Eating with Autism: The Happy Dance

Amy shares a humorous, yet informative way she and her husband use ABA therapy strategies during mealtime.

My husband and I often call Barclay’s food preferences The Nursing Home Diet. Barclay prefers his food soft, bland and room temperature.  But the truth is, up to 80 percent of children with Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD), like Barclay, have issues related to eating. This is the result of numerous reasons such as sensory-related issues (aversions to flavors, textures, temperatures), side-effects of medications, and often a hypo-sensitivity to even being able to recognize the symptoms of hunger. Continue reading “Eating with Autism: The Happy Dance”

Our ADHD Journey

Amy shares her son’s ADHD story from initial diagnosis to ways in which her family has successfully adapted.

To say Barclay is active would be like comparing a lion to a kitten.  It’s nowhere near an accurate descIMG_7058ription! At around 2 Barclay was diagnosed with a speech disorder called Childhood Apraxia of Speech (CAS). This caused him to suffer a huge regression in speech and fine motor skills. However, his gross motor skills remained completely intact. In fact he could do things some typically developing kids physically couldn’t do.  I used to take Barclay to a kids gym and he could hang upside down on the monkey bar and then raise his feet to the bar almost flipping over.  He also had zero fear of heights.  He could jump on one foot and walk backwards with his eyes closed.  He could run for hours!

Continue reading “Our ADHD Journey”

Our Autism Journey

Barclay first day of preschoolBy 2 1/2 years old my son, Barclay, had been diagnosed with a speech disorder called Childhood Apraxia of Speech (CAS) and Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD). By age 3 Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD) became his third diagnosis. It was the one that made everything make sense.  It tied the loose ends together.  I remember the day we took Barclay to his developmental pediatrician for the Autism evaluation.  We were crossing our fingers he would get the diagnosis.  That may sound the opposite of what parents would want to hear, but in our case the diagnosis would be a blessing! Continue reading “Our Autism Journey”

Burn Your Parenting Books: Why Traditional Parenting Won’t Work With Children With Developmental Disabilities

Amy describes how liberating it was for her when she stopped reading parenting books and started parenting her son the way he needed to be parented.

Have I gotten your attention?  I don’t really mean burn them, but what I do mean is stop reading them and here’s why.  Children with developmental disabilities like Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD) and Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD) are not going to be successful using the same parenting strategies used on typically developing children.   It will not work. Continue reading “Burn Your Parenting Books: Why Traditional Parenting Won’t Work With Children With Developmental Disabilities”

Sixty to Zero: Our Unique Bedtime Routine

Amy shares her and her husband’s unique way of preparing their son for bed and challenges parents to look at their child’s evening routine and see if it’s working.


My father-in-law, Ole, was here visiting this past week.  We live in Orlando, Florida and he lives in Vancouver, Canada so we don’t see each other often. Barclay was thrilled to have a new playmate!  He and Grandad had a blast together.  The first night as it neared bedtime Ole was watching Barclay play.  We were all upstairs in the playroom and Barclay was running toy to toy and jumping on his trampoline.  Ole asked me if it was time to start winding Barclay down.  Continue reading “Sixty to Zero: Our Unique Bedtime Routine”

Bigger than Barclay

Amy Nielsen shares what inspired her to start the blog “Big Abilities” and explains her hope to help shift the mindset in families who have children with developmental disabilities to focusing on their child’s strengths in addition to their struggles.

What if all day, every day you were forced to focus on what you struggle with?  What if you had to spend hours and hours trying to get better at something you have no interest in?  What if the people around you were continuously talking about your weaknesses?  Unfortunately, this is the space where so many children with developmental disabilities live. Continue reading “Bigger than Barclay”