Thursday, February 28, 2013

Joy for Mourning: Isaiah 61:1-4

 Excerpt from Soul Cries Devotional: copyright Regan 2012

Isaiah 61:1-4 (New International Version)

The LORD has anointed me…to comfort all who mourn, and provide for those who grieve in Zion—to bestow on them a crown of beauty instead of ashes, the oil of joy instead of mourning,and a garment of praise instead of a spirit of despair. They will be called oaks of righteousness, a planting of the LORD for the display of his splendor. They will rebuild the ancient ruins and restore the places long devastated; they will renew the ruined cities that have been devastated for generations.

This scripture is prophetic of the coming Messiah. In Luke 4, Jesus read Isaiah chapter 61 in the synagogue, which is also when He proclaimed His mission publicly. Let’s read these first few verses together. They are so striking. The Lord anoints Jesus to bring an opposite spirit to a situation steeped in darkness. He is to bring beauty instead of ashes; joy instead of mourning; praise instead of despair. God calls us to the same mission. When we see lack, we are to trust in the abundance of God. When we are surrounded by hatefulness, we are to act in a spirit of peace and honor. When we sense fear around us, we are to shout out the faithfulness of God. We are created to walk in the spirit of God’s light and to oppose the spirit of darkness.

See what Isaiah says next. He says that when those who grieve are given beauty for ashes, joy for mourning, and praise for despair, they will be a living monument to the glory, splendor, and goodness of God. They will rebuild the ancient ruins and restore the places that have been devastated for generations. Those who were given joy instead of grief were restored, and in turn, they would restore the ruins around them, ruins that had been devastated for generations. The restored people would become the restorers.

1. In what way are you and your household a people who grieve? God comes to bring you beauty, joy, and praise. Declare this over your children and your household today.

2. When you experience the restoration of God, you become a restorer. In what ways have you been a restorer of devastation around you? How can you teach your children to live in a restoration spirit, clothed in the beauty, joy, and praise that God brings?

Wednesday, February 27, 2013

Chores and Rewards

When our son was about 4 years old, we started a "point system" for him.  Each day we told him how he could earn a point.  Whenever he said he wanted a certain toy, we would put it on his list.  Each point was worth $1.00.  Once he had earned enough points (we used poker chips in a bowl as a visual to make it "real") to pay for something on the list, he could buy it. 

I tried to focus on functional goals with him, not just chores.  Because my son is in the autistic spectrum, he had functional goals that other kids did without difficulty.  One goal for example was dressing himself.  It was a big deal and would often cause a meltdown because he had trouble orienting the clothes and figuring out how to get his shirt on when he couldn't see what was happening (because he was half inside the shirt!).  Other ways to earn a point would include cooking with mom, mopping the floor (he enjoyed the heavy work of pushing and pulling the wet mop), or even drawing a picture to mail to his cousins. 

I understand why many families choose not to use "payment" systems for chores or family responsibilities.  In our house, I feel this works well, however.  There are many things that are harder for our son than for other kids, and I believe incentives are appropriate.  Also, I want to teach him that working hard brings reward, although you have to wait for the reward.  I also want to teach him how to save for what he wants, rather than spending what he has on small things impulsively.  I also want to teach him about giving to others with the points he has earned.

Now that he is going on 7 years old, I'm thinking that something like the above picture might work better.  That way, he experiences choices, including what tasks to pick (although we would control what he could pick from) and how many chores to do to achieve a goal.  It also increases independence I think, and instead of relying on visual cues, he can begin to read the chores available. 

How do you teach your children responsibility, functional tasks, and reward/giving?

Tuesday, February 26, 2013

Stephan Wiltshire: Art and Autism

Stephen Wiltshire was born on April 24, 1974 in London, England.  His mother was from St. Lucia and his father from Barbados. He demonstrated developmental delay and was diagnosed with autism as a 3 year old.  At age 5, he attended Queensmill School in West London.  The teachers noticed his interest in drawing and used this as a motivator for speaking (e.g., his first word was "paper" to ask for drawing supplies).  He became fluent in speech at the age of nine. 

As a youngster, he preferred to draw animals and cars.  He is said to have an encyclopedic knowledge of American cars.  During his elementary years, he became fascinated with drawing buildings and landmarks.  He began creating detailed architectural drawings of imaginary cityscapes. At about age 10, Stephen created a project called the "London Alphabet"; the drawings included famous landmarks and buildings in London, all listed in alphabetical sequence from A to Z.

Stephen Wiltshire has created several famous panoramas of iconic cities all around the world, and completes the drawings from memory.  He also has been discovered to have significant musical talent.  "One evening Stephen stood on a chair and sang Carmen from memory. He had picked it up from the television and remembered it almost perfectly." He soon began studying with the music teacher Evelyn Preston, who identified Stephen as having perfect pitch - the rare ability to identify the pitch of an isolated musical note.


What a wonderful illustration of the gifts and challenges of autism in one individual.  Visit his website to learn more:   Stephen Wiltshire Gallery

Gluten Free, Naturally Dyed Playdough Recipe

My son follows a gluten free, casein free diet as part of the management of his autistic symptoms.  It took me a while to learn that the gluten in playdough can travel through the skin.  He really needed a gluten free playdough. 

In searching, I found Playdough Recipe from The Nourishing Gourmet websiteAnother great and fun thing about the recipe, is that there are ideas for dying the playdough using natural ingredients like spices and teas.  You may also want to check out other features on the website.  Many of the recipes for meals are gluten free and most are dairy free.  There are also ideas for sustainable living and overall health practices. 

Now, get your hands dirty naturally, and have some fun!

Monday, February 25, 2013

Soul Cries Devotional: Radio Interview

Soul Cries Devotional: Radio Interview

As part of my journey parenting my son in the autistic spectrum and writing the devotional Soul Cries, I have felt certain themes grow in my heart.  The above link takes you to a 30 minute radio broadcast on WPEO radio.  The topic is about my experiences as a mother and author.  I discuss the purpose of the devotional for increasing the faith of those praying into the lives of struggling children.  Themes include the goodness of God and the power of prayer. 

Impossible Monday: Prayers for Relationships

Every now and then I like to dedicate a day to pray for "impossible" things.  I felt like I went through a season where God asked me if I was only praying for things I thought were reasonable, possible, or likely.  He encouraged me to pray for "impossible" things with great faith!

Join me today in praying for impossible breakthroughs in relationships.  Think about a relationship in your life that is "impossible" to mend or think of a relationship you wish you had but don't.  Maybe you wish you had someone to mother or father you.  Maybe you wish you had a romantic partner or a child.  God hears your heart in this area. 

I pray for any relationship in your life that feels dead.  I pray that you will see resurrection and healing in that impossible situation today.  May you be surrounded by community, by relational support in unexpected places.  I pray breakthrough for you where you feel isolated, stuck, or alone.  May you soon feel that your house is overflowing, and have to "enlarge the space of your tent!"

Isaiah 54:2 (English Standard Version)
Enlarge the place of your tent, and let the curtains of your habitations be stretched out; do not hold back; lengthen your cords and strengthen your stakes.

Sunday, February 24, 2013

Visual Schedule: Helping Your Child Get Through The Day

One of the great helps that we used with our son was a visual schedule.  He responded very well to this technique from about age 3-6, and now he can use a schedule he reads.  Executive function is a brain skill that helps us sequence ideas (e.g., what comes first, what comes next), plan ahead, anticipate likely outcomes, and manage time.  Because executive function is difficult in the autistic spectrum, our son often felt overwhelmed by the day.

There was no one intervention that "solved" that, but a schedule did give him a sense of structure, like he knew what to anticipate.  We used a visual schedule because he had some delay with talking, and when he was overwhelmed, his speech would get less and less.  The pictures were something that he could tune into quickly. 

In our house, we went around and took photographs of things he was likely to have on his schedule, like a picture of his school, his babysitter, our car, a therapist, etc.  We laminated the picture and put velcro on the back, allowing us to stick the picture on in any order appropriate for the day.  We also let him arrange a portion of the pictures so he could decide if he wanted to read a book before or after he took a bath, for example.

We also used a picture menu for him.  This cut down on "I'm hungry.  What do you have?"  We would put pictures on the menu of options available to him and he would pull off the food he wanted to "order."  This also allowed him to have some control and independence within the structure we provided. 

Saturday, February 23, 2013

Sleep Disorders in the Autistic Spectrum

This is not a picture of my son, but it so captures autism and sleep that I wanted to add it to the post.  You can see how the toys and shoes are carefully lined up on the bed.  I remember the first time my son lined up about 50 cars at a family gathering and had a melt down when my brother in law turned one car to face "the wrong" way. 

My son has also had a history of significant sleep disturbance.  It was only when he was 5 years old that I learned that autism and sleep disturbance are a common combination.  For my son, he was unable to maintain sleep even as an infant, napping perhaps 20 minutes twice a day and then waking perhaps 5 times a night.  We had to drive him in the car to calm him even as a toddler.  He also had night terrors, which are much less frequent now, but are a form of sleep disturbance just as sleep walking might be.  He would wake and scream "in terror" for about 20 minutes, eyes open, but not responsive to anyone's interactions.  Now at nearly 7 years old, he is sleeping through the night most nights.

According to the Vanderbuilt Sleep Center, sleep disturbance is reported in 44-83% of children in the autistic spectrum.  It occurs regardless of IQ of the child.  The most common problems reported are difficulty falling asleep and maintaining sleep.  Sleep studies have documented REM sleep abnormalities, REM sleep without atonia, and undifferentiated sleep in which non-REM and REM sleep were difficult to distinguish. 

According to Vanderbuilt, sleep and autistic symptoms share a related chemistry, although the exact connection between symptoms and sleep is difficult to tease out.  For one, usually about half of individuals in the spectrum report no problems sleeping.  In addition, it is difficult to know if sleep makes the autistic symptoms worse, or if worse autistic symptoms makes it harder to sleep.  Or perhaps the symptoms and sleep disturbance are each impacted by a third issue. 

Recommendations for sleep include sleep hygiene, predictability and routine (can use a visual schedule for sleep), and focus on comfort in the bed.  Some parents may have heard of the gluten-free, casein free (GFCF) diet to help with some autistic symptoms; my son actually experienced significantly improved sleep after starting this diet.  There seems to be great variability in how the diet impacts individuals within the spectrum, and consulting your pediatrician/physician is always recommended before starting something new. 

Sleep is also one of the 4 areas of autism that can be treated with medications (the 4 areas being outbursts/aggression, anxiety, attention, and sleep).  Melatonin is usually the first line of recommendation for sleep aide, although everyone should consult their own pediatrician/physician.  My son started using 3 mg of melatonin when he was 4 years old, and now is using 6 mg at age 6. 

Here is an example of a visual schedule:

Friday, February 22, 2013

World Vision Gift Catalog: Giving With Meaning

One of my favorite things is to give gifts with meaning, especially when I am giving a gift to someone who "has everything."  One way to do this very effectively is to use the World Vision Gift CatalogAnd it's not just for Christmas.  It is a great way to give a gift and honor someone for a baptism, birthday, anniversary, graduation, or in memorium.  

You can go to the World Vision Gift Catalog link above and browse.  There are gifts starting as low as $10 and up to thousands.  This is also a great way to get kids involved in caring about their community and the world.  Gifts can be given to those in need in America as well as many other countries. Once you choose the gift, a blank gift card comes in the mail and you can send that on to your loved one to honor them on their special day.

Check out this video: World Vision Gift Catalog Video

Thursday, February 21, 2013

Stay: Exodus 33:7, 11

Excerpt from Soul Cries Devotional
copyright Regan 2012

Exodus 33:7, 11 (The Message)

Moses used to take the Tent and set it up outside the camp, some distance away. He called it the Tent of Meeting. Anyone who sought God would go to the Tent of Meeting outside the camp…And God spoke with Moses face-to-face, as neighbors speak to one another. When he would return to the camp, his attendant, the young man Joshua, stayed—he didn't leave the Tent.

To me, every sentence in this passage unfolds as more spectacular than the one before it. Moses set up a tent where people could meet with the manifest Presence of God. Anyone who sought God could go to the tent and meet with Him, and they could abide there with the manifest Presence of God. They could inquire of God for answers, ask for revelations, and pray for provision. Or, they could just abide there, without talking, just being with their Creator. The tent was a place to be, meet, and abide with God.

The scripture says that there in the tent, Moses would actually go and meet face to face with God, as friends and neighbors speak to each other. Just as you might go get coffee with a friend, Moses went and visited with God Almighty. Amazing, and when Moses was finished and went home, what did Joshua do? He stayed. He didn’t leave the tent.

We are invited to meet with God face to face, to abide with Him, to be in intimate relationship with the Lord. May we have the heart of Moses, running after God until we see Him face to face. May we have the passion and love of Joshua, staying, when even Moses has gone home. May we have the heart to stay in the Presence of the loving God, never leaving.

1. This scripture says that whoever wanted to seek the Lord was invited to the tent. In what ways do you want to seek Him? Do you have needs on your heart—prayers for your child and your household? Present them before Him today.

2. I pray for your heart. May you and your children have such love and passion for God, that you find yourself staying at the tent when everyone else has gone home, never leaving, abiding forever in His Presence.

Wednesday, February 20, 2013

Website Review: An Organic Wife

If you are someone who likes to learn new recipes for healthy living, you might want to check out a website called An Organic WifeThe website includes recipes but also resources for healthy living.  Topics covered include farm co-ops and canning. 

The author of the website is Cristina, a 26 years old woman who has dramatically changed her lifestyle in two years.  She writes: "...up until about two years ago, I was eating whatever I wanted. I thought I was a good wife by making my husband dinner every night. At least we weren't eating too much fast food! We ate meals from a box, frozen chicken from factory farms, and Pillsbury biscuits out of a can were one of our favorites.  I didn't know at all that what I was buying from the grocery store could be harmful. Then I saw the movie Food, Inc. which opened my eyes to the food system in America and factory farms. From then on I spent hours upon hours doing all the research I could about the real story behind what we eat.  Two years later, we are now about 95% organic. All of our meat and dairy is locally sourced from grass-fed farms. I make everything from scratch, using no additives, artificial preservatives, or colors."

I have just recently discovered her website and have used a few recipes I like.  I think I will continue to explore her ideas.  How about you?

Tuesday, February 19, 2013

Out with the Old: Chuck TV Series

This weekend, I got out season 1 of the TV series Chuck.  I know, it has only been off the air one year, so can I really say I was getting an "old series" out to watch?  Well, regardless, it was fun.  Chuck is a TV series that aired 5 seasons (2007-12).  The story line began with Chuck working as part of the Nerd Herd at the Buy More (think Best Buy).  He had actually attended Stanford and was quite the brilliant "Nerd" but had gotten kicked out...long story.  His life changes when he becomes a walking computer and the CIA and NSA need him to catch the bad guys and avert danger.

It is not an earth shattering story line, but it is cute and fun for adults.  There are some sexual scenarios and drug references, as well as the action/violence of chasing the bad guys.  But in all the plot is interesting and the characters engaging. 

Monday, February 18, 2013

Nothing Left Incomplete: Psalm 138:8

The Lord will perfect that which concerns us.  He will do everything He has promised and finish the work of His hands.  There is nothing that will be left undone or lacking in your life. God's work in you and through you will be perfected, complete.  None of his great promises will fall to the ground void.  The work of God in your life will be seen by all, a glorious masterpiece to honor God the King.

Psalm 138:8

Amplified Bible (AMP)
The Lord will perfect that which concerns me; Your mercy and loving-kindness, O Lord, endure forever—forsake not the works of Your own hands

Psalm 138:8

New Life Version (NLV)
The Lord will finish the work He started for me. O Lord, Your loving-kindness lasts forever. Do not turn away from the works of Your hands.
Psalm 138:8
Good News Translation (GNT)
You will do everything you have promised;  Lord, your love is eternal.  Complete the work that you have begun.

Sunday, February 17, 2013

Are We There Yet?: Helps for Time Management

The ability to conceptualize and manage time is a brain function.  It is part of a larger ability called executive function (including abilities such as starting a task, sequencing through multiple steps of a task, attention to detail, organization).  The center and front of the brain specializes in executive function, and everyone has strengths and weaknesses within this area.

I started to use a visual timer with my son when he was 2 years old and LOVED it!  It saved me much hassle and frustration, and cut down on the "is it time yet" conversation, which of course is never ending.  Children often do best with a visual timer, and so do many adults.  Without the visual aspect of the timer (the red section gradually gets smaller as time disappears, and some models have an audible timer that can go off as desired when the red is gone), time is completely conceptual.  You have to somehow learn to associated a certain time with the feeling of time passing.  Over time, you may learn what 5 minutes feels like, or you may not. 

Many adults love to use these timers too.  I know many adults who use the timer to get out of the house on time in the morning.  My son loved it, and would say "how much red until we need to go."  I would also set it for taking turns during play (e.g., "You get to pick the game and play it until the red goes out, and then your friend gets to pick"). 

I am pretty efficient when it comes to time and don't typically run late; however, I also did well with the timer...usually to keep me on task before I started something else.  Sometimes I multi-task too much, and don't just sit down and just focus on one thing.  I would set the timer for my son to know how long I would sit on the floor and play with him, and the timer actually kept me on the floor without going to do something else.  Good thing! 

The model in the picture above is called a "time timer" and we purchased ours at

Saturday, February 16, 2013

Inspiration: Hi Hopes Band

The Hi Hopes Band is made up of individuals with developmental disabilities who have a "genius" for music.  Many are considered musical savants.  Included in the group are members with the following conditions:  Down Syndrome, Autism, Williams Syndrome, Prader-Will Syndrome, Fragile X, PKU, and other intellectual disabilities.  They perform almost any genre of music and have committed hundreds of songs to memory.

Check out their website Hope University and their YouTube videos.

Friday, February 15, 2013

Food Network Reality Shows

When I was pregnant with my son, I started watching Food Network. I don't know why, because the irony was I was so sick for so long, I couldn't stand the sight or smell of regular food for quite a while.  But TV food-- I guess that was a different matter. 

We have continued to enjoy certain shows on Food Network, including some of the reality cooking shows.  This year I have enjoyed Cupcake Wars.
 My favorite part is the beginning, when contestants have to use specific ingredients in a cupcake of their own invention that fits with a certain theme.  The ingredients can range from yummy chocolate, vanilla, or cinnamon, to less yummy alternatives, like fish.  I guess I enjoy the creative competition!

Another of my favorites is Worst Cooks in America.  Two chefs pick teams of people who audition for the show.  Each person has a reputation among family and friends for being a bad cook.  Each chef tries to turn one of their contestants into a winning chef in front of Food Network judges. Season 4 starts this Sunday evening.

Bon Appetite and happy viewing...

Thursday, February 14, 2013

Perfect Love

Excerpt from Soul Cries devotional, copyright 2012 Regan

1 Corinthians 13:4-8 (New International Version)

Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. It does not dishonor others, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs. Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth. It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres. Love never fails.

It is important for me to meditate on who God is. If I let my circumstances or feelings dictate what I believe, I may meditate on what I lack, evil, or “what ifs.” Let me meditate instead on that which is true and unfailing, the very character of the unchanging God. This passage from 1 Corinthians is often read at weddings and outlines the characteristics of love. We know that perfect love is found in God.

God is patient in all circumstances and with all people. He does not envy or boast; He is not prideful. He never dishonors you and is not self-seeking. He is slow to anger. He keeps no record of the wrongs you do. God does not delight in evil; He rejoices in the truth! God always protects. God always trusts. God always hopes. God always perseveres. God never fails you!

1. What part of God’s character strikes you the most in this passage?

2. Do you have a harder time believing God’s character toward you or toward other people? Can you claim these promises for you, for your children, and for your household?

Wednesday, February 13, 2013

Hemp Milk Smoothie Ideas

For those seeking a gluten free, dairy free pick me up, consider a hemp milk smoothie.  Hemp milk is an alternative to cow's milk made from hemp seeds.
One 8-Ounce glass generally contains the following nutrients:

900 mg Omega-3 Fatty Acids, 2800 mg Omega-6 Fatty Acids, All 10 Essential Amino Acids, 4 Grams of Digestible Protein, over 40% of RDA of Calcium, Vitamin D, and many other nutrients.

For some additional nutrients, I add some raw protein from Garden of Life.

The powder contains the following:
  • Provides RAW organic sprouted protein and live probiotics and enzymes
  • Complete source of protein with all essential amino acids – 18 grams & 35% Daily Value
  • Contains Vitamin Code RAW Food-Created Nutrients A, D, E and K with their unique Code Factors intact, enabling natural recognition by your body
  • USDA Certified Organic
  • RAW
  • Vegan – so it is suitable for vegetarian and vegan diets
  • Increases the protein content of meals – just add to food or beverages
  • Good for those on low carbohydrate diets
  • Alternative to soy and animal protein powders
  • Good for those with gastrointestinal sensitivities to milk, whey, soy and other protein sources
  • Easily digested – supports digestive health and function with live probiotics and protein-digesting enzymes
  • Mixes well – great in shakes, smoothies and other beverages
It’s not only what RAW Protein contains, it’s also about what it doesn’t contain – there are no fillers, no artificial flavors and no synthetic ingredients. It is gluten-free and dairy-free and contains no soy allergens.

My basic recipe is:

1 cup hemp milk
1 heaping teaspoon cocoa powder 
1 heaping teaspoon protein powder
frozen organic fruit
drizzle honey or agave nectar as desired
mix in blender--and enjoy!  

Tuesday, February 12, 2013

Strategies for Calming, Waking Up, and Focusing

As a Neuropsychologist in a medical center and a mother of a child with sensory processing challenges, I have learned about proprioceptive input.  What a big word for input into the joints and muscles.  This means the sensation your body processes when you pull something, push something, or carry something heavy.  

Proprioceptive input helps bring us to "the center."  If someone is high strung, anxious, or hyperactive, this type of sensory input helps calm them.  If someone is sleepy, distracted, or can't focus, this type of input helps waken them, alert them and help them to focus on what is important.  So either way, too sleepy or too jazzed, joint input helps center us. 

How can we use this to help our daily lives?  If you are a parent with a child who has alerting and focusing as they are getting to school in the morning, perhaps some heavy work first thing would help.  Or perhaps you have a child who is too hyper to settle down for bed.  Maybe you yourself would like something to feel more centered.  

Try these ideas to increase some joint input:
 1. Pull something heavy

2. Push against something with resistance
3. Carry something weighted
4. Chew something that will provide work input into the jaw like something crunchy or chewy.  Chewing gum actually helps with concentration. 

5.  Try a stretching routine, yoga, push ups, or pull ups. 

So next time your child has a hard to alerting or calming, instead of a time out, try teaching them a new way of self-regulation.  Thoughts and ideas (e.g., motivations, decisions) are often less successful for this type of change than using a more intrinsic sensory approach to help our bodies center and regulate. 

Monday, February 11, 2013

What do you Proclaim?

We all proclaim things throughout our lives.  We declare things to those around us; we announce our thoughts, feelings, opinions, and predictions.  What are we proclaiming?  We are created to proclaim good news, comfort, freedom, joy, beauty and honor. 

 Isaiah 61: 1-3  New Living Translation

The Spirit of the Sovereign Lord is upon me, for the Lord has anointed 
me to bring good news to the poor.

He has sent me to comfort the brokenhearted and to proclaim that captives 
will be released and prisoners will be freed.

He has sent me to tell those who mourn that the time of the Lord’s favor has come,
and with it, the day of God’s anger against their enemies.  To all who mourn in Israel, he will give a crown of beauty for ashes, a joyous blessing instead of mourning, festive praise instead of despair.

In their righteousness, they will be like great oaks that the Lord has planted 
for his own glory.

Sunday, February 10, 2013

Sea Salt Popcorners: GFCF snack

I can't say I have ever had a snack or treat that just can't stop eating.  I have never eaten a whole bag of chips or package of cookies.  This is truly the first snack I can't put down.  I am not sure why--I'm not a huge popcorn fan.  But these chips are delectable in taste and texture.  They come in many different flavors, but the sea salt variety is gluten free-casein free and therefore fits with my son's diet (The gfcf diet is part of the way we help him manage the autistic spectrum features that can be challenging for him). Too bad he doesn't get to eat them much because the bags in the house are so often empty...

What do you eat that you can't put down?!

Saturday, February 9, 2013

Inspirational People: Jason McElwain

I love to collect, remember, and share inspirational stories.  Remember this one?  Jason McElwain, a senior with high functioning autism at Greece Athena high school was part of the basketball team-- not as a player, but as a manager.  On February 15, 2006, Greece Athena was playing Spencerport High School for a division title. Greece Athena had such a commanding lead, that the coach decided to let McElwain play in the last four minutes. After initially missing two shots, McElwain made six three-point shots and one two-pointer. After the final buzzer rang, the crowd dashed onto the court in celebration.

Enjoy the Video viewed by millions on YouTube.  It is a testament, not only to Jason, but also to the culture of honor cultivated by the coach, players, and school body. 

Friday, February 8, 2013

Synesthesia: Your Name Tastes Purple

Synesthesia is present when an individual experiences one sensation as connected with other sensations, a somewhat mixing of the senses.  A man with synesthesia may say "There aren't enough points on the chicken" when eating dinner.  This man explains that he tastes shapes. Another synesthete may explain that when she hears music, each note is associated with a specific color. 

Letters and words may also be described as associated with a particular color. 
Recently, the synesthete and pastery chef Taria Camerino was a contestant (and winner) on Food Network's show Sweet Genius.  She seemed to have an advantage with combining flavors although a disadvantage with visual presentation of her food.  You see, she explained "I'm not a visual person."  Taria tastes color, but then when visually organizing her food, she had a hard time capturing the given theme because she didn't see things the same way as the judge and other contestants.

If you are interested in finding out more, check out this book at 

The Man Who Tasted Shapes

Thursday, February 7, 2013

Knowing that Goodness is Coming

Haggai 2:18-19  Contemporary English Version (CEV)

Today you have completed the foundation for my temple, so listen to what your future will be like. Although you have not yet harvested any grain, grapes, figs, pomegranates,or olives, I will richly bless you in the days ahead.

To me, faith is celebrating what God is doing before the goodness is seen in the land.  It is about knowing that goodness is coming, when there is yet no evidence.  The rain hasn't come, the provision hasn't broken through, the relationship hasn't mended, the breakthrough is slow in coming.  And yet...  We have faith.  We have faith because we have God's word in our heart that is living and active.  We have faith because we know our God.  We know He is good all the time.  We know His heart, mercy, grace, and faithfulness.  We have faith that the harvest is near.

Wednesday, February 6, 2013

Rejoice with Those Who Rejoice

Romans 12:14-15
New Living Translation (NLT)
14 Bless those who persecute you. Don’t curse them; pray that God will bless them. 15 Be happy with those who are happy, and weep with those who weep.
I am doing a series of radio interviews on these Romans verses. So much to say about just two verses.  The first part of the interview focuses on verse 15: Rejoice with those who rejoice.  This always looked like such an innocent verse, filled with common sense, nothing earth shattering. But oh, the life changing content that resides in that verse.

When I was first wrestling with God and praying for breakthrough for my son (who is now 6 and is in the autistic spectrum), I began to realize that during my season of grief and mourning, I am still called to be happy when others rejoice that their children are doing well.  The same area in which I am feeling a poverty, a lack, I am called to rejoice when I see blessings befall others.  

I remember when a colleague brought her 5 day old daughter into the office.  She was peaceful and pink, beautiful in every way.  My friend said that her only worry was that the baby was sleeping through the night.  What if she wasn't getting enough food, she said.  Another colleague said, "Oh, what a good baby! What a good baby, sleeping through the night."  At the time my son was 13 months, continued with severe colic/crying and woke several times a night.  I blurted out-- "All babies are good.  Even if they don't sleep through the night." 

I realized I was going to have to make this verse from Romans real.  I was going to need to commit to rejoice wherever I saw God's goodness, even if it was in someone else's life, even if it was in an area in which I was currently grieving.  I would also have to commit to faith in the abundance of God, believing that someone else's blessing didn't take away my portion, the good things God was planning for my family.  I don't have to begrudge someone else their blessing in health, finances, relationships, etc.  I can rejoice because God's goodness is present in the land, because God's goodness is abundant and He is planning good things for my family, and because I know the blessed person is God's beloved.  He created them, desires them, and wants to be with them forever.  

If you are rejoicing, I rejoice with you!  What a good God we have.

Tuesday, February 5, 2013

Milk Alternative: Hemp Milk

As part of the GFCF (gluten free-casein free) diet our family follows, we have searched for a healthy alternative to cow's milk that we enjoy.  In our search, we discovered hemp milk which is made from the hemp seed; the milk contains no THC (the psychoactive substance in marijuana). 

One 8-Ounce glass generally contains the following nutrients:
900 mg Omega-3 Fatty Acids, 2800 mg Omega-6 Fatty Acids, All 10 Essential Amino Acids, 4 Grams of Digestible Protein, over 40% of RDA of Calcium, Vitamin D, and many other nutrients.

We choose to use hemp milk for several reasons.  I like that it has omega fatty acids, all 10 essential amino acids, and is a moderate source of protein.  Soy proteins are often difficult for individuals to digest, and are one of the 3 top food allergies/intolerances.  Also, hemp protein does not contain phytates, enzyme inhibitors found in some soy protein that can interfere with the absorption of essential minerals.  I also like the creaminess of the hemp milk; some milk alternatives can be almost watery. 

Now, I must say, we don't drink it out of the glass.  But we do like to use it in homemade ice cream (combined with coconut milk) and in fruit/protein powder smoothies.  The creaminess of it makes it nice to use in cooking (e.g., pumpkin pie, nondairy macaroni and "cheese").

Everyone is certainly different, and we each have our own digestive needs.  While you are investigating what might work for you, you may wish to consider hemp milk.  There are  many brands out there; investigate which works best for you.  We are able to buy the milk at our local grocery store in the health food section, but it is also available for order online.

    Monday, February 4, 2013

    Erik Weihenmayer: Blind Adventurer

    Erik Weihenmayer was born in 1968 with an eye disease called retinoschisis.  By the age of 13, he became completely blind.  At the age of 16, he began mountain climbing. Erik is now an acrobatic skydiver, long distance biker, marathon runner, skier, mountaineer, ice climber, and rock climber.  In 2008, he completely his quest to climb the 7 Summits, the highest location on each of the 7 continents.

    Erik is also a motivational speaker and author.  He speaks for some of the largest companies in the world, as well as leaders in all spheres of life.  He has many different talking points, but here are some themes:

    Shattering Expectations: Guided by a Vision 
    “Often,” Erik says, “we are forced to throw out the expectations of others and rise to the level of our own internal potential.”

     Teamwork - The Only Way To Cross A Glacier Is On A Rope Team
    "The key is to surround yourself, not just with people of talent, but with people who don't buy into the notion: Seeing is Believing, but know the opposite is true: Believing is Seeing."

    Alchemy - Using Adversity as an Advantage:
    "Imagine," Erik offers, "if adversity was no longer your enemy, but your ally, no longer an impediment, but the pathway."

    Who inspires you to turn adversity into advantage and adventure?!

    Sunday, February 3, 2013

    Sensory Processing Symptoms: Book Resources

    I still remember the life changing moment when I read (ok--devoured) my first book about sensory processing symptoms.  I was a mother trying to figure out my one year old, feeling defeated in many ways, and then I said "Yes, that is my kid!"  The book I read was The Out of Sync Child.  Even though I am a Neuropsychologist, specializing in brain behavior relationships, I worked primarily with adults and had not learned about sensory processing symptoms.  

    Sensory processing occurs in every individual.  Our brain helps us make sense of our environment.  "What does this sensation mean?  What is my environment trying to tell me?"  Sensations include a wide variety of things like sounds, sights, smells, touch, and taste, but also things like vibration, deep pressure, join input (stretching and pressure), balance and vestibular (movement) sensations, and pain.  Someone with a good ability to take in and understand sensations feels comfortable in their environment, unless of course there is a signal of danger.  Then they adapt, get safer, get more comfortable, whatever adjustments need to be made. 

    Individuals with sensory dysfunction, may hear a noise and their brain experiences it as too loud!  They may climb a jungle gym, and become frightened.  Their body isn't giving them good information about where they are in space.  They may perform normal grooming activities and feel pain, much more than someone else would.  Some individuals get the message from their brain that they aren't receiving enough information from their environment.  These individuals can seek much more sensory stimuli than a more typical person would.  They may shout and crash into things.  They may spin in circles and crave crunchy, spicy food.  

    Sometimes children show just a few symptoms that then resolve as they grow older.  Maybe they are picky eaters for example, or don't tolerate clothing very easily.  Other children seem to show a very significant amount of sensory dysfunction, making it difficult for them to feel safe and comfortable, eat food and perform hygiene, and even pay attention in class.  Because join input can help us attend better, they may do well if given heavy tasks at home or the classroom (e.g., carrying a large stack of books, pushing furniture, pulling a wagon, carrying a heavy book bag). 

    Unfortunately, many children are labeled as uncooperative and inattentive because they are different sensory needs.  Many children with sensory symptoms may fall in the ADD or Autistic Spectrum categories.  Alternatively, in May of 2013, a new category called Sensory Processing Disorder is being defined.  

    There are great book resources out their for parents and teachers trying to help children learn, grow, and meet their sensory needs.  I personally read The Out of Sync Child series and loved it.  Other very good books come highly recommended from various sources as well.

    The Out of Sync Child

    I also liked the companion book which gives ideas for activities to help kids regulate successfully:

    The Out of Sync Child Has Fun

    You may also want to try one of these books:

    Raising a Sensory Smart Child