Saturday, December 21, 2013

Finding Great Gifts for Kids with Asperger’s

This is not a neat list of toys and presents all children with Asperger’s will love, such a list would be impossible to compile. Instead, it’s a perspective on how to approach gift giving for children with special interests.

Around this time of year I have many family and friends ask me what my kids would like for Christmas. My neuro-typical son is easy… Nerf guns, Neft darts and batteries for Nerf guns. My Aspie son’s list is a little harder to explain. He wants stuff like C++, a 3-D printer, computer memory, and Team Fortress 2 hats. Yeah, even his computer savvy uncle was stumped to find something to put under the tree for him from that list.

Besides my son, I have several other young friends and family members with Asperger’s that I like to buy gifts for and I know it can be difficult to find something that’s not just going to sit on a shelf. I’ve learned a thing or two over the years with several wins and fails on gifts. So, consider the following when trying to find the perfect gift for the Aspie child you love:

    1. Skip the box stores – in all likelihood if there’s a toy at Walmart, Target, Kmart, etc. that an Asperger’s child wants, someone has already bought it for them.
    2. Up the Age Range – Aspie’s are usually a little bit ahead of the curve so go ahead and get a kit for kids 10 and up for an 8 year old with Aspergers.
    3. Think outside of the gift box – Not all gifts have to be tangible. Let the interests of the Aspie you’re buying for guide you to something that can’t be wrapped… maybe they would like a star of their own, a section of the rain forest, an adopted sea creature, a brick in the wall of their favorite monument, or their own domain name.
    4. Custom is cool – You might not be able to find a t-shirt with that specific stink bug your Aspie won’t stop talking about but you can make one pretty easily even if you aren’t the most artistic. Many sites like allow you to make custom products by uploading photos and adding text to make your own design.
    5. It’s never too nerdy – The more factual or informational a gift is the more an Aspie child is going to engage with it especially if it pertains to one of their particular interests. Seriously, fact sheets and subject-specific encyclopedias score big points.
    6. Give a Group – Club memberships and season passes are extra awesome gifts for Aspies because it allows them to explore their interests and practice socialization simultaneously.

The most important thing to keep in mind when buying presents for a child with Asperger's is that even if they don’t shout for joy and jump up and down with excitement when they open your gift, doesn't mean they don’t love it and aren't touched by the effort you made and the thought you put into the gift.

An Asperger's child realizes more than they can express when people in their lives go out of the way to explore their interests. Investing more thought than money in their gifts will open opportunities for connection and communication which is the greatest gift you can give a child who has trouble socializing.

Tuesday, November 26, 2013

11 Things I was Surprised to be Thankful for after my Child was Diagnosed with Asperger's Syndrome

It may sound strange but I'm glad my child has Asperger's. It's not something I would have picked for him but since he has it anyway... I've come to appreciate quite a few things that I didn't realize I would be thankful for when we first got the diagnosis four years ago.

So in the spirit of listing things we are grateful for at Thanksgiving here's my top 11, a nice prime number :

1.   It’s not fatal. I am still blessed with a happy, healthy child.
2.   Because it’s hereditary, I know there’s nothing I could have done to prevent it.
3.   I have an extremely intelligent child who will be smarter than me if he’s not already.
4.   My child explores his interests thoroughly with passion, fervor and focus.
5.   He holds me accountable for the things I say I will do and keeps me on schedule.
6.   I live in the age of Google and can help him find the answers to most of his questions.
7.   Peer pressure to be "cool" doesn't phase him and girls don't distract him.
8.   Growing up together, his brother has learned empathy towards all kids who are different.
9.   He is honest, reliable, and follows the rules to a fault.
10. Some of my best friends are people that I have connected with because our children both have Asperger's.
11. I see the world totally differently because of him.

Did I miss anything? Add to my list in the comments below!

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Thursday, September 19, 2013

Southern Style - My Project Runway Doll Project Season 12 Episode 9

The designers on Project Runway were somewhat stumped this week when asked to design a look for the modern southern woman. Since I've been living in the south for the past, wow, 24 years, I hope I did a little better understanding the client. Although in this weeks episode the two "southern designers" were both in the bottom.

When I went shopping for fabric this week Ron and Brodie went with me and they both gravitated to this blue and white print that gave me a real Nautical feel. I don't know if my Virginia Beach roots leads me to connect the south with the Navy but I instantly thought of updating a sailor suit dress for the modern southern woman.

I wanted it to be something she could wear to church, because we all know dressing for church in the south is important, they don't call it the Bible belt for nothing. I still wanted it to be fun and flirty enough though for an afternoon event so I opened up the back, which i thought was kind of different in the realm of sailor suits. The other twist was I kept the classic knot but modernized it by moving it up to the shoulders. Of course it has pockets.

The original design was going to be double breasted with buttons but Ron, my personal Tim Gunn, stepped in and told me to use an editing eye which inspired me to go a different direction. So here's how it wound up:

What do you think? Would this work for the Belk customer? Would Heidi be impressed? Would Zac think it's too much? Do you like my new model? Let me know your feedback in the comments below!

Sunday, September 8, 2013

Make it Work Out Wear - My Project Runway Doll Project Season 12 Episode 8

In this week's challenge Heidi asked the designers to make active wear that would be sold in connection with her New Balance clothing line. I'm not the type to just run, on the road or the treadmill, so that wasn't where I went with my design this week. I thought more about sports like gold or tennis and went with a design that could work in the gym or on the green and designed a skort with pockets of course, a tank with a shelf so no  boob flattening sports bra is necessary and a light hoodie for the to and fro time to the gym or courts.

I stuck with fabric similar to what Heidi was offering in her line and I pieced it together with a stained glass effect that incorporated her initials. Here's what I came up with, try to spot the HK in the shirt :)


See what I did there? What do you think? Would you work out wearing something like this? Would Nina want to wear it to the grocery store? Let me know in the comments below... am I in or an I out?

Tuesday, September 3, 2013

SHOES!!! - My Project Runway Doll Project Season 12 Episode 7

This week on Project Runway the designers each picked a pair of shoes for their inspiration and made a garment that highlighted the shoe. I wish I had access to the doll equivalent to the Marie Claire closet but I'm a little limited in the fashion forward footwear department when it comes to dolls so I worked with what I had. I picked a pair of purple cowboy boots I'd bought to send with a birthday present to one of my little friends because they were the most "out there" shoes in my stack at the moment. I also picked them because I wanted a little but of a challenge since personally I would never, ever wear cowboy boots.

Inspired by the boots I made an outfit for a country girl going out with friends, on a casual date, or to a music festival. Instead of a little black dress I went with a little white eyelet dress and popped in colors through a southwest-inspired printed belt that I made. She also has a bolero/poncho hybrid shrug. Figure you always have to have something to cover your butt when wearing white, just in case you sit in something. Here's how it turned out...

So what do you think? Cute or kitschy? Would Heidi, Nina and Kaley Cuoco all want to wear it? Let us know in the comments below and follow My Fair Brainchild on Facebook at

Monday, August 26, 2013

Inspired by "Glamping" - My Project Runway Doll Project Season 12 Episode 6

This week the designers on Project Runway were sent on a "Glamping" trip for inspiration. Glamping reminds me of the movie Troop Beverly Hills when rich housewife, Shelly Long took over leading her daughter's Wilderness Girls troop. The challenge was to design a high end look inspired by nature and the trip they took.

For the look I created I was inspired by a mix of the nerd version of a nature girl, aka a Celtic elven warrioress and the hippie chic style of some of my favorite eco friendly besties. What I like best about the dress is it easily transforms into shorts for tromping through the wilderness from a re-envisioned wrap dress.  Maybe the hoodie caplet is too much but the boys really liked it so I left it.

I found this awesome batik fabric and "suede denim" that everyone in the store commented on as I was having it cut. The tan corduroy was I scrap I picked up but didn't use...
 Close up of the suede denim texture...


Front Skirt

Back Skirt

Back Shorts

Front shorts

Cheesey photobombers

What do you think? Would Heidi love it or hate it? Would Nina have something nasty to say about the crotch or not? Let us know what you think in the comments below. 

Monday, August 19, 2013

Unconventional Team Challenge - My Project Runway Doll Project Season 12 Episode 5

The unconventional challenges on Project Runway are my favorite so this was a good season to challenge myself since this was the 3rd unconventional assignment so far. 

This week the designers worked in teams to create a luxurious mini collection from items found at a vintage wallpaper shop, a specialty grocery store, or a party/home supply store and were encouraged to spend around $1500. Brodie was wrangled in as my partner again and went to the dollar store since it's kind of like all three of those stores in one. We spent $14, so we figure that's like coming in $100 under budget.

The items we came back with were:

A can koozie, 2 plastic bats, 3 rolls of shelf paper, coffee filters, a bag of plastic snakes, a bag of fake spider webs, paper clips, tape, 2 stretchy book covers, blood splatter clings, and a bunch of fake grapes. 

Since we got so much Halloween stuff and we aren't the fanciest of people we decided to go a little goth with our designs. After all who likes to sport fancy looking clothes more than goths? However we didn't want it to look "costumey" so we kind of tried to merge goth elements into the mainstream market while using the assortment of items we had purchased. 

Brodie designed and created one look and I did the other. Here's how they turned out...

Her dress is made from a book cover. The jacket is shelf paper. The belt is shelf paper and plastic snakes ant the flower is a paperclip and fake grape. Brodie made these shoes in the first shot out of duct tape but they were really tough to balance the doll in so we swapped them out for "the runway show"

Without the jacket...

I don't know if mine is goth enough but every time I went to add something it seemed like too much. Hopefully the silhouette and shades of red give a strong enough nod to the culture. 

The dress is made out of hand died coffee filters, tape and fake grapes for the embellishments.

Here's a side-by-side look at our looks.

 So how did we do? I think Brodie can so better than Sue so hopefully we would still be in the running if we were in the actual competition. I think Nina Garcia would look awesome in Brodie's outfit but would Heidi think mine was a bit too much? Or because of the red on the coffee filters would Tim Gunn say it looked like an homage to a feminine product? Tell us your thoughts in the comments below.


Want to know how Brodie made that cool snake belt? Since NOTHING would stick to the plastic snakes he decided to melt them. He laid out the snakes between 2 sheets of wax paper and ironed it on high on both sides until all of the snakes fused together. Then he weaved a piece of shelving paper through the plasitc and added fasteners. Viola!