Take a Trip to the Moon…in Your Bathtub!
The original idea for this bath comes from Ntozake Shange in her 1982 book Sassafrass, Cypress & Indigo. It calls on our imagination in a playful way and will relax stressed out tendons & fascia (that web of tissue that covers and links all our muscles, bones & organs).
- A flower
- Two candles - white tea lights work well
- A smooth stone (or shell)
- Inexpensive wine or Epsom salts
- Some cinnamon
- Something that belonged to your mother
– or another woman in your family
- A compass
- or pay attention - sunrise (East) or sunset (West)
1. Clean your bathtub.
2. Set your intention to travel moonward – to connect
your body with the Moon.
3. Light one candle and place it in the direction of your
mother’s place of birth.
4. Light the other candle and place it in the direction of
your own place of birth.
5. Fill the tub with water and put in several cups of
wine or Epsom salts.
6. Sprinkle the water with some cinnamon.
7. Float your flower in the water.
1. Get in the water.
2. Hold the smooth stone in your right hand.
3. Hold the flower in your left hand.
4. Place both hands over your heart.
5. Close your eyes
6. Visualize flushing all your worries and resentments
down the toilet.
7. Feel yourself get lighter and lighter.
8. Become aware of the moon’s pull on the water in
the tub and the water in your cells.
You are on your way….!
Find the original directions from Ntozake Shange in the first five pages of Sassafrass, Cypress & Indigo.
Eat Sunshine & Stardust
When you finish your bath you might want to top it off with some kale chips. Green plants eat sunshine and stardust (all the minerals created by the Big Bang) so when you green plants then so do you! Have fun!
Recipe available on the Recipes page
PLAY reduces stress and the effects of stress on our bodies. Stress causes inflammation and research points to inflammation as the root cause of most chronic health issues facing us from autism to AlZheimers. Play has no purpose or motive other than itself so…
These delicious and simple drinks provide health benefits: 1) Using whole fruits means you get all the nutrients those fruits provide; 2) You add little or no sugar; 3) Adding fresh fruit and letting it sit in the refrigerator provides a mild fermentation process that adds beneficial probiotics to your digestive system. Even if you add some sugar, these drinks provide only a fraction of what you would find in a soda or commercial soft drink.
Strawberry Water: Agua de Fresa
1 lb of strawberries, hulled, cleaned and chopped
1 quart of water
1/4 cup sugar (honey, maple syrup)
1 cup fresh halved strawberries
In a blender, add the chopped strawberries and enough water to get them to blend easily.
Blend until very smooth.
Transfer to a pitcher and add the rest of the water.
Taste before adding sugar. Start with 1/8 cup and taste again before adding more. Stir well and serve.
Watermelon water: Agua de sandia
Ingredients: 1½ cups diced watermelon, without rind
5 cups water
1/4 cup sugar (honey, maple syrup)
Put the diced watermelon in the blender with 2 cups of the water.
Blend until the black seeds break up (about 1-2 minutes.)
Let the ground seeds settle to the bottom, then pour the liquid into a pitcher, leaving the seeds in the blender to be discarded.
You will not need to use a strainer.
Add the rest of the water.
Taste before adding sweetener. Start with 1/8 cup and taste again before adding more.
Cantaloupe water: Agua de melón
1/2 cantaloupe, seeds and rind removed, diced (about 1½ - 2 cups diced melon)
1 quart water
1/4 cup sugar (honey, maple syrup)
Put the diced melon in the blender with enough of the water to cover.
Blend just long enough to make a coarse pulp.
Transfer to a pitcher and add the rest of the water.
Taste before adding sugar. Start with 1/8 cup and taste again before adding more.
Stir to dissolve the sweetener.
The resulting agua will contain small bits of fruit pulp. If you don’t strain them out you get extra nutrients and fiber.
Lime Water: Agua de Limón
1 quart water
1/2 cup of sugar (honey, maple syrup)
Peel a little less than half the rind off each lime.
Discard it or save it for a recipe using lime zest.
Cut the limes in quarters and put them in the blender with all of the water and sugar.
Blend on high setting for five seconds; longer blending will result in bitterness rather than the sweet-and-tart flavor the drink should have.
The lime wedges will still be in chunks.
Pour the contents of the blender through a strainer into the serving pitcher.
Taste before adding sugar. If it is too tart for your tastes add another 1/8 cup and taste again before adding more.
The gym I’m visiting echoes with the cacophony of adolescents at recess. Several students walk around holding fingers in their ears to diminish the noise. A fifteen-year old boy in a Justin Bieber T-shirt curls up in a fetal position on the floor. Occasionally teachers admonish him to sit with his back against the wall like a dozen other students spread around the perimeter of the gym. On the opposite side of the gym a seventeen year old girl shakes her carefully beaded hair while rocking and moaning. I watch a teacher warn her to stop making so much noise.
A half hour ago an equal number of even noisier teen-aged students filled this gym and no teachers admonished them to stop making noise. Those “general” education students are labeled “typical” and this group of “District 75” education students is labeled “autistic.”
We don’t use labels like “retarded” any more, but phrases such as “he’s a District 75 kid” leave no doubt in anyone’s mind about a child’s future. Like so many New York City schools this one reflects the diverse ethnic melting pot of our city. Autism cuts across all class, cultural and ethnic groups. I wonder how it is possible to have a room full of children so segregated from their “typical” peers, more than three decades after the passage of the federal law, “Individuals with Disabilities Education Act,” (I.D.E.A.) which mandated that all children receive an education in the “least restrictive” environment. Especially when we know children with autism do better surrounded by “typical” peers who can teach them social skills more rapidly and effectively through play?
Autism is the new “diagnosis du jour,” knocking ADHD into second place. I have worked as an occupational therapist with students like these long enough to watch the epidemic unfold. I’ve read file cabinets full of research and spent countless hours teaching these children to write their names, tie their shoes, use the toilet, and most importantly, play with other children. I’ve studied the neurological underpinnings of traditional healing techniques at Harvard Divinity School and taught contemporary occupational therapy theory and techniques at universities.
Occasionally, I see children with autism diagnoses who could just as easily get a label of “quirky.” I see many, many more children who have earned their “autism” label justifiably. The current one in fifty statistic may be somewhat inflated, but it clearly and accurately reflects an epidemic.
The puzzle of autism fascinated researchers and clinicians even when it affected only a small percentage of the population. The epidemic has only increased our study and our knowledge. Though we may not have all the puzzle pieces, we have enough of them to know what works to “reverse” the effects of autism and how to slow down or even stop this epidemic.
So why do we engage in what Andrew Solomon in Far From the Tree calls “the slipshod brutality of giving up”?
Probably for the same reasons we cannot seem to make fuel efficient cars or grow our food without chemicals. Environmental toxins play a large role, both environmentally and also genetically, since parents pass along their own environmentally altered genes through epigenetics. We also know that these same environmental toxins play a part in the epidemics of childhood obesity and diabetes. We know food makes a difference, especially wholesome food, grown organically and prepared without sugar and other processed ingredients. In The Autism Revolution Martha Herbert, MD cites research that mirrors what Robert Lustig, MD documents in his book, Fat Chance: Beating the Obesity Epidemic.
We cannot find a “cure” because our attention gets diverted into sexy new drugs and candy coated cereals with “heart-healthy” and “gluten-free” labels. We have plenty of evidence, both anecdotally and through published research, on how to ameliorate and even reverse the effects of autism, and coincidentally ADHD, obesity and type 2 diabetes. The following very effective interventions require neither pharmaceuticals nor costly treatments: outdoor play; creative play; social play (i.e. games); and wholesome food. Last Child in the Woods by Richard Louv chronicles the importance of outdoor play and its role in children’s development. All over the US there are groups of parents, therapists and volunteers who use interactive play to improve children’s ability to communicate. Two of these treatment methods, Floortime and Son Rise, use play to build on an individual’s gifts, passions and strengths. In The Autism Revolution Dr. Herbert cites research to build a case for play, food and cleaning up the environment as strategies to prevent autism and reverse its effects.
If we know how to help children with autism why don’t we do it? Most likely because we find it difficult to make the kinds of sweeping changes we would need to see. No governmental agency wants to stop fracking, which clearly threatens our diminishing fresh water supply, let alone retool the automobile industry. Feeding children home-cooked meals and making safe playgrounds don’t support our struggling economy. In fact truly “curing” autism would have far wider and more devastating effects on our economy than Bernie Madoff or bursting the housing “bubble.” Nationally and globally we have made a collective economic decision to throw our children under the SUV.
Will eating organic foods and taking your child to the playground every day “cure” his or her autism? Probably not, because autism presents a multi-faceted and unique puzzle for every individual and every family. Helping children and adults with autism requires a myriad of conscious attention to details that can take 24 hours a day for life. Ask any parent of a child with autism about consciousness and detail.
Putting a whole lot of children with autism into a special school and teaching them how to sit quietly, fill out worksheets and tally up points for “good behavior” will do even less toward helping these people find meaningful ways to live in community and find some measure of happiness.
After recess, I provide occupational therapy to a slight fourteen year old boy who huddles over a map he draws from memory. I want this student, and every child I see, to find passions he can use to light a path to adult life. I ask this teenager what part of the city he’s drawing but I cannot hear his muttered response through the t-shirt he has pulled over his mouth and nose. I take out my phone and open a map application. I scroll around until if find the recognizable shoreline of Bay Ridge, Brooklyn.
Back in the mapmaker’s classroom, a sixteen year-old student, built like a Russian basketball player, works on choosing the correct picture from a selection of three small cards. The sixteen-year old likes to color but we cannot let him have crayons because he gets too excited covering every square millimeter of paper with color. Lately this young man becomes violent when people try to stop him or redirect him from coloring back to the tasks of sitting still with his hands folded, making no sounds and doing nothing more than looking out the window or choosing a card to please an adult.
As I watch the mapmaker pencil in streets, piers, parks and highways for Bay Ridge, the school psychologist stops by to tell me this teenager’s “colorer” classmate will soon go to a “residential setting.” I watch the mapmaker’s shoulders shiver as he listens. I ask, “Is it upsetting to hear us talk about your classmate in front of you?” He nods, yes.
What can I say to this middle school student? How much does he know about “residential settings,” and does he see this in his future? Does he dream another life for himself? Very few students escape from District 75. I envision the mapmaker in an office drawing maps with a beautiful selection of colored pens and markers – or maybe in Union Square selling his creations to people who want a hand drawn map to frame and put on the wall. I fashion this vision into a prayer.
When I travel around the US teaching parents and therapists how to get children to eat, I show a graph of autism’s growth from the 1990’s to 2010. The graph looks like the steep climb at the beginning of a really scary roller coaster ride. I mark off the points where we introduced genetically modified foods into our diet (just as the roller coaster takes off from the station) and the point where we took some mercury out of some of the vaccines (that point where the roller coaster jerks and connects to the gears that keep it climbing higher and steeper). I tell participants I’m not a statistician and I do not make any presumptions about cause and effect. Instead, as a Harvard educated theologian and an occupational therapist specializing in autism, I wonder, how many angels will it take for us to clean up the air, water and food supply? How many angels will it take for us to stop racing to the top and start eating together as families and making time for children to play?
Theologians love word problems with “angels” in them. Here’s what I believe based on a study of herd animals. When 51% of the animals looked at a water hole, the whole herd moved in that direction. When 51% of us have autism, or 51% of us love someone who has autism, then we will stop buying processed foods and start growing backyard “victory” gardens. We will begin sharing food with our neighbors and sharing gas in carpools. We will refuse to buy new cars, houses, appliances and clothes. Instead we will make music, art, child care and love. We will profoundly and radically change everything about the way we do business, education, health care, housing, and everyday human relationships; in a word, evolution.
Think about salads as if you were making a drawing or a picture.
Use leafy greens to make a textured background, then add all the other ingredients as accents.
As for the rest of the supply list
Greens prepared like this are usually fresher, less expensive and keep longer than bags of pre-mixed greens. You can also try more varieties than you will get in prepared bags, but bags of prepared greens work just fine.
This is the all-time easiest way I know to make yogurt at home. You can spend a total of 30-45 minutes of time and have fresh, delicious yogurt for much less than you would pay in the store. All you need is a crock-pot, some milk, and some plain yogurt with live, active cultures* in it.
- 1 quart to ½ gallon of milk (for best results AVOID “ultra-pasteurized” – usually you want to buy the store brand and it’s the best price so you win all the way around)
- One 4-8 ounce container of plain yogurt with live, active cultures* (for best results – get yogurt made only from milk & live, active cultures* - and no other additives)
You can add a teaspoon at a time to regulate sweetness. Make sure the yogurt tastes good. You’ll find you don’t add as much sweetener as the manufacturer does.
- Maple syrup
- Jellies & jams
- Fresh fruit
- Canned pie fillings (look for ones without corn syrup)
- Frozen fruit
- Chocolate chips
- Crumbled up cookies (try ½ a cookie first)
If you want to make a drinkable yogurt you can experiment with adding more or less yogurt to the heated milk – this will affect how thick the yogurt gets. Before serving add some juice or fruit nectars (unsweetened if you can find them).
*Brands that have “LIVE, ACTIVE CULTURES”
Cloud Top, LLC
Perpetual bone broth from New Year's day turkey - Day 5
During the hard, cold months of winter, when finding fresh and local vegetables gets difficult, traditional diets often focus on meat, grains and beans. I’ll feature those recipes in the next few newsletters. This month we look at bone broth which warms up your kitchen as well as your tummy! Make it in a crock pot for pennies. Add it to any dish instead of water or “store-bought” soup stocks to boost nutrient density AND add flavor.
Using bone broth makes a great “chaining” choice when transitioning a picky-eater to more healthy foods for several reasons. Many children like bland, slightly salty soups and easily accept a bone broth. Homemade bone broth can transform even empty calorie foods like noodles into a nutrient dense meal. Bone broths contain gelatin which acts helps us overcome food sensitivities by healing inflamed gastrointestinal tracts.
Bone broth’s nutrient quantities vary from batch to batch. Since the cooking process slowly dissolves bones, its broth has all the ingredients in bone and cartilage. Our bodies absorb and use the minerals and nutrients from bone broths even more easily and readily than those we get from supplements, making them an even better choice for keeping picky-eaters and everyone in the family healthy.
You will get protein from any attached meat, fat from marrow, skin or solid fat, and gelatin from the dissolved cartilage and bone. Many nutritionists recommend bone broths for: food allergies; colic; problems digesting dairy, beans, meat, grain (especially gluten); gastro esophageal reflux; gastritis; ulcer; hiatal hernia; inflammatory bowel disease; irritable bowel syndrome; leaky gut syndrome; malnutrition; weight loss; muscle wasting; cancer; osteoporosis; calcium deficiency; and anemia.
As you can see bone broth will make everyone feel better. Check out the list of nutrients at the end of this post. If you take any of these as supplements consider adding a crock pot of bone broth to your weekly menus. You can save money, improve the taste of your food and get healthy with no more than 10 to 20 minutes of your time per week.
Where to Get Bones for Bone Broth:
Perpetual Bone Broth – Keep your bone broth going for up to a week if you use it every day. Add more water to replace the water you remove. The longer it cooks the more nutrients leach out of the bones. At the end of the week the bones will be mush. This method works well for people on a GAPS diet or other diet regimen that uses lots of broths and soups. (Thanks to Jenny McCarthy at www.nourishedkitchen.com for this variation.)
Clean out the Fridge – Add frozen vegetable scraps, vegetables that have wilted (not rotted) during the last hour of cooking. Strain the cooked vegetables out with the bones. Some vegetables turn the broth bitter (beets, broccoli, turnips) or sweet (carrots) if they cook too long so best not to add these to a perpetual soup. Parsley and parsley trimmings, onion, garlic, celery and celery leaves add flavor and will do alright cooking longer than an hour.
Things to Make with Bone Broth
Add bone broth anywhere you would put water or soup stock.
Clear Broth - When you make perpetual soup you can strain the broth through a coffee filter or mesh tea strainer to make yourself a warming cup of pure goodness.
Kitchen Sink Soup – Add fresh or left-over meats, chopped vegetables, noodles and seasonings of your choice to make a hearty soup.
Egg Drop Soup – Whip up one egg for each cup of hot broth. Stir eggs into broth. A meal won’t get any easier than this! Add some chopped green onions for flavor and color if you want to get fancy.
Doggies’ Delight – Throw a ladle full of broth into your dog’s dry kibbles and watch their eyes light up in gratitude. Make sure you let it cool off before serving it. Once the bones have cooked for 24 hours and gotten mushy you can add a few of those as well. Make sure you can crush bones with your ladle before adding chicken or pork bones to a dog’s dish. Some cats like bone broth, too.
Here’s the list of nutrients found in bone broths.
Sodium and potassium
Collagen I, II, III & the amino acids found in collagen:
Chestnuts roasting on an open fire,
Jack Frost nipping at your nose…
‘Tis the season for chestnuts and most of you can find some in your local grocery store. Chestnuts grew wild in the American northeast until about 150 years ago when a fungus brought over from Asian chestnut trees spread quickly across the Appalachian Mountain range where wild chestnuts made up one quarter of all the trees in the forests.
We lost a wonderful wild food source with those chestnut trees, full of protein, calcium, vitamin C, copper and manganese. Many growers around the U.S. have worked hard to bring back a fungus-resistant American chestnut. You can order those chestnuts online, but much of what you see in the store still comes from outside the U.S.
Like most nuts, chestnuts come in their own packaging, so they travel very well. Growers have to wait until they fall from the trees so they don’t get harvested too early. When buying them, check for freshness by squeezing them. The nuts should be firm with no give between the shell and the nut.
When you get them home put them in a bowl in the sunshine to “cure.” Squeeze them every day and when you can feel a little give between the nut and the shell – get ready for a seasonal treat.
Cut a cross in each nut with a sharp knife to prevent the nuts from bursting while cooking. Put a handful or two on a pan in the toaster oven and “roast” at 375 degrees for 20-25 minutes. Let them cool just a little bit. They peel much better when warm, which makes them a perfect treat for warming up cold hands after spending time outside in cold weather.
Uncured fresh chestnuts keep well in the refrigerator for weeks. You can also freeze them. When curing, take care not to let them dry out. Usually chestnuts “cure” in 2-3 days without refrigeration.
We do. We believe that healing begins with intention. All of our therapists hold that intention - because we have seen it work with the children who come to see us.Perhaps your child has worked with therapists in the past. Most of your children probably receive therapy right now. I have worked with families dealing with special challenges for more than two decades and I have heard their frustration over children who tantrum, refuse foods, have toileting accidents, or sleep poorly. I know how much they want their special children to make friends, succeed in school and enjoy going out to a restaurant or special event with the rest of the family. Perhaps you face some of these same challenges.
This month I'm writing a bit about some familiar types of therapy and how we incorporate those into our
Intensive Therapy & Family Vacation - Sunday, July 24th to Friday, July 29, 2011
Do you ever get overwhelmed by all the different kinds of therapies offered?
Here's a short list of some of the most common techniques used by therapists who work with special needs children.Behavioral Therapy
A "classic" methodology most therapists first learn about in their elementary psychology courses. We learn that when animals get rewards for certain behaviors they repeat them. As practitioners we learn a variety of ways to reward behaviors and how to organize a program so that the behaviors we want most get rewarded, and those we want least get ignored so that they go away. We learn how to structure our treatment sessions to make this work for us and we share that information with classrooms and families. Behavioral therapy can be very effective at times, but most of our therapists want more out of their therapy sessions.
Usually takes center stage during the course of our academic and professional educations. Developmental therapy is another "classic" with an infinite number of interpretations from Freud to Piaget to Greenspan. Each of us knows several of these developmental sequences depending on our area of practice. We may know how speech develops, or tool use. Walking, eating, toileting - each skill we possess evolved along a pathway of predictable steps governed by the maturity of our bodies and the amount of time we spent practicing those skills. Our therapists use these developmental theories to figure out what skills to practice and when to introduce them during the course of treatment.
Grew out of the developmental therapies, but focused on the interrelationship of brain structures and functions - how they operate and how they develop in response to the environment. Sensory-integration theory began its life in occupational therapy practice and research, but speech therapy, physical therapy, psychology other disciplines recognized its usefulness and began incorporating this treatment approach into their own work. Our therapists use sensory integration to figure out how a child's brain is working and what kinds of environments will help them learn best.
DIR® /FloortimeTM Is a technique developed and taught by Dr. Stanley Greenspan. It also evolved out of developmental therapy and the DIR (developmental, individual differences, relationship-based ) model of emotional development has proved extremely useful for understanding how to help children with autism and other neuro-behavioral challenges. Therapists must study FloortimeTM through certified programs but we all recognize the developmental stages of the DIR® model and find that the FloortimeTM techniques for increasing "circles of communication" and getting children actively engaged in reciprocal play very closely mirror techniques we have found effective over the years. In every interaction our therapists will focus on getting children to spontaneously interact and communicate in meaningful ways.
Is another effective technique for working with children who have autism and other neuro-behavioral challenges. This technique was created and pioneered by a couple of parents who had a son diagnosed with autism at about 18 months of age. At that time (the 1970's) autism was treated with severe behavioral measures (like electric shock/aversion therapy) and eventual institutionalization. These parents, Barry & Samahria Kaufman, refused to believe in this option and began a vigorous program of "joining" their son in his behaviors as a way to make a connection and help him find his way to our non-autistic world. Their success was unprecedented and has been repeated with other parents with whom they share their techniques. Like Floortime®, Son-Rise®requires special training and certification. Those of us who have learned about the techniques through the educational materials of The Autism Treatment Center of America (home of Son-Rise® ) recognize many of the playful approaches we have used to build relationships with our young clients. Our therapists will use your child's passions to make the connections that help your child emerge from their world and join us in this one.
We know from experience, and from published research studies that intensive therapy produces quicker and longer lasting results. We are EXCITED about this opportunity to help you see miracles happen in your own family.
No one else is providing 30 hours of therapy AND a family vacation in the same package.
Miracles come in all shapes and sizes. What's one thing you wish your child could do better? Call us at 718-517-0807 and let us know what a miracle would look like for you.
Nourishing Bodies Nourishing Souls Intensive Therapy & Family Vacation:
Sun, July 24th to Fri, July 29, 2011
Five Seasons Family Resort on Torsey Pond in Mt. Vernon, Maine
Nourishing Bodies Nourishing Souls is a place where your special needs child gets intensive (& FUN) therapy while the rest of the family get to do what other families do on a summer vacation...HAVE A GOOD TIME!
In honor of Autism Awareness month - 10% of a family's registration fee will be donated to the
NY Metro Chapter of the National Autism Association - for scholarship assistance with therapy costs.
Susan L. Roberts, Author, Lecturer, Occupational Therapist