Friday, December 1, 2017

More Visual Supports

Visual supports help individuals with autism to better understand  and to transition better from task to task. I wanted to share a few more visuals supports with you.
In the first picture, I made a few personalized visual cards for him. Since August he has regressed in his ability to go to the store and to eat inside a restaurant. Today, I made two new supports for him using pictures of himself. The top picture is of him in a store and the bottom one is him eating at a table in a restaurant. I am going to show him these before we try them next time to see if it helps him to see himself doing it first. 


When I pick him up from school we do our normal routine four days a week. After I pick him up, we go through the drive through to get him McDonalds (its the only thing he will eat) and then we got to Harsha Autism Center. On some days he is great waiting in the long line at McDonalds and other days he isn't. On the not so good days, he kicks and makes his upset noises if the line is too long. Therefore, I made a personalized picture of him sitting in his car seat. I hope he will see it and sit good:) Of course, I have a Harsha Autism card so he can see where he is going next.

First & Then charts are great. The past few months I have been using First/Next/Then chart. Sometimes these charts are used for  behavior support, such as when we think (or know) that an individual doesn’t want to do something we want them to do.  In that case, we present the thing we want them to do in the “first” and the thing they want to do in the “then.”  The idea is to show them a preferred activity or a possible reinforcer to motivate them to complete the thing they don’t want to do.  Sometimes I use it for just a small schedule such as the one below.


This is an example of Trenton's morning schedule before he heads out the door to school.

Saturday, November 18, 2017

Thank you to our village

I am thankful for my boys' village!
I am not sure what we would do without our village. Our village is  all of our therapist, assistants, teachers, doctors, specialist, psychologist, and all the other people who are actively involved.

You see, it takes a village to raise to my son with classic autism.

My son needs way more than just school. He needs therapy and specialist and he will for HIS WHOLE ENTIRE LIFE!
He needs 24/7 care and he will his entire life.

After receiving his diagnosis five years ago, I quickly learned several things and the first thing I learned was that the doctor who diagnosed him was right, we needed a village. It wasn't easy at first to trust complete strangers with my sons. However, over time those strangers who were his therapist turned into some of the most amazing, special people that I know. They became people we grew to love and welcomed into our village. They will always hold a special place in this momma's heart.

Raising a child who requires medical/therapy attention weekly, requires a parent to be involved in a whole new world that is often foreign to many families. My son's quality of life depends greatly on his therapist, doctors, and teachers. We are nothing without them. They are our oxygen that we need to cope and live in this world.

My boys don't just depend on me, we need the help from specialist. My son with classic autism life depends on them. We are nothing without them.

Truthfully, I am nothing without them. I can't be my sons' mom, ABA therapist, speech therapist, occupational therapist, psychologist, doctor, special education teacher, regular education teacher, and cheerleader! I deserve to be a mom! A proactive, highly involved mom- YES! But I need the others to make up our village.

Five years into this journey, and some of the people who I love ALMOST as much as my own boys are my boys village! They complete us. They make us whole.

Who else do I go to in order to help understand my son with classic autism? His village that he sees five days a week from 8 to 5 each day.

Who do I go to for help and suggestions? His village

Who do I leave my child in the hands of daily to help him and our life? His village.

Who has been there and sees what I see daily? His village

Who helps my son and has the expertise in his area? His village

So, today and every day I am thankful for my son's village.

They are there wiping his bottom when I can't.
They are there managing his meltdowns when I am not.
They are there trying and researching what is the next best step in his quality of life.
They are there wiping his tears when I am not able to. Sometimes they have to wipe mine, too!
They are there celebrating with him when I can't.
They are there supporting us.
If anyone comes close to understanding my son other than me, it is our village.

It's not easy raising a dependent child who is 24/7. However, I do it every single day. With that said, there are days I need to see the smiling faces of our village just as much as my boys do.  Many of them are there for me and support me, too.  I honestly have no idea what we would do without them.

So thank you to our village! Thank you to my sons ABA team, both past and present. Thank you to all the speech therapist who work with my son both past and present. Thank you for all the occupational therapist who work with my son. Thank you to his special education and regular education teachers past and present. Thank you to his team of doctors and psychologist from all over the Mid-west. Thank you to all the specialist. Thank you to our village! You are impacting lives in a way that you will never realize. You are touching the hearts of families like mine. You are making an impact on not only the child but the moms like me that stand behind our children. There are no words to express my gratitude to you.
Thank you for taking care of my son. Thank you for loving him. Thank you for helping me make him have the best life that he can. Thank you for having such a big heart and wanting to do what you do every single day. Thank you for being a part of his village. You may not get told often but moms, like me, appreciate you!
Thank you!









Wednesday, November 15, 2017

Why I advocate-Part 1

Why do I advocate? Why do I spend my only "free" time educating and sharing my story?

I do it for many reasons. I want to talk about one particular reason right now. I advocate to educate others because some families of typically developing children don't do their part in educating their children that some children are "different".

Both my boys are absolutely amazing. I'm sure deep down Trenton wants friends just like Andrew. It shows more with Andrew because he is able to express it to me. Andrew has always had extreme difficulty in socialization. Many people think that the social challenges in autism is like Trenton, where he doesn't pay attention to you. But you couldn't be more wrong. The social challenges can also be like Andrew, where he is hyper social but has no clue on how to be properly social.

Ever since he started school this year, it has become so evident the gap between him and his peers in this area. He is in two  programs after school, I volunteer at one and take him to the other and he is struggling big time in these programs and it is because no one wants to be his friend! He knows he is left by himself so he starts doing very unusual behavior and it makes it worse.

Yes, he has challenges and is very unique and different. He doesn't know how to just be a boy and play. Yes, he shoves his hands in his mouth when he is nervous. Yes, he copies what other kids do but takes it to a whole different level but it is because he needs help in this area. He needs other kids to accept him and to play with him so he can work on these. But, when kids ignore him, it does nothing for my son other than making him feel terrible about himself. We wonder why there is such a high percentage of suicide and suicide attempts with Asperger and high functioning autism? IT's because kids can be so mean and terrible. They are the way they are because no one is teaching them the right things at home.

Andrew got invited to a party a few weeks from a peer in his class. I asked him if he wanted to go and Andrew said yes. He said, "Moochies I only got invited because you have to invite everyone. I know he doesn't like me, he never lets me play with him at school but I want to go anyway and get him a gift."
My son may have problems and no one may want to be his friend but I am raising him to treat others how he wants to be treated and that is what he is choosing to do!

Yesterday, Andrew came home from school. I asked him if he played with anyone at recess. He said, "No one would let me play with them so I sat on a bench by myself."
Talk about breaking a mothers heart!
This is where I put some fault in the schools. I have no idea what the teachers were doing during his recess time. However, teachers need to be aware of these situations and help kids play with their peers. Teachers are still on duty during recess. I see it all the time with teachers huddled in groups during recess. Why can't teachers help more with socialization at recess time? I am a former special education teacher so I know first hand that most teachers just talk to each other during recess time, lets get the teachers involved in recess more!
It is just a small simple way where teachers can try to teach "kindness" at school. .

Last night before he went to bed he said, "Moochies I know my brain is different. I really want to be different and do better but I can't."
He may be six but he knows he is different. He is one smart little guy!
I told him that I wish I could take it all away and he said, " I wish you could too but you can't. You would have to get in my brain and change it and I don't think that is possible."

So....why do I advocate? I advocate so my children can be accepted by their peers. I advocate to educate the parents of their peers so they can have a little compassion and teach their kids how to be kind and how to accept everyone.

If you are the parent of typically developing children, I challenge you to reach out to the kids in your childrens class who have some struggles. You just might have a huge impact on them.

Please stay tuned for more post on why I advocate........

Tuesday, November 14, 2017

Visual Supports-Tip 2


Many individuals with autism think in pictures. Temple Grandin said her mind was similar to a search engine searching for pictures on the internet. She says her thoughts are in photo-realistic pictures, which flash up on the ‘computer monitor’ in her imagination. Words just narrate the picture. I believe 100% that this is how Trenton is and how he learns.

From day one he has always loved Baby Einstein, Brainy Baby, Baby Signing Time, and a hand few of other educational learning dvds. Why did he navigate towards these? These dvds are all educational shows that show a picture while teaching the word. Trenton can spell and read almost everything from these dvds.
Trenton has potential to be able to read and understand anything that is shown to him with a picture and a word.  
When I say "chair" to him, it means nothing unless he is taught with the picture and the word. Therefore, I am in the process of labeling my entire house. If I can label my house, he will eventually know how to spell it and this will lead to him being able to read it and use it one day to communicate.
Temple Grandin said that is someone used the word "steeple", her mind went to the first picture of "steeple" that she knew, then to the next one, etc. Therefore, it is important to always show in pictures every way that a word can be used. If not, this can lead to a communication gap with individuals with autism.


Here are a few examples of what I have going on around my house.






Sunday, November 12, 2017

Six!

No time to blog lately!!! It is definitely taking a step back as the needs of the boys and my demand is getting greater.

However, Andrew turned 6 yesterday. 

He has came a long way in many areas since his autism diagnosis. However, it is very apparent lately, that I am just getting started with some of his challenges. I am so proud of him and what he has accomplished since he first started therapy at 2.5 years old.
I see his daily fight with his challenges from high functioning autism. He, just like Trenton, is one of my heroes. I can't find the words to describe what he has been going through. But, no matter what he makes me so proud to call him his Moochies!!!!
Love you Lil' A.
Happy 6th Birthday!



Me and the two birthday people at our special birthday event:)
James 1:17  Every good gift and every perfect gift is from above, and cometh down from the Father of lights, with whom is no variableness, neither shadow of turning

Wednesday, November 8, 2017

Yes, I still believe

Yes, I have a son with classic autism. Yes, I have went through the pain of a husband who left which lead to divorce. Yes, I have had health problems. I have went through a lot that would make most people say that there isn't a God. But, I do believe in my God and I love him more than anyone!

But, why? How could you believe there is a good God? I get asked that question a lot and I am going to do my best to explain why....

I  know my Bible and have a good understanding of what it says. I am going to skip the whole part of God creating us and how we got here and go straight to the bullet points.

We as humans want to focus our attention and everything to this life. However, this life isn't what we are here for. Colossians 3:2 tells us to focus on things above and not earthly. The entire book of Ecclesiastes is focused on telling us that we come into this world with nothing and we leave this world with our body going into a grave. It is all about telling us that this life is just vapor. It's our soul that lives forever in Heaven if we choose to be a Christian. So we have to set our mind on Heaven, not Earth.

Just think about how we are as humans when everything is going fantastic. Are we humble? Are we grateful? Do we take time to thank God for our gifts? If we do, we don't have a true meaning of gratefulness until it is all taken away from us. 

Trials develop Godly character. God gives us trials to develop our character. For example, I was grateful for what I had but I really became grateful after I had Trenton. I really learned what God meant when he said he wanted us to lean on him in life. I wasn't asking for God's guidance enough in life. However, I do know. God tested me......he gave me trials to build my character. Now, God also gives us free will. Free will to make our own decisions. 

Trials and tribulations come with both a purpose and a reward. "Consider it all joy, my brethren, when you encounter various trials, knowing that the testing of your faith produces endurance. And let endurance have its perfect result, that you may be perfect and complete, lacking in nothing. . . . Blessed is the man who perseveres under trial; for once he has been approved, he will receive the crown of life, which the Lord has promised to those who love Him" (James 1:2-4,12).

I have been given the trial of autism but I will receive the crown of life in return and I couldn't have asked for a better life because it is the eternal life that is the one true life. We are only here for a short time. It is our test.....it is our trial to see where we spend our real life at. 

Trials can lead into atheism as well. When your faith is small the devil can rip it out. Don't let him put you in despair and bitterness towards God. I've seen God use trials to not only build me up, but open doors, and I have seen miracles happen daily. 

Isaiah 55:8-9 “For my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways,” declares the Lord. “As the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher than your ways and my thoughts than your thoughts.”

1 Peter 5:6-8 Humble yourselves, therefore, under God’s mighty hand, that he may lift you up in due time. Cast all your anxiety on him because he cares for you. Be alert and of sober mind. Your enemy the devil prowls around like a roaring lion looking for someone to devour

Psalm 9:7-10 But the Lord rules forever. He sits on his throne to judge, and he will judge the world in fairness; he will decide what is fair for the nations. The Lord defends those who suffer; he defends them in times of trouble. Those who know the Lord trust him, because he will not leave those who come to him.

God’s glory: The storm will not last forever and trials are an opportunity for a testimony. It gives God so much glory when everyone knows you’re going through a tough trial and you stand strong, trusting in the Lord until He delivers you, without complaining.

Psalm 40:4-5 Blessed is the one who trusts in the LORD, who does not look to the proud, to those who turn aside to false gods. Many, LORD my God, are the wonders you have done, the things you planned for us. None can compare with you; were I to speak and tell of your deeds, they would be too many to declare.

Psalm 71:14-17 As for me, I will always have hope; I will praise you more and more. My mouth will tell of your righteous deeds, of your saving acts all day long— though I know not how to relate them all. I will come and proclaim your mighty acts, Sovereign LORD; I will proclaim your righteous deeds, yours alone.

I could go on and on. If you know your Bible, the answer for your trials are in it.