Thursday, May 25, 2017

Introduction time!

I have so many new followers! Thank you so much! I like to introduce myself from time to time so all my new followers know exactly who I am. Tonight, I want to do that while I give you a little history on myself:)

I am a  36 year old Christian autism mom to two amazing boys. I love to write about autism and to share my knowledge of IEPs and special education. I also write about my faith and how to keep it on this journey of life. I have my bachelors in special education. Very ironic! It has definitely helped me on my journey with the boys! I no longer teach. I am just a single momma who takes care of the boys and their therapies.  I published a book last year that you can find here....

https://www.amazon.com/Two-Brothers-One-Journey-Struggles/dp/1861516231/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1468978526&sr=8-1&keywords=Two+Brothers+One+Journey

I enjoy doing book events for my book and speaking about autism and our life. If you know someone that needs a speaker, let me know!
 I grew up in Southern Illinois in a small town on a farm. I LOVED the small town life and farm.I grew up playing sports, loved to get dirty, and basically was a tomboy.


Now, I live in Indiana with my two sons. I LOVE to workout. Working out is my therapy:) I am a very highly involved parent. If you want to know the definition of an involved autism mom then stick around....you will learn:)

Aside from advocating and raising my boys, I love St. Louis Cardinal baseball and University of Illinois basketball. I enjoy watching the Dallas Cowboys and am a sucker for a good love story movie. I LOVE country music and enjoy singing along to it with Andrew. I try to make the best of this crazy life...the best that I can while raising a child with severe autism.



My oldest, Trenton, is 6 1/2 years old. He receives ABA full time and speech and occupational therapy. He has a lot of sensory problems. He has to be constantly moving and jumping.  He is mostly non-verbal but can say a few words when prompted a lot.  He doesn't make eye contact. He does not do anything age appropriately and probably never will. I have been through almost everything with him.  His autism is severe. He has a service dog in training! YAY!!!
I could speak all day about his challenges. However, if you follow my blog, you will eventually learn.
He loves his stuffed animals, Elmo & Friends, and youtube videos!
Andrew is 5 years old and will be starting Kindergarten next year!  He is verbal and takes language very literal which causes issues. He has a lot of anxiety. One of his biggest challenges is how to socialize properly. His anxiety takes over in situations and he becomes very socially awkward.
He easily gets fixated on something and can't get it off his mind and won't move on.  Andrew is a huge Cars ( the movie) fan. He loves to play with his Cars toys, board games, and play outside.
It is not easy watching your child live their one life with such trials and difficulties. It is hard to live a life with autism. The one disability that no one can really understand. The one disability that gets judged so often. Therefore, I decided I wanted to do as much advocating and educating that I can in order to help my boys!
Both boys have taught me so much about the important things in life. They have made me understand many things from the Bible much better.
I have my days where I get down and lonely just like you. It is very common among autism and special needs parents. It was difficult in the beginning of my autism journey to understand a lot of why questions. However, I have learned to look at the positive and try to find out what God is trying to tell me. I have learned to make the most of a difficult journey. I give all glory to God and will praise him always and forever!
Thank you so much for being a follower and a supporter! You help me just as much as I help you!!! 
 The three of us make one AWESOME team!!

Trenton

T-man's therapist got a really good picture of him the other day at therapy. I love when he smiles! It's very rare for him to smile and look at me. He smiles and laughs at his animals and while he does his thing in his own little world. However, I long for him to look me in the eye and smile. He does but it is rare and I take full advantage of the moment when it happens.
Overall, he has been in a haze lately and is struggling with trying to communicate. Normally, he is fairly good to tell me, "pizza" when he wants it. However lately, he just goes in the kitchen and looks at the fridge. He can't find the word "pizza" in his brain to even say it. When I show him a pizza and ask him if he wants me to cook it, he just stands there.
He has been getting really engrossed in his own world and has been harder to get him to enter mine at times lately. It's normal for Trenton to go through periods like this. It is just one of the mysteries of autism.

Thursday, May 18, 2017

Andrew's Last Day at Memorial Preschool


For the last two years I have drove Andrew to preschool and picked him up every single day. Andrew has had some of the best teachers who have worked with us and helped us tremendously with his struggles. His teachers were there for us last year with my divorce. They have helped us in many ways other than just academics. We loved his preschool and will miss it!

Andrew has improved so much since the beginning of this year. He is one hard working little boy who doesn't let his struggles get in the way! I am so proud of him!!!

Today Andrew had his last day there. I am not ready for the next chapter. Let's hope and pray we have a good year in Kindergarten




Wednesday, May 17, 2017

Piece by Piece

Here is a link to an article on mine.

https://autismawareness.com/piece-by-piece/

Pictures for Trenton


My heart just swells thinking of the love Andrew has for Trenton. One day last week, Andrew came home with two papers that he drew for Trenton. The one on the left is giraffes and the one on the right is an elephant. Andrew said he drew those because he knows Trenton loves animals.

Saturday, May 13, 2017

The Reasons Mother's Day Is So Special

Happy Mothers Day everyone! First and foremost, let's all remember the moms out there who have a difficult time on this weekend. Many moms have lost children or many people have lost their own mother. It's just a hard time for some folks, so let's all say a special prayer for those individuals this weekend.

My motherhood experience sure didn't turn out like I imagined.  I don't have the white picket fence family. I don't have children where I can let my guard down with.  Nothing comes easy for our family because we deal with the challenges of autism.
But, what I have is amazing and beautiful. Besides dealing with the trials of autism, we have a pretty wonderful family of three. We have big hearts that see the beauty in the tiniest of things. We have God with us and we are letting Him lead us on an incredible journey.

I am blessed to have a few reasons why Mother's Day is so special.....

1. I first found out I was going to be a mother in June 2009. I was so happy. I always wanted to be a mother and a wife. I lost that baby when I was 13 weeks and always think of my "forever baby" weekly.  Even though I never got to hold that baby here on Earth, I will one day in heaven. That sweet little baby first made me a mother!

2. The second person that made me a mom is Trenton, aka T-man! He is the one that has made my motherhood experience much different than I imagined. Yet, he is the reason I am who I am today.  I walk with him and his trials daily and I couldn't imagine doing anything else! We are an amazing team together. Him and I are learning the ropes of severe, non-verbal autism together.  I am the only one that knows him inside and out. I know what his noises mean, I know what his body language means, I know what the different looks in his eyes mean....I know it all! He may not be able to tell me but  I can tell how much love he has for me. I get the most amazing look in his eye everyday when I pick him up or come home. Him and I are accomplishing amazing things in the autism world and we will keep on doing it! Thank you T-man for making me the mom that I am today. Love you, Bubba!



3. The third little person that made Mother's Day so special is my Andrew, aka Lil A.
He sure does know how to make life interesting. He has the biggest, sweetest heart of any little boy that I have ever met and I will gladly take credit for it:) If I had more time to blog, I would make everyone tear up daily with happy and sad tears from my stories on him. He is such an incredible little boy. He fights his battles daily too and is another reason why the word "Mom" or as Andrew says, "Moochies" means so much to me. Love you so much Lil A!

Andrew gave me an early Mother's Day gift earlier this week. He made it in preschool and had to give it to me in the van after I picked him up. Needless to say, I LOVE IT!!
It came with a card and the card had flower stickers in it. He said, " I know how much you like flowers so I wanted to make sure you had flowers."
He is one sweet little boy!! I can't wait for the day for Trenton to make me something!!!



I would not be the mom that I am today without an amazing example from my mother and Grandma. Those two women mean the world to me. I sacrifice daily for my boys and they sacrifice daily for us.  When I say the boys and I wouldn't be where we are today if it wasn't for them, we really wouldn't! My mom is one of the very few people that can babysit Trenton. My mom is one of the few people that is willing to come help us. It doesn't matter if we lived next door or two hours away like we do now, she is there when we need her. Thank you so much for all the sacrifices you make for us Mom! We love you so much!

Thank you so much Grandma Great for what you have done for us. The boys and I love you so much too!
Here are our favorite two women with Andrew.

Autism Moms that Inspire

I am very honored to say that I have been named as one of the top inspiring autism moms.
Below is a link to the article.

I have been blessed on this rocky road of autism. Life has a hand full of trials and tribulations. But, like I always say, there is always something good that comes out of the trials, you just have to look for it and find it.
I give all glory to God for where he is leading the boys and I.

This is such an honor and blessing.
https://autismawareness.com/moms/

Friday, May 12, 2017

Visitors

Andrew had some visitors a few days ago!!
It was so good to see our cousin, Nikki and Aunt Barb!!


Wednesday, May 10, 2017

Community Outing

I went with Trenton and his therapist today to the Bounce Barn ( a place with some inflatables and an open gym) for some community training. He lasted a half hour which was great! I would say we were probably in there about five to ten minutes too long because the last 5 minutes he had a meltdown and got on the ground kicking, hitting, etc. However, he recovered well and walked out. I didn't have to carry him out!!!! HUGE IMPROVEMENT!!
We went right when they opened and ther...e wasn't many people in there. It took both of us to tag team him and keep him safe. I know a lot of people were looking at us because they could tell something was wrong with Trenton. The older he gets the more he doesn't "blend" in. At one point a lady walked up to me and said, " I am so glad you are here working with him in this environment. Keep up the great work." Just that one little sentence made my day much better!! It was SO NICE to hear those words especially today because overall it was a very rough day......and we ended it at the dental office...NEED I SAY MORE ABOUT THAT FELLOW AUTISM PARENTS! LOL!
#autism #autismawareness #specialneedsparenting

Here is a short video of Trenton in their gym. This was his favorite spot..no one was in there besides us and it was quiet....and he had free range to run and pace the entire time:)


https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=er9SZ1wNAuo

Tuesday, May 9, 2017

Pictures

T-man loves his animals lately! They go everywhere with him.
 Pepper needs the Cat of the Year award!!! She is seriously the best cat ever!!!!
She lets Andrew do just about anything and she never gets mad.

Tuesday, May 2, 2017

My Sweet Little Talk With Andrew

The sun was finally out. The first time in a few days and I was excited to get the boys out for a fun time in the backyard today after school and therapy.
When I picked Trenton up at Harsha Autism Center his therapist warned me about some of his behaviors. I had a good feeling that our night was in for some rough patches and it sure was!
We hadn't been outside very long. Trenton was running in the yard like he normally does and I was pushing Andrew on the swing set. I am not sure what made Trenton mad but he got very upset all of a sudden and started to pick up toys and throw them while making his upset noises.
I stopped pushing Andrew and went closer to Trenton to see if there was something that I could figure out what was triggering his tantrum. I couldn't figure it out and Andrew started yelling that he wanted me to push him.
I turned my back to Trenton to walk to Andrew on the swing and Trenton came out of no where from behind me and pushed me. Then he ran up to Andrew and pushed him with great force on the swing. Trenton ran around a little bit making his noises while Andrew and I watched.

"Moochies. I wish Trenton didn't do that." I hear Andrew say in his sweet little voice.
" Me too but remember like I said before, Trenton can't help it."
"I know Moochies. Trenton is different and you say that everyone is different in their own way but Trenton is just a little more different, right?"
As I fought back tears, I was able to say, "Yes. Bubba you are right. I am so glad you remember me telling you that everyone is different. God just made T-man with a few challenges in life."
"Why did God do that?" Andrew asked so seriously
I went on to explain the best that I could to a five year old that God just makes everyone different and some people have challenges, etc.
"I wish God made Trenton like me so he could be like me." Andrew said.
I talked to Andrew how Trenton will always need him and I there to help him in life because of some of his challenges and so forth.
Andrew said, "Oh Moochies. Trenton is so much faster than me. I will never be able to keep up with him when I am older to help him. What will we do?"
I said, "He will slow down as he gets older. No worries. You will do a great job helping me with Trenton."
Andrew looked down at the ground, " I hope so because I really love Trenton and want him to be more like me."

I secretly laughed to myself! It was amazing to me that Andrew realized that Trenton was faster than him. Almost everyone is faster than Andrew....even his peers at school. Andrew is the slowest child I have ever been around. LOL!

Andrew and I continued to talk about Trenton and his challenges for a good ten minutes. Andrew asked a lot of questions and seemed to really understand. I have read a lot where siblings of a child with severe autism are the best kind of siblings. They have a good heart because they know what it is like to grow up with a sibling who has severe needs.  Andrew, even with his high functioning autism, is going to be such a great brother to Trenton. I already see his big heart, getting bigger and bigger!





Monday, May 1, 2017

My List of Top Books to Read on Autism

I have been wanting to share some of my favorite books that I have read on autism for awhile. I have read numerous books since Trenton was diagnosed. I read them because I wanted to educate myself and to prepare myself for the journey that I was embarking. The following is a list of my favorites  in no particular order.

First, I do want to remind you that I have my own book out:)

Two Brothers One Journey: The Loving, Courageous Struggles of an Autism Mom
https://www.amazon.com/Two-Brothers-One-Journey-Struggles/dp/1861516231/ref=tmm_pap_swatch_0?_encoding=UTF8&qid=1493506855&sr=8-1

1.  Carly’s Voice: Breaking Through Autism by Arthur Fleischmann with Carly Fleischmann
      Carly reminds me so much of Trenton. This book does a great job detailing what life is like with a child who is unable to communicate and who is on the severe end of the spectrum. The book is wrote by her father and Carly has some input in it as well. This book taught me a lot because Carly was eventually able to communicate at times with her parents through writing when she got older. She was able to explain why she does the things she does, etc.  This family did a lot for Carly, and they obviously had a lot of money because not everyone is able to do for their child what they did. However, I really enjoyed it. I finally found a family who had a "wild" child that didn't sleep much. I could really relate to this book on so many levels.  Wonderful book!!   

2. Silent Running: Our Family's Journey to the Finish Line With Autism by Robyn Schneider.
This is one family's story with twins who are non-verbal and severe. I enjoyed this book because the boys were always on the go just like Trenton. This family has inspired me in may ways and I have high hopes that Trenton can become a runner just like these boys. A great family where the husband and wife worked together to help their sons!

3. One of Us: A Family's Life With Autism by Mark Osteen
Wow! Great story of a family struggling to raise a child with severe autism! Again, this boy reminded me of Trenton. Definitely one of my top ones that I would recommend to people so they could read another persons words that could literally be my words!

4. Running with Walker: A Memoir       By Robert Hughes    
Another great family just struggling to raise a child with moderate to severe autism. The father just recently wrote another book that I have but had to put it down after the first chapter. Walker is now a grown man in his second book and I am not ready to read a book about that stress yet. Walker reminds me of Trenton because he was very active and would run away from his parents.  Again, a great family telling their memoir to help others!                

5.       Dancing with Max: A Mother and Son Who Broke Free by Emily Colson
I appreciate this book even more now. Emily's husband left her and she raised her son Max by herself. Max kept her on her toes just like Trenton. I laughed at some of her stories and cried as well with her.

6. The Best Kind Of Different by Shonda Schilling, wife of Major League Baseball All Star, former Red Sox pitcher, Curt Schilling. This book is great for a family who is raising a child on the higher end of the spectrum. Their son reminds me a lot of Andrew.

7. A Regular Guy: Growing up with Autism by Laura Shumacker
This was my first favorite book:) This book shared some funny and sad stories of their son. This family had two other sons who are completely neurotypical. It does a good job explaining how other children are affected by the one who has autism.

8. The Reason I Jump By Naoki Higashida
This book is wrote by a man with autism. He writes about what it is like for him and why he did things the way he did.


9. Autism's Hidden Blessings by Kelly Langston
If you are a religious person, then I think you would enjoy this book. She highlights God's  blueprint for a living a life full of joy and potential despite autism. A great uplifting book of hope!
         
10. The Out of Sync Child: Recognizing and Coping with Sensory Processing Disorder.
If your child has extreme sensory problems along with their autism then I would recommend this book. I learned a lot in this book on the sensory disorder part and how to help.  

My educational background was special education. Therefore, I have also bought and read some educational books. I also enjoyed the following educational books.


1. Engaging Autism by Stanley Greenspan and Serena Wieder
This book gives lots of practical methods for engaging children with autism. It gives ways to help cope with meltdowns...details how to help bring your child into our world...and gives various methods of therapy.

2. A Work in Progress By Ron Leaf & John McEachin.
I highly recommend this book to anyone who works with kids on the spectrum for a living. It is a behavioral management book that gives you strategies and curriculum for the treatment of behavior from autism. Its a collection of great programs for building skills as well as strategies for dealing with challenging behaviors. I keep this book close to me every single day!!!

3. Evidence Based Practices and Treatments for Children with Autism Foreword by Alan E. Kazdin
 I enjoy knowing some of the best evidence based therapies and the studies behind them which is why I enjoyed this book. This book addresses communication treatment, social awareness and social skills treatment, behavioral treatment, diets and alternative treatments, etc.
This book would be over some peoples head especially if your child isn't in therapies. However, I enjoyed it but probably because special education was my background.
My book collection is at my parents house. If I could see the collection, I am sure I would add a few more to my top list. However, these are the ones that stand out to me.                                                                                                                                                                                                                 


Thursday, April 27, 2017

The Boys!

Today at preschool was not only Western Day but it was also a day for the students to bring in their pet and do a show and tell. Of course, Andrew wanted to bring Pepper. Andrew just adores Pepper so much! Andrew and I have been preparing all week for what he needed to tell his peers about Pepper. We practice...and practiced...and practiced some more! He asked me if I was going to be there with him and I told him I was. He said, "I am always better when you are around, Moochies." He always knows how to make my day better:)
 Preparing Andrew for anything is a huge key with him. Anyway, he did great! When it was his turn he immediately blurted out what we talked about. It was adorable!!!!! I am so proud of him:)

In the other picture, you see my T-man with a huge smile! He was listening to me on the phone which obviously made him smile:) He had a very rough week last week and this week has been very rocky with him at home and at Harsha too. I believe some of it has to do with his routine being off last week.....Routine and consistency is such a huge key with these boys! It took Trenton awhile to get back in the routine which caused some major problems this week.


Wednesday, April 26, 2017

Don't Judge.....

One of the very first things I was told after Trenton's diagnosis is that autism parents are judged by others more than any other type of parent. I believe it! One of the people who told me this was a doctor. The sad thing is that the people passing judgement are simply uneducated on autism or they are around children with autism for a very short while and think they know enough to pass judgement. I have heard a lot on my journey and it is hard to hear especially when I know ...what I go through daily.
My parents stayed with me for 3.5 days last week. They are around the boys the most other than myself of course. My mom said, "When I am around the boys for an extended period of days it is such a reminder of how hard you and the boys life is with the challenges of autism. It is so different than even being around them for one day. One really must live it." So very true! You have to live it and be around 24/7 to have a full understanding of the challenges of autism. This goes for the understanding of severe non-verbal autism and high functioning autism too.
We are having a rough week again..
Needless to say, I thought this was appropriate! No one should judge autism parents because of the choices we make. We know our children the best and we have very limited choices to pick from with very few people who understand. So lets all be kind!
It doesn't matter how hard the challenges of autism is or how often I am judged or talked about by other people...I wouldn't trade my boys or my life for anything! I am blessed beyond belief. All praise to God for placing the three of us together💙💙💙
I know many of you will appreciate the picture:)



Tuesday, April 25, 2017

Have To Have Faith

I listened to an excellent sermon last Sunday at church. One of the things my preacher said in his sermon was, "I don't know why some of your children are born sick and mine aren't. I don't know why some of you battle cancer and some don't." etc...he added some other things in that section of his sermon and he is so right. We don't know why. It is something that we will never know.
I have read the Bible up and down and even more so since I have had my children. I searched and searched and look for answers as to "Why" this happened to me.  I didn't find what my tired, exhausted, sad mind was looking  for but instead I found some of the most amazing answers. I think most people turn to The Bible under tragedy to look for an exact sentence. It won't be there! Let me tell you what I have found and realize and what gets me through each of my days....

1. Trials.  We all face trials....whether it is raising children with special needs, cancer, untimely deaths of loved ones, etc, we all face trials. In Romans we read this....
Romans 5: 3-5 Not only so, but we[a] also glory in our sufferings, because we know that suffering produces perseverance; perseverance, character; and character, hope. And hope does not put us to shame, because God’s love has been poured out into our hearts through the Holy Spirit, who has been given to us.

In my trials in life, I have built my character up and have a much different appreciation on life and a better understanding of the most important book in the world, THE BIBLE.
It doesn't matter what trial you are going through...life still goes on. It doesn't stop because of your trial. It still goes on so you have to battle through it and live on with what you have been granted.

2.  People born with special needs so severe where they are always dependent on others to take care of them, is like a child. In Matthew we can read.."Truly I tell you, unless you change and become like little children, you will never enter the kingdom of heaven."
I have studied this and studied it....my boys may always be like a child. I know Trenton will. Therefore, he is one of God's angels..one that Christ wants us to be like....one that was sent here to try to make others "change their character"...to try to make others better people......they are our test...they are sent here to make a difference....they are sent here to tell the rest of us a lot and its up to us on how we respond to it. We are only here for a short while. We have one life and we all know how fast it goes. This is just a small walk compared to our next life so we all need to have a heart of a child and a heart of a special needs person!

3. In James we told to consider it "joy to have trials". It is hard to look at the trials of life as "joy" but it is. I have built my character up and become a much better person through the trials. Look at yourself and look at the character you have right now....Now think back to the person you were before the trials? Are you better? Do you have a better appreciation of things in life? Are you more thankful for the small things? Or are you exactly like you were before the trials? How are you responding to the trials God is giving you?

4. Hebrews 13:2 "Do not forget to entertain strangers, for by so doing some have unwittingly entertained angels." What is God telling us with this verse in the Bible. When we practice hospitality we just may be helping a messenger of God without realizing it. Who is the messenger? Does God send angels? Maybe he does....Maybe those adults who are like a child are angels sent from above to help us...to make us a better person...maybe they are our test.

5. None of this makes sense unless you have faith. We can read about faith in Hebrews.  God tells us without faith we have nothing!

I personally get involved in the world at times and wish so much I could do this and do that with the boys. I wish I had a husband to walk this life with. I wish the boys didn't battle their challenges...I wish everyone just got along in life and that no one would see the bad in anyone! If I could change the world and take the evil out I would! I am just that kind of person. But, the world is what it is and we have to look to find the answers to it. These are some of my answers. I could make this post a really long post but I won't. Some of this make not make sense to you without some of the other verses but stay tuned....I'll get to them soon!

Whatever the circumstance you find yourself in, God is sovereignly arranging it for your good such as we find in Romans 8:28.  Nothing can come into your life by accident or without God’s knowledge and divine stamp of approval.  Even heart breaking tragedies like terminal diseases and the loss of loved ones are ordained by God for our good.

Please please please try to find the joy in your life...no matter how hard it is....no matter how difficult your life is....try to find it. I walk this life, the one life I have been granted with many daily struggles and trials with Trenton, but I do my best to find the joy in something. It is hard and some days I don't. But, in the overall outlook, I have found the joy and I am one blessed woman with two amazing boys who are God's messengers who have taught me a lot in life!

Sunday, April 23, 2017

Trenton

As I have said before in the past, I can't imagine being Trenton when he is sick. Overall, he is a very healthy kid besides the common cold. He simply doesn't get sick much

Yes, he vomits almost weekly but it is sensory induced. (When time allows, I plan on educating you on this blog about that issue.) However, it's been awhile since he has had any kind of flu.
Even when Trenton has a common cold, it is very bothersome because he is unable to blow his nose. He won't take any kind of medication. He can smell it in his sippy and won't drink it because it makes him gag and throw up. I've tried several different way and he is unable to take medicine when he is sick.

What is it like to care for a child with severe, non-verbal autism when they get a horrible flu?
It is brutal. It is sad. It is heartbreaking.
He vomited off and on for four days. He paced around the house. He went from bed to bed to couch to loveseat to floor and he did it all over again.
He vomited in every room of the house. He just paced the house and vomited. I am sure I told him over 50 times daily that we vomit in the bucket that I was walking beside him carrying most of the time....but he never did. He couldn't help it. With each and every minute that went by from Monday through Friday, my heartstrings were pulled and tangled. I hurt. I grieved for my 60 pound boy who was very sick but couldn't tell me how to help him.

I tried daily to see if he hurt everywhere. I used every form of communication that I had in my house but it never worked. I am fairly confident that he had severe body aches. In-between all the pacing he took approximately thirty baths daily. I AM NOT EXAGGERATING. I HAVE WITNESSES!!! I think the warm water made him feel better. He would get in the tub and lay for about five minutes. Then he would get out pacing the house.

I wish he had had a body that would let him relax. I found out this past week, that his body simply doesn't relax not even when he is the sickest he has ever been.

He isn't a good sleeper already and he went two days without sleeping much other than a ten minute cat nap here and there. By the end of the second day, I started feeling like I did in my sleep deprived days. Therefore, I called my parents and they came to my rescue like they always do! They came and helped me with Trenton.

My heart bleed for him! By the end of the third day we started having meltdowns and I think it is because he was simply tired of being so sick. That was his way of telling me.

My parents have always been there for the boys and I even when I was married. I am so thankful for that! God takes care of everyone. I may not be blessed with a husband in my house that helps me but I am blessed with great parents and family who do help me when I need it. I manage everything weekly with the boys. I have managed all the challenges of autism while single parenting even through the common stomach flu, common cold, etc. This time was different. There was something about this past horrible flu that hit Trenton hard.

I am so grateful and thankful for the all prayers. We had one of the hardest weeks that we have had in a very long time. But, as always, we survived and came out stronger.

Thankfully, on Saturday he FINALLY felt better!!!


I never thought I would be so thankful to wake up Saturday morning and roll over and see this scene:) Trenton didn't even play with his animals for four days!!!

On Saturday, Uncle Brent came over to help us too! He stained my deck for me along with my Dad! It has needed to be done ever since we moved in but obviously the boys comes first and nothing that needs to be done gets done unless my family comes:)
Andrew was crazy about Uncle Brent like always. Andrew was a good boy for the most part and let me stay by Trenton's side all week. However, by the time Saturday came, Andrew was ready to play with somebody. He played a little baseball with his uncle.


Tuesday, April 18, 2017

Grandpa Great

"Bye Grandpa. I will see you next time I am here." I say as I give my Grandpa, my hero, a big hug. I had just stepped in his house, which was once the place I raised my boys at, on my way back to Terre Haute. My grandma was already out in the drive way telling Trenton and Andrew bye.

When the boys and I visit my parents, we are so fortunate to always see my grandparents. They live  in my old house on the family farm right next to my parents house.
My grandparents don't get around very good these days. It is not easy for them to do a lot of moving.

"I want to step out there in the driveway and tell them boys bye." He said all determined to see the boys off. He doesn't normally make it out to the van to tell the boys bye and it's very hard to transition the boys in their house for a quick bye. Therefore, it's normally just my grandma that tells the boys bye when we visit. However, this time Grandpa was determined to walk out to the driveway even though it isn't easy for him to see the boys off and I am so thankful he did.

It is very rare when Trenton looks someone in the eye. When he does it only last for a few short seconds. However on that day Trenton made eye contact and it lasted for the longest that I have ever seen him do with anyone.

As my grandpa approached the side of the van, he reached his delicate hand out. A hand that I love so much. A hand that I never fail to grab and hold when I am around him.
"Bye. Bye. Trenton." Grandpa says reaching for him. In that very moment, Trenton turned his head, looked at Grandpa right in the eyes and held his eyes on Grandpa for a good ten seconds. As his eyes were deadlock with my Grandpa's eyes, Trenton reached out and took his hand in his hand. In that moment, my son and Grandpa held hands and just locked eyes on each for awhile.

I watched as those two held hands and looked at each other. It was the most precious sight I had seen in a long time. It was hard to not cry. It was easy to smile. For approximately a good ten seconds, Trenton looked at Grandpa and I looked at Trenton and saw that beautiful soul! I saw the person locked inside his body. It was not only the most beautiful thing I have witnessed for awhile but it was a most amazing blessing that has been handed down from above.

I do believe that Trenton knows and understands everything that not only I do for him but what others do for him as well. There are several people who have influenced our lives and have went above and beyond to make our life possible and my grandparents are one of them. The connection that Trenton was able to make that day, although only for ten seconds, was the best connection that he has had with anyone else in a long time.
I can't help but think...Was that his way of thanking my grandparents for everything they do for us? Was he simply saying, "bye"? Did his body actually let him make a connection in that particular moment?

I am able to get him to look me in the eye daily but its only for one or two seconds and it's just a look. On this day and in that moment Trenton had a connection. He had life in those eyes! He was able to show that beautiful soul inside him.
I'm not sure when a moment like that will happen again. We never know when Trenton's body is able to let him do certain things such as eye contact. God made Trenton differently than he made me. Trenton doesn't need to look people in the eye. He doesn't need to make connections with people through something as simple as eye contact. As a neurotypical mother, I crave those rare moments from Trenton. I CRAVE THEM DAILY!! 
Each day I wonder, "Will he look me in the eye today?" "Will today be the day that I get to share a connection with our eyes?"
Most days come and go and I don't get it. I don't get that small, little thing that I want so badly....but it's okay! I just look forward to when it will happen again and I am grateful when it does.

It would have been really easy for my Grandfather to pass on the opportunity. After all he is 89 years old, doesn't move very well, and had to walk a good way. However, he pushed himself that day and he was blessed with a moment that very few people get to experience with Trenton. I am so thankful I got to witness such a beautiful sight!

This was the first moment those two locked eyes. Trenton was a little less than one hour old. Who would have thought then what our lives had ahead of us.
Job 12:12 Is not wisdom found among the aged? Does not long life bring understanding?

Wednesday, April 12, 2017

Autism Service Dog Training

I have researched service dogs  a fair amount the past few years and especially the last few months. The cost to train a service dog for a child with autism that has the needs like Trenton is a very pricey investment. The cost is as high as 20,000. The cheapest place that I found was as low as 15,000. Trenton's needs fall in the 17,000 range.

Now, some children don't need a dog to be trained in as many areas as the average autism service dog. For instance, a child with high functioning autism can receive a service dog cheaper because the dog won't have to be trained in as many areas. There are many types of service dogs for all the various disabilities. However, a dog for a child with autism like Trenton tends to be the most expensive type of service dogs and it is simply because of all the intense training and all the different areas the dog needs to be trained in.


Service dogs are usually required to accompany their human everywhere they go: to the store, the supermarket, the doctor’s office, to work or to school,  and sporting events. Whether in a crowd, exposed to loud and sudden noises or when food is all over the floor, when people are clapping or when quiet and calm is required, no matter where they are and what is going on, service dogs have to be able to perform and respond to the person they’re assisting.



 Since Trenton is not able to communicate, the dog will be trained to work with not just Trenton but myself as well. Service dogs typically know between 20 and 60 different behaviors, depending on their particular specialty. A service dog for a person with autism goes through the most hours of training of any service dog for any disability.
The behaviors the autism service dogs know can be classified into two main groups: 1/ the behaviors required for public access, like leash walking, sit, down and other basic skills and 2/ the specialized skills, such as eloping during the day, sleep issues, getting help for Trenton since he isn't able to communicate if that ever arises, being able to search for him if he ever escapes, etc. Each one of the behaviors, whether necessary to ensure appropriate behavior out in public or to specialize the dog to specific tasks, will require hours of methodic repetition with the trainer. To make things even more difficult, in order to reach the level of reliability required, each one of the behaviors also has to be practiced in a wide variety of settings and with different levels of distractions.
Again, it depends on the need of the child who is getting the service dog as to the type of training the dog needs.



Therefore, a service dog for a person with autism similar to Trenton requires a lot of different task to be trained in which leads to a more expensive dog. If the dog only needed to be trained in one or two areas then the cost is cheaper.


Here is the link to the place where I am getting Trenton's dog from.
https://www.loyaltyservicedogs.com/diabetic-.html

I enjoyed talking and interviewing the various places for a dog for Trenton. All the information I received was very similar from each place. Many of the places require the child and parent to travel and go through an intense training period with them the last few weeks of the dogs training. Needless to say, having Trenton away from his home and familiar environment that long isn't possible. Therefore, it was crucial to find a place that came to us and trained with us in our home toward the end of the dogs training. 

Like I have mentioned before, I am excited for this next chapter in our life and excited to share it with all of you!
I can't begin to thank each and every one of you that has donated to Trenton's service dog. This would not have been possible without your support. Thank you so much! This has a potential to be a life changing step for us and I couldn't be more excited and more grateful!!!
God always provides and he keeps on providing for us! It is all about faith and hope!

Tuesday, April 11, 2017

Progress with our yearly zoo outing!

I have tried every year to take Trenton to a zoo or a small animal place to see animals. Every single year, including last year, he refused to go in. He would pull my hand off of his and walk/run away. One year he lasted thirty minutes and the entire time I was managing a meltdown. He simply couldn't handle the new environment and all the stimulation coming at him. It was a terrible trip every single time. TERRIBLE! I left more stressed and in tears every single time. Last year I sat with him in the van so Andrew could enjoy some animals with my family.
A few weeks ago, I tried it again. I wanted to try it before the busy summer season started. You always have to try things at a non-busy time. It is a must! If there is a crowd it is a guarantee Trenton won't stay. We were very lucky and there wasn't many people there. The zoo was a very quiet day, few people and little stimulation. If there was a lot of people or if it was a place that had a lot of different movement coming at him from all different directions, then Trenton would have went into  sensory overload which you can read about here.....https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Sensory_overload. 
Every single thing is all about timing with Trenton. Plus, having me there is a huge plus since I have been the one that has worked with him constantly.
I am beyond HAPPY to report that Trenton walked into the zoo this year!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! We actually walked around the zoo!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Now before you start thinking it was a normal family outing, let me explain......
It took four adults tag teaming him. He did hold someones hand at all times but as soon as you let go of his hand, he kept on walking. He didn't stop. He wouldn't look to make sure he was with his family, he wanted to keep on walking. We had to pull him away from things multiple times. He doesn't know what he can look at and what he can't. He didn't stop and look at the animals, he just kept walking. So lots of times Trenton and I or the adult he was holding hands with was always ahead of everyone else. The only animal he stopped and admired for a few seconds was the penguins.

He did his anxious noises and his anxious gestures such as scratching his neck like he does. However, he walked in and it is a huge improvement for us!! I am hoping maybe in a few years he will actually stop and look at the animals instead of a place for us to just practice holding hands and walking. LOL!!!

Doing something such as this is a huge stress. My guard was up the entire time and so was my parents. If a hand is taken off Trenton, he would be gone in a heartbeat. It is impossible to have your hand on someone the entire time. As he gets older, he gets faster which means he can get away even faster.

The entire time I was there I kept thinking how our service dog will help us so much!! For example, in our future zoo trips, Trenton will be tethered (connected) to his dog. The dog will be trained to follow my lead. If  I stop the dog will stop and command Trenton to stop. I might actually be able to take my hand off of him and get in my purse without trying to wrap my legs around Trenton's legs to keep him still. Instead, I can take my hands off of Trenton and get in my purse or whatever I need to do while the dog keeps Trenton still. WOW!! I just can't imagine how nice it will be! It will be such a blessing. A blessing that has been prayed about for a long time.

The other day I took Trenton into the grocery store. I had to take my hands off of him to get  the groceries out of the cart. Every time I tried to take my hands off of him to reach for the items, he walked away. I had to stop and go grab him. I would try again and he would walk away again. I eventually put him in between me and the cart and tried to get the items out as fast as I could. I would grab an item and throw it to the cashier while I kept my body against Trenton's pushing it against the cart. We had some strange looks but I have to do what I have to do. I have a child who I can't take my hands off of! Needless to say, future shopping trips will be amazing once the dog is here. The dog will hold Trenton still while I get the groceries from the cart to the counter.

I am so proud of Trenton and how he is able to start to do some things. It has been hard work! I have lived through some of the most embarrassing moments just trying to teach him and make him to where it was possible to get him out of the house. I have had some of the rudest things said to me. It has been terrible! However, we are making progress! I am so proud of him! Him and I work on this constantly. I go into Harsha Autism Center and go with him on as many community outings as I can. We are accomplishing many great things and its because we don't stop. We work non-stop on this! Even though we work non-stop, our outings are nothing like a typical experience....nothing like what most families get to experience but it is good for us!!! It will only get better when our service dog arrives!!!
By the way, I did the final paperwork and mailed it off on our future family member. I got the final cost which is higher than what I thought but it is due to Trenton's severe needs. Just another reason why we really do need a service dog! However, the fundraiser in my hometown is going amazing!!!!  I am so excited and grateful what Flora  and the residence of Clay County are doing for Trenton. I am so blessed!! God is so good to us! God has given me one amazing life! Sometimes I think the boys and I are the luckiest people in the world. It's a hard life but I put my trust in God and knew that he knew what I needed more and it was this life! Wow...it sure is one amazing life!


Here are a few pictures. It's always hard to get pictures of Trenton and especially when he is in that environment. 



Monday, April 10, 2017

Fun on the Farm

We don't make it to Flora as often as we would like. However, when we do the boys love it. Andrew never wants to leave and always ask when he is going back. One of the reasons Andrew loves going to the farm is for all the animals. The older he gets the more he is growing into a huge animal lover:)





 We always make sure we make time for the 4-wheeler!!
Psalm 18:2
The Lord is my rock, and my fortress, and my deliverer; my God, my strength, in whom I will trust; my buckler, and the horn of my salvation and my high tower.

Sunday, April 9, 2017

Hope in Todays Youth

Too often in the news you hear of horror stories about kids doing terrible jokes on their peers who have special needs. It is just so gut wrenching to hear and read those stories as a mother with special needs children. One thing that worries me daily is how my boys will be treated by their peers as they get older.

I'm not going to share one of those stories tonight. Instead, I want to share an amazing story of how incredible our youth can be today. We all hear often, "Kids these days..." and most of the time it is followed by talking negative about our youth.

My boys and I have experienced first hand how absolutely incredible today's youth can be. Today's youth just needs  a little education on special needs, great role models, and just maybe a little more acceptance would be spread around the world.

For the last three years I have really wanted a service dog for Trenton. Sadly, the cost of a service dog is almost nearly impossible for a single mom like me to purchase. A teacher from my hometown started a fundraiser to help raise some money for me to purchase a service dog for Trenton. She got the youth involved. She got her students involved. My brother who also teaches with her got his baseball team and football teams involved. Several young high school kids are not only being educated on autism and special needs but they are displaying such amazing gestures to me and my boys. I am so incredibly thankful. There are no words to express how thankful I am toward all of them and what they are doing to help me get this dog for my son. However, what I love the most is their big hearts! I have seen such amazing enthusiasm from them. It is incredible to witness.

Little do these young kids and youth from my home town realize, is that it is giving this special needs mother hope in an area where I need it the most. So many other special needs parents need that same kind of hope. It gives me hope that as my boys get older, they will be accepted by others.....I have hope that their peers and classmates might be educated on their challenges. If only every school, town, and community could just be educated on everyone's different abilities, we just might see a little less judging and a lot more acceptance of others. I have HOPE that acceptance and education of autism and special needs is on the rise and that makes me cry happy tears!!

Not every special need has a visible characteristic which is why education is the key to others knowledge.
So, thank you to all the youth and students from my hometown. Thank you to all their parents who have a role in their big hearts. Thank you to  the entire community and teachers who are supporting this, participating in it, and making a difference in not only my families lives but the lives of the youth.

I am not only on my way to getting a service dog for Trenton but I am on my way to believing in our youth today and what they can accomplish if they are educated in  more than academics:)

Here are some pictures that I stole from Facebook of some of the faces who are making a difference.

 This year was the fourth annual autism awareness game. It keeps growing each year. It was started by my brother who is the high school baseball coach. Trenton and I stopped by the game long enough to get a picture with some of the amazing ladies who are doing this for us!
The field before the autism game. My brother puts a lot of time into decorating the field. I didn't get to see it in person but it looks FABULOUS!


 This group of young men did some great community charity work and the donation went to Trenton's dog:)


Wednesday, April 5, 2017

What It Feels Like To Be Sleep Deprived

When I meet a new autism family one of my first questions to them is almost always, "Does your child sleep?" I know firsthand what lack of sleep can do to a person and it is my number one concern for new families starting out on their journey.
I've seen numbers as high as fifty percent of individuals on the autism spectrum suffer from sleep problems. If you have been following my blog, you know that my boys are in that percentage that suffer. ...and......that means...I suffer too!

Being tired is WAY different than sleep deprivation. Being exhausted is WAY different too.
Sleep deprivation is a very serious condition and I suffered from it for several years. Now, I'm exhausted not sleep deprived....Let me explain.....

Trenton has never been a good sleeper. He has always had trouble going to sleep and staying asleep. For years he would either stay awake till 2 AM and be up for his day by 5 AM or he would crash and burn around 8 PM at night and be wide awake by 11 PM and go back to sleep around 5 AM till 7 AM. He did this up to around the age of 5. For five years I didn't get much more than two hours of broken sleep a night while handling the challenges that severe autism brings daily to our life.
Also, Andrew didn't sleep. He would often wake up screaming and crying every 45 minutes and need help being soothed back to sleep. My total hours of sleep in a 24 hour period was two hours of broken sleep.

A person can't live like that....not a neurotypical person who has a body that requires more. Slowly over time it damaged me and my body. Sleep deprivation took over because a person can't go on that little of sleep.
This is how I suffered from sleep deprivation....

I had a numb face daily. If it wasn't both sides of my face, then it was one side of my face that often tingled and went numb. It hurt to put one foot in front of the other. Literally it hurt! I suffered from body aches daily. My body and muscles were tired and they needed sleep but I couldn't give it to them so they just ached daily. I can compare it to what a persons body feels like when they have the flu or cold.
Besides the numb and tingling face, I had a lot of muscles spasms in my face. Often when I would open my mouth to eat, my face would have spasms.
I had blurry vision almost daily.
I developed an irregular heartbeat that was brought on by sleep deprivation which landed me in the hospital twice.
Every single day I didn't even feel like I was in my body. This one is hard to explain, I felt like I had out of body experiences daily.
I had no energy. I had no desire to do anything. I wanted to hide from everyone because it hurt to carry on a conversation. It took energy that I didn't have and needed to save to get through the midnight hours.
I cried daily and if I didn't cry, I was on the verge of tears.
I gained 45 pounds. I had no control of my body. When a person is sleep deprived their body doesn't function properly. Therefore, one area where my body stopped working was burning my calorie intake.  My metabolism literally shut down and I gained a lot of weight.
I lost chunks of my hair.
I got sick all the time and never have had a history of being sick much until then.
I was sad all the time.
I had no life in my eyes. I look back at pictures of me during Trenton's first five years of life and the look in my eyes makes me cry now. There was no life because I was barely hanging on to life myself.

All the while I was dealing with this effects from sleep deprivation, I was also trying to adjust to the diagnosis of my two sons and a failing marriage. Needless to say, if I could pick one area that I am so passionate about in helping other families it would be sleep deprivation. My heart sinks when I hear a family say that their toddler with autism doesn't sleep....I cry for them because I know what it can do to a person.

So, if you ever hear that random person or random high school teenager who complains that they are so tired and deprived of sleep....just nicely tell them they have no idea what deprived of sleep is really about.
I know and I know many of you know.
I am so thankful that today I can say I am just exhausted. I get four hours of sleep a night and that is like heaven compared to what I went through for five years. So, I will gladly take my four hours of sleep and be thankful!!!

Why am I sharing this? I simply think it is part of the education process of what autism families go through. If their child doesn't sleep, it effects the entire family.

Trenton and Andrew's sleep will never be perfect. It's part of their challenges. I accept that and am just blessed and thankful for sleep when I get the chance to get it:)


Sunday, March 26, 2017

A Beautiful Bond

There are a few relationships in this life that are just magical and amazing to watch and experience. If I could sit on a bench all day and watch the relationships between a parent and a special needs child, I would do and soak up every minute of it!!!!

Maybe I am a little biased when I say that, but it is really a beautiful bond and relationship.
I saw a mother today and her teenage son who had a disability. I watched them and loved every single minute of it. The smile on the mother's face when she was talking to her son was priceless. She was beaming with joy. As I looked at her, I saw what only special needs mother see. I saw her tired eyes. I saw her sacrifice and superhero like strength. I saw a woman who gave up her "wants" in life to make her child have a better life. I saw dedication and wisdom.

 I saw so much LOVE between them. I just can't exactly put into words but it is an amazing bond and relationship. One that no one can understand unless you experience it yourself. I know I had a permanent smile on my face the entire time I was watching them. I felt myself glowing just watching them.

I have always said that individuals with special needs are the most beautiful souls on this earth! They are so innocent and pure. They only know love and that is, after all, the greatest commandant.

A few weeks ago I saw a father and his grown son with autism and watching them was simply beautiful. The way the father held his grown sons hand and kissed him was probably the most beautiful sight that I have seen in a long time.  In that moment, I saw years of dedication and sacrifice. I am sure there were many sleepless nights for the both of them....struggles that no one knows unless they we were living under the same roof.

I know there are many relationships in life that are beautiful......but...there is just something about a special needs parent and a special needs child that takes my breath away:)


As Trenton gets older, our bond gets stronger and stronger each year. I just can't explain it....no words for the bond.....just amazingly beautiful!
Of course, as Andrew gets older too, he is turning into such a bright, amazing boy who just happens to do things the "Andrew way". His big heart gets bigger and bigger each year and so does my love for him too.
If I could sit and watch people with special needs every single day, I would! They have so much to teach us and so many things that we all can learn.

Saturday, March 25, 2017

Blessed Saturday!

We had a fun Saturday!
Andrew rode his bike...
 Trenton and I went on a walk:) His first walk around a neighborhood. He did great walking and holding my hand the entire time!
 Then, Andrew helped Pops do some work. He was an excellent helper!
 Then we had baseball lessons from Pops...
 and then me:)
He did pretty good! What a blessed day we had.

2 Corinthians 9:8 And God is able to bless you abundantly, so that in all things at all times, having all that you need, you will abound in every good work.