by Natalie Bracco, guest author

Technology is an aspect of life that we have grown to rely on. From the vast databases that safeguard our personal information to the computerized motors in modern vehicles, technology plays a vital role in our everyday lives. This concept is no greater than in the different mobile devices that we use for various things. Tablet computers, smartphones and Ultrabooks have all played a role in plugging us in to this modern age where the digital world is at our finger tips.

While some people reference relying too much on technology as leading to a less fit society, others would beg to differ. In fact, there are a variety of smartphone applications that promote health and wellness with additional tools to keep you motivated during that early morning jog or afternoon hike. Below are some of the top smartphone applications that can help keep you healthy.

Instant Heart Rate Pro

A heart rate monitor is a valuable tool to have during a workout for ensuring you maintain an adequate level of exercise. Depending on your fitness level, maintaining a particular level of heart rate over an extended period of time allows you to burn calories at a more efficient level.

Instant Heart Rate Pro is a heart rate monitor application available for Android. It is considered the most accurate heart rate monitor app currently available, and is regularly used by professionals in the medical field who attest to its accuracy. Simply open it up before or during a workout and easily keep track of your heart rate.

BMI Calculator

The BMI Calculator (Body Mass Index) is a free application available for both Android and iOS. It is a simple yet effective app that calculates your BMI as a reference before you begin dieting, or as a little motivation when you see the effects that your lost body fat has on your BMI.

SparkPeople

SparkPeople is a handy application for calorie counters. Whether you prefer T-Mobile cell phones or Apple iPhones, this application is available on most operating systems. It provides the simple means of entering a particular meal into a database that then supplies you with the various “stats” for that meal. Users can then take this information and enter it into different fields to keep track of meals, fat and calories over the course of the day.

WebMD Mobile

Simply put, WebMD Mobile is the cellular optimized version of the popular website. It serves as a valuable, handy tool for people who need to seek out medical advice regardless of where they are.

As someone who is looking to improve their fitness efforts, consider the above heath-based applications as a little boost in motivation. Whether you are looking for a simple way to keep track of your calorie intake, or need a reliable heart monitor, there are many useful apps available that can help keep you in shape.

Moto 360

Then, of course, are wearables, like the Motorola Moto 360. Devices like this provide sensors and software to help make monitoring your health easier and more convenient, placing the data right on your wrist.

I think one of the biggest problems with having a child with Asperger Syndrome is that people relate it so closely with Autism. But in fact it is not Autism. It is no closer to Autism than Rett’s Syndrome is an autistic disorder. In fact the only thing that even can put them in the same category is that they are a category of neurologically-based disorders that have a range of delays in different developmental stages.

The reason for this confusion in today’s society stems back to the 1940’s when a Viennese pediatrician Hans Asperger who observed autistic-like behaviors and difficulties with social and communication skills in boys who had normal intelligence and language development. Many professionals felt Asperger’s Disorder was simply a milder form of autism and used the term “high-functioning autism” to describe these individuals.

However, as time and studies progressed, Professor Uta Frith, with the Institute of Cognitive Neuroscience of University College London and author of Autism and Asperger Syndrome, describes individuals with Asperger’s Disorder as “having a dash of Autism.” They are separate disorders, but may portray similar characteristics at times. In fact by 1994, Asperger’s Disorder was added to the American Psychiatric Association’s Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM-IV) as a separate disorder from autism.

Children with Asperger’s Disorder may be only mildly affected and frequently have good language and cognitive skills. To the untrained observer, a child with Asperger’s Disorder may just seem different.

Children with autism are frequently seen as aloof and uninterested in others. This is not the case with Asperger’s Disorder. Individuals with Asperger’s Disorder usually want to fit in and have interaction with others; they simply don’t know how to do it. They may be socially awkward, not understanding conventional social rules, or may show a lack of empathy. They may have limited eye contact, seem to be unengaged in a conversation, and not understand the use of gestures.

Interests in a particular subject may border on the obsessive. Children with Asperger’s Disorder frequently like to collect categories of things, such as rocks or bottle caps. They may be proficient in knowing categories of information, such as baseball statistics or Latin names of flowers. While they may have good rote memory skills, they have difficulty with abstract concepts.

One of the major differences between Asperger’s Disorder and autism is that, by definition, there is no speech delay in Asperger’s. In fact, children with Asperger’s Disorder frequently have good language skills; they simply use language in different ways. Speech patterns may be unusual, lacking inflection or having a rhythmic nature. Speech may be formal and too loud or high pitched. Children with Asperger’s Disorder may not understand the subtleties of language, such as irony and humor, or may not understand the give and take nature of a conversation.

Another distinction between Asperger’s Disorder and autism concerns cognitive ability. While some individuals with Autism experience mental retardation, by definition a person with Asperger’s Disorder cannot possess a “clinically significant” cognitive delay. This does not imply that all individuals with autism have mental retardation. Some do and some do not, but a person with Asperger’s Disorder possesses average to above average intelligence.

As a Mother, I see things differently!

As mother of a seven year old son with Asperger Syndrome, I see things that simply aren’t explain in the all the wonderful text books, and articles that I found as I have researched and learned about AS. What they don’t tell you is these children are very normal. Michael is very much a normal seven year old. He can have very normal social behaviors. He loves to hang out with friends, he has girlfriends (yikes!), he likes his hair gelled, and makes friends very easily. He can be very accepting. Did I mention that he can test his parents and push their buttons on a whim?

The Key to Sucess is to get involved in highly structured social groups that give you the oppertunity to teach a common ground.

However, interlaced between all of his wonderfulness, is anxiety and misunderstandings. The best thing we ever did for Michael was get him social skills classes by age three. For us, The Children’s Center in Salt Lake City, and Primary Children’s services were priceless. What he needed was repetitive and consistent training of how to act in a social environment. And that is what they provided. Its things like “this is a line. We all stand in line to go to the water fountain. The line can move…” It was explaining the basics that we were misunderstanding. “Don’t throw the ball at someone until they are looking at you and their hands are up.” (That was a good one.) We also have had a lot of practice and work on, “see my face, this is a mad face. When I make this face you need to stop what you are doing, put your hands down, and come to me quietly.” “See this face, I am happy, I like what you are doing. This is good.” And stuff like that. Once we got recognition and social rules down, we had a common bases to continue to teach him from. That helped a lot.

But, as life throws it things change, all the time. AS kids don’t like change in their lives, as a general rule. Neither does 90% of the population. But for Michael change can really mess him up. This is exactly the situation that we are going through now. Last year, he had the same “Special Ed teacher” as he had from Kindergarten, and was mainstreamed to regular Ed. But even then, he still went to her class for 30 minutes a day.

This year, he doesn’t see her at all or his friends from that class, because he is in a new regular Ed class. He has a new teacher, new friends, new room, new schedule, and new homework. Yeah…. he is one mad kid. So, we are adding in time with his Special Ed class for 30 minutes a day, to help him calm down and transition into his new schedule. Hopefully next year, we will remember this lesson and not repeat it! Not fun. But in a few weeks, Michael will be adjusted, and happy and stable in his classroom.

Recognize their amazing spirit! 

Humor

Michael does have a sense of humor. He can make the whole room laugh. He is so incredibly funny. Granted he is not funny because he can tell a joke- heaven’s no! – But he is funny because his knows the way things are suppose to be, and laughs at how things turn out! He is so fun to have around. He has his own personality.

Perfection

He takes pride in his work. He is very much a perfectionist. His hand writing and his papers have to be just so, or he erases them, and corrects them.

Special Abilities

I have not even mentioned Michael’s athletic abilities. He was two weeks old, and would stand up on my lap. He would have to lay his head on my shoulder because it was so heavy. By four months old, he was holding on to my fingers walking around the room. I got it on tape, just to prove it! It was incredible. By two, he could hit anything he wanted to at any distance, with any size ball he wanted.

(Flash Back)When Michael was two we were trying to help him with his anxiety and aggression, (Yes, those also come with AS) and we were sent to a social worker, who, like way too many in the psychiatry field, knew nothing about AS. He assumed that since Michael didn’t show up on the school’s autism test, he was normal. Sucker! So we brought Michael to him. (This is my favorite part.) As Michael walked into the new environment he began getting into everything. Pretty normal right, until he found a bucket of golf balls. He began throwing them at the social worker, nailing the guy in the forehead every time. Michael was playing catch with him, and he even warned him that he was playing catch with him. He told him “DUE!” This was Michael’s two year old word for “Catch”!

Even now, as gifted as he is, he doesn’t like sports. He stresses out over the strategy of the game. Relying on what others are going to do, so that he knows what to do is very stressful. We have found much more success in individual sports like swimming. He is an awesome swimmer. I have been tempted to try karate, but I am afraid he will use it on his siblings.

Love it, Don’t fight it!

Anyhow, all and all Asperger Syndrome is nothing to be scared of… it just means this is as person that is really neat, you just need to get to know them. And if you are lucky enough to have AS in your family, and are one of the prized people that God is teaching humility to… take a deep breath. It’s a lot of fun, and a lot of work. And it is definitely worth it.

My husband, out of the goodness of his heart, bought my daughter a darling little black cat. She had been begging for a cat since she was born. It’s been five years, she’s proven her persistance. And it really is a darling little cat. However, one day and a trip to the vet, we discovered our little darling had been kept in the most inhumaine conditions at the petstore in Layton called, Teacher’s Pets. During the time there it had caught two different types of parasites,Cheyletiella- contagious to humans and the other, coccidia, harmful to cat’s intestines.  http://vetmedicine.about.com/cs/catdiseasesp/a/catsparasitic.htm

Here’s the catcher- kittens are naturally immune to coccidia parasite, but when placed in excessively stressful situations for a period of time, they will become very suseptible to such a parasite.   Teacher’s Pets should not be allowed to handle animals!

In any event we have been giving our Tom cat, Tinkerbell, his medicine, and he is doing much better… so I thought.

Today, during preschool, which I teach in my home, I was rounding up the children for a snack, when my assistant asked me what the cat was doing in the curio? The Curio!! You mean the safe cabinet that my beautiful hand made wedding veil and flowers are kept in? That curio?

You see, when Joe and I got married in 1997, I was excited. I hand made my veil, my bouquets, and spent hours on my head piece. I searched store after store getting the right flowers, in the right colors to make the perfect wedding. And it really was beautiful. My bouquet flowed from my hands down to my knees in pink roses, with purple, blue, and yellow tulips, and accent flowers. Pearls and beads peeked around each rose. My cake was similarly decorated and so forth. So after our wedding, I chose to perseve my veil, head peice, and bouquet in my courio cabinet. It has been safe and sound for all this time… until now.

Yeah, so, I owe my husband an appology! He had been complaining that the living smelled funny. And so I would scrub the carpets, wash the walls, and clean and polish the furniture. Then he complained again, I didn’t take it well… after all I couldn’t smell it!

Well apparently when we repainted our house a few months ago, a peice of glass broke on my curio. I needed to get it fixed, but it wasn’t my top priority. In fact, I forgot about it. And now our darling cat was getting into it, climbing through all my wedding gear and pooping all over inside my cabinet, over my flowing veil and flowers! I was washed chunks of cat poop out of my roses! Ah, the pain!

Thank goodness for my little Porter. At the moment when I was ready to burst into tears, my little two year old son came trotting up to me in the fluffiest,a nd cutest purple princess costume! The kids had dressed him up with them during preschool time. Only he was the princess. LOL. He was so proud of himself! I laughed so hard. Yes, it’s these moments that make you grateful to be a mom!

Needless to say, the cat is still alive, and currently enjoying the outdoors. And now, 4 hours later, my curio is fixed and clean. Funny enough, it smells really good in there! 🙂

My sweet little five year old daughter came home from kindergarten and popped her usual question on me… “Hey Mom, guess what?”

“What?”

“There is a new boy in my class named Carlos. Can I marry him?”