Archive | May, 2011

Summer Fun for ASD Kids!

31 May

Summer scares me. With good reason.

Last summer ranks as one of the most difficult for Paige, my now-15-year-old daughter with autism.  She was restless, moody, and generally miserable.  As her mother, I was restless, moody, and generally miserable, too!  Our tough season had many benefits—not the least of which was that we pushed for her to qualify for Medicaid (which she did) and funds for respite care (another yes).  We also switched schools, one of the few decisions I’ve made as a mom that has no down sides.  It’s all good!  Seriously!!

If you’re dreading the summer with your special-needs kid, consider reaching out to your local Easter Seals or school district for a list of camps and activities in your area.  Your kid probably could do with a dose of stimulation—and you need the break.

Here’s one program I love!  The following is an email I received over the weekend from the Dallas Museum of Art.  (I think this is such a fabulous program; the folks there are fantastic.)

Summer Art Camp for Children with Autism at the DMA – reduced price and expanded age range!

Due to the high number of adults who are interested in helping with the camp, we have decided to expand the camp’s age range from ages 9-12 to ages 7-12 since each child will be able to have more personal attention.  The summer art camp is specifically designed for children on the Autism Spectrum.  Stacey Callaway, the autism specialist that we work with to develop Autism Awareness Family Celebrations, and I will co-teach the camp for children ages 7-12.  The camp is a four day camp and will explore works of art in the Museum’s collection, integrate multisensory experiences, and have a wide-range of materials in the studio for art-making.  We will have several specially-trained volunteers on hand to assist with the camp.

Camp description:

hands-on art for children with autism
ages 7-12
Interact with works of art in the galleries, engage in a variety of hands-on experiences, and explore art processes to create a masterpiece in the studio during this four-day camp designed specifically for children with autism spectrum disorders. Taught collaboratively with an autism specialist and Museum staff, this camp will offer various media experiences and will focus on themes in works of art from many cultures. Visual picture schedules will be used to integrate art, music, social interaction, sensory exploration, and movement.
Please note this is a four day camp.

Cost: Members was $140, now $100! Nonmembers was $152, now $112!
Monday–Thursday, June 20–23, 1:00–4:00 p.m.
Teachers: Amanda Blake and Stacey Callaway

To register for this camp with the new price, please contact JC Bigornia at 214-922-1822 or JBigornia@DallasMuseumofArt.org
Website with general summer camp info (please note that the new price and age group is not listed in the brochure):
http://www.dm-art.org/Family/SummerCamps/index.htm

Also: the Dallas Museum of Art will be hosting a free event for children on the autism spectrum and their families on Saturday, June 18. The Center for Creative Connections in the Museum will open two hours early for families to enjoy the space and to participate in a variety of activities. (I’ve been to one of these and they are excellent!)

Pre-registration for the event is required. For more info, visit www.dm-art.org.

Safe Summer! Tips for the Pool

31 May

My 5-year-old son does NOT want to take swimming lessons.  But this year (after skipping last summer) I’ve already signed him up for a full summer of Saturday classes.  Case closed.  Though we don’t have a backyard pool, Chip’s babysitter does as do several of his best friends.  Regardless, to my way of thinking, swimming is a critical life skill.

The government agrees!

Here are some stats from the Consumer Product Safety Commission guaranteed to scare any mother:

  • An annual average of 383 pool and spa-related drownings for children younger than 15 occurred from 2006 to 2008; about 76 percent of the reported fatalities involved children younger than five.
  • An estimated average of 5,100 pool or spa emergency department-treated submersions for children younger than 15 occurred each year from 2008 to 2010; children younger than five represented 79 percent of these-injuries.
  • Children between the ages of one and three (12 to 47 months) represented 66 percent of these fatalities and 64 percent of the injuries.
  • About 72 percent of the fatalities from 2006 through 2008, and 55 percent of the estimated injuries from 2008 through 2010 that involved children younger than 15 occurred in a residential pool or spa; children under five made up the majority of incidents at residential locations, with 84 percent of fatalities and 61 percent of injuries, respectively.
  • Tragically, based on reported statistics, 96% of victims involved in a submersion incident will die.  Fatalities usually occur the day of the drowning event (72%).  For the victims who survive the event, most will succumb to their injuries within a week (24%).  Only 4% of near drowning victims will survive beyond a week, and many will have severe injuries and require intensive medical care.
  • There were no reported entrapment fatalities for 2010.  CPSC received three reports of entrapment injury incidents during 2010.

So what can you do to keep your tot safe? A lot! The American Academy of Pediatrics recommends:

  • Never leave your children alone in or near the pool, even for a moment.  An adult who knows CPR should actively supervise children at all times.
  • Practice touch supervision with children younger than 5 years.  This means that the adult is within an arm’s length of the child at all times.
  • You must put up a fence to separate your house from the pool.  Most young children who drown in pools wander out of the house and fall into the pool.  Install a fence at least 4 feet high around all 4 sides of the pool.  This fence will completely separate the pool from the house and play area of the yard.  Use gates that self-close and self-latch, with latches higher than your children’s reach.
  • Keep rescue equipment (such as a shepherd’s hook or life preserver) and a telephone by the pool.
  • Do not use air-filled “swimming aids” (i.e. floaties) as a substitute for approved life vests.
  • Remove all toys from the pool after use so children aren’t tempted to reach for them.
  • After the children are done swimming, secure the pool so they can’t get back into it.
  • A power safety cover that meets the standards of the American Society for Testing and Materials (ASTM) may add to the protection of your children but should not be used in place of the fence between your house and the pool.  Even fencing around your pool and using a power safety cover will not prevent all drownings.

Weekend Calendar Reminder

27 May

Here’s a quick look at what’s going on this weekend – click on the links or check out our calendar for all the details!

Friday, May 27:

CityArts Fair Park Festival

FREE Summer Concert Series at Levitt Pavilion

Saturday, May 28:

CityArts Fair Park Festival

Free Kids’ Crafts at Lakeshore Learning

Kids’ Fishing at Bass Pro Shops

Kidtoon Movies at Studio Movie Grill (Arlington Highlands)

FREE Summer Concert Series at Levitt Pavilion

Sunday, May 29:

CityArts Fair Park Festival

Kidtoon Movies at Studio Movie Grill (Arlington Highlands)

FREE Summer Concert Series at Levitt Pavilion

52 FEATS – NUMBER 21 (Reading to My Kids)

26 May

For the original 52 FEATS blog entry, click here.

UPDATE – DAY 4 (Thursday):

What a great Feat.  Few joys equal laying in bed with my kids and hearing them say, “Let’s read another one!”

I hope this has inspired some of you to stop your busy lives and read to your kids.  And Lisa made a great comment – reading is a modeled behavior, too.  Take some time for yourself and crack open a book!  You’ll be glad you did.

ABOUT FEAT NUMBER 21:

Reading is one of my favorite pastimes.  I was an avid reader as a child, and my love of books has continued into adulthood.  In addition to reading for fun (Harry Potter and Twilight, anyone?), I belong to a book club, which has given me the immense pleasure of discovering new books while discussing interesting ideas with some really smart women.

When I became a parent, reading to my kids was very important to me.  It makes children smarter, it stimulates their imaginations, and it provides some great bonding time.  I started reading to both my children when they were too young to even see the books clearly.  Even as infants, I brought them to story time at the library on a regular basis.

I’ve heard that parents should read to their kids at least 20 minutes every day.  I used to scoff at that – we could easily do 20 minutes in one sitting!  In a whole day we always topped that.  At any given time, we usually have about 30 books checked out from the library!

But lately, we’ve become so busy with other responsibilities (or rather, I’ve become so busy) that on most days, we don’t make even that 20-minute mark.  I remember a couple days last week when we got into bed after endless activities, without having cracked a single book all day.  While I don’t want to beat myself up over that, I know I can do better.

This week, I’m going to make reading to my children a top priority.  My son can read, so I’m going to make sure that he’s getting daily reading practice as well.  Neither one of my kids is in school, so that gives us plenty of time each day for reading.  And, as usual, we’re well-stocked with a huge stack of library books.

Happy reading week, everyone – sit down with your kids (or just yourself) and read!!

Levitt Pavilion in Arlington – Free Summer Concert Series

26 May

Join the fun at Levitt Pavilion in Arlington for the FREE summer concert series!  All shows begin at 8 pm, except for the children’s shows on Wednesdays in June, which are at 10:30 am and 7:30 pm.  All shows are FREE, except for the Charlie Daniels Band on June 4 –  proceeds from the ticket sales for that show fund the rest of the summer’s concerts, and it is the ONLY show for which a ticket is required.

Concertgoers are invited to bring lawn chairs, blankets, picnic food, coolers, and insect repellant.  Parking is free around the amphitheater.

Levitt Pavilion is located at 100 W. Abram Street in Arlington.  To visit their website, visit www.levittpavilionarlington.org.

May 27:  Ambrosia

May 28:  The Quebe Sisters Band

May 29:  The Dirty Dozen Brass Band

June 1:  Eddie Coker (children’s show)

June 2:  Grupo Fantasma

June 3:  Soul Track Mind

June 4:  The Charlie Daniels Band (benefit concert, tickets required)

June 5:  Austin Lounge Lizards

June 8:  Secret Agent 23 Skidoo (children’s show)

June 9:  Cas Haley

June 10:  Carrie Rodriquez

June 11:  Turnpike Troubadours

June 12:  The Spring Standards

June 15:  Lannaya West African Drum & Dance Ensemble (children’s show)

June 16:  The Orbans

June 17:  Terri Hendrix

June 18:  Rick Trevino

June 19:  Blame Sally

June 22:  Aaron Nigel Smith (children’s show)

June 23:  Katsuk

June 24:  Josh Weathers & the True Endeavors

June 25:  Sonny Burgess

June 26:  The Lee Boys

June 29:  The Biscuit Brothers (children’s show)

June 30:  Del Castillo

July 1:  The Killdares

July 2:  Mingo Fishtrap

July 3:  Radney Foster (Arlington Independence Day celebration with fireworks)

Pat on the Back

25 May

I was babysitting for a friend of mine recently, when her son (who is pirate obsessed) asked me for a “skull” sandwich for lunch.  I told him I was sorry, but that I didn’t have a skull cookie cutter!  He told me not to worry; I could just use a knife, “like mommy does”!   Hmmmmm, he was right.  I cut out little skull sandwiches for three children who ate really well that afternoon!  They were a big hit, even with my own picky eater who hasn’t eaten a sandwich in I can’t even remember how long!

That moment in time got me to thinking about kids, their uniqueness, and what they bring as individuals to the Universe.  I got to thinking about my own children too, their preferences.

I’ll never forget the time I was at Toys R Us with my oldest daughter.  (She was going through a phase where she fancied herself a princess.  She rarely went anywhere not in costume.  Her favorite was her Cinderella dress.  She would bedazzle herself in jewels as well.  I loved it!  I knew it wouldn’t last forever, and yes, I was “that mom” who let her where it wherever whenever.)  I passed an older woman who was grinning ear to ear and she said something like, “You’re a really fun mom, I can tell!”  That one simple statement made my year.

I am a mom who picks her battles.  Expressions like choice of clothing are not a battle I choose to engage in.  In writing this blog, I just want to express my gratitude to other moms who allow their kids to be who they are; expressing themselves in the ways they want.  Kudos to you moms (dads and other caregivers), who like me, allow their children to make their own clothing choices (my younger daughter is currently either in a swimsuit or leotard daily), even when they are mismatched, a costume, or not something we would pick out ourselves!

I think sometimes we forget that children are their own individual people with their very own preferences.  Some boys like to wear their hair long, or have an ear (or two) pierced.  Some girls like to have really short hair and wear football uniforms!

Universal acceptance starts in the home, and it starts with us grownups teaching our children!  Feel free to comment and share stories about your child’s personal style!  I’d love to hear about the craziest or zaniest outfit your child has ever worn!

Jazz Under the Stars at the DMA

24 May

Thursdays, May 12–June 16, 2011, 8:00 p.m., Ross Avenue Plaza, Dallas Museum of Art, FREE

Summer nights sizzle with cool jazz under the stars. Bring a picnic and blanket or purchase food and beverages on-site. (*NO glass containers allowed.)

May 19:  UNT One O’Clock Lab Band

May 26:  Sharel Cassity Quintet

June 2:  Natural Change featuring Tony Blaine and Paul Rogers

June 9:  Tim Ries and The Rolling Stones Project

June 16:  Rosana Eckert

Keeping Our Kids Safe: National Missing Children’s Day and More

24 May

Etan Patz

My stomach stayed clenched the entire time was researching and writing a magazine piece last week on after-school safety.  One child is abducted every 40 seconds in the United States.  The nationwide Amber Alert program was named after Amber Hagerman, a 9-year-old Arlington resident who was abducted off her bicycle in broad daylight in 1996 and murdered.  It’s the stuff of parental nightmares, causing the kind of imagined pain that actually hurts.

Fortunately, law enforcement officers, social workers, child advocates and teachers around the Metroplex continue doing heroic work in educating kids and their parents about the dangers.  Tomorrow—May 25—is National Missing Children’s Day.  Here is some crucial info for you and your family:

What Parents Can Do To Keep Children Safe

Every year in America an estimated 800,000 children are reported missing, more than 2,000 children each day.  Of that number, 58,000 are abducted by non-family members.  The primary motive for non-family abductions is sexual.  Each year 115 children are the victims of the most serious abductions, taken by non-family members and either murdered, held for ransom, or taken with the intent to keep.

“We know teaching children about safety works,” said Ernie Allen, president and CEO of NCMEC.  “It is important that parents take the time to talk to their children about safety.”

An analysis of attempted abduction cases by NCMEC found that in 82% of the cases, children escaped would-be abductors through their own actions, by yelling, kicking, pulling away, running away or attracting attention.

May 25th is the anniversary of the day in 1979 when 6-year-old Etan Patz disappeared from a New York street corner on his way to school and has been observed as National Missing Children’s Day since 1983 when it was first proclaimed by President Ronald Reagan.  Etan’s story captivated the nation.  His photo, taken by his father, a professional photographer was circulated nationwide and appeared in media across the country and around the world.  The powerful image of Etan has come to symbolize the anguish and trauma of thousands of searching families.  The search for Etan continues.  He is still missing.

Safety Tips for Your Kids

At Home

1.      Teach your children their full names, address, and home telephone number. Make sure they know your full name.

2.      Make sure your children know how to reach you at work or on your cell phone.

3.      Teach your children how and when to use 911 and make sure your children have a trusted adult to call if they’re scared or have an emergency.

4.      Instruct children to keep the door locked and not to open the door to talk to anyone when they are home alone. Set rules with your children about having visitors over when you’re not home and how to answer the telephone.

5.      Choose babysitters with care. Obtain references from family, friends, and neighbors. Once you have chosen the caregiver, drop in unexpectedly to see how your children are doing. Ask children how the experience with the caregiver was and listen carefully to their responses.

On the Net

6.      Learn about the Internet. The more you know about how the Web works, the better prepared you are to teach your children about potential risks. Visit http://www.NetSmartz.org for more information about Internet safety.

7.      Place the family computer in a common area, rather than a child’s bedroom. Also, monitor their time spent online and the websites they’ve visited and establish rules for Internet use.

8.      Know what other access your child may have to the Internet at school, libraries, or friends’ homes.

9.      Use privacy settings on social networking sites to limit contact with unknown users and make sure screen names don’t reveal too much about your children.

10.  Encourage your children to tell you if anything they encounter online makes them feel sad, scared, or confused.

11.  Caution children not to post revealing information or inappropriate photos of themselves or their friends online.

At School

12.  Walk the route to and from school with your children, pointing out landmarks and safe places to go if they’re being followed or need help. If your children ride a bus, visit the bus stop with them to make sure they know which bus to take.

13.  Remind kids to take a friend whenever they walk or bike to school. Remind them to stay with a group if they’re waiting at the bus stop.

14.  Caution children never to accept a ride from anyone unless you have told them it is OK to do so in each instance.

Out and About

15.  Take your children on a walking tour of the neighborhood and tell them whose homes they may visit without you.

16.  Remind your children it’s OK to say NO to anything that makes them feel scared, uncomfortable, or confused and teach your children to tell you if anything or anyone makes them feel this way.

17.  Teach your children to ask permission before leaving home.

18.  Remind your children not to walk or play alone outside.

19.  Teach your children to never approach a vehicle, occupied or not, unless they know the owner and are accompanied by a parent, guardian, or other trusted adult.

20.  Practice “what if” situations and ask your children how they would respond. “What if you fell off your bike and you needed help? Who would you ask?”

21.  Teach your children to check in with you if there is a change of plans.

22.  During family outings, establish a central, easy-to-locate spot to meet for check-ins or should you get separated.

23.  Teach your children how to locate help at theme parks, sports stadiums, shopping malls, and other public places. Also, identify those people who they can ask for help, such as uniformed law enforcement, security guards and store clerks with nametags.

24.  Help your children learn to recognize and avoid potential risks, so that they can deal with them if they happen.

25.  Teach your children that if anyone tries to grab them, they should make a scene and make every effort to get away by kicking, screaming, and resisting.

For more info, visit www.missingkids.com.

CityArts Fair Park Festival

24 May

From www.cityartsfestival.com:

Friday, May 27 through Sunday, May 29, 2011
Free & open to the public

Showcasing spectacular cultural, performing, visual and culinary arts, CityArts Festival presented by Big City Crushed Concrete will fill historic Fair Park with three days of art-loving, museum-visiting, chef-cooking, craft-making, film-watching, music-playing, fireworks-flying, water-dancing, full-blown family fun, Friday, May 27 – Sunday, May 29.

Free and open to the public, the event will boast a worldly array of festivities for families and art aficionados to enjoy Memorial Day weekend against the backdrop of Fair Park, a national landmark featuring the world’s largest collection of art deco exhibit buildings, art and sculpture.

New this year – ARTFEST will return to its traditional outdoor setting over Memorial Day weekend, a Friday night flick al fresco debuts as the perfect date night destination and rooftop fireworks will rock the town Saturday night!

Thanks to Atmos Energy, Fair Park’s eight museums will offer free admission during the weekend (hours vary) including the African American Museum, Children’s Aquarium at Fair Park, The Women’s Museum, Dallas Historical Society/Hall of State, Texas Museum of Automotive History, Texas Discovery Gardens, Museum of Nature & Science and Museum of the American Railroad.

Other highlights at CityArts Festival will include musical, dance and other performing arts acts on the main stage sponsored by MetroPCS; a children’s area sponsored by Prudential featuring more than 20 prominent arts organizations and nonprofits offering arts and crafts, interactive activities and family-fun entertainment; multi‐disciplinary demos and workshops; and a culinary area complete with demos and samplings by local chefs, plus beer, wine and liquor tastings.

And if that were not enough, you can watch Bellagio-style “dancing water” shows at the Esplanade Fountain, synchronized to music at the top of every hour from 6 p.m. – 9 p.m. Friday; 11 a.m. – 9 p.m. Saturday; and 12 noon – 5 p.m. Sunday.

Classic Movies on the Big Screen!

23 May

Come to Movie Tavern this summer for some great retro cinema classics!

Schedule:

May 24: Jurassic Park

May 26 & 31: Poltergeist

June 2 & 7: Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade

June 9 & 14: Ghostbusters

June 16 & 21: Top Gun

June 23 & 28: The Goonies

June 30 & July 4-5: Jaws

July 7 & 12: The Princess Bride

July 14 & 19: Fast Times at Ridgemont High

July 21 & 26: E.T.

July 28 & August 2: Back to the Future

August 4 & 9: Close Encounters of the Third Kind

August 11 & 16: Gremlins

August 18 & 23: Terminator 2

Click here for times and locations.

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