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
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)
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!!!