Counting Green Stars

Exploring a spectrum of possibilities

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Airport Rehearsal!

Flying is something we take for granted these days, but for children on the autistic spectrum, it can be an overwhelming experience.

Understanding that taking an autistic child on an airplane may require some advance planning and preparation, many airports now have programs that provide them with a flying experience without ever lifting off the ground.

Here is a list of 15 airports currently offering an Airport Rehearsal Program.


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Miami’s Autism Card

The University of Miami Center for Autism and Related Disabilities (CARD) partnered with the Coral Gables Police Department and the Disability Independence Group (DIG) to create ID cards so people with ASD can present themselves as such when interacting with law enforcement.

The idea came about after some young adults with autism were arrested for exhibiting “suspicious” behavior after being pulled over while driving when, in fact, they were simply responding with behavior that is characteristic of ASD.

With the help of the ID card, police officers will be able to know why a person may not be making eye contact, speaking, or reacting in an expected way.

The card features a bio-dot section, which allows drivers with autism to show how they are feeling by pointing to one of four options: relaxed, calm, nervous or tense.

I love this idea because it not only gives people with ASD a tool, but increases law enforcement’s awareness of ASD with that same tool. I think every state needs this!

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Finding the Right Shoes

Karen Wang has written a wonderful article called 17 Tips For Finding the Right Shoes For Your Child With Special Needs. 

The wrong pair of shoes can create a day of misery for anyone. But when special needs are added to the mix, the right pair of shoes can become elusive. She offers sensory-friendly options and discusses making shoes more comfortable.

Check out her tips for finding the right shoes for your child by clicking the link.

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“Autism Balm”

Dr. V. Ruth Pinney has been researching and working with autistic individuals’ brain chemoreception pathways with a view to changing the reactions to the specific sensory perceptions.

About one-third of people on the autism spectrum are hypersensitive to odors, and these reactions can lead to eating disorders and other behavior disorders. Hypersensitive autistic smellers and tasters tend to have poor appetites, gag easily when offered food and eat only a few foods that they can tolerate the smell of. Even normal or pleasant odors may be perceived by them to be malodorous and disturbing.

Dr. Pinney created NOXO Sensory Balm™ to help “tone down” the perception of smells by the brain by providing a scent that is calming to the brain’s emotional centers. When this balm is applied topically, under the nose, an individual can find relief from odors that trigger coping responses.

This balm was first marketed under the name “NOXO Autism Balm” because of the obvious application for those on the autism spectrum with sensory integration difficulties who need to eat a greater variety of nutritious foods. It is reported to be safe, easy to apply, and non-invasive.

I’ve not yet tried this product, so I welcome the feedback from parents who have. Please let us know about your experience. It truly takes a village…

[Click on the image for more company information]

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Let’s Go Camping!

accessThere is a lifetime pass to U.S. national parks and recreation areas that’s available to U.S. citizens who have been medically determined to have a permanent disability. The disabilities include permanent physical, mental, and sensory impairments.

As a caregiver, you can get the pass for your child and use it whenever the child is with you. The pass is valid for the lifetime of the child, and covers everyone riding in the vehicle with him/her.

The pass gives you free access to national parks, as well as a 50% discount on camping and a discount on other access fees.

Here is information about how to obtain the Access Pass:

I think it’s time to plan a camping trip!


Gentle Gecko

geckoA few months ago, Corban’s super-supportive grandmother bought him a weighted sensory “toy” online from Future Horizons, a wonderful website of sensory resources for autistic children. Operating on the same principles of weighted blankets and vests, these colorful geckos help children with sensory issues by providing the extra weight to feel grounded, as well as to soothe, calm, and comfort themselves. Each gecko is about 30 inches long, weighs about seven pounds, and is handsewn. It’s filled with non-toxic milo (birdseed) and is irresistible! But does it work?

Visits to the dentist for Corban are very stressful times. When he had to go in a few weeks ago to get his teeth cleaned, he took his gecko along and laid it across his lap during the procedure. Not only was I amazed at how calm he was, the dentist and his staff were so impressed, they decided to get one for their office for other children to use during dental visits. How’s that for a testimonial?!

As is true with most good-quality weighted products, the gecko is not cheap. Each one runs about $35, but this therapeutic “toy” is worth every penny of the investment, in my opinion.


Dietary Intervention

diet book jacketI’ve just finished reading The Autism & ADHD Diet by Barrie Silberberg about dietary interventions for our children on the autistic spectrum. It’s a thought-provoking exploration of how modern society has come to accept dietary habits that are far from natural or healthy, as well as the price we pay in making medications our first response.

I was impressed with her balanced information about how families can embrace the sanity of sensible nutrition to improve the health of their child’s gut-brain connection.

This is a must-read for parents who are considering implementing a gluten-free, casein-free diet.