3/15/2020 0 Comments
Life on Hold
Hey everyone, we will need to put the blog on hold while the world tries to figure out the COVID situation. Silver Park Arts will likely be taking a hiatus, but we will be thinking of all our friends, and hoping we can see your faces again soon. Even if it's behind a mask or on a computer screen. Much Love ~Silver Park
2/15/2020 0 Comments
A Laugh From the Past
Elizabeth here - is it just me, or are we in the doldrums of the year? We've all been sick for weeks in my house, and the infections just keep on coming! We've had strep, we've had staph, we've had ear infections, sinus infections - will it never end? Since I've hardly left the house, it's been hard to prepare a proper post, so I decided to just share a bit of a laugh.
Chances are we could all use it right about now.
Original post here: http://www.ejswriting.com/famiglia/foods-to-eat-on-your-child
FOODS TO EAT ON YOUR CHILD
written, with not even a tiny shred of seriousness, by Elizabeth Bouinatchova
Let’s face a common New Mom problem - getting yourself fed. You know that fat little milk-leech is going to be stuck to your front for many months. You pretty much have to learn to eat above, on, or around him or her. Here are a few food reviews you might find helpful.
Burger, Fries, Coke
Safety Rating: Good
This one’s a pretty safe bet. The kid might get a light dusting of salt. But even slippery pickles can be plucked right off a fuzzy little baby head, no harm done. You can even use the secret sauce to give him a junior fauxhawk. Be careful with the coke, though. Rumor has it that spilling coke on a baby will cause worms to come out.
Safety Rating: Excellent
It's not corrosive, it's not abrasive...the only problem with this one is that when little bits fall off and melt on baby’s hot little body - or yours - you’ll earn yourself a round of everybody’s favorite game, “Poop or Chocolate?” Honestly, that’s is NOT a game you want to lose.
Safety Rating: HAZARDOUS
Two words: Molten. Cheese. Do you really want to have to explain to your darling child, for the rest of his life, why he was an awkward splatter-shaped scar? Maybe you could try to convince him you gave birth inside an active volcano. Good luck with that.
Safety Rating: HAZARDOUS
Two words: Steak. Knives. Steak knives and babies just don't mix. You could always eat it caveman-style, dripping droplets of blood and fat on your baby's head. But you will probably create a serial killer. Or a chef. Or both.
Safety Rating: Good
There's not really too much that can go wrong here. Stick to oil and vinegar dressing. You're supposed to oil babies anyway, right? And all the health-foodies will tell you that vinegar is wonderful as a health and beauty product. Do be careful handling an oiled & vinegared baby afterwards though; little suckers get slippery.
1/15/2020 0 Comments
Back in Time
Happy 2020 everyone! Elizabeth here. There are such amazing things stirring over at Silver Park Arts, that I'm hard put to pick a single one to post about. Instead, I'm going to jump back in time and share some of my older writings, as I was just coming to terms with having an autism spectrum child.
Original post here: http://www.ejswriting.com/famiglia/not-autistic-enough
NOT AUTISTIC ENOUGH
by Elizabeth Bouinatchova
It should go without saying that there is currently a wealth of autism information available - it's on the internet, on telephone poles, and in mysterious flyers that circulate by owl and disappear after reading. What is this magical affliction? Is it a gift or a curse? It seems there is as much arcane knowledge, rumor, and legend as actual science involved. How is the average person supposed to wade through this morass of misinformation?
Without writing a dissertation, I can only give my own personal not-entirely-random hypothesis of the situation: They recently broadened the autism spectrum so much that it includes behaviors that seem both arbitrary and contradictory, and many only a hair’s breadth away from what’s thought of as “normal.” This has had the benefit of bringing more attention, research and funding into the picture for autism. I think that in the next 5-10 years, they are going to start splitting up and redefining the spectrum again, with more specific diagnoses. And that’s all fine with me. Whatever works. Maybe it’s confusing now, but it’s a step in the right direction.
Since my eldest son was diagnosed “on the spectrum” I have experienced a myriad of reactions when I have to bust out the dreaded "Au" word to people (interesting that's the element symbol for gold, huh?) I've gotten awkward silence, averted eyes, frozen stares, subject changes, little sounds of sympathy, all the way up to eye rolls and outright disbelief. You see, the prevailing opinion is that my son is just not “autistic” enough. He’s adorable. He’s friendly. He’s interactive. He’s not sitting in a corner, banging his head, lining his toys up in a row. He doesn’t fulfill people’s autism stereotypes.
My kid is what they call “high on the spectrum.” And we’re very, very thankful for that. But it also comes with an enormous amount of misunderstanding. People that don’t know us well only see the bright, active kid. They don’t know about his incredible struggle to use and comprehend language. They thought his age-three incomprehensible babbling was “cute.” They don’t know about unbearable frustration of not being able to communicate.
They don’t know about the compulsive movement, the non-stop climbing, climbing, climbing, and falling, falling, falling. They don’t know about three broken bones in three years. They don’t know about the tantrums, night terrors, hair-trigger temper. They don’t know about the screaming meltdowns so intense he would practically lose his voice and cause the neighbors to threaten to call the cops. Did we put on the wrong cartoon, open a door or flip a light switch, anywhere in the house, without asking him first? Meltdown.
My absolute favorite comment to date - and I’ve heard it more than once - is: “He’s not autistic, he just needs more exercise!” Right. It makes me wonder, do these same people say: “It’s not lung cancer, you just need some herbal tea?” They don’t get it - his constant movement is not a normal activity level, it's a compulsion. He cannot be tired out into calmness. Often, he'll go in the opposite direction. He can be on the stumbling brink of exhaustion and he’ll still literally be attempting to climb the walls. It’s not hyperactivity, it’s what they call a "sensory" issue.
Look up “sensory processing disorders” if you’re not familiar with the term. It’s interesting stuff. (That’s another post for another time). But in short, sensory processing issues can cause food obsessions and phobias (we’ve got both), bathing obsession/phobia, clothing obsession/phobia - we’ve got those, too. Some autistic kids become obsessed with repetitive motions, some just become obsessed with motion (and some are incredibly averse to it - two sides of the same coin).
My son is obsessed with the feeling of balancing. He can’t sit in a chair. He must push the chair back and balance between it and the table (falls and clocks chin). Or tilt it back with his feet braced on the table (goes over backward, head injury). Or balance on the hearth, lean over to the table, one leg in the air, fall, ninja flip, floor (fractured elbow). It’s brutal. Literally. On his body and his parents’ souls.
The great news is that for “high functioning” kids like my son, therapy can be an enormous help. He’s almost 4 now and has learned to speak, albeit at a much lower age level. Communication has helped with the frustrations and tantrums. They’re only daily now, instead of multiple times per day. I suspect there are more broken bones in our future. The kid may be heading for a career in the Cirque de Soleil. That’s fine. Whatever makes him happy.
It’s tough to not be able to explain my son to people, to be met with skepticism or even suspicion when I try. But then, many people in my family defy explanation, myself included. My mom thinks that if they had the current diagnosis level when we were growing up, we would all have been put on the spectrum. It’s a little bit funny. And a little bit not funny.
My heart goes out to all other parents dealing with this strange, baffling, and sometimes fascinating condition. I can’t pretend it’s all good. Sometimes it’s horrifying. All I know is that my son is plenty autistic for me. I don’t need any more. We’re lucky and we know it, and we’re immensely grateful for it. So, scientists, research away! We’ll be watching with great interest to see what you can turn up in the years to come.
12/20/2019 0 Comments
The Elf Experience!
We hope you wonderful people are having a great holiday season so far, in whatever is your own religion or belief system. The winter holidays are a special time for all, as this mid-winter dark time signals all manner of change and rebirth. For some it's the rainy season; a rest from the unrelenting sun. For others, a classical snow-filled Normal Rockwell dream time. For some it means the very days have turned to night. But most cultures and peoples mark this time of the year. And some live it all year long. We'd like to introduce you to the life of the northern elves, and what life is like for them.
Join us as Silver Park Arts becomes a little elven village, full of crafts and games, all hosted by the lovely A.Jolly Elf. Learn how A. Jolly got her name, and what her other careers were (a rapper, really?) before returning to her true calling: spreading wintertime joy & love. This is a celebration for all, not just lovers of Christmas. The elves may know Santa, but they live their own lives! And make their own mistakes, and learn from them. Join us for a holiday of laughs and lessons!
PS, A.Jolly Elf has experience with children, adults, and the differently abled; and it's these special little humans that she loves playing with the most :)
11/30/2019 0 Comments
Silver Lake Neighborhood Council
Hey folks in the Silver Lake / Echo Park area, you have got to see what the Silver Lake Neighborhood Council is up to!
These are links to their full website and organizational groups:
But if you want to cut straight to the fun stuff, go here, to the Arts & Culture committee!
They've done some wonderful events for Kids & Families. Earlier this month, we were part of their Day of the Dead festival, a new annual cultural celebration with flowers, face painting, music, dance, altars, celebration, and love.
Let's keep an eye on that Arts & Culture Committee, see what they come up with next!
10/30/2019 0 Comments
A Very Special Halloween
Halloween can be a trying time for parents of special needs kids. But it can also be very freeing! This is a time when your kids can face their fears, take a break from being themselves, and have a whole different sensory experience. I found a few interesting articles on what it's like to celebrate Halloween in your own special way - but many of these tips are great for neurotypical families as well. It's just all around good sense and some new thoughts and ideas.
For our part, we last-minute created our first Halloween-y yard, and had the kids participate, as a safe way to start working out the fears and sensory issues. We didn't really have the time - still in the middle of moving - but one trip to the drug store and an hour outside is all it took. Our house is still under construction, so it looked half-haunted already. There are still some challenges. A bit worried someone could step on an actual 3-inch nail in our grass, or slip on a dust-covered board. But we've decided to be brave. And use lots of extra lighting. My eldest has major clothing issues and has changed his costume 5 times already. My youngest is working on his fear of spiders, and he had a blast with these giant "friends". Not really sure where in our quiet neighborhood to find some good trick-or-treating, or whether we can keep our little danger monkeys contained if we do go out. But hey, if we go nowhere at all, at least we've found a fun way to celebrate on our own!
9/30/2019 2 Comments
Hello all, it's Elizabeth Bouinatchova, the owner, here. We're trying to figure out what resources we can offer for families, children, and the special needs community. We have a great autism therapist who is hoping to lead some activity groups. What would you like to see? Crafts, poetry, music, sports?
I have noticed that my two boys, one with autism and one with a combination of physical and neurological injuries, are very soothed by physical activity. Intense physical activity. The more intense the activity, the more calm and focused they become. We make use of everyone's favorite indoor play spaces - if you're not familiar with them, you should definitely see if either of these has a location near you and check it out!
But we were thinking of something a little more focused. What about boxing classes? Check out this very interesting article.
One of our neighbors here at Silver Park is a fabulous boxing coach who works with kids and adults alike. We'll keep you posted as we work out hosting some classes and sessions with him. In the meantime, reach out yourself! Phone or Facebook is best; the email on his website may not be working.
Welcome to our little blog on Family & Special Needs concerns!
Silver Park Arts is Kid-Friendly, Spectrum-Experienced, and thrilled to welcome families, children, and people with special needs. While not yet fully ADA accessible, we give you our promise to provide whatever support possible in our physical space, and also here, online, in the realm of sharing and thought. Elizabeth Bouinatchova, our founder, is a writer and mom of two special needs children. She is passionate about supporting the differently abled, and will use this blog to share her experiences, thoughts, and resources.