Monday, November 30, 2009

Pretty Please Press Books - Review and Giveaway

I was given the opportunity to review these four hardcover books by Pretty Please Press! because of my membership at The Product Review Place. Pretty Please Press! is a small publishing company that reached out to mommy bloggers as part of a grassroots marketing effort.

Pretty Please Press! has a special discount of 20% their books plus buy 3 get one free through the end of the year - ends December 31, 2009. You can read more about the authors and illustrators at the site.

Pretty Please Press publishes children's books that are designed to be read aloud and talked about. Each book contains a message about character and values that helps parents and children think and talk about a variety of issues.

I liked the vibrant colors of the books and the free educational downloads they have at their site - Character Building Lesson Plans, Concept Building Cards and Vocabulary Building Cards. These seemed very suitable to the autism community of parents, therapists and teachers alike.

The lesson plans and cards are available for each book and include such vocabulary words as - galaxy, delighted, allergic, harmony, answer, demonstration, bow, cajole, balcony, bribe and bellow. Each book covers a specific theme as indicated below. The website has guidance for parents on reading comprehension and why reading aloud is so important. The books are suited for children from kindergarten through third grade.

My high functioning autistic son Nicholas has also read each book and offered his opinion below. He has always enjoyed reading and one year took part in a read-in at the Elementary School he attended. When in the fourth grade he read a chapter from one of his favorite books to a lower grade class. The teacher told me Nick was very animated in his reading and should try out for drama once he reaches high school.

Kick Block Punch - Setting goals - Written and illustrated by Jacquie Hann. This book begins on the first day of karate class with some enthusiastic students wanting to earn the black belt right away. This one actually showed perseverance with Sam never giving up and achieving his goals. One page at the start has him going home and kicking his brother Ben, which I did not really like due to there being no consequence for this action.

Nick says that the kid was not learning the key aspects of karate in the beginning, but with practice he was able to earn a yellow belt with the green belt his next goal.

Bella Basset Ballerina - Perseverance - This book starts off on a fall day after school. Bella has twin brothers Beau and Bart. Bella wants to be a Ballerina in the big city. Nick's feedback was that this book was too girlish, but did get that there was a lesson taught on following your dreams.

The Scritchy Little Twitchell Sisters - Resolving Conflicts - Written by Laura Aimee Garn and Illustrated by Erik Brooks. The title is a fun tongue twister to get the readers quickly interested in learning to read this book aloud. The sisters are constantly at odds with one another, which is not much different with two teen boys in my household. My sons are fifteen months apart and opposites.

The sisters destroyed their toys and made life so impossible for their parents that they divided up the house. Mrs. Twitchell and Lavinia lived in one half of the house with Mr. Twitchell and Emmeline on other side. All their belongings were divided, labeled and locked away. They had piano, dance lessons and a very busy lifestyle. Nick's impression was that the sisters constantly fight for the attention of their parents.

Pynx - Tolerance - Written and illustrated by Jeffrey Greene. According to Nick, there were lots of alien creatures on this strange planet when the Pynx arrives. It makes many sounds that confuses and angers them. They have to learn to coexist and tolerate one another on the same planet. The jungle creates were interesting looking.

Kick Block Punch and then Phynx were the favorite books of my son who is homeschooled. My son loves to draw creatures and is into animals. He was inspired to get out his sketch pad once again and write another book. His best one thus far is Ricky the Shark.

I also received a second set of these four books to giveaway. The rules for this are as follows:

Giveaway ends Monday, December 7, 2009 at 11:59pm EST. Open to U.S. addresses only. One winner will be selected at random and have 48 hours to respond or another winner will be selected. Be sure to leave a valid email address in your comment or have it readily available in your profile so that I may contact you if you're the winner.

Entries -

1. Please leave a comment indicating whether the books are for a boy or a girl.

2. Tweet this giveaway once a day - please post the status link to tweet.

3. Follow me on twitter

4. Leave a comment on any of my articles and leave title in comment section.

5. Sign up for my autism newsletter.

6. Post this giveaway on Facebook - use share this on sidebar - leave link to your wall

7. grab my blog button from sidebar - leave link to your blog in comment.

8. tweet any autism article from site using the icons at the bottom and leave status link in comment

9. Place an entrecard on my blog - leave me link to your entreard page

10. Follow my other two blogs and leave blog info in comments.

Please note that Pretty Please Press! sent me the books, therefore I am financially responsible for mailing these out to the winner, paying for box and postage.

I received the books in exchange for my honest review.

Sunday, November 22, 2009

Explaining Birth Son to teen with autism

There is a new show on ABC entitled, Find My Family. This is from the producers of Extreme Makeover: Home Edition.

Today, November 22, 2009 is the day I gave birth back in 1978 to a son that I gave up for adoption through Catholic Charities in Newark, NJ. When I saw the commercial for the new show I did a google search, which led me to an email address for those who are interested in being on the show to contact. I did that and have yet to get a response.

So far this is okay with me as I have yet to inform my oldest son about my first born son. I wrote a Birth Mother's Open Letter back in 2000 when I had two toddlers on the autism spectrum. They are now teens, but Matthew would not really grasp the story.

The other day the commercial was on when Nick and I were watching TV and he told me it looked good and mentioned the bit about it being from same producers of the other show that we have watched over the years - although he mostly tuned in for the autism family stories/makeovers.

I am located in Los Angeles and noticed Lisa Joyner is one of the hosts and she was in Los Angeles news at Fox for many year so I think this is the home base of the show. I mentioned in my email that I have two teens on the autism spectrum and from NJ where I gave up son. I discussed wondering if he has any kids and if autism is in my genes and should he be notified of this. I forgot to note in my email that I turn 50 in April.

I almost started to tell Nick about my first born son but not sure what he will comprehend. I had an opportunity to write a letter and put in his file before he turned 18, just in case he had access to it or contacted Catholic Charities, but at that time I had received autism diagnosis and could not spend the time or money on a search.

I keep the information I have on Catholic Charities in my earthquake kit also.

Money Management Lessons

The other morning I decided to look at my checking acct balance online and was surprised to see a negative in red with overdraft balance listed. This was 5.42 and I thought I must have forgotten to note the recent Burger King transaction of $6.87, plus the prior day I had used my paypal card as a credit card and it was going to transfer a dollar and change from my checking acct as I had gone over and this is set up to do that.

I looked at my acct and register to see these were noted, but found online a charge for LA NEWSPAPER for $25.00. I called the number which was a recording saying the number for the paper and informing callers to tell the company that this was a personal number. I imagine this was the delivery person's phone number.

I was quite irate on the phone with customer service after being told this was the third charge from my checking acct for $25. There was one in July and September. I have no idea how I missed those, but am quite distracted being a single Mom to two teens on the autism spectrum with one being homeschooled and utilizing the computer for work.

I get a bill for the Los Angeles Daily News annually and give them my debit card for the payment, which has been $35.00 annually and I never gave authorization to use my card for future use. I have no paperwork citing this and did not sign anything. The customer service rep said I authorized it in July but could not come up with any print out for me. She said their site and info was recently upgraded. I asked for a history of my acct to show me how long I was paying the $35 fee and to see this in the mail, she could not produce anything like this.

She said she would put in for a refund of the November charge and I called my Bank. My first call resulted in finding out that they would do an investigation after the refund came through and I called to notify them and if that charge was the cause of the NSF - non sufficient funds they would reimburse me. I was concerned with the dollar and change charge from paypal that did not come through and wanted to find out if that would give me another $24.00 NSF fee and he said yes and would not be reversed.

My son Nicholas is homeschooled and this went on after his brother went to school on the bus and he woke up to some colorful language on my part. I had a stack of bank statements all over the kitchen table as I tried to find the previous $25 charges.

I got out a bank statement and a credit report to show Nick what happens when a credit card company sees you have NSF and how this can spiral out of control. I also found the papers from the bank on their fee structure showing if you have so many NSF charges in a year the fee rises. This was my attempt to cover myself and do a quick lesson in money management.

The big lesson was for me and the way I do my checking acct register. I look each item I have written up online and place a check mark next to them so that I have checks up and down the register. This is how I have done it for years but it is not foolproof as anything unexpected coming through would not be in my check register and would not get noted as I am looking from my register and not the actual withdrawals.

I am now changing that way of balancing. A few weeks ago I had noticed when checking to find out why balances were not the same a calculation error on my part, or so I thought where I misread a 2 for a 5 and added the $30 back in, which might be why I had not noticed the $50 already taken out (July and Sep)

I had to get to the laundromat and called from my cell the Bank again to put a dispute on the charge and I found out you have 60 days so the customer service rep was kind enough to place one on the Sep charge as well.

I wrote a review on some workbooks awhile ago. The very large Life Skills Activities book has a great section in it, Practical Living Skills with Money Management one of the chapters.

There are pages on Writing a Check that shows a blank check and the steps plus maintaining a checking account. I think it is time for Nick to learn this. We just recently started a chore system that is going well.

Sunday, November 8, 2009

Screwed Over By Professionals

I have been thinking lately of how we as a family of two autistic teens have been treated by those professionals serving the disabled community. For nine years my son Nick attended the autism summer camp with Matthew being eight years. I start planning for camp early each year and due to this we do not sign up for Extended School Year , but that backfired this past summer.

A few years ago I read about a New Jersey Mom where the school her special needs child attended read and utilized her blog against her at the IEP. Because of this I have been lax in posting my true feelings about the camp issue this past year along with what happened with the behavior parent training a few years back through one agency and the clinic where Matt received Feeding and Floortime therapy.

But parents need to stick together and share both positive and negative experiences for others to glean from and determine what is the best resource for their kids. Quality control exists for a reason.

Camp abruptly was cancelled before the start of summer, but way after the deadline to sign up for ESY so Matthew had nothing for two months to keep his progress going and his decline was evident to his teacher at the start of this school year. Things he once was able to do had to be taught over. There were obvious deficits due to not having any services over the summer.

The camp ended their association with the State of California Regional Centers and proceeded to send the written exchanges they had to the families. I felt this was poor judgement to air their dirty laundry to the very people they serve. They basically left us hanging with nothing - there was not even a planned day for families to get together so the kids can see one another. After nine years this is how my son was treated and I felt it was unacceptable.

Over the course of the summer the Regional Center cut camps as a vendored option, leaving families scouring to find funding opportunities. Several weeks ago we started going to Kids Enjoy Exercise Now (KEEN LA) where we ran into a fellow camper that was in Nick's class for the previous two years.

For years I had been telling other parents and promoting online about the summer camp and now we are in the dark about what will happen next year. In talking to the other parent at the KEEN sessions she also did not get her daughter into ESY because of camp, but in spite of that her child still wants to go to camp next summer as does mine. It is a conflicting feeling and I wonder how they will contact parents in the coming year.

The Behavior parent training few years back was for a few months but the services were hardly professional. Since that experience the Regional Center has ceased doing business with that company, but after my calls to complain the so called therapist trashed me in the final report. This is why I hate assessments and reports.

The girl got the job from an ad on craigslist and tried to use her version of PECS with my nonverbal son Matthew. I explained to her that she was no speech therapist and to stick to the assessment plan. One session she brought a new therapist who had a low cut tank top on. I called the office to complain about their attire and the way the therapist conducted herself in my home.

The feeding therapy started years ago and went well for a long time until I requested the sessions to be at my kitchen where we needed the help. Matthew had no problems eating in their kitchens but the issues were here. There was never any organization to the sessions as the therapist would bring a piece of paper and never follow a plan or give me written directions. I asked many times to use foods that required a fork and spoon, but it was always foods that could be eaten by hand.

The visits to school were inconsistent and the same questions were asked each week. For months no one ever showed up and there was a huge gap in services offered. We were basically just left hanging and Matthew is back to eating limited foods.

I have run into the Occupational Therapist and Dietitian twice in the last year - once at a funeral and just last month they were presenters at a feeding seminar I attended. It is my belief that some professionals speak well on their topics and are good on paper, but fail in achieving success with the client.

I requested many times to get the copies of the videos they took of me and Matt, yet to this day nothing ever arrived in the mail. I wanted to see the progress and learn from these tapes, but they were too busy using them at their seminars to help other professionals instead of following through with their own clients. My son has suffered because of this.

The Floortime therapy was through the same clinic since we had a relationship with them, or so I thought. After a year at my home they stopped suddenly due to the therapist being allergic to cats and we had one from outside come inside. No one ever came again after that and just left my son in the midst of the progress with no help whatsoever.

It sure would be nice if the therapy remained consistent and the families received some guidance before it all ended. Thanks for nothing..
Clicky Web Analytics