Transitions – Getting There is Half the Battle

aspergers kids - transitionsWe are very excited to welcome Audrey Lintner to the Mom’s Choice Matters blogging team. There is lots of cool stuff in Audrey’s bio, but she’s most proud of being “Mama.”

Audrey will continue our tradition of helping families be the best parents they can be, especially when dealing with differently abled kids. Audrey’s son Junior is Autistic.

For her first post in our All @ Aspergers and Autism series, Audrey is sharing her tips on dealing with transitions. Change isn’t always easy, but for kids on the spectrum, transitions are especially difficult, no matter how familiar the pattern. Enjoy Audrey’s article about helping kids on the Spectrum with transitions.

Transitions: Getting There is Half the Battle

It never fails. I’ll be engrossed in a book or a complex piece of knitting, happily absorbed in a little “me” time. Suddenly, the phone will ring, or someone will need me to Do Something Else.

It’s hard to keep the snarling suppressed.

It is even harder when you’re a little boy with Autism.

Junior is a very agreeable sort. He aims to please and is perfectly content to go with the flow for the most part. BUT. Like anybody else, he doesn’t like to be interrupted. To disrupt his playtime with a list of parental demands is to run the risk of receiving a loud, flat “no” for your troubles.

autism and attentionBUT … I have an advantage: I know about Junior’s love of clocks. Junior learned about clocks at a very early age. He would toddle into our room, breathless with excitement, and announce the time. “It’s seven foady-two!” Away he would run, only to return 60 seconds later. “Oh! It’s seven foady-thwee!”

Since we do occasionally have to indulge in transitions to Terrible Activities such as mealtimes, baths, and leaving the house, it helps that we can use clocks to our advantage.

Here are some of the handy hints we’ve learned to help Junior make transitions between activities and places:

1. Give plenty of advance warning. Depending on the dismay-inducing qualities of the Terrible Activity, we offer countdowns of various lengths.

  • Since meals are usually heralded by “I’m hungwy,” we can get away with a one-minute warning.
  • Departures call for a five-minute warning, with reminders at 60 and 30 seconds.
  • Baths are scheduled through committee negotiations and bill passage t24 hours in advance; if sufficient Treat Acquisition Goals are offered and accepted, the bath can take place on an hour’s notice.

2. Be honest. If the time frame cannot be met, don’t set it.

  • If you tell Junior that he can play on the computer in five minutes, be prepared to eat his dust in 300 seconds.
  • Likewise, if he puts his toys away because you said that it was time to go to the store, don’t put him off for 15 minutes before departure.

3. Be prepared to bargain. My husband is used to hearing “Lemme finish this row” whenever he wants my assistance. Junior has also learned this tactic, and we try to be reasonable.

  • Unless the house is burning down around your ears, it’s probably okay if you let him finish lining up his blocks before heading for the car.

4. Offer lots of praise. Every now and then, I’ll call for Junior’s attention, and he’ll promptly leave his activity and present himself for instructions. This turns me into a cheerleader. “Hey, wow! You stopped what you were doing and came over right away! High five!”

  • Specific praise lets him know why I’m pleased, and usually results in a repeat performance next time.

5. Accept his needs. Sometimes all the countdowns and bribery in the world won’t convince Junior to stop what he’s doing, and that’s okay. If he’s locked in a sequencing loop (as opposed to destructive or harmful behavior), the world can wait.

Give him time, give him space, and give him unconditional love.

About the Author

Writer, singer, actor, knitter, baker … but mostly Mama.

Audrey Lintner is a writer and aspiring author who is willing to tackle any subject, given enough coffee and research time. Known to her readers as The Procraftinator, Audrey posts words of wisdom to http://www.kofo.com.

For her son Junior, Autism manifested as echolalia, social delay, and an incredible preoccupation with (and gift for) numbers. Audrey regularly contributes to the Little Pickle Press blog. Her most recent post: ABA Therapy: Purposeful Parenting Special Needs Style.

She lives in Kansas with her husband, son, and a shocking amount of yarn.

Posted in Educational Resources, Medical Issues, Parenting Issues Tagged with: , , ,

Dealing with too many passwords?  You are not alone.

too many passwords - tech and our familyToo many passwords! It is a reality of our digital world. It is a pain in the neck (especially as a parent. Worst of all – it can be dangerous!

In this month’s edition of Technology and Your Family, IT Expert Bryant Harrison gives you a chance to figure out what kind your Password Profile is and offer a family-friendly solution that solves the too many passwords problem.

Got a question or a suggestion? Leave it in the comments and Bryant will be sure to cover it in the coming months.

What’s Your Password Profile?

I’ll get us started: Up until recently, I was a very capable category 2 password person. Now I’m working toward

Most people fit into one (or more) of four categories of password confusion.

Category 1: The Many Password Person
(Because lots of passwords is a good thing, right?)

  • Good part = has a different password for every site (Yay! Safe!)
  • Bad part = can’t remember them and so you save them on the computer.

Bottom line: When your computer gets hacked, the attackers always look for password files… ZING!… IDENTITY THEFT!!

Category 2: One Password Person
(I am too many places on line for lots of passwords)

  • Good part = can always remember their password… because they can remember one, single thing like a champ! (Me!!)
  • Bad part = when that cheesy, hawaiian shirt website (that you love) gets hacked, the hackers get not only your password, but also your email.

Bottom Line: When your email has the same password as everything else, hackers with access to your email can learn a lot about you. They not only see who you bank with, what other services you use, and what websites you visit /buy from … they can use those services pretending to be you. ZING! IDENTITY THEFT!! Me… :(

Category 3: Simple Password Person

too many passwords - simple

  • Good part = it is easy to remember your own name! Yay!
  • Bad part = simple passwords are super easy to crack with a password generator tool

Bottom Line: They are easy to figure out, especially if you have a pattern ZING! IDENTITY THEFT!!

Category 4: Sticky-Note Password Protection
(because you have too many passwords to remember)

  • Good part = the passwords are NOT digital and so can’t be hacked!
  • Bad part = it only takes you 45 minutes to find the password and log into your bank.

Bottom Line: Yeah! No identity theft … but plenty of frustration.

A Better Solution for Too Many Passwords

There are secure solutions that will help you keep track of and protect all your passwords.

With a password keeper program, you have digital access wherever you are and on whatever device. Most importantly, you get STRONG encryption so your info can’t be accessed.

There are a number of great solutions out there, like 1Password among others. The tool of choice for me is called RoboForm. www.roboform.com

Roboform Password

It is super easy to use because you only need ONE really good password. This password “opens the safe” and unlocks access to all your other passwords.

When it unlocks your passwords, it keeps them unlocked until your computer becomes idle. This means that you can log into all of your websites with a single click of the mouse!

Another very cool feature is that RoboForm Everywhere will sync all your passwords to all of your computers or handheld devices. You can access your bank from your iPad as easily as from your laptop.

It also has a family-friendly price. When I wrote this it was $9.99 for a year.

Parents aren’t the only ones with too many passwords. You may find this tool invaluable for helping your kids get in the habit of creating stronger, more secure passwords AND be able to keep better track of their passwords, as well.

This tool saves me so much time and frustration… I hope it helps you as it helped me. :)

Meet Bryant

Bryant Harrison Tech ExpertBryant Harrison is the founding partner of QuickFix in Charlottesville, VA. He and his partner also own three other IT companies along the US East Coast: BrightFlow, MePush and Avati.

Bryant is quick to laugh and enjoys discussing new ideas and solutions to problems with anyone in need. His dedication to customer satisfaction and achieving “the warm-fuzzies” with clients, as he likes to put it, are the keys to his success. Bryant believes that,

People want someone to help their home or business to be efficient and to grow. They want someone who feels like a collaborator and family member… not an equation.

We have been so successful because in all of our businesses, we hire like-minded people who care for others. It must be about taking care of customers in the same way that you would take care of your family.

Links for Bryant

QuickFixGeek on FacebookGuick Fix Geek on TwitterQuickFix Geek on Google+

Websites
www.quickfixgeek.com – Charlottesville, VA

www.mepush.com – Lewisburg, PA

www.brightflow.net – Charlotte, NC

www.getavati.com – Charlotte, NC (Headquarters)

_________

Note: The views and opinions are solely those of the author, who is providing the article for informational purposes. Products discussed are presented as professional recommendations by an IT expert. They do not represent endorsement by or approval of the Mom’s Choice Awards.

Posted in Internet Safety & Social Networking Tagged with: , , ,

Social Chat: 7 Dangerous Apps Parents Need to Know About

social chat dangerous appsSocial media and smart devices are part of our daily lives. What makes them invaluable is the Apps we install on them. An ever-growing array of Apps continue to evolve to meet our every need or desire.

Everything from recipes and workouts to entertainment and social, Apps have revolutionized the way we use our mobile devices.  BUT … in the wrong hands and used in the wrong ways, apps can be an easy way for predators to contact our kids.

As I’m sure you’ve read or heard, smart devices give kids (and sometimes parents) a false sense of safety. “Anonymity” – or what is perceived as anonymity – can be murky.  More and more, kids are feeling comfortable giving out personal information to someone they have *met* online. Add to that, when you ask them about this person they will describe them as a “friend.”

That friend can be a predator who, thanks to an app, has access to our children. Parents need to stay informed and educated in the ever-changing App world. There are new Apps every day, but kids are generally drawn to the ones they’ve heard about from their classmates and offline friends are talking about and/or using.

Keeping tabs on the dangerous apps parents need to know about isn’t easy. Articles like this one – courtesy of Heather at KidsEmail.org – can help.

Dangerous Apps Parents Need to Know About

Here is a list of potentially dangerous Apps that ever parent needs to be aware of. We have included the content ratings and age restrictions (if any) with each description.

Yik Yak- A user can post anonymously with up to 500 other local users. The App uses GPS.  Sexually explicit content, vulgar language, and personal attacks are often common. Available for iOS and Android devices.

  • iTunes specifies that you must be at least 17 to download the App.
  • Google Play rates the content as “High Maturity.”

Poof - This App allows kids to hide an app/apps with a single touch, keeping mom and dad out of the loop of what apps have been downloaded. Available for iOS devices.

  • You must have a “jailbroken phone” to use this.
  • No age restrictions on the company’s site. [This is not the Poof you download from iTunes.]

SnapChat – A user takes a picture and shares it via the app. Photos are viewable  for 10 seconds, then they “disappear.” The user / recipient can take a screenshot of that image, so any photo can – and does – live forever. Available for iOS and Android devices.

  • iTunes says the App is rated 12+.
  • Google Play rates the content as “Medium Maturity.”

Down- This app is formerly known as “Bang with friends.” Users can categorize their Facebook friends in terms of “hang out” with, “date,” or “down to hook up” with. Available for iOS and Android devices.

  • iTunes specifies that users must be 17 to download this App.
  • Google Play rates the content as “High Maturity.”

Whisper - Users post anonymously to sharing secrets, emotions, and thoughts. Even anonymously, users can receive replies, including private chats. Users can search for other Whisper users as close as 1 mile away. Available for iOS and Android devices.

  • iTunes specifies that users must be 17 to download this App.
  • Google Play rates the content as “High Maturity.”

Omegle – This video chat App doesn’t require users to register. You are only known as “you” and “stranger” and matches the user to others through common Facebook likes. You can send pictures, have private chats, you can also use the “ask question” mode to engage two strangers.

  • iTunes specifies that users must be 17 to download this App.
  • Google Play rates the content as “Medium Maturity.”

Kik or Kik Messenger- Users can send private messages that parents can’t see. It is a messenger service with a built-in browser. Identifying other users is nearly impossible.

  • iTunes specifies that users must be 17 to download this App.
  • Google Play rates the content as “Medium Maturity.”

Learn more about the dangers of these Apps in Crosswalk.com’s article 9 Most Dangerous Apps for Kids.

What can you do to about these potentially Dangerous Apps?

apps on phone social sharingAs a parent or adult caregiver, it is our responsibility to make sure the Apps downloaded on smart devices are safe for our children.

That means ALL devices – theirs and ours! Here are some simple steps you can take to protect your child – and your family – from the risks associated with dangerous Apps.

  • Discuss the Terms of Use with your kids and let them know that as a family we follow the rules.
  • Explain – maybe in a written contract – the consequences of downloading a restricted App, “jailbreaking” a device, or over-riding your restrictions.
  • Use the privacy settings and locking abilities that come with your phone. Every brand of phone has some level of settings that allow you to block certain Apps or create a short password in order to download an app.
  • Set the Parental Controls for your child’s device and check them periodically to make sure they are still in place.

Last but not least, talk to the parents of your child’s friends. They may or may not be aware of some of these (or other) dangerous Apps. You can help each other with ensuring the right safeguards are in place.

Apps can be a fun way to socialize. Before the kids start downloading all that fun, let’s make sure they understand the rules. They need to understand that downloading and using Dangerous Apps is not an option.

We all want our kids to be safe. They don’t have the life experience to figure out some of the subtleties. It is why they have us – so we can help them find Apps that are safe and offer the security we need.

About the Author

kids email dot orgHeather B at Kidsemail.org is the primary author of the Kids Email blog, where she offers safety and parenting tips, for when the kids are online and off.

Kidsemail.org is a safe email service for kids safeguarding them from language, predators, images,and video, while keeping them connected to loved ones and learning about technology in a safer environment.

Get more safety tips on the KidsEmail blog http://blog.kidsemail.org/

 

Image Credits

KidsEmail.org and Morguefile.com

Posted in Internet Safety & Social Networking, Parenting Tips Tagged with: , , ,

Kids and Social Media: A Parent To-Do List

social media to-do listYour child has come to you asking for a social media account. Before letting them interact online, there are several steps you can take to make sure the transition into online socializing is safe and positive.

By now you probably know there are a myriad of sites – and you probably have profiles on a few yourself. Why multiple sites? because each one has it own unique flare.

Even if we don’t understand a site or its purpose, it is important that we, as parents, educate ourselves on the ins and outs of social media. What kinds social media sites are there? How is each one navigated? Is there an ability to send personal messages? Video chat? Chat? Who can and can’t see my child’s profile?

Learning how to use and navigate a site is going to take some legwork on your part. Each one is different and has different rules, so knowing what those are from site to site is key to keeping kids safe in the virtual sphere.

Prepping Your Child for Social Media: a Parent To-Do List

facebook illustration1.Read the site’s Terms of Use carefully. Many of the more popular sites (e.g., Facebook) will not allow children younger than 13 have an account … even with a parent’s approval.

Some sites say “13 with a parent’s approval,” and some are strictly for young adults and adults.

It can be a tricky slope helping your 11-year-old create a fake birthday so they can have a Facebook account.

2. Decide which form of social media outlet works best for your child’s needs, then set some ground rules.

  • Discuss and set how much time limits. How much time is the child allowed to search and be on social media.
  • Parents must have the password. This should not be up for debate.
  • The password is never to be shared with friends.

2. Discuss house rules for connecting with people.

  • Make sure the followers/friends are REAL people, and that they are people you know personally.
  • Parents must have access to to all “friends/followers” and be “friends and followers” with the child so you can have access to what is being shown via posts, video, and pictures.
  • Keep all personal information private. Phone numbers, addresses, or anything else deemed private should never be shared online.

3. Talk about personal safety.

  • Make clear what is and isn’t allowed to be posted and the risks. Even if we think no one is reading or watching what we may post, they are.
  • Never “check-in.” This allows people to know users exact location.
  • Don’t be afraid to use the report button. Its there for a reason, and if a post is being used for bullying or harassment- it must be brought to the attention of the parent and a copy needs to be made.

4. Let kids know: when in doubt, seek parents out.

If a child or teen is ever unsure- they need to know they can ask! Communication between parent and child is the only sure way to gain trust.

Taking the time to make sure the ground rules are understood and proper precautions are in place can make all the difference in keeping our kids safe online.

So get involved and stay active in your child’s social media experience. Here are some additional articles you may find fun and useful.

About the Author

kids email dot orgHeather B at Kidsemail.org is the primary author of the Kids Email blog, where she offers safety and parenting tips, for when the kids are online and off.

Kidsemail.org is a safe email service for kids safeguarding them from language, predators, images,and video, while keeping them connected to loved ones and learning about technology in a safer environment.

Get more safety tips on the KidsEmail blog http://blog.kidsemail.org/

 

 

Image Credits

Pixaby.com. Each image is linked to its original source.

Posted in Internet Safety & Social Networking, Parenting Issues, Parenting Tips Tagged with: , ,

Autism and Play Dates: Visiting a Friend’s House

autiism and play datesIn today’s edition of our All about Asperger’s Syndrome series Jodi builds on her last post about Aspie kids and making friends. Today she talks about your child visiting a friend’s house.

Want to come over and play?

How many times did you ask a friend this simple question when you were a child? Do you remember how many times you went to a friend’s house to play, watch a movie, or just hang out? I bet you’ve lost count quickly.

For kids on the Autism Spectrum, though, this may be a rare or never occurring experience. It can be heartbreaking as a parent to leave the school playground, casual playdates being arranged, with no offers extended to your son or daughter.

In my last blog post, Everyone Needs a Friend, I talked about hosting a play date in your own home for your child on the spectrum. Today we’re tackling an even bigger leap into social interaction:

The Play Date at a Friend’s House

autism and play datesI am often asked if autism and play dates can “mix.” Are they even possible? As you think about your child, you may think it is too hard. You may even be scared to try.

All fears seem more frightening until you meet them head on, so let’s tackle this together!

Autism and Play Dates – a Plan

1. Role play, role play, role play

I wrote that three times, because it is so vitally important for kids with social skill challenges. It is also incredibly helpful for kids with anxiety. [ASD and anxiety come together like BFFs to a game of Double Dutch.]

If kids can picture in their minds what may happen at their friend’s house, it can decrease the anxiety of the unknown or unfamiliar. Role playing also helps children learn what appropriate behavior may be expected of them. Here are some scenarios you can act out.

  • toy sharing,
  • video game watching, and
  • snack time.

Practice problem solving, too. Talk through details and “what ifs” to demystify the play date.

  • What will happen if your child is offered gold fish crackers instead of wheat thins.
  • What if the friend’s room is painted green and your daughter hates green?
  • What would some polite responses be?

2. Encourage peer mentorship at school.

With the help of your school educators, help foster friendships by encouraging relationships with children who are both more mature and naturally compassionate. This can be a bridge between autism and playdates.

If you are comfortable, inform this friend that your child is marvelous beyond compare and also has ASD. Help them understand that is why your child sometimes doesn’t act or react in ways typical for other students in the class.

Children are surprisingly accepting, understanding, and compassionate if you allow them to be.

3. Speak with the other parent.

Yes, that’s right. Bring the host family into your trusted circle. It is important for them to understand why your child has difficulty in certain social situations.

If you don’t receive a compassionate response, this may not be a home you’d want your child spending any time in. Now, that being said, many families do not share their child’s diagnosis with the world at large. This is your choice and you need to do what works best for your family.

4. Keep the play date short.

You’re looking for success so keep the play date short. Don’t go for a marathon. Keep it to a sprint, where there is a better chance of crossing the finish line, without a wipe out.

5. Reward, reward, reward

Promise your son or daughter a meaningful reward when you pick them up at the agreed upon, clearly stated playdate’s end time.

It is time to celebrate another milestone achievement.

Most important: whatever you do, DO NOT BE LATE for pickup!

6. Be ready to laugh, cry, and hug your spouse

It will be a bumpy road, full of pot-hole like temper tantrums, but encouraging and fostering friendships will provide intrinsic rewards for your child that will last their lifetime.

Think of these playdates for the long term. It is harder to see the immediate impace sometimes, but it is there. The extra time spent fostering peer relationships now, will benefit their social interaction abilities into adulthood.

Helpful links on friendship:

Last but not least, here is a great site to share with parents who are unfamiliar with Autism Spectrum Disorder: Purposeful Parenting – Special Needs Style, on the Little PIckle Press website.

Favorite quote of the month:

I think of Autism as a different kind of operating system.
– Audrey Lintner, Special Projects Coordinator, Little Pickle Press

About the Author

Jodi Carmichael authorJodi Carmichael is the award-winning author of Spaghetti is NOT a Finger Food and Other Life Lessons. She loves the chance to help parents, teachers, and children understand kids like Connor, who represents many kids with asperger’s in the classroom.

She is also a speaker, an advocate for Asperger Manitoba, and a full time daydreamer. Jodi loves discussing the writing process with students and establishing Young Author Clubs in Canadian schools.

When Jodi is not busy with these activities, she is completing the first draft of her middle grade mystery; Ford and Ellie’s Mostly Solved Mysteries: Family of Spies.

Follow Jodi on her blog at www.jodicarmichael.com.

 

Posted in Educational Resources, etiquette and manners, Parenting Issues, Parenting Tips Tagged with: , , , ,