Sibling Rivalry in a Special Needs Family

Is there room for sibling rivalry when your sibling has special needs? It’s a question I ask myself as I raise a neurotypical seven year old girl and her five year old autistic little sister. For the moment, the relationship seems to be ideal between our two daughters. Except for some minor issues surrounding sharing preferred items, our girls get along very well. Better than well, even--at times, it can be suspiciously sweet. Our girls do not compete for our attention and they very rarely fight. Could this be one of the perks of being a special needs family? Our littlest girl, Kate, receives a boat-load of attention with her daily therapies and appointments and not least of all her attention-demanding behaviors. And yes, our eldest sits patiently for the most part, waiting for her turn, waiting for her chance. It could break your heart to see her waiting there; watching her sister's needs come first. She watches her parents exhaust themselves trying to manage her sister and she happily takes what we have left at the end of the day. My heart could burst as I write this because I love that little girl so much and it could shatter at the thought that she might feel, even a little, left out.
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Children's Books You Need to Own

If you're like me, you are always looking for something great to read with your little ones. Here are my top recommendations: Good Night, Good Night Construction Site by Sherri Duskey Rinker Kids, and kids at heart, are enamored with big machines. Well, many kids, anyway. It wasn’t really my thing, but when I see a book I know my husband will happily read to the kids I grab it. And then to find out, that it is really great too--bonus. I love this little book and you will too. How to Catch a Star by Oilver Jeffers I adore this book, and its author, so much that I have painted a mural of its cover in my classroom. I simply cannot get enough of the whimsical illustrations. He wrote this one and this one, too, and of course they should also be in your library. I’ve already inquired about owning an Oliver Jeffers print for my home but, at the moment, it’s not in the budget.
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I've Planned Your Saturday So You Don't Have To

Hey Moms--I’ve planned your Saturday, so you don’t have to. Here’s how it’s going to go: share this post with your husband, as he will need to get this done for you, because the very first step in making sure this Saturday is a great day is to make sure you have nothing, at all, to do with the planning of it. 9:00 am You’re just about ready to roll out of bed. The freshly perked coffee and the smell of oven-baked cinnamon rolls (or quiche, if you like) draws you to the kitchen. As you reach for your robe you’ll notice a strange sound. It will be silence. Your husband has secured a babysitter and as he is busy preparing your breakfast you’ll walk past the kids’ rooms and smile because as cute as they are, those little ones really know how to blow up a weekend.
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Top 10 Best Movies to Make You Feel Great About Being a Mom

f you’re looking for a ninety minute reminder of why you’re amazing (and aren’t we all?) look no further, because this list of films celebrates moms for all that they are and all that they do. The Family Stone Diane Keaton is the mom to watch in this dramedy set in small town New England (of course). Faced with an uptight future daughter-in-law (Sarah Jessica Parker) over the holidays this free spirited mom and her family will make you laugh, warm your hearts and remind you why mother knows best.
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On Guard: An Autism Service Dog's Duty to His Little Girl and Her Dad

Over two years ago when we began the process of applying for an autism service dog for our little girl, Kate, we could never have predicted how our lives would change. Outings took major preparation and the idea of doing anything spontaneous was laughable. Our Kate was often confused by her surroundings and she would inevitably wander or worse, run. We took turns carrying her whenever we left the house. We had her therapists spend many hours on the skill of hand-holding because she couldn’t/wouldn’t do it. Can you imagine that? Your little girl can’t hold your hand because she doesn’t understand the purpose. She doesn’t like the feeling and she uses all of her energy to rip free every chance she gets. Her therapists tell you that this is common among children with autism and they have a program all ready to work on this skill. This didn’t comfort me. We practiced everywhere we went. She would often break free and we would chase her. A few times she almost made it to the door, or worse, the road. Carrying a forty-five pound four year old when she doesn’t want to be carried does nothing for your back or your frame of mind.
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New Year’s Resolutions for Your Wallet

It’s still early enough in the New Year to make a few positive changes to your financial situation. These simple ideas will help you grow your wallet and shrink your debt. Fear not, you’ll not have to set foot inside the bank or part with any of your hard-earned dough to get these money saving ideas started. Accept the challenge First of all, you have to ready yourself for this new adventure. Trying to save money can feel like a real drag unless you make it fun. Set some goals, both long and short-term, and watch as you knock them right off of your list. Don’t forget to add in rewards because those goals will be a lot easier to work towards with the promise of a sweet reward in the end. If you make a game of it you might find you enjoy winning against your debt.
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7 Ways to Enjoy Your Holiday Just a Little Bit More

I’m not sure buying a dog was the best thing that we could have done right before the holidays. I had an idea that a puppy would take up a lot of my spare time, but I didn’t think that it would take up ALL OF MY TIME. They need to be watched, they need to be walked, they need to be fed, and you need to make sure that they aren't relieving themselves all over your nice wood floors. With a puppy you never know what you are going to find or where you are going to find it.
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8 Things Autism Parents Want for Christmas

Dear Santa, Here is our list in order of importance: 1. Autism awareness and acceptance throughout the world, etc. etc. Of course this is key to our cause and would be ideal to I must add it to the beginning of my list. I realize, Santa, that this is a lofty goal but please understand that sometimes the hardest thing about autism in our house is other’s people’s complete lack of understanding about it. If you could just sprinkle some of that magic dust onto a few billion people so they might have impetus to do a tiny bit of research our trips to the grocery store will get a lot easier.
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What All Single Parents Should Know about Life Insurance

There is no denying that it is difficult being a single parent. Though it can be highly rewarding, juggling work, child-rearing, bill-paying and other responsibilities can sometimes be overwhelming. If you are in such a position, know that you are far from alone. A recent report by the U.S. Census shows that as of 2008, single-parent households made up 29.5 percent of all American households with children. The numbers have undoubtedly risen since then.
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The Reluctant Shopper's Guide to Black Friday

Black Friday, aptly named for people like me because the idea of shopping amid masses of hungry, deal-seekers that are ready to take your head off for a half price cappucino machine, makes me want to stacurl up with Netflix and wait for morning. However, like many of you, I wouldn't mind getting a deal or two to help with my Christmas budget this year, so I've developed, what I like to call: "The Reluctant Shopper's Guide to Black Friday."
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Are You a Disaster in the Kitchen? Cooking Tips for Non-Cooks

I hate cooking. Is that word too strong? How about despise, detest, resent or loathe? You get the picture. I don’t like handling meat or chopping veggies. I don’t feel confident enough to tell if something is ‘done’ and I certainly would not be able to make a suitable substitute if I didn’t have everything the recipe called for. I am, for all intents and purposes, a horrible cook. Just ask my husband. He’ll be quick to agree. Thankfully, he can cook. The skills I lack in the kitchen I more than make up for in the…garden. What did you think I was going to say? I can bake a little; or at least that is what I tell myself, but cooking is not my bag. So, if it is not yours either let me share with you a few tips that help me feed my family without the use of a microwave (most of the time).
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What Your Favorite Halloween Candy Says About You

What does your favorite Halloween candy say about who you are and how you like to celebrate? Choose your favorite treat to find out...
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Posted in Parents and Students

6 Easy Ways to Save Money After a Divorce

The effects of divorce can be devastating. My divorce had a huge impact on my performance at work and turned my personal life upside down. Relocating, no longer living with my children, and just trying to move on were difficult ordeals to endure.
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The Joys and Perils of Teaching Your Child to Ride a Bike

I have two kids. One of them knows how to ride a bike and the other does not. While I like to think that my oldest picked up bike riding pretty easily, the truth is it took him the better part of two years to finally master this skill. I’m not the most patient of people when it comes to teaching my kids how to do things. I automatically assume that things like riding a bike shouldn’t be so hard to figure out. I get annoyed, frustrated, and angry at them all the time. I get it in my head that things I can do easily are things they should be able to master without a problem as well. But that's not always the case. After my oldest finally figured out how to do it, I started to teach my youngest and realized that I was going through the same stages with him as well. Perhaps you have experienced the same?
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The 2014 Halloween Survival Guide for Parents

It’s that time of year again. Little ghouls and goblins will be running around the streets soon enough and you’ll follow behind diligently watching to make sure that they stay safe. It’s usually considered a chore, but this year you can take advantage of a few ideas that will make trick or treating just as much fun for you.
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Posted in News , Parents , and Students

Boys vs. Girls: Which Are Better Drivers?

The age-old debate continues: Who is better behind the wheel, men or women? If you have both a son and daughter you know just how often this argument erupts around the dinner table. Thankfully, a professor and doctoral student in the civil engineering department at Kansas State University decided to take a closer look and give parents a few real answers when it comes to teen drivers.
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Fight Distracted Teen Driving with New Interactive Simulator

Next time your teen groans at the thought of a weekend driving lesson, flash a smile. Tell the young driver it won't be with you. Let them try a distracted driving simulator, a video-game like experience that creatively inspires teens to keep their eyes on the road.
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Is Your Teen Breaking the Law? What You Need to Know About School Permits

Did you know your teen may have broken a law simply by driving home from school last night? If your teen is using a school permit to go to and from classes, listen up. Each state has very specific guidelines and rules for using a school permit, which is generally issued after your teen has earned a learner's permit.
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Teens and Tire Safety: What Driver's Ed Doesn't Teach Kids

Your child's driver's education class focuses on the rules of the road and being an attentive driver. But driving lessons often miss the mark when it comes to knowing basic car care information. Michelin North America Inc. helped fund a study to determine what driving students are learning -- and not learning -- that could put them at risk for an auto accident.
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10 Reasons You Need a Minivan

Gone are the days of boxy, embarrassing and ugly minivans. Back in the day minivans had doors so heavy it took two hands to open them. Remember how angry your mom would get when she had to set down her purse, bag of groceries and the baby so she could open the van door? Remember how poor the visibility was? More than a few bikes parked in the driveway were crushed under these monstrous vehicles. Things have changed. The new sleek, power everything minivan is more like a tiny luxury bus, and you need this kind of luxury in your life.
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In Defense of the Bully: When the Rules of the Schoolyard Don't Quite Fit

All the propaganda surrounding bullying demands that Grace despise this activity. She must run and tell her teacher. She must stand strong with her friends against the bully. Bullies are bad, right? Chasing and hitting are bad, right? How can I ask her to understand that things are not so black and white for every one?
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Save Big Money on Back-to-School

Going back to school can mean more than pencils and books and parents doing the happy dance as the bus pulls away from the driveway--it can cost a small fortune for many of us. Throw new gym shoes and the cost of a planner into the already rising cost of school supplies and you’re going to feel this month's squeeze in your pocket book. If you have more than one child returning to school, you’re likely feeling a little overwhelmed at the prospect of buying everything they need for success this year. Gone are the days when pencils and books were enough. In order to prepare your children without emptying your wallet, there are a few tips and tricks to keep in mind when you are doing your back-to-school shopping.
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Changing Schools? Tips to Help Your Child Make the Transition

Moving is often regarded as one of the most stressful events in life. Whether the move is because of the need to change jobs or the need for a change of scenery, moving brings with it a variety of changes that can be hard on everyone in the family. One such change that can be particularly difficult is transitioning your children from one school to another. With a few tips to make the adjustment manageable you, can save a lot of unnecessary stress.
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Surprising New Study About Teens and Texting

The good news for parents of teens today is that modern adolescents are less likely to engage in risky behaviors such as smoking, drinking and fighting. The bad news, however, is that seemingly-benign behaviors such as media usage and texting are on the rise and are, at times, proving deadly. These were the findings of a recent study conducted by the Centers for Disease Control (CDC), the results of which were published this summer.
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New Smartphone Apps to Protect Your Teen Driver

Technology has come a long way in the last 20 years. Most teens now carry cell phones, and while phones can pose dangers while driving, they can also be used to protect your child. Many parents may not be aware of the many applications and other technological advancements that are currently available to them that can be used to monitor their teen drivers.
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2014 Safest Cars for Teens

As the parent of a teen driver, you may prefer that your child drive a new, as opposed to used, car. New cars typically include more improved safety features and your child is less likely to get stuck on the road due to a mechanical malfunction. Unfortunately, with the higher price tag that goes along with a new car, higher insurance rates are also part of the equation.
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Add This Great American RV Road Trip To Your Bucket List

Imagine a journey on a highway so scenic that you marvel at every turn. Now imagine there are no neon signs, billboards, motels, restaurants, or any other commercial enterprises on this highway--nothing but the sheer natural beauty of our great nation. Could such a highway exist? If it did, wouldn’t you want to add this great American RV road trip to your bucket list? Well, it does exist. It’s 444 miles long and right in the heartland of America.
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Driver's Ed: Worth It or a Waste?

In 2008, teen drivers were responsible for 6,428 fatalities on our nation’s roadways. In fact, Wayne K. Tully, Chief Executive Officer at National Driver Training, reports that the crash rate for 16-year-old drivers is nearly five times that of crashes for drivers over 25. This is a sobering statistic for the parents of any new drivers. Enrolling teens in a qualified driver's education course may help parents ensure that their children stay safe while out on the road. However, some parents question whether these courses are really worth spending the time and money. If you are among these parents, clarification about the following driver’s ed misconceptions may help you come to a conclusion.
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5 Summer Outings to Please Your Family and Your Wallet

Take advantage of being outside this summer with these inexpensive and family-friendly activities that put an emphasis on nature and local history. There is no need to break the bank to show your family a good time when everything you need can be found right outside your door.
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Keep Loved Ones Safe With These Pool Tips

Many Americans retreat to swimming pools throughout the summer to escape the blistering heat. For some, a pool party complete with drinks, grilled food, and music, is an essential part of a perfect summer day. While swimming pools are great for bringing family and friends together, there are risks and pool safety concerns home owners should consider. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, roughly ten people drown each day in the United States and there are over 3,000 unintentional drowning deaths, unrelated to boating, every year.
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Posted in Home Insurance , Parents , and Safety

When What to Expect Brings the Unexpected

There are some things that the baby books don't tell us about having babies. For instance, I've yet to read a chapter entitled "When There is Something Wrong with Your Baby" in any of the pregnancy and child-rearing books that grace my shelves. It isn't always going to be fine and it isn't always going to be easy.
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The Daddy's Guide to Road Trips

There is something alluring about the open road. Every year countless families hit the highways for their great summer road trip. Whether it's heading to Yellowstone, the beach, or the Grand Canyon millions upon millions of people start out their trips with such promise, only to wonder what the heck they were thinking about by the end. I've been on a few trips like this myself. A drive from New Jersey to Florida sounds like a great idea at first, but by the end you swear that you will NEVER do it again.
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When Responsibility Took on a Whole New Meaning

Today's pressures are so different from those of a few short years ago. The terms life insurance, autism and responsibility had very different meanings back then. When I was younger I felt the pressures of school deadlines and student loan payments. I lamented the burden of paying rent and writing a thesis I really had no business writing.
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Parenting: It's Never Easy

I'm so tired. My eyes are blurry from parenting exhaustion but I can still see the beat-up walls with fingerprints and dings and dents staring defiantly back at me. The hardwood floor boasts scrapes and scratches from too many toys being dragged up and down the hallways. The tiles in the kitchen are chipped from pots and pans dropped hastily while trying to juggle dinner preparation and a young family.
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No Time to Worry: Why Autism Parents Must Have All Their Ducks in a Row

"I don't know how you do it." It's a phrase I hear all the time. It's as if some people think working full-time teaching children with special needs and raising a child with special needs is a big deal or something. Of course, I kid. It is a big deal. A big old hairy deal that has had me tied up in knots and broken down on the floor many times. Throw in my husband and older daughter, who also need attention, a slowly emerging writing career which could use some TLC, a sorry little social life, and you have a recipe for complete disaster.
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How to Go on a Road Trip with an Autistic Child: 5 Tips

Traveling is a luxury we should not take for granted. Sometimes, our circumstances might make it a little more difficult to freely hit the open road when there are children involved. When it comes to children with autism, it can be even harder. Each time we leave our home on a road trip with our children, we must first create a contingency plan for any unforeseen difficulties that may arise. We are not your average family.
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When Joyous Occasions Turn Sour: How I Coped

What was supposed to be a joyous occasion became anything but that. A performance of Hercules was kicking off our four day Disney cruise to the Bahamas when all of a sudden our hearts sank. A family getaway years in the making, and our trip was being cut short only two hours out to sea.
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6 Tips on Baby Safety Gates and Tales from Moms Who Could Have Used Them

Quite possibly one of the worst sounds on the planet is the sound of a small child falling down the steps. There's a series of horrible bumps and thuds before one loud crash that culminates in a blood curdling scream. What's even worse? Watching it happen. It's a scene that never leaves your mind. It's happened to both of my boys at the age of one and thankfully, they made it through their tumultuous tumbles unscathed.
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What Will Happen To My Child When I Am Gone?

It might be one of the most dreaded topics of all. What will happen to my child when I die? It hurts me to even type that sentence. I prefer to live in denial about such things. I think we all do to some extent. The sad truth is that it is a topic we cannot afford to avoid. It is a topic that permeates my subconscious each time I am reminded of my daughter's future. Will she be independent? Will she live on her own? Will she be married? These are all things parents of children with autism cannot take for granted. We can hope and wish for bright and independent futures for our children but we must be prepared should this not be the case. We must do the unpleasant task of preparing for a future when we are gone and our children still need support.
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How to Buy Home Insurance For an Autism Household

According to the CDC, Autism is a disorder affecting approximately one in fifty children in the united states. You will be hard pressed to find someone who is not, in some way, affected by autism. It has become an increasingly prevalent concern for families and with this diagnosis comes new responsibilities in term of the safety of our children and insurance for our homes. With so many families affected there are a number of resources aiming to help people on their journey of raising an autistic child. Trusted Choice can help you find a home insurance provider to help you navigate the concerns surrounding your child's diagnosis and answer the questions imperative to keeping your family and your home safe
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The 7 Hidden Costs of Having a Baby

Having a baby is a life changing event. Not only are you adding a person into your family, but that little mini-you needs things like diapers, food, and furniture - which all adds up very quickly. CNN Money estimates that raising a child to the age of 18 costs over $225,000. We will be outlining seven items that may include some unexpected sticker shock, along with some tips on how to save. Diapers may be the single most expensive item you invest in for your baby. From birth to their second birthday, you will spend an average of $2,500 on disposable diapers - not including wipes or diaper rash cream. What’s worse is that as of October 2013, diaper companies are now “downsizing” their product packages, but keeping prices consistent-which means that parents are paying the same amount for fewer diapers.
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9 Babyproofing Tips for Your Home

Making your home safe for your baby is an important step in becoming a parent. Many homes contain hazards that are well within reach of babies and toddlers. When preparing your home for your baby, be sure to take a tally of each room - make a map if possible, and figure out where to move things to make each room safe for your child. We’ve compiled an article detailing the top baby safety tips you need to know, and how to modify your home to be the safest for children.
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