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An Online Magazine Dedicated to Awareness, Acceptance and Awesomeness Presented by We Rock for Autism

March 2015

First Annual Concert for Acceptance - April 8th, 2015 GiGi's Music Cafe - Sunrise, Florida Awesome Before Autism's post Bad Behavior vs Autism We Rock the Spectrum Gym - Big hit in Boca Our Monthly Pins and Tattoo Music Therapy - Power of Music Helps Young Patients Presented by

BOYS AND HYGIENE Like Oil and Water

by Joe Normal

March 2015 Issue Editor: Chris Wilson Proofreader and Content Editor: Justin Wilson, Jr. Subscribe for FREE today! www.TheMonthlyMelody.com/subscibe ___________________________________________________________________________________________ The Monthly Melody is a Publication of We Rock for Autism, Inc. a Nonprofit Organization. PO BOX 25884, Pembroke Pines, FL 33024 – support@werockforautism.org www.themonthlymelody.com – www.werockforautism.org ___________________________________________________________________________________________ The Monthly Melody and We Rock for Autism, Inc. does not endorse the views, products, or services contained herein. We are not responsible for omissions or errors. The Monthly Melody and We Rock for Autism, Inc. are not responsible for articles submitted to us without the final approval of the organization’s President. All articles and Advertisements are subject to final approval by our Board. We reserve the right to edit any article sent to us. Letters to The Editor should be sent to support@werockforautism.org We do not publish open letters or third-party letters. Letters for publication must include the writer’s address and phone numbers. We cannot return or acknowledge unpublished letters. Writers of those letters selected for publication will be notified prior to press date. Letters may be shortened for space requirements. . Copyright © 2015 We Rock for Autism, Inc. All rights reserved. Content contained in this publication may be reproduced for onetime personal use. However, anyone wishing to reproduce and distribute any content from within this publication for purposes other than personal use must request this intention in writing directly to the publisher. Failure to do so will be in violation of the copyright held by this publication.

STATEMENT OF POLICY AND DISCLAIMER The views expressed in any articles or advertisements included in this publication are not necessarily those of The Monthly Melody or the publishers We Rock for Autism, Inc. The Monthly Melody, We Rock for Autism, Inc. and the publishers do not promote or recommend any specific therapy, treatment, institution or professional viewpoint. Please check with a doctor when changing any diet or major nutritional change.

We Rock the Spectrum Kid’s Gym is a Hit in Boca Raton Impacting Communities and Changing Lives Boca Raton, FL –The only open play sensory gym in Boca Ratonhasn’t even been open a full year, and already it is making waves in the community. We Rock the Spectrum Kid’s Gym provides children with a fun and motivational environment to help them in the areas of strength, movement and sensory processing, communication experiences, behavior modifications, social interactions and self-care skills.

searching Google for a sensory safe gym and found We Rock the Spectrum. The only problem? It was in California. Gail took action and contacted the franchise owner, Dina Kimmel. Within six months, the doors to We Rock the Spectrum ~ Boca Raton had opened and Jayson had a place to grow and develop his fine motor skills. “Jayson wouldn’t even step foot in the gym in the beginning but now he plays with all the other children,” says Field. “His social skills have improved dramatically.” The gym features suspended equipment such as swings for balance and vestibular input, motor planning and strength tunnels, indoor play structure for climbing and increasing playground skills, sensory-based toys, motor play toys and equipment, arts and crafts and much more. The equipment at We Rock the Spectrum Kid's Gym is designed to assist all children in their neurological growth.

“We are so blessed that John and Gail Field brought We Rock the Spectrum to Boca Raton,” said Dina Kimmel, Founder and CEO. “Their passion to our mission has made them incredible owners. They have given South Florida the sensory gym that the community deserves.” With over 25 locations and growing, We Rock the Spectrum is a one of a kind unique kid’s gym and is committed to providing a safe, nurturing, and fun environment for ALL KIDS, to foster learning, exploration and safe sensory experiences. In addition to playtime and other activities and workshops, We Rock the Spectrum also offers a place for events and special services for families and therapists, who are treating and working with kids on the spectrum, as well as their family and friends. “We have been amazed at the response in our first year,” said Gail Field, owner and operator of WRTS Boca Raton. “Parents come up to me all the time and say ‘my daughter was nonverbal before she started playing here, and now she’s coming out of her shell every time we visit.” But it’s not just the parents of the gym’s patrons that are seeing a big change. Gail and her husband John experienced first hand what a sensory safe gym can do for a child. Their son Jayson is four years old and was diagnosed with Autism at age 2. Gail would take him to nearby gyms and his struggles continued. She kept

Founded in 2010, We Rock the Spectrum Kid’s Gym opened its first gym in Tarzana, California and became a national franchise in less than four years later. To learn more about We Rock the Spectrum, contact their corporate office at 818-996-6620 or info@wrtsfranchise.com. For media inquiries, contact Austin LaRoche or Shelly Ulaj of ATAK Interactive, Inc. 310-526-7493 austin@atakinteractive.com shelly@atakinteractiv.com

Bad Behaviour Vs Autism (A Blog Posting from Awesome Before Autism)

We've all come across kiddos that act like total brats right? And we are all adamant that our children won’t act that way. Now we all know that other parents often mistake autistic children for being badly behaved. It's very frustrating right? But the biggest question in my mind recently is... How do I tell when he really is misbehaving? Which brings me to…

Bad Behavoir vs. Autism

Little Mr Awesome is High Functioning Autistic. Sometimes with high functioning autism a lot of things can become over looked, especially by the professionals! However it's easy as a parent to overlook things too! I mean for a few years now I've definitely been guilty of excusing all types of behaviour due to Little Mr. Awesome’s extra needs. But more recently I’ve come a little concerned over excusing too much. So I decided to look more closely and to try harder to separate true bad behaviour from behaviours that were linked to autism. It's not easy I can tell you!

One of the biggest problems I have (and I’m sure you have too) is that Little Mr. Awesome constantly looks like butter wouldn't melt! He's totally cute in a cheeky kind of way with a killer smile! One flash of those big eyes and he seems so innocent! I also have to consider the fact that he is the youngest brother, he has two older brothers who are 16 and 17 so many behaviours can wear off on to him! Then there's his age, he's 7 years old, the worst age (in my opinion) for challenging authority along with the fact that I have been quite soft on him. On the flip side I have to take into account the fact that outside influences can cause stress leading to what others would class as bad behaviour. Then there’s the areas in which there is a lack of social understanding which can also result in behaviours that others feel are unacceptable. Now these types of behaviours are ones that I need to recognize more fully so that I can tell the difference between those and just general 7 year old bad behaviour to enable myself to act accordingly in the different situations.

So I began to watch and try to pin point the triggers (if any) to the behaviour Little Mr. Awesome displayed. My first realization is that in general I was correct in feeling that it was his difficulties in understanding social queues that triggered many of the behaviours which others would see as bad. For example at one point he was chatting with some friends and one of his friends said, "don't you think Connor?" and nudged him to get a response, Little Mr. Awesome then shoved his pal back quite hard

and when I intervened he truly felt that his pal had pushed him first so he was retaliating to what he saw as injustice. This I feel needs the action of explaining calmly what his friend’s body language had meant and why pushing back was wrong rather than disciplining him for pushing his pal flying. Why? Because I feel that much of his ability to cope in social situations is built through learnt behaviour and learning needs a reason and an explanation. Now one of the biggest things I wanted to tackle (and I’m still trying) is the way in which he interrupts and talks over everyone. He has a real want to be heard straight away and will not wait while a conversation is completed. Again I saw this as a social understanding issue. But my question was, “Why have we been able to overcome the turn taking in games but not reach an understanding with speech?” So I started by talking to him about it. After a long discussion I was comfortable that he understands that it's rude to interrupt. He was also able to tell me that even though he knows this sometimes he just can't keep it in. So I have come to the conclusion that he is aware that this behaviour is not acceptable and we are now working more on this with me constantly reminding him. Another example of bad behaviour that has an explanation was the time that Little Mr. Awesome drew on his freshly painted bedroom walls. This one was so hard! He knows that he must not draw on walls, but to him he wanted to tell me his room was perfect and he didn't think through his actions, he is very visual in his actions and this to him made sense. At the time I did tell him off quite sternly. But I also took time to explain why it wasn't acceptable.

So I continued to monitor Little Mr. Awesome's behaviour. I began to track some similarities. One of those similarities was the way in which he acted after a full day at school towards his brothers. Often he would lash out at them when there was no real reason to do so. Now although this behaviour is probably stemming from pent up frustrations that have happened throughout the day, to me this is not an excuse. He knows this behaviour is wrong and whereas before I would have told the older boys to just leave him alone, instead I have begun to hold Little Mr. Awesome accountable for his actions. So in conclusion I've found the key to working out which behaviour to strongly discipline depends fully on the level of understanding around the behaviours. If he understands fully that the behaviour is wrong and I feel that he was not acting out of outside influences then he is held accountable for his actions. It's a fine line but his behaviour is slowly improving. I am also taking a lot more time to explain why certain actions are not acceptable rather than just excusing them. Even if I feel that other things have influenced his actions I will still fully explain that it was wrong and why it was wrong. The fine line is in consequences. When does he need to feel the consequences of his actions? In short, when he fully understands his actions were wrong and nothing influenced it or in some cases when I feel he could have controlled his reactions to those influences. Only you as a parent can truly know when your child was capable of controlling those reactions. You know your child best.

Consequences, what are yours? Finding a way to discipline bad behaviour is difficult with high functioning autism I find! I mean saying that the child is going to bed early doesn't work for us as that breaks routine. Not allowing him to attend a party that I have spent a week preparing him for again destroys his routine so is this really a fair consequence for a child that lives by routine? I personally think not. So instead we are currently trying other tactics!

I think over all with this task I've found that only you the parent can decide which behaviour is which and it will take time! Keeping a note of things that have happened before, after and during the behaviours may help to build up a pattern...as with all things my biggest tip is to write it down! Have any of you got any ideas of how to distinguish between the influences of autism and true bad behaviour? If so please leave a comment or pop over to our Facebook page and share your experiences as I would love to hear them!

The naughty step / time out This has worked with varying degrees of success! If he fully understands the reasoning and agrees his actions were wrong and everyone stays away while he does his time we see great benefits! But if one of those things are off then this can quickly escalate the whole affair to a full blown meltdown! I highly recommend a timer for this tactic so that the visual side is stimulated and the concept of time of consequence is understood. Doing a chore This works well with Little Mr. Awesome! Giving him the chance to right a wrong by doing a simple chore not only gives a consequence to the action but also helps him to understand the way the world works! Sure he doesn't like it but usually will see it through when watched over.

Awesome Before Autism on Facebook

The Coin Jar These are the main two we have been using, but with his growing interest in cold hard cash I am going to be implementing the money jar. What’s great about the money jar is that a punch of 10p's is fine for younger children! We start with a jar that holds £2 of 10p's and any bad behaviour results in losing a 10p from the jar. If you need to be more visual you can use 2 jars one labeled with the child’s name and one labeled losses so that they can visualize when the coins are lost. The idea is that the child can spend or save what they have left at the end of the week. I think this will be a very strong tool in helping to control Little Mr. Awesome's behaviour. I'm guessing I will have a few meltdowns to contend with when the coins are removed but if we can get past that I think it could work! I will let you know how it pans out!

WEBSITE: awesomebeforeautism.blogspot.co.uk

Find them on Google + https://plus.google.com/115838692922482 184771/posts

We Rock for Autism is dedicated to promoting the awareness and acceptance of autism. Through various events and fundraisers we strive to raise funds to help children with autism attend music and art therapy session. If you would like to learn more about We Rock for Autism or keep up with upcoming events and the latest news, check out our website at www.WeRockforAutism.org or connect with us on our social media pages.

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BOYS & HYGIENE… Like Oil and Water By Joe Normal What is it about boys and hygiene that just doesn’t go together?? Were all of us dads and male adults that disgusting when we were kids, too?

There are many mornings where it seems like getting him to school on time is more important than getting him to put a toothbrush to his morning-breath infused teeth against his will. He will regularly fight following through on taking the bath he avoided the night before and promised us he would take the next morning. (We are such suckers for falling for this over and over again… sigh). However you look at it, a conscious decision and effort must be made to get and stay clean, but that rarely seems to enter the mind of my child. He is content to roam the surface of this planet like a caveman, paying no mind to hygiene or the essence of his own odour physique. So what is it about being clean that is so revolting to my thirteen year old son? Is it the Autism? Is this just typical boy behavior? Am I too uptight? Am I a bad parent for being so forgiving??

It’s hard to talk about this topic without mentioning the bathroom, ca-ca, and certain body parts, and I must admit that our family laughs at sporadic toilet humor much to the dismay of some friends; it helps to keep things light-hearted and silly in a life filled with things like IEPs, IHSS workers, and Social Security & Disability reps and stringencies.

I have found the bath reluctance thing most baffling of all. You would’ve thought Drayke was a fish in another life with how much he loves to go swimming in the pool and to be in the ocean. That ruled out him having any sensitivities to water. So I had to really think what it would take to make bathing an option. I’ve discovered that he is more receptive to bathing if we give him his swimming goggles and let him flail like a shark in the “shallow water.” (Keep plenty of towels handy if you try this). We’re still working on shampoo acceptance and scrub brush tolerance.

When our boys were much younger and would come in after running around like lunatics outside, their Granny would remark how they smelled like puppies, all cute and warm. But somewhere down the line the cuteness gave way to stinky meat-head and dirty fingernails.

Now he’s reached puberty and his underarms are smelling a bit like a submarine sandwich. Deodorant compliance is in the running for priority number one, and I admit to understanding his rejection of applying cold, wet anything to the arm pits.

Drayke was not one of the unfortunate ASD kids we’d heard about who smeared excrement along the walls of their home when he was a toddler. (God bless the parents of those children!)So perhaps I should not feel such despair because my child is a chronic forget-towipe-the-poop-out-of-his-buttcrack-and-wash-hishands-after-dumping kinda kid.

There’s certainly no shortage in our home of clean clothes for him to wear every day, but that does not trump his preference for repeated wears of his favorite Minecraft shirt, no matter how dirty from the past day or two,or (gulp) three. Sometimes we feel like no amount of prompting, redirecting, hand-over-handing, token economy-ing is

ever going to amount to any real improvement or independence on his (or our) part. So I’m sitting here thinking about my own experience with cleanliness.How when I’ve been out gigging or working I just can’t wait to get back home or to the hotel to jump in that shower to get cleaned up and refresh my hair, body, and clothes. Especially if seeing other people (particularly of the female type) are involved.

Hey! That’s IT! Perhaps this is typical boy behavior… and I need to just let go and trust that when he gainshis first love interest, he will be compelled to be more hygiene conscious due to a more primal motivation!

Joe Normal www.JoeNormalUSA.com Recording Artist, Songwriter, Author, Educator (and, oh yeah… Autism Parent.) JoeNormalUSA@gmail.com

August 28th - 30th, 2015 Melbourne Auditorium Melbourne, FL Buy Tickets NOW!


Power of music helps young patients through tough times

listen by their doors. One approached Goforth with a request from another patient. “I get that a lot,” she said as she rushed to her next appointment. “But they have to have a therapeutic need. … It’s not just for entertainment.” Goforth is a musical therapist, the only such therapist at Wolfson Children’s Hospital, and the only board-certified music therapist in a major hospital system in the city. In a sterile world full of tubes and needles, she provides a song to soothe the anxious young soul.

Armed with a guitar, an iPad and a bag of small instruments, Katie Goforth took her first request from Da’Miona Brooks. It was Katy Perry’s “Firework.” “Let’s do it,” Goforth cheered, before breaking into an acoustic rendition of the pop favorite. Seated quietly in her hospital bed, 9-year-old Da’Miona joined in with a few slow taps at a tambourine, a smile occasionally creeping across her face. By the time Goforth reached her third selection — Taylor Swift’s mega-popular “Shake It Off”— Da’Miona’s smirk had morphed into a full-blown grin, dimples, teeth and all. The little girl suffers from severe asthma and the tracheostomy tube attached to her neck prevented her from singing along, but she kept the beat with a rainbow-colored rain stick — another instrument Goforth likes to keep handy. For several more minutes the two merrily covered the stylings of One Direction and Disney’s “Frozen,” before commencing with a high-five. In nearby rooms of Wolfson Children’s Pediatric Intensive Care Unit, other employees stopped to

“[The children] are submersed into an environment that is very scary and unfamiliar, and people are walking through the door, poking them, prodding them, doing things to them that they’re not used to,” she said. “A lot of the times, I’m referred to the patient to help decrease their anxiety toward medical staff, showing them that not every person who walks through this door is going to be an unsafe person.” With her guitar strapped to her back, she moved quickly to the Day Hospital where her next patient, 4-year-old Addison Gress, sat on her mother’s lap, surrounded by a doctor, nurse and child life specialist. The team was preparing the little girl for an ultrasound-guided blood draw. She suffers from a blood clotting disorder. “What are we singing here?” Goforth asked after entering the room. After glancing down at Addison’s iPad where cows and pigs were playing, she knew the answer. “So we’re doing one of our classics, here,” she said and proceeded to croon “Old McDonald.” Child life specialist Bethany Queen said she often collaborates with Goforth on what games and songs to help ease the anxiety of the young patients. “I’ll play a princess game, and Katie will sing something about a princess. … This morning, I had a ‘Twinkle Twinkle’ game so we were singing ‘Twinkle, Twinkle,’ ” she said.

While Addison doesn’t always sing along, it does make a difference, her mother Amy said. “We’ve had times when [Katie] is not there and the music is not there, and she’ll cry and it throws her off, so it does make a big difference …,” she said. “It helps calm her nerves and she loves Ms. Katie.” While a career in music therapy wasn’t always in Goforth’s plans, music has always been a part of her life. Her grandfather was a band director. Her grandmother plays the saxophone. Her mother plays the oboe, and her sister plays the cello. Goforth began early on as a violinist and eventually attended Western Kentucky University on a music scholarship, majoring in psychology and minoring in music. By sophomore year, she began exploring musical therapy. She eventually got her master’s degree in the field from Florida State University, trading in her violin for a guitar, piano and vocal skills. “Music therapy was the best of both worlds. I was using music and my passion for children together to meet the needs,” she said. “… And I always joke that you won’t find me singing outside the four walls of this hospital.” But in Wolfson, Goforth can be found just about anywhere on any floor, singing in a soprano pitch to any child who needs it. In addition to Addison and Da’Miona, she sees about 58 other pediatric patients an average of twice a week. She said she would eventually like to see more people in her position helping more children. “Music therapy is one of those jobs where you get a lot of personal satisfaction from what you’re doing,” she said. “I can go in and use music to help a child overcome pain, help them relax, help them acclimate to the hospital environment, and when I can simply do that by walking into a room and utilizing my voice and guitar, it’s a huge, huge sense of accomplishment.”

SOURCE: www.Jacksonville.com

Featured TATTOO of the Month The Monthly Melody appreciates good art! Each month we feature an autism inspired tattoo. This month we bring you the autism inspired sleeve of Vickie for her daughter DD. Her story is pretty amazing. When asked about her journey, Vickie said, "Our DD is now 33. Back then they had no clue. At age 6 she was labeled ADD. In 3rd grade given LD in math. Graduated with honors. Only at age 20 did we learn about PDDNOS. The puzzle pieces began to fall into place. Then after a visit to Dr Matthew Remick we were told it was Aspurgers. She IS our Aspie. To understand her is to love her!

Show Us Your Ink! Do you have an autism related tattoo that you would like to share? Send us a picture to support@werockforautism.org and we just may feature your tattoo in an upcoming issue! Please include a story to go along with the picture, we wanna know what or who was your inspiration, how or why you choose the design and if you want to include the artist and/or tattoo shop, we can give them credit for their work!

Ohio library offers new program for kids who have autism

Duryea said he hopes the program will make the library a place where the children of these families feel comfortable and will want to visit. “The library is a place for everybody,” he said. “Our intent is to provide services to everyone. The special needs community sometimes goes underserved. We’re trying to change that, especially as more and more children are diagnosed with autism.” Christina Turner’s 3-year-old son, William, is one of those children. Turner said she is grateful the library is offering Sensory Open Play. William, she said, had a blast at the introduction program held last January. “It is difficult to find programs in the Northern Kentucky area for autistic children,” she said. “The sensory open play at the library was a wonderful experience. It was a safe and inviting environment. The room was full of great examples of sensory toys and William played with them all.”

(Photo by Paul Duryea) INDEPENDENCE – When you’re the parent of a child who has autism, it can be difficult to find a welcoming place the entire family can enjoy. That’s changing in Independence as the William E. Durr Branch of the Kenton County Public Library is offering a new program, Sensory Open Play. The new offering features a variety of toys and equipment specifically made to engage children who have autism. The equipment includes a balance beam, swing, crash mat, a walk-on musical piano and much more. The program is offered for several hours at varying times to attract new and returning patrons. “My son has autism so I’m sensitive to the need of parents who want to take their kids to places where they are engaged and have learning opportunities,” said Paul Duryea, the branch manager. “It’s also a time for parents who are dealing with similar circumstances opportunities to connect and interact.”

Turner is also hosting a support group for mothers who have children with autism that will meet at the library. For information on the support group, contact Turner at mom.learning@yahoo.com. Duryea said these offerings are hopefully just the beginning. “Early childhood and literacy development is the bedrock of our services,” Duryea said. “We want to move any barriers that may make coming to the library difficult. We’re doing that with this program. The kids are playing and then going to check out other aspects of the library. This ties into our mission of lifelong learning.” Source: www.cincinnati.com

For more information, visit the library website at: http://www.kentonlibrary.org/locations/william-edurr-branch Contact the library for Sensory Open Play schedule

ins of the Month!


Students with autism learn social skills with R2-D2

"For the legs, I sculpted them in clay and cast them in fiberglass after making a silicone mold," said Zammit. "For the head, we made a barbecue pit that we cut all up and painted." Zammit is no stranger to using toys to help children. He is an autism specialist who is also building Austin's first toy museum. One of the goals of the museum is to work with kids, helping them learn social skills through play. Source: www.kvue.com ______________________________________ For more information on the plans and development of the Austin Toy Museum, visit their website and/or Facebook page. Website: http://www.austintoymuseum.org

AUSTIN -- Fifth-grade students at Blazier Elementary School in Southeast Austin are learning social skills through technology. Facebook: The students are part of the school's SCORES program, which stands for Social Communication and Resource services, for children with autism. Over the past few months, they created a fully operational R2-D2 replica robot thanks to their teacher, Caleb Zammit. "The main focus was just learning to work as a group, and how to get along and use their manners when working on a big project all together," said Zammit. They are also learning about motors, batteries, measurements, power tools and metal. "The best part of my day is having fun with my friends and building R2-D2," said Mathew Fan, a student at Blazier Elementary. "It's pretty fantastic and I'm proud of it," said Raquel Gonzales, a student at Blazier. Zammit spent three years making the robot parts from scratch.


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The Monthly Melody - March 2015  

Presented by We Rock for Autism

The Monthly Melody - March 2015  

Presented by We Rock for Autism