Back to School!

August always has me thinking two things: School and Fall. It’s my favorite time of year because of all the cozy clothes, colors and flavors. I’m not really a huge fan of the “school” part though, as I always feel like I’m in over my head trying to juggle things…even when it’s no big deal. πŸ™‚ Overthinker here. 

When do your kids go back to school? Do you homeschool them or do they go to public/private school? Do you have their supply lists? Backpacks? Do they get new clothes before school, or do you buy through-out the year?

Our kids go back to school officially the day after Labor Day, so we’ve still got a month of summer…which for me is great, because it means a month of planning for that first day of school. πŸ™‚ 
Jack will go back to school, and start the 2nd grade. I know who his teacher his, and have his supply list. I almost threw it out, too! I was going through his backpack from last year, and stumbled upon a letter from his 2nd grade teacher. I read it, wrote down valuable info and was going to throw it away, when I turned it over…there on the back was his supply list! I was really thrilled that I didn’t have to wait to find out what he needed for school.
My husband’s employer is awesome. If you request it, he’ll provide new backpacks, school supplies, and some neat school related swag for your child for the school year. Jack and Ben got new backpacks in the mail stuffed with supplies. πŸ™‚ I was able to cross off a few things off of Jack’s list!
Ben goes to a year around school, so he’s technically still in school even as Jack is still on summer break. During the summer months Ben will go to school except for Fridays during the week. He also has longer breaks…so he’ll get 1-2 (maybe 3) weeks of vacation time at a time during the year. I love it that way! I don’t have to buy supplies for Ben, just make sure he’s got a backpack with some extra clothes inside. Easy. Simple. He also eats lunch at school, because he gets picky about a cold lunch. It’s definitely worth the money to know that he’s eating something he enjoy and isn’t bringing home an uneaten lunch. 

Potty Training and Autism: Oil and Water?

Potty training and Autism. Is it like oil and water? Can the two really mix?
I’m the mom to four children…so you’d think that potty training would come easy for me, that I’d know what I’m doing. Here’s a secret: It doesn’t. I don’t. 
     Jack was a difficult child to potty train. I think the thing that worked really well for him (and yes he’s on the Autism Spectrum) is the Reward System. He’d use the potty and we’d give him a piece of candy. This is what worked and he finally got it down, eventually he was fully trained and no longer needed diapers. I think he was fully trained around the time he was 3.
     Marjorri was a completely different story. It was like night and day, the difference between training a boy vs. training a girl. She responded well to the Reward System, and enjoyed getting the candy or treat after going on the potty, this encouraged her to go. I found out I was pregnant with Adeline (our 4th child) around the same time that Marjorri turned 2. What drove the potty training home for her? I explained that mommy was going to have another baby, and we needed to pass down her diapers to the new baby. She took this information and rolled with it, nearly cutting my role out of the potty training process all together. She was completely trained by the time Adeline was born the following December. 
   Potty training Ben has been a journey that I never thought I’d experience. I had to have known somewhere down deep, thought, that this was not going to be easy. It’s been 3 years since we started potty training him, and he’s half way there. I am just not sure how how to get him to have a bowel movement on the toilet…every..single…time.  We’ve tried the Reward’s System, it only seemed to work when we were originally potty training. Using the PECS system doesn’t work either. He will only use the PECS at school, not at home. We are told this is a common thing among Autistic children…that they’ll turn their nose up at the PECS at home. I think part of the flaw in that program is that we’ve never been taught how to use it WITH Ben, only given instructions verbally. 
     Ben’s potty training progress is *finger’s crossed* slowly improving, I think. For the past 3 weeks he’s had minimal accidents…maybe 3 or 4 total. This is an incredibly improvement from a multiple times a day occurrence.  
     If you are trying to potty train your Autistic child, please know that you’re not alone. It’s a long, exhausting process, but we’ll get through it together.

5 Tips for Surviving an Autism Diagnosis

So, your child just received an Autism diagnosis? Are you overwhelmed? Stressed? Concerned? Wondering what to do next? I’ve been there…more than once! Here’s my tips for surviving the diagnosis, and getting to a new normal in your life while raising your special needs child:

1. Be prepared for advice you didn’t ask for. 
There are many well-meaning people in your life who will offer advice, even when you didn’t ask for it. Their advice may or may not be appropriate, or they just might not know what they’re talking about (unless they also have an Autistic child(ren). Take well-meaning advice with a grain of salt.

2. If you have someone in your life who has as Autistic child…talk to them about their experience. Sometimes it’s nice to talk to someone who “gets” what you’re going through, understands the diagnosis, and may be able offer some comfort, advice on what Drs to see, tests to have done, babysitters, ect. They may also be able to offer a shoulder to cry on when things get too overwhelming.

3. Use the internet to find parent support groups, reviews on services and/or physicians. 
The internet  is a wonderful thing! I’ve found many support groups for parents with Autism through Facebook, and  a wonderful pediatrician who understands our sons’ condition.

Here are some sites to check out!

4. Take time to relax.
Parenting a special needs child is stressful. I know…I have two sons on the Spectrum. Find time to relax, do something you enjoy, and be alone. Allow yourself time to concentrate on YOU, so that you can have plenty of energy to care for your child(ren) and other family members. Pour a glass of wine, go tot he gym, read a book, take a walk, go out with friends, order take out and watch Netflix.

5. Consider these options for your child:

If you’re reading this, I hope it helps. If you have any questions…please let me know and I’ll help if possible!
Hugs. 

I Asked My Daughter: “What will you do when you meet someone different from you?”

Marjorri and I were discussing her favorite topic: School.
I ask her what she’ll do when she meets kids that are different from her.
She said, “Ask them to play blocks with me!”
 That’s my girl. I feel, for a moment, that I am winning at this mom thing.
*Disclaimer: I do not in any way actually believe that motherhood is a competition.
It’s times like these are it’s incredibly wonderful to be a mother, to see the effort you’ve put into raising your child to accept others, come out. I’m really proud, that my very particular (she’s very picky about clothes and food) daughter would include other children that are different from her in her games and activities. My hope is that she’ll never become a bully, and have the courage to stand up against the bullying of others. I also hope that her experience in having special needs siblings will mold her view on how she sees others, too. 

A Mother’s Perspective on Autism.

I have two children with Autism diagnosis’, ranging from Autism Spectrum Disorder with Sensory Processing Disorder to Pervasive Development Disorder – Not Otherwise Specified (PDD-NOS). I feel like the two diagnoses are like night and day, despite coming from the same “family” of disorders.

Jack was is our oldest son was diagnosed with PDD-NOS in 2009. I remember that he screamed a lot the first two years of his life. I remember thinking that he would never talk, and one day he came home from preschool and said, “Love you, mama!” That was one of the best days of my life, a moment when I felt connected to my special needs son, in a way that I never thought I’d get to experience. Jack is now 8, goes to a Gen. Ed Elementary school and has Special Ed support in his class. He articulates his needs, wants, desires, wishes, feelings. If someone asks me, “Does Jack have migraines?” I could honestly say, “No.”, because he’ll tell me if his head hurts.

When Ben was born I remember thinking about how cute he was, what a sweet little face he had. He was a laid back, “easy” baby. I can’t pinpoint a moment when I said, “Oh yes…he’s “different”, or “Autistic”. I just remember that after he turned 18 months old, that things changed. He stopped saying mama and dada…the words he knew were gone. Ben as diagnosed with Autism (educationally) when he was 3. He began going to preschool, where he had OT and PT, as well as speech therapy. He’s now 6 years old. Ben attends school year around, and has speech, OT and physical therapy there too. I can’t tell you if Ben has headaches, because I simply do not know. πŸ™

I’ve been busy lately, filling our forms, making phone calls, making appointments…I am hoping to get Ben into more speech therapy, and hopefully ABA therapy too. Jack and I talk about his interests (if I hear one more dinosaur fact…I’ll know everything about dinosaurs..I think), I hear him sounding out words on the cereal box and reading it to his sister. πŸ™‚

Long story short: From my perspective as a mother of two with Autism….I am trying so hard to be a super hero advocate for my boys!

Fourth of July and Sensory Issues.

Does your child have sensory issues associated with Autism? If they do (like mine) popular events during the Fourth of July weekend might be a bit tough. We have spent the past 4 years spending time at the air show for the 4th of July. They have hot air balloon races, a Blue Angels air show, and fireworks. The Blue Angels’ put in a wonderful show, but it is VERY loud. During the show last year Ben (age 6 – diagnosed with Autism) had a very tough time with the noise, and with the airplanes in general. We opted to not go to the show this  year, but I was thinking I’d share some ideas I’ve found for helping a child with Autism, or SPD (Sensory Processing Disorder) cope with the events of the weekend.

Headphones/Earplugs:
Snug Headphones – Product Description:

  • “Ideal for blocking noise caused by large crowds, airports, sporting events, garden and household tools, or any other troublesome noise
  • Perfect for kids on the autism spectrum for blocking out crowds and other triggers
  • Low profile clam design keeps the muffs secure on little ears and offers a stylish look. Strong high quality parts make them sturdy and robust, so much so we give them a 5 YEAR GUARANTEE!
  • Lightweight and comfortable to suit little ones. Padded ear cushions offer superior comfort and a snug fit
  • Foldable for easy storage and portability. Adjustable, so they fit children as young as six months and as old as grandpa.”
They come in several colors and cost about $15. This was the option we would have chosen for Ben, if we’d decided to go to the Air Show this year. 

Yard Signs:
I know that they have yard signs for Veteran’s who are sensitive to the fireworks due to PTSD. I’m sure you could find somewhere to order a yard sign specific to Autism, or you could make one of your own, letting people know that there is a person living in your home that has sensitive hearing/sensory issues.

I hope this helps!

Happy Fourth of July, everyone!


Products my Autistic Son Enjoys

As a mom of two Autistic boys, I can understand how frustrating it can be to parent an Autistic child. One of the things that I often struggle with is what to get Ben for his birthday or Christmas. Ben is nonverbal, while Jack is vocal. Jack will tell us what he’s interested in.

Over the years we’ve found a few things that Ben enjoys. I thought it would be a helpful thing to post, as I know I’m not the only one who struggles in the gift giving department for a child with Autism/special needs.

**This post contains some affiliate links. If you buy something that I recommend, you pay the same price, but I may receive a small commission.

Kinetic Sand

   

      Ben loves this..he’ll play with his siblings for about an hour. It’s like Play Doh and sand had a baby. It’s soft and sort of that flow through your fingers type texture with the stay-togetherness of Play Doh. I love it! I find it soothing to play with too.

Molding the Kinetic Sand with regular Play Doh molds. It works! 


Spooner Board

   

     Ben loves this, because he can sit and spin, or tilt and teeter. I don’t have any photos of him using this, as the spinning makes for a very blurry photo. I should do a video! I highly recommend this one if your child is in need of stimulation.


A Trampoline

   

     We have both an exercise trampoline (for indoor use) and a large one in the backyard. Ben loves it! He likes to jump, climb and just go out and lie down on it. The trampoline is wonderful, as it helps him to get his energy out.


Climbing Wall and/or Rope


     

     Ben loves to climb. He’s been a climbing everything since he was a toddler. We have a climbing rope/swing in one of the trees in the backyard. He enjoys both the swinging and climbing. I’ve also noticed that he’ll spend a good 15-20 minutes climbing trees. I am also trying to find a spot in the basement play room for a climbing wall. πŸ™‚ I think he’d love that just as much, if not more.

Amazon Kindle


        Ben really enjoys his Kindle. He’ll play games, do puzzles and watch movies.

Summer & Bike Rides!

Summer has begun!!!

Jack is out of school until after Labor Day weekend. He’s now a 2nd grader (how’d this happen?)! Ben is out of school for 2 weeks, until after the 4th of July. πŸ™‚ We’ve spent lots of time outside, jumping on the trampoline and playing with water guns!

Yesterday Marjorri and I went on a bike ride. It was hot for sure, but lots of fun! She was exhausted and we were both really sweaty afterward. Here’s some pictures:

While we were getting geared up!
After our long ride.

Post Surgery Update

I’m happy to report that I’m back to my post-pain usual self. πŸ™‚ I had a follow up appointment with my Gynecologist and he said everything looked fine. I had the opportunity to see surgical photos…that was interesting. I never thought that my pain (which was a considerably amount of pain that effected daily activities), could be caused by something the width of a shoe lace. He also explained that some of my issues were caused by my bladder being stuck to my abdominal wall. That explains why I was having issues with urination and emptying my bladder.  I still have some slight incision pain because of a blood vessel that was cut when the incision was made. The pain is improving over time. I’m incredibly thankful to be pain free. I now have time, but most importantly energy to clean, and goof off with the kids.