Thursday, November 26, 2015

Sensory Overload Video

This sensory overload video was done in a store. However, this is what it is like for the boys when they go to unfamiliar houses with people in it and everyone is talking. It is what it is like everywhere except for the comfort of their own home. Unfortunately, Trenton can even get sensory overload in his own house. The plus side in being at his own house, he is able to go to his bedroom which is his "safe" area to help him calm down.
Sometimes the sensory overload can happen immediately or it may take a few minutes to an hour to happen. It depends on their day.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=IcS2VUoe12M

This next video is what it is like for a person with autism to simply walk down a street. Once again, I have no doubt that this is what both boys experience. For the most part, Andrew verbally tells me everything that the person in this video thinks.

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

Tuesday, November 24, 2015

The Day My World Stopped

To the families who are just receiving their child's diagnosis, hang in there! Here is a short summary of what it felt like on that life changing day. I hope you can find some comfort in reading this.


I remember the numbness that overcame my body after hearing the words, “Trenton has autism.”  It was August 2, 2012 just two weeks shy of his second birthday. I knew in my heart that he had autism but hearing it from a professional takes the waves of emotions to a whole new level.

We had already been through hell and back in Trenton’s first two years of his life. Nothing made sense from what he had put us through the past year. Yet, it all made sense now with one word, autism.

As I felt my body go numb, I could feel the room spinning around me.

“Don’t pass out Angie.” I kept telling myself. I looked at the doctor as she was talking to us but I can’t exactly tell you what she was saying. Her lips were simply moving to me but I didn’t hearing anything after the word autism.

How could this be happening? Why my child? Why God why?

I finally collected myself. “What do we do now?” I asked fumbling over my words.

The doctor went on to explain how she would write a script for ST, OT, and ABA.  That’s it? I kept asking myself.  Finally, I asked her what I had been thinking and sadly, she said, “Yes that is it. Just get him in as much therapy as possible in order to give him the most productive life that he can have.”

Soon we were walking out of her office with only a script for therapy. How could this be happening?

The two hour car ride home that day was silent. Not one word was uttered between my husband and I. Our world seemed to have stopped. Yet at the same time, every one else’s was going strong.  I kept looking at our sweet little boy in the back seat. He was so precious. So sweet. Yet, he just received his life changing diagnosis that would forever rock our world.

The days following his diagnosis seem like a blur. I was a special education teacher at that time and I started my school year. I walked into work every day after being up all night with my child who never slept. I was sleep deprived to say the least.  I heard story after story of everyone’s fun summer vacations. I heard about everyone’s fun weekends. Their life was still going on but mine had still stopped! My child just received a diagnosis of autism. How can the world still keep going?

I learned rather quickly how to face my fears and how to put one foot in front of the other foot. The world that stopped for me slowly started up again. However, the world I once knew was gone and we welcomed a new world. A world full of OT, ST, and ABA quickly started.  I soon realized that our new world wasn’t so bad even during its times of tribulations and trials.  It may just be a little harder than the average family but it is an amazing world once you accept it. It is a very unique journey that God blessed me with and I am forever thankful!

I will never forget how I felt the day of Trenton’s diagnosis. Unfortunately, I went through the same numbness with my second child a year and a half later when he received his diagnosis. The world may stop for you during your child’s diagnosis but once  your world starts up again, it is an amazing ride.



Sunday, November 22, 2015

Potty Training!

Since March of this year I have seen more of toilets than I have ever wanted to see. I have said the word, "potty time" enough times that if I got paid by how many times I have said it the last 8 months, I'd be rich. I have been peed on, hit at, kicked at, scratched at, screamed at, and even my hair pulled at so many times that I have just wanted to crawl in a ball and cry at the end of each day. Just when I was on the brink of feeling like a failure when it came to potty training a child with severe autism, I finally saw the light this weekend! I got a glimmer of hope!

After talking to his team at Harsha, we decided to change things up at home. I ordered a portable potty and it finally came in Saturday morning. I put the potty in his room and that is where he went all day on Saturday and Sunday. One of my biggest challenges with Trenton at home was transitioning him to the toilet in the bathroom from where he was. Most of the time he would be in his room. Trenton put up some huge fights to not leave his room to go to the bathroom. Potty training was going no where at home until the portable potty came in! He gladly sits on the potty in his room and smiles and pees!!!!!!!!!!!!! Today, he didn't have an accident until 6:00 PM!!!! DO YOU KNOW HOW AMAZING THIS IS?!?!?!?

He is unable to communicate when he needs to go so it is a matter of taking him to the toilet every 30 minutes. It has been brutal and exhausting but I finally felt a glimmer of hope for Trenton this weekend! We still have many months if not years of potty training him but I can see progress and it is awesome!

Saturday, November 21, 2015

Andrew's final birthday party

Andrew celebrated his birthday with the Conrad's today!! The boys had a great time with everyone. Once again Andrew was blessed with some great gifts.

Andrew was such a sweet little boy and let Trenton open half of his gifts. Andrew can be such a great brother:)


Reading his birthday cards with Uncle Sol.
Oh, What's that Grandpa!!!!
 It's a Spiderman scooter!!

Andrew was too excited about his gifts, he wouldn't look at the camera. He just wanted to look at all of his gifts.


Trenton loves the Spiderman scooter too!
I love Trenton's face in the background of this picture! Trenton loves birthday parties!!!
Putting together his Spiderman Lego set.

Trenton did an amazing job playing with toys today! It was the best day that he has had in a long time playing with appropriate toys!!! It is amazing what we can get excited about!!



Friday, November 20, 2015

Better to give than to receive

Andrew has been talking a lot about Christmas ever since he was at his cousin Lincoln's house last weekend. (They had their Christmas tree up so that triggered it.) Anyway, as Andrew and I were talking about Christmas on Thursday, I explained how it is more important to give than to receive. I asked him if he would like to help some less fortunate kids and he said, "Sure Mom!"
I said, "You know how you love to open presents?"
Andrew says, "Oh yeah, Mom. I love presents."
I said, "Well, would you like to help Mommy buy some presents for some kids whose Mommy and Daddy can't afford presents?"
Andrew says, "Oh they don't have money for  toys?"
I said, "No, some parents don't have money for toys so we should help them so they have toys for Christmas."
Andrew says," Ok, Mom. But can you save money for me so I can have some toys?"

I also went on to explain how some people don't have a lot of money for food either. Andrew said, "They have mouths to eat with right?"
I said, "Yes they have mouths but just not money to buy food with."
Andrew said, "Ok we need to buy them food as long as you save money to buy me food too."

This morning when Andrew woke up the first thing he said was, "Let's buy toys and food for some kids today."

I found a great charity place in town and Andrew and I bought some toys for the less fortunate kids and we bought some food for a Thanksgiving drive.



Here he is buying a toy:)
 He picked out green beans, corn, and spinach:)

Andrew with his three bags of toys, socks, and bath bubbles:) He made sure he carried all three bags into the charity place and handed them to the lady. He said, "These are for the kids."
 He walked into the store and dropped his two bags of groceries into the Thanksgiving food drive container.
 I was beyond proud of him today. If I had tons of money, Andrew would have spent it today on others and not himself. He kept on picking up toys and he would say, "The kids would like this Mom."
It is amazing what a person can teach a young child. This world is becoming more scary by the day. If more people would just teach their children at a young age about how to treat others, than maybe this world would be a better place!

Later in the day, Andrew ask me, "Do the kids have their food yet Mom. They need to eat it."
I just love his big heart!!!  I am really trying to teach him to always put others first:)




Thursday, November 19, 2015

Holidays & Autism-It's that time of year again

My article at Autismawareness.com this week is titled, Holidays and autism- It's that time of year again. Click on the link below and enjoy it!!


http://autismawareness.com/holidays-and-autism-its-that-time-of-year-again/#.Vk5qaHldHIU

Job

Have you heard the saying, " They have the patience of Job." Many people may know where that comes from but to the ones who don't, Job was a man in the Old Testament. He had everything. He had a large family, great health, wealth, and every blessing that anyone would ever need. Satan didn't like it. Satan told God, “Does Job fear God for nothing?” Satan replied. Have you not put a hedge around him and his household and everything he has? You have blessed the work of his hands, so that his flocks and herds are spread throughout the land.  But now stretch out your hand and strike everything he has, and he will surely curse you to your face” (Job 1:9-11).

God accepted the challenge from Satan. God knew that Job was a righteous man and that he wasn't just a follower of him because he was blessed. Before he knew it, Job lost everything. He lost his family, wealth; he simply lost everything.

Here we can plainly see Job’s reaction:  he worshiped God, he said that he came into this world with nothing and will return with nothing, the Lord has taken away all he had except his wife – and his wife told him to “curse God and die” – and Job also blessed the name of the Lord.  In all of this, “Job did not sin nor charge God with wrong!”   He blessed God’s name, he worshiped God, and he did not sin.  Satan must have been angry at Job’s response.  Job suffered unjustly and yet he did not blame God or say, “why me?”

Job is an amazing example of how we all should be during our trials in life.  I believe that our trials and tribulations only make us stronger if we allow them to. However, it takes a believer and someone that has faith to turn their trials into triumphs. There is not one week that goes by that I don't think about Job and how he conducted himself during his trials in life. What an amazing example that is provided for us to follow. When I have my times of getting down, I think of Job and I am immediately ok! Job is one of my heroes of the Bible! He is a true example of how people should live. He didn't blame anyone for his trials. Not one person! Not even God. What an amazing man he was. He simply grabbed the bull by the horns and lived his life to the fullest during his trials. Wow! What an amazing example!!!

Just think what kind of a world we could live in if everyone had the patience of Job!

Wednesday, November 18, 2015

My Little Indian

My adorable Little A dressed up as an Indian today for school. I bet you can't guess what they are learning about this week?


We had fun before school and I showed him how to do an Indian dance.
He had a blast dressing up with all the other little Indians and pilgrims at his school today.

Andrew

I have talked a lot lately to Andrew about Trenton. Yes, Andrew has challenges himself but he is smart enough to understand things. This is my conversation with Andrew.

Mommy, "Andrew, one day Trenton may need you to help take care of him. Will you do that for Mommy."
Andrew, " So I will stay home and take care of Trenton like you take care of me and Trenton?"
Mommy, "Yes. Do you think you can do that?"
Andrew, "I will stay home one day and be a Mommy and take care of you and Trenton."
Mommy, " You would be called a Daddy because you are a boy."
Andrew, "I will stay home with Trenton and you and be a Daddy."
Mommy, "Sounds like a plan to me Bubba."

A little while later Andrew says, "Don't ever leave me Mommy. I want to live with you forever."
Mommy, "One day you may want to live by yourself like a big boy."
Andrew, "No, I want to live with you. Don't ever leave me like the autism walk, ok?"
(Andrew was very upset the morning of the autism walk. He ended up adjusting without me around but he has been a bit traumatized. He brings it up almost weekly. He dealt fine without me that day but his anxiety was going strong inside of him without me. He finds a lot of comfort in me. After all, I am the always there to help him and do whats best for him.)

Andrew had a talk with Uncle Brian over the weekend about Ledger and it was so sweet. Here is my conversation today with him about Ledger.

Andrew, "So Ledger will talk one day when he is big."
Mommy, "We hope so. Not everyone is blessed with the ability to talk but we hope and pray he is."
Andrew, "We are thankful we can talk."
Mommy, "Yes we are."
Andrew, "We hope Ledger can talk one day when he is big."


On Friday night on our way to Flora, Andrew randomly touches Trenton and says, "We will get you to talk one day Bubba, I promise."
My eyes filled with tears instantly! I am so proud of the way Andrew is with Trenton. Not one days goes by that I don't talk to Andrew about Trenton and this just proves that I am doing the right thing.


Last week when I went to Harsha and his preschool to his birthday parties, Andrew thought it was the best thing ever. It was amazing the way he would run up to me and say, "My Mommy is here!" and jump into my arms. After both times he said, "Thank you for coming Mommy. That was so nice and sweet of you."

Andrew has really listened to me when I have enforced manners and thoughtfulness! Love this boy so much!!!

Tuesday, November 17, 2015

50/50

Approximately 50% of the time, I watch Trenton cry for an extended period of time before he falls asleep. Sometimes his tears can be during a meltdown. The meltdown is usually caused from Trenton being frustrated with his body and sensory problems. The meltdown can also be caused out of frustration of not being able to fall asleep.

Other times, his tears are sad, quiet tears. Both types of tears are heartbreaking to watch. These tears last for a few hours as well. I'm not sure which type of tears are harder to watch. Both are gut wrenching for a parent to have to watch their child go through. I am fairly certain that his sad, quiet tears are from being mad with the fact that he can't fall asleep. It takes lots of time for Trenton to fall asleep.

Not only is it gut wrenching to watch but it is very mentally draining. No parent likes to watch their child suffer with anything. We want to make things right for our children. We want to make things better for our children when they are enduring hard times. We want nothing but the best for our children. Every single night I am reminded that I can't make it better for Trenton. Trenton and I are reminded every single night just how rough life is.

It is one thing to watch your child suffer and cry when they can communicate. When Andrew is frustrated with his challenges he can talk to me. I know that he is understanding what I am saying. With Trenton's inability to talk back to me to let me know he understands what I am saying just makes it extremely harder....It makes the challenge and the mental pain excruciating.

I am very grateful and thankful for the other 50% of the time when I don't have to watch Trenton's meltdowns and sad tears. It is amazing to me how different his nights can be.


James 1:12
Blessed is a 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

Monday, November 16, 2015

Our Life With Autism

Please click on the link below and read the article. It is an article that I wrote for, Her View From Home. If my article gets lots of clicks, I can become a monthly writer for this website.

Thanks so much for the support.

http://herviewfromhome.com/our-life-with-autism/

Saturday, November 14, 2015

Birthday Party

Andrew celebrated his birthday this weekend with Mommy's family. Andrew was born less than four hours away from sharing his birthday with Nana. Therefore, we celebrated her birthday too. It was a fun-filled day!




 Grandma & Grandpa Great even wore the party hats:)


 Andrew was very thankful for his gifts.

 He had to cover his eyes for one gift....
 This was his reaction when he saw it...

 Andrew loves his Spiderman bike!
 Andrew gave Nana her gift that he picked out for her and it was a Superman doll....lol!



 Enjoying a bike ride!!

 The boys loved the pinata!

The highlight of the day was Trenton walking around saying, "Happy Birthday to you." IT WAS AWESOME!!!!!

Friday, November 13, 2015

Andrew

At four years old, Andrew is a hoot!! He brings so much spirit and life to our family. Yes, he has his share of trials due to his mild autism but he has so many strengths at the same time. Andrew's progress has been incredible since starting therapy and especially since starting ABA 21 hours a week one year ago. In less than a year Andrew overcame his echolalia through his hard work. It is truly fascinating to look back at  his first four years of life to see his progress.

Here he his with his preschool teacher making a craft before his birthday celebration yesterday morning.

 He had a great time celebrating with his class.
Below are a few  things that Andrew is working hard on at Harsha.

 Waiting (EFL): Andrew will wait for 11 minutes after requesting a highly preferred item or activity.
• Group (VB-MAPP 9-M): Andrew will sit in a group for five minutes without disruptive behavior or attempting to leave the group.
• Intraverbal (VB-MAPP 15-M): Andrew will answer four different rotating WH questions about a single topic for six different topics.
• Intraverbal Associations (H9): Andrew will fill in the function when given the item.
• Intraverbal Associations (H8): Andrew will fill in the item when given the function.


I love how Andrew sees the world! He shows such innocence through everything. Individuals with mild autism take language literal and can not understand the other ways that  neurotypical people use language. A few examples below...
  • His coach told him he was going to turn into a cookie and he really thought he was going to.
  • I told him the other morning that he looked "sharp" in his outfit. He got really upset thinking that his clothes were actually sharp and going to hurt him.
  • He told me yesterday that his lead coach had to leave to take care of her son and that he didn't like that. He didn't like that fact that she had to leave so I explained to her that she was a mommy too. Andrew said, "No she can't be a mommy, she is a coach."
  • I said the other day, "Oh I got myself in a pickle. Andrew said, " No don't get in a pickle Mom. I want you to stay being my mommy. I don't want you to be in a pickle then you can't be my Mommy."
  •  The other morning the sun looked orange and Andrew flipped out in the car. "Mommy, the sun is yellow not orange. Turn it back to orange." he yelled.
  • I took him to eat at a restaurant called, Cackleberries one day. Andrew thought he had to eat berries there. The same goes for Applebees. He told me he had to eat apples there. He also wanted to know where the bees were.
As you can see, it is always interesting with Andrew around:)

Thursday, November 12, 2015

Slideshow of Andrew

Here is a slideshow of Andrew of his first 4 years of life:) I wanted to get this done before his birthday but that didn't happen.

http://www.photoshow.com/watch/fM2uc4gE

Andrew's Birthday

Andrew had an amazing birthday yesterday! Plus, it was just the beginning of his many celebrations. He has another one today, this weekend, and the following weekend. The great thing about Andrew is the fact that he just doesn't love his birthday, he loves other people's birthdays as well. For example, he shares his birthday with one of his coaches from Harsha. The first thing he did when he got to Harsha was wish Natalie a "happy birthday". Last night when we were celebrating as a family, he asked me, "Mommy why isn't Natalie here?" He wanted to keep on celebrating with her. When we sang "Happy Birthday" to Andrew last night he also sang it but said "Natalie" in place of his name. He continued to sing happy birthday to Natalie off and on all night long!


Both boys were excited for the big day!
 Having fun with the Frozen balloons before we started our day.

After we dropped of Trenton at Harsha, Mommy and Andrew ate pancakes at IHop. Andrew doesn't have school on his birthday because it is also Veterans Day. Therefore, he got to spend the morning doing what he wanted.

 
I went in to Harsha to celebrate his birthday with him there.
 His cake at Harsha!

 His birthday buddy, Natalie.
 His coach Charley showing him how to hold up four fingers!
 His lead coach, Lisa, whom Andrew adores even came to his party on her day off and gave him a present!!! We just love all of our coaches!!!
 Party at home.
 Yes the theme for his party this year is  Frozen. Andrew has asked for a Frozen birthday since his birthday last year.  I think it is because the first time he watched Frozen was around his birthday last year and in his mind he had Frozen and birthday going non-stop. Its just how his brain works:)





Wednesday, November 11, 2015

Dear Andrew

Dear Andrew-
Happy 4th Birthday! How in the world are you four already?  You have sure made the past four years interesting.

You sure know how to make Mommy smile when I need it. You are seriously one of the funniest, sweetest and smartest boys that I know. There is not one day that goes by that you don’t make me smile and laugh.

You have grown so much the past four years. I know it has not always been easy for you. However, you are a fighter just like your brother. You still have many obstacles to overcome in your life but I know you will keep on fighting. Look what we have accomplished this past year! Wow, the progress that you have made is breathtaking!

I wish things were easier for you in your life. If I could take your challenges away from you, I would. However, we are working hard on turning them into strengths. Even if you are never able to socialize like other peers your age, just know that I am always here for you. We have our support system at Harsha and we are all here to work on your challenges with you. I have all confidence in you that we will achieve many great things with you in your future. If we always do things just a little bit different, that is okay! Remember, God makes us all different. Every person is this world is unique in our own way and that is what makes us all so amazing and beautiful!

Thank you for being you, Andrew! I just love to watch your sweet innocence in this world. I love how you watch out for your brother at times. Now, don’t get me wrong, you know as well as I do that you pester your brother to the limits numerous times. However, the sweet way that you watch out for him and cheer him on is amazing. This morning was priceless when you said, “Trenton. We will get you to talk one day, don’t worry.” Andrew that was the sweetest thing that I have ever heard in all my 34 years on this Earth. You are such an amazing little man!

I can’t wait to see what the next four years brings us! Your first four years have flown by. Just remember that God is always with us and watching out for us. 

I love you so much Andrew Joseph!!!! Always & Forever

Mommy

 

 

Tuesday, November 10, 2015

Real Kisses & Hugs!

Do you ever just stop and think about how amazingly blessed you are? I do! I thought I appreciated life, good health, etc before my boys but I didn't have a full, complete appreciation. I don't think anyone does until something happens in their life to change it. I don't care who you are, we all have had something in our life that has happened to us to make us realize and appreciate  certain things in this world. For some it can really hit you hard and change your life. For others, it can be a brief period of appreciation and then the person has moved on.

For me, it is a life long appreciation. Trenton and Andrew have seriously taught me so much about life and God. I see the beauty and the innocence that God speaks about that is in children in the boys each and every day. I see the work of God in them and I am so appreciative of that! They are two of the most beautiful boys that I have ever met. In fact if you would allow yourself to, people with special needs all hold the beauty and innocence that God wants us all to be like. They are the true examples that God speaks about.

I may not be blessed each day with the daily blessings that most people are blessed with by their children. However, when I am blessed by some special moments, I cherish each and every one to its fullest! For example, it has been about 6 to 8 weeks now that Trenton has actually kissed me when I have asked him to. I am not talking about just any kiss...... he leans in and lays his lips on mine!!! Oh how I love it!! I am not sure how long it will last but I am enjoying getting real kisses from him each and every day lately!!! Nothing can put in words what this feels like! He is doing very well on giving me hugs too! It's by no means a hug close to what a normal child gives. However, he gives them to me when I ask. They are stiff and short hugs but I love them!!!

Needless to say, I have been blessed lately with kisses and hugs!!!I am so grateful for them from the bottom of my heart. I don't take one for granted and nor will I ever!! I am cherishing the moment because I know it'll change too quickly soon.....that is just the way autism is.

1 John 3:1  See what kind of love the Father has given to us, that we should be called children of God; and so we are. The reason why the world does not know us is that bit did not know him.


Ninja Turtles

I found two ninja turtle outfits for dirt cheap yesterday. I bought them hoping I could talk the boys into being ninja turtles next year for Halloween. Unfortunately, Andrew found them so we were ninja turtles on 11-9-15. Whatever gives me a moment of peace is fine with me:)

Trenton was in a good mood last night and loved it!! Trenton kept on saying "cheese" for a picture!!!! That is big for us!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
 That is bags of leaves behind us...not trash:)