Sunday, December 29, 2013

How to Make a Smoothie

This video is from a year ago, but shows how well Hayden is doing with language skills. 

Monday, December 16, 2013

Diet for Autism: Introduction to BioMed and GFCF

This file was created for a presentation to ABA therapists but could be used with anyone new to Biomed and GFCF.  Giving out GFCF cookies during your presentation is highly recommended. : )

Friday, December 13, 2013

30,000 Page Views

I passed 30,000 page views today!  Glad to be able to help so many others learn about Autism and Nutrition. Message me or comment if you need anything.  Have a great day!

: )  Sheila

Thursday, December 12, 2013

New Position: Parent Liaison for Cornerstone Autism Center!

I am excited to tell you that I have a new position as the Parent Laison for Cornerstone Autism Center!  I have been here for over a month now and I absolutely love my job!  More information to come, but for now, here is a link to their page: 

Come take a tour and say hello! It's a great place for kids!

: )  Sheila

PS  (Any opinions stated in this blog do not represent the opinions of Cornerstone Autism Center. Just little ol' me.)  : )

SCD: Specific Carb Diet (What Rylie Eats, Updated)

Here is an update for you on what the Rylie Bug will eat. (Click the links to see the full lists.)

Rylie, in her pull-up and shoes, showing off her tree decorating skills. 

More on SCD: 

 "What Do Your Kids Eat?"  which explains Hayden's diet as well.

Example lunches:  SCD / Paleo Lunches 2  SCD Lunches 1

"Breaking the Vicious Cycle" is the book that explains the diet.

Also... Blog Posts regarding why Rylie needs this diet:

Monday, December 9, 2013

Organic Acid Test

An Organic Acid Test (OAT) allows you to know what is going on with yeast and bacterial overgrowth in the body, along with other nutritional markers. 

If you click the link above and scroll to page 7, you can read the explanation of her results. In summary, her OAT showed: 
  • high fungal/ yeast markers indicating yeast or fungus overgrowth
  • high 4-hydroxybenzoic acid,  which may be due to bacterial overgrowth of the GI tract, intake of fruits such as blueberries rich in polyphenols (anthocyanins, flavonols, and hydroxycinnamates), or may be from paraben additive exposure.
  • High succinic acid, which may indicate a relative deficiency of riboflavin and/or coenzyme Q10, or of general gut dysbiosis. 
  • High HPHPA, associated with behavioral, GI, and/or neuropsychiatric effects.  GI symptoms may include diarrhea or constipation. HPHPA is an abnormal phenylalanine metabolite produced by Clostridia 
  • High oxalates 
  • Vanylmandelic acid (VMA) below mean 
  • 5-hydroxyindoleacetic acid (5-HIAA) levels below the mean, which may indicate lower production of the neurotransmitter serotonin. 
  • High quinolinic acid / 5-HIAA ratio,  indicates an imbalance of these organic acids and may be a sign of neural excitotoxicity.  
  • High ethylmalonic and suberic acids, which may be due to fatty acid oxidation disorders or carnitine deficiency
  • High methylmalonic acid, seen in vitamin B12 deficiency or in defective absorption or transport of vitamin B12
  • Pyridoxic acid (B6) levels below the mean, which may be associated with less than optimum health conditions (low intake, malabsorption, or dysbiosis).  
  • High glutaric acid, can result from glutaric acidemias, fatty acid oxidation defects, riboflavin deficiency, ingestion of medium-chain triglycerides, metabolic effects of valproic acid (Depakene), and celiac disease. 

See this post for our current plan to address these test results through biomedical intervention.

    Click here for more on the OAT, from Great Plains Laboratory.

    The OAT was a simple urine test Rylie did at home and I then mailed in the special packaging it came with to freeze and protect it. Although it did take several tries for Rylie to have enough urine in the cup. :)  The cost was around $300. The test kit was ordered through my Registered Dietitian. Insurance did not cover the cost of the test. The test was processed through Great Plains Lab.

    Tuesday, December 3, 2013

    Most Recent Appointment Notes Dec/13

    Here are notes on the kids' recent DAN Dr. (Autism) appointments and some other evaluations and test notes. Changes made as a result of these are reflected in their new supplement sheet. Click here to view.

    Treating kids for Autism and related conditions is an on-going journey. For Hayden, the next step is to get his yeast overgrowth under control so we can chelate (remove heavy metals from his body, like lead.) For Rylie, I've gotten the clostridia and diarrhea under control. I continue to need to address the yeast overgrowth and nutrient deficiencies, and continue with weight gain. Every few months I cart them off to their appointments, with my notebook and laptop in hand and lots of toys to entertain them. This time, I had help. : ) And somehow, the appointment went smoothly, everyone was calm, and both kids had blood draws with minimal upset.

    I'm sure there are a thousand more things I've forgotten, but I'm also pretty sure that you won't mind. Like I said, it's a journey. This is just one part of the map. 


    Dr Hulseman Appointment Notes

    Current problems:

    • mitochondrial metabolism disorder
    • noninfectious gastroenteritis and colitis
    • diarrhea
    • anemia
    • abnormal weight gain

    1. Start Super Nu for a multi-vitamin
    2. Start B12 shots.  Use every 3 days. You can increase it up to every day if it helps her. There is a video online you can watch for how to give them. Inject subcutaneously into buttock every 3 days at 30 degree angle or less. If hyperactive, back off to one a week. If improving but wearing off, can do every other day. She has a B12 deficiency. B/c responded well to carnitine, should respond well to b12.
    (hyperbaric could help her, but wait for now b/c can be bad for yeast)
    3. Increase magnesium for sound sensitivity.
    4. Use diflucan for 2 wks, then start nystatin.
    Based on her OAT which shows yeast and clostridia (bacteria) still there, she should not be getting any carbs or sugar at this time. No cheating or exceptions until they are gone. See if snoring improves once yeast improves.
    5. Add K and other input for oxalates (which will help urination hesitation). K also helps with leaky gut.

    Typical approach to managing high oxalates: (oxylates evidenced by urination hesitancy) 1. Treat yeast aggressively with antifungals, probiotics, and diet low in sugar and carbs. Increase probiotics slowly.   2. Add vitamin K2:  Start with one drop a day and increase by one drop every 2 to 3 days to avoid diarrhea. 3. Optimize A and D intake. Start with cod liver oil, then adjust dose based on blood tests. 4. Add baking soda using 8 cups in a bath daily (or as much as possible) and soak for 20 minutes.

    6. Consider Enhansa after the above, in a month or more. Enhansa is good for gut inflammation.
    7. Check labs today.
    8. Try the vitamin A protocol. Repeat in 6 months if helps.


    • Skip igg for now
    • glutathione is low
    • Parasite cleanse: alinia and natural supps
    • She might like Kirkman pear bars.

    Lab Test Result Notes

    • zinc is low; do 20 mg twice a day
    • D and iron are better. no other changes for now.

    Organic Acid Test (OAT)  Notes (from forum):  
    Yeast is bad with Arabinose and Tartaric may be rising which means it is growing. Nystatin can be used continually and it does not interfere with the rest of your Program. Though I agree it is nice to be able to use natural, and natural does not necessarily mean less effective, sometimes giving the body a boost up against yeast with a few rounds of Nystatin can help. Especially since to fight the Clostridia I like NAC but since it is sulfur based I don't like to add it until some yeast fighters are on board and it is more under control.
    Are you using Thorne Research Vitamin K2 and VSL#3 yet?? That as we have mentioned can help clear the excessive oxalic acid and can help prevent kidney stones from forming from it. This is happening in our kids far more than you would think.
    B6 marker is really low. Low B6 has the liver make more Oxalic Acid. We don't want that. You need to get B6 up if you can. For instance the Super Nu Thera Powder and Caplets have 200mg of B6. Many of our kids need their B6 intake near this.
    Most of your amino acid metabolites are low or moderately low. Are you giving any aminos yet?
    There is a need for CoQ10 and Bs and mitochondrial dysfunction will be helped too.
    Many of the other markers are mostly gut related including the B12 wasting. The 3-oxo is at the higher end of ref range and the 2-oxo is right in the middle which tells me there is some ammonia building and that happens with Clostridia and there is some Clostridia markers. One idea is to get one bottle of Kirkman's AKG Alpha Keto glutarate and just give one cap in the morning with other supplements until the bottle is gone. That will help to keep ammonia down as you start to heal the gut.
    GSE, Biocidin, OLE, OoO, Yeast Aid, Threelac probiotic added on to help with yeast, NAC after you get some yeast down to fight Clostridia are some ideas. Candex or Candidase are enzymes which break up the outer shell of yeast and makes it easier to kill.

    South Side Special Services Eval
    2 day eval Dec 2 and 3 from 9 to 11:30. Case conference Dec 13 at 12:45. This will determine if she will receive OT services through Perry Township when she turns 3 (Developmental Preschool).

    Eval ideas from OT and Psych regarding tantrums and potty training:
    • Book:  123 Magic
    • If/Then app on Ipad
    • don't give attention during tantrums (no talking)
    • make potty fun


    Current problems:

    • Mitochondrial metabolism disorder
    • allergic rhinitis
    • Toxic effect of metal
    • Esophageal reflux
    • Candidiasis of the intestine

    1. Use diflucan for 2 wks, then start and stay on nystatin. Take Alinia for 3 days for parasites, since showing behaviors at full moon. Since showing signs of yeast and bacteria, treat for now w/o doing OAT. No GSE or Yeast Aid for now b/c diflucan and nystatin. Consider Culturelle or probio Defense by Kirkman [Sheila’s note: Probio Defense has S. boulardii which H reacts to, so not a good option for him at this time.]
    2. Consider a trial of ibuprofen 400 mg 3x a day for 5 days. If improved, especially cognitively, add Neuroprotek 2 to 3 caps 2x day. This and Lubiola (Amazon) will help with mast cells.
    3. Restart pro EFA as well as DHA for nightmares. Make protein muffins for H and R again.
    4. Natural detox agents include chlorella, organic cilantro, modified citrus pectin. Start one at a time and increase as tolerated. Also OoO and OLE.
    5. May stop carnosine and amino support for now.
    6. Restart cortrex consistenlty. If the anxiety is still an issue, give a trial of BH5 2.5 mg tabs. Use 1 to 2 2x day.
    7. Check labs today.
    8. B12 shots for focus and attention. A month after he starts B12 shots, begin leucovorin for possible cerebral folate deficiency. Continue if you notice improvement in language, awareness or other. Be sure to continue B12 to prevent B12 deficiency while on it.
    9. When ready give DMSA challenge to test for heavy metals. Chelation will help pull out other toxins in addition to heavy metals, like pesticides.
    10. Be sure he is getting mag up to 3 caps twice a day. Back off if he gets diarrhea.

    recurring bumps/ rash: could be chiggers?

    • can start over with supplements and add back slowly to test reaction
    • keep zinc at current amount for now
    • look for cortrex cheaper online-- for his worries
    • continue molybdenum
    • let amino support run out but continue with enzymes
    • change b12 to the shots
    • keep mag and lysine
    • iodized salt
    • TMG corrects chemistry
    • lucovorin is a high dose of folinic acid. As long as he’s on b12 it’s safe. Improves overall awareness of environment.
    • School: He needs more challenging work and the LRE (Least Restrictive Environment) with an aide. Work on noise sensitivity, get him in mainstream.

    Test results:

    • iron is low. Add kirkman’s iron
    • A and D are low. increase cod liver to 4 caps 2x day. Increase D to 5000 IU day.
    • Zinc and copper are about equal which is good.

    Both kids should return again in 4 months.

    Wednesday, November 27, 2013

    Recent Pictures

    Click on a picture to view it bigger

    Rylie has gotten very good at riding her new 'bike'. 

    This is Hayden pretending to be a wizard. His 'wand' is the top part of a lawn sprinkler. ; ) 

    Two little readers on our way to an Autism Picnic.

    Rylie chillin' at the Autism picnic. 

    NAA Fall Picnic!

    The view from my lap

    Enjoying the Children's Museum

    The noise was too much for the grownups. We sat with the noise-blocking headphones on and tried not to be over-stimulated.

    A trip to Target. Apples for Rylie and chips for Hayden.

    Thursday, July 11, 2013

    Summer 2013

    Hayden fell on his arm at his birthday party at Monkey Joe's. The doctor couldn't tell from the first x-ray if it was broken, so he casted it for two weeks. When he took the cast off, Hayden said it still hurt a lot, and the 2nd x-ray didn't show any healing, so the doctor thinks it was a sprain. He wore a splint for several weeks until he felt better.

    He is taking swim lessons. A friend's daughters are on the swim team and offer lessons in their backyard. Hayden went to them last year for a few sessions, so this year has gone very well. The girls are great with him and have gotten him to do all kinds of things. He can now put on his goggles and dive down to get a toy, and can swim in the deep end without his pool noodle. Hopefully Rylie will be ready next year to get started with lessons as well.

    I went to the Autism One conference and had a great time. I wasn't sure what to expect, but it was very much geared to parents, so it wasn't too far over my head. Many of the speakers have provided their Power Points on the A1 page if you're interested in learning more.

    Several friends have made an effort this summer to get together with me and the kids, since I tend to get stuck in my routine and forget to reach out to people. I'm grateful for their friendship!

    My life has changed a lot in the past month. My mother is struggling with her Parkinson's disease. The kids have been amazingly healthy for a few months. My divorce became final after 2 years of separation. I'm closing on a new home in a few weeks and will be moving. I'm dating someone who is good to me and the kids. School starts back up in 2 1/2 weeks and it will be time to change the kids' routines again. Rylie is moving up to a new room at daycare, and has starting using the potty in the past week. I had to go to physical therapy for my back for several weeks, but now I'm almost pain free, which is a great feeling. A good friend had surgery to remove cancer a few weeks ago, and her initial scan looked good. Thank you for all the prayers through Facebook. : )

    It has been an unusual summer, but life is better for me and the kids right now than it's been in a long time, and that's a very good thing. Here's to Hope: Coming Soon. : )  Thanks for reading!

    Tuesday, June 4, 2013

    Follow Us On Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, and YouTube

    Facebook Page:  Hope and Lavender  This page is about 50% Autism and 50% nutrition/clean eating/ healthy living.

    Pinterest:  Boards on GFCF, SCD/Paleo, Autism, Autism (Sensory), Kids' Crafts, Toxins in the Home, and Healthy Products

    Twitter:   Reposts from my personal and Hope and Lavender Facebook pages. Retweets are usually about Autism.

    YouTube Feed:  Random videos of the kids, and several videos (which I hope to add to as I have time) in a series called "What Autism Looks Like" to help educate others on what Autism is and isn't, and to help document Hayden's journey out of Autism. 

    Wednesday, May 29, 2013


    The doctor's office should have a frequent shopper card. Ten visits each month and you get a free pedicure. I would earn it every time! This is the best idea I've had all day... who is going to make this happen for me? ; )

    Rylie: Autism Dr. 
    The doctor treated Rylie's clostridia (bacteria/ c. Diff) infection with vancomycin. The script is $3,000 a month. Since Rylie has insurance it cost me $70. I think. Insurance didn't want to give me more than forty pills a time, which was a ten day supply. So I kept having to go back and renew the script, fight with insurance, explain to Walgreens, and pay another $30 or $40. Apparently vancomycin is a serious antibiotic; the nurse at Rylie's daycare looked at me wild-eyed when I told her she would need to take it 4 times a day, two of which at daycare. "Wow.  That's... that's usually in IV the hospital." Welcome to my life. 

    The treatment was rather scary at first and I considered stopping it after a week. Her diarrhea improved, but then suddenly got worse, with 8 messy diapers a day, and for two days they were dark black. Then they went back to a normal color, but very messy and still 5-8 a day. It was difficult to hang in there for a whole month, but she was a trooper, and by the end of the month you could tell she was feeling better than she has in a while. Her belly is definitely less distended now. Once the bacteria was gone she still had a little bit of a yeast problem, but with regular Saccharomyces Boulardii and probiotics she is now much improved. I don't think we have the yeast completely killed, but it's definitely more managed.  

    The nurse tried again to do a catheter for her Organic Acid urine test at the last appointment, and once again couldn't get it in. : (  Poor baby girl. I'm supposed to continue with the cream she gave me to fix that issue. I really want to know what the OAT results are so I'm hoping I can get that done soon.

    Rylie: OT (First Steps)
    OT appointments are going very well. She is a great resource of ideas and I'm really glad to have her on board. She is working with Rylie to try new foods, brush her teeth and let the brush touch her tongue; use an open cup; play on the playground while other children are there; reduce anxiety; chew her food, move her food around her mouth with her tongue, and use her tongue to lick her lips.

    Rylie OT Homework:
    • Lacing toys to practice fine motor
    • stack 10 small blocks
    • imitate a block design
    • imitate pick two blocks of the same color from a group
    • undress baby clothes
    • remove her own jacket, even zipper
    • memory (matching a group of 6 cards)
    • Uno Moo (matching just the same animal or same color, not both)
    • put tongue to right side of mouth and lick food off lip
    • lay food in center of her mouth and get her to move it to the other side, or put it to the back and work on her bite strength
    • does she suck her thumb as she sleeps?  Try to limit thumb sucking if you can, to just nap/night time
    • when helping her brush teeth, avoid the sides of her tongue, this is where she clams up.
    • serving size is 2T per year of each item, or package serving size if smaller. Limit fruits and juices and count sugars.

    Hayden: Dentist
    Hayden went to the dentist (Indy Kids Dentist) to fill a cavity and seal two spots. We found a great dentist who was very patient with Hayden and was willing to use conscious sedation instead of traditional methods. (Autistics tend to have trouble with sedation). At first his medicine hadn't taken effect, and he wouldn't even let them in his mouth. After about thirty minutes, an hour and a half after taking the sedation medicine, it finally kicked in and he let them do everything they needed. I was extremely grateful to the dentist for allowing me to stay in the room with him to calm and encourage him. She even called the Autism Dr. beforehand to make sure everything she was going to do was in line with Hayden's other treatment plans. I would highly recommend Dr. Stockton to anyone looking for a pediatric dentist in the Indy area.

    Hayden Dentist Homework:
    • Work to get him to floss. Start with just flossing between two teeth, work up to all. 
    • Make sure to brush for him on his bottom front teeth, as he is missing these and plaque is building up. He wants to curl his lip over these teeth when he tries to brush them himself.
    • Try to get him to drink water instead of juice between supplements.

    Hayden Autism Dr.
    • He is having lots of behaviors lately, especially after weekend visitation. Some of his behaviors are from allergy season, as pollen count is high right now. Add generic singulair, Take zyrtec consistently (5 mg a day), do nasal irrigation (saline rinse), and add quercetin.
    • His ears were red at the appointment; he had just eaten banana cake and apple juice. He may have a phenol sensitivity; bananas and almonds are phenols.
    • Some of his behavior problems are related to yeast, and we need to get it under control before taking the next step which is chelation. Ask Staci (dietitian) about upping his yeast aid dose. Add S. boulardi, move more to SCD diet: zucchini noodles, paleo bread;  if you cook spaghetti squash longer he may like the texture better. Start nystatin for at least a month and continue as you chelate, because chelation can make yeast worse.
    • start chelation in a month; if not doing well after three weeks stop the medication and check for possible vitamin depletion.
    • add coQ10, carnitine, and DHA for motor planning skills and motor strength (opening a door knob, for example, which he still can't do.)
    • continue with the sensory diet to help with motor planning (trampoline, bouncy balls, fidget toys, etc.)
    • research cerebral folate deficiency. Make sure he's getting folinic acid.
    • Have him wear headphones to mainstream class. He is probably reacting to the noise level but can’t verbalize it and instead melts down. Also speak with special class and mainstream teachers about his main triggers, so they will know how to help him avoid meltdowns
    • increase B12 to twice a day, try to get him to hold it under his tongue instead of chewing it, for better absorption
    • increase cortrex (adrenal support) to 2x/day
    • increase vitamin K to 5 drops twice a day
    • change carnitine to liquid so that he'll take it (he doesn't like it in pill form)
    • add vitamin E
    • We should do blood tests again in 3 months.

    Are you exhausted yet? I am.  Who's with me on the Pedicure thing??

    Sunday, May 12, 2013

    How can I help? What do you need?

    I get lots of people asking me, "How can I help? What do you need?"

    Help. That's it. Just help.

    Every parent has a thousand things they need to do, or wish they had time for. Single parents and special needs parents have more. I feel like I have too many, all day every day... it's never done. There's never any clean dishes, or clean pants. They don't always get their teeth brushed or take their medicine. They stay up too late because I'm trying to cook special meals, as I can't just swing by McDonald's and pick something up. Every week there's a new doctor or OT appointment, with someone giving me a list of three more things I need to do. "You need to get him to bring his teeth better. This is bad." "You need to get her to chew her food better. And you need to cut it smaller, or she could choke."  "You need to add this new $40 medicine that tastes terrible."

    I blog when the kids are away with their dad, otherwise I don't do much for myself. Most of their weekend away is spent cleaning, cooking, shopping at three stores, and doing laundry. I usually take a few hours to watch some tv and relax, but then it's back to work. Usually what gets tossed is time for myself. Some days I feel like it will never end, and I can never get done what needs to be done, let alone anything I would enjoy doing.

    I try not to complain. But sometimes you have to ask for help, and give specific things, or no one knows what you need. Well, here I am, giving specific things and asking for your help.

    Anyone who wanted to volunteer a half hour or hour of their time to do any of the following would be greatly appreciated. This week, next week, next month, in three months. Come on over. Announced or not. Msg me on Facebook if you don't have my address.

    Volunteer Wish List

    Come over and help with the kids:

    • Rylie's OT homework: brush teeth (she doesn't like it), comb hair, help her put clothes on her baby, stack blocks, put food into the back of her mouth and chew with her back teeth, put food on her lips and use her tongue to lick it (she can't do this), drink from an open cup
    • Hayden's dentist appt homework: brush front teeth, brush rear teeth, floss (he won't do it), practice spitting (he swallows it), practice putting toothpaste on the brush
    • create a social story for something Hayden needs to work on 
    • read a book to the kids, or let Hayden read to you
    • play pretend with the kids
    • take the kids to the park 
    • give the kids a bath
    • pick up one of the kids from daycare

    Come over and help with chores. Some of these just never get done because there's just not enough time.

    • empty the dishwasher
    • wash dishes 
    • wipe the counters and tables
    • vacuum a room
    • sort laundry
    • pick up toys for the millionth time
    • take the trash to the dumpster
    • pack boxes for the move
    • wash the sinks

    Come over and help with vitamins, medicines, and special diets:
    • give the kids their day's vitamins from the chart 
    • help me organize my vitamins and lists
    • cook a food item, like hamburger, eggs, a veggie, bacon, Hayden's pizza
    • cut up fruit for Rylie
    • try to get Rylie to pee in a cup. She refuses. I've already paid a couple hundred dollars for the test.
    • help Hayden take all his pills for the day. It's difficult to get him to take them all each day. He needs constant encouragement to finish all 30 of them. I usually don't have time to keep asking.
    • pick up 1 or 2 things at the grocery, like special bread and cheese.

    If you live far away and would like to help, Rylie and Hayden's Amazon Wishlist has common baking needs and vitamins that we go through quickly. Some months I can't afford to pay for all the vitamins and things they need, and they go without. They will survive without, but would be more healthy if I could do all there is to do. #MomGuilt  : )

    I don't usually ask for help, so this is new for me. Every little bit counts, including all the kind words and thoughts sent my way. Thank you to friends and family near and far for the support, it's helped me do more than I ever dreamed I could. : ) Each day is a battle but it's worth it because it's working. 

    Thanks, from us to you. 

    Saturday, May 11, 2013

    If you teach him what the rules are, he will play fair

    Last night my Autistic son's baseball game was cancelled for the 2nd week in a row due to rain. Nothing you can do about that, but Autism parents know that the surest way to a meltdown is to promise a highly desired activity and then not go through with it. To avoid the meltdown, you must immediately replace it with an equally desired activity, or one they like even better.

    For Hayden this means going to Chuck E Cheese. I know, a sensory nightmare. It puts me on edge just being in there: too loud, too many kids running around without shoes or their parents' attention, germs galore, food my kids can't eat, my daughter Rylie is deathly afraid of the Chuck E in costume... it goes on.  But for some reason Hayden really enjoys the games, and the sounds no longer bother him. Rylie likes the skee ball game and collecting tickets. They get a stupid prize at the end and everyone leaves happy.

    Since Rylie is younger and afraid of the mouse, I follow her around to the games. I usually give Hayden two coins so that he has to come back to me after playing two games and get two more coins, so that I can keep my eye on him. Toward the end of our visit yesterday, Hayden waited patiently in line to play air hockey. Rylie wanted to sit down at the table nearby and play with her tickets. When the mom and son finished with air hockey, Hayden put a coin in and was ready to play but had no partner. Just then two boys rushed in and grabbed the air hockey paddles out from under him. I was ready to intervene for Hayden and explain that it was his turn since he had waited and had already put in his coin. But Hayden gently elbowed his way in and said, "It's my turn to play." I was proud of him for speaking up for himself, since this is a difficult skill for him. The other boy shrugged and stood in the middle. Hayden and the 2nd boy began to play.

    Usually with the games there, most of the kids are younger and don't really worry about rules or playing the games correctly. They try their best, throwing, hitting and smacking the machine until their time runs out, then collect their ticket and move on to the next game. But these two boys were a little older, maybe third grade, and were very serious about winning the air hockey game. Since Hayden doesn't have great fine or gross motor skills, he was having trouble manipulating the puck if it went in a corner, so he kept putting the paddle on the puck to scoot it back to the center. Hayden was winning by 3 points. So Boy 1 who was only watching began to say, "You're cheating! That's cheating! You can't do that!" Hayden wasn't processing that the boy was talking to him. He just kept doing what he was doing, putting all his focus on the game and trying to hit the puck. So the boy kept saying it, getting louder, as Hayden continued to gain in his lead.

    Then the boy took matters into his own hands. He began blocking his friend's goal with his arms across the table, and pushing the puck into Hayden's goal with his hands, now shouting, "You cheated so now I'm cheating! Ha! Scored against you! Ha! Scored again!" I allowed this to go on for a couple more minutes to see what Hayden would do. Hayden had no idea that he was being bullied. He was just getting increasingly frustrated that it was now much more difficult to score a goal.

    And then it happened. My teacher/mom instinct turned on and I couldn't help myself. I walked right over and got down on the boy's level and quietly said, "Why are you doing that?" The boy immediately jumped back from the table and got the "Oh crap, I've been caught" look on his face. He knew he was being mean. He tried to look around for an escape, like he would rather be anywhere else but there. But I didn't let him off that easily. I said, "He has a special need. It's called Autism. He doesn't really know what the rules of the game are. He's not cheating, he just wants to play with you. If you teach him what the rules are, he will play fair."

    Then I explained to Hayden the rule he was missing. "Hayden, you're not really supposed to put your paddle on the puck, or touch the puck with your hands. It's against the rules."
    "Oh. Ok."

    I stepped away and the two boys began playing nicely. Hayden no longer put the puck under his paddle and the other boy no longer interfered. They finished their game in two more goals and Hayden said, "I won!" I prompted, "Say good game."  "Good game," Hayden said. The other boys were bored with this game and went on to something else. Hayden and I went back to Rylie.

    "Were those boys making you upset, Hayden?"
    "You weren't upset that they weren't being nice?"
    "No.  I need another coin, I want to play something else."

    He never fails to amaze me. All he really wants is for other boys to play with him. Even when they're being mean, even when he knows they're being mean, he still just wants to play. I'm glad that he usually doesn't know that he's being bullied, because that feeling hurts, but it also makes him a more likely target: he doesn't tell on them and doesn't fight back. Most days I wish I could follow him everywhere he went and give all the boys my talk. But I know I can't.

    So I hope that I can teach him that if others are being unkind, first you try to teach them how to be kind. Then you walk away, because you can lead a horse to water, but you can't make him drink.

    Fortunately for Hayden, I think most boys will play fair with a child with Autism, if you just teach them the rules.