Heroes: 10 Moms Who Are Changing the Face of AutismInstead of choosing the path of despair when their children were diagnosed with autism, these inspiring moms took action.
CREATING A PLACE TO LEARN
Cindy Kimbrell-Bacot is no stranger to autism. Not only does her now 12-year-old son, Nicholas, have the disorder, but she also used to work as an autism consultant, screening children for the condition. Still, Cindy, who has a social work degree, never expected to be running a school for children on the spectrum.
For six frustrating years she watched Nicholas bounce around the school system without receiving the services he needed. And because the closest school for students with autism was a six-hour drive away, many parents in her community faced an identical situation. Unwilling to waste any more time — time that her son could be using to gain skills — this Panama City Beach, FL, mom rallied community volunteers and raised about $10,000, mostly from family members, to open her own school. "I believe in 'Better to try and fail than not to try at all,'" says Cindy.
But she didn't fail. In the fall of 2008, Bacot Academy in Lynn Haven, FL, opened its doors to 10 children with autism, including Nicholas. The students, ranging in age from 6 to 13, received personalized educational programs based on the Applied Behavioral Analysis (ABA) treatment approach. The school has a waiting list, and Cindy hopes to accommodate more students in the future. "When you have a child who needs help," she says, "it drives you."
To learn more about Bacot Academy, visit bacotacademy.com.
HELPING KIDS BE KIDS
Deanna Ballard felt the joy drain from her home after her son, Zachary, was diagnosed with autism at the age of 2 1/2. "Zachary worked for hours with therapists, and my husband and I were exhausted from keeping a close watch on our son," says Deanna.
At the age of 6, Zachary couldn't even enjoy a TV show with his sister, Makenna, who is a year older than he is; the ones she watched overstimulated him and were hard for him to understand. "After five minutes, he'd zone out in the corner, banging two spoons together," says Deanna. So the Granite Bay, CA, mom, who has a psychology degree, enlisted the help of a TV-producer friend in 2006 and created a DVD that her son could grasp — one with shorter sentences and more repetition than a typical kid's video. "It was a big moment when he saw the first DVD, on colors," she says. "Since his regression, he never really interacted with Makenna. During that video, he danced around with her."
The slice of normalcy Deanna gained from that DVD — from more laughter around the house to having a few minutes of relief to cook dinner or just turn her back — was something she wanted to give to others with special-needs kids. "My hope," she says, "is to improve the quality of life for children and their families, 25 minutes at a time."
Deanna has created three "My World Learning" DVDs, on colors, shapes, and expressions. A fourth one, about feelings, is in the works.To find local retailers who carry the DVDs or to order them online, log on to myworldlearning.com.
News, stories, tips and laughs for moms & dads
As you trim your tree, hang the lights, bake cookies and prepare for guests, remember that there’s a certain member of your family who also deserves something extra special this holiday season: your dog. Save a little space under the tree for these beds, toys, collars and outfits for your favorite canine. Plus, we've even included a couple of gifts for the dog lovers in your life!
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When it comes to holiday giving, it's the thought that counts, which is why homemade gifts from kids are so treasured by their mothers. Children might not have money to spend on an expensive piece of jewelry or designer handbag, but they do have the time to DIY something special for their number one fan. If you're in charge of helping the little ones think of presents, check out the above list of homemade gifts for mom. From a custom vase to Instagram coasters to Warhol-inspired wall art, we have something for every taste and skill level.
At our household, we have a large, diverse collection of toys. While I’m not as uptight as my husband on what enters our kids’ toy chest, my husband must approve all toy acquisitions mostly because of aesthetics (appearance is important). In our search for functional and stylish toys, the sustainable ones often have the best design, and appeal to the visual and tactile senses or improve fine motor skills such as dexterity and hand coordination. Here are a few of our family favorites that intrigue and hold our little ones’ attention—and look good, too.
Worried that a violent video game might sneak its way into your shopping cart during the holidays? Before you make it to the register, make sure you're armed with all the information you need regarding your child's games. Just because your well-meaning thirteen-year-old promises you that the game he's about to buy with the gift card from Uncle Mike is totally chill, doesn't mean it's good for kids. Do your research ahead of time to avoid any game store drama. And have a chat with your offspring before the big day; let them know that you're going to have to green light their choices before they get their hearts set on any particular item. At the end of the day, you're just being a good parent. Some of the games on the market now may look OK at first glance, but are actually quite objectionable. Trust us: We've done our homework and we're here to give you the ultimate low-down. Check out this slideshow for all the games to steer clear of this season. Don't say we didn't warn you.
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