric to complete your project. If you sew a 3/8 inch seam and want a 5 ½ X 6 inch finished bean bag, your cut rectangle should be 11&6/8 X 6&6/8 inches. Fold rectangle in half, sew sides and turn right side out. Fill with ½ cup of beans and sew top with a serger or fold narrow hem at the top and sew closed.
Velcro – Use the hook side of tape for pockets and the loop side for bean bags. For one row of pockets cut six 7 inch strips of the hook side of Velcro. Measure and cut 1 inch from end of each strip. This is for the center of the pocket. Cut the rest of the strip into quarters, measuring 1 ½ inches, for each corner of the pocket.
On the wrong side of the row of pockets draw the dividing line for each pocket and a large X from corner to corner for each pocket. Sew Velcro with a zigzag stitch close to each corner but not covering the dividing line for each pocket. Sew center Velcro on one line of the X at the center of the pocket. Continue for the remaining rows of pockets.  
For bean bags cut a 7 inch strip of the loop side of Velcro.  Measure and cut 1 inch from the end of each strip for the center of the bean bag. Cut the rest of the strip into quarters, measuring 1 ½ inch for the corners of the bean bag.
Place bean bag on a table and flatten to distribute the beans evenly. Slide a long pencil under the bean bag from corner to corner and lift to make two even triangles. Sew a straight line corner to corner. Flatten bean bag, slide a pencil underneath from the opposite corner to corner and lift. This will make 4 triangles in the bean bag. Sew a straight line corner to corner. Sew Velcro with a zigzag stitch close to each corner and center of the bean bag. Continue for the remaining bean bags.
Velcro on the inside of the pocket

Rows of Pockets – Serge or make a narrow hem along top side of flannel and fold down to make a 1 ½ inch hem. On wrong side of flannel pin the first row of pockets (right side up) inside the side hems and just underneath the top hem of flannel. Sew the sides and bottom of the row. Sew the dividing line for pockets. Place and pin the next row close to but not overlapping the previous row of pockets.
Sew 5 rows of pockets and skip 1 ½ inches of flannel before sewing the next row. This leaves enough room to sew a strip of fabric for snaps. Continue attaching rows of pockets to the flannel until you have completed ten rows of pockets. Trim bottom of flannel, leaving enough material to make a 1 ½ inch hem, serge or make a narrow hem, fold up and sew.
Snaps – The top half of snap is attached to the flannel and the bottom half of snap to the close woven, heavy duty fabric.
On side hems of flannel mark the spot for the first snap ¾ inch from the top edge of the fabric. This should be in the center of the corner made by the side and top hems. Measure 6 inches and mark the spot for the next snap. Continue down the side hem until the bottom corner and place the mark in the center of the corner made by the side and bottom hems. The last space made by the bottom snap will be different than 6 inches. Make a note of this measurement. There should be 13 snaps along sides of flannel.
Cut the close woven, heavy duty fabric into 3 inch strips. Fold over to make a 1 ½ inch hem and serge or stitch and trim with a pinking shear. Lay strips along the side hems of flannel and make corresponding marks for snaps.Measure top and bottom hems between corners, evenly space 5 snaps and mark the spot for snaps. Lay a hemmed strip of fabric along bottom and top of flannel and make corresponding marks for snaps.  
For the center of flannel you need 2 hemmed strips of fabric.  Mark spots for 5 snaps using a different color (red) for top half of snaps.  Follow directions on the boxes of snaps to attach snaps to flannel and strips of fabric. Sew the center strip with top half of snaps to center of flannel between rows 5 and 6 being careful not to cover the open top of row 6. Snap together all strips making sure everything matches.
Finishing – Lay the flannel (pocket side down) on a blanket or quilt, position flannel to cover the mattress and pin the strips of fabric to the blanket or quilt. Carefully unsnap the flannel and remove, leaving the strips of fabric in place. Sew to blanket or quilt.
To insert bean bags into pockets, cut the side of a cereal box slightly smaller than pocket. Slide the cardboard into pocket, printed side down. Flatten bean bag and with the Velcro side up, slide into pocket. Remove cardboard and press on Velcro to attach. Continue for the rest of the pockets and bean bags. Snap weighted flannel to blanket or quilt.
Tips and hints – Use quality fabric for the flannel, cheap flannel will fall apart after a few years. The sheet however can be purchased for $5 to $9 at your local ‘mart’ store.
Buying the snaps and Velcro online is much cheaper than any store. The Velcro comes in 25 yard rolls which is enough for 2 twin-sized weighted blankets. The snaps are attached with a hammer and some man sized help is appreciated. (It took me 3 taps of the hammer where my brother only used one to attach a snap.)
When filling bean bags rice can be used instead of beans, just make sure the weight is the same.
When cutting or sewing do it in stages. For example finish the edges of all the rows of pockets before going on to the next step. 
If the weighted blanket is for a small child you won’t need all the bean bags at once. Complete the rows of pockets and attach to the blanket so that when the child grows you can add more bean bags. Some children will want the most weight on their core and others will want it evenly spread over the whole body. You can adjust the bean bags for their comfort.
Filling the bean bags with ½ cup of beans gives a gentle medium weight. ¼ cup of beans makes a light weight bag that needs more lines of stitching to keep it from clumping.  ¾ cup of beans makes a heavy weight bag that is harder to sew, but still possible.
Take out all the bean bags before washing the blanket and then reinsert when blanket is dry.
Velcro -
#580 and #581 choose your color and number of 25 yard rolls.

For more pictures 
and descriptions of the blanket click here

Wednesday, January 18, 2012

Autism + Change = Difficult

Life is never constant, and because of that fact we learn to adapt to change and go with the flow. 

However, autism + change = difficult

"Transitions [or change] can be difficult adjustments for those with autism. They might blow up because you ended something early or switched the order of the day’s activities. The challenges of these anxieties are difficult for caregivers to manage and are major hindrances to their ability to focus on schoolwork, to remember what to say in a conversation, or how to behave appropriately. Others allow their anxiety to build all day and then come home where they feel safe and finally let it go, resulting in a major blow up or melt down." (Autism Understanding The Puzzle

You guessed it, we had change today, more so than usual. It is easy to give in and dismiss the structure that helps our boys make a smooth transition. I often want to fall back on easy fixes, even when I know it will be more work later on. However, today I managed to find solutions and work to keep the day flowing as consistent as possible. Yeah, there were several meltdowns this morning and there may be a few more before the day is over, but we will make it through the day. Hopefully all this effort will make the next day easier, and help our boys through their next transition.

Tuesday, January 17, 2012

Autism Conferences for 2012

Just found this list of Autism Conferences for 2012
Check it out and see if there is one in your area, they are all over the world.
If you know of any autism event you can submit it to this site and they will get the word out.

Autism Through a Siblings Eyes

Sometimes, it can be complicated to explain what autism is to those who don't know.
Why not hear about it from someone with a unique perspective, a sibling.

Friday, January 13, 2012

Upcoming Events with Utah Parent Center

See the several events coming soon 

Author and Father Shares His Experience with ASD in AZ

Southwest Autism Research & Resource Center  Like us on Facebook
Author and Father Shares His Experience with ASD 

Please join author Tom Fields-Meyer as he shares his personal journey with his son, Ezra, who was diagnosed with autism at the age of three. From a remote toddler to an extraordinary young man, Tom accounts for a lifetime of challenges, laughter and love.   

Tom Fields-Meyer is an author and journalist. A former senior writer for People Magazine, he has written for dozens of publications including the New York Times, the Wall Street Journal and the Forward. The author will be available for book signing after presentation. Click here for more information.


Following Ezra:What One Father Learned About Grumby, Otters, Autism, and Love from His Extraordinary Son 

Sunday, January 15, 2012 | 1:30 p.m.

Valley of the Sun JCC - Jewish Book & Cultural Arts Fair
12701 N. Scottsdale Road, Ste. 203, Scottsdale, AZ 85254

Established in 1997, the Southwest Autism Research & Resource Center's (SARRC) mission is to
advance research and provide a lifetime of support for individuals with autism and their families.
For more information, visit or call (602) 340-8717.

Tuesday, January 10, 2012

I'm Having an Autistic Moment

I walk into the kitchen ready to serve dinner tonight to my family 
and I want to shout out, 
"I am Having an Autistic Moment!"
I have to laugh rather than cry. . .
One of our boys is stemming from the noises his brothers are making.
One is repeatedly rambling off the latest video he has just watched.
Another is pacing the floor, rambling something I can't make out, but apparently is really funny because he is laughing.
The other is jumping up and down with excitement, smiling and making the most unique faces.
Our boys have opened our awareness to sensory input.  Every now and then my husband and I will jokingly admit that we too have those moments when our senses have been overloaded. I took a few minutes to change my perspective from stress to laughter.
At least most of my boys are happy tonight, it could be worse. Others may think our home is absolute chaos and at times it really feels like that.  I just tell them

I have to find the humor in the chaos 
so I can keep myself sane.
Autism + Humor = Sanity 
(Autism: Understanding The Puzzle) 

Utah Big Mak's Lunch in January

Join Utah Big MAK"S  for Lunch 
Tuesday, January 17
11:30 AM
141 N. Main Kaysville

Sunday, January 8, 2012

"Communication Device" Real Look Autism

Communication Devices are opening worlds for so many who have struggled to communicate. Hope this clip brings hope to someone who is searching for a way to connect with their child.
It is possible to open their non-verbal world.

Saturday, January 7, 2012

My Brother Hyrum

This is one of my favorite videos about autism.
Simply explained by five year old Hannah.

My Brother Hyrum "Autism Awareness" from Rusty Earl on Vimeo.

Friday, January 6, 2012

Law Enforcement Training on Autism

It is a frightening experience when your child goes missing, especially when they have autism and are not able to communicate effectively or don't know there way home. 
Here is a informative video that Sahara Cares has put out for law enforcement to train them on how to recognize symptoms of autism and how to approach and handle these types of tough situations.  There are also some great ideas for parents on what they can do to help protect their children.
You can find the video here. It is also available to purchase or download in the site. The video is going national but hasn't reached every state or department yet. Help to spread the awareness and advocate.

"Hoofbeats to Healing" - Theraputic Horseback Riding

We Love Hoofbeats to Healing, and excited for the move to their new facility! The horses have been a tremendous help for our boys over the last three years improving their neurological functions; communication skills, interactions with others, speech, sensory processing, and significant reduction in meltdowns or blowups.

You can find more information at or contact Tami Tanner directly at  801-836-4325.

Thursday, January 5, 2012

Free Information Fair Tonight

The Utah Parent Center in partnership with Davis School District  is pleased to announce the following upcoming workshops. 
Connecting to the Future - Transition Information Fair            
 Thursday, January 5, 2012     6:00 - 8:00 p.m.             
Davis Applied Technology Center, 550 East 300 South, Kaysville, UT
Target Audience:  Jr. High School, High School and Post High Students and their parents.  Over 50 agencies will be represented!  No registration needed for this event.

Wednesday, January 4, 2012

Free Online Training by UATP

The Utah Assistive Technology Program (UATP) will present a FREE online interactive training, Assistive Technology to Support Communication Development in Early Intervention, on Wednesday, January 18, 2012 from 3:00 – 4:30 p.m. 

This free training presented by Stacey Sessions will cover various types of assistive technology used to support symbolic communication development, specifically:

-       -No-tech communication supports such as picture communication boards, and object symbol communication devices,
-       -Communication devices with voice output, and,
-       -High tech communication devices such as PRC,Dynavox, and iPad. 

 If you are interested in participatingplease RSVP by Monday, January 16, to Storee Powell via email, or call 435-797-7412. Participant instructions will be emailed to you.

Monday, January 2, 2012

F.A.A.S.T meeting for January 2012

F.A.A.S.T. is a support group in the Weber/Davis county area with the mission of “supporting families of autism through compassion, time and energy.” You are invited to attend an informative meeting with special guest speaker
Laura Anderson
Mom, Co-Founder of Big MAKS & Incoming President of the
Autism Council of Utah
This month’s topic will be “Advocacy in the Community”
Date: Wednesday January 18, 2012
Time: 6:00 – 7:30 p.m.
Place: Weber County Library Auditorium
1950 W. 4800 S., Roy, Utah
For more information e-mail us at:
Find us on Facebook @ Families of Autism and Asperger’s Standing Together (F.A.A.S.T.)
Or phone us @ 801-917-4014
Refreshments will be served.
***The Book, Autism: Understanding the Puzzle
will be available at a 30% discount that night.***

Celebrating the Strides of Victory with Autism

The challenges that autism brings for our boys can seem overwhelming. 
Challenges that seem like you are running a marathon. The training and conditioning seem to take forever, and when you least expect it, he makes a stride that brings him closer to the finish line. It helps us if we celebrate the strides of victory. 
Lucky for us our boys challenges are different from one another and always make life “adventurous.”  This month we have had more challenges than I can count. There are days when I want to “throw in the towel” and “go swimming instead.” It can take days for us to overcome a “sprain” or “dehydration” brought on from the challenges. I know from experience that if I focus on the setbacks and failures then our boys won't make progress. I am the parent, “the coach”, if I get turned around on the course, it slows them down too.  When possible  I  find humor in the chaos or focus on celebrating the victories, especially when he did something for the first time. These victories may seem menial to the unaware or uneducated, but it is huge to those of us who are the “coaches” to the “runners” we love.
·          He gave a hug, instead of pulling away.
·          He waited until we got home after a birthday party to have his meltdown.
·          He slept through the night.
·          He let me rub lotion on his dry hands.
·          He initiated and ate ketchup for the first time.
·          He respected boundaries with visitors.
·          He didn't cry while playing a game.
·          He was able to self regulate with a therapy tool.  
·          He had more than one shower and brushed his teeth most of this week.
·          He got himself ready for school on time.
·          He wore his belt one notch looser, instead of cutting off the circulation around his waist.

·        We Made it Through Unwrapping Christmas Presents Without Anyone of The Boys Having an Emotional Episode!!!
When I can look at a list like this, it gives me hope. All the effort put forth in training, the long hours of therapy, the repetitive steps of instructions, the sleepless nights, the damaged ears from the screaming, and the achy muscles from the buildup of stress is worth it when I see the strength my boys have gained. It makes the race worth running to Celebrate the Strides of Victory along the way.

2012 Transition Mini-Conference

2012 Transition Mini-Conference

By Utah Parent Center

Tuesday, January 17 and Wednesday, January 18, 2012
8:30 a.m. -4:00 p.m.

Space is limited so please register today!
Lunch will be provided to those who register prior to January 13, 2012.

For More information click here

Lunch will be provided to those who pre-register by Friday, January 13, 2012.


To register:  

Online:  Click here.By Email:
By Phone:  801-272-1051 or Toll Free in Utah at 1-800-468-1160