Popular Posts

Wednesday, December 21, 2011

Click to Help Treat Autism

I ran across two websites where you can click to give your support.  Your click counts towards help in treating those with Autism and cancer in children.  It is FREE to click and there are no strings attached.  I click daily to support those who are interested in helping the Autistic or child with cancer and their families.  Here are the links.  Please join me in the simple act of clicking to make a difference in these children's lives.

  Autism Help and Click to Give

Thursday, December 1, 2011

Avoiding Holiday Meltdowns

I touched on the topic of holiday meltdowns in my last post but wanted to expand on it a bit.  If I repeat myself it's for positive effect (honest...it couldn't be my age...lol).

December is a busy month for most faiths, so regardless of your's if you have a developmentally delayed child you'll be wanting to avoid the meltdowns that can happen with so much activity.  Flashing lights, loud music, and crowds of people can be a trigger if your child has sensory issues.  Put yourself in your child's place, even get down on their level to see exactly what they see.   Younger children are down in a sea of people with stimuli bombarding them from every angle.  Nonsymptomatic children get fussy in these situations, just imagine what the child with disabilities and sensory sensitivity is going through.

Some tips to avoid overstimulation starts before you leave your home.  Talk to your child and explain where you are going, what you are going to do, how many people are going to be present, what's expected of them, and give your child a word or phrase to use to communicate when he's almost on overload.  The last item works best with a little older children who can recognize a meltdown coming on.   Feed your child before going out.  An empty tummy leads to a bad attitude.

When you are out give yourself permission to stop what you are doing, i.e. shopping, dining out, etc., and remove yourself from the situation.  Getting angry or upset over a meltdown only adds fuel to the fire.  You have to remain calm, the child might begin to mirror your calm behavior.  If you do not remain calm you can be guaranteed you will be mirrored resulting in a meltdown of gigantic porportions. 

Give your child a responsibility while you are out.  If you are shopping make it his job to remember one or two items and watch for them on the shelf.  It is difficult to have a meltdown when you are concentrating on something.  Make a game of whatever you are doing.  If you are playing a game your child is less apt to go off the deep end.

Use a weighted sock, blanket or vest prior to and shortly after a large event.  You can find an example at http://weightedvest.com/.  You can make the sock yourself.  Simply fill a tube sock with white rice and sew the end shut.  Either microwave or refrigerate for the desired effect and place the tube sock around your neck laying on your shoulders.  I added a vanilla scent to the rice so we had aromatherapy going on at the same time.  Lavender and vanilla are the two best relaxers.

These are just a few suggestions.  I'll add more later as I recall exactly what we did to reduce our sons meltdowns.

Saturday, November 26, 2011

Our Peaceful Thanksgiving and Avoiding Holiday Meltdowns

We had a very peaceful Thanksgiving Day.  It was just the three of us and that was perfect.  Joe went to pick J.jay up while I got the bird in the oven and started on preparing snacking foods to tide everyone over until The Meal at about 3:00 p.m.  I don't know what got into me but I had purchased a 20 pounder for just the three of us.  Thank heavens Joe watched a video on youtube on a simple way to carve the turkey and he wound up deboning the entire bird.  What an easy clean up after the meal.  I've now got premeasured packages of turkey labeled and in the freezer.  I brined our turkey for twenty-four hours and it made a huge difference on the juiciness of the white meat.  I think this will be a standard practice from now on.  Having a Butterball helped also. 

J.jay spent about eight hours with us and we enjoyed each other's company.  No arguments or hurt feelings which can be so normal on holidays.  Quiet, peaceful and thankful...our 2011 Thanksgiving to remember.

Having a member of the family on the Autism spectrum means that holidays can be stressful.  Having Thanksgiving rituals can be a way of avoiding them.  Most ASD people live a structured life with as little choas as possible.  Making your holiday as less chotic as you can will reduce and potentially eliminate a meltdown.  Have a routine, include them with duties within their skill range.  If you have out of town guests this too can upset the applecart in an ASD child's life.  Talk to them in advance. show them pictures and maybe let them talk on the phone to the family and friends coming.  Make a special effort if they are going to sleep over.  By telling your child the possibilities you'll take the scary aspect away from unfamiliar people in your home...a break with routine.

J.jay has reached the age and the stage where we don't have to pre-plan as strict as we used to.  It's a blessing to have your ASD child at home celebrating a holiday without any meltdowns.  Yes, we had a peaceful Thanksgiving this year, the first in a long time and the first of many more to come.

Wednesday, October 12, 2011

He's 18...Now What's My Function?

My son turned 18 recently.  Being a milestone birthday was not only important to him but to his father and I as well.  How has our part of being the parents change?  How closely do we monitor his actions?  How big a part do we continue to play in his life?  All good questions and just a few of the ones that have been playing over and over again in my mind recently.  I haven't come up with many concrete answers but I do know this for certain, I am his mother and I'll continue to play a big a part of his life that he will allow.  Although he is 18, emotionally he is quite younger due to the Autism and he still needs guidance making major decisions.  My prayer is that he will remain open to our suggestions and turn to us in times of need or when he gets overwhelmed.

He lives in an apartment now and is doing quite well.  He's receiving SSI, Medicaid, food stamps, bus tokens, vocational training, and support from at least three organizations that meet with him weekly and continue to teach him life skills.  We fought a hard fight (that's another long story that will be coming out in book form soon) and we lined up the benefits he needed to live a self sufficient life. 

With all this lined up for him why should I be worrying?  I'm his mother and it's one of my privileges.  What if we missed something?  What if he needs additional services?  Well, we'll have to take that one speed bump at a time.  I could play the 'what if' game all day long and it doesn't change things...we have done what we could, with what we had, when it was needed.  Sometimes it was heartbreaking and others just tedious but always essential.  For our mental health's sake we need to realize that we did what was necessary for his well being.  We can't second guess what has already taken place.

The moral of this life journey?  Do what you have to, but keep your eyes and ears open to new methods and programs.  Your child's life story hasn't been written in stone yet.  Investigate and listen to the voices of the parents who have traveled this road before you and the professionals who have your child's welfare in mind.  There's no good in repeating others mistakes.  Look, listen, launch.  The keys to letting go when they reach adulthood.

Friday, October 7, 2011

Warm Fuzzies

I contacted an old friend yesterday and it brought back memories of simpler times and times of innocence.   We went to junior high school together and his mom and my dad were married for a short time.  After their divorce we lost track of each other.

John came to mind recently and I did a search on Facebook on a whim.  He isn't into computers...but his son is and he gave me his dad's phone number.  So I called.  We talked for about 10-15 minutes cramming over thirty years of passing into the brief conversation.  It did my heart good to make that call.  I almost didn't.  I'm glad I did.

Give yourself a treat and contact a friendly someone from your past today.  Don't put it off, you don't know what tomorrow brings.  The warm fuzzies of contacting an old firend makes you feel so good.

Wednesday, September 28, 2011

The Awakening

I recently submitted the following short story into a "midlife" writer's contest.  I hope you enjoy it as much as I did the vacation.

                                                                  The Awakening

Memories…I’m all into making memories.  I always have.  Living with an Autistic child makes you want to grab on to every good moment.  That’s what my husband of 24 years and I did this last month.  Joe thought it was about time.

You see…we raised two children, one healthy and the other Autistic.  Due to the deluge of doctor’s appointments, therapies, and fighting for his rights in school we preferred for me not to work outside the home.  Living on a one income makes for tight purse strings and while we did manage to save up twice for a family vacation there was never time for just us.  We didn’t even have date nights for lack of respite care for our son.  We didn’t live near family and as our son grew and his disability worsened our number of friends decreased, therefore we had no one to turn to for comfort or respite.  Alone time was fleeting and it can start to wear on a marriage.  We had made a pact early on however; to be partners in all that we did, making monetary decisions, raising our children, etc.  Being partners and best friends helped us through the tough years and enhanced the good times.

This year our son moved into an apartment complex suited for his needs.  A huge load has been lifted from our shoulders.  We are no longer his sole caretakers and that has given us a chance to some freedom.  Freedom to make a decision without having to take our son into consideration first.  Freedom to let ourselves breathe.

We went to Branson, MO. for a few days stay and started to get to know each other all over again.  We talked for hours, walked hand-in-hand on the shore, ate when and what we wanted.  We laughed.  We cried.  We dreamed…again.  We even went on an exhilarating zipline.  We wooed each other and reawakened the infatuation of young love all over again.

Welcome to my blog

Welcome to my blog.  I am a wife and mother and by choice do not work outside our home.  Now that my children have grown and left the nest it has given me the opportunity to turn to a love of mine...writing.  Walk with me through becoming an empty nester, aiding my now adult Autistic son, being a Nana, writing my first book and practicing paying it forward.