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.