Having a child on the spectrum is challenging enough without human services breathing down your neck. But, did you know that parents of children with autism (or any disability really) are more likely to be accused of child abuse than parents of typically developing children. I know, this is so unfair.
When my son was 5, he was attacked by a dog while playing in our backyard. We rushed him to the emergency room. They said it would be an hour wait before they could see him, so we rushed him to another hospital. They saw us right away, but we had no idea what a storm we were in for. Although we were trapped in that room for 6 hours (which is difficult for a traumatized child with autism) the only treatment my son received was a dab of wet gauze on his wounds. I was so immersed in helping my son cope, it didn’t raise my suspicions when the doctor said, “I don’t think these are dog bites!”
“What do you think they are then?” I wasn’t being smart, I was seriously asking. But she never answered. I was confused by her questioning. My son had the dogs white fur on him. He kept repeating over and over through tears that the dog bit him. I didn’t know where she was going with her comments. When they finally let us go, we were just happy to finally get home.
The next day as I was heading out to take my son to the pediatrician for a follow up visit, there was knock at our door. My husband and I looked at each other; we weren’t expecting anyone. Social services had arrived to investigate. Investigate what? The next couple of days would be humiliating and challenging. They were investigating child abuse. How did we get here?
Little did I know that parents are more likely to be accused of child abuse with a child who has autism because children on the spectrum:
As for my family, how did we fair in the end? Although the ER called human services on us, in the end they said they had no record of ever seeing my son. Of course, we had our paperwork ready and a strong support network.
Here's a similar article for further reading:
Improving Emergency Care for Children with Autism
So I was reading this story about Rumi, when he was in the market, the pounding sounds of all the tools become so overwhelming for him, that he began to whirl... and that's when whirling dervishes (Sema Ceremony) began. Now, what if Rumi got a sensory overload and started stimming (whirling) as a way to cope? Now, for Sufis Sema/Whirling is a way to reach ecstasy (wadj). Whirling is a way to become one with God, the universe, nature...So if children on the spectrum spin as a way to cope, whose to say that is not their way of connecting with the world, universe, God...we may all purchase weighted robes and whirl with my son!
Our family sees autism through many lenses and one of those is spiritual. This is easy to do because of the indigenous traditions we as a family follow. But this is very difficult to explain in a society that sees autism strictly as something to fix. Our son was injured by vaccination. While this is a crime against humanity, it has not stopped me from appreciating my son. That injury has given him challenges and gifts. For example my son repeats phrases a lot and he tries to make me repeat after him a lot (which is really annoying), but he has the ability to hyperfocus on things (which can also be very annoying). If you want to know about turtles, he can tell you everything about turtles! This is why I don't call him disabled. I focus on his abilities. He is capable of a lot more than he is not capable of. And for what he is not capable of, well, everyone has challenges! And we work hard to overcome those challenges everyday, but we also work hard to protect and encourage his gifts.
Here is an article and a few snippets from it that discusses mental illness & spiritually:
Rethinking Mental Illness: Are We Drugging Our Prophets and Healers?http://www.vironika.org/drugging-prophets-healers/
In his (the Shaman's) village, the symptoms we commit people for, Dr. Somé’s village recognizes as marks of a healer. They honour, respect, and nourish the very same patterns that we condemn, isolate, and drug.
We’re weeding out our geniuses. We’re killing off our prophets. We’re drugging our messiahs.
Here I am divulging all my Gluten-Free, Dairy-Free secrets, and you guys aren't sharing with me! "Tell me who I have to be, to get some reciprocity." (Lauryn Hill, Ex-Factor) Far real, why didn't anybody tell me about the gluten-free ice cream cones?!
See the problem is, you guys take ice cream cones for granted. However, my children have gone all these years without experiencing an ice cream cone. Imagine listening to Wu Tang's Ice Cream; all those flavors, sans cones. Sure we have coconut or almond ice cream in a bowl. Now, we can have it on a cone. This is whole nother level type stuff.
So now that we can have ice cream on ice cream cones, we are dedicating one day a week to learning how to properly eat and hold ice cream cones without letting it drip all over your hands and clothes. Oh! Or without letting the entire ball of icecream fall completely off one's cone.
My children may have gotten a late start, but I'll have them caught up in no time, for the next ice cream social!
And if I'm looking extra plump in my burkini, you'll know why!
"Meet me for dinner!?" These inviting words can be tragic, when you have to confess to the GFDF (gluten-free, dairy-free) lifestyle. Dine with us at this awesome Puerto Rican spot in North Carolina. And check for more tips to GFDF Dining in the Tribe Neuro Blog at Secrets to GFDF Dining.
The Rites of Passage Learning Center style of education is best described as wholistic educultural academics. Right now you are making that "huh?" face. So here, I thought I would put it into pictures with these examples from past classes.
Do I spend loads of money on curriculums? No. Do I enroll in online programs that will track and monitor each neuron we develop? No. Do we sit at the desk doing page after page of worksheets day after day? No. I'm not knocking these things. But as a homeschooler and ROP teacher I have to accomdate a lot of intelligences, levels, domains, subjects, learning styles, special abilities, and make it all cuturally relavent. The easiest way to do that is to do a project.
I love projects! Projects demonstrate how everything is connected. Projects bring real life into the classroom. And it is easy to adapt a project to many different age levels. And projects are hands on kinesthetic, which = FUN!
Here are some of my greatest education hacks/projects:
Every concept I teach has to be a Visual Tactile Audio experience. Here's what we did:
Place Value Song
Place Value Story
Place Value Cartoon
Animal & Plant Cells
Here's what we did:
The Digestive System
A Wholistic Study of the Digestive System:
Here's what we did.
The digestive system, skeletal system, food chain, owl legends
Projects are an easy inexpensive way to cover a lot of subjects, material, learning styles etc. It's the perfect education hack for homeschoolers or anyone who wants to supplement their child's education. We hope to see you for the next Rites of Passage Learning Center class!!! Better yet, I can help you tackle your specific homeschooling challenges through the 1st Teacher Video Series or as your Education Consultant.
Subscribe to Rites of Passage Learning Center on YouTube to see all of my education playlists!!
See our classes on www.moorishrites.com or Facebook
Six years ago, my husband and I decided to go gluten-free, diary-free as a family to help our son overcome his autistic symptoms. Through this journey we found a healthier lifestyle and I wrote a gfdf cookbook, The Rites of Passage Meal Treasury. At first, we didn't eat out at all, but little by little we started to venture out. The cook has to have a break some time! So here are some tips:
Then there's the Mexican ice-cream shop (Paleteria/ La Michoacana). They carry all kinds of gfdf frozen desserts (helados). They even have, my son's favorite, mango-on-a-stick (it's really just a peeled mango on a stick). Steer towards the water based paletas.
7. It's always tea time! My children love mint tea with honey, warm apple cider, or an almond milk steamer. Going out for tea is relaxing and a great opportunity for me to teach my children about manners.
8. Get sauced. Oklahoma is home to the best (yes, I went there) barbecue and smoked meats. Usually the sauce does not have gluten or dairy, but check to be sure. Baked beans, smoked potatoes, roasted corn, and green beans on the side please.
9. Omega 3 Heaven: Seafood. Fish is broiled, grilled, or fried in cornmeal. Just be sure the cornmeal batter isn't mixed with wheat flour! Who can resist crab steam pots with an ear of corn and new potatoes?! Avoid the bread baskets and hush puppies.
You do have to be a lot more meticulous about gluten or diary contamination if you have a severe sensitivity/allergy to gluten or diary (i.e. celiac). For example, are the cooks using separate utensils and prep surfaces? They usually say so on the menu (at the bottom with the asterisk). Now go out and eat something (gfdf of course)!!
Our Family Favorite GFDF Dining Spots
in Tulsa, OK
Oh, and if you find a good gfdf pizza place, let a sista know!
Coming Soon!!! New updated edition of The Rites of Passage Meal Treasury Gluten-Free, Dairy-Free Cookbook! The same recipes you love and new recipes to explore.
I don’t know, but we did it. We were on this beautifully orchestrated schedule of tutors, and classes in our home classroom (which was in our 1800 square foot home in Oklahoma). In addition, our children had horseback riding, tennis lessons, tae kwon do etc. I had it flowing so well, I provided classes for other children.
My home classroom was my teacher (as explained in 1st Teacher Series)! Just as parents work when their children go to school, I worked when my children had tutors and classes. It was nice to have someone else teach while I filled orders, updated my blog, and ran errands.
How was I going to recreate that on the road??
It was easy to transfer to using their learning space and to fall into their learning routine. And a bonus—they were gluten and dairy free too!
We were off to a great start and I could tell the children were making a smooth transition. Not only did they have a classroom in this home, but as any homeschooling family does, they had an itinerary of community educational activities. We visited museums, play dates, festivals, community vegetable gardens (where we learned about the toxic levels of lead in the soil), etc.
In addition, we parents had so many educational resources to share with each other; we had to set up a schedule to ensure we shared everything we said we would share with each other. By the end of our stay my thumb drive was full, and I had new playlists on YouTube. We were off to a great start.
While on the road, the children were entertained with their laminated maps, markers, cameras, children’s atlas, which was all within reach on their travel desks and pencil bags. They took solace in their DIY personalized pillows and the river of snacks. When we did stop, we did yoga or Have Fun Teaching’s Fitness Songs usually on a grassy null near the gas station. People often watched and praised us. One time I heard a chuckle, and looked up from half moon pose to see a police officer smiling at us as he pumped his gas. When he saw my 3 year do 15 full push-ups, he was floored. I think it made his day. Oh! Let’s not forget the portable urine receptacle. Tiny bladders are the roads enemy.
Our next stop was Milwaukee, WI. We stayed in a charming 2 family duplex with my father. With a front yard, back yard, and nearby parks, our children engaged in biking, foraging, catching fireflies. With two living rooms, we instantly set up the other as the classroom. This is where my pull out bins system discussed in the 1st Teacher Series came in handy. I also got my hands on the Summer Milwaukee Recreation Guide and enrolled my children in a few science and engineering camps. We also enrolled them in capoeira (3 times a week) and Arabic classes.
In no time, between workbooks, camps, and classes we were our busiest and their education was “in the bag.” This stay was filled with family visits, book signings, and workshops. It was an intense schedule, but with the help of friends and family it went smooth. In fact, it was a new & refreshing experience to have extended family members pitching in to shuttle the children back and forth. It was hard to leave as we had all grown attached to the teachers, family, and flow. However, we were on sleepless night number 3 of the Milwaukee Uprisings, which were raging a block from our location. Sleep deprived, we hit the road.
Our last destination-- North Carolina. As soon as we landed in North Carolina we were booked for events. We were blessed again to have the benefit of staying with a homeschooling family with a home classroom. Our children had instant playmates & classmates around the clock. However, this time, I couldn’t tap into all of the camps and classes in the community because we were in a rural area. Plus, we only had one personal room and we were limited in our ability to physically integrate into the home classroom. Therefore, we used the land as a teacher and workbooks. We built fires, cleared land, road on tractors, visited local farms, ran up and down pine needle covered roads, sought out constellations, crafted stars out of pine needles, and hiked. During this time workbooks, the pull out bins, and the computer became our best learning tools. My favorite thing was to spread a blanket outside under a tree. Set out our pencil boxes, musical instruments, workbooks, and abacus, and get to work.
In NC I didn’t know anybody (except for our host family, I had no family, I was far from any Muslim community, I didn’t know the area, and I wasn’t mobile (no sidewalks, public transportation, etc). However, between the computer, workbooks, and great outdoors I was able to come up with somewhat of a schedule. One of the best parts of being hosted by a homeschooling family is that the children have an automatic audience for project presentations. It is during this time that they honed in on their speaking skills the most.
So that is how I survived mobile homeschooling. There’s probably a book out there somewhere on how to do it, but we just jumped right into it. Now, I am preparing to settle back into our home and rebuild our home classroom. One thing mobile homeschooling and seeing so many other home classrooms has taught me is that I can teach with a lot less stuff. Most things I thought I needed, I didn’t. My new classroom will be a lot more feng shui!
So my biggest advice, meet up with other homeschool families along the way, take advantage of local camps & classes, order some great workbooks, clipboards/travel desks, have a laptop with a hotspot, have online educational subscriptions, have material (poetry, definitions, spelling) for the children to recite while you drive, and a killer ass activity bag to keep all your supplies packed and ready to go at all times! The Classroom is the teacher, but the world is your classroom!
Coming Soon! Tour Home classrooms of various homeschoolers across the nation! Look for it in the 1st Teacher series. Email me at email@example.com to submit a video.
Is it me or does the dentist sound like a broken record? Brush your teeth, floss, use fluoride. Even the mommy magazine articles I read swear by the same regimen. My children brush their teeth twice a day and floss. I even pulled a muscle in my hand flossing their teeth. However, we do not use fluoride. We avoid it like vampires avoid sunlight.
With that being said, I thought I would share our wholistic healthy teeth regimen. I am not a dentist, but I am the mother of 3 beautiful smiles! Be sure to discuss these options with your doctor.
1. Calcium Magnesium Citrate. My children take this fruity liquid every evening around dinner time. Not only does it build healthy bones from the inside out, but it helps them achieve sleep nirvana.
Yes, they chew it up; and therefore I have to replace it like every month. I got smart and bought the rechargeable electric toothbrushes (they plug into the wall) so I don't have to fool with batteries. The toothbrush heads are also replaceable, so you don't have to throw out the entire toothbrush just the chewed up head part.
3. M.I. Paste (the Fluoride-Free kind). My girlfriend who is a dental hygienist hipped me to this. When I asked my dentist about it, he said he'd never heard of it. So he wouldn't prescribe it to me. Then I asked my children's dentist and he was clueless too. Finally, my mother asked her dentist and she said it was a great idea and prescribed it to her. At night we coat the (fluoride-free) dental floss with it before flossing.
4. Oil Pulling. Teach your child to oil pull in the morning before brushing her teeth. My four-year-old does it!
5. Xylitol. Dr. Yum's Baby Teeth Cleaners. Xylitol helps keep a neutral pH level in the mouth and prevents bacteria from sticking to the teeth. This is how it protects the teeth from tooth decay. With the dental benefits of xylitol, the acid attack that would otherwise last for over half an hour is stopped. Most people are not aware of this benefit because such a claim makes xylitol into a drug, crossing a boundary not allowed by the Food and Drug Administration. Plus it's a natural sweetener, so it tastes like sugar!!
I may inform people that my son has autism because it is the easiest way for them to understand his challenges. Labels make people feel comfortable. If they can fit you into a category, then they relax. Perfect scenario. Someone strikes up a conversation with my son. He ignores them.
crowds, my son wears a really cool medical bracelet that says "Autism, Gluten-Free, Dairy-Free, Phone Number" on the inside, complementing his Neurodiversity shirt.
On a typical day, he can be found carrying his little sister around (who he calls the pretty princess), doing his chores (with an uncanny enthusiasm that I hope rubs off on his siblings), playing tricks on his brother, wrestling with his dad, riding his bike, strumming his guitar, practicing his reading, reciting poetry, watching trains on You Tube, or telling me how he is not going to brush his teeth or get dressed.
My son is "high functioning" with mild autism according to the professionals. They also told me that he would never potty train, talk, give eye contact, etc. They said, "Don't get your hopes up." He was potty trained by age 4, he talks in sentences appropriate to the situation, etc.
Hakim & Shemora
Gluten-Free, Dairy-Free Neurodiversity Tribal Life Blog