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Wednesday, April 18, 2012

Autism Awareness Treats

OK, I'll apologize in advance because I'm mounting my soap box....no wait, I don't apologize.  This is part of my life and I do not apologize for supporting it.  I do eventually wind around to a food-related item...so stick with me if you can!

My son is deaf - which I've talked about before.  He is also diagnosed with several other "things"...I refuse to call them disabilities.  He doesn't see himself as disabled, and he is slowly becoming comfortable with being identified as autistic.  It has been a long row to hoe my friends!  He is an awesome human being and has taught me much.  However, he did not equate Asperger's Syndrome with Autism...and when he did...yikes, the fur flew!

So, anyway, April is Autism Awareness Month.  The newest Centers for Disease Control study indicate 1 in 88 children in the United States are being identified as autistic.  Something is freaking wrong with our world for this to be happening.  Five times more of these kiddos are boys.  Is it better identification?  Is there something in the chemicals we use or our food?  Vaccines?  I really don't pretend to know.  I don't get on a bandwagon against anything specifically...because we really don't know.  It's a true puzzle.  Hence, the puzzle piece as Autism's logo.  Since 1963, the interlocking, multi-colored puzzle piece has been the international symbol of Autism. 

I am working with a fabulous group of parents of autistic children (and young adults) and administrators in our community to bring some awareness to the autism issue.  These little guys and gals are growing up to be autistic adults.  It's a problem - and we need to address it.  Three of our town councils as well as our school board have announced proclamations that April is Autism Awareness Month in our area.  The teen has gone to one city council meeting and to the school board meeting.  He's taking Government in school, but going to a meeting where governing bodies "do their thing" is quite the learning experience.  He seemed particularly pleased that the Superintendent of our district called out his name and asked him to stand up....mostly was surprised she remembered his name I think.  It's the benefit of living in a small town...one of the reasons we moved here!

So, Saturday is the culmination of our hard work - the first Autism Awareness Walk down Highway 100 from our high school to a park near the center of town.  It's a 2.2 mile walk and we thought we MIGHT have 50 people show up.  We've had over 200 pre-register...we've got water stations, police escort, banners, posters, ribbons, 50 high school students volunteering along the way, drum line members from the high school band, teachers from all the schools helping, town folk joining in, mayors speaking... it's so much more than we ever imagined.

That's just the walk...then we get to the park where it ends and we have hot dogs, more water, snacks, face painting, coloring table, service providers distributing info, posters of historically famous people thought to have had autism or currently famous people who admit to being on the Autism Spectrum.  We're having more speakers there and drawings for some incredible prizes donated by community businesses....and I mean GOOD stuff!

So, as part of the snack table, I decided I would make puzzle shaped Marshmallow Krispy Treats.  It sounded like a fairly simple thing when I started (she laughs maniacally).  How many things could go wrong in one long 6 hours?  A LOT.  I didn't measure correctly, it's humid, I accidentally used spray olive oil instead of vegetable spray (caught that quickly), and the white chocolate I melted and colored to outline the puzzle pieces - every single one of them seized and clogged my tips.  It was just one of those days.  Used the same procedure and product I used for making pastel chocolate chips for my Easter cookies...but this time - opposite reaction.  Very frustrating.

Nonetheless, I finished about 4 dozen of these - I'll wrap them individually and tie with the blue ribbon I bought to coordinate with the Light it up Blue of this year's Autism Awareness theme.  I need to hurry and finish writing this because I'm heading to the Port Isabel Lighthouse to see the new blue lights the city got to Light It Up Blue for Autism Awareness.  Yay!  More good stuff in our community!

Here's how I did this labor of love.

Autism Awareness Treats

Ingredients

3 tbsp butter
4 cups miniature marshmallows
3 cups crisped rice cereal (I used Rice Krispies)
3 cups fruity crisped rice cereal (I used Fruity Pebbles)

Method:

Melt the butter in a large saucepan or Dutch oven over low heat.  In a separate bowl, combine the plain crisped rice cereal and the fruity crisped rice cereal.  Stir until evenly distributed.  Set aside.
Add marshmallows to melted butter and stir until marshmallows are coated in butter.  Continue stirring until completely melted.  Remove from heat.
Add the combined cereals to the marshmallow pan and stir until all cereal is coated in melted marshmallow mixture.

Pour out onto 9x13 pan which has been pre-sprayed with vegetable spray. (I used a sheet pan because I made double recipes and didn't want really thick treats)

Use a buttered spatula or waxed paper to push the treats down into the pan.  Be firm with it.
I buttered my hands and smoothed the surface making sure they were compressed as I knew I would be using a cookie cutter to cut out shapes.

Allow to cool completely. 

Using a cookie cutter dipped into melted butter, firmly press into krispy treats, wiggle a bit and lift out - removing to wax paper or other lightly sprayed baking sheets. 

Gather the bits and re-compress them or you'll be throwing away a lot of treats!  I rolled the remains that couldn't support another cutting session into a ball, thinking I will dip them into chocolate coating for Krispy Treat Balls!

Yeah, that's probably not going to happen at this point.  My luck with chocolate today has been really bad.  Something for the teen to snack on I guess.

I then melted and colored white chocolate chips into red, green, blue, and yellow - the 4 colors associated with the autism logo.  Place into piping bag with tip of your choice.  Well, some were fat, some were skinny, all clogged every tip I tried - regardless of size.  My hands hurt so bad after struggling with this part for two hours that I just gave up.  They are not consistent...but they taste good!

I'm glad I heeded the suggestion of a blogger somewhere (sorry I can't find it again) who recommended mixing half and half on the two cereals because the Fruity Pebbles are so sweet.  They gave the color I wanted but not so sweet that it hurts your teeth to eat them!

If you've stuck with me...well, bless your heart.  I can only say...


Wish us luck on a successful walk - we'll be walking into the sun, but we should have pleasant temperatures and maybe the wind will be at our backs :-) We can only hope!


Bon Appetit, Y'all!!!

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11 comments:

  1. It was never until I had a close friend whose son has autism that I began to understand the challenges of raising an autistic child and how little we truly know about the causes. It is frightening to consider the staggering number of cases being diagnosed with no known cause or hope for a cure in the near future. It is something we all need to be working to finding a solution to. Good for you for walking! My thoughts will be with you!

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  2. I've never personally had to deal with the impacts of autism, but I have several friends that work with autistic children professionally, and I can only tip my hat at the dedication and work that parents need to have.
    The treats looks great!

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  3. Excited to provide a follow-up report following the successful conclusion of our walk event. OVER 600 WALKERS participated. It was a grueling registration process because 1/2 of these folks were not pre-registered...and I was in charge of registration. I had 9 fabulous volunteers who helped get everyone registered and in the walking pack. It was an emotional moment for me seeing the drum line lead the way followed by banners and 600 people who cared enough to get up and be ready to walk 2.2 miles at 8:00 on a Saturday morning. For a school district with only approximately 2300 students, it is an amazing thing. Ready to relax now before I start on my next event... info available at http://www.RunToHear.org ... check it out!

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  4. Bless You! My five year old grandson has autism and didn't start really speaking until he was three. They haven't labeled him with a kind, but because of therapy, patience and awareness, my daughter is mainstreamimg (trying) in school. He has his "moments" but he is an all around joy.
    I studied sign for eight years and it did come in handy in his early years to help him communicate. Best wishes to you and your son. Cindy

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    1. Cindy, Hang in there! My 18 year old has been mainstreamed since 1st grade and partially mainstreamed even before that. I'm a proponent of inclusion. I believe it will bring acceptance to our children where hiding them away only makes them seem more "different". Autism Awareness is a very good thing!

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  5. Despite all your troubles with the preparation, these look wonderful and are the perfect treat for your special event. You are correct, it's astounding the number of children who are diagnosed with autism these days. I don't remember any autistic children when I was a child. I know many families in our town with autistic children, and our two godsons are autistic. I learn so much from our friends, and am in awe of their strength and their talent raising such wonderful, sweet children. Thank you so much for sharing your post and recipe at Scrumptious Sunday!

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    1. Me too in the not remembering autistic children when I was a child. The explosion really began in the late 70s. I am not sure that I even heard the term before I saw a child portrayed in a movie...it stuck in my head that all autistic children were locked in their own world, banging their heads, and not communicating at all. It scared the beejeezus out of me when someone first mentioned the possibility in regards to my son! I had to really educate myself to learn the full extent of the spectrum. Thanks so much for commenting. I really enjoy your blog!

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  6. Congrats on your first walk - and how many people you will have! My husband is participating in a golf event in a few weeks for an Autism charity. These puzzle pieces are great; good luck this weekend!

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    1. Thanks Dorothy - and good for your hubby! The walk was this past Saturday and we had over 600 walkers! It was an incredible day. I really enjoy your blog - thanks for commenting here!

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