Thursday, April 28, 2016

TPT Store

When I set up this blog several years ago, I linked  it to my old email account.  Then I sort of forgot about that account.  I stopped using it because at one point it had been hacked.  A couple of weeks ago I logged into it and was surprised to see over 1000 requests to share links to my self made materials linked to blog posts.  At some point Google Docs converted to a new format and apparently many of my docs  did not convert properly.  So, since I have to go through some effort to re-establish links and fix my docs, I decided that I would put them on TPT.  Hopefully this will be a more permanent and reliable storage solution and it seems a bit easier to access.  I will be working over the next few months, as time allows, to fix my docs and place them in my store.  There will be a small fee for items to compensate my time, but I will also try to place a few things in for free.  So please be patient as I work on these and if there is something you are trying to access, check back from time to time to see if it is available.  I will post links to the item in my TPT store as they become available.

Friday, February 26, 2016


Over the years I have had several clients on the Autism Spectrum who have a problem with collecting things and refusing to get rid of them.  Some examples:

  • A child who printed out pictures from her computer and refused to throw them away. Problem: using costly ink  cartridges up very quickly and hoards of paper everywhere.
  • A child who papered her walls with drawings and any scrap of paper she liked. Problem: obvious?
  • A child who kept objects because they have memories for him. Problem: too much junk and too much emotion in keeping his "things".
So what's to be done.  First, it involves a gradual process of downsizing.  Mass cleaning would be traumatic for these children.  My recommendation  is to scale things back in degrees over time. 
  • First, begin a dialogue with the child (if he is able to do this).  Explain that you understand these things  are special.  Show the child your method of holding on to special things you do not want to forget (photo albums, pinterest boards, computer files, flash drive).  
  • Create a social story about holding onto memories, not things. The story can also discuss the peace that comes from order and organization (only achieved by culling out things).  Review this story daily with the child for a week or two so he/she can internalize the ideas.
  • Start with the least special items. Or, choose the least conspicuous area (a remote corner of the room or an area not of current interest or value). Tell the child, "We are going to do what our story talks about. Let's choose one area (or 5 things) that we can take pictures of.  
  • Snap photos of the items.  At this point, based on what your child needs, you can download the pics to the computer and either print them out to put in a photo book or save them to a picture file.  If your child loves the ipad, this would be an excellent way to store the photos.  The child can then see that the loved items are always accessible to him and they are now portable.  This might also become a good way to help the child self soothe when in stressful situations out in the public.   
  • For the child who hoards pictures or papers, start by making binders of them.  Or take a picture of the wall with the pictures to save on the computer.  Perhaps you could buy 10 simple frames to use for special items and arrange these on one wall in a nice display.  Then the child can change out pictures in these 10 frames when new pictures are found.  Create a social story that states only 10 items can be on the wall and they must be in these frames.  
  • Pack the actual items away in a box after the photo is taken.  If your child is okay with getting rid of the item, do so.  If that's still too hard, place the box in an inaccessible location such as the attic.  Your child may need time to adjust to the idea and be comforted knowing the  item is nearby.  But, don't  let your child talk you into getting it back.  When he thinks about it, refer him to the picture.  
  • Help your child write memories down about the item, if that helps.  You can create stories about the items.  This is a great way to practice language skills and writing skills. 
  • Continue this process over several weeks slowly culling and removing the clutter from your child's room (or your home). 
  • Over time, the hope is that you will be able to donate the items or throw away the excess papers since they are no longer such a strong attachment to your child. 
Here is an example of a social story: 

I have lots of stuff in my room.  
I like my stuff.  They hold memories for me. They make me feel happy.
When I get new things, I am not sure where to put them.  Because I have too much stuff.
Too much stuff makes the room look messy.  Sometimes I can't find something.  Or since there is so much stuff, I am not sure what to look at first.  

Too much stuff can be bad.
It makes a room messy.
It makes people feel confused when they can't find things they need.
It makes them feel stressed 
It makes keeping the room clean and healthy a difficult job.

I need to keep the things I use everyday: my clothes, my furniture, my...
I can keep 10 things I love the best to look at.
The other things I like, need to be stored away so that my room is not messy and unhealthy.
If I think I will miss something, I can take a picture of it so I can look it whenever I want to.  Pictures are not messy as long as I keep them in my book or on my computer/ipad.
I will give away the things that are not special to me anymore. Someone else might need it.
I will carefully pack away the things I feel I need to keep. First I will take a picture to save the memory.
The box will be put in the attic.  I know where it is but I should not try to get it down.
When I want to see the item in the box, I will pull out the picture of it and think about it.
I will find the 10 things I love the most and will keep those in my room.  
When I find a new thing I love, I will need pack up something old so my new thing will have a place to go. 

Things can be nice but things don't stay around forever.  My memories are always with me, in my head.  If I am afraid I will forget something, the pictures will help me remember. 

You can create a similar story  that specifies your problem, correct thinking regarding the problem, and the solution.

Why a social story? Because they work.  Kids with ASD like rules and tend to follow them. However, the rules often need to be their own internalized thinking. The social story is a script or rule of expectations.  Rehearse it frequently with the child so that he/she can internalize these ideas and allow them to become a new 'rule' for them.  For most children, adding pictures to the story is immensely helpful to help them visualize (thinking in pictures).

*Disclaimer: This is just a general idea on how to begin to address a  hoarding problem.  These problems can be more complex and may require the assistance of a psychologist or other mental health professional.  Use your discretion and knowledge of your child's needs when devising an individualized approach.