Wednesday, October 30, 2013

Celebrating Halloween with Special Needs Kids

Celebrating any holiday with special needs kids can feel overwhelming.  There can be a lot of adrenaline and intensity at holiday times, unusual changes in diet, and noticeable disruption of routine.  There is also usually a big enphasis on cultural specific ways of celebrating, some of which your child may be unable to participate in or tolerate. 

Here are some Halloween tips:

1. Sensory Issues
If your child has sensory symptoms, pick a costume that makes sense for your specific child.  Avoid things that are itchy, smell "funny", or are too tight.  In contrast, maybe snug parts of a costume feel good to your child.  A hat or turtleneck may help some kids feel more centered and secure.  Having them carry a weighted backpack or some type of accessory with the costume that is heavy can also help kids feel calmer.  Some kids might avoid face paint or masks, while others may like that feeling on their face.  Do the best you can to select what makes sense for your child, and know that you will do your best to plan...and then be flexible when costume time comes if your child won't wear what you had picked out.  Have some options in your head just in case... like plan B...C...and D.

2. Anxiety and Inflexibility
Try using social stories to prepare your child for the unusual things about the holiday.  For example, what happens differently at school or home.  If the child is old enough, have them write a story with you or tell you the story. 

3. Extra Calming Times
Plan extra calming times into your routine a few weeks before and after the holiday.  Maybe your child feels better when they can lay under a table with a heavy blanket and watch YouTube videos.  Maybe they like to play LEGOs in their room with a dim light on. 

4. Learn to Recognize what Behavior Means
For some reason, I'm usually surprised when my son has trouble before and during the holidays.  Even this year...I was not expecting some of the behaviors that have "come out" such as anxiety, wanting to touch and climb on visitors, melting down if he loses a game.  My son can also "lose his words."  Although my son does talk, when he is under stress I hear myself saying more and more "use your words please" and "have you lost your words today?"  My husband reminded me that we need to expect some changes before any holiday or change in routine (e.g. traveling, the beginning or end of school, etc). 

5. Dietary Needs
My son follows a gluten free and casein free diet to help manage some of his autistic symptoms.  We have a game now, that he goes trick or treating, brings back "a stash" and then he comes to my "candy store."  I pretend to be a shop owner and he comes in wanting to trade some of the candy he can't eat, for other treats I have in my store.  Then he has choices and can choose what he likes. 

6. Be Flexible
Sometimes we have high expectations for any holiday and how it should look if it is "good."  We might feel very disappointed if our child doesn't want to wear a costume or leave the house.  Maybe our child prefers to hand out candy rather than going from house to house.  Maybe they won't pose for a picture or meet their friends outside.  Every holiday may be different...every year may be different.  Take pictures when you can and build what memories you can, but let the rest go.  Let it be good in it's own way.  If your child wants to stay home and hand out candy, embrace it.  If they just want to wear face paint but no costume, go for it.

7. Take Care of Yourself
As a parent, you are doing the best you can.  Some other parents may give you advice or feel critical of your child for not looking and acting like everyone else on Halloween.  Maybe your child is nonverbal or won't wear a costume.  Maybe they can't choose a piece of candy from such a huge variety in a large bowl.  It could be that they have trouble self-regulating and grab too much impulsively.  Perhaps they melt down in front of others. Not everyone will understand, but some will.  You may feel alone, but there are a whole community of parents out there who support and embrace you. 

Monday, October 28, 2013

Double Chocolate Chunk Cookies from gluten, grain, egg and starch free

I've been making these chocolate cookies from lately.  Yum and Yum. 

Check out the original directions below (and then see bottom of post for my own variations). 

  • 2 packed cups Blanched Almond Flour 
  • 1/3 cup cocoa powder
  • 1 Tsp. Baking Powder
  • 1/4 Tsp. Salt
  • 1/2 Cup + 2 Tbs Granulated Sugar 
  • 1 Tbs Vanilla Extract
  • 4 1/2 Tbs Room Temperature Butter  (Earth Balance, Goats Butter, Shortening or Coconut Oil)
  • 2 Tbs Applesauce
  • 1-2 bars of Dairy Free Chocolate Chopped into Chunks
  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Cover a large cookie sheet with either parchment paper or a baking mat to prevent sticking.
  2. Chop your bar(s) of chocolate into chunks (as big or as small as you want them).
  3. In the bowl of a stand mixer (by hand should work as well) combine all of the ingredients until the dough comes together stirring in the chopped chocolate last.
  4. Form 12 cookies with your hands into round / flat patties (I made mine 1 inch thick and about 3 inches wide).
  5. Bake 15-16 minutes. Remove from oven and allow to cool before removing from baking sheet.

My own variations--
I use 1/4 cup agave nectar and 1/4 cup coconut palm sugar.  I like the texture of the cookie a little better this way.  If I don't have applesauce, I actually use one large egg because I do eat eggs.  I use coconut oil and it works out well.  The cookies are great without chocolate chunks or chips as well.  Recently I put in mini-chips and dried cherries.  

Monday, October 21, 2013

Relationship with the Father: Luke 15 devotion

Excerpt from Soul Cries devotional copyright Regan 2012
*2013 National Indie Excellence Award Finalist*

Luke 15:11-13 (Amplified Bible)

And He said, There was a certain man who had two sons; And the younger of them said to his father, Father, give me the part of the property that falls [to me]. And he divided the estate between them. And not many days after that, the younger son gathered up all that he had and journeyed into a distant country, and there he wasted his fortune in reckless and loose [from restraint] living.

The father had two sons. The older son had a relationship with the rules. The younger son had a relationship with his father’s property. Who had a relationship with the father? Who chose father over property, rules, inheritance, and justification? However, the father wanted relationship with his sons. When his youngest son was still a long way off, the father ran out to him and threw his arms around him, restoring the son's place in the family, calling for a party! When the older son was angry because the rules for right behavior had been broken, the father came outside to him and asked him to come into the household and join in the family celebration.

No matter what we are attached to, God is always inviting us back into the house, into the family, into relationship with Him. He longs for relationship with you, even when the rules have been broken and the property is gone. He wants you. He wants your children. He wants to be close to you, to speak intimately with you of eternal things. What do you want? Can we say we want the Father completely, without offense or reservation, and that nothing else comes first?

1. Are relationships at the top of your priority list? How is your relationship with God? Does it need tending, commitment, or time? How can you pay attention to that relationship today?

2. In what ways can we show our children that relationships and people come first? How can we consistently invite them into the household, no matter what? How can we help them demonstrate that love and relationship to others?

Friday, October 11, 2013 Lego plus googlemaps

Have you played around with the site "" It reminds me of minecraft in a way.  Google and LEGO worked together to use a map of Australia and New Zealand which allows people to build LEGO structures, publish them on the map, and view what others have built.

Tuesday, October 8, 2013

Check out Raw Chocolate-Swirl Cheesecake bars from

This is a great one from  I actually make a double batch of this recipe and use a cupcake tin with liners to make 12 servings.  I keep them in the freezer, and eat one for breakfast as I run out the door for protein packed goodness.  It fills me up and lasts a long time.  The basic recipe is below, but use the link for the most complete directions. 

Raw Chocolate-Swirl Cheesecake bars

Chocolate Crust:
1 cup raw pecans
2 Tablespoons cocoa powder
2 Tablespoons pure maple syrup (preferably Grade B)
1 Tablespoon coconut oil
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/4 teaspoon sea salt
In a food processor, process the pecans and crust ingredients until crumbly.
Cheesecake filling:
1 cup raw cashews, soaked for at least an hour
1/2 cup zucchini, peeled and chopped
2 1/2 Tablespoons fresh lemon juice
2 Tablespoons coconut oil
1/4 cup honey (or agave, for vegans)
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/4 teaspoon sea salt
Throw all of the ingredients into a blender and blend until silky smooth. Pour the filling over the chocolate crust and smooth the top, using a spatula.
Chocolate Swirl:
2 Tablespoons cocoa powder
1 Tablespoon pure maple syrup
1 Tablespoon coconut oil, in liquid form
Whisk the ingredients together until smooth. Next, using a spoon, gently pour 3-4 lines across the cheesecake bars and swirl.