Archives for category: Parenting

Selecting Musical Instruments for Children – Guest Post by Dr. Vicki Panaccione.

I hope my fellow Mom-Blogger Laura Lamere doesn’t mind my re-posting this wonderful article… It’s Saturday morning and my eyes are still half-closed! Thank you, Laura and Dr. Panaccione!

Selecting Musical Instruments for Children – Guest Post by Dr. Vicki Panaccione


– Originally published: January 26, 2011 – Reposted with permission by Dr. Vicki Panaccione   –

Selecting musical instruments for children seems like the responsibility of parents.  Piano seems to be the starter instrument of choice for many parents who have pianos in their home.  But what if your children don’t want to play the piano?  Or, what if they like to plink upon the keys but have no interest in doing more than that?  What’s a parent to do?

Playing an instrument has many benefits, including helping children learn patience, develop coordination, stimulate their creative juices, and so on.  Some children have obvious talent, while others not so much.  But, I feel that if the selection of musical instruments for children is left to their own choosing, their natural guidance systems will lead them to the instrument(s) that ‘sing’ to them.

Selecting Musical Instruments for Children with Different Learning Styles

(please click to read more)




Who says you can’t buy happiness?

A tough morning with a doctor…

Add flour, water, sugar, oil & love (and a little chocolate)…


Who says there’s no panacea?

We call it Krispy Kreme & conversation!

(and a hug helps, too!)


My son talks with me a lot.

The conversations are often challenging, but words cannot convey the depth of love, pride, and amazement I feel when he asks questions that I doubt many 15-year-olds ask anyone.

And society teaches us that Autism is a disability. Makes you wonder.

Now, he may wish I were dead before this is all over, but I’ve decided to start writing about our conversations.

Some of the topics don’t belong on a blog that’s not rated “mature”, so I’m afraid you won’t hear about those (except in thickly veiled terms). But many of them seem quite universal. And having these conversations with a young adult who looks from a very a-typical point of view sheds a sometimes poignant perspective on the topics.

“Mom, am I a bad person?”

My heart wrenches, just remembering those words.

This question arose in the car on the way to school one morning, the day after he had told me about three incidents at school.

Incident 1:

“I kinda got in trouble today because I threw fluffy seeds on a kid when we were outside.”

Oh, he didn’t like it, huh?

“No, I guess not.”

Well, it might help to remember that, just like you can’t stand it when other people sing, other kids at school have their things that they can’t stand. So maybe this kid doesn’t like fluffy things.

“Yeah, maybe.”

So, why did you do it, anyway? Did you mean to upset him, or were you teasing him? Or you just wanted to see what he’d do?

“Well, I was doing this story in my head where this other guy and I were doing a joke to throw fluffy seeds on him, and see if it made him turn fluffy… And that kid just happened to be there.”

Oh, so you were doing a story, and it wasn’t even about the kid you threw the seeds at?


Oh, okay. Well, just try to remember that you don’t like people singing around you, so it’s nice to be considerate of others when you do things to them, and ask yourself if you think they’d really like it. Okay?


Incident 2:

“Well, there was this other thing that happened…”

Yeah? What was that?

“Well, I kinda went ‘Arrghhh’ (gesticulating a lunge) at SingerBoy today because he was singing and I didn’t want him to.”

Ooooh… Wow, that’s pretty agressive! So this is back to having consideration for others, isn’t it?


So, what did SingerBoy do when you did that?

“Well, he kicked me in the… you know…”

(I’m sorry – I couldn’t help but laugh…) Gee, I hear that really hurts!


So you must have really made him mad. Maybe he thought you were picking a fight. And you know, maybe his Dad has taught him to fight back when someone picks on him…


And you know he really loves to sing… Just like you love to do your stuff. You wouldn’t like it if someone lunged at you for leaving bits of sticker paper on the floor, would you?

“Well, no…”

Incident 3:

“This little kid asked me what I was playing on my DS today, and I said, ‘Well, you don’t really need to know; it’s rated Teen’. And then he said, ‘Oh, Ghost Recon. That’s nothing. I play Halo.”

Such confusion. To the literal mind, never in the world would a 10-year-old be playing Halo, of all things! So I focused on the tone of voice.

You know, it sounds like you might have been talking a bit like a Know-It-All… People kinda don’t like Know-It-Alls…


Do you know what a Know-It-All is?

“Well, I guess not… Someone who knows everything?”

Explanations ensued. How we make friends. How we think about other people’s feelings. How we try to get along with others (amazingly, he was actually listening).

How, in a school, where EVERYONE has something that drives them nuts (since it’s a school especially for kids with ADHD, Autism, Asperger’s, etc.), it’s especially important to understand that we never know what’s going to push someone’s buttons…


Do you know what “Push Someone’s Buttons” means?

“Well, no…”

More explanations.

The things we take for granted, assuming others automatically understand…

All in that 30-minute ride home. It was enough of a dose of parenting to last us both all night. I tend to focus so much on trying to help him understand “appropriate” (read: expected) behavior, hoping he’ll get less-blind-sided by life that way.

Yes, he thought about it, so much so that by the next morning, he was worried that he might be a “bad person”.

Geez, is there any part of parenting that’s not guess-work?

I wonder if priests feel this way when they hear confessions. At least with my son and our long commute, we can spend the aftermath doing damage control.

It’s far more fun spending half an hour telling my kid how awesome he is, and how the other kids might have gotten ‘talks’ too (since in many cases their actions deserve a little discussion, as well), and watching the smile and raised eyebrows of relief spread across his face… than it is to lecture on how we should behave in order to keep out of trouble.

Thank goodness both sink in.

And like magic, the next day is a good day.

Browsing through a bookstore the other day, I came across (on the buy 2 get 3 table) a book by Larry Winget, titled “Your Kids Are Your Own Fault”.

I picked it up out of curiosity. Wow… Yep, featured on Fox News… um, okay…

As I gingerly placed the book back on the table (didn’t want those cooties!), my Best Friend told me I needed to buy it. We argued for a few minutes, until I realized that I’d be getting the book for free anyway (3 for 2, you know…). I relented.

About a week later, I opened it up in a mall food court after having spent a couple hours at the DMV (seemed appropriate…), and I began to skim the pages.

If you’ve read how I feel about Fox News, you can imagine how quickly I skimmed. Just following my Spiritual Guide’s instructions – minimally. Yes, I felt verbally assaulted and insulted by Mr. Winget’s presentation.

But I continued skimming, shocked with myself.

Damn, I agree with this guy.

He’s got some good ideas about parenting… Yes, Larry, I’m already doing all these things you suggest… Thank you for the affirmation… Gee, maybe my great kid is my “fault”…

As I drove home, I contemplated the new world I had entered: a world in which I agree with someone associated with Fox News.

Maybe I’m not liberal after all… Maybe I do need to watch more TV… Maybe Larry’s right, and the world is a mess…

…maybe I’m going to hell in a handbasket…

Here’s the thing: Larry’s book is a little over 250 pages long. He could have presented his parenting philosophy in about 25 pages – max. He chose to fill about 200 pages with words like this:

“If you are looking at a thirty-five-year-old disaster, face it, folks: it’s too late. You have failed as a parent. You have failed yourself, your child, and your child’s children. You have failed society. And all of us will end up bearing the burden of your failure. Thanks! Think of that next time you bump into a thirty-five-year-old idiot; you should send his parents a thank you note because it’s their fault.” (from page 12)

Why? Why does he feel he has to yell at me – yes, me? (he specifies that several times…)

I wonder why people “like Larry Winget” (who are, of course, empty of inherent existence) feel they need to yell at people to get their ideas across.

Maybe he thinks I’m stupid and can’t think for myself.

Here’s the Buddhist stream-of-consciousness commentary:

Well, if Larry Winget is appearing to my mind, then I created the cause for this appearance, my angry-commentator-karma has ripened, oh damn, what do I do, what do I do?

Then my Best Friend pointed out: No, we brought him to your attention, you’re just peeking into the world as it appears to others for a moment… It’ll be over soon…

Whew. That’s better. I’m so glad Larry Winget stopped yelling at me. Now I can get on with my (hopefully) loving parenting.

By the way, if my son turns out all right, please give him the credit. All I’ve done is tried to be a good mom.

(this post was inspired by this post from giulas41 and this post by Anupadin)

Teaming Up With Teachers

My son received an autism diagnosis in 2000.

In the years since, he’s attended public schools, from Pre-K onwards. We’ve traveled 3 school systems and a range of settings: self-contained classrooms, resource classes with dedicated paraprofessionals, resource classes with shared paras, and independent work in regular classrooms.

We’ve met a variety of teachers, from passionately enthusiastic young recent graduates to seasoned veterans nearing retirement.

Throughout the whirlwind of changes (of schools and teachers, as well as the changes through growth), I’ve seen one principle proven over and over again:

You catch more flies with honey than vinegar.

Please pardon my pun. Baseballs and insects often collide, but teachers are not flies; they are kind people who do their best to work with our kids.

Baseball games let people understand the yearning of learning: the yearning to know what’s coming next, the yearning for the dull boring part to end, the yearning to get on with the game. I know parents yearn in this way for their children; I imagine teachers yearn for this too.

Last week my son had an outburst in a busy classroom. It shocked the teachers; that was their pop fly. My son still feels caught: caught between his own frustration in the class and his own understanding of consequences. He will probably remember that “out” for years.

Over a decade, we’ve fielded a lot of pop flies and thrown a lot of balls. Different circumstances and levels of exhaustion provoked an assortment of responses with sometimes-unexpected results.

Our pop flies usually come in the form of emails. As parents, we have the luxury of learning about incidents once the teachers have had a chance to catch their breath. We catch the fly ball and take a moment to decide what kind of ball we’re going to send back: a screaming scorcher, a gentle lob, or something in between.

On some level, we make a decision: is this a competitive sport, or a team effort?

When this happens, I try to remember: this is not about “me”. However I respond, my son is the one who will face the “umpire” the next day at school. And the ump will have to deal with my son.

The “umpire” is not just a body in a funny striped shirt. We’re talking about a human being who fills the shoes of teacher, umpire, coach, friend, and protector. There are probably other roles I don’t even know about…

So, when I feel a pop fly coming, I put out the honey, dust down my motherly defensiveness, and catch the fly.

To all the caring teachers in the world: Thank you for fielding my son’s throws, and for being his parent when I can’t. I know his throwing arm wobbles sometimes, and you really have to run to catch that ball.

Call me lazy… another re-blog…  But Mama Kat is hilarious!

I grabbed this excerpt from “How To Make A Phone Call In A House Full Of Screaming Children”… Read her post if you could use a good laugh!

I could have used this idea a few years ago…

Throw Skittles at your children…One At A Time
They will enjoy this fun game and will scurry away from you to recover the coveted candy. The children will sound happy and well taken care of and the person on the receiving end will think you are a fantastic mother while she deals with her own screaming child on the other end.

I came across this recent post by Seth Godin:

Seths Blog: Three ways to help people get things done.

It caught my interest for selfish reasons… I’ve had some run-ins with bullies and extortionists in life, so I love the third method he proposes… “Open the door”…

As I was closing the window on the post, I realized, Damn, this applies to working with Autism… I wonder if he knows that…

Now I don’t delude myself with the idea that Seth Godin might give a rat’s patooty what I think, but I will question one aspect of his Open Door Policy:

What kind of expectations do people need to have others place on them, before they will strive to achieve their potential?

My son is merely one child/young man with autism, and we’ve worked with him in a fairly isolated fashion… But that kid has done some amazing things. And I’ve found that he flourishes exponentially better when the expectations are quite minimal, and the love, affection and acceptance are abundant.

If Seth’s “expectations” are to “accept and love yourself”, then he’s got one helluva business/life model there.