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.

Bike Ride

First bike ride of the season! What a beautiful day we had!!!
I love watching him ride his bike. Oh how I wish T-man could pedal. That is one area that I don't speak enough of when it comes to the boys.   Trenton isn't able to pedal and the likelihood that Trenton ever will be able to pedal is very slim.


Friday, March 24, 2017

Our Journey to Trenton's Service Dog is Beginning!

A service dog is a type of dog that is trained to help an individual and it's family. According to National Service Dogs (2011), the mission of these animals is to increase the safety of the person with autism. For example, such a dog may lower the likelihood of the person bolting or crossing a busy street, because it is physically connected to the person with autism (Autism Service Dogs, 2011). The dogs are trained to follow commands from parents, stop at doorways, and resist the child moving away by using its weight to slow or stop the child (e.g., Burrows, Adams, & Millman, 2008a; Burrows, Adams, & Spiers, 2008b).

I have researched and put a lot of time into studying this area and how it could help Trenton over the past three years. Now, as a single mother, it has become almost a necessity to do what we can to get Trenton a service dog and let me tell you why....

1. Trenton is an eloper and has a tendency to wander off just like many kids on the spectrum. I believe the percentage is roughly around 65% that wander. This affects our lives when I try to take him out in public and even in our own backyard.  I can't trust that Trenton won't climb over our fence and take off . I am unable to step into my house and start supper without fear that he will escape the second I take my eyes off of him.

When I try to take Trenton out in public, I have to have my hands on him at all times. Therefore, this makes it impossible to try to get groceries and pay while keeping my hands on him so he doesn't wander off.

The dog would be connected to Trenton while out in public. The dog would be physically connected with ropes or other forms of tethers.  AMAZING!!!! The dog would be trained to stop Trenton from wanting to wander away from me in the store. The dog would be trained to keep Trenton right by my side!!!

2. Trenton doesn't know danger which makes the wandering and eloping issue even more scarier. He would run across a busy street or run into a pond or lake without knowing what could happen to him, etc. The dog would be trained to tackle Trenton to the ground and hold him down to the ground until I reached them. WOW!! How amazing is that!

3. I have to sleep with Trenton because he wakes often in the night. As most autism parents are, I am afraid that he will escape the house in the middle of the night when he wakes up.  He doesn't know the difference in 2 AM and 2 PM. I fight many tantrums because he wants to go outside at 2 AM. What would happen if he wakes up and I don't hear him from my bedroom and he escapes? I would never be able to live with myself! Therefore, I sleep with him. He has a lot of anxiety and needs someone right there with him. Therefore, a dog would be trained to alert me when he wakes up in the night. The dog would be trained to sleep with him and comfort him in the night.

My guard is up 24/7 and I can't let it down. I do have special locks on my door to prevent Trenton from escaping but he is getting older now and taller. It won't be long until he will be able to reach them.

Autism service dogs also have been known to alert parents of potentially dangerous situations at night (e.g., child waking up unhappy or getting out of bed and walking around). This can result in not only the person with autism remaining safe from harm, but also parents and other family members being calmer, happier, and more relaxed knowing that the safety issue is less of a concern. One difference between autism service dogs and other service dogs is that typically, service dogs are trained to bond primarily with the person whom the dog will be helping. However, autism service dogs are trained to primarily bond with and take instructions from the parent(s), but trained to work with the person with autism (Burrows, et al., 2008a).

Nevertheless, most of the outcome studies support the notion that these dogs do provide increased physical safety and security. For example, Burrows and Adams (2005) and Burrows, Adams, and Millman (2008) reported that parents consistently claimed that the dogs prevented children from bolting and running away. Parents relaxed more during bedtime knowing that the dog would alert them should the child with autism leave the bed or exhibit some other potentially dangerous behavior. Because of the dog’s ability to physically prevent the child with autism from behaving in a dangerous way, parents felt more in control and calmer. Most of the dogs accepted the jackets in which they were placed and followed commands well. Parents reported immediate satisfaction and reduction in concerns about safety issues.

With all of that said, I am starting the process of getting Trenton a service. It is a very lengthy process and takes two years to get your dog. If it wasn't for Alicia Westjohn, a special person from my hometown, then this would be just a dream still. However, she is helping me make this come true!
This is a life changing decision for us. This has the potential to be a real game changer in our lives! I have never been so excited about something in my life until now!

For now, I will pray and let God guide me on this journey. For the next two years I will pray for our "family" member that will be going through training to help my little T-man and my family!
So much more on this but just keep checking in and you will see post from time to time over the next two years until we get our new family member!!

Wednesday, March 22, 2017

Faith

Hebrews 11:1
Now faith is confidence in what we hope for and assurance about what we do not see

It is amazing how BEAUTIFUL life is when you have faith that God will take care of you!

I took a leap of faith two years ago and moved to Terre Haute. I moved away from all of my family and friends. I moved to a town where I knew no one other than my two boys with autism and my husband at the time. I put my faith in the Lord that it would all work out!

Was I scared? YES!!! But, I knew God was in control and that he would take care of us.

I let God take me on this journey in life and he is most definitely taking me on an amazing one! I can't put in words what it feels like when you simply trust God and let him lead you where you need to be.

The opportunities that have opened for the boys and I since we moved have been nothing but blessing after blessing. God is good and he does take care of us. We have to open our eyes and see what he is doing in our lives and when we do, it is nothing but beautiful. It isn't always easy but there is always something to be thankful for...always something to learn from...always a brighter side to focus on!


When you put all of your faith in him, he will open doors that you never knew could open. When that happens, I encourage you to walk in those doors and see what the opportunity is all about. God will never let you down! God is good!

                Psalm 119:30    I have chosen the way of faithfulness; I have set my heart on your laws.                            

A boy and his animals

Trenton has been taking his animals everywhere with him lately!
He lined them up while he was sitting up in bed
and then he moved them while he laid down. I guess he wanted to be able to look at them:)

Tuesday, March 21, 2017

Benefits of a trampoline

Trampolines are a huge part of our lives. Needless to say that is why I have one in my house.

People with autism spectrum disorders often suffer from anxiety and built-up stress. Some people with autism will often jump up and down to meet their sensory needs or to relieve themselves from the tension and anxiety. They will do it in a room, on your furniture...you name it.....they will jump on it. Children and grown-ups with autism have to deal with sensory imbalances and in order to control that feeling, some individuals will seek relief in repetitive movements, like rocking, swinging and fidgeting. Jumping on a trampoline is an excellent way to simulate these soothing moves and works as an anti-stress method at the same time.

Trenton uses the trampoline for all of the above reasons. It is a necessity when it comes to his needs.

Below is a short clip of the boys jumping on their trampoline in their sensory room today after therapy.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=t3Dj1s8yNO8

Sunday, March 19, 2017

Weekend

T-man lost two teeth this week!!! One at Harsha Autism Center and one at Nana's house and he didn't swallow either!!! Woot Woot!!!

We went to Nana and Pops house this weekend. It's always nice seeing Grandma- Great.


We even got to see Lincoln and Ledger this weekend!

And we practiced our store routine.

Wednesday, March 15, 2017

My Lil' Sweetheart

The other day I sliced my thumb cutting some fruit. It has been awhile since I cut myself like that so  yes I made some noises because it hurt! Well, Andrew picked up on the noises and ran into the kitchen. He saw that I was bleeding and he immediately went into action.
"Moochies where are the Band-Aids? I am going to take care of you because you take care of me."

Oh my Lil' A is such a sweetheart!!!



Sunday, March 12, 2017

Autism & Church

Since the day Trenton has entered this world, he has been difficult to take places. I never knew why when he was a baby but obviously after he was diagnosed with autism, I knew exactly why he screamed the second I would step foot in a store or why he would run away and throw himself down on the ground in a full blown meltdown.

Even though going places was always difficult, I never gave up on a few places and one of those places was church. Many autism parents give up on going to church because it is difficult but I knew if I wanted to make it possible, I had to stick with it. I had to go through the unthinkable with him. I had to do it!

I most definitely went through some very hard times at church. I spent many times at church in the nursery with him in a meltdown. I spent many Sundays in drenched clothes because I had sweat through my clothes from embarrassment  because WW111 was going on in our pew. Most of the time when we were in the auditorium no one could hear anything other than the cries and noises from my children, especially Trenton.

He has ran up and down the aisle. He has tried to lead singing and has tried to even preach:) Every time he would run up to the front of the church, I just kindly ran after him, grabbed his hand and gave the church a nice nod and smile and walked back to our pew dying on the inside. After we would reach our pew, the battles would start again, immediately.

He has thrown things across pews...even big things such as play doh and hitting a lady in the head with it. But, I didn't quit, not even after that:)

Ninety-nine percent of my Sundays I left after 45 minutes and Andrew stayed behind with my parents. During most of that 45 minutes we were only in our pew about five minutes. Like I mentioned above he was all over the place, running to and from Sunday School classes....you name it....we went through it.

It was hard. It was embarrassing. It was hard work but I didn't give myself a choice. I knew I had to do it if I ever wanted to be able to go to church and that is the most important thing to me. Therefore, I stuck with it...Sunday after Sunday the same battles.

I remember when my mother suggested that I move to Terre Haute in order to get the boys help. One of the first things out of my mouth was, " I will never be able to go to church." When we lived in Illinois I had my parents to help me because we lived by them and went to the same church. I had no one to go with me and help me if I moved to Terre Haute. My husband at the time didn't go so I would have no one. However, after the choice was made to move, what did I do? I still continued to battle the battle of going to church. Talk about being nervous!!! Going to a whole new church with a child with severe autism who doesn't quit moving!!!! Wow! I made my parents come visit me every Sunday for while to help me:)

I won't get into every detail but here I am 6 1/2 years into our autism journey. Six and a half years of going through what most parents end up giving up on because it is merely impossible. Well, now for the last several months going to church is the best experience ever!!!! Needless to say I have an amazing church who goes above and beyond to help me. Trenton goes to class with an amazing lady who happens to be a speech pathologist and knows and understands autism! They have a special needs class now!!

I am so blessed! God can lead us to amazing people if we let him. I took the leap of faith and moved to Terre Haute and I put my faith in God that it would work out somehow to go to church with the boys and it sure did!!

I walk in every Sunday with the boys and we sit in our pew together for a good thirty minutes before Trenton goes and spends the rest of the time in the special needs class.

If someone would have told me two years ago that in 2017 Trenton will be able to tolerate  a good thirty minutes during the start of worship, I would not have believed them! BUT HE DOES!!! He does because I didn't give up. I fought through the hard times. I fought through the embarrassing times to make this possible. We stuck with it and didn't give up. I believed and wanted it to happen and it is coming true! Now don't get me wrong, we still have our moments during that half hour that he is in church. He isn't quiet as a mouse. He makes his noises and I am sure everyone can hear him throughout the big auditorium but it simply goes with his autism. He verbal stimms a lot and everyone is so understanding! I constantly have to give him edible reinforcers during that time but we do it!

So, if you are new to your journey and go to church the only thing I can say is to not give up!!! Don't give up! Fight through it. Do whatever you need to do to survive at least a few minutes every Sunday and your length of time will eventually increase! It just takes time! I am only at a half hour and I have been doing it for 6 1/2 years!

Matthew 19:26
Jesus looked at them and said, “With man this is impossible, but with God all things are possible


I snuck this picture last Sunday right before church started!


My tips for you if you want to make church happen for you and your child with autism.

1. Be consistent and do it every Sunday that you can
2. Sit in the same pew
3. Have a plan in place before you enter the door and follow that plan (routine) every Sunday
4. Start small and work your way up with how long you stay if you have to (Every child is different and can tolerate things differently.)
5. Go prepared with snacks, toys, headphones, and whatever else your child might need.
6. Educate the church.

Saturday, March 11, 2017

Activities for Trenton

When I taught special education, I loved to use file folder games for all special needs from mild to severe. File folder games are a great way to teach your child needed skills. One of the great benefits to file folder games is that they are easy to create and they don’t take up a lot of space. Many file folder game ideas can be found online or purchased for a small fee.
I am going to make Trenton a lot of these once I can get to a big laminating machine. However, below is a small example of one. You paste the activity in side the file folder and then laminate it. All you do is open the file folder and start the activity. It's a great way to not lose any papers:)


This is an activity where Trenton finishes the sequence. It's a great way to try and get some mands out of him!

This activity should be a file folder too but I just don't have a big enough laminator machine. Anyway, he is matching the big letters with the little letters:)



In the one below, I have pictures of the same thing and he picks the one that is big and the one that is small. Again, another great way to get mands from him.

 The final one I have made......he picks the color of the object...again..a great way to get mands out of him. In this particular activity, I have several pictures that come in several different colors. Trenton loves colors so it is a highly motivating activity for him which leads to him trying to use words!!!