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"This book has given us a new hope for the future of our son and for our family. It's such a positive story. A must-read for every parent with a special-needs child."

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  • Nov03

    Time to Play


    Author: Rebecca Knowlden

    November?  Already?  The older I get, the faster time goes by.   It wasn’t always that way.  In fact, when I was a kid, life seemed to go at a snail’s pace. There was a lot of free time to play, run, climb or just daydream.  Wow,  would I ever appreciate that slower pace in my life these days, how about you?

    I was a kid in the late sixties, and it sure seemed like things were simpler.  Children back then didn’t have all the technology and special toys, so we explored, built forts with cardboard boxes, played hide-and-go-seek and generally filled up our day with creative activities.  And it still felt like we had a bunch of time left over.    Then adulthood arrives, and of course everything gets a lot more complicated. Running from one thing to the other.  Filling each moment of the day, constantly in fear of missing out on something important.  The ‘to do’ list seems never-ending. 

    Do your kids still have lots of time to ‘just play’, or is that never-ending ‘to-do’ list world now the domain of your children as well? 

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  • Recent Posts

  • Oct04

    Planting Seeds


    Author: Rebecca Knowlden

    This year, my husband and I planted our vegetable garden again for the second time. Last year we built some raised planter beds and thought we had the perfect setup for a future bountiful harvest.  But our garden did not grow as we planned.  So this year we knew better, we knew what grew last year and what did not! So this year we had a full garden of lettuce and herbs! I tried tomatoes again, but went for the smaller grape type. We were more successful this year because of what we learned last year!

    Last year we thought knew what would produce a great harvest. I was raised in Texas and spent a lot of time around my grandparent’s farm.  It was amazing.  You’d till-up the soil, plant the seed, water it and then seemingly within days you’d have a mature plant.  Well, apparently the Texas sunshine works better than Pacific Northwest clouds. After planting herbs, tomatoes, peppers, carrots, pumpkins, onions, corn, beans, and broccoli…..nothing happened.  My plants were growing at a snail’s pace (and the slugs were moving in for the kill). Finally, two and a half months after planting the first seeds, a couple of little tomatoes showed up, then a bountiful lettuce crop, and lots of herbs. The other things we also planted just did not mature like we expected. The pace remained slow, but the harvest we had hoped for was coming along, but not exactly as we thought. 

    I think raising a child with special needs is like growing a garden with continuously cloudy weather.  It requires lots of time, and nurturing, and pruning, and patience as you trust that the work will produce growth.

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  • Jul01

    Summer Break


    Author: Rebecca Knowlden

    Summer is here.  So it’s time for a bit of a blog-break. Over the next couple months, we will be focusing on preparing for the up-coming conference at San Diego State University on September 16, 2011, and with coordinating the parent support group meetings.  In addition, we will be revamping our Parent Coaching practice to accommodate the growing demand for help from families requesting one-on-one help.

    Over the past few days I’ve spent some time

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  • May05

    Guilt


    Author: Rebecca Knowlden

    GUILT.  Such a tough word…. and such a powerful feeling.  So many parents have it…because they think they’re not doing enough, or doing it right, or doing too much, or the right way, or providing the right activities, etc.   The list goes on and on.

    Now add a child with autism or other special need and you can really pile yourself up with guilt, right?  You’re feeling guilty about not getting enough support or therapies; you’re concerned about medications and friendship issues and educational opportunities.  Guilt is just the natural by-product of being a good parent.  Right?  WRONG!

    You must move from

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  • Mar21

    Spring is Here


    Author: Rebecca Knowlden

    I like spring; it reminds me that summer is coming! It brings about green sprouts that eventually become beautiful flowers. It’s the preparation of nature that will soon reveal what winter was hiding. 

    Much of what a parent does is like what spring does for summer.  Preparing the way for our children to learn and grow.  Spring is a time of renewal and hope for a brighter future, just around the corner.  The role we play, and the energy we expend during the challenging seasons of parenting will reveal wonderful growth in the future. Even if

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  • Jan17

    Love Language


    Author: Rebecca Knowlden

    I recently re-read a book over the Christmas Holidays.   The Five Love Languages, by Gary Chapman.  As a matter of habit, I re-read it every year.  Okay, I know, that title is a little ‘touchy-feely’ for some of us (and most of the guys out there), but trust me, there are some great tips in the book. And sometimes we need gentle reminders of the importance of showing and telling those we love, really how much we do care about them!  I bought the book many years ago when I was still in the middle of raising the kids.  There were lots of distractions as I tried to make it through the book.  But I knew I needed some relationship help, so wedging in the time was important.

     

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  • Sep17

    The Solution is You!


    Author: Rebecca Knowlden

    It's been a year since we posted our new video made for the Autism Conference at SDSU in September 2011. The title is The Solution is You!

    Still a great message!  Thank you to all those teachers, specialists and caring providers that make a difference in our children's lives!

     

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  • Sep04

    What If


    Author: Rebecca Knowlden

    The new school year is upon us… as summer turns to fall, the leaves are turning and we begin to see yellow school busses on the road. Our children are wearing new backpacks filled with paper and pencils, and heading off (out of our hands) into the hands of teachers and classrooms and school playgrounds. And as we let them go, we have hopes for great experiences for them, but also reservations about the hard stuff they will face in the new year.

    However we can make a big difference for our autistic children by being prepared! Setting our children up for success.

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  • Aug25

    Special Needs Marriage


    Author: Rebecca Knowlden

    My husband and I had the opportunity to speak to a wonderful group of people a few weekends ago on the topic of marriage. Specifically, what it looks like when kids enter the picture…and a relationship is changed by the trials of parenting.  We also talked about the realities of raising a special needs child and what that dynamic does to a marriage and the life of a family.

    We had great dialogue with many married couples at all levels of relationship ‘health’, and their questions/concerns broke down to two primary areas. “How can we help our special needs child?”, and “How can we keep our marriage going when our child needs so much time and attention?”

    Here’s our short, but not easy, answer:

                  You must develop a ‘Special Needs Marriage’. 

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  • Jul22

    Family Fun?


    Author: Rebecca Knowlden

    I might be showing my old-school ways here, but I think the best evenings with family are spent playing board games. There are so many to choose from these days. I know, you’re probably saying, “she’s talking about board games?  How is that going to help me?”  Well, sometimes it’s the simple, little stuff in life that can have the greatest impact.

    Spending time face to face, following the rules, taking turns, working together on teams and seeing others win and lose - these are all great lessons for your children.  The games also require the use of critical thinking skills and offer many valuable ‘teachable moments’. The best part is how they provide insights into family members.  Who has the

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  • Jun19

    Interactive Art Experience


    Author: Rebecca Knowlden

    This Fall, the Vital Foundation is partnering with the art organization Photography For Goodness Sake to offer “The to be Told Project”.  This interactive art experience will enhance the lives of those living with autism by providing comprehensive instruction in photography.  Targeted to post-adolescent individuals with autism, the 12-week program is intended to provide a unique life-expanding experience and a positive outlet for artistic expression.

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  • Apr16

    Social Manners


    Author: Rebecca Knowlden

    The social world is a difficult place for a child with autism. The world will not conform to your child, so you must teach your child how to navigate the social world.  Teaching social skills needed to survive in life will need to be an everyday routine. It is no easy task….there is no easy button, but it will be important that your child learns how the world works.  Without this ability, they are at a complete disadvantage.

     But here’s the really good news - they can learn how to do this and you can be a big part of helping them learn these skills.  So here are some ideas to get you started as YOU find ways to teach the needed social skills to your child and help them survive and thrive.

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  • Mar08

    Your Most Important Job


    Author: Rebecca Knowlden

    I have a question for those of you with a career outside the home. How long did it take for you to prepare for your job?  Then, after all the required education and training, how long was it before you were really good at your job?  If you’re like me, the answer would be “years”, and then I’d add that I’m still in the process of improving.

    Now, let’s ask the same question about parenting.  How much time did you spend preparing for that job?  And now, in the most meaningful job of your life, can you say that you’re really good at it?

    Parenting. Did you really consider what it would take to shape a helpless little baby into a responsible, capable, loving adult?  Were you prepared for the amount of work and knowledge that the job would require? No way.  Didn’t have a clue.  And I’ve never talked to anyone who prepared for their parenting role with the same focus as preparing for a career. Most of us just thought, “hey, it’s probably time to start a family. We’re in love, we can pay most of our bills, and we did a great job caring for our puppy.  Yeah, let’s start our family.  After all, look at our parents, they figured it out.  I mean, how hard could it be?” 

    Consider the typical young couple without kids. They’re capable and are building the confidence to take on the world.  They’re finding ways to succeed, and are leading a pretty balanced life.  In general, they seem healthy and rested. 

    Along comes baby.  In a matter of weeks, the new parents have

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  • Feb17

    For the Love


    Author: Rebecca Knowlden

    It’s the middle of February, Valentines' Day was Tuesday of this week and everywhere you look there are red hearts and roses, cupids and chocolates.  Seems like a perfect time to talk about loved ones.  Our spouse and children, our family and closest friends.  This is the time when we are reminded to look outwardly and express the love we have for special people in our lives.  

    I know that the greeting card industry has us focusing on the romantic side of the equation, but maybe this is also a good time to think about all the other people in life that are special too.  Maybe they are parents of your child’s friend, or a helpful teacher that shows extra attention to your child, maybe it’s your

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  • Dec06

    Ho Ho ...uh,OH!


    Author: Rebecca Knowlden

    This past weekend my son, Ty who is 23, and I went to do some Christmas shopping together. This time of year all the stores are packed. Between the Goodwill store, the Dollar store and the mall we were moving through the crowds.  We were in the spirit and so were others also shopping, but it's a pretty overwhelming sea of people and it was good to be back home. It’s 18 days to Christmas and the count down is on with lots to do!

    In preparation for house guests and parties, Ty said he would help with cleaning of the house; he is such a willing helper, love that about him!  Anyway, we began with stripping the beds.  In the rush to grab linens I somehow grabbed a king size duvet and sheets for his queen-sized bed. But we were in a hurry, and since it was his bed and no guests were using his room,  I figured it would be fine for a couple weeks…at least until the next time he changed his bed linens.

    However, I quickly got a reminder about one of those things that makes Ty, Ty. Like many people with autism, he was not going to just be ‘OK’ with this seemingly small issue. In his younger years things such as this would be something that was really hard to handle

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  • Nov18

    Grateful for support


    Author: Rebecca Knowlden

    Just about every time I fly, I connect with a person seated next to me on a plane. Yes, I am one of those. I love meeting people!  I know, you might be one of those that “looks” busy, so you won’t have to talk with me.  I get that. Sometimes I too, need to be still and catch a few winks from the busy schedule I keep, and sometimes there is no better spot than on a long plane ride home.

    But on a more recent trip my husband and I were traveling together, returning home from a speaking engagement. This time he got into a conversation with the gentleman in our airplane row. Not his typical deal; he’s usually busy with computer stuff or reading a book and not looking for a conversation with the unknown person next to him.  This gentleman was from the St Louis area and traveling on business.  He had all his business stuff out, but a casual conversation began, (I got in on it too) and as often happens, the subject of our book and autism came up.  I have learned over the last couple years, almost everyone I have a conversation with, knows someone affected by autism.

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  • Oct04

    Connecting with others


    Author: Rebecca Knowlden

    Today I'm enjoying the last bit of warm sun in this part of the world, the beautiful Pacific Northwest.  It is family day for us. Meals and time together preparing for the big week ahead. 

    Since we were just down south in San Diego at the SDSU Autism Conference , I've had a lot to do upon returning; getting caught up, here in emerald green country. As I look at all the places I have been this year, the best part of all of them is connecting with the families and people who live and work in the autism world. Whether its a visit to a young family with a child on the spectrum, the privilege of speaking to parents and professionals at a conference or an Early Childhood Learning Center, or sharing at a parent support group, the best part is always in the lives I connect to.  

    And I love the opportunity to share our story

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  • Sep21

    Autism Conference


    Author: Rebecca Knowlden

    Hi Everyone,

    What a great day!  We have just been down in San Diego, CA putting on the Autism Conference with our good friends at San Diego State University.

    It was a really great opportunity to connect, talk and share. The PPG Alumni Center was buzzing with parents, special education teachers, SLT's and OT's, and students on the spectrum to just name a few. The ballroom was full and the excitement was energizing. 

    The whole idea was to bring together parents and professionals to partner for success….and we did! Mark and I spoke about "Life on the Homefront", Emily Rubin shared on

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