The Denver Autism Wheel

This worked for us

Here’s a new page. I wanted to provide a space for us to chat about stuff that works. Understanding that autism is a spectrum, and everybody with it is a slightly different shade of autistic, there are enough common traits that we can learn from each other along the way and help raise the bar for all of us. If you have something that worked, let us know, too! So, without further ado…

Brad Bird films

These work for us. I have never seen a film by this guy that didn’t make something clear about autism. By far, Chris’ favorite is “Ratatouille.” Picture it: a main character whose skillset is completely foreign to every other member of his species. But somehow, when he finds people who understand him and can see his ability for what it really is—a super-cool gift that can bring joy to people—he also finds a way to flourish.

Sure, they’re cartoons, but they give a kid hope that his gift could be valuable, too. They inspired Chris to want to visit Paris and try new flavor combinations with his foods (and for some of us who are used to picky eaters, that in itself makes it worthwhile).

Go hit IMDB and look up other films by Brad Bird, but from “The Iron Giant” to “Wall-E,” I have found that common thread: a gifted outsider who just needs an “in” to make a huge difference for many people. I don’t know if he does it on purpose, but that’s what I get out of it, and it makes me happy 🙂

Laser pointer

This worked for us. Chris was fairly nonverbal until about age 4. He would make noises, point to objects he wanted, use invented words to express himself, but what really built his vocabulary was playing a game Karl invented called “Laser Put It In.” Fairly simple concept. Boys play with toys in the living room. Living room becomes exploded toy bomb. Gotta put the toys away. If you said to Chris, “Put the toys away,” you got nothing. Simple reason: there’s no clear place to start. Pick up one toy instead of another, pick them all up simultaneously, pick up only the red ones?? Mental feedback loop. So you try to be more specific. “Chris, put the car away,” and point generally toward the car. That might get the car picked up, but then what? Do you end up pointing out each object individually? Do you spend 30 minutes picking out objects? Or do you create a teachable moment?

Instead of saying, “Chris, put the red car away,” Karl took a laser pointer (the kind you can get in office supply stores) and directed the beam at the red car. He said, “Chris: red car. Put it in.” Chris went right over to the red car and put it in the toybox. “Chris: toy dog. Put it in.” Toy dog went in the toybox. The whole room got cleaned up in record time. He extrapolated. Pointed to the cat (not in her eyes, mind): “Chris: cat.” The next time he pointed the laser at the cat and asked, we heard, “Cat!” That had never happened. Karl went all around the house, pointing the laser at things and identifying them. Chris followed. We’d never seen anything like it. His vocabulary spiked. It was amazing.

Here’s what I think happened. Like all parents, we had conversations with Chris, identifying and pointing out objects. Trouble was, with Chris’ literal mind, he might not have understood that we were identifying what we were pointing at. I’ve heard that some snowy countries have many different words for “snow”; for all he knew, there might be different words for pointing at a 45-degree angle versus a 60-degree angle or pointing with the left hand as opposed to the right…if there was more than one object in the general direction of the pointing, he might not have known which one we meant (how often have you pointed at something and had another person reach for the wrong thing, after all?) or might have thought we meant what color or how many or how big…language is a large place made of metaphor.

The laser pointer went a long way to eliminating doubt. Not only did the point zero in on a single object, sometimes from all the way across the room, but the light was attractive. I think it helped him figure out what we were talking about and then how to emulate the words we used to describe something.


1 Response to "This worked for us"

Helping a finicky Eater:

Audra’s son is autistic and she had such great success with him after taking Juice Plus, that she asked me to share with you a little about how it worked for her and what Juice Plus is. My name is Amy. I’m a Juice Plus rep and Audra’s friend (she posts comments here sometimes as MamaBlueRose). I’ve known Audra and her son, Kynan, for 2 years, and I’d heard about the benefits some kids with autism can receive from Juice Plus, so I suggested they give it a try. Audra shared her story with me, and I wanted to share it here because it’s something that worked for them:

Kynan is a finicky eater (to the nth degree). It’s one of our last big hurdles with him in our experience with autism. The doctor and nutritionists told me that if we could just get him to eat some fruits and veggies, his body would start to recognize and crave them on its own. Kynan, of course, wouldn’t touch a thing (tears, screaming, begging —the works).

I talked to Amy a few months ago and decided to try Juice Plus. Juice Plus is whole food based nutrition, including juice powder concentrates from 17 different fruits, vegetables and grains.

Kynan takes 2 fruit gummies and 2 veggie gummies a day now. The results have been phenomenal. After only a short time of taking Juice Plus, Kynan asked if he could try a hard boiled egg—he ate the whole thing (I think I fainted). The next day (and nearly every morning since) he’s wanted eggs for breakfast. He’s taken bites of various foods (including crab, an apple, and different breads). He is often saying he wants to try new foods. I don’t think we could have done this without Juice Plus.

On top of that, I know he’s getting other benefits from it. For one thing, the guy who cuts his hair was commenting on how much thicker it is all the sudden—that’s enough to get me to start them. 🙂 They are a great thing to do regardless of your situation, but I’ve found them especially helpful in a situation where my son won’t eat any fruits or vegetables.

Juice Plus is the simple, convenient, and inexpensive way to add more nutrition from fruits and vegetables to your diet, every day. Juice Plus is supported by clinical research, is gluten free, and NSF certified.

If you are interested in learning more about Juice Plus, too, contact me at 303-321-2747. You can email me at or go to, too.

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