Saturday, February 28, 2015

Smiley Face

Trenton had a hay day with a dry erase marker on Nana and Pops floor. The floor was covered with smiley faces and hand prints. Trenton is getting extremely good at his smiley faces. What do you think? Mommy was very impressed!

4-Wheeler

This is how we play in the snow where Mommy comes from.
I was very excited that the boys got on the 4 wheeler. Andrew was scared at first but he ended up getting on it and enjoyed the ride! Trenton very rarely gets on it but he enjoyed his ride through the snow today!

Thursday, February 26, 2015

Finger Painting

Trenton had a blast at Harsha the other day finger painting! You can just see in his face how much he is enjoying it!











Of course, Mommy loved what he brought home that night!
The above picture is definitely going in a frame and up on my wall of artwork from the boys!
I LOVE IT!!!!!!!!!!
 



New Swing!

It's very hard for most people to understand how something such as swinging is very important for kids on the autism spectrum. To put it as simple as I can put it....it helps organize their brain and regulate their body! I know that is hard to understand how swinging can do that.
Here are a few paragraphs from an article on sensory integration for kids with autism....

 Sensory experiences include touch, movement, body awareness, sight, sound and the pull of gravity. The process of the brain organizing and interpreting this information is called sensory integration. Sensory integration provides a crucial foundation for later, more complex learning and behavior. 

       For most children, sensory integration develops in the course of ordinary childhood activities. Motor planning ability is a natural outcome of the process, as is the ability to adapt to incoming sensations. But for some children, sensory integration does not develop as efficiently as it should. When the process is disordered, a number of problems in learning, development, or behavior may become evident.


It's logical, then, that therapists facilitate brain development by guiding the child to pleasurable activities providing vestibular, tactile and proprioceptive stimulation. It is not coincidental that young children spontaneously run, jump, spin, climb, and love all kinds of rough and tumble play. Some children, especially those who are developmentally delayed, do not get enough of these kinds of stimulation. For them, sensory integrative therapy can help to provide what has been lacking and stimulate more normal development. The fact that the brain can develop throughout life (neural plasticity) is what makes development possible.

A few more paragraphs from another website.

Swinging, jumping, spinning and rocking are important to children not only for fun and exercise but also to help their bodies organize and to regulate their sensory systems. Vestibular input is one of the core elements of sensory integration therapy. Our bodies' vestibular system is the sensory system that provides the primary input about movement, balance, spatial awareness and positioning. It helps us prepare our posture, maintain our balance, properly use our vision, calm ourselves and regulate our behavior.
The amount of vestibular input varies depending on the child. Some children crave movement, while others may be motion sensitive. It is important that the sensory needs of the child being monitored to determined what is right for them. Some children may start to "stim" after a point and can become more aggressive or hyperactive offsetting any calming effect the swing may have had on the child. Controlled vestibular input under the direction of an occupational or physical therapist is recommended for children with sensory processing issues.
Movement is essential for typical development to occur in all children. Swinging can have a powerful impact the brain's ability to process and use sensory information. Whether the child is linear swinging on a strap swing, cuddled up in a net swing for proprioceptive input or spinning in a rotating movement, all of these movements can act as a powerful activator on the body's systems. Swings and a variety of other sensory input are used in this type of therapy. Therapists, parents and teachers can use swings effectively to reinforce any therapy objectives for children and provide sensory diets for special needs children. In addition, swings can act as a strong motivator. Since all kids like to swing (special needs or not), swinging can be used as a reward for positive behavior.

With all of that said, the boys have a new swing in their sensory room! We now have two swings. The good thing here is that they can both swing at the same time! The swings also provide a nice small area where they feel comfortable and protected in.


Wednesday, February 25, 2015

Where are my friends?

Andrew rode along with me this morning to take Trenton to Harsha. I had a good talk with Andrew a few weeks ago and explained how Trenton needed more help then he did. Andrew really had a good understanding of the conversation. He no longer cries or gets upset when I take Trenton. Anyway, after we dropped off Trenton, Andrew and I went to Burger King. I thought it would be fun for Andrew to play in their indoor kid area. However, Andrew did not play in it.

He broke my heart when we arrived. We got him some food and walked into the play area. He looked at me with the saddest eyes and said, "Where are my friends?"
I told him that he could still play even though he didn't have other kids to play with. Andrew refused to play. He asked repeatedly, "Where are my friends?"

I tried over and over to get him to go down the slide but he wouldn't. He acted like he had no clue how to walk up stairs and go down a slide. It seriously pulled at my heartstrings. This is not the first time this has happened. Andrew does not know how to act and play unless others are there to show him what to do. I did my best to explain to him that it was okay if he did it by himself but he wouldn't.  He managed to go to the second stair. He posed for a picture and then got really scared and came running to me crying.  My morning time with Andrew didn't turn out like I thought it would but that's okay. My mission is to get Andrew some friends:)

Andrew did enjoy taking pictures of himself. I have a total of 13 pictures that look like these....




Then he wanted to do selfies over and over.




He was so proud of himself when he got to the second stair. Just wish he would have went up the other two stairs  and the slide:(

Monday, February 23, 2015

I want Mommy!

After our horrendous night last night, I was starving for something good! I needed something to let me know that what I do 24/7 is all worth it!
Andrew has been battling a horrible cold for a week now. (I am calling the doctor tomorrow). I have it now. Needless to say, Andrew's sleeping has been atrocious. Andrew does not sleep when he is sick. I have been very thankful for the fact that Trenton has been in a good sleeping pattern until last night.  I battled Andrew til almost 11:00 PM. He couldn't sleep due to his runny nose and cough. Finally, he was sleeping good at 11 and Trenton was awake going wild by 12:30 AM. Between only getting an hour and a half sleep last night, taking care of Trenton's late night antics, and Andrew constantly waking up for me to wipe his nose or soothe him back to sleep.....I was hungry for some good news to pick me up!

Thank you to Harsha for letting me know what Trenton did today!!! I got what I needed!

Trenton was doing table work with his coach. His coach had some cards out on the table that had various pictures of objects and people. Trenton spontaneously says, "I want Mommy." Therefore, his coach looked through the cards until she found my picture. When she gave it to him he smiled and clapped! He carried the picture around and when the coach took the picture away, he would ask for it again!! Also, he kept on asking for heart stickers and he would place the stickers all over me!!!

I have a precious video of him saying my name. Hopefully I will post it soon!

Love it!!!! Thank you Trenton James! When I heard this my heart melted and my eyes swelled up in tears! I love you Bubba!!!! Keep fighting, we are doing a pretty good fight against autism!


Trenton fell back to sleep at 6AM this morning on our couch. However, Andrew was awake so he didn't sleep very long.


Andrew loves Pepper!!


Andrew was my date to church on Sunday morning. He loves our new church! He was upset that Trenton stayed home but after I explained that Mommy couldn't handle him and Trenton by myself, Andrew seemed to understand.

Saturday, February 21, 2015

Snow

I took the boys out this afternoon to play in the snow. They really enjoyed it! I wish we could have stayed out longer however, Trenton dictated that for us. He kept on taking off his shoes and coat. The first time he took of his shoes it took me a few minutes to catch him. He ran faster in the slick snow than I thought was humanly possible for anyone. I kept on slipping and totally wiped out at one point. I'm sure we looked like a crazy sight. Trenton running at Olympic speed in the snow with Mommy behind him falling left and right....and with Andrew behind Mommy fussing because he was way slower than me. When I finally caught him I took him inside, warmed up his feet and changed his socks and shoes. I told him repeatedly that it was not summer and we had to leave on our shoes and coat.

After my talk we went outside and a few minutes later we were in the same situation as before plus with socks off. After I finally caught him, we went inside once again. Repeated the same scenerario and found ouselves in for good ten minutes later.
In most situations a neurotypical brain of a normal 4 1/2 year old would cry with bare feet running through the snow. Trenton's body feels things at a much different level than a neurotypical brain. It's very sad! The older he gets, the harder some things get. I fear the day that he is a grown man that weighs 200 lbs and doing things like this. I never want him to be too much for me to handle....that's a fear of mine.

Here are some pictures before Trenton started taking off his shoes and socks.

 Andrew said, "Mommy make Olaf."
I said, "Who is Olaf?"
Andrew says, "Frozen."
Then I figured it out. Olaf is the name of the snowman in the movie, Frozen.
Mommy made a very tiny Olaf.




 I showed him how to make a snow angel. This is Andrew's attempt at making one.

Love

I looked down in my kitchen the other night and saw this...
My eyes swelled in tears instantly. I like to think of it as Trenton's way of telling me he loves me and appreciates everything I do for him:)

Thursday, February 19, 2015

Autism Speaks!!!!!!!!!!

I am beyond thrilled that my post made Autism Speaks!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

https://www.autismspeaks.org/blog/2015/02/19/autism-denial-acceptance

Way to go Trenton!!!!

Each and every parent rejoices when their child accomplishes the next big step in life. For example, we celebrate when they start eating baby food. We celebrate when they start crawling, walking, talking, first day of school, etc.  Special needs moms celebrate in different ways. We celebrate much smaller accomplishments and hope for the big accomplishments that other moms get to celebrate.

Last night, we had reason to celebrate here! I think everyone in the Terre Haute area heard my celebration at what Trenton did. I called my mother to see how my grandfather's doctor appointment went. Trenton just kept on smiling at me while I was on the phone. He walked up to me and touched me and said, "Mommy." Then he continues to say "Mommy" 3-4 times more.
Then.....oh yes he did more.....he touched my phone. I said to him, "Do you want to say hi to Nana?" Trenton takes the phone, puts it to his ear, and said, "Hi Nana." I'm not sure what was more precious....him saying it or the HUGE smile on his face because he knew what he did!!! He said it a few more times just smiling away. I then told Trenton to say, "I love you." What does he do?!?!?!? Trenton says, "love you." and yes his smile got even bigger!!! Before he got off the phone he said, "bye Nana" and that was spontaneous!!!!!

I can't tell you how awesome that moment was!!! He was so happy. He kept on saying, "mommy" several times after we were off the phone and every time he said it, he kissed me!

Trenton and Mommy were on cloud 9 last night!!!

1 Chronicles 29:13.
 Now therefore, our God, we thank thee, and praise thy glorious name.

Wednesday, February 18, 2015

Bandaids

Andrew found my stash of band aids. The band aids had Superman, Batman, Cars, Planes, Angry Birds, and Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles on them. Guess who wanted to wear them all?

Monday, February 16, 2015

Autism: From Denial to Acceptance


Autism: From Denial to Acceptance

Being told your child has autism is a life changing diagnosis.  It is simply the loss of a “normal “child.  It is the death of your dreams and plans that you and your spouse once imagined for your family.  Autism doesn’t just impact your child; it impacts and completely changes your life.  It is entirely up to you how you respond to your new life.

After my first son’s diagnosis, I remember feeling completely helpless. I knew in my heart he had autism already. We were simply waiting for the doctor to confirm it so we could start our plan of action. I had already started grieving months before the “official stamp” from the specialist. After receiving a life changing diagnosis, such as autism, parents tend to go through the seven stages grief.  I learned about this in college while I was getting my special education degree. 

I entered into the first stage of grief, Denial & Shock, when Trenton was regressing around 15 months old. I had just given birth to Trenton’s brother, Andrew who later was diagnosed with mild autism, when I knew something was wrong. However, I couldn’t accept it and I denied it for a long time.

I moved on to the second stage of grief, Pain & Guilt, when Trenton was 18 months old.  The pain hit me like a tsunami wave and I fell flat on the floor. I’m not sure how I got through each day going on sleepless nights with a newborn and a toddler who never slept due to autism but I managed.  Some nights I never went to bed and got up and worked the next day. Some nights I got 1-2 hours of sleep. The pain at this stage of the game was unbearable and the guilt was excruciating.

I moved on to a third stage of grief, Anger, when Trenton was around 2 years old. He had officially been diagnosed. I was trying to work as a special education teacher, and manage my son’s therapies. I soon became angry at the world. I didn’t want to hear about other’s perfect life. I wanted my child to be normal. I was angry!!

I wasn’t in the angry stage very long before the fourth stage, Depression, took over. I let myself handle this stage for too long without any help. I thought I was managing my depression by quitting my job and taking my son to therapy five days a week. However, I was still depressed and was too strong for too long. My days were like this…..out the door with Trenton by 8 AM( 90% of the time I had 1-2 hours of sleep) to travel a half hour to our first therapy. I drove back home to welcome a therapist in our home by the latter part of the morning. Next we were back on the road headed to Effingham for another appointment. By mid- afternoon we were home for our final in house appointment. Soon in April 2014, Andrew, my youngest son, was diagnosed with mild autism and I was depressed even more.  I now had two therapy schedules to manage.  I now had two children who didn’t sleep. I literally never slept! I worked around the clock 24/7. I drove to Olney with two kids screaming and fighting every morning. I drove to Effingham with two kids screaming and fighting every Wed & Thursday afternoon.  It is not easy managing two kids with autism fighting in the van while I am trying to focus on the road.  My body finally gave up my personal fight in August 2014, when I ended up in the hospital.  I could not handle my depression on my own anymore. After two ER visits and one overnight hospital stay, I was put on an anti-depressant and a heart medicine for my irregular heartbeat which the doctors think began due to stress.

I soon entered into a fifth stage, The Upward Turn, in the fall of 2014. I was feeling better physically and my boys were attending a great ABA facility at this time.  Before I found Harsha Cognitive Center in Terre Haute, the boys were only getting two hours of therapy a day. We spent most of our time on the road .  Now they were getting 7 hours a day!

Around this time, I entered into a sixth stage, Working Through. Big decisions about our life as a family was made that would greatly impact the boys for the better. We decided to move to Terre Haute so the boys could attend the facility 5 days a week. We lived 100 miles away and I was driving it two days a week and staying in a hotel one night a week.  I didn’t want to move away from my hometown who had benefits and raised money for the boys. I didn’t want to move away from my parents who helped with the boys, but I needed to “work through” and make the right decisions in order for the boys to have the best outcome in life.

Finally, I am in the final stage of grief, Acceptance & Hope.  I am dealing with my life and moving on. Of course, I still cry over the dreams that were shattered due to autism.  In spite of that, my daily decisions are based on autism and what is best for the boys. When the boys are at therapy, my focus is still them. I focus on advocating and educating others of their disability. I am Trenton’s voice since he doesn’t have one. I am Andrew’s advocate for mild autism.  I am here to make a difference in the autism world! I am proud to do it for my boys!

Sunday, February 15, 2015

Cars Quilt

Everyone knows what a huge CARS fan Andrew is. Cars has good memories and bad memories. When autism was making its appearance in Andrew, Andrew could not control his obsession with Cars. Cars brought on many meltdowns and frustrations for him. Now, after much therapy, he can manage his Cars obsession. With that said, Nana made him a Cars quilt and he loves it!

 Andrew loved the birthday cake at Lincoln's birthday party!!

Friday, February 13, 2015

Valentine Day Party

The boys had some Valentine Day fun at Harsha this week!

Andrew had a great time passing out his Valentine's!




Trenton Video from Harsha

Here is a video of Trenton at Harsha. This video shows how much he has improved while walking with an adult and holding their hand! Before we started Harsha, Trenton resisted holding hands. Also in the video, you can hear Trenton say, "open door" before his coach opens the door.
I love this video! I just love watching him walk so calmly with his coach!
Keep up the great work Harsha and Trenton!
The video is sideways....sorry!

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=n3twOs2CMiE&feature=youtu.be

Thursday, February 12, 2015

Falling Asleep

He was so good for about one week of falling asleep in his bed. Now, he is back to falling asleep wherever!





The Mighty

I am really excited to report that The Mighty published an article I wrote!!!

http://themighty.com/2015/02/a-simple-gesture-from-a-woman-in-church-made-a-disastrous-situation-manageable/

They are a great website. I highly recommend that you Like them on Facebook.

Wednesday, February 11, 2015

Harsha Pictures!

Here are a few pictures of the boys from Harsha last week and this week! They are so happy there!!! We love Harsha!











Tuesday, February 10, 2015

Videos

Here are three links that shows Andrew upset. This behavior is very common for Andrew. Andrew loves people- he is hyper social. So he is in hog heaven when he is around new people which is why his behavior is usually good. However, below is what I go through every evening with Andrew. On this particular evening, Trenton was having a great night. Normally, I am trying to control Andrew while managing Trenton but not this night. This video is from the end of July. I haven't videoed since then but I think I am going to do some more videos soon!

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=v7Fwy6YuJNM

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=aXUGTP7E8Cs

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=RT5_Orr8kqw


Monday, February 9, 2015

Chaotic Sat Evening-Sun Evening

I was extremely happy a week ago when I managed the boys all by myself at church. I thought I would try the same this past Sunday. Unfortunately, it was the complete opposite this time. I was afraid it would go that way. Trenton started having some extreme sensory problems Saturday evening.  Trenton was having problems with his vestibular system.  When Trenton is having problems with his vestibular system, he is hyposensitive.

Here is what children with hyposensitive vestibular sensory problems need to do in order to live with their body.

 HYPOSENSITIVITY TO MOVEMENT (under-responsive):

__ in constant motion, can’t seem to sit still
__ craves fast, spinning, and/or intense movement experiences
__ loves being tossed in the air
__ could spin for hours and never appear to be dizzy
__ always jumping on furniture, trampolines, spinning in a swivel chair, or getting into upside down positions
__ loves to swing as high as possible and for long periods of time
__ is a “thrill-seeker”; dangerous at times
__ always running, jumping, hopping etc. instead of walking
__ rocks body, shakes leg, or head while sitting
__ likes sudden or quick movements, such as, going over a big bump in the car or on a bike
          
What also needs to be on here is how quickly Trenton can destroy my house while trying to meet his vestibular needs. My house can go from looking good to looking what a Category 5 hurricane can do in a matter of a few minutes.  I try my hardest to help him during these times and we do some activities together to help him.

What makes this even harder when Trenton is having a hard time is when Andrew is having some of his issues. I thought I was going to land in the hospital again Saturday night. It was difficult trying to manage and help Trenton while taking care of Andrew's needs at the same time. Andrew can be perfectly happy and switch off just like a light switch. That is what he did on Saturday evening. After I sweated bullets taking care of the boys Saturday evening all I wanted was a good night sleep. Andrew had something else in mind. He was up crying every 30 minutes. I had a total sleepless night with Andrew after trying to calm a hurricane all evening, the evening before.

Needless to say I was exhausted come Sunday morning but I try not to miss church if I don't have to.
Well, Trenton was still having some problems but I thought just maybe he would be better once we got to church. I WAS WRONG!

We make our entrance into church after Andrew, who hardly ever runs away, ran away from me while I was getting Trenton out of the van. He ran across the parking lot without looking for cars with an oncoming van not tot far away. We walked into the church making our entrance well known to every one around.  I walked in right on time for church to get started and I did that on purpose. Trenton immediately went into sensory overload once we took our place in the last pew. He was off and running right down the middle aisle before I knew what was going on. He ran all the way to the front of a very long, big church. He was up on the stage pacing and doing his anxious hand and finger moves while making his anxious sounds out of his mouth. I took off running after him leaving Andrew all by himself. Once I got ahold of Trenton, I just smiled at the whole church and forced Trenton back to our seat. A kind lady, whom I have spoken to about the boys last time, came and sat by me. She said she would help me during church. It was such a relief to have such a kind lady who doesn't even know me come help me. Approximately two minutes after she sat by me, Trenton couldn't manage his sensory overload anymore! There was no calming him. He started screaming and putting his hands over his ears. Next, he takes his Play Doh and launches it through the church. I grab him and he starts hitting and kicking me. I try to put him on my lap but his screams are blood curdling at this point. His feet are kicking the pew in front of us. His arms are swinging from side to side and they keep hitting my face. The next thing my nicely, neat ponytail is coming out from being pulled by Trenton. Trenton kicks Andrew in the face with his foot. Andrew starts crying and trying to climb up on my lap while I am holding an out of control Trenton. I look at the kind lady who is trying to help me and her face told me that she had NEVER seen a sight like she was witnessing at that moment. I told her that I needed to leave and she quickly agreed that was probably a good thing. She helped me out, thank goodness! Once Andrew had just finished crying from being kicked in the face he starts crying and screaming because he didn't want to leave church. So here  I am carrying Trenton out who is kicking, hitting, and screaming. Andrew is walking out the church with the lady saying, " I want new church." Once we got the boys strapped in and I thanked the lady for helping us, I sat in the van and sobbed like a baby! I sat there for a good five minutes and just cried!!

To me, this is just another example of why I agree that autism is the worst disability to have a child with. If my children were physically disabled with one of the many physical disabilities, I still could go places. Yes, it would be more difficult than if they were normal, but I would still be able to go! A child with down syndrome, or a heart defect, or any of the other disabilities can go places and not cause havoc on the family.  A child with a mental disorder like autism, especially severe autism like Trenton, leaves a family with only one thing to do and that is to stay at home!

We went home and had a very chaotic day. Trenton still was having sensory problems and Andrew as very needy and wouldn't leave Trenton alone. Trenton was not wanting Andrew anywhere near him. Since it was 60 degrees outside, which is rare in February, I took the boys out to the backyard for the first time. Within the first minute, Trenton tried to escape from the fence. Needless to say, we need a new fence ASAP!