Saturday, December 31, 2016

Goodbye 2016, Hello 2017

Wow, what a year!! Of course we have had ups and downs but the boys and I have accomplished some pretty amazing things this year.

First of all, this year has been a growing year for me in many ways. At the end of 2015, I started running. I forced myself to make time for me and I chose to use that time to run. Trenton finally let me get a good four to five hours of sleep at night so I actually had some energy to put a foot in front of the other one so I decided to run. (It's amazing how good four or five hours of sleep every night feels after you have lived through years of one or two hours of broken sleep every night.)
 Whew! So glad I did. I love it! It has been a blessing to me in many ways. I finally lost the weight that my body gained from the years of sleep deprivation and stress. Running and exercising is very good for a person's health. I found out in 2016 how crucial it was for my health and the issues that I started to have. So, as of now, 2016 made me a dedicated runner:)

I have met some amazing autism families this year. My blog and book has led me to some of the most extraordinary people. I would have never met them if it wasn't for my advocating work. I am forever thankful for the road that God is leading me on.

Trenton and I achieved the hardest task that we have ever tackled yet and that was potty training! As I have said before, it was a brutal 16-18 months but we did it! We accomplished it! Consistency, battling through the autism challenges and not giving up is crucial and we did it!!! I have not been any prouder in my life than I was, and still am, of Trenton with this accomplishment. To top it off, since our last medicine change, he is getting very good at going number 2 in the potty, too!

Trenton has made progress this year but it is slow and it will always be slow. If you look at it as a whole, he has been in therapies since he was 18 months old. His use of spontaneous words is very few BUT it's better than it was over 4.5 years ago when we first started therapy.  We have to look at the positive side. Our gains and accomplishments are very tiny but they are huge because it takes us a very long time to reach what we do. We have to be consistent, rigid, maintain same routine, and have lots of patience. When you maintain these, it is amazing the things that you can accomplish over a long period of time. It takes a long time, but without the consistency, strict routine, and patience-you don't accomplish what you should.

Trenton has grown in his ability to go out in public this past year. Again, he is slowly getting there. A year ago he wouldn't go into McDonald's for more than one minute. Now, he will sit in there for a good ten minutes at least.  This is small yes....but its huge for us!
Of course he has grown in many other abilities but these are the ones that I hold so close and dear to my heart because I know  EXACTLY what we have went through to reach these and it wasn't pretty!

Andrew has had many challenges this year. He has a lot of emotional/anxiety challenges. This was in full force for the first six months of this year while he was adjusting to the divorce. I don't speak about what I went through with Andrew very often, but it was very emotionally heartbreaking and it left a forever scar on my heart. However, he has worked through his emotions and is doing much better.

Andrew completed his one on one ABA program this year! That was our biggest accomplishment with him!! I am so proud of him. He will be starting at Harsha Autism Center again but his training will not be the intense one on one. It will be more focused on social/learning settings.

As a family of three, we have grown a lot! We have an amazing routine down that I don't bend much on (just ask our close family members. HA!) and I couldn't be prouder of the boys. Life is going smoothly! More smoothly than it ever has but with autism things take time and we are finally seeing some of that this year!

This year proves just how important consistency and routine is crucial to our accomplishments and to our learning experiences.

May the blessings of 2017 be wonderful to you! I pray that in 2017 things keep looking up for us!!

Wednesday, December 28, 2016

Reindeer

The daily struggles of a child who can't communicate is very hard, emotionally draining, and heartbreaking. It is hard on everyone who lives in the house and lives the journey daily.

The other day Trenton kept taking me by my hand and leading me all over the house saying what sounded like "bear". I figured he was looking for one of his "bear "animals. I looked and looked all over the house and I couldn't find a "bear"animal that he wanted.  Therefore, I kept wondering if my mind was on the right track. Did he want a stuffed bear animal? Did he want one of his figurine bear animals or one of his wooden bear figures? Did he want me to cut out bear animals from a coloring book (He likes to cut out animal figures from an animal coloring book.) I just kept trying to rack my brain on what kind of bear he wanted. Sadly, we worked on this all morning and I could never figure it out.

He led me by my hand all over our house. I occasionally stopped him and looked him in his eyes and told him over and over, "Trenton I don't know what or where the bear is that you want." Thankfully, he never once had a meltdown or tantrum and that behavior is very likely of him. Instead he just looked at me with the saddest look on his face and kept leading me around the house saying bear.

When  I got in my van that afternoon I saw one of Trenton's animals in the van and it wasn't a bear, it was a reindeer which he calls deer. I sat in the drivers seat of the van, picked up his "deer" and my eyes filled up with tears. I knew instantly that he was saying "deer" and not "bear". How terrible it must feel to be Trenton and not able to elaborate what he wants. I am very thankful that he is able to say a single word like deer. However, we are a very long way, if ever, of him being able to describe what he wants such as "my stuffed deer animal".

As a mother I felt terrible. I should have figured it out after awhile that maybe it was his deer he was wanting after not one bear was making him happy.  I felt terrible that my child has to live his entire life like this every single day. Every single day he isn't able to communicate what he wants or needs. I just can't fathom! I know how frustrating and sad I get trying to figure it out, I just can't imagine what it is like to be him.

This isn't the first time where something like this happened and it wont' be the last. I witness and am a part of these kinds of struggles and challenges every single day. As I have mentioned before, living and taking care of a dependent 24/7 and someone who will always be a dependent is an eye opener. Watching Trenton struggle sure has made me realize how thankful and blessed I am in my life. I think we all have taken so much for granted in our lives. Many continue to do so until the day they die. I am very thankful that l have allowed my boys to show me and teach me about the true meaning of life's blessings and to never take one moment for granted.



Monday, December 26, 2016

Resource

I am very honored that my blog is featured in this book as a resource:) God is leading me on an amazing path!
Cover Image

Sunday, December 25, 2016

Merry Christmas!

We had a wonderful, low-key Christmas which is exactly what the boys need!

Merry Christmas everyone!


 Four generations! The two generations above me have been the most influential people in the boys and I life! They are true examples of Godly people!
 Andrew grabbed Trenton's hand all by himself!!! They melt my heart daily. They love each other so much and Andrew really does watch out for his T-man!
 My Grandma! The boys and I love her and Grandpa so much! We wouldn't be where we are today without them.


Thursday, December 22, 2016

Senstive Santa

I am so grateful that a local small mall in my town had a "Sensitive Santa" for kids on the spectrum and other disabilities. SO THANKFUL!! It was one of the most amazing experiences. It was in a very quiet mall. The Santa was set up in room away from all the mall noise. The time was blocked out for special needs families only! WOW!! I recall last year walking into the big, noisy mall trying to get the boys to see Santa and the line was long, way too much stimulation going on with music and lights. Trenton started throwing himself down on the ground. I had to constantly redirect him while he was crying......but this year....so different!

This Santa was amazing! He talked to Trenton in such a very quiet, soothing voice. It was obvious he knew about autism. The photographers who took the picture were fantastic. It was very obvious they knew about autism as well. The whole experience was exactly what I needed! To top it all off, it was free of charge to families like ours and it came with a free picture!!  This doesn't happen every day and I am so grateful! The cost of raising special needs children is highway robbery these days, especially for a one parent family.  Therefore, a gift such as a free entry to see Santa and a free picture means a lot!

Honestly, I held back my tears until I got in the car and then I cried. Something that typical families do was made possible for us because of special accommodations. That is exactly what special needs and autism families need. We just need special accommodations to make things possible for us.
Thank you so much to everyone who made this possible today. You simply made our Christmas a little brighter this year;)

Wednesday, December 21, 2016

IEP

I really wish I had more time to blog and share my journey and my knowledge of special education. I have failed lately on educating and helping others on their special needs journey to understand special education. In case you are unaware, special education is what my degree is in. Anyway, here is a short post on some quick facts to know before you attend your child's meeting.

I found while I was student teaching and teaching that many parents who have children in special education don't simply understand special education nor do they know their rights. They often appear to be intimidated and leave it all up their child's teacher and therapist. Therefore, I want to try to do my best from time to time to share a little information for you in hopes to help you.

The IEP (Individualized Education Plan) meeting is typically led by the school administrator in special education. It can be led by others such as the principal or teacher. Most IEP meetings begin with introductions before you dive into the meeting.

I am very thankful for the Individual Disability Education Act (IDEA). This recognizes that each child's needs are unique. For example, if you can show that your child needs a specific service, such as a one on one aide, then the law requires it. A child's needs, not the cost, should dictate all IEP decisions. Sometimes you might have to watch for an administrator to indirectly avoid a service. Therefore, you need to know when it is appropriate to fight an issue and when it isn't.  I highly recommend to fight for the crucial issues and to be more flexible with other issues. You as the parent know which issues are more crucial for your child.

During the meeting someone from the school will write the IEP plan as the meeting progresses. Your child's IEP should included
  • child's current levels of academic and functional performance
  • how child's disability affects his or her involvement and progress in  the general curriculum
  • measurable annuals goals
  • description of how your child's progress towards their goals will be measured
  • When and how their goals will be measured
  • accommodations your child may need when taking state or other test
  • A transition plan if your child is 16 or older
  • supplementary aids and services your child will receive.
  • Program modifications for your child
Also during the IEP meeting, someone from the school will go over your child's evaluation.

I can't emphasize enough to ask questions if you don't understand something. Make sure you participate and agree with all the goals that are written in the IEP. You have to agree with everything that is wrote in the IEP. Be an active, involved parent. It will only benefit your child greatly!



Sunday, December 18, 2016

Andrew

On the way to church this morning, Andrew said "Moochies, I wish we could go to church every day. I like to make God happy."

Little did he know he made my day by saying that!! Love it!!!!

Trials Produce Strength

James 1:12   
Blessed is the man who remains steadfast under trial, for when he has stood the test he will receive the crown of life, which God has promised to those who love him

I try daily to remind myself that the more trials that are handed to us, the stronger I get in almost every aspect of my life. I have my weak moments for sure but overall I see the strength that the Lord is giving me. I beg him for it daily. I seek it out. I seek His word out even more daily to help me to find the answers. I seek daily to find the answers of why things keep happening to us. Yet, it could always be worse. I know this!


A huge fear of special needs parents is if something happens to them or when their health fails, who will take care of their child/ren. It's a laughing but serious joke among special needs parents is that we want to live to be over a 100.  Yet, life happens. We have no control over what happens to us or to our children. It's God's story and we just have to live  the role that he gave us.


I have came a long way in my life. At a time in my life I questioned a lot of things....such as why I had to have some major health problems at the age of 19....why was my friends and I involved in an accident at the age of 19.....why did I have to have a miscarriage...why did my firstborn son have to have severe autism. However, I have learned so much from these trials and much more from many other trials in life. I have learned to find what God was trying to tell me or what he was trying to prepare me for. By the time Andrew had problems and by the time I found out about other things that was happening in life that led to a divorce, I was in a much better place and handled things much differently. I did because I learned so much in life along the way.  I didn't see the good out of my trials right away. I don't think God expects you to. He wants to see the endurance that you have to stick with the situation, he wants to see your heart, and he wants to see if you can find the good and the meaning behind it all.

Whether it is your personal trial or a loved one's trial, I encourage you to look and see what God is wanting you to do. What is He trying to tell you? What does He want you to do? What is your role? What is He trying to tell you?


Romans 5:3   
More than that, we rejoice in our sufferings, knowing that suffering produces endurance,

Wednesday, December 14, 2016

Why I Use Medicine

In my book, Two Brothers One Journey: The Loving, Courageous Struggles of an Autism Mom, I discuss briefly medications. In a nutshell, I wanted to make the parents of a child with autism to know that medicine is an option to help your child on their journey.  I want to discuss a little more in detail on how medicine has helped Trenton and I.

When Trenton is not on medicine or when his medicine needs adjusted, there is a huge difference in Trenton. I have learned some great things from the boys' doctors over the years. One being that children like Trenton often get used to their medicine. Their bodies adjust to the medicine and eventually it doesn't work or doesn't work as well. This happens to neurotypical people as well, but it happens faster to children who are simply "wired" differently and that have a whole different chemical make up than neurotpyical people do. Therefore, adjustments have to made often.

When an adjustment to his list of medicines need to be made, it is very obvious in Trenton's behavior. Trenton becomes uncontrollable 24/7 and is at a higher risk of hurting himself and/or others through his maladaptive behaviors.  He displays erratic and impulsive behavior. If he doesn't have someone right by his side, he is unable to listen to or follow directions as well. While on the right medication, his brain is much like an organized filing cabinet. When his medicines need adjustments, it's as if his filing cabinet is hit by a tornado and all of his files are laying scattered all over the place and he is unable to do the smallest of tasks because his brain is a mess. He doesn't sleep as well. He can't tolerate short trips to stores or McDonald's.  He has more potty accidents. In fact, Trenton was finally successfully potty trained with pee when he finally got on the right list of medicines!

So, yes in our life, medicine is a huge help for us. It really makes a world of difference. I get asked often by other parents for my opinion on this. In some people with autism, I don't think they need medicine, but in some cases I do believe they need it. It is entirely up to you. It doesn't hurt to try and to see if it helps. Putting your child on medicine to help their challenges with autism is no different than a person taking medicine to help their high blood pressure or to help a headache.


Sunday, December 11, 2016

I. Love. You

I've been very proud of T-man lately. He has had fewer potty accidents with both if you know what I mean:)
At one point this weekend when he had a number two accident in his pants, I took him to the bathroom and cleaned him up like I always do. When we were all done we went to this room to get on some underwear and pants. As I was getting his underwear out of the drawer he started clapping and smiled great big and shouted. " I. Love. You." and just kept smiling and clapping.

I had not said it to him so he didn't repeat it. However, I do feel like it was his way of thanking me for cleaning him up and taking care of him. It brought instant tears and an instant smile to my face.
He is so smart. I just know he says stuff all the time in his head, it just can't come out. Moments like these make all the sacrifice worth it.

Life is hard. Some days are harder than others. It is so easy to get frustrated and long for a better life. However, moments like I had earlier this weekend just simply make everything better. Its the gas for my engine to keep moving. I feel so blessed to have had that moment. Every time I hear him say it spontaneously is a miracle. It is proof of our hard work and sacrifice since he started therapies at 18 months of age. It is simply a miracle that I get to witness and be a part of from time to time.
It might mean something more today than it did the last time he did it a few months ago because he and I have had it very rough lately. It was simply the best "early" Christmas gift that he could have given me:)


He also has done some pretend play and imitating lately. YAY!!!


He wanted to feed all of his friends at once:)

The pretend play and imitating came from a video that he watched. It only lasted a few minutes but it was the closest that he had came to playing with anything in a very long time at home!!!!!!!!!!!

Sunday, December 4, 2016

15 Steps Back

So, I've been on a break from blogging for while now. I still don't intend to blog as much as I did before. However,  I do plan on posting here and there for our fantastic, loyal supporters:)

You can basically say I have been on this journey of autism for almost 6.5 years. Trenton is almost 6 1/2 years old and was a difficult baby from the beginning and I always had to do things for him that went against the "typical" parenting of a baby/toddler/child.

When all you know is one certain way, you get accustomed to it. It is your normal! For example, I don't know what a normal 6 1/2 years old child does. I don't really think about it but when I am with typical children Trenton's age, I am flabbergasted! Sometimes it feels like I get suddenly slapped in the face with a reality check.

Wowsers!So that is what life could be like? And I thought things have been good for me the past year?!?! WOW!!...words like that get tossed around in my head.

When a parent of a child with autism says, "It's a roller coaster ride."...well please believe them because it is! You can be going up with everything and feel like you are on top of the world and then you suddenly drop all the way to the bottom and everything that you have worked so hard to achieve takes a huge nosedive. It's like going five steps forward and you wake up one day and you are 15 steps behind where you were the day before. When you wake up fifteen steps back you realize it is not just your child's disability that has brought you where you are, its also other life situations....other situations that arise such as your own personal health that has taken a decline and the answers you get told over and over from the doctors are, "Stress has caused this. Prolong stress takes a toll on every body organ when it is continual stress.  It's the stress that is aging you. It's the stress that is making ________ happen."
 All I have to say back is...it has been over six years of sacrifice and taking care of dependent 24/7 that will always be a dependent....how do I get away from stress?!?! Oh and I am a single mother of another child too...the stress...it's always there because I want their life better!

Also, on that day you woke up fifteen steps behind where you were, you also find out that certain people come into your life and then they run away quicker than they entered because of the trials.

Trials. That is what life is about. Some have more in life than others. Some peoples trials are quick and then they are healed and moved on with life. Some are life changing trials. Some life changing trials happen later in life and some happen early in life. Some trials are so hard for others to even fathom.

God's plans are not always our plans. They seem confusing, disappointing, and frustrating to some at times. But God's plans are always better, always bigger, always longer-lasting. God wants to see what is in our hearts. Understanding God's plan takes time. It doesn't happen over night. I have been praying and trying to understand God's plan for the boys and I for a long time ago. I have no doubt God picked me for this role in life because he knew I wouldn't give up. He knew I would sacrifice every square inch of everything I got for T-man. Sacrifice....it's what Godly people have to do. Sacrifice is what we have to do to get the bigger and better gift in the end. 

Our life isn't really our life. It's God's life to us. It's the role he chose for us to live in this beautiful world that he created. Therefore, it doesn't matter how many steps back in our life we take from time to time. The trials are never-ending and they will always be there for some people. It is part of the rollercoaster ride.

I find myself wondering at times what kind of person I would be if it wasn't for the trials. I truly do believe that everyone is faced with a trial in their life to test their character...to test their heart. God loves our hearts more than he loves anything else about us. I wonder if I passed up on trials earlier in my life? HMMM....makes me think.....

All in all, its been a rough patch and I choose to keep it to myself on the specifics. Trenton went to the doctor last week so hopefully we are on the road to getting him what he needs because that is what it is all about....Trenton...he is the one with the real big trials. It is all about T-man!!

In case you missed our smiling faces...here ya go! We still know how to smile behind our trials because we have God on our side. He helps us through and has led us to some amazing places so far on our journey. I am looking forward to see what the good Lord has in store for us in the future.




Friday, November 25, 2016

Break Time

As of right now, I am taking a break from blogging due to certain circumstances.  Thank you for following our story and I hope to be back soon one day.

Monday, November 21, 2016

Everyone has a story

One of my daily devotions today was "Everyone has a story". The devotion was as if I wrote it. It is absolutely everything that I have said before. It  was my exact words when I spoke at my last event...everyone has a story. What is your story?

Often when I am in the grocery story or at the gym running I look at someone and wonder what their story is. Do they too have a child with special needs? Have they went through a divorce? Have they lost a parent, a child, or a friend too soon?  Are they suffering from cancer? Do they suffer from a terrible, hidden disability? What is their story?

Each and every one of us has a story. Just as Tim McGraw's big hit says, " Stay humble and kind." We all need to be humble and kind to everyone. We do not know what the struggles of the person next to us in the check out line goes through. So instead of pulling up your phone and getting on Facebook, look at them and give them a nice nod or smile. Speak to them...say hi...strike up a conversation. It could be someone who is literally dying inside and it just might make their day a little brighter.

We can't control how our life turns out. God is in control and handles that.

As my story goes on with the boys, I have found myself to be more compassionate to others. It's okay if the lady you passed in the grocery store doesn't smile at you....maybe she just found out about the death of a loved one. Therefore, just give everyone a nice nod and a smile. Help spread love to others. It is exactly what God would have wanted.


Sunday, November 20, 2016

He can always make me better:)

It was a terrible day yesterday. TERRIBLE! ( Explain in later post) Today doesn't appear to be much better. But, at the end of the day I can always count on Andrew to say something to make it better. Yesterday was one of those no make-up, hair thrown up any which way with comfy clothes on kind of day. Andrew looked at me right after his bath last night and said, "Moochies you are so pretty with no make-up on." BAHAHAH....This kid is great!!! He always knows how to make Mommy feel better.

Friday, November 18, 2016

Doctor

Andrew had an unexpected day home with Mommy on Thursday. He woke peeing blood and it was a lot of blood. It scared me to death. Of course, we went to the doctor and he is on medicine for an infection. The doctor was in shock at how much he had in his urine. He said it was very uncommon in little boys. He sent his urine off for more testing. We pray they don't find anything else.



Wednesday, November 16, 2016

My Boys

Love my boys:)
A few good pics of us that I took the past few weeks. Love them more than they know!




Psalm 127:3-5  Behold, children are a heritage from the LORD, the fruit of the womb a reward. Like arrows in the hand of a warrior are the children of one’s youth

James 1:17 Every good gift and every perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of lights with whom there is no variation or shadow due to change

Tuesday, November 15, 2016

Self Stimulatory Behaviors

The majority of individuals on the spectrum have a "stim". A stim is a self stimulatory behavior which is repetitive body movements or repetitive movement of objects. Researchers have suggested various reasons for why a person may stim. One set of theories suggests that these behaviors provide the person with sensory stimulation . Due to some dysfunctional system in the brain, the body craves stimulation; and thus, the person engages in these behaviors to excite or arouse the nervous system. Another reason why people with autism stim is  that these behaviors release beta-endorphins in the body and provides the person with some form of internal pleasure.

Others stim because these behaviors are exhibited to calm a person. That is, the environment is too stimulating and the person is in a state of sensory-overload. As a result, the individual engages in these behaviors to block-out the over-stimulating environment; and his/her attention becomes focused inwardly.

Trenton has had numerous stims. His main ones that he always reverts back to is verbal stims with noises from his mouth and the constant rearranging of his toys, his constant pacing, etc. Often a person may refer to autism as a person who flaps their arms and hands. A few years ago Trenton flapped for about a 24 hour period but that was it. Trenton has started flapping again about nine days ago and he is still doing it a lot. I wonder how long it will last this time.

Monday, November 14, 2016

Going to Sleep with "Item of the Day"

Both boys go to bed with their "item of the day". Trenton's is a small hand sanitizer in an animal covering.
 Andrew has been attached to our pressure roller so he went to sleep with it tonight.



Testing of Faith Produces Perseverance

It is very easy to want and demand everything to happen NOW! The type of world we live in doesn't help that either, it only makes it worse.  The world makes us forget about what the scripture says and all the examples that we have in the Bible that tells us the opposite way the world is going.

Consider it pure joy, my brothers and sisters, whenever you face trials of many kinds, because you know that the testing of your faith produces perseverance. Let perseverance finish its work so that you may be mature and complete, not lacking anything.” James 1:2-4

If you go to the Bible for examples, you will find that Noah waited 120 years for the flood, Sarah and Abraham waited nearly 100 years to be parents. These and countless others waited on God and since they waited and were patient, they were rewarded.

Today, most people do not want to wait. It is hard to wait. We want what we want and we want it now. It is so easy to get inpatient like the rest of the world. But, we must remember when we wait we learn to be a better person. We build strength and perseverance which is a very strong trait of a Godly person.

I want things to be better for my boys now. I would love that but God knows better. He is using this time to build me up and to make me an even stronger woman. He is seeing what is truly deep in my heart and that is not giving up...being there each and every step of the way with the boys.

Would we all really appreciate things if God just gave them to us. If you think about it....I am sure we all know a spoiled person and that is why they got the name "spoiled" because things were always easy for them or just handed to them. God doesn't want to hand us things in life which is why we have trials and hard times. It is to build us up and to make us a better person if we respond that way.

One of my trials is autism and divorce and if I would predict, I am predicting that it is literally taking years off of my life. Stress does that. But, overall I am living a better life than if things were just handed to me. My heart is more open to others and I am a more empathetic person than before. My strength is better. God has taught me a lot in these years of trials and that is exactly what trials are for....to build us up if we allow it to. It is to see what is really in our hearts. It is to test our faith.

If you are facing trials in your life, just remember it is happening for a reason. Open your eyes and find out what you need to find out about yourself and who you need to become from your trials. I suggest you open your Bible and read the examples of how others went through trials. It helps me to know that others had to wait and build up their strength and perseverance.

Sunday, November 13, 2016

Birthday

Andrew had been counting down his birthday very regularly since the very beginning of October. He started talking about his birthday since August. The one thing that he kept telling me he wanted was a birthday party with "friends" there. To Andrew, everyone is his friend but he was talking specifically people his age.

After he started school and making friends became very hard for him, he started  to worry that no one would recognize his birthday let alone come to it. Andrew said numerous times, "No one likes me at school. No one will come to my party. My birthday party will be terrible." A little piece of my heart was tore away each and every time he would say that.

I witness Andrew weekly around kids his age, his peers from his class and other places. He is very socially awkward and it hurts to watch so I can't imagine what he feels like. Sadly, I have witnessed kids his own age say very mean things to him and "bully" already. It is such a huge shock to me how neurotypical children are these days and how down right mean some of them  can be. What is even sadder is how the parent reacts to their child being mean to my child. I have came to the conclusion that there are many parents out there who don't realize how lucky they are and who simply don't discipline and try to raise their child right these days.

Anyway, Andrew ended up having a wonderful party and he had two friends come besides family. Andrew was on cloud nine because he was five. He had an amazing day and socialized really well (Andrew's confidence is the best when his cousin Lincoln is around.)  I was very happy to see how happy Andrew was at his party and how he was bouncing on the bounce houses with all the other kids. It was just a reminder of how it really is the small things in life that can make us the happiest:)      
Psalm 68:19 Blessed be the Lord, who daily bears our burden, The God who is our salvation

Bouncin Barn

Andrew had a fabulous party at The Bouncin Barn yesterday.





Thursday, November 10, 2016

Andrew is Five!

I have a birthday boy on my hands tomorrow! Andrew finally gets to hold up a whole hand. My baby boy that was born on Veteran's Day in the year 2011, is five!

He has been such a joy in my life. I have seen him struggle in many ways but I have also witnessed amazing joys in his life.  He has been one of the greatest teachers that I know.

As Andrew gets older, he is becoming one of the sweetest little boys with the biggest heart. It sure makes me know that I am raising him up right. He has a love for God that is very strong and a love for his brother that keeps growing daily and it is amazing to watch.

He is very in tuned to the world and catches on to things that many kids his age would never catch on to or even realize, let alone  talk about. Not many children at the age of four talks about how hurt he is  and sad about something but he is going to love and show others how to be good. He knows when people do wrong and it upsets him but he wants to help them. Seriously....Andrew is amazing. I would love to get in his brain and find out even more that he doesn't talk about.

He still has many challenges due to his autism and they become more evident as he gets older. However, he is a hard worker. Between him and his Mommy who works daily to help him, he will be the best he can be one day. I just know it:)

Enjoy being five Andrew! It is a honor to be your Moochies and to spend our life together. I love you more than you ever know.

It's been an amazing 5 years so far!






Dentist

If you woke up today breathing and able to go about your normal day, then please consider yourself lucky. If you lived through the day and are able to crawl in your bed and pull the covers over your healthy body then please consider yourself lucky. I know I consider myself lucky even with all the trials I go through.

It is so sad all the people in this world who have a voice and are able to talk but use it to do nothing but spread negatively.  I'm not going to lie....I logged on Facebook today and immediately got off. Good grief, it was terrible.

I can't help but think, "What would some of these people do if they had my life? What would these people do if they were like Trenton and many other children who can't speak...what would they do if they had such fear every day and couldn't even leave their house....what would they do if they had severe sensory problems and couldn't even brush their teeth like a normal person should...what would some of these people do if they couldn't even sit down and relax on their couch when they don't feel good because they have a child who doesn't stop moving and getting in harms way so he has to literally have an adult with him by his side 24/7....what would some of these people do if  they never were able to leave their house past 5 o'clock....what would some of these people do if they were never able to sit at a restaurant and enjoy a meal relaxing with their 6 year old? I could say so many but it would never end! Seriously, would people still have such negativity about things if they went through major, life changing trials?

Today, I took Trenton to the dentist. It was not the worst experience we have had but it wasn't the best experience either. Trenton did well waiting in the waiting room and pacing back and forth making his noises. When we walked back to the room, it was a different story. I won't go into every detail but I had to hold him down like always. I found out today that it is much harder to hold him down now than when it was even a year ago. He is getting bigger and stronger which makes it much harder.

As I was laying on his body while he was squirming and screaming, he did something different. It was something he has never done before. He kept his eyes glued on my eyes. I talked to him the whole time making sure he knew he was doing good and that Mommy loved him and was there for him. Trenton has never kept his eyes on me during all of the numerous times that I have had to hold him down. Before, his eyes were always everywhere but I felt reassured today that he kept his eyes on mine. I felt like he was taking in every word that I was saying to him.

Our day to day challenges are exhausting on both Trenton and Mommy. It was torture to put Trenton through that today but it had to be done. If you have never had to hold your child down just to put a toothbrush to his front teeth or just so a dentist can simply look in their mouth, then consider yourself lucky.

I consider myself very lucky. It wasn't fun today by any means and those visits never will be. Our days are difficult and will always be difficult. However, I am open about them so I can help educate the world. One thing that I have found is that the people who lack knowledge on things are the people who tend to be negative or pass judgement on situations. I am sure there were people in the dental office who just simply thought that Trenton was being a difficult child. However, that is far from the truth and if people like me don't share our stories and educate others than individuals with autism will always be judged.

Another thing that I have learned along the way is that it takes going through something to understand. I don't wish what we go though with autism on anyone. I don't wish the pain of a divorce or the pain of abandonment that is felt when a spouse leaves on anyone. However, just maybe if everyone is educated on everyone's trials in this world, there wouldn't be such nonsense and such negatively in the world!

We are all different. We all need to accept, educate, and move on while helping each other out.

Wednesday, November 9, 2016

Huge Improvement in two years

Below is a link to a post on my blog that I posted in 2014 shortly before Andrew started ABA therapy at Harsha Autism Center. You can read through this post and see how much Andrew has improved in two years. It is amazing to me!!
Again, all I can say is to NOT deny what is going on with your child. Get them the help that they need because it can make a huge difference in your child if the right help is started early in their lives.

It was only two years ago that Andrew was just simply repeating language. He would repeat back what I said to him or he would simply walk around repeating language that he had heard before whether it was earlier that day or a week or so ago. Now, he can carry on a conversation and simply doesn't stop talking:)
Love you Andrew! Keep up the amazing hard work Lil A!

http://twobrothersonejourney.blogspot.com/2014/08/andrew.html

Tuesday, November 8, 2016

Thank you & Pizza

It's been rough on Mommy lately.  Thanks so much for all the thoughts and prayers. I have some pretty amazing people here in Terre Haute that love my boys. I can't thank you all enough and I know you know who you are! Thanks to everyone who came to our aid last week:)

What was amazing tonight was the simple fact that I didn't have to worry about supper after a long day of school, therapy, and appointments. We had some ladies from our church bring us by pizza! The boys were thrilled!

 Trenton clapping at his cheese stix!!

Monday, November 7, 2016

First Signs in Andrew

I want to talk a little about Andrew this week in honor of his upcoming birthday!

I get asked often about what were the first signs in the boys that I noticed. Both boys were completely different babies and displayed signs of autism at different ages. Andrew was such a happy baby and toddler. Therefore, one of his first signs was when he suddenly stopped smiling and greeting me when I would get home. Around 20-22 months of age, Andrew really got sucked into his own world. He didn't care about who came home.....he didn't respond to his name....he just was in his own world. The picture below is a very typical picture of Andrew from 22 months of age-27 months of age. He would not look at a camera and smile. He used to love to smile for the camera too and it suddenly disappeared. He soon became obsessed with stickers and placing them on top of each other on his shirt.
 Then he started to get obsessed with making lines.
Around this same time, Andrew did not sleep. He would wake up every half hour to hour screaming and crying. He only wanted me. About fifty percent of the time, Trenton was awake running wild in the house while I was trying to calm Andrew down. Wow...we seriously have lived through some things that most people can't even fathom or even begin to imagine.

Shortly after Andrew was diagnosed with autism and started therapy, he made huge improvements. Andrew responded and still responds fantastic to therapy.

I am so proud of him and his huge improvements that he has made the past 2 1/2 years. I honestly don't think Andrew would be where he is today if it wasn't for being so proactive and catching his signs immediately and getting him the early on therapies that he needed.

The one therapy that was the best for him was Applied Behavior Analysis. Andrew immediately started to make huge improvements once he started this type of therapy at Harsha Autism Center in Terre Haute. He responded well to it and worked with some of the best therapist that we have ever met.

Now, he smiles great for the camera. He stopped making lines but has recently started again but he sleeps great at night!!!
If I could give any advice tonight it would be to NOT deny what is going on with your child. Get them diagnosed and start therapies as soon as possible. I really do believe that it can make a world of difference in your child. The sooner you get them the help that they need, the better they will be able to cope with their autism.

Sunday, November 6, 2016

Speaking Event

I had the honor and privilege to speak at the Lawrence Crawford Association for Exceptional Citizens on Friday night. I was asked to come speak, share my story, and my book. It was the best night! Seriously! It was the second time I spoke in front of an audience and there was a very nice size crowd which made me nervous. LOL! It was the first time I got to speak about my book. What an amazing night it was!!

LCAEC is about supporting the independence of individuals with Intellectual Disabilities to the fullest extent possible.  Their goal is to do whatever they can to help them overcome the challenges their disabilities present and live full, enjoyable, productive and as "normal" a life as those without those disabilities.

They operate sheltered workshops in Lawrenceville and Robinson, IL as well as an 8-bed CILA home in Robinson.  They are able to provide a wide range of services from Evaluation to Case Coordination to Goal Setting and Work/Work Training, as well as Referral to other agencies and organizations. 

The banquet they had on Friday night was to honor all of the businesses in the areas that keep this organization going. It was for the families and the individuals they help and for their employees. I met some AMAZING families. It was nice to see and talk to families of grown adults and to hear their encouraging words. To talk to a family who has lived through it and is going through the adult stage of a child with a disability really helps prepare me for what lies ahead.

As I took the stage, I was nervous but within minutes my nerves were gone and I felt great! I do believe this is just the very beginning of an amazing advocating role. As I told my crowd, " Everyone's life is a story. I chose to tell mine to help others and to help connect the lonely world of autism." No one else is going to advocate for their children other than the parents and loved ones.

I was so happy that my mother, who has been one of my biggest supporters and biggest help to the boys was there to watch me. Lil A was there too! It was awesome to look out in the crowd and to see him sitting on his Nana's lap while I spoke and talked about the disability that simply makes things hard for him.

It was bittersweet to see all of the adults with autism and other intellectual disabilities. A few grown men reminded me of Trenton and I sat there wondering if I was looking at my future. They made me smile and I just wanted to go up to each and every one of them and hug them for ever.

I can't praise this organization enough! When I move back to Clay County, Illinois I just may switch my goals and dreams and look into getting an organization like this going. Lawrence and Crawford Counties in Illinois are very blessed by this organization and praise to the businesses that donate and help this organization keep on going because we all know the state of Illinois lacks in funds.

I wish I had a pictures from the night. My mother forgot to take pictures of me speaking and I was extremely busy selling books and talking to people. So I don't have pictures:(


Below is Andrew and I right before we left for the banquet. He was so cute on Friday night. Before they called my name he gave me a great big kiss and said "Good luck Moochies"
As I always say, It is amazing the doors the good Lord will open for you if you trust in his plan! Praise all my glory to Him for everything!

Wednesday, November 2, 2016

Introduction

I have a lot more followers these days, so it is time for another introduction!

Below is a picture of Trenton, aka T-man. He is my first born son who has severe autism. He is the reason my life took a traumatic turn in 2010. Trenton is non-verbal. He can say a few words such as juice, cookie, spaghetti, ketchup. However, overall he can't communicate his needs. He literally did not sleep the first 5 years of his life. Now, thank goodness, he does! We may be up everyday at 4 AM but he will sleep till that! Woot Woot!!
He has a lot of sensory needs and they are severe. He has to constantly be moving. His body needs it. It helps him to feel his body. He is not a child that can just sit still, he has to move. He paces and runs non-stop. He is rarely still.

He is a wanderer. Hence why we have special locks on our doors. He doesn't know danger. He has severe anxiety issues. He can not go places, especially unfamiliar, small indoor places like a home or restaurant. This is due to his anxiety and sensory problems. He does much better at unfamiliar  places if it is outside but it has to be low-key and with Mommy. Even at that, he only last about 45 minutes. He makes a lot of upset noises and sounds when his anxiety is acting up.

It took me 16 months but we finally achieved potty training, with pee anyway. It was brutal! However, I am so glad that I stuck through all the kicks, screams, scratches, pulling of hair and everything else because the long hard 16 months was worth it! He can't tell me when he has to  go, I just make sure I take him to the bathroom regularly to avoid accidents.

Trenton doesn't play with toys. Instead he just paces and walks around the house and make messes. He loves to scatter his animal figures and line them up but he won't play with them. He likes to just look at his animals. He loves to watch Baby Einstein videos on youtube and Elmo's World.

He is my hero! The reason behind all of my advocating and awareness that I do. He is truly my heart and I am truly his voice:)
Below is my second born son, Andrew, aka Lil A. Andrew has mild autism and is completely different than Trenton in almost every trait of his autism. Andrew talks and doesn't know when to stop. He has to know every single little detail of everything. He has a hard time reading social cues and to know what is appropriate and what is not appropriate.

He is very social and wants friends. However, he doesn't know how to make friends and doesn't know how to play appropriately with his peers. He gets really low self esteem. Once something wrong happens, it can ruin his day and he won't recover till the next day if he recovers at all.
He has a lot of sensory problems as well. He is very sensitive to noise and his whole surroundings in general. He is delayed in motor skills and appears to be clumsy to others but he simply has a difficult time managing his body as he gets bigger.

Andrew will get an obsession and fixate on it and it literally controls his life until he gets a new obsession. Andrew loves Cars, PJ Mask, Blaze and the Monster Machine, and superheroes!

Andrew is my other hero and the reason I do all of my advocating work.
There is so much more to both boys but I just wanted to give you a quick introduction....Oh I guess I should introduce myself, right?

I am a former special education teacher. I currently am unable to work. I take care of the boys and manage therapy and school schedules daily. I am a single mother. My ex-husband left a year ago. I do a lot of freelance writing which lead to my first book, Two Brothers One Journey: The Loving, Courageous Struggles of an Autism Mom.. I volunteer for Autism Speaks and The Autism Society of Indiana. I do anything that I can to connect the autism world together. I am very active in all autism awareness events. When I do have a few minutes of spare time I love to drink coffee and run!

Thank you so much for following our story and allowing me to educate you on what life is like with two little boys on the opposite ends of the spectrum.

Saturday, October 29, 2016

Halloween 2016

Halloween weekend 2016 was perfect! A perfect ending to a stressful long process that I have been going though since my divorce and it was finally finalized this week. I don't get into a lot of details about a lot of things on here but boy can I just tell you that I have learned a lot about the whole system since my husband first told me he was leaving almost one year ago. The system is not set up to help anyone who is left behind after a spouse leaves a wife and two children with special needs. It was acknowledged clearly by the courts that I couldn't work based on Trenton's needs alone but at the same time it is impossible to get the help that you need.

 One thing that I have been working on since February was getting the house in my name which would have been impossible if it wasn't for a few special people in our lives who literally stop at nothing to make sure the boys and I are okay in this life. The whole process...what I have had to do.....the way I have been talked to because my only income is X amount from my ex husband which isn't enough to live off of so no one wants to approve me for anything because I  bring in X amount for three people. I have been looked down upon and talked down upon because my income is  X amount. It is seriously so WRONG how people judge everyone off of a stereotype. If only everyone knew Jesus this world would be such a better place. Stereotypes would not be known and the only thing known in this world would be good. Sadly, that's not the case.

Anyway, the house is finally mine.....which leads to only more problems now. However, I had papers to get the house in my name and I finally achieved that. I am looking forward to not having any more phone calls or faxing of papers to prove to loan companies that I am not a bum.......atleast for now. I am looking forward to not having to answer to people who know absolutely nothing about autism and why it is extremely hard for a single mother of two children with special needs that lives in a town with no family of why I can't work. SO LOOKING FORWARD TO BEING DONE WITH THIS WHOLE PROCESSS!!!!!!!!!!!!

So...celebrating Halloween surrounded by our loved ones in a community that has done nothing but support us was the perfect ending to a stressful, long process!


If you can't tell, our theme this year was Star Wars. We have Andrew to thank for that. However, he is the first one to tell you that he doesn't like Star Wars, he doesn't like to watch Star Wars...he just wanted to dress up as Stormtrooper:)

It was precious to watch Andrew see Lincoln and run to him and hug him. He is truly the only child that he is comfortable with.
Grandpa & Grandma Great with the whole crew!
Uncle Bob with the crew!
My special cousin, Nikki with the Star Wars crew:)

After we went to our few places to trick or treat (We can't do a lot with the Trenton so we do a few and that is his limit. He did fantastic!) we had our annual Halloween campfire and hayride! Andrew LOVED roasting his hotdogs with Pops.

 

Trenton and Mommy practiced going out in public today. We walked around town holding hands. He did great! He even stayed for a few minutes to watch the parade....although it was more like walking along side the parade for a few minutes and then he had enough.

The number one thing that made this weekend PERFECT was when Trenton walked up to me and said, " I love you." all by himself!!! I didn't prompt him....I had not said it to him first.....he just spontaneously said it! THIS. IS. HUGE!!!!!!!!

Friday, October 28, 2016

October 13

After preschool yesterday, Andrew and I went to the store to grab a few things. When we were checking out, Andrew did a little cough. He has had a lingering cough for the last two weeks.

Anyway, Andrew coughs and the cashier, to be nice, looked at Andrew and said, "Oh no. You must have that cough that is going around."

Andrew said, " I first coughed on October 13. That is October one three."

Cashier kind of looked at him funny and said, " I hope you get over it soon."

Andrew says, "Well. I've had it since October 13. That is the first time I coughed in October and I will let you know the last day that  I cough in October. It is 2016. In 2015 I coughed on a different day but don't remember what day that was. My Moochies takes care of me so it's okay that I cough a little."



Thursday, October 27, 2016

Halloween Class Party

I had another great day with Stormtrooper and his preschool class. What a big, fun day we had celebrating Halloween!


Good Job Trenton!

I picked Trenton up from Harsha Autism Center yesterday and heard the best news! His coach said he participated in parallel play with a few peers! Plus, he played Duck Duck Goose and Ring Around the Rosey!  Such a small thing... I know.....but it was huge to me!!! So proud of you Trenton!


Tuesday, October 25, 2016

Field Trip

Andrew had a field trip today. I went along and was looking forward to a great time. Andrew and I had an excellent time. However, it was rather heartbreaking at the same time. Andrew did not engage with any of his peers the entire time. I watched as the other four and five year olds laughed and played together. Andrew was glued to my side. The more I tried to encourage him to play with his classmates, the more he got upset. "They don't like me." "They never play with me." are the words that came out of his mouth repeatedly.

I hope and pray this part of his life gets better!

He was really excited to see Tow Mater:)


This picture speaks millions to me....
The whole class has the same color of t-shirts to wear on field trips. This year the shirts are orange. Last year the color of his class t-shirt was blue. It took 20 minutes to get Andrew's t-shirt on him because it was not blue. He kept saying "It's suppose to be blue not orange." He had a very difficult time accepting that the shirts were orange and not blue this year. The first half of the trip, Andrew would not stop talking about the t-shirt. He tried repeatedly to take his shirt off. I wonder if his inability of being able to accept a different color shirt was part of his problem with not even trying to participate with his peers?!?