45 THOROUGHLY TESTED AND HAND PICKED TOYS, BY MY VERY FAVORITE, HIGHLY RESPECTED, PROFESSIONAL SENSORY SEEKER HIMSELF.RIOT.
With today being the biggest contact sport shopping day of the year.. dun dun dun.. Black Friday.. The official countdown to whatever holiday(s) you buy presents for has started. I only participated in said event once in my life and then determined it was absolutely not for me. Some family members and close friends have already started asking me for gift suggestions for Riot this Christmas.. Other than his obsession with Thomas, he really loves just about anything that gives him the sensory input he craves. He’s a Sensory Seeker. There are many children like him.. Some that are autistic, some with SPD, and some that are neurotypical. They come in all shapes and sizes.
This is the most simplified way to determine what flavor of sensory processor you’re working with and what they need to self-regulate(and to have fun, duh!):
Everyone knows a kid that’s a sensory seeker.. So, instead of really taking a shot in the dark when picking out a gift for them, I compiled a pretty kickass list to guide you straight to the top of Best Christmas Present Ever status. You literally can’t go wrong with anything on here. I’ve included everything from indoor trampolines and platform swings for outside, to play dough, foam soap, and little stocking stuffers that these kiddos can’t get enough of. Trust me. Well.. trust Riot – he’s my inside sourceAHEM.
This post contains affiliate links.. which just means if you make a purchase through a link found on RRRIOTmama, you won’t get charged any extra, but Riot and I will make a couple of dollars to save up for take-out at the end of the week. Every penny counts.. thanks for helping us out!
If you’re trying to figure out WTF all of this sensory jargon means, I’ve put some links at the bottom of this post that helped me *get* it a bit more. I think..
Have suggestions that have been a major hit at your house? PLEASE comment below or shoot me an email and fill me in so I can add it to the list and run the idea past Riot!
If you found any of this helpful or know someone that will, share share share!The more people that understand the plight of sensory seekers, the less unhappy, unraveling, rabid, wild children we’ll have on the streets!
And of course I can’t go an entire post without any mention of the boy! I’m so pumped to have some juicy, goal stuffed post by the end of next week! We have his one year Early Intervention re-evaluation on Wednesday morning to recap the past year’s off the charts progress and line up what the next plans will be!
Perfect the ABCs? Learn code? Fly to the moon?
SPOILER ALERT: All of the above.
Have a successful Black Friday! May the odds be ever in your favor!
share, share, SHARE!
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I dont usually participate in the whole Throwback Thursday thing, but when I do..
IT’S BECAUSE TWO YEARS AGO I HAD THE COOLEST BABY JACK-O-LANTERN!?
Don’t try to beat it. You can’t. I’ll just go ahead aned stick with my exact quote that Facebook told me I wrote..
Sorry, but none of your kids are ever going to be cuter/funnier/cooler than [mine]. It’s okay – don’t get down on yourself about it – you did the best you could.
How did 2 years happen so fast? This was round 1 of our pumpkin decorating the other night (we still have at least 1 more session before they’ll be done).
Rumor has it that when we go to his best friend Rocco’s birthday party this weekend we’ll be CARVING pumpkins! This will be a FIRST for BOTH of us! Thankfully there will be some real adults there to supervise since this mama has no idea what she’s doing!
oh, ya, and this
If you have the pleasure (?) of knowing me IRL then there’s no doubt you aware of my hoarder tendencies. I’d love to hold onto every piece of Riot’s clothing forever and ever, but I’ve come to terms with knowing he’ll be my only child.. there’s no reason for me to keep these kickass outfits any longer so if you digg our style now you’re just a few clicks away from having it. It’s really a win/win.. your kiddo gets to look way cool and in turn I get to buy homeboy some new gear because he’s growing faster than I can type this post. Real talk.
For a while I was doing great with selling what the boy had outgrown on TotSpot, but they’ve now been taken over by Poshmark and I just can’t get down with it. They charge sellers significantly more so you’re making nothing if you want to cash out and their selection of kids clothes simply sucks. Anyways, we’re up and selling on Mercari now! I have tons to sort through, photograph and post so keep checking back if you don’t see anything you love the first time you look. If you click on the image above it should redirect you right to our online closet to browse (and shop!!) Whether or not you end up buying something from me personally, use the code KXHMGH and you’ll get a $2 discount. I’m going to put a link for our closet on the sidebar too so you guys won’t have to look for this post after it’s buried under more of my stories.
“If a child cannot learn in the way we teach.. we must teach in a way the child can learn.” -Dr. O Lovaas
I can’t believe we’re just a week shy of it being one year since Riot was diagnosed with autism spectrum disorder (10/28/2015). That sentence alone brings on such a tidal wave of emotions, memories.. all the feelings! Two weeks ago Riot and I drove into Boston for his one year follow up appointment with his developmental pediatrician to go over his progress and discuss what our next set of goals would be. With the biggest smile on my face I’m the proudest ever to report back to anyone reading this that his doctor was absolutely blown away by all the skills he’s learned in just 12 months. People often forget that he understands nearly everything that is said to him (because he doesn’t have all the words just yet to respond), but the night before and on our way into the city I reminded him what this appointment was for and how he should walk right in like a big boy and show off everything he now knew how to do. And he did! While the doctor and I caught up he went down the list giving examples of all his new tricks: he was signing to ask her if he could play with the toys she had on the shelf.. which he pointed to (if you’re not an autism parent then you probably don’t know that pointing to show you something is a big deal), pairing those signs with words.. WORDS! Truck! Car! Percy! Thomas! Owl… Hoooo-Hoooo! He sat at the tiny kids desk in her office and played.. making the toys all talk to each other and making propeller noises while he held up an airplane that was using the windowsill as a runway.. Imaginative play! Then he stopped to ask me (signing and verbally) for a snack and something to drink. Yup. It literally went as good as it could’ve possibly gone. I couldn’t have done it better myself. Or, like, if I had bribed him with a tub of chocolate frosting (he’s definitely my kid) and unlimited hours of iPad time. Not to mention he was so well behaved for the entire 60 minute appointment and all of the travel time.
That little boy, man.. I’m telling you.. He’s my masterpiece.
I’ve heard stories of families who have had to jump through hoops in order to get their child diagnosed so they could get all the right help for them. Stories of parents going from one doctor to the next, advocating for their kiddo, searching for answers, and hoping for a diagnosis on paper because then and only then would it be real.. And from there they could fight with every phone representative from their health insurance company.. until finally therapies and autism specialty services were set up and ready to start! Almost every autism family that I’ve met has a similar story to this. Thankfully, Massachusetts is one of the best states to live in if you have autism or are caring for someone with autism.
Click here to check out what the state insurance coverage for autism and autism speciatly services is like in each of the 50 states and the District of Columbia.
I’m grateful that our ASD diagnosis story was nothing like the dozens of others I’d heard from friends and acquaintances. Ours came quite easily, actually. So easy that.. I honestly had no idea it was even happening. How embarrassing.
It went down like this: On a random day in the last week of August, 2015, was Riot’s 15 month well baby checkup. Up until that point I never had any questions or concerns regarding milestones to talk to his ped about. This time I went in knowing what I wanting. I told his doctor that even though he may still be on schedule for being considered a late talker, I wanted to make an appointment with an SLP. Thankfully his pediatrician knew me well enough to know that I wasn’t going to take no for an answer. After his generic some kids are just late talkers spiel, he referred us to an SLP for an evaluation.
About a month, maybe 5 weeks at most, after that was the day we met the SLP. She commented how impressed she was that Riot was so advanced for his age. I specifically remember this was because he had spotted where she hid the key that unlocked the cabinet that held all of her most precious jewels.. AKA all of her toys.. and, of course, then spent the majority of his appointment trying to keep her distracted long enough to pull off his first B & E.
Around his first birthday he’d been saying mama, dada, and.. pasta. WHAT?! lol, yes. Now let’s pause for a sec so you can get a proper visual of what a one year old Riot looked like. The dopest one year old I’d ever come across.
I digress.. By this point (15 months) he was completely nonverbal. Months later I found out that this is the time period that a lot of autisitic families refer to as when their child “lost their voice”.. Since Riot only had those 3 words, it wasn’t something that stood out when we stopped hearing them. It seemed like he was just focused on mastering other skills instead. DO NOT BE FOOLED – just because he was nonverbal didn’t mean he was quiet. That boy never shut up!
Anyways, the SLP wrapped up the session by saying she was going to get in touch with Early Intervention so they could come to our home and do an evaluation with Riot. She explained that because Riot wasn’t talking yet that he would likely qualify for Early Intervention and they would set up an SLP to come to our home for weekly sessions. Wait.. So we won’t even have to leave the house?!? Sign us up!! Early Intervention evaluations took some time to schedule and then after that you have to wait a bit while they find a therapist to fit into a set weekly schedule for you. The timeline to get the whole thing up and running could take a couple of months. The SLP said that she had available slots open and could work with Riot until EI began. Before saying our goodbyes (or.. notsaying goodbye) she had us make an appointment (about 3 weeks from then) with a developmental pediatrician in our network.
At that point in time, I had no clue how any of this shit worked.. health insurance in general, needing referrals, not needing referrals, in/out of network, HMO, PPO, PCP, Obamacare, EPO.. Actually, if we’re being all honest here, I’m still winging it. Leaving the SLP’s office that day I was happy and satisfied and under the impression that seeing a developmental pediatrician was something that we had to do in order for the SLP to take Riot on as a regular patient.
Fast forward 3 weeks, Riot and I were late, per usual, but we made it to Boston for the appointment! The doctor was nice; there wasn’t anything extraordinary about her. She spent 60 minutes doing a play-based evaluation and that was that! She booked me an appointment for two weeks later, said I was not to bring Riot along, and that’s when she would go over her evaluation findings with me.
I cannot stress enough that I sincerely thought this meant she was going to sit me down and say “Yes, you were right. Your son will, in fact, benefit from seeing a speech therapist.” then hand me some award for being the world’s okayest mom and wrap it up with a high-five.
Now two weeks have gone by and we haven’t thought any more about the evaluation with that doctor. Riot goes to his grammy’s for the day so I can go to the recap appointment.. and I swear, before my ass even hit the chair she said, “So, I’ve diagnosed your son, Riot, with AUTISM SPECTRUM DISORDER. I’ll now go over the critieria from the DSM-5 that he met in order for me to come to that diagnosis.” She went over her 4 page written evaluation with me and recommended that Riot receive 25-30 hours a week of intensive in home therapy. Wait. What!? WHAT?! Let me take a second to say that is wasn’t the diagnosis that took me by surprise. You can ask any of our closest friends and they’ll confirm that I’d suspected ASD for some time. Pre-mom-life I would’ve said that a mother’s intuition was total bullshit.. but, it is so so SO real. Little quirks and things began standing out to me as early as when Riot was just 8 months old. whoa whoa whoa.. wait a sec though.. I had NO idea that we were seeing this developmental pediatrician for an ASD evaluation. There was never any mention of anything autism. I had not mentally prepared at all to receive that kind of loaded information. I literally didn’t even know that card was on the table!
Before this life altering news, I had initially planned on going to the appointment then treating myself to lunch at one of my favorite city spots and happily walking up and down the aisles, daydreaming at Blick Art Supplies since it was on the same block. Without realizing it, I skipped my solo lunch and art store date and just got my parking validated instead.. I remember sitting in my car in the parking garage for a while without turning it on. It was grey out, drizzling, and humid for October. Come to think of it, the weather was almost exactly like it was yesterday. I wore cheap black flats and had walked through a puddle so now my feet were freezing. The weather along with how uncomfortable my cold, damp feet felt perfectly matched the mood I was in. After the initial shock subsided, the next feeling was one of relief. Now that there was a diagnosis, we were one step closer to learning all sorts of new stuff. To me, this was incredibly exciting. Oh, and this meant I hadn’t been crazy (LOL, or any crazier than normal) every time I voiced or silently noted my boy’s little quirks.
Riot didn’t know it yet, but we were ready.
I was able to get Early Intervention set up pretty quickly after the diagnosis. They started him slowly to get him used to the routine.. Only 2 hours/week for the first few weeks. I can’t remember whether or not I wrote about this whole process of researching ABA, choosing a specific provider, setting it all up, etc in THE ELEPHANT IN THE ROOM, but since Riot’s father and I had had a falling out right around the same time, I was completely on my own navigating all of this and making major decisions. There was a lot of crying involved on my end. It was incredibly stressful. But, looking back now I’m so happy I did it without anyone else’s input because I know I set up the best possible team and goals for my son. (SON. Son! It still sounds so weird to me saying that I have a son! Ha!)
After meeting with Riot’s ABA team leader for the first time, I remember her telling me how a year from then (January 2016) I was going to be amazed by all the progress he’d made and how much he’d be able to accomplish in a seemingly short amount of time. Next, I remember thinking that she was full of shit with her generic positive pep talk that she was obviously trained to recite to each family.
. . .
WOW.. I’m eating my words now, huh?
Don’t get me wrong, I never doubted how smart Riot was and I knew he’d be able to learn whatever it was they were going to teach him… but I definitely did not anticipate that he’d be where he is today only 9months since that conversation.
How many other toddlers (aside from ones on the spectrum) do you know that have a time card working this many hours a week? And it doesn’t stop there. There’s no clocking out with ABA. These kiddos work harder than half of the adults that I know. Last May Riot had gotten up to 22 hours/wk, but right around when his dad and I split he lost one of his teachers due to.. I don’t know, she got her feeling involved or some weird shit that makes me want to slap her.. anyways, that cut a ton of his hours unfortunately. Things are getting back to normal with his schedule though! Since the end of August when we got joint physical & legal custody I’ve busted my ass annoying, ahem, I mean advocating andpushing for his team to get him more hours each week. And they have! In fact, I already have to update that weekly schedule I posted above because since then they were able to add hours again on Tuesday mornings. So, now we are up to 20 hours/wk of ABA therapy.
bla bla bla AUTISM JARGON bla bla bla
Explaining how autistic kids learn is confusing. Even though I get it and get how Riot, specifically, learns, I still manage to confuse myself when talking about it. Thankfully I found this stuff on the interwebz..
This is the rundown of all the different ways a skill is taught and practiced over and over again until eventually the child can do it on their own, unprompted..
And if you can’t imagine what each of those prompts would actually be in regards to teaching/learning a skill, these are great examples so you can have that “ahhh, now I get it!” moment.
I’m going to leave this post to be continued because I have so much more to share/bragabout the newest things my spawn has started doing over the past few weeks. If he doesn’t completely drain me of all my energy over the next few days I’ll be sure to write more and post! I’ll leave you with this quote I found, no idea who said it, but truer words have never been spoken! -Xo
Thank you, thank you, thank you to everyone that reached out and wished me a happy birthday this past weekend! It was absolutely wonderful. In past years I spent at the very least a week of pure wild partying with friends to celebrate, but even though things were a bit more tame, (only one night of craziness!) the entire birthday weekend was amazing!
Friday was the birthday weekend kickoff! Riot and I went with my niece, and her daughter (my GREAT niece! Wow. Like I’m actually 79!) and had tons of fun cooling off at the splash pad and getting down at the playground! I love that watching Riot and Kaia play together! My niece and I having babies so close together was perfect not planning!! Now these cousins get to grow up together!
After mommy’s night out on Saturday, my official 29 year old body gave me a break and allowed me to bounce back from my hangover pretty quickly Sunday morning. Thank God! After helping me blow out my candles we were off to one of Riot’s favorite places.. The Discovery Museum! My boy gave his mama the best present ever too!.. A mold of his two year old hand prints just as they were on the morning of my birthday in a frame he had colored and a photo of him pushing Owl on a swing. Be still my heart!
Nothing makes me happier than watching him play. Just about once a month The Discovery Museum has an evening called “Especially For ME”, a free night for ASD diagnosed families to go to the museum. It’s great. It’s a judgement free zone, they have designated areas to take a break if the kiddos become overstimulated and there’s even food provided from Joe’s American Bar and Grill. If you’ve donated to our Autism Speaks walk – TEAM RIOT GEAR – than you’ve helped make these Especially For ME nights possible since Autism Speaks is one of the main sponsors. I speak for many families that take advantage of these ASD friendly events when I say THANK YOU!