In This Issue:
5 Simple Steps to Surviving Thanksgiving With Sensory Struggles
I Don't Need to Hear I Love You
My Secret to Happiness: Lessons Learned From an Individual With Autism
2019 Individual Insurance Open Enrollment Period
Pumpkin Pie Dip Recipe Recipe
November Family Fun Activities

5 Simple Steps to Surviving Thanksgiving with Sensory Struggles
By Kaylene George From her Blog,

(Inside: These 5 simple steps to surviving Thanksgiving with sensory struggles are LIFE CHANGING! Any mom of sensory kiddos needs to read these tips!)

Thanksgiving is one of my favorite holidays.
I'd love to say that it's because of the rich history (that's mainly fake, but that's another blog post!) or that it's a time for our family to reflect on what we've been so thankful for all year, but mainly it's because
food and family.

That being said, Thanksgiving, and holidays in general, can get pretty tricky around here with two kids with sensory struggles.

I see mashed potatoes and immediately start dreaming about my second plate, but A-Man sees them and has a near panic attack.

I know that when family comes over to share a meal it's a good thing, but A-Man gets easily overwhelmed.

Cap'n M's sensory struggles have improved a lot in the last year, so he's able to eat most foods now. But the over-stimulation from Thanksgiving is enough to throw off his entire routine for a week or more.

So what do we do? We can't avoid all holidays forever!
(I suppose you could, but we already have Christmas lights up because I'm such a holiday fanatic. Skipping the holidays isn't really an option here...)

We can, however, do what we can to make our holidays as sensory friendly as we can.
So today I'm sharing my top tips for surviving Thanksgiving with sensory struggles!

5 Simple Steps to Surviving Thanksgiving with Sensory Struggles

Plan for Thanksgiving. Then Plan Some More.
I kind of feel like this is a special needs mom's mantra. We're more prepared than girl scouts.
If you know that chicken nuggets is a safe food for your child, bring it to the family meal.
Even better? Bring several safe foods, because you know that the one day you rely on good old chicken nuggets your child will decide they can only eat macaroni and cheese.
Trust me, bring several meal/snack type foods.

In the same way, bring some activities that you know are always a hit with your kiddo.
If you know that your iPad will calm your child down and avoid a huge melt down, bring it.
Who cares what your Great Aunt Sally thinks about kids being too dependent on technology? She'd also complain about how "kids in her day never acted like that" if your child has a meltdown. Choose the iPad!

Other things that would be a good idea to bring are a weighted vest or blanket, a small toy as a transition object, a favorite book, noise cancelling headphones, and a carrier (we have a Tula for A-Man and an Onya for Cap'n M plus a few wraps).

Will your family think that you're moving in? Yes.  Is that better than trying to handle a meltdown in a hot house full of people? Yes.

Even Better? Host Thanksgiving at Your Place
Okay, I know that you think I'm crazy right about now, but bear with me.
We have people to our house instead of going to other people's houses whenever possible.

In our house? A-Man has his room, his toys, his coping strategies, and his food all at his finger tips. He doesn't have to transition to a new place with new sights, smells, and expectations.

I'm not saying this will make your Thanksgiving easy, but when we had family over yesterday we only had one melt down from A-Man the entire time, and it was because someone was accidentally blocking his route to his chair at the table.

I think the stress of making a Thanksgiving meal will easily outweigh the stress of transitioning a child with sensory processing disorder or autism into a new place during an overwhelming holiday every time.

Communicate With Family Before Thanksgiving
I'm going to assume that your friends and family know that your child has sensory struggles, but do they really know what that means?
  • Do they know the difference between a spoiled toddler tantrum and a true sensory meltdown?
  • Do they understand why your child may not give hugs and kisses to everyone who comes in?
  • Do they know why they don't quite make eye contact?
These conversations can be hard, but they need to happen.

Everyone can learn to accept disabilities and accommodations if they're taught to.
Now, this doesn't need to be a big event where you sit everyone down and explain the ins and outs of sensory overload.

With my nephew, it was as simple as this: "A-Man's brain works differently than yours and Mr. C's, so he has a harder time with some things. He doesn't always know how to answer your questions, and sometimes he needs personal space".

No matter how you approach it, manage your family's expectations.
It will save you, and your child, a lot of headache!

Get Them Rest on Thanksgiving
Okay, I shared before about how I may or may not have been called a sleep Nazi by my family before, but I'm serious, this can make or break your holiday.

We had Thanksgiving at our house on a Wednesday because that's what worked best for our family.
The only issue with this was Wednesday is also the day that Mr. C and A-Man come home from their biological dad's house, and they almost always come home exhausted.  They go to bed later and get up earlier at that house so they get really tired really fast by the time they come home.

Can you imagine having Thanksgiving dinner with a four year old with sensory struggles that's been awake since 4 in the morning? Me either.  I'd probably cry. Or give up. Or both. Where's the wine?

So we put the kids all down for a nap early (bonus, it gave us more kid-free time to cook!) and A-Man slept like a log.  In fact, when people started arriving, he was still asleep, and we were totally fine with that.  He woke up about a half hour before dinner (so that he had time to transition), snuggled me in my rocking chair for about ten minutes, laid on the couch for about ten minutes, and then was ready to go.  The kids stayed up later than usual last night, and without the nap we wouldn't have survived.

Even big kids need quiet time and rest. Make sure to take rest times during holidays!

Be Thankful on Thanksgiving
I debated on what to call this section. Be Realistic? Have Grace? Consider Your Own Expectations?
Ultimately I landed at Be Thankful.

Trying to survive the holidays while navigating sensory struggles can be really, really hard.

Sometimes you'll be frustrated with your child when they just will not eat what you have for them.

Sometimes you'll be frustrated with your family when they say something they shouldn't about autism.

Sometimes you'll be frustrated with yourself that you didn't prepare for something, or weren't able to prevent a meltdown.

And eventually, you might just feel like curling into a ball and giving up on holidays, even if you're a holiday fanatic like me.

This time of year is hard with sensory struggles. There's lights and music and new foods and people.
It's overwhelming for neurotypical kids, let alone kids with sensory processing disorder or autism.
Not to mention, it's like there's holidays or events every other week this time of year. For families that thrive on routine, it's stressful.

So yes, be realistic, have grace (for you, your child, and your family), consider your own expectations before an event, but ultimately, be thankful.

Be thankful that you have such a unique little one who experiences the world in a way that many of us can never imagine.

Be thankful that your little one was given to you, a mama who is willing to fight for your child to have the best holiday experience ever.

Just be thankful, because while the mashed potatoes, stuffing, and pumpkin pie are fantastic, being thankful is really what Thanksgiving is all about.

February 14, 2018 by Lisa 2 Comments
When Norrin was seven years old, I could count the times he spontaneously said "I love you" to me on one hand.
Years before, when I was waiting for Norrin's words to emerge, I used to read him a story, kiss him goodnight and say, "I love you."  I wondered if I would ever hear those words back from him. I wondered if he would have any words at all.

Eventually the words came. And we prompted him to repeat many things. At bed time, I'd go through our ritual. Story. Kiss. I love you. And I'd wait. I'd wait for him to say the words every mother longs to hear. But I refused to prompt him to say, "I love you" back. I wanted him to say the words when he was ready and only when he absolutely meant them.

And now at night, I'll read Norrin a story, kiss him goodnight and say I love you. Most night he says, "I love you, too." Other nights he simply says, "Yes, I know."  I'd be lying if I said "I love you" didn't feel good to h ear. But I don't need to hear it from Norrin because I know that he loves me.

I know that he loves me when I walk in from work. He runs to the door to greet me with a smile on his face, his hands flapping with excitement.

I know that he loves me when he grabs my hand and asks me to read a story. Or when he simply sits beside me while I'm writing and rests his head on my shoulder.

I know that he loves me when he's hurt or scared or sick and I'm the only one he seeks for comfort.

A Mother Understands What a Child Does Not Say - Jewish Proverb

Some parents take "I love you" for granted. Some parents, wrapped up in their own chaotic day to day, ignore these declarations of love. Me? I cherish each and every time Norrin says it. And while the words are nice, they are not required. Because what I cherish even more is when he shows me he loves me.

My secret to happiness: 
Lessons from an adult with autism


EDITOR'S NOTE:  CeCe Wolfner, Brooks' sister, wrote the essay below after interviewing her brother about his experiences as a person with autism.

Brooks Wolfner

Food service technician
, Mercy Hospital
When I was young, I didn't know I was different from other people, and I didn't realize I have autism. Now that I'm 24 years old, I've learned who I am, about my autism and how I can overcome the challenges my condition brings.

As a young adult on the spectrum, I have faced many of those challenges, and I have also grown tremendously over the years. Although I struggled in school, particularly with math, I now hold a job delivering and stocking food at a hospital, and I live independently part of the time. I have also learned more about myself, which has allowed me to help others understand who I am, and helped me be happy.

One of the bigger challenges I face is change, especially sudden change. For example, I don't like being rushed because I like to do things at a certain time and in a certain way. I have a routine in the mornings before work. I get up at 3:55 a.m., stretch, use the bathroom and put on my deodorant and my cologne. Then I clean my face and get dressed in my work clothes. After I go downstairs and make my breakfast, I put on my shoes and call an Uber car. This routine gets me to work on time, at 6 a.m.

I arrange my space in a particular way, too. I like my clothes grouped by style and purpose. For instance, I hang my short-sleeved shirts together, separate from the long-sleeved ones. I put casual trousers in a separate drawer from formal slacks. And before I go to bed, I set out my clothes for the next day on a bench at the end of my bed.

I think life is easier when things are organized. If you know where everything is, it all falls into place.

Pool party:
When something surprising happens or is out of order, I don't respond well. Once, I got upset because the cleaning person washed my trousers too late for me to put them out the night before and they were still damp in the morning.

When problems like that occur, I try to take a deep breath and figure out how to solve them. If it's something I can't solve, I just try to get through it, and tell myself it's not a big deal.
At times, I have been willing to break with routine and try something completely new. Last summer, for example, a woman at work invited me to her pool party. At first, I was really hesitant about going. I worried because it was a new place, and in particular, I was concerned that there wouldn't be a place to change my clothes. In the end, her house turned out to be great and I was comfortable there.

I have learned to take risks because it allows me to figure out what I like and don't like. I have also learned to cope with unexpected situations at work. For example, sometimes when I go into a hospital room, there's a big family visiting a patient. That makes me nervous because it feels like there are many sets of eyes on me. But now I just take a deep breath and get on with my job delivering the meal.

Zoning out:
When I was in school, interacting with the other students was difficult because I never knew whether someone was going to be nice or mean. I also worried about what people thought of me because I have autism and act differently in social situations. For example, if I am talking to someone, sometimes I zone out and look away because either I don't feel like talking, or I find the conversation boring. Other people don't always like that.

I am learning to get over my concerns about being different. At the same time, society has become more accepting of people like me since I was a child.
I have also worked on my social skills. I pick up on body language better than I used to. I know now that some people won't tell you when they are bothered, but you can see it on their face or in their movements. Also, I try not to interrupt people. My mother taught me to "hold my thought," so now I wait to speak until a person is done talking.

I have developed better self-control as well. I recognize bad behaviors, such as tantrums, and try to stop them before they start. And I've learned to control my fears. I used to be scared of tornado sirens, for example, but now I know the sirens are just a bunch of metal on a pole. Storms interest me now; I think they are fun to learn about.

Others learn from me, too. Not everyone at work knows I have autism, so sometimes I have to explain why certain things are difficult for me. Someone I work with once told me I wasn't putting food away fast enough, so I told him that it sometimes takes me a little longer to learn things than it does for other people. He understood. Once I develop a strategy for a task, though, I can consistently perform it well.

Owl friends:
One of my biggest accomplishments is my full-time job at Mercy Hospital in St. Louis, Missouri. I attended a program for people with disabilities called Pathways to Employment, which prepares young adults for internships at the hospital. I had to wait for an opening that was right for me; it took me 18 months to get a job doing something I enjoy.

A lot of things besides work make me happy. I like to go on walks in the springtime. I like to play games, watch movies and go bowling with my friends. I love animals, especially owls. There is a pair of owls that live behind my grandparents' house, and you can talk to them. If you hoot at them, they come right to you.
Being with my family makes me the happiest, because I know they are there for me. My family members are my role models. My sister is caring, smart and creative, and I think it's cool that she is going to school to study people like me. Also, my grandmother and I are very close. She takes good care of me, and we have fun together.

When my sister and grandmother are not in St. Louis, I miss them. I sometimes worry about outliving my grandmother and my parents. I don't want to be lonely. My few friends are like me. I asked one friend to be my roommate, but he said no, because he didn't want to leave his mom. I understood that.
I am aware that I have a disability, that I am different and that there are limitations to that. But I think being different is a good thing. If everyone were the same, it would be boring. It's easier to accept and embrace who you are than to try to change. It's easier to be happy.
Brooks Wolfner is a 24-year-old man on the spectrum who works as a food service technician at Mercy Hospital in St. Louis, Missouri. CeCe Wolfner is in her final year at the University of Kansas. She plans to pursue a Ph.D. in developmental psychology at the University of Alabama at Birmingham this fall.


2019 Individual Insurance Open Enrollment Period

Sep 20, 2018
The open enrollment period for individual insurance plans runs from November 1st to December 12th. Now is the time to start researching options. 
Do you need a health plan that covers your child's autism treatment? Are you considering changing the plan you currently have?

Upon learning their child is diagnosed with autism and receiving treatment recommendations from their physician, many families discover that medically necessary interventions such as Applied Behavior Analysis (ABA) are not currently covered by their employer health plan or public health plans such as NJ FamilyCare.

One option is for families to purchase an individual plan for their child through New Jersey's health insurance marketplace. Individual insurance plans issued in New Jersey must follow state mandates, including Health Benefits Coverage for Autism and Other Developmental Disabilities, which ensures that individuals with autism can receive medically necessary treatment, including ABA.

The open enrollment period for individual insurance plans begins November 1st, but it's not too early to start researching options. Several insurance companies issue individual plans in New Jersey. While all plans must provide mandated coverage, the amount that families will pay out-of-pocket depends of the type of plan they choose, and whether they qualify for a premium tax credit. Tax credits are determined by income as well as access to employer-sponsored health coverage.

If you qualify for a premium tax credit, you can save money by purchasing a plan on the health insurance marketplace at Otherwise, you can purchase a plan directly from an insurance company or with the help of an agent.

Not sure if you qualify for a tax credit or what plan you should choose? The New Jersey Department of Banking and Insurance provides a guide for consumers shopping for 2019 individual insurance plans and a table showing monthly rates for available plans.

The guide will help you determine whether to shop for a plan on the marketplace, or directly with an insurance company, and decide what kind of plan to buy based on several considerations such as:
  • Do my doctors and other providers participate in the insurer's network?
  • How much I will pay (cost sharing) for:
    • Monthly premium
    • Deductible
    • Copayment
    • Coinsurance
    • Prescription drugs
    • Maximum out of pocket for the year?
In addition, the guide offers contact information for help choosing plans on and off the marketplace and a list of carriers offering plans in 2019. Note: not all carriers offer plans through, but all plans are subject to NJ insurance mandates.

Note: Children with autism who are eligible for DD services through PerformCare may also be found eligible to receive ABA services by meeting clinical criteria for intensive in-home (IIH) services. Check back with us for updates on the planned expansion of NJ FamilyCare coverage for children with autism coming in 2019. Autism New Jersey is a participant of the stakeholder group organized by the state.

If you have questions about health coverage options and autism, contact Autism New Jersey at 800.4.AUTISM or and download or order a copy of our publication Health Coverage Options for Autism and Other Developmental Disabilities.

Article from: autismnj 
Pumpkin Pie Dip
Pumpkin Pie Dip
Author:Handmade in the Heartland 
Preparation Time:10 minutes 
Servings:Around 3 cups

This recipe for pumpkin pie dip is so easy and fast! It's the perfect recipe for fall parties!
  • 1 4 oz pkg vanilla instant pudding mix
  • 1 container of cool whip
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons pumpkin pie spice
  • 1 15oz can of pumpkin
  • Graham crackers for serving
  1. Mix all the ingredients together, you do not make the pudding- just use the pudding mix and mix in with the other ingredients. Put the dip into a pastry bag to pipe into your pumpkin or bowl, or just spoon into your bowl to serve. Chill if not serving immediately, we love it with graham crackers. How easy is that?!

November Fun Family Activities 

Collingswood Farmers Market 
June 2, 2018 through November 17, /2018
Weekly on Saturday 8:00 am - 12:00 pm Collings Avenue Irvin Avenue Collingswood 08108 AGE RANGE: All Ages
Fresh NJ produce, flowers, plants, herbs, honey, prepared goods, cheeses,  meats, baked goods, music, art, and more every Saturday, rain or shine, May  through Thanksgiving. 8am-12pm along Atlantic Ave  (under the PATCO speedline).
Whitney Museum of American Art
Family Fun: For Families with Kids on the Autism Spectrum   
SAT, Nov 3, 2018 9:30-11 am 
Floor 3, Laurie M. Tisch Education Center 99 Gansevoort Street New York, NY 10014 (212) 570-3600
This program is for kids ages 6 and up
The Whitney invites families with kids on the autism spectrum to join us for a sensory-friendly guided tour. Bring your kids to explore the Museum before the galleries open to the general public, and create your own art in a hands-on studio activity in the Laurie M. Tisch Education Center. 
This event is free but registration is required.
The Hearst Artspace and the Seminar Room are equipped with induction hearing loops and infrared  
assistive listening systems. Accessible seating is also available.
Intrepid Museum: Access Family Program
November 04, 2018
All Day 
Pier 86, 12th Ave, NY, NY
The Intrepid Museum offers monthly programs for children (ages 5-17) with learning and developmental disabilities. Similar family programs for teens (15+) and adults with developmental disabilities are offered six times a year. These two-hour programs take place on select Sundays during regular Museum hours. Families take a guided, interactive tour of the Museum and participate in art-making activities that everyone can enjoy.

Professional help with your child's IEP
Monday, November 5 - North Jersey Thursday, December 13 - Central Jersey
Time: 6 - 9 pm
Space is limited and registration is REQUIRED to attend.  Families will receive a free 30 minute IEP review.
Contact Kristina Tosti or Elizabeth Piston at (609) 896-4200 to reserve  your time slot.   

Sensory Rebound
Tuesday Nov 6, 2018
6:00 PM - 7:30 PM
BounceU, 1205 Warren Avenue, Cherry Hill First Tuesday of every month from 6:00 pm to 7:30 pm Reservations are recommended. Bounce U originated this bounce with the primary goal of providing all special needs children with a safe, fun place to have open play. Sensory Rebound is limited to children with special needs and their families. It is hosted in a vast indoor environment, giving children and their family members plenty of room to bounce and play safely. This event is a RESERVATIONS REQUIRED EVENT-and if there are no reservations staff will leave by 6:30pm. Children must be at least 34" to bounce and have a completed electronic waiver and socks to bounce.
More info: or call 856-429-6400

Diggerfest at Diggerland
10/6/18 - November 11/11/18
All Day  
100 Pinedge Drive West Berlin, NJ 08091
(856) - 768 - 1110
Join us for our Fall Celebration at Diggerland complete with festive fall decorations throughout the park and some great fall activities for the whole family!
Fall Fun Activities:
    Pumpkin Decorating
    Hay Rides
    Corn Maze
    Axe Throwing (additional fee)
    Pumpkin Launching (additional fee)
    Live Music
    Face Painting
    Fire Pits
    Fall Diggerland Parade
Sensory Hours at Sky Zone in Springfield
November 05, 2018 - December 31, 2017
04:00pm - 06:00pm 
25 Route 22, Springfield, NJ 07081
(973) 671-5100
EACH OF OUR EMPLOYEES ARE SPECIALLY TRAINED TO ENSURE THE COMFORT AND ENJOYMENT OF ALL OUR GUESTS. Once a month participating Sky Zone locations open exclusively for our jumpers with special needs. We welcome adults and children with any and all special needs to join us. We will dial down the noise, increase the staff ratio and limit the capacity for all the enjoyment of our special guests. One companion may participate for free with each paying jumper. This location is the first Monday of each month!

Jellybean Jungle
Open Play Hours:
Monday - Wednesday 9:30 - 5:00  
Thursday 9:30 - 6:00  
Friday  9:30 - 8:00  
 Saturday  9:30 - 2:30  
Sunday - Closed for Private Parties  
Crispin Square Shopping Center  
230 North Maple Ave
Marlton, NJ 08053
Jellybean Jungle is a play and learn adventure that is exclusively for  children 5 and under. Our facility is a bright and stimulating environment  created just for your little ones.
Jellybean Jungle was designed by a New Jersey Early Childhood certified  teacher. Safe, age appropriate equipment has been selected for your  children's enjoyment. We offer a large variety of imaginative and  developmentally appropriate activities that will lead your child on an adventure  of social exploration! As your child plays, you will gain insight into their  development, as well as enjoy a great time of bonding.
We Rock The Spectrum 
Open All Year
3111 Route 38, Ste. 14 Mount Laurel, NJ 08054 856-242-9354 Call or email in advance to make sure facility is not booked for a party. Open 7 days a week We Rock the Spectrum Kid's Gym is the first of its kind in New Jersey,  offering fitness and play space for children of all abilities, including those  with sensory issues. Our Gym Includes: Suspended equipment with swings - for balance and vestibular treatment Crash mats and crash pillows - for fun, motor planning, and strength Zip line - for stress release and joint and body relaxation Trampoline - for building leg and core strength Indoor play structure - for climbing and increasing playground skills Sensory-based toys - for improved auditory processing and fine motor skills
Fine Motor and Arts and Crafts Area - for improved hand-eye coordination

Adventure Aquarium
Mon. - Sun.: 10:00 AM - 5:00 PM
CALL:  (856) 365-3300  
1 Riverside Drive Camden, NJ 08103 PH: 844-474-FISH (3474)
Adventure Aquarium is just minutes from downtown Philadelphia on the  Camden Waterfront and features one-of-a-kind exhibits with more than 8,500 aquatic species throughout two million gallons of water. The Aquarium is home to the largest collection of sharks on the East Coast, including the only great hammerhead shark on exhibit in the United States, the only 
aquarium in the world to exhibit hippos, one of only six facilities in the US to have Little Blue penguins as permanent residents and exhibits the longest Shark Bridge in the world, a unique V-shaped rope suspension bridge just inches over Shark Realm. Adventure Aquarium is an accredited member of the Association of Zoos and Aquariums (AZA), and is held to the absolute highest standards in animal care and exhibition.
Sensory Friendly Movies 
AMC is proud to partner with the Autism Society to offer unique movie  showings where we turn the lights up, and turn the sound down, so you can get up, dance, walk, shout or sing! Our Sensory Friendly Film program is available on the second and fourth Saturday (family-friendly) and Tuesday evenings (mature audiences) of every month. Please check your local theater listings for specific show times, and don't forget to share your family fun with #AMCSensoryFriendly.
Battleship New Jersey 
62 Battleship Pl, Camden, NJ 08103-3302
Located on the Camden Waterfront, NJ, across the Delaware River  from Center City Philadelphia the Battleship New Jersey Museum and  Memorial offers guided and self-guided tours. Climb inside the 16" gun  turrets, learn explore the captain's cabins and crew's quarters and  discover what life was like for a Battleship sailor. Group packages and  educational programs are available for school. You can rent space  aboard the Battleship for meetings and social events. Families and  youth groups can spend the night aboard the Battleship as part of the  overnight program.  

Would you like to make a difference in your community or an individual's life? 
Apply to New Behavioral Network today! 

We are now hiring . . .


Licensed Mobile Therapists

Behavior Interventionists

Behavioral Assistants



We offer competitive pay, flexible schedules, and a supportive work environment.

NBN Group
2 Pin Oak Lane
Cherry Hill, NJ 08003
(856) 874-1616