What would you do if your car began to fill up with water? Could you get out?
What you’re supposed to do unbuckle your seat belt and the seat belt of all the children starting with the oldest first to get their help unbuckling the others. Because of the water pressure against the car, you probably won’t be able to open the door. That pressure and electric windows will prevent you from being able to open the window. You have to break it.
We got a press release today from OWL Open Window for Life. It’s a tool you can put in the visor or glove box of your car or your purse. It has a stainless steel point designed to shatter the window. It’s about the size of a credit card.
As of Wednesday, Seton Healthcare Family had received 31 patients from Victoria, Corpus Christi, Houston, El Campo, Bay City, Columbus and La Grange. They were taken to Dell Seton Medical Center, Seton Medical Center Austin, Dell Children’s and Seton Northwest.
St. David’s HealthCare had 10 patients transferred to its hospitals as of Wednesday, including these infants.
Both hospital systems have been preparing for more direct hospital-to-hospital transfers throughout the week. Often those have not come to fruition or the patients were sent to Dallas instead. The hospitals’ staff have been working with the city’s Emergency Operations Center to coordinate placement of patients and care of evacuees from Harvey-affected areas.
Wildflower Center. Sprouts. Hands-on preschool program. 10 a.m. Wednesdays. Wildflower Center, 4801 La Crosse Ave. wildflower.org
Texas Museum of Science & Technology.Star Party. Look at the stars. 9 p.m. Fridays. Texas Museum of Science & Technology, 1220 Toro Grande Drive, Cedar Park. txmost.org
Toybrary Austin. Unicorn Party. Believe in unicorns and celebrate them. 10:30 -11:30 a.m. Saturday. $10. Date night babysitting. For ages 1-5. $25 first child, $10 siblings. 5-8 p.m. Saturdays. Toybrary Austin, 2001 Justin Lane. toybraryaustin.com
Wildflower Center. Nature Play Hour. Play in the Family Garden. 11 a.m. Saturdays. Wildflower Center, 4801 La Crosse Ave. wildflower.org
Thinkery.Baby Bloomers. Learn about colors. For infant to 3. 9 a.m. Saturdays (Not happening on Monday this week.). Special guests throughout the month. $5. Thinkery, 1830 Simond Ave. thinkeryaustin.org
BookPeople. Story time: New Books. 11:30 a.m. Saturday. BookPeople, 603 N. Lamar Blvd. bookpeople.com
Barnes & Noble. 11 a.m. Saturday story time at all locations: “Uni the Unicorn” and “Dream Come True,” Saturday.
Saturday Family Movie, “Smurfs: Lost Village.” 2 p.m. Saturday, Windsor Park Branch.
Thinkery.Decoding DNA. Extract DNA from fruit and vegetables. For ages 4 and up. 11:15 a.m., 1:15 p.m. and 3:15 p.m. Saturday-Monday. $8. Thinkery, 1830 Simond Ave. thinkeryaustin.org
Hill Country Science Mill. Scavenger Hunt.Explore the museum’s newest exhibits including the Incredible Ball Machine, the fossil dig and the Axolotl salamanders. 10 a.m.-4 p.m. Sunday and Monday. Hill Country Science Mill, 101 S. Lady Bird Lane, Johnson City. sciencemill.org
We’re all watching it on TV, on social media. Scene after scene of boat rescues, flood streets, people on rooftops. Our kids are watching it too, and they’re watching our stress levels rise as we worry about what is happening in Houston and to people we might now.
What are we supposed to tell our kids about Hurricane Harvey?
That depends on the age of your child as well as the kind of child you have, says Julia Hoke, a licensed psychologist and the director of psychological services at Austin Child Guidance Center. Most children preschool and younger probably don’t need to be told much, she says. Realize that kids this age are very self-centered and think that it must be happening here and to them, Hoke says. Reassure them that you are safe.
If your child is particularly sensitive, tends to worry a lot, be especially careful about what you say.
“You really need to know your individual child,” says Dr. Julie Alonso-Katzowitz, a child and adolescent psychiatrist at Dell Children’s Medical Center of Central Texas.
With elementary school age children and older, you can watch TV with them and ask them what their questions are. Answer them honestly but don’t given them any more information than they need. Again, you’re trying to avoid the worry about things you and your children cannot control.
Do make your kids feel safe. Reassure them that you are doing everything to keep them safe and that we are OK here.
Do give them information, but without a lot of extra information. Give simple answers. Remain calm and reassuring. If you don’t know, it’s OK to say that.
Do normalize their feelings. Tell them: “Of course, you’re really worried about this,” then praise them for the empathy they are showing.
Do talk through what you would do in an emergency. Being able to reassure them that you have a plan if they were in danger, can be comforting. Where would you go? What would you do? But don’t dwell on that, says Alonso-Katzowitz. Reassure them: “Right now we’re safe and we have resources.”
Don’t give them false reassurances. You shouldn’t say “No. that can never happen here,” says Melanie Storrusten, a license clinical social worker who focuses on stress management. “That’s not a true statement,” she says. “The world isn’t 100 percent guaranteed to be safe.”
Do limit the amount of TV and social media about Harvey both you and your children are watching and consuming. You need a break from it.
Do let them know about any close family that has been affected. Try to limit that conversation to positive things that are happening if you can.
Do prepare them for the possibility that your family might be coming to live with you. Get them involved in how that might play out: Where would they sleep? What toys or clothes could your family or friends borrow? “Recognize that kids aren’t little adults and may have mixed reactions to it,” Hoke says.
Don’t make promises you can’t keep. Don’t tell them your family will be fine. Don’t tell them your family is only coming for a few days and then you’ll have your room back.
Do talk to them about the positive things that are happening: The boat rescues, the way ordinary people are helping other people, the animals that have been saved, the way first responders are working to help people. That can help avoid the excessive worry.
Do engage in ways you can help as a family. Research local nonprofits who are helping. Find out what different organizations are collecting. Let your kids play a role in what your family decides to do. “It can help you regain some sense of power and control,” says, Storrusten, especially if you’ve been feeling out of control and helpless as you watch the events unfold on TV.
Do protect yourself with self-care, especially if you are volunteering. This is going to be a long recovery effort. Make sure you’re eating well and getting sleep. Even watching the events unfold, you might not realize the emotional toll it is taking on you, that will later be felt by your family.
Do try to keep your family routine the same, as much as possible. This might not be possible for families that are taking in more people or have been evacuated or have a parent that has been sent to Houston to help, but kids take comfort in the same bedtime, the same books read at night, eating meals together.
The Austin Diaper Bank needs your help. They need diapers (both adult and infant) as well as wipes and diaper cream to put together packets for people who have evacuated to Austin because of Hurricane Harvey. The diaper bank warehouse bin is at 8711 Burnet Road, back of Building B, or you can go online to austindiaperbank.org to find a drop-off location. It also needs financial help, www.austindiaperbank.org, to buy these supplies.
Monday the diaper bank created packets as well as packed a truck donated by Longhorn Car and Truck Rentals with more than 3,000 diapers and wipes to take it to Houston and South Texas.
“During times of disaster and catastrophe, families often have to leave their homes on a moment’s notice or do not have the ability take long-term supplies with them,” said Holly McDaniel, executive director of the Austin Diaper Bank, in a press release. “We want to make sure that an adequate supply of diapers is not a worry during these stressful times. Diapers are not supplied by disaster relief agencies, and they are essential to keep babies, children and adults clean, dry and healthy.”
McDaniel is the new executive director at the diaper bank as of last week. She has more than 15 years of experience with nonprofits in Austin and California. Previously, she was director of individual giving and philanthropy at KMFA, 89.5, the classical public radio station in Austin.
The diaper bank expects to hit its 1 millionth diaper donated early next year, and now works with 40 local nonprofit agencies to distribute diapers throughout Central Texas. It was started in 2013 by Austinite Beverly Hamilton, who left the executive director role in June. “I really wanted the organization to grow and have the impact it could have,” she said of her decision to leave. “My goal was to get it started and get it going. It’s in good hands now.”
Hamilton will still have a founder’s role and serve on the board of directors. She’s started a consulting firm, Small But Mighty Consulting, to help small nonprofit organizations do things that they can’t afford to hire a full-time person to do as well as executive director coaching.
Dell Children’s Medical Center of Central Texas is now home to seven infants from Discoll Children’s Hospital in Corpus Christi.
The infants who were in the neonatal and pediatric intensive care units were brought to Dell Children’s last night in preparation for Hurricane Harvey, which is expected to hit Corpus Christi late tonight or early Saturday morning. Care teams move them to Dell Children’s by air and ground.
“Being part of the Texas Hospital Association of Texas made it easy for us to communicate directly with Driscoll Children’s Hospital and partner to get their needs,” said Deb Brown, vice president and chief operating officer, Dell Children’s Medical Center. “Driscoll Children’s did an outstanding job of alerting us early and giving us time to get there. We’re honored to help care for their patients in this time of need.”
The infants will remain at Dell Children’s until it is safe for them to return to Corpus Christi.
1. Plan and make a meal together. Haven’t gone grocery shopping and don’t want to brave the store in the rain? No worries. We bet you can scrounge up some ingredients that you have on hand. Get the kids involved to see how creative you can get. This is also the perfect time to teach kids how to bake a cake from scratch.
2. Make recycled crafts. Dig through your recycling bin and the junk drawer for some found objects. Bring out the glue, the tape, the markers, the glitter, the stickers, the paint. Bragging rights or prizes could be awarded. There could even be judges.
3. Get some exercise. Search YouTube for yoga for kids and do a session together. Blow up a balloon, move out the furniture in your living room and play volleyball. Play hide and seek.
Mix together ½ cup of warm water with a few drops of food coloring.
Slowly pour the water into the flour mixture, stirring as you pour. Stir until combined, then knead with your hands until the flour is completely absorbed. If the dough is too sticky, add more flour until it doesn’t stick at all.
Or make Goop, which is one part water to two parts corn starch. Mix it in a zippered bag. Throw in some food coloring and get to playing.
5. Head to a museum. You might get slightly wet on the way in. The Thinkery has workshops on printmaking this weekend. Aside from the museums you know like the Thinkery, the Bullock Museum, the Blanton Museum and the Contemporary Austin, You can also try a museum you might not have thought of, like these:
Or create your own play or act out your favorite movie.
7. Hold a moviethon in your house. Check out the Netflix, the Hulu, the Amazon Prime for the movies your kids haven’t yet seen, or show them some classics from your childhood. Pop the popcorn and enjoy.
8. Bring on the books. Hit story time at Barnes & Noble or BookPeople on Saturday morning or go to the library and pick up some new books. Start a new series of books that you read aloud together. We love “The Magic Treehouse” for younger kids and Harry Potter and Percy Jackson for older ones.
9. Bring out the board games and cards. Start with Go Fish and work your way up to poker (no betting… OK, maybe just pennies). Our new favorite board game is “The Oregon Trail” based on that computer game I played as a kid in school when they were teaching us how to program on an Apple IIc. We also love some “Apples to Apples” and that game that is about a bull and his excrement.
10. Make puppets. That sock that is missing its match, that lunch bag or gift bag make a perfect medium. Or eat Popsicles and use the sticks to attach paper characters to. (See we just wanted the Popsicle.) You can even create a play to go with your new puppet friends. If the light goes out, create shadow puppets using a flashlight.
BONUS: Embrace the rain. Put on the boots, the rain coat, the umbrellas and stomp in the puddles. Have a fenced-in private backyard. Turn bath time into a rain shower by bringing out the soap and shampoo. Have lots of warm towels at the ready inside.
Families who have children with special needs like autism, epilepsy and Down syndrome often don’t get a break. They don’t get to go on a family vacation because the logistics of taking their families to a new place or one that hasn’t been adapted to their child’s needs feels unsurmountable.
Austinite Karen Duncan is trying to change that. She studied recreational therapy in college and then became a travel agent 22 years ago. Four years ago, she brought those two aspects of her life together when she started the nonprofit organization Adventures with Autism, Down Syndrome and Epilepsy.
“It’s what I wanted to do in the first place, to help families have a semblance of a normal life,” she says.
Adventures started creating group cruises that brought along certified therapists. While on the cruise, parents get to spend time away from their children or with their neurotypical children while the children with autism, Down Syndrome or epilepsy are enjoying supervised activities.
The cruises and sometimes beach vacations are free to families who are chosen, and paid for by the fundraising efforts Adventures does. Adventures has two upcoming cruises planned: One for March 18 and one for Nov. 11, 2018. Both require an application, which you can find online at awadae.org. (The application for the one in March has to be received by Sept. 15.)
Duncan now finds cruise lines, hotels and airlines are becoming more aware of the special needs community and even training their employees how to serve these families. She regularly works with Royal Caribbean cruise line and Beaches resorts, which have been eager to cater vacation experiences to fit the families’ needs.
Now people are coming to her wanting her to help them plan individual vacations with their children with special needs, while she does do that as part of her regular travel business. She also has these tips for families:
Plan flights for a time in the morning, after children’s normal waking time. They will be the most awake and not tired. Meltdowns are less likely
Choose direct flights when possible to limit the amount of transitions.
Call ahead to the airlines, hotels, restaurants, cruise lines and excursion companies to explain your situation and what you need. Families are often embarrassed and don’t want to be a bother, but Duncan has found that companies want to help you have the best experience.
Ask to board first or last, depending on your child’s needs.
Ask for the bulkhead seats of an airplane so there will not be a person in front of you to distract kids (and to avoid seat-kicking).
Notify hotels, resorts and cruise lines of specific food allergies or aversions. Arrange for specific food requests ahead of time. This could mean asking for a specific lunch to be made to take with you on an excursion.
Arrange ahead of time for seating in a less crowded space at restaurants and entertainment venues.
Ask resorts if they can connect you with baby-sitters, nannies or respite care nurses that you can hire who have experience with your child’s diagnosis. This will give you some downtime.
For families with autism, bring business cards with you that explain that your child is not misbehaving, he just has autism. You won’t have to explain to the 100 strangers who think you must be a bad parent because your child is having a meltdown.
Bring what you need with you. This includes snacks, weighted blankets or jackets, noise-canceling headphones, fidget toys and gum.
Ask for your hotel or cruise room to be made safe and accessible for your child. This could mean asking for the handicap room. It also can be asking for locks to be added on the room door as well as the door to the patio or balcony or asking not to be in one of those patio or balcony rooms if that’s possible.
Ask the hotel or cruise line to connect you to a medical supply company where you will be if you need things like a wheelchair, a scooter, a hospital bed or oxygen.
Ask to schedule ship or resort activities during less crowded times such as early morning.
Most companies, she says, “will do anything to make you comfortable within reason.”
One Love Caribbean Night Gala
Benefiting Adventures with Autism, Down Syndrome and Epilepsy.