Tuesday, May 31, 2016

Two Brothers One Journey:The Loving, Lonely Struggles of An Autism Mom

Two years ago when I was sitting around Terre Haute while the boys were at Harsha Cognitive Center, I started writing a book.  I am very happy to let you know, that it is finally a published book:)

Between my mother and I we have purchased and read over 20 books on autism since Trenton's diagnosis. Many of the books were memoirs and others were educational books. My book is both, a memoir and educational. It is not a life story but rather a book that is a collection of thoughts on how I battle the effects of a life changing condition with my boys. The book was wrote with the idea that I was educating a new family of what to expect on their journey with everything from their daily battles to the emotional roller coaster that they have just entered.

It is not my last book either. In fact, I already have two more ideas for books. However, those will be several years down the road. In the meantime, I hope you enjoy this book when it comes out:)

Please stay tuned for the release date. I received my book copy today to look over and approve before it is released to you.


Andrew


My heart breaks for Andrew every time we leave Illinois to go back to Indiana. Every time he cries and that is no exaggeration.
"But I want to live here. This is my favorite place to live." He will say as he cries.
Every time we are on our way there he is elated! Every time we leave he is sad and cries. It breaks my heart.

A few weeks ago Andrew said, "Mommy I liked living in the grey house. That is when I got to see all of my family every day." I said, "I know Andrew. I loved living there too."
Andrew said, "That is where I had Daddy in my house every day. I guess I will start being the Daddy in our house in Terre Haute."
I just smiled and teared up and said, "Yes, you can be the Daddy around here. Mommy may need you to help me with Trenton one day."
Andrew said, " I will be Trenton's Daddy but I want ten more kids, Mommy."

Again, this morning on our way to drop Trenton off at Harsha Cognitive Center, Andrew tells me he is going to grow to be big and strong and be the Daddy at our house.
Andrew has a heart of gold. He has a beautiful, sweet soul for a 4 1/2 year old boy. He is so smart and picks up on so much. He worries about his brother and his family and it is so sweet!!
I have to say, I am doing something right and I can see it in him every day.


He has been a Pops boys lately. I snapped this picture of them cuddling the other night. So precious!


Sunday, May 29, 2016

Soaking Up Life's Moments!

One day this week on our way home from Harsha Cognitive Center, I hear Trenton start making his excited noises. Then I hear him say, "Trenton." I immediately start praising him for saying his name and he starts clapping and making his excited noises even louder.
I said, "What is your brother's name?" Trenton smiles and said, "Andrew". Again, he starts clapping and making noises. Andrew smiles from ear to ear and kept saying, "Trenton said my name!"
All three of us were smiling, clapping, laughing, and enjoying the moment all the way home:)

Love my boys to pieces!! Love celebrating and praising them each and every day.
Autism is most definitely hard but it has really made me appreciate the simple things and to soak up every minute of life in a way that I never would have soaked it up before. I couldn't have asked for a better lesson in life than the one God has gave me the last 6 years!

Saturday, May 28, 2016

Megan's Story

I am happy to post a guest post from a fellow autism mom. Thank you so much Megan for sharing your story!
Here is Megan's story....

Thursday morning. I start my day off by buckling up my two non-verbal boys on the school bus and sending them off to our local public school. When they get home from school, they don't share stories with me about how their day was or what they learned in school. Instead, I fix them a snack and then open up their backpacks and pull out my communication notebooks with their teachers to see if there are any notes to me. These notes can be about good days- accomplishments, new goals they met, sweet moments they shared with their peers, toilet training success, etc. They can also be about hard days- meltdowns, acting out, tears, etc. Then we pack up the car and head to our after school activities- speech therapy and occupational therapy. 

This isn't the way I viewed my journey of motherhood. Six years ago, as I was setting up my baby boy's jungle nursery and talking to my huge belly, the words 'autism' and 'hypotonia' weren't even on my mind. Now they consume my life 24/7. 

AJ's story starts the way all children's do. He was a healthy and happy baby, hitting all of his milestones on time. When he reached the age of 9 months, we started having concerns about his gross motor skills. He never wanted to do tummy time and we didn't know how he would ever learn to crawl because of it. We also noticed that while he could sit independently with no problems, he would still fall over more than other babies his age. He would lose his balance really easily when he would try to reach for a toy. So, we found ourselves constantly sitting him up in front of furniture or with blankets and pillows around him so that if he did fall over, he'd have extra cushion for support.

This is when our journey to a diagnosis started. We got AJ into physical therapy and we started pushing for answers from our doctor. We knew it wasn't normal for a child to scream and cry like AJ did when we tried to get him to put weight down on his legs for standing. We took AJ in for his 18 month check-up with the doctor and it was a very standard appointment- weight and height check, standard autism screener (which he passed), and shots. We shared with the doctor how he was doing the "touchdown" command and roaring like a lion and exploring many new foods. She then ordered some blood work and referred us to a neurologist to try and get some answers for his gross motor concerns.

We went in for our consultation with the neurologist the next week and after observing AJ for a little bit, he sat down and told us that he thought AJ needed to be evaluated for autism. We were in shock. He had just passed his autism screener the week before. I called our pediatrician when we got home and even she was upset, saying how she saw no signs of autism with him. Our family had trouble understanding it too. However, within that next week, AJ completely changed before our eyes. He stopped doing tasks that we asked of him, he started crying all the time, he would get upset if we went to other people's houses (even ones he was comfortable at), and he started refusing most foods. He became a different child all together. When we saw our pediatrician a few days later to discuss the neurologist appointment, she reevaluated him and decided he needed to be referred to an autism specialist. 

The wait to see the autism specialist was about 6-9 months at that time. In the meantime, we kept trying to pursue answers for his gross motor delays. However, every time we saw a new specialist about that, they just told us the same thing- he needed to be evaluated for autism. We were very frustrated and felt like we couldn't make any progress. We finally ended up receiving a diagnosis of hypotonia (low-muscle tone) and then a few months later, AJ was diagnosed with low-functioning autism.

Our battle to get AJ help didn't end there. As we started to explore ABA options for him, we found ourselves getting turned away because of his gross motor delays. We were told hat ABA couldn't help him much until we were able to get him walking. It was very frustrating to say the least. All those months we spent TRYING to get him gross motor help and we couldn't because everyone said we needed to address his autism first.Then we get the autism diagnosis and everyone says we still can't get him help until we address the gross motor delays.

Fast forward two years later and we have finally settled in to a nice routine with AJ. We found a wonderful therapy clinic that offers him individualized therapies (speech, occupational, physical). We still struggle with insurance, trying to prove that physical therapy is a necessity, but that's a whole other issue. We also have an amazing support system at school for AJ. They work with his outside therapy to make sure that all of the goals (both short term and long term) that are set for him are consistent and being focused on at the same time.

And as I sit and write this, we are currently on the wait list for our second son to be evaluated for autism as well. Its easier the second time around, and harder as well. It's easier because I know what is ahead of me. I know what to expect during the evaluation process, I know what kind of forms I'm going to need to fill out, and what calls I am going to have to make. I already have a support system, and a therapy clinic that I love and trust for my boys. I already know everyone at the school that will make up his IEP team and hopefully they aren't too sick of me yet! I'm more prepared the second time around. And I have more coffee on hand!

In other ways it's harder too. The autism spectrum is so large, but for me, I've been primarily focused on the version of autism I see with my older son. However, autism looks very different for both of my boys. One of them is a picky eater, the other isn't. One of them likes loud noises and music and high energy environments and the other hates it. One of them insists I wear my glasses every hour of the day, and the other ones is constantly removing them from my face. Getting a second diagnosis means having to learn an entirely new version of autism. 

Autism has taught me many things over the last couple of years. It's taught me patience. It's taught me how to communicate without words. It's taught me how to appreciate small victories and to measure success in inchstones instead of milestones. It's taught me how to function on little sleep. Its taught me to never give up hope. My oldest son is just about done with kindergarten and I have seen him accomplish things this year that I never even imagined. He's typing, he's matching colors, he's matching letters, he's following verbal directions, and he learned to walk! And as I begin this autism journey with my second baby boy, I'm sure I'm bound to learn even more. 

Friday, May 27, 2016

Life Is All About The Small Things

I had my front door open one day this week for one hour. I can count on one hand how many times the front door has been opened.
Why don't I open my front door, you might ask?!?! Well, I can't because of Trenton. Trenton is an eloper. If the front door was open, he would run out the front door and not look back. One time when company was over a guest left the front door open and Trenton took off running out the front door.  It happens and will happen if the necessary precautions are not taken care of.

Trenton wouldn't look before crossing the road in front of our house.  He wouldn't look for cars or any kind of moving vehicle. He would just simply take off and run.
He is an escaper and the only way to control that is to have all doors closed, locked, and the special high locks done at all times. I rarely open my blinds in the front living room. If he happens to look out the blinds and see something in a neighbors yard that he wants, then he will go into a meltdown for it. It can ruin the day! With that said, I have to be very careful about when I can even have my blinds open. I don't worry about the blinds that face the backyard because all he can see is our backyard.

Today I read a story in the news about a family that had some tragic events happen to them. The neighbors reported that the family was "odd" because they always kept their doors and blinds closed and never socialized with the neighborhood. Well, I can tell you that this family had to do what they had to do. They didn't want to live like hermits and not open their doors and socialize. They simply lived the life that they had to in order to keep their child with autism safe.

I would love to open my front door, windows, blinds, etc. OH HOW I WOULD LOVE TO! But I can't. It's about safety. It is all about keeping my child with severe autism safe at all times.

I forgot how great it felt to have the front door open the other day. I felt like I was being "social" with the neighborhood! HAHA!
It really is the simple things in life like opening my front door that means so much to me! When I say life for me is all about the simple, small things....well...it truly is folks! As simple of giving thanks for being able to open my front door!



Thursday, May 26, 2016

Special Education: Starting the Process

I am going to try to do a series of special education post. I tried to do this about one year ago and then I got away from it. I focused on writing those types of articles for Autism Parenting Magazine the past year. However, I realize that not everyone gets that magazine so I am going to try to do a series of special education post on here to help you!

I miss working! I loved working with special needs kids. I just never realized  I would have my own one day. With that said, I believe it helped me a lot. It helped to prepare me for the reality of autism with my own sons.

As a special education teacher, my heart always went out to the parents at IEP meetings. I saw them cry during the meetings. It was all I could do to not cry with them. Before I knew it, I was the one on the other side of the table as a parent, crying. I am so thankful that Trenton had an amazing teacher while he was in the school system when we still lived in Illinois. His teacher reminded me of myself when I was a teacher. She never once made me feel like I shouldn't be crying. Tears are shed because we love our children and it simply hurts to watch them have special needs.

When I was working in the school system, I realized that there were several children that had special needs and their parents didn't realize it. They were either blindsided, in denial, or never had anyone to help them. Often, the school system is where the process starts for many families. Even though your child has special needs, it doesn't automatically qualify your child for special education. With that said, let's talk about what the steps are if you think your child needs special education.

  • Start by focusing on your child's difficulties. Does your child have academic problems, delays in development, inappropriate or hyperactive behavior, difficulty staying on task and paying attention, difficulties with receptive or expressive language, etc.
  • Once you examine your child and gather their challenges, you can formally ask to begin the process of a special education evaluation. Call the school system and get in contact with the special education department. If you child is already in school, talk to their teacher or their teacher may talk to you about it first.
  • Gather all the information you can! Get information from your child's teachers & doctors. If your child is not in school yet, get information from their doctor.
An important thing to remember is that if your child has a medical diagnosis of some sort, that does not automatically qualify your child for special education. Your child will still have to be evaluated from the school system in order for the schools to see where the proper fit for you child is.

All in all, remember that you can request an evaluation for special education at any time. Don't be afraid to ask and get the process started yourself if you have to. If your child is young and just getting ready to start school, more than likely, you may the one that needs to take the initiative because you are the only one that really knows your child's ability at that point.

Please stay tuned for more special education post.

Monday, May 23, 2016

Don't Take It For Granted

It's not everyday. It's not every week. It's not every month. It's simply hit and miss when I get affection from Trenton. When it happens, I soak up every minute. I thank God over and over! I cherish it and it gets me through till the next time.
If I can give a small amount of advice to parents it is to never take one hug, one kiss, one touch for granted. Don't take anything that your sweet child does for granted. It is all gifts given to us. Some parents no longer have their child on Earth....some parents have children with disabilities....some parents have children with illnesses, cancer, you name it....there is a lot of stuff out there. So please, don't take one simple hug, kiss, or moment for granted! I know I don't and I never will again.




Sunday, May 22, 2016

Weekends on the severe end of the spectrum

We made it to Sunday Night!! We survived another weekend trapped like prisoners in our own home. Why do I call ourselves prisoners in our own home? If you are familiar with severe autism, you know exactly why.  We can't go anywhere!!

You know how people go to the store to get prepared for a huge winter storm? They know if the storm hits, they are trapped in their house. That is exactly what I do every Friday and how I feel every Friday. I have a list of items that I know I have to have enough of for two whole days. If I don't have it, I go to the store on Friday before I pick Trenton up from HCC. Why do I do this? Well, I am not like the average mom. I have two children with autism and one of them is unable to go to the store especially when I have my other child with me. With that said, that is why we are prisoners. We are trapped in our house and unable to leave unless we take a drive around town just to get out of the house. Trust me when I say the boys and I are used to taking drives. We have been taking them for 5 years now.

If I don't have an item and Trenton is out of it for two days, it is two full days of meltdowns. An autism parent has to be prepared and always think ahead in order to stop a disaster before it starts. Autism parenting involves strategically planning out each and every detail in order to save yourself from sensory overload, maladaptive behaviors, and much more.

Not every family affected by autism lives their weekends like us.  Families raising children on the milder end are more than likely able to go out and about. However, families raising children on the moderate to severe end can face these circumstances.

This Sunday we were even unable to go to church, so we really felt trapped. However, we survived. The boys had an overall good weekend.  I, of course, made the most of it and treasured every moment with my two amazing sons:)




Saturday, May 21, 2016

One Problem of Being A Spectrum

It has been over 4 years since autism has been a huge part of my life. Within that four years I have learned more than I could ever begin to express in words on this blog. There are lots of topics that I like to discuss and talk about. I fail to mention a lot of topics on this blog because  I just simply don't have the time or just don't pick that topic to discuss. One topic I don't discuss very often is how much I hate the fact that autism is a spectrum.
I'm not going to get into all the details of why I hate it but I will pass along an idea of why I hate the fact that it is a spectrum......

I am a mother to a child who falls into the severe category of autism and one that falls in to the mild end. There are more people with autism who are in the mild to moderate end of the spectrum than they are in the severe end of the spectrum. Nonetheless, the mild end of the spectrum is what seems to be discussed more  and in the news more. Don't get me wrong, mild autism has its many challenges. I know first hand and so does Andrew.

I am elated for the people with mild autism who can go on to graduate college, be a beauty queen, actor, public speaker, and the many other roles that these people have done. Yes it is very encouraging to me as a mother of a child with mild autism. It gives me hope that through our hard work, Andrew can achieve goals just like that! And I need hope!

On the other hand, it is hard to swallow for Trenton's sake. For example, I was at a seminar the other day and a mother of a child with autism told her story how her son's autistic challenges were improved through the GFCF diet and supplements. She also went on to explain that each year things just got better and better.
Another mom of a high functioning kiddo told the crowd to "stay away from all the depressing stories on autism because it is too depressing and her  life with her boys got better each year."

HA...a mother of a child with severe autism can't "stay away" from the "depressing parts" of her child's autism.

Well, it is hearing situations like that and stories like that, that is just simply hard to handle for this mother and many other mothers. First of all, if you have a child who is affected by autism severely, it MAY NOT get better. I've been doing it for almost 6 years now and it hasn't got better yet. I spoke to a mother of a 19 year old the other day who is much like Trenton and she said she is still waiting for it to get better. In some cases, it doesn't get better. In fact, it can get worse. When puberty hits some kids with autism develop epilepsy and/or PANDAS. Sadly, there are other things that hit too when they get older. Maybe your child doesn't develop other problems, maybe they just don't make much progress.

One way or the other, sometimes it is better to look at the reality of things when you have a child with severe autism than to hold on to hope from the very few success stories of high functioning families.

If I can give any small amount of advice to families of newly diagnosed  kiddos it is this.....Hang on to hope but also accept the reality of how things may turn out in life. Do your research to know the likelihood of what your child's life will be. Please know that you are on a very unique journey in life and you can't compare your life to anyone else. You are really battling your own unique disability.

Thursday, May 19, 2016

Public Restroom Issue

It has been a long time since I have posted and talked about how difficult public restrooms are for families with disabilities. With all the bathroom issues in the news lately, it has turned my attention to the issue of public restrooms and special needs. I have seen several pictures floating around social media showing a teenager laying on the floor in a public restroom waiting for his mother to change his diaper. That picture speaks a thousand words.

In 2013, of the US population with disabilities, over half (51.9%) were people ages 18-64. Forty percent (40.3%) of people with disabilities were 65 and older, while children and youth with disabilities accounted for only 7.4% (ages 5-17) and 0.4% (under 5 years old).
I don't know how many of the population needs bathroom assistance. I will have to look into that and find that figure. However, I would guess that there are a good number of people with disabilities that need daily life skills such as bathroom assistance. Not every person that requires bathroom assistance is a small child.

Trenton will be 6 this summer. I have had to battle bathroom issues for the past 3 three years. When he was around three years old, that was when it really started to become a problem. Public restrooms  are not designed for people who are not potty trained. Oh sure you can find a pull out table to lay your baby on. However, do you think those tables hold a 50 pound child? Do you think those tables are sturdy enough to hold a child with severe sensory issues who can't stop moving?
The answer is...NO!

For three years I have had to change Trenton's diapers and pull ups with him standing up. I have wiped his bottom with feces hanging off of it while I'm standing up in a tiny bathroom stall that does not allow enough room for a child with severe autism that is a pace and constant mover.
We all know how gross and disgusting public restrooms are. It was always my last resort. I would try anything and everything before I would have to take Trenton in a public restroom because they simply don't meet the needs of a kid who is not toilet trained. If they don't meet the needs of a big kid who isn't potty trained then we know they don't meet the needs of a grown adult who isn't potty trained!
You can betcha that I started thinking three years ago, "How am I going to do this when he is a full grown teenager and/or adult?"

Just another trial and problem that families raising kids with disabilities face daily.

Another bathroom issue is the opposite sex issue. I am a single mother to two boys with autism. I have already had a few looks when I walk into a public restroom with Trenton. Sure, many boys his age are able to walk into the little boys restroom and come out with the job done all by themselves. That is so far in our future that we can't even see that right now! Don't think the issue is just Trenton alone. This issue is Andrew as well,..not because he can't use the restroom on his own, but because he has anxiety issues and will not enter a restroom by himself...not even in the comfort of his own house!

Some places have family restrooms. Some places have unisex restrooms.  However, not all do! I have wondered what it will be like when Trenton is a teenage boy that I have to take to a ladies restroom because there is no family restroom. I wonder what will happen? What will others think? Do I care what they think?
NO! However, this is a real issue that needs to be addressed in our society! Children and adults with disabilities who need assistance in daily life skills have a right to a public restroom that meets their needs!


Tuesday, May 17, 2016

Pepper

We have the best cat!! Pepper follows me around the house at night. If Andrew wakes up and needs me, she follows me to his room.....then she follows me to Trenton's room. She has seen more autistic behavior at night than she would want to, but she battles through it all with us. She seriously never leaves our side. She stays right there through it all with us.


Sunday, May 15, 2016

Toilet Training

It has been over a year since I started toilet training Trenton. It has been a year of a lot of hard work. I have learned so much from Trenton. Potty training a child with severe autism is a very difficult, daunting task. One of the most important things that I have learned during this process is that a child with autism has to be 100% ready in numerous areas before even starting to train. With a child with autism, who does not learn well by observation, it is al the more important to wait until he is ready before a person undertakes toilet training.
The factors that need to be taken into consideration when knowing if your child is ready to be toilet trained is the following
  • how your child behaves at home such as compliance to problems, meltdowns, etc.
  • If self soothing & self-stimulation is an issue then potty training is going to be difficult
  • Can your child communicate their need to potty
  • Does your child notice when he potties in his pull-up
  • IS your child able to sit for 15 min by themselves
There are many other factors that go into play when it comes to potty training. However, I have learned from my experience, from the boys coaches at HCC, and from my current book that these factors are crucial and play a major role in the child's toilet training process.

The first step in toilet training a child with autism is the Schedule Training process. This is where Trenton is still at both at home and at HCC.  He is on a great schedule at HCC with his coaches and he does a great job with going to the restroom at his schedule time and doing the routine that they do with him. Trenton's brain can work so much better during structure time. Trenton's autism does not allow him to cooperate during unstructured time. Trenton's brain isn't like a neurotypical person. If he isn't in structure time, then he goes into sensory overload very easily and things come at him from all angles. If you have ever watched any of the sensory videos that I have posted then you know what I am talking about. Lights, noises, movement from people all enter in his system much differently than mine and yours. Therefore, it leads him to have very difficult behavior which leads to very difficult times when he is not in structures therapy. With that said, toilet training isn't going very well at home. We are much farther behind in the process than where he is at HCC. Nonetheless, another big indicator in training process is that it is just Mommy at home. There are needs that both boys need met and I can't meet every need and issues that arises with autism to my fullest. Therefore, both boys suffer but as you all know I give well over 100% to my boys, so we do the best we can!

After the schedule training process comes the time when we start shaping independent toileting. This is where the training starts to become more simple.  Basically, this is where he is not prompted to go to the bathroom. Even if your child is wiggling and squiggling and showing every sign of having to go to the bathroom, resist the temptation to prompt him to the toilet. The reason is that the child will become dependent upon the prompt and you and it will delay his learning to go on his own.  Now, this is very difficult to break with severe autism.

After the schedule training process, comes the intensive independent toilet training process.  The purpose here is to build generalization. Of course we want our children toilet trained but we also want them to be able to do the same thing in any bathroom, other than the one that they learned in. This too can be a big problem with kids on the spectrum.


After one year we are still in the very beginning phase of toilet training Trenton. With the severity of Trenton's autism, I have heard everything from don't expect him to be fully trained till he is around 10 but I have also heard 15. One way or the other, it is going to be a very long process. It has already been one year and we have a very long way to go!

I have changed up a few things at home with his toilet training. I have invested a lot of time and money to help Trenton with this. It is a very important thing in life. One of my top goals for him in life is to be toilet trained!!
Keep up the hard work Trenton. Mommy is doing the best that I can in this process with you.

To make toilet training fun for him, I decorated my bathroom off the master bedroom. It is a Sesame Street bathroom. He loves it!  It is basically his bathroom now. He also has a new gadget that he only gets when he is sitting on the toilet. To make toilet training more appealing to a child like Trenton, a lot of thought and hard work goes into it. Trenton is unable to sit still for 15 min. Therefore, he has to have something that will engage him for at least 15 min while he sits on the potty. Trenton's number 1 issues in not being able to be trained is that he can't sit still. I was asked the other day if Trenton ever stopped moving and the answer is No. Therefore, how can he be trained if he can't stop moving? Well, its very difficult. I am hoping this all helps. It is a huge help at HCC. He gets the ipad at HCC during potty time and that keeps him engaged long enough to urinate.

We have a great team at HCC who is helping us. I just know we will get you trained on day Trenton! Keep on working T-man! Mommy loves you!!

Thursday, May 12, 2016

Please Remove Your Son From This Building

Why do I blog? Why do I spend my only free time that I have blogging about autism? Why am I so active and involved in the autism world? WHY? WHY? WHY?

Imagine your child is in a wheelchair and the wheelchair happens to have a squeaky tire. You have an appointment to get your child to so you and your child enter the building with a squeaky tire because there is nothing you can do about it. The tire continues to make noise but you can't do anything about it because your child needs it. Then, much to your surprise, you are asked to leave the building because your child's tire is too disruptive. I wonder what would happen if that really happened?!?!?!  Do you think that would happen? I don't think there is anyone that would stoop that low and ask a person in a wheelchair to leave a building because their disability was too disruptive.  It shouldn't happen to anyone!

The other day, I was in a building with Trenton waiting for an appointment for him. Trenton was being good in my books. He was pacing the waiting room, making his noises, and jumping up and down in the waiting room chairs. I tried and tried to control him but due to his autism, he is unable to control himself.  The environment around him put him in sensory overload. The unthinkable happened after being in the waiting room for only 5 minutes. I was asked to remove my son from the building and to come back in ten to fifteen minutes because he was too disruptive.

I'm not going to lie, I lost my cool immediately. I asked this person what they expected me to do in the middle of down town Terre Haute on a busy street with a child with severe autism. They said, "take him for a walk." LOL!!!!!!!!!!! Anyone that knows anything about how Trenton is affected by autism knows that that is not possible. In fact, it's nothing but putting my son in an extreme dangerous situation. He doesn't know danger...he escapes and pulls away from me all the time...so taking him on a walk on a busy street is stupid. I told this person that and this person said, " Just take him on walk away from this building and come back."

My child can't help that he has to pace and move 24/7. My child can't help that he has noises come from his mouth. My child can't help it...just like that child in  a wheelchair can't help that they can't walk. I should not have been asked to leave a building due to my child's disability!!!!!!!!!!!! NEVER SHOULD HAVE!!!!

We live in a world where we need more awareness and education on autism. I will do it every single day until my children and all the other people with autism can live a life like everyone else.







Monday, May 9, 2016

Mothers' Day

I could not have asked for a better Mother's Day! Trenton gave me my gift a day early. On Saturday he spontaneously walked up to me twice, touched my face, turned my head so he was looking at my check and laid a great big kiss on me:) It was the best feeling in the world for him to spontaneously kiss me!!! I think it goes on top for the best T-man/Mommy moment ever!!!!


 Trenton and I had a blast on Saturday playing outside all day! I know I may take a lot of selfies but its the best way to get Trenton to smile:)
Look at his smile!! Melts my heart!! Trenton also said another sentence this weekend!!! In the middle of his noises he said, "Mommy, I need you."

We had a family baseball game this weekend! Trenton even let Aunt Mindy help him bat. Trenton's baseball experience last one minute but at least he did it!!
Little A fielding with Aunt Mindy.

Me with my mother on Mother's day and my two little boys that call me Mom!!
On the way home on Sunday, Andrew said, "Mommy I don't like baseball. I want to be a basketball player."
Andrew you are too cute!!

Sunday, May 8, 2016

To Autism Moms on Mother's Day

  I wrote an article for one of the websites that I write for. This by far has been my most popular article. It has been shared over 18,000 times on the internet that I know of. It really struck a chord with fellow autism mothers. I am so blessed by all the response from this article. It makes me so sad that so many autism parents feel the same way. What I feel daily isn't just me...it is felt by almost every autism mom and/or parent that raises their children.... it is just some talk and some keep it in.


https://autismawareness.com/to-autism-moms-on-mothers-day/

Saturday, May 7, 2016

Hannah

I pray for my boys daily. We have many people that pray for us and I just ask that you keep on praying! I know at times it can feel like prayers are not being answered but they are! God just doesn't answer them like we want him to or like we think they will be answered.

We can find many examples  in the Bible and can find lots of scriptures that keep us going. The Bible is meant for us to go to find the answers. There have been times when I get frustrated and often wonder if I am praying correctly or I wonder why God isn't answering certain parts of my prayers. When I get like that I remind myself of lots of scripture. This Mother's Day weekend I want to remind you of Hannah from the Bible.

Hannah was unable to have children for many years. She prayed and prayed daily for a child. Hannah was perseverant. Even though God was silent toward her request for a child for many years, she never stopped praying. She had faith in God!

Hannah and her husband eventually had a child.

But Hannah had made a promise to God that if she had a son, she would give him back for God's service. Hannah followed through on that promise. She handed her young child Samuel over to Eli for training as a priest.

God blessed Hannah further for honoring her pledge to him. She bore three more sons and two daughters. Samuel grew up to become the last of Israel's judges, its first prophet, and counselor to its first two kings, Saul and David.

After years of praying for the same thing, most of us would give up. Hannah did not. She was a devout, humble woman, and God finally answered her prayers. Paul tells us to "pray without ceasing" (1 Thessalonians 5:17). That's exactly what Hannah did. Hannah teaches us to never give up, to honor our promises to God, and to praise God for his wisdom and kindness

Don't ever give up! Even if you think your child will never talk, keep praying and asking for it! Be like Hannah and keep on asking!

Friday, May 6, 2016

Thursday, May 5, 2016

Mommy & Me

I had the best morning ever with Andrew. His preschool had a "Mommy and Me" morning. I soaked up every minute of it. I think I enjoy it more and treasure it more than the average mother. Andrew is blessed with being mild so he is able to attend regular school. Trenton doesn't attend school yet so the little things like a "Mommy  & Me" event at Andrew's school is just simply the best thing ever for me.  I, of course, get sad that I won't get to experience that sort of event with Trenton. It is something that I will always long for.

Andrew, on the other hand, absolutely loved having me spend the morning with him at his preschool. Andrew and I had breakfast together, we painted a ceramic tile together, and he decorated a flower pot for me and planted me a flower:) It was awesome!

 Painting his tile.
 There was a variety of d├ęcor that Andrew could have chosen to decorate his flower pot with. However, he wanted to decorate it with hearts. He said, "I want to put hearts on it Mommy because I really love you."
 Planting my flower for me;)


Andrew's teacher did tell me that he actually sat in a different seat this week at school. In his classroom they can sit down at any seat at  the table. Andrew, however, sits at the same seat every single day while all the other boys and girls switch it up. In fact, Andrew tells his peers when they are in his seat and he asks them to move. Therefore, I was very pleased to hear that he sat in a different seat this week! I think its the first time all year he has sat somewhere else!!! Way to go Andrew!!  In an autism house we celebrate the small things....even a different seat is a big thing for us!

Tuesday, May 3, 2016

Variety of Food

I love what Trenton's body is letting him do in the area of food right now! He is eating more of a variety at the same time in a very long time!!
He is eating jelly bread which he hasn't ate in well over one year! He is eating spaghetti! He is eating salad! He is eating chicken nugget...pizza...French fries....hashbrowns....IT IS AMAZING!!! I can actually switch up this food items. Seriously it has been one of these items only for approximately 2-3 months and then he would switch to another item and eat that only for a few months.
I am loving this variety! Truthfully, Trenton is too! He has a look of enjoyment when he eats lately. It is so nice to see! Love this eating phase. I will enjoy it to the fullest while it last!


Trenton is so excited for his jelly bread. He is going through the bread and jelly like crazy right now!

Monday, May 2, 2016

Twitter

I have entered the Twitter world....not sure what I think yet but if you are twitter person, come follow us on Twitter.
2 Brothers 1 Journey
@ataconrad


If I could.....I would!

In my interview with the local TV station a few weeks ago, I was asked a lot of questions that wasn't aired. One of the questions from the reporter was, "If you could change your boys and take away autism, would you?" The reporter went on to tell me that he knew a few sets of parents with a child with autism and every parent that has a child with severe autism always said yes and parents with a child with mild autism often answered no and yes. He wanted to know my take on that question.  I was glad that he asked me because that question has been very controversial in the special needs world, depending on the severity of the person with the disability.

So...you wanna know my answer?!?!! My answer is yes! Yes I would change my boys and take away their autism if I could. It doesn't mean that I don't love them.....it doesn't mean that I don't love the way they are, etc. What it means is this......If I had the chance to not make Trenton suffer why wouldn't I?!? If I could make him speak and not be trapped in his body, well heck yes I would take autism away. If I could make him feel his body like a neurotypical person...of course I would change it. I'm not sure what parent would choose to have their child suffer if they didn't have to. Now, I know it is just a hypothetical question and will never be a real option. However, if I could take away their challenges I would in a heartbeat.

I look at Trenton and Andrew and I see so much more than autism each and every day. Autism is their challenge in this world. I actually look at them and see their soul daily. If I could make Trenton's sensory problems disappear...if I could make him communicate.. if I could take away Andrew's challenges, I would in a heartbeat!

I would guarantee that if anyone witnessed or just walked in my shoes for that matter the past few days, they would answer that question exactly like I did.  It was a rough week on so many levels last week and especially the weekend. I was telling my mother today that I didn't feel like a parent. Instead, I feel like a 24/ 7 special education teacher/therapist/coach/ anything besides a parent. Of course, my mother reminded me that I was a parent as well and I obviously know that I am. However, parents of children with severe autism have to be teaching every minute. Oh what I would do if I had just one day....just one day where I could just relax and snuggle on the couch with Trenton and watch a Disney movie or just take him out in public without the autism struggles. Oh what I would do if I could say, "Trenton it's bed time." and he goes to bed. Oh what I would do if I could say, "Boys why don't you play in your rooms while I get dinner made." Instead, of turning my back for one second to find poop all over my living room walls or to find Trenton standing on the kitchen counter opening the cabinets, etc.
It is very hard to put in words the stress of taking care of a child with a disability who can't be by themselves at all...not even for 10 seconds. Sadly, he is only going to keep on getting bigger and stronger and that all brings totally new challenges that I am not ready for.

So yes....I would take away the autism if I could! I've never met a child with a physical disability that said they would prefer their child to be in a wheelchair rather than to walk. I've never met a person with cancer that said they would rather have cancer than not to have cancer.

Autism is very hard but loving them is so easy!