Here’s To A Whole New Year: 2021

How many of you, like me, kissed 2020 goodbye and enthusiastically cheered when we rang in January 1, 2021? Let’s see a raise of hands please!! Also, like me, are you thinking the jury is still out on 2021? I, for one, am trying to stay optimistic. So, in this spirit of optimism, I’m taking this opportunity to look for ways to be refreshed, revived and renewed and embracing a wonderful beginning to 2021.

This year, I’ll be exploring ways to give my blog/articles for the newsletter a new look and feel. I will focus on sharing and highlighting specific categories/resources/providers found in the MAP website each month. I’ll discuss each category/resource/provider from my perspective; providing recommendations and the latest/greatest that I have found that has proven to help enhance our lives.

Welcome to MAP 2021! Here we go. First up:

—Education & Schools—

At our home, school for Maci is taking a turn in 2021. We ended our school year last June agreeing to leave our private autism school to transition to public school. We struggled with many mixed emotions when making this decision. Each place and scenario offered its pro’s and con’s. Ultimately, we felt that giving the public option a chance could open up new experiences and possibilities.

Since making this decision, I have been working on the transition for us. This fall, Maci started attending in person and now will be part in-person and part at-home remote learning. It will be an adjustment for all of us.

Through this process, I identified steps to creating and advocating for a transition (which can be applied to many situations).


Set up Transition/Communication Meetings with New School Team and Former Team

We all agreed in the beginning to schedule several Zoom meetings with each team to discuss best practices for making a smooth transition for Maci. We took into account the new environment, new teachers and therapists as well as kids attending the school. I shared our past experiences, personal information and success strategies I thought would support Maci’s transition.


Have an Individual Profile

An individual profile is incredibly helpful for all teachers, staff and home support to work in harmony and take into account the nuances of individual experiences. Here is an example/chart for creating an individual profile. We’ve found when we understand the environmental impacts – anticipating and managing attention – regulation and behaviors greatly improve. More information and resources available at www.

Spectrum News has a great article explaining why an individual profile of sensory traits is so important.


Manage IEP or 504 Plan

The Individual Education Plan (IEP) is the living document that acts as the guide for the teachers and staff working with your child/student with disabilities. It follows your child/student wherever/whenever they move between a state, city or school. Parents should be very involved with the IEP process with the school team and should understand their rights. For example, a parent can call an IEP meeting at any time in the school year to discuss or amend the IEP. Parents may also have any experts or professional advocates attend IEP meetings. One resource I have found to be very helpful is the Washington Autism Alliance & Advocacy.


Remote Learning

I’ve found the more information the better for understanding and supporting our children through remote learning. We have been doing some virtual education at home over the last several months but will be having much, much more starting February 1. I’m looking forward to attending Rosemary White’s, our OT and behavior therapist, webinar and discussion on Remote Learning:

How to Preserve Child Caregiver Relationships during the Pandemic, Remote Learning and Stay at Home Order – “As we manage and adapt to the ongoing changes that are impacting our lives we will process ways of reframing experience to elicit a mindset of growth & learning from every interaction.” The webinar is live on January 28, 2021, but will be recorded. You can register and get more information here.

—Food & Home—

As we have all spent more time at home; working, playing, learning and working out our routines our routines have changed. We’ve had to adapt our lifestyle and home environments to supporting these changes.

Recently on the website, a couple of articles jumped out at me I thought would be worth sharing.


7 Ways to Renew Your WFH Space

I like this article from Goop because it shares interesting and thoughtful tools/devices to create enjoyable home spaces. I’m also including an article from Khan Academy on creating learning spaces at home. I’ve incorporated several of the ideas in these articles and found them very useful.


A Scientist’s Guide to Eating for Brain Health

Love, love, love this article from Goop! It is fantastic and offers wonderful perspective, advice and ways to support the brain for optimal health. Diet is truly the best and most effective way to help ourselves be successful, feel well and function at our highest level.

I also love, love, love Paleo Magazine. It provides excellent information including the foods and recipes we all need for healthy eating. The easy turkey chili recipe is one of my favorites! I love and make others regularly as well.


My Morning Routine

Our morning routine has been very helpful, allowing us to manage anxiety and create a positive start to the day. The more prepared, organized and relaxed we am at the beginning of my day, the better the entire day feels. Initially, I created a morning routine with a picture board. That has evolved into a written routine for the morning. Now, it’s become a habit; our routine we do every morning. I can’t tell you how much following this routine has created a safe, controlled and worry-free environment. Employing it every day reduces anxieties and uncontrolled behaviors. Here are some helpful resources for routines and support:

A little planning and support can make 2021 a wonderful year. Thank you for supporting MAP! We love to hear from you and hope you will follow us on our different social media platforms, subscribe to our newsletter and join our Facebook group. See you next month.

Marikay Cuthill is mother of Maci, a vibrant, curious 15-year-old on the Autism Spectrum, and the founder of Maci And Pebble, a community dedicated to helping people navigate autism by finding answers, direction and peace of mind. Learn more at

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