I posted about this on my socials too, but I really want to spread the word.
Dinosaurs Invade Miniland USA at Legoland California!
If your kiddos are like mine, they love dinosaurs and Legoland.
Our friends over at LEGOLAND® California Resort have created more than 30 of the massive creatures that have taken over the Big Apple in Miniland U.S.A. Guests can get up close to Stegosauruses, Brachiosauruses, Triceratopses and the mighty Tyrannosaurus rex, among others, running rampant through the city. The fun scenes all depict what happens when a science convention has gone wrong and now families can join a LEGO® Mad Scientist in his search to find and identify all the creatures.
Each prehistoric reptile took a team of Master Model Builders more than 60 hours to design and construct. Each dinosaur weighs more than 20lbs and is built out of more than 30 thousand LEGO® bricks. Sharp LEGO® teeth, gigantic claws, and tiny T-rex arms are among the many identifiable characteristics of the carnivorous models. The Model Builders also had some fun creating silly and entertaining scenes in Time Square, Central Park, and high above the city skyline for all to enjoy.
LEGO dinosaurs will be roaming around the city that never sleeps now through summer at the Park… catch them fast before they go extinct!
The kids love Legoland, and they make it fun and easy for all families to enjoy their parks. If you are a family with special needs, check out my post about their Assisted Access Pass. And if you are trying to have fun on a budget- Legoland can be enjoyed on the cheap! Tips and tricks can be found here.
This dinosaur experience is included in the price of admission to LEGOLAND® California Resort. For LEGOLAND® California Resort ticket prices, Spring Break special offers, operating schedule, and additional information, visit www.LEGOLAND.com or call 760-918-LEGO (5346).
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!
What to do When You Have a Newly Diagnosed Child on The Autism Spectrum?
I’m in a few Facebook groups for parents of children that are on the Autism spectrum or are otherwise neurodivergent.
One of the things about being a parent of a neurodivergent child is that after you are informed of your kids’ diagnosis is there is nothing. It’s like, “Here is the diagnosis. Thanks for your co-pay… NEXT!!”
Typically, doctors and other clinicians don’t offer you resources, support, or give you any information. Sometimes you have to fight to get a copy of the diagnostic report.
In my Facebook groups, parents of newly diagnosed children come and ask, “What now?” or “How do I get my kid help and services?” After typing the same response literally hundreds of times in the past 5 years trying to help parents and guardians (because I had no help and had to google and claw and find help for my child and family), here are a few resources that have helped my family:
If you suspect your child may be neurodivergent, contact their pediatrician. Ask for an assessment. You may receive a referral to a psychologist. The intake process is lengthy. There are typically 2-3 appointments, plus lots of paperwork to complete. If you receive any pushback, keep pressing forward. If your doctor says no, call your insurance provider directly and ask for help. If you live in San Diego County, you can also contact the San Diego Regional Center directly for help getting an assessment.
Once you receive a diagnosis, request a copy of the paperwork for your files. You will need a copy of the diagnosis paperwork to access services.
Important side notes: Start a file/binder (I use this one) for all of your paperwork. There will be a lot of it. I also have heavy-duty page protectors and folders in the three-ring binder. I keep his IEP (Individual Education Plan), IHSS paperwork, Regional Center paperwork, a list of his doctors (including their phone numbers and addresses), and copies of the medication inserts/directions that come with the prescriptions.
If you are in San Diego County, contact the San Diego Regional Center. Any resident of San Diego or Imperial County believed to have a developmental disability may receive intake services through the San Diego Regional Center. The Regional Center can help you access services such as respite care, Medi-cal Waiver, and access to community services. For most families, Regional Center services are free or very inexpensive. The intake paperwork will go over income requirements for payment for being a Regional Center Client. Our kiddo has been a Regional Center client for 5 years, and they have been a great resource.
Once you get in touch with the Regional Center and your child becomes a client, you want to get your child on Medi-cal. This will allow them to receive the most services and can help your family access IHSS (In Home Support Services- Someone to help provide care for your child, as their special needs may mean that they require extra care or support above and beyond what a neurotypical child their age may require).
If your family makes too much money annually to qualify your child through Medi-Cal, ask for a Medi-cal Development Disability Waiver. Having this waiver for your child is really important, as it will open up so many services and programs.
Some neurodivergent children require services to help better their quality of life. Some of these services include:
- OT (Occupational Therapy)
- Speech Therapy
- Behavioral or Mental Health Therapy
- Feeding Therapies
The Regional Center Case Worker assigned to your child can help you navigate what services they can help with, and provide resources.
Note about Medi-cal: Just because your kid has it, doesn’t mean that you have to use it as their primary health insurance. For our family, we use Medi-cal to cover the gaps that we’ve found in our primary insurance. Covering co-pays for medication that relates to his diagnosis, and in the past, a few other therapies that we no longer utilize.
There are a lot of support groups online to help parents navigate life with Neurodivergent kiddos. It’s worth a Facebook or Reddit search, using your city, state, or geographic area.
There are also a lot of non-profits that are all about helping Neurodivergent people. I love NFAR (the National Federation for Autism Research), they are local to San Diego, and they have programs for parents, kids, and teens, and adults.
The Autism Tree Project Foundation is another NPO I love. They have all sorts of great playgroups, events, and resources for families of Neurodivergent people.
MOST IMPORTANT: Regardless of your child’s diagnosis, they are still your kid. Nothing changes your love for them and their love for you. If you are uncomfortable or if your child is uncomfortable with any therapies that they take part in, listen to your gut, and listen to your kid. There are some therapies that are commonly accepted that older Autists (people on the autism spectrum) recount as having negative mental or physical impacts on them.
Please seek out support- There are a lot of people who have gone through what you are going through. Lots of parents, friends, allies who can share their resources, and offer you a shoulder to cry on when you are frustrated, and hugs when you need them. I count myself among those supporters. When you need help or support, don’t hesitate to email me or DM/PM me on any of my socials.
Tryazon: Vitamin Friends Healthy Kids Party
We’ve been participating in Tryazon events for three+ years. We’ve gotten to try all sorts of fun toys, games, and food. You can learn more about Tryazon here.
Make sure your kids are getting the nutrition they need with this Tryazon Featured Party opportunity, from Vitamin Friends. Vitamin Friends gummies come in delicious, kid-approved flavors with all the nutrients and natural ingredients parents love. All gummies are gelatin-free and without all the sugars found in most gummies. They provide a wide variety of supplements to help support kids health and meet your kids’ needs. Vitamin Friends are proud partners with Autism Hope Alliance and meet all the Approved Autism Partner standards.
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.
Mabel’s Labels: Early Bird Pricing on School Labels!
**This post contains affiliate links and I will be compensated if you make a purchase after clicking on my links.
Back to School Season… So much money spent on school supplies, backpacks, lunch bags, whatever else they need.
Keeping tabs on all of this stuff can be a pain, so that’s where Mabel’s Labels come into play.
We have the Ultimate Back-to-School Combo Pack, which is great, as there are labels in tons of various sizes for all kinds of needs (including tags to go into shoes- perfect for tap shoes!)- and it includes two tags.
I’m sure everyone is hip to stranger dangers, but one thing that I see time and again is kids with their names embroidered on the outside of their backpacks. Yes, it’s cute, but it gives strangers more info than they need.
This is another reason that I put the name tags inside of Henry’s backpack and lunch bag.
When we go to Legoland or someplace where he might be easily separated, he has one of the Mabel’s Tags that reads, “Lost & Autistic Call my mom ###-##-####” I attach it to one of the belt loops of his pants.
He is not very good at remembering phone numbers, so this is a perfect solution for us. He knows if he gets separated he is to go to e park employee and show them the tag.
Mabel’s Labels has labels and tags to solve so many issues!
- Kids’ Medical Alert Labels
- Claim Your Carry-Ons in Style with Mabel’s Labels Bag Tags!
- Preschool Shoe labels
- Clothing Labels (These aren’t just for camp! These are great for cots/jackets, mittens, gloves, mufflers, and scarves for the winter months).
Free Reading Event for All Kids at Central Library (San Diego, CA)
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.
Detective Pikachu Review
My Big Guy LOVES Pokémon. The cartoons, the card game, and when he found out there was going to be a live-action movie he begged me (and his dad) to take him. Thanks to my awesome PR friend Risa, we were able to check out a sneak preview on Monday.
So my review comes from the angle of a mom with an autistic kid who doesn’t do well with lots of fast movement, loud sounds (like explosions) in movies.
IT WAS PERFECT! Visually, the insertion of the Pokémon was seamless, it wasn’t ever too loud, too fast, and the special effects were just enough. Kiddo watched in fascination for the entire movie! The movie run time is 1 hour, 44 minutes. A great length for a kids movie (although it is rated PG- Pikachu says “hell” at one point).
For those not in the know… The story begins when ace detective Harry Goodman goes mysteriously missing, prompting his 21-year-old son Tim to find out what happened. Aiding in the investigation is Harry’s former Pokémon partner, Detective Pikachu: a hilariously wise-cracking, adorable super-sleuth who is a puzzlement even to himself. Finding that they are uniquely equipped to work together, as Tim is the only human who can talk with Detective Pikachu, they join forces on a thrilling adventure to unravel the tangled mystery. Chasing clues together through the neon-lit streets of Ryme City—a sprawling, modern metropolis where humans and Pokémon live side by side in a hyper-realistic live-action world—they encounter a diverse cast of Pokémon and uncover a shocking plot that could destroy this peaceful co-existence and threaten the whole Pokémon universe.
Oh, and Ryan Reynolds voices Pikachu. So there is that too. There is really something for everyone.
Did you know that the creator of Pokémon, Satoshi Taiji is autistic? It’s true! The Art of Autism has a really great article about him and Pokémon.
We didn’t take the Itty Bitty kiddo, but she’s not really into going to the movies (except for the snacks). If your littler kiddos like going to the movies, I’d recommend it for them too.
Detective Pikachu opens on Friday, May 10th.
Talk Back: Do your kids love Pokémon? Who is their favorite?
Free Concerts this Weekend from Mainly Mozart!
Mainly Mozart has a great trilogy of concerts this weekend at Bread and Salt in San Diego. The best part is that all three concerts are FREE. You need to register here for tickets.
Cello Meets Guitar
Friday, May 3 | Bread and Salt, Logan Heights | 7:00pm – Concert
Sunday, May 5 | Bread and Salt, Logan Heights | 2:00pm – Concert
Music, Inspiration, and Autism
Sunday, June 2 | Bread and Salt, Logan Heights |7:00pm – Concert
Mainly Mozart has a great series called Mozart & the Mind- and they are having an event on June 1st featuring Key Note Speaker- Temple Grandin. If you are a Regional Center Client, click here for information on how you can attend The June 1st or June 2nd Mozart & The Mind Symposium for free.