Managing a Household with Neurodivergencies (ADHD, ASD, etc.)

Earlier this week my friend Sam posted on Facebook, “Neurodivergent Friends what are some tools you use with others that help you with daily life, communication, relationships?”

A few friends posted that they needed help with meal prep, day-to-day stuff, and as y’all know, that’s my bag, baby!

Both my kids are Neurodivergent (ADHD/ASD and ADHD), and their dad has ADHD (combined type/ C) and because of that, we’ve had to make some adjustments to our daily life and how we function. And while our processes and schedules may not work for everyone, hopefully, these tips give you some idea and hope if you need it.

Some of these directly affect/benefit the kids, and some make my life easier, which in turn makes their lives easier.

Having an accurate(ish) pantry, fridge, and freezer inventory. I have made my own sheets in the past (using Canva), but the ones from Organized Home are great.

Meal Prep and meal planning (this includes using Dream Dinners once every few months). This frees up time each night to read, hang out, bathe, and get kids ready for bed.

Meal Prep can be as easy as cut up veggies, fruit, pre-portioned foods, and easy meals or side dishes prepared in advance that only need to be heated up to avoid wasting money eating out because “there is nothing to eat”. Also having one night for take-out. And I have a whiteboard that lists our meal plan for the week- I try and post it weekly on Instagram.

The Snack Box- I also organized our fridge and pantry to be more ND-friendly. Stuff that should be eaten (healthy food like fruit, cheese sticks, yogurt, etc.) is at kid eye level in clear packaging and is labeled (I use expo markers on my Rubbermaid containers), and I have a “Snack box” in the pantry that is available 24/7 for hungry faces. It’s got individually portioned shelf-stable snacks and meal components. And on days when I am too tired/rushed to cook we have “Meal of snacks” where I serve a variety of snacks on old-school sectioned cafeteria trays- fruits, veggies, crackers, cheese, cookies, and a drink (juice or iced tea is a hit).

We have a list of snacks on the fridge so the kids know what there is to snack on. It is a visual list (I drew it), and when we are out of specific items, I cover the picture with a piece of posit note.

Calendars– in the kitchen, and one in each bedroom. I update them weekly, plus the grownups use the calendars on their phones and we have a shared family calendar. Kids get reminders each day in the morning and afternoon of any appointments or events that will take place during the day. The visual and auditory reminders really help cement the appointment in their mind.

Visual reminders– next to the front door at eye level there is a sign that reminds us we need: cellphone, wallet, keys, and garage door opener. It’s laminated.

Visual schedule– this is mainly for the kids. I drew up a daily schedule using words and pictures. I wrote a post about it here.

Lists– Everyone has a “Care tasks” list each week that includes appts, returning borrowed items, and tasks to do throughout the week. You can read about my weekly Care Tasks here. 

Larger font digital clock with day of the week, date, and what part of the day (morning, afternoon, evening, night). The kids can read a clock, but it can take time to engage their brains and count by 5’s, but the “old people clock” as it was marketed on Amazon helps them instantly and helps a lot with the “is it time for xxxxx yet?!?!”

Using your phone to stay on top of details- I saw this on Facebook in a group and I’ve started doing this. If you have an iPhone, there is a notes section in each contact. I’ve seen them used to keep track of favorite fast food at various restaurants, favorite foods/drinks, clothing sizes and brands, favorite colors, birthdays, and anniversaries. It’s such a game changer.

The fidget/stim box– we have a plastic box full of fidget/stim toys for everyone to grab when they need to focus. And everyone has some in their room too. This includes headphones to cut down on loud sounds (I buy the landscapers kind from harbor freight). We have 3 pairs in the house and two pairs in the car. For those not familiar- fidget toys can help calm the body so the mind can focus.

Some favorites include pop-its, hand strengthening eggs, fidget cubes, fidget spinners, stretchy tubes, pop tubes, and stress balls (the kind with Orbeez are super satisfying). Amazon sells really great fidget toys mutli-packs.

Medication Boxes- We refill our medication boxes each week (both AM and PM).  The three of us take our meds together each morning at breakfast time. Our medication boxes live on the kitchen counter, along with our pill minders: Jon Cena and Skeletor.

Stuff has a place– The kid’s shoes and backpacks are always by the door during the school year, ready to be cleaned out and refilled each night. My car keys and purse live in the same spot, the pool key has a special spot. The extra toilet paper and paper towels are always in the same spot (under the front bathroom sink). These are just a few examples of the ways that we remind ourselves and create routines. Creating routines can give us a sense of normalcy and be calming.

The Family Binder– One last thing that doesn’t directly “help” the kids but helps the family, especially in times of emergency is the family binder. I’ve had one since 2010 in various incarnations. I have a really old post about it here.  It’s basically my brain in paper form. It’s got all of our important papers, insurance info, important phone numbers, policy numbers, warranty information, receipts for expensive/valuable stuff, copies of most recent IEPS, copies of diagnosis paperwork, lists of everyone’s meds, doctors info, etc. Think of it as all the info you’d need if you lost power for an extended period, your house burned down, or there was a tornado.

There are a lot of other things that we do in our home to help the kids- keep them safe, regulated, and happy. The stuff listed above is just a small sample. Everyone’s home runs differently. And this was and continues to be a lot of work. The examples above are continually changing, and evolving in our home, and are a combination of 11+ years of hard work, learning, and failing. Some of this stuff I did to try and get organized in my late 20s, even before I was married and had kids.

 

 

7/15/2022 An All Inclusive Day of Play for Families!

We’ve gone to this event in the past, and it’s always a fun time with great resources.

FREE community event with activities, games, crafts, raffles, shopping, and resource booths for families of all abilities.

Activity Stations for kids including favorites:

  • Light Saber Creation Station
  • Jurassic Photo Op
  • Under-the-Sea Sensory Tent
  • Super Wheelchair Course
  • many more!

Family Resources & Networking  – Resource and service providers will be on-site to speak with parents and offer helpful information. Be sure to pick up a copy of Flourishing Families and San Diego Family at the Special Needs Resource Foundation of San Diego booth.

Sign up for your FREE TICKETS here.

This Saturday: San Diego All Inclusive Day of Play & Resource Fair 9/25/2021!

We’ve gone to this event in the past, and it’s always a fun time with great resources.

FREE community event with activities, games, crafts, raffles, shopping, and resource booths for families of all abilities.

When: September 25, 2021 10:00AM-1:00PM

Where: Park de la Cruz Recreation Center 3901 Landis Street San Diego, CA 92105

Activity Booths • Giveaways • Games • Family Resources • Networking • Shopping & more

Children of all abilities can enjoy activity stations:

  • Play our adaptive Life-Size Candyland Game.
  • Wash a kid car and drive it through the FOAMO Car Wash and sensory station.
  • Make a ghost trap and receive a package of ectoplasm slime.
  • Spin the prize wheel for a prize* from the toy barrel. Everyone is a winner!
  • Stop by the ShopAble Marketplace to peruse and purchase fabulous products
  • and more!

Resource and service providers for children of all abilities will conveniently be onsite to speak with parents and offer helpful information.

All activities and resources are FREE and open to the public! To learn more or register, click here

Daily Schedules for Kids (with tips for ADHD Family Members)

Recently, I posted our daily schedule for school days on Instagram.

Because the littler kiddo is still learning to read, I do a combination of words and pictures. I find that it also helps as sometimes when kids become disregulated, reading can be a little too much for our brains.

The Afternoon/Night section doesn’t have times because while bedtime is at a fixed time, it is important to grant the kids some freedom in the afternoons to relax and decompress from school. After being “on” all day at school, I like to give them 30 minutes to an hour after school to have a snack and relax without any kind of demands put on them.

There are of course times when that is not possible, for example when we have appointments immediately after school. Having a schedule for them to see really helps them organize and be aware.

Having two neurodivergent kiddos, it’s important to have visual reminders of schedules, family rules, appointments, etc. around the house. Each kid has a calender in room that is updated monthly with upcoming appointments, days off school and holidays. Updating those each month is something I do the first day of each month. I use stickers in addition to writing to help remind the kids of upcoming events on the calenders.

With Neurodivergency sometimes comes what we call “losing time”. The concept of time can be hard for kids to grasp, regardless of their neurodivergency. Another way that we help keep the kids on schedule is to use the old theater trick where we give them a one hour “call”, a 30 minute call, a five minute call, and then a time to go call. Grown ups call out, “One hour until X”, and the kids answer back, “Thank you one hour!” Making them repeat the amount of time they have left until we leave or transition activities puts it in their mind that whatever they are doing/playing/watching will come to an end.

Talk Back: I’d love to hear about the tips and tricks you use to keep your family on schedule!

 

 

 

San Diego All Inclusive Day of Play & Resource Fair 9/25/2021

We’ve gone to this event in the past, and it’s always a fun time with great resources.

FREE community event with activities, games, crafts, raffles, shopping, and resource booths for families of all abilities.

When: September 25, 2021 10:00AM-1:00PM

Where: Park de la Cruz Recreation Center 3901 Landis Street San Diego, CA 92105

Activity Booths • Giveaways • Games • Family Resources • Networking • Shopping & more

Children of all abilities can enjoy activity stations including Super Mario Wheelchair Course, Life-Size Candyland Game, Ernie’s Rubber Duckies Literacy Bathtub, Ghostbusters Ghost Trap Craft, and more!

Resource and service providers for children of all abilities will conveniently be onsite to speak with parents and offer helpful information.

All activities and resources are FREE and open to the public! To learn more or register, click here

4/2/2021: Special Guest Speaker World Autism Awareness Day

NFAR (The National Federation for Autism Research) is hosting a Zoom lunch and learn on April 2, 2021, which is World Autism Awareness and Acceptance Day.

If you have followed my blog for a while, you know that my oldest (now 10) was diagnosed with ASD at age 5. Learning more about how the mind of someone on the spectrum is a lifelong learning experience. I always look forward to events like this. It is interesting to learn the science and research behind ASD.

The speaker is the leading scientific researcher, Dr. Eric Courchesne.

Friday April 2nd 12:00 noon – 1:00 pm PST
TOPIC: The When, What, and How of ASD Development with Q&A

GUEST SPEAKER: Dr. Eric Courchesne, Professor of Neurosciences in the School of Medicine at the University of California San Diego and Co-Director of the UCSD Autism Center of Excellence.

Dr. Eric Courchesne introduced the new concept of ASD Living Biology, a new approach for discovering prenatal brain developmental origins and explanations of ASD in the individual child. His work shows ASD begins in the 1st and 2nd trimesters and his studies have identified genomic, molecular, cellular, and neural differences that lead to early language and social symptoms in autism and predict clinical outcome. His work is internationally recognized.

Dr. Courchesne’s studies integrate behavioral, brain imaging, developmental, cellular, genetic and genomic findings that lead to a better understanding of the prenatal origins of autism. His team has also identified early diagnostic and outcome biomarkers. From this work his team aims to identify treatments specific to biological subtypes. Dr. Courchesne has published over 200 articles in major journals such as JAMA, TINS, Neuron, Molecular Psychiatry, Nature Neuroscience, and the New England Journal of Medicine.

To sign up for this free online event, click here.

 

I am not affiliated with Dr. Courchesne or NFAR. I am simply sharing this information.

8/7/19: All-Inclusive Day of Play & Resource Fair!

unnamed.jpg

I am very excited about this event! I received an email all about it this afternoon.
The Special Needs Resource Foundation of San Diego and San Diego Family Magazine are hosting the 2nd annual

All-Inclusive Day of Play & Resource Fair!On Wednesday, August 7 from 10 am to 1 pm at the Miramar Hourglass Recreation Center, 10440 Black Mountain Road, SD, 92126, families from around the county are invited to celebrate the last days of summer and gather information from resource providers for families with all abilities. Your family is invited to this FREE summer event!

Activity Booths • Giveaways • Performances • Games • Family Resources • Networking & more!

Children of all abilities will enjoy activity stations including Woody’s Roundup Corral, Super Hero City, Wheelchair Awareness Course, Literacy Duck Pond, V.T. Raceway, Star Wars Space Station and more!

Plus, enjoy a variety of entertaining performances at the All Abilities Stage.

Over 40 resource services and providers for children of all abilities will conveniently be onsite to speak with parents and provide information.

All activities and resources are FREE and open to the public.

Sign up for your family’s FREE tickets on eventbrite now!

Enjoy Fireworks & Fun at Legoland!

Screen Shot 2019-07-02 at 9.17.43 AM.png

If you don’t have plans for Thursday, check out the fun at Legoland California!

Don’t miss Fireworks set to a patriotic musical tribute with great viewing in designated locations throughout the Park.

Event activities include:

  • All-American family picnic games: water-balloon tosses, burlap sack races, Family Build Challenge and LEGO Hamburger relay
  • Patriotic costume parade: come dressed in your favorite Red, White and Blue attire
  • Fireworks
  • Character meet and greets
  • Special giveaways
  • Live performances and more!

The celebration lasts from 1:00pm to 9:00pm with fireworks at 8:30pm. All Red, White and BOOM! activities are included in the cost of admission to LEGOLAND California.

And if you are looking for a deal, Groupon has discount admissions here. Or if you stop by a San Diego County area McDonald’s location, you can pick up a coupon for a free child admission when you purchase an adult admission at full price.

If you are looking for more frugal fun at Legoland, check out my post here.  If you have a special needs child, learn more about the Assisted Access pass here.

6/22/19 Mass Creativity Day at The New Children’s Museum!

Screen Shot 2019-06-09 at 10.27.50 PM.pngHave you heard about the awesome with the New Children’s Museum in Downtown San Diego?

Mass Creativity Day is held at the park across from the Museum on Saturday, June 22, 2019 from 9:30am-3pm. Bring the whole family and enjoy live music, food, hands-on art-making activities, free admission to the Museum and more! Snacks at the event are generously donated by KIND.

I am looking forward to taking the kids to play and explore!

Screen Shot 2019-06-09 at 10.35.07 PM.pngThe New Children’s Museum is a great place for kids of all ages- And if your kiddo has accessibility issues such as autism or sensory issues), four times a year, the museum hosts an Accessibility Morning. RSVP is required to take advantage of this special morning (includes discounted admission for kids, and caregivers are free).  Learn more here.

Free Reading Event for All Kids at Central Library (San Diego, CA)

unnamed.jpg

On June 22 from 10am-1pm, the Special Needs Resource Foundation of San Diego and San Diego Family will be holding an All-Inclusive Read 3×3 Literacy Event: 3 Authors, 3 Hours, 3 Times the Fun at the San Diego Central Library.

San Diego Family Magazine is partnering with the San Diego Central Library @ Joan & Irwin Jacobs Common, Binford I CAN, Too! Center to promote literacy in kids from 0-10, put a free book in the hands of every child, teach empathy and compassion through stories and promote summer reading.

Every child that attends will receive a free book (while supplies last) donated by San Diego Family Magazine. We will have 3 authors (Salina Yoon, Sally J. Pla and Andrea Zimmerman) each read two of their books, followed by a craft for the kids.

The San Diego Central Library houses the Binford I CAN, Too! Center serving children with accessibility needs and their caregivers. The Binford I CAN, Too! Center offers access to technology, allowing patrons access to the following:

  • ZoomText: computer screen magnifier
  • JAWS: computer screen reader for the visually impaired, Read & Write Literacy: speech-to-text software, SARA Reader: converts text from printed to spoken
  • Optelec ClearView: 22” magnifier, High-definition keyboards, Adjustable height tables and Assistive Mouse/Ball Tracking.

In addition to the technology and equipment, the Center also provides periodic programming for and about children with special needs. These programs provide children with the opportunities to socialize, learn and have fun. Additional resources include large print and braille books, Sensory Integration Kits for children on the autism spectrum, and parent resource materials.

I’m excited to take the kids to this event and check out the Binford I CAN, Too! Center this summer.