Welcome to our Focus Blog

Welcome to the Focus Blog, a space dedicated to you, the parent(s) of a child, or children with Autism, and other developmental disorders. This Blog is sponsored by Focus on the Future Training Center of Plano, Texas.

Through this blog, we will be sharing, connecting, and  learning from one another.  This blog is dedicated to those of us, who have the honor to parent children with disabilities.  The Focus Blog will offer you a space to learn, to share your experiences, to grow, and to learn valuable skills so necessary to help your family, and you child with special needs succeed. Welcome to a wonderful journey!

Vision Statement: It is not enough to prepare our children for the world; we must prepare the world for our children.

Mission Statement: Through mutual collaboration, the Focus Blog aims to help parents of children with special needs strengthen their lives, so that we can in turn give the best of ourselves to those people who depend on our strength.

Philosophy: Parents are the most knowledgeable professionals in their children’s lives and as such, they are deserving of the highest level of respect, for they are the innovators, creators, and leading experts on what their children need.

Goal: The Focus Blog aims to offer parents and caregivers specific techniques to help our children with special needs succeed by helping parents strengthen their family units so that they learn to operate from a point of happiness, effectiveness, and success.

The Focus Blog will offer:

  • Parent Training tips
  • Skills Training Techniques
  • Personal-Growth Training
  • Independence Training for our children
  • Self-Skills Training for our children
  • A space for support for parents and families of children with special needs
  • Answers to your questions and/or issues of concern
  • Workshops information, community Resources, and much more…

What we need from you to be successful:

  • We need parents to actively participate in the Focus Blog.
  • We need parents to submit questions (anonymously if desired) to the blog.
  • We need your support to the success of this endeavor.

The Focus Blog is your space; your space to seek answers to questions that are of concern to you.  Please let me know what topics would be most helpful to you, and what type of training you would like to learn about.  I look forward to hearing from all of you…here  on The Focus Blog.

Brenda Batts, PhD

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12 thoughts on “Welcome to our Focus Blog

  1. Dear Tom~ Work is play, and play is work for our children. Recognizing this concept helps in structuring both work and play, in order to maximize our children’s interaction with the world around them. Children are more like each other than they are different therefore, regardless of our children’s exceptional needs, we must take into account that their likes and dislikes will change. In order to help your child engage in downtime activities (a) assess his/her current likes/dislikes, (b) present your child with downtime activities that are structured, in order to cater to their concept of play is work and work is play, (c) make leisure activities as routine as possible, and ensure that specific instructions are given using timers. For example, structure computer time, and direct him/her to specific activities, such as youtube, or other sites that cater to your child’s visual/sensory needs. The key is to give your child specific instructions on what needs to be done within an activity, and pretty soon, your child will adhere to an activity using the concept of play is work and work is play, which will in turn become a leisure activity in and of itself for him/her.

  2. What calming techniques would you recommend for a highly anxious child other than bushing, music, massage, weighted, and/or compression vests?

  3. What worked yesterday might not work today; this is how sensitive/resistant our children’s sensory systems are. Most sensory techniques stop working, because they are excessively used. The key is to use sensory items with caution to avoid sensory habituation. Cardiovascular activity is the best way to decrease anxiety, but even this approach must be structured, in order to avoid habituation. Cardiovascular activities, such as the use of a treadmill is an effective means to reduce anxiety and associated behaviors, but the use of a treadmill must not exceed two-to-three minutes at a maximum speed of 3/4 levels every hour-not to exceed 6 hours. This is an extremely effective way to manipulate and to trick our children’s sensory systems, as their bodies are not given sufficient time to decipher if the incoming active information is part of their body, or is an outside, temporary agent. Exercise bicycles do not have the same effect, as the information received through this activity is primarily concentrated in the lower part of the body, as opposed to engaging the top, mid, and bottom sections of the body. Use the treadmill with a timer for 2-3 minutes at level 2 and increase time up to/no more than five minutes, fluctuating between level 3 and 4. Make sure to use the treadmill no more than 4x/day initially, and 3x/day in the later stage. The treadmill must be presented as a pleasurable activity, as you do not want your child to view this as a punishment. Give your child as little verbal input as possible, as this cuts off unnecessary auditory stimulation helping your child relax, focus, and bring together incoming information.

      • Thank you and welcome to the Focus Blog. You mention that your friend’s house is small for a treadmill and if there is anything else that can be done in respect to helping a child experiencing high levels of activity, or hyperactivity and behaviors related to this issue. Yes, there are simple things that can be done to address this issue. I used most of these things with my son until I discovered the wonders of a chair massager. I no longer use the chair massager, as he no longer has anxiety, but I used all of the tips below, which helped tremendously.
        1. The use of lavender oil or scent can be very beneficial to alleviate this issue. If using lavender oil, apply a small amount of oil, as if it were lotion under his/her nostrils, the back of the ears, and the inside of the elbows; this has a calming effect. Adding a plug-in lavender scent will increase the effects of the oil.
        2. Use lavender bubble bath in the bathtub and have the child relax in the tub for about 30 minutes. Make sure the water is quite warm and that the lights in the bathroom are dimmed. I used to do this for my son, but I added candles, as well as played classical music in the background.
        3. Tiger Balm is also a good ointment to use on the temples, on the inside of the elbows, and on the inside of the wrists, but make sure to use a VERY small amount, as this ointment is quite strong.
        4. Apply deep pressure to the wrists, the ankles, and the legs every two hours.
        5. Use a chair massager, which works wonders for this type of issue.
        6. You can also use a blood pressure cuff around the wrists and the ankles, this seems to have an immediate effect, but it does not last long unless you use aromatherapy (lavender).
        7. A large trampoline helps to minimize anxiety, but it has to be an outside trampoline.
        8. Have your child wear a weighted backpack, in order to help him/her increase his/her body awareness in space. Make sure to use the backpack only when he/she is anxious to avoid habituation.
        9. Have a small tent in a quiet area of the house to give your child a place to retreat to when he/she is over stimulated.
        10. If your child can do headphones, give him/her an MP3 player. Make sure you alternate his/her favorite music with low impact classical music.
        11. Play classical music-very low- at night and throughout the night when you child is sleeping.
        I hope these tips are helpful to you. If you have any questions, please do not hesitate to contact me, I would be glad to help in any way I can.
        Brenda Batts, PhD

  4. Thank you so much for offering a BLOG to support families who have a desire to share, learn and grow. I am so excited!! I look forward to reading, interacting and learning from others.

    • Amy: Thanks for your words. I am excited about the Focus Blog, as it gives all of us the opportunity to learn and to share our journey. Be blessed today and always and keep in touch.
      Brenda Batts, Ph.D

  5. Thanks for it all
    As I prepare the much-awaited feast this Thanksgiving Day, I can’t help but to pause a moment to thank you, my little one, for all that you are and for all that you have given me. On this Thanksgiving Day, I want to thank you for the blessing of being your mother and for the challenges that I have encountered throughout our journey. Those challenges have strengthened my belief in who you are and have taught me more about myself than any other situation could have.

    There is so much to be thankful for on this very special day. When I begin to count my many blessings, you come into my mind and heart, and I can’t help but to consider myself the most fortunate mother in the word to have you as my son. Today more than ever, I want to thank you for strengthening our family and for allowing us to journey into your world; a world very few can understand or appreciate. I want to thank you, because this journey has taught me to confront challenges with courage, strength, and dignity knowing that today’s obstacles are only lessons for a better tomorrow…this is a day of thanks to you for all that you are and for all that you give.

    Exerpt from “Letters to my Special Needs Child”

  6. Brenda, I love that exerpt from your wonderful book. I hope your family and our Focus Family are well. We miss you all and I am grateful for this blog. Your wisdom is beyond compare. Chloe sends her love! The Metzler Family

    • Stacy~ Your Focus family misses you and your beautiful family. We often think of Chloe and wonder how she is doing. Of course, we know she is doing well…she has a strong, beautiful spirit, and we know that whatever she goes, she will share that spirit with those around her. Please keep in touch and know that if ever you need us, we are here for you and your family. Be blessed today and always.
      Brenda

  7. Does it really matter?
    A commentary presented
    by Brenda Batts, Ph.D

    Years ago as a young, special education teacher, the labels used to describe children with special needs always intrigued me. In college, I was trained to teach “autistic” children. In the classroom and in participating in evaluations, I was told I would teach “MR” children, and as I acquired more experience, I was referred to as the teacher, who taught “special needs” children. It has been about 20+ years since I embarked on the special education journey; first as a professional, and then, six years into my professional experience, I was given the privilege to parent Alex, a wonderful young man with autism.
    Does it really matter? As a presenter, I travel nationally and internationally addressing issues related to developmental disorders; this is one of the activities I enjoy the most besides being part of Focus on the Future Training Center. Although my main job as a presenter is to educate parents and professionals on specific issues, I always ensure that I take at least a few minutes before the beginning of the presentation to discuss an issue that really matters.
    I am passionate about the manner in which we talk about our children. I live and will die by the principle that a child is a child first, and then a child with a disability. I talk to anyone and everyone about educating the child, not the disability, and at times, the same passion that drives me is the same passion that isolates me, as I will correct people numerous times when they say things like “I have an autistic son, or I teach autistic children”. It is not that I am obsessed about labels, but I would not introduce a friend, as my “bipolar” friend Connie, or I would never say, “This is my anorexic friend Mia.” On the other hand, just think about introducing someone using their race followed by their name, would that be appropriate? If I would not introduce others by their attributes, why would I introduce a child with autism as an autistic child? A child is a child first, and then a child with special needs. Autism, or any other learning difference a child has is only a part of that child, it is not what defines who the child is.
    I want to invite you to join me in my effort to educate others about the way they think and talk about our children. If we can change the way people think about our children, then we can make a difference in the manner in which our children will be educated, approached, and respected; it is all about honoring the dignity and integrity of our children. Labels are inescapable in our society, but certainly, we can try to find more dignified ways to speak about our children, we only have to extend ourselves to find those ways.
    We must teach others to educate the child, not the disability. We must help people focus on the child and leave the disability aside. Educating the disability limits options for the future and encases children in a Pandora box of disabilities; a box few people want to open for fear of what will emerge. Educating the child begins with introducing children by their gifts and talents. Educating the child means to recognize that our children are more like us than they are different. Educating the child means that our children are ready to learn if only we give them the proper tools to do so. Educating the child means that as teachers and as parents, we are inspired by our challenges, as they are blessing in disguise that give us the insight to see endless possibilities, and those challenges give us the courage to extend ourselves to realize those possibilities for our children. Does it really matter?
    So many years have gone by since the beginning of my love affair with special education, and I am still trying to relate to others the uniqueness of our children. I have been known to terminate a job interview if I hear an applicant refer to students with autism as autistic students. I always let people know that we do not have autistic or MR children at Focus on the Future Training Center, we only have students, who are eager, smart, and capable of learning if people will only leave our children’s disabilities aside. I have yet to meet an “autistic” or an “MR” child, but I have met my share of autistic and MR educators, who fail to recognize that it really does matter.
    Does it really matter? Maybe it does not matter to others, but it matters to me, and I am certain that if our students could communicate effectively, it would matter to them, as well. Does it really matter? I know it matters to you, and I hope you will join me in educating others about the importance of educating the child. As we teach others that it matters, they will begin to gain insight into our beautiful children, and as they gain insight, they will see the possibilities and extend themselves to realize them; this extension is what will help our children be all that they are designed to be. Next time you hear someone define a child by his or her disability, just ask yourself, “Does it really matter?”

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