Wednesday, October 26, 2011

Another calendar note!!!!

Mark your calendars! To register for free, go to I have already registered & am excited to hear this conference!!!!

"More than twenty leaders in children’s ministry and disability ministry are coming together on November 3rd-5th to put on a FREE Special Needs Ministry Web Summit to connect church staff, volunteers, family members and caregivers everywhere. That’s Inclusion Fusion, Key Ministry’s First Annual Special Needs Ministry Web Summit, featuring Keynote Speaker Chuck Swindoll."

Sunday, October 23, 2011

You Gotta Watch This!!!!!!!!

This segment was on 60 Minutes tonight. I bawled through the whole thing! I KNOW how helpful the iPad has been for Ethan, but this short clip shows the iPad helping several kiddos with autism. Get out the tissues, people!!!!

Also, this coming Friday night, October 28th, Extreme Home Makeover will be renovating a home for a family that has 2 children with autism. I can't wait to watch that as well......I may need to go get more Kleenex before then!!!!

Friday, October 21, 2011

Are You Going to Have More Kids?

I wish I had a penny for each time I get asked this question.....I could probably pay for Ethan's college on that alone. And, while this is a very personal decision between Corey & I, neither of us have any problem talking about this topic. The simple answer is no. No....we are not planning on having any other children. Here is why....

1 - Read "Our Story"......I had a TERRIBLE pregnancy & I NEVER want to be pregnant again. Not only was my morning sickness throughout my entire day & my entire pregnancy, but I had to be placed on bed rest as well. People will say, "...but every pregnancy is different. That may not happen the next time." I totally get that, but I am not a gambler. We don't want to take the chance because IF that would happen again, I would be out of commission during what I feel are critical early intervention years.

2 - I have been told that the chance of having another child with autism increases by 20% if you already have a child with autism. People will say, "I know a family that has a bunch of children and only one has autism." I understand that as well.....and I know families with that same situation as well, but, again.....I am not a gambler. If we were to have another child with autism, of course we would love him/her. However, so much of my brain power & physical energy has been put towards understanding autism as well as Ethan's specific issues/personal therapies. I know that I wouldn't be able to give both children what they would need from me.

3 - We are content. Corey & I are head over heels for our Ethan! Neither of us feel as if we are missing something. We love our little family of three! We haven't had any difficulty getting rid of Ethan's baby stuff or missing the baby days. Honestly, we are glad they are behind us! So, even if Ethan hadn't been diagnosed with autism, we would still feel the same about having more children.

4 - Even though Ethan doesn't have any siblings living in his house, he has EIGHT COUSINS!!!! And they all live in the same town as us, and they all attend the same church as us! We are very fortunate to have a very close-knit, large family, and Ethan loves to play with his cousins. Recently, my only sister & her husband approached us with the idea of having me care for her 2 kids while they were at work. There were several reasons why it would work for them, but we all felt like the best reason of all was for Ethan to be able to have "siblings" around his house. This has been one of the best things for Ethan, and we are so lucky to have this opportunity.

Ethan is learning to share, his level of noise tolerance is getting better, and he is even learning to play with other kids. He is learning how to play simple games such as hide & seek, tag, and even simple turn taking games.....with his own peers & not mommy/daddy.

Every day after we (my niece, who is 18 months younger than Ethan, & myself) pick Ethan up from his PreSchool, when we get home & out of the van, Ethan will pick up one leaf & so will the little one. Then, I sing a silly song that I made up....."Ethan has a leaf & (my niece's name) has a leaf!" They think it's so funny......and I guess I am children under the age of 5! Then, knowing that they can't bring leaves in the house, they both....together.....throw the leaves back into the yard from our front porch....and then they come inside. I don't really know how this ritual started, but they do it everyday! Today, Ethan got out of the van first as I was unbuckling the little one from her car seat. Apparently, I was taking too long because Ethan brought a leaf over to us & handed it to his cousin.....and then started singing the song. Now, I know this is routine & Ethan loves routine, but what if we didn't have this cousin with us?!

Similarly, when we all take the oldest, who is 18 months older than Ethan, to his school (different from Ethan's) in the morning, the oldest & Ethan count to three & then say, "Pull!"......and pull open the doors to the school. Sometimes they even do this with the van doors. Again, what if we didn't have these kiddos for Ethan to play with everyday?! Ethan would not be getting as much peer interaction as he was prior to this new arrangement. Not only is Ethan with his peers at school for a couple of hours each day, but there are kiddos in our home for a big portion of his day. I think all of this has really helped Ethan's speech develop, his tolerance to noise/commotion grown, and definitely his interaction with others is getting so much better. So, to answer the question, no we are not going to have anymore kids. We already have NINE!!!!!!!!

Buying a jumbo box of goldfish crackers for kids snack = $6
Driving the kids to & from their schools = $30
Seeing the benefits of "siblings" = PRICELESS!!!!!!

Thursday, October 20, 2011

Oral Therapy Toys (AKA.....Teething Jewelry)

So, lately, Ethan has been having spurts of days where he is chewing on anything & everything. I have talked before about how this helps Ethan, so we don't stop Ethan from chewing. We also have been trying to find therapy items that will allow Ethan to chew on the toys & not his clothes, fingers, or other kids! There have been a few days when Ethan will have 3 different shirts on in one day because he keeps chewing a "bib" on his shirt. However, I am reluctant to buy any type of oral motor teether or jewelry because they are about $15 each plus shipping & tax. And, I have no idea if he will like it or if it will be a quality item. So, as I have talked about before, I have been trying to find cheap chew items or things I can make for him.

Recently, Ethan's Speech Therapist told me about a trusted website which had therapy toys, but she also told me to check out I never thought about that website! I usually use Ebay or Amazon. So I did....and this leads me into my recent project.

I am not an amazing seamstress or have awesome sewing skills, but I would say that I have fair skills. I took a sewing class in junior high, and I loved it. My grandma loved to sew, and my mom knows how to sew as well....although I don't know if she loves it. My mom has taught me a lot about how to sew, and she is still my continual teacher. I have made blankets, pillowcases, quiet books, curtains, shirts, a dress, pjs, and I can alter our clothes.....just don't look too close! So when I saw some of the items on Esty, you know what I was thinking........"I can make that myself!" So, here it is......

These are supposed to be worn by mothers who have babies, but I thought I could make one for Ethan to wear. This way he would always have something to chew on & save his clothing. Following the tutorial from Pretty Ditty, I made Ethan a chew necklace. I slightly altered from the tutorial example, but it is basically the same thing.

I started with a piece of scrap fabric that I left over from making Ethan's existing curtains.
I also had these small wooden beads on hand. When my grandma passed away, I was given most of her sewing/craft supplies, so these come from a hat box full of a variety of wooden beads. Thanks Grandma!

I needed to make a "sleeve" to put the beads in, so I wrapped the fabric around a bead in order to measure my sleeve size. I started sewing a straight seam where I had measured....right sides together.
Once I had sewn my seam, I cut off the excess in order to have a slim sleeve to fill with the beads. Can you spot the error in this picture? My first attempt, I did the wrong sides together...oops! I thought about using it anyway, but the words "RACING" would be backwards....and I would really confuse my word-conscious child.
Next, I needed to turn the sleeve right-side out. This is a trick my mom taught me....put a safety-pin on one in & thread it makes it so much easier!
Halfway through turning the sleeve right-side out....
Then, I added a bead, then tied a knot in the fabric. I veered from the tutorial on this step because I thought Ethan would enjoying chewing on the knots as much as the beads. I did this over & over again until I used all the beads. Then, I stitched up the end seams.
Instead of tying a bow, I decided to add a button. This wouldn't agitate his neck as much as the knot in the bow, and it would still keep it secure. And I just used a random button that was in the bottom of my sewing basket.
This whole project, including my mess up, took about an hour to do. I was hopeful because as I was making this, Ethan kept coming to get beads to chew on! Well, turns out that he likes to chew on this.....but doesn't like to wear it. Hum????? Back to the drawing board......

I contacted an Etsy seller (TNTees) who makes Recycled T-shirt Teething Bracelets. This again is for moms with little ones, but I asked her if she would consider making one for Ethan to wear. She agreed & I sent her his measurements. I'm hoping that Ethan will not only chew on this but will wear it too. These are so much cheaper than the therapy toys, and I know that he likes to chew on t-shirts.......fingers crossed!!!!

Also....this has nothing to do with my recent craft project, but I got a phone call from Ethan's Occupational Therapist this morning.........Ethan has met 4 out of his 5 school year goals!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! YEA!!!!!!!!!!!! He is copying a vertical line & a horizontal line, he is imitating drawing a circle & he is snipping (cutting) paper! That's sooooo amazing!!!!!!!!!!! So, she is drawing up the paperwork to add on to his existing goals!!!!!!!!! HOW AWESOME!!!!!!!!!!!!! GO ETHAN!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! AND GO TEAM ETHAN!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Tuesday, October 18, 2011

Coffee? Yes please!

When I talk about Ethan & his support system, I have mentioned several people......his parents (us), his large extended family, his church family, our friends, his teachers, his therapists, his previous early intervention team, etc. But I myself have my own support team. And one part of that support is something I rarely talk about, but it is very vital to my everyday!!!!!

I love coffee.....and that may be an understatement. I don't know what it is about drinking freshly brewed, warm coffee that takes me on a mini brain vacation, but it does! And mommy needs those moments in order to persevere throughout the day! And this week is no exception! Yesterday was a supremely awful day. Ethan & I haven't been feeling good for weeks (sinus/allergy stuff), but yesterday Ethan's mood was TERRIBLE. EVERYTHING made him cry or was brutal. Last night when I came home from my Women's Bible Study, my husband had picked up the house, cleaned the kitchen, lit candles, and had my foot bath out & ready for me! It was so sweet!!!!!! So, this morning, still feeling the need to give myself a little TLC from yesterday's madness, I decided to make my FAVORITE coffee.

For my birthday this past summer, my mother-in-law bought me coffee from Costa Rica where she was on a mission trip. OH MY GOSH!!!!! This stuff is soooooooooooo good!!!! I usually use Dunkin' Donuts brand or new kinds of coffee that I have received as gifts. But this stuff, I save for those days when I need a little extra pick-me-up. And, since I didn't have a moment to myself yesterday to make a pot of coffee, I decided that today is a Costa Rica Coffee Day! The coffee is actually called Cafe Britt....which doesn't sound very Costa Rica-ish to me, but the packaging says that it is 100% Costa Rica Arabica Coffee. I actually thought that today was going to be my last pot of this coffee, but I somehow have managed to have enough grounds left for another pot in the future. YIPEE!!! And, thankfully, they do sell this stuff online at I was going to put this on my Christmas Wish List, but I don't think I can go that long without my special treat! HA!

Well, I need to coffee is done brewing, and I don't want to keep it waiting!

Sunday, October 16, 2011

A Good Sunday

Today was Ethan's first Sunday in his new Sunday School class. It was AWESOME! He loved it, and one of his teachers said that he did great. This may not seem like a big deal to anyone, but this day has been long in coming.

Our church is awesome. I have been going there since 1993 when I was a freshman in high school. This is also where I met my husband, where we got married, and where we had Ethan dedicated to the Lord. Our church is a vital part of our life. Corey & I used to be able to attend every service & volunteer for many activities. Like when many couples have children, once we had Ethan, we had to try to figure out what going to church looked like for a family of three instead of a couple. Having Ethan with us was a new experience, and it was no longer possible for us to attend every service. Ethan, from birth, has always had difficulty with sleep, so we were kind of at the mercy of his nap/bed times. And as Ethan grew older, we thought we would be able to get back more into our old routines. Then, Ethan had difficulty just going into our church's sanctuary, let alone trying to sit through a service. And giving him toys or coloring pages to do wouldn't work because when he gets frustrated, he has loud meltdowns. So, we would use our church's nursery. That worked great for awhile. But then his Sunday School class was also the Sunday evening nursery room. That that was more than 4 hours in the same room in one day, and Ethan would have meltdowns when we would simply mention the idea of going back to church for the evening service. So, not wanting his teachers to have to deal with his meltdowns, we have been only going to Sunday morning services.

Let me pause to say that I think going to church only on Sunday mornings is perfectly fine. It's just not what Corey & I were used to doing & definitely not what we had decided to do once we were raising a family. We were raised in families that attended Sunday School, Sunday morning worship services, Sunday evening service, and Wednesday evening well as volunteering & attending extra activities. And we both came to know Christ at an early age, so this is what we wanted for our children.

Well, Ethan's peers moved up to the PreSchool Sunday School class in May this year. Ethan, being just 1 month shy of the 3 year old age guideline, remained in his current classroom. This was fine with me because Ethan also wasn't potty trained (another guideline for moving up to the preschool classroom), and I honestly wasn't sure if he was ready to handle the larger class size. His current Toddler Sunday School class has about 15 kids on average, and the PreSchool Sunday School class has about 23 kids. Plus, it is more structured & routine. So, Corey & I thought that the right decision was to keep him in his current class. But then, people started making comments about Ethan not moving up...."Why? I think he's ready. Just move him yourself...." and so on. The collection of comments made me start to think that maybe he was ready. So we spoke with our Children's pastor & Early Childhood Director and re-evaluated the situation. We again decided to keep Ethan in his current class. And maybe this was selfishness on my part. I knew that moving Ethan up would mean greater possibilities of more meltdowns & more work on my part.......or more of keeping him at home. And I don't think I was prepared for more isolation. PLUS, I work in the Toddler classroom during our church's second service, and that created 2 thoughts. One - keep him in there with me = I can handle the meltdowns or Two - move him up to the next class = I would have to be pulled out to deal with any issues. Currently, if there are any issues, my husband is the one handling the situations. If Ethan is sick, he stays home with him because I work in the Toddler room. If Ethan has an issue that morning, Corey deals with it so I can go volunteer. And this has been the way it has been for a couple years now because before I worked in the Toddler room, I taught an adult Sunday school class. And recently, Corey has expressed to me how tired he is of being the one to miss Sundays. He wants me to be more flexible so he can attend church &or Sunday school more often than he is now. What a great husband!!! He wants to go to church MORE!!!!!

And, on another side note, Corey & I were told that the divorce rate for parents of children with special needs is 80%. We decided a long time ago that we would not ever let our marriage get to a place where divorce was an option. My parents are divorced, and I don't want to experience that twice in my lifetime. When Ethan was diagnosed with autism, we not only reaffirmed that we would raise this child together, but we reaffirmed our marriage vows as well. With us both seeking God's help, we are determined to be the 20% who make it. For that reason, Corey & I are extremely honest with each other.....sometimes brutally honest. But I would rather have that than the lines of communication go dead. So, Corey telling me that he wants to be at church more & that he is done being the sole parent responsible for Ethan on Sundays is something that I take very seriously.

So, all of these things had been I revisited the topic of moving Ethan up to the next class.....still not potty trained & still unsure he could handle the extra noise level. However, being in actual PreSchool everyday has been such a positive thing in Ethan's life, and he LOVES it. He loves routine & structure. (That he gets from me!) So, after talking with our Children's pastor & one of Ethan's new teachers (one of my close friends), we decided to take the plunge & try it out. The plan is for Ethan to attend his new Sunday School class while Corey & I are in the first worship service. Then, my mom who also attends the first worship service, will take Ethan home with her while Corey goes to his adult Sunday school class & I volunteer in the Toddler classroom. As time goes on, we will extend Ethan's time in his new class a little at a time until eventually he can stay in the classroom for Sunday school & church....about 3 hours. His PreSchool is 2 hours, so we are concerned about him having an accident in his pull-ups. But Corey & I are going to TAKE TURNS taking Ethan to the bathroom during the transition between our church & Sunday school. In order for this to happen, I will also be slowly released from my volunteer position in the Toddler room. I need to have a flexible Sunday morning schedule for both Ethan & Corey.

And now that Ethan is in a different classroom, maybe going to church in the evenings won't be so bad for him. He won't be in the same room for as long which will help with his behavior issues. Which will allow Corey & I to relax and attend church more....more like our original idea of raising our family in church.

This has been a sensitive subject in our house, and over the last couple of weeks it has gotten pretty tense. But today, as we BOTH took Ethan to his new classroom.......his headphones & lap-pad in hand.........Corey & I both felt very good about our new plan & our soon-to-be new way of doing Sunday mornings. AND......Ethan did GREAT from what I am told. Corey actually picked him up & took him to my mom, and Corey was told that he did very well.....didn't even need his lap-pad for story time. And when I came home from church, I asked Ethan if he read a story in his new class. He said YES! And when I asked him what it was about, he said, "Hiding." Well.....that's a new response, so I was interested in what their story was about......and then I looked in his take-home sack........and it was all about Adam & Eve........HIDING!!!! He also told us that he sang Bible songs, had smiley face snacks & played with cars. This is definitely the right move for him, and I'm so glad that Day #1 is under our belts. Things are going to be better around here for all of us. HALLELUIAH!!!!!!

Saturday, October 15, 2011


One of my favorite TV shows is Everybody Loves Raymond. One particular episode, Raymond's brother is getting married for the second time, and during the wedding ceremony, when the preacher says, "Speak now or forever hold your peace," Raymond's mother stands up & makes a big speech. Of course everyone is shocked & appalled because of her actions & words. Later, at the wedding ceremony, Raymond is giving The Best Man speech, and he talks about editing. His advice is to edit out the bad memories of the day on their wedding video & keep the good ones. And I must say that lately I have found myself editing my writing.

Ethan is wonderful, and I love him so much. I don't ever want my writings, decisions, ignorance or fear to affect him negatively. I often think about how putting so much of our private life out for the world to learn & read about will effect him in the future. I don't want to do or write anything that will hurt him or embarrass him. I have also been very aware of who is reading this blog. Friends, family, teachers, organizations, etc. have told me that they are enjoying reading about a family learning to live with autism. So, I again find myself leaving things out of my writings as to not upset or offend anyone. And this has caused my outlet to no longer be my outlet. My free therapy has found a price. But, then I realized today, if I don't talk about the good and the bad events, I am really doing a disservice to not only myself, but to everyone. Learning to live with autism is NOT easy, and it takes more than a family unit to do so. Ethan has a FANTASTIC support system in place.....lots of loving family, a caring church family, a dynamite set of teachers & therapists.......and I need to be mom. This is my role in his life, and I need to do this role first.

Because of my background in education (and my type A personality), I tend to put pressure on myself to be the one to educate everyone else about Ethan. I think that I need to be the expert on Ethan & how to handle everything that comes with his autism diagnosis. But the truth is, I don't know everything. I am learning right along side of Ethan & his support system. I can share with others what I know & what I have learned, but I learn new stuff everyday. And then Ethan changes, and I have to do a TON more research in order to deal with his new issues. It's hard, but statistics consistently are showing that early intervention is the best thing for an autism diagnosis. So, no matter how hard it is, I will do EVERYTHING in my power to help my child. And, to be honest, I tend to feel like it is my sole responsibility....when in actuality that is NOT true. And I need to stop putting that kind of pressure on myself. Maybe it's a mom thing?

So, I promise to no longer edit myself. I would be doing a disservice to me & to anyone who is truly interested in our story. Now, I may not tell EVERY story about Ethan because some things need to remain private. But learning to live with autism has more than one tone. Yes, it is very rewarding, fun, exciting, and joyful. But it is also overwhelming, lonely, draining, and challenging. I apologize if some of my stories & thoughts tend to be sad or upsetting.....please don't read them if they bother you. But, in order to be the best mom I can be for Ethan & the best wife that I can be for Corey, I need my outlet. And this is it, baby!

The name of my blog is LEARNING to Live with Autism.......not Here is How to Live with Autism. And we are a work in progress over at our house. There is a song that I sing with Ethan, and maybe someday I will be able to sing it with him without having to swallow back tears....


He's still workin' on me
To make me what I ought to be
It took Him just a week to make the moon & the stars
the sun and the Earth and Jupiter and Mars
How loving and patient He must be
He's still workin' on me

There really ought to be
A sign upon my heart
Don't judge me yet, I'm an unfinished part
But I'll be perfect just according to His plan
Fashioned by the Master's loving hand

He's still workin' on me
To make me what I ought to be
It took Him just a week to make the moon & the stars
the sun and the Earth and Jupiter and Mars
How loving and patient He must be
He's still workin' on me

Friday, October 14, 2011

Defying Gravity

I have mentioned before that when Ethan was tested for autism, they explored 3 interaction, communication/speech, and behavior/interests. A lot of people will tell me that their child isn't speaking as much or at all in comparison to their peers, and they want to know if I think they should have them tested for autism. Well, speech is only one need to look at the other areas & see if there are any red flags as well.

I talk a lot about how occupational therapy has helped Ethan's behaviors and therefore affecting his speech & social interactions because it allows him to focus longer on learning such things. However, Ethan has been in speech therapy for almost a year now. And there are no words to explain how much he has grown in this area. At the age of 2, Ethan said only a few words but mostly it was animal sounds. He loves animals. I can remember that most of my mom friends with children Ethan's age were talking about how they get tired of hearing from their children "Mom, mom, mom, mom...." all day long. And I remember thinking how much I would love that problem. At the age of 2, Ethan had only called me mom twice.

I have TONS of stories about Ethan's speech development, and how EVERY DAY he says something "new". When I say new, I mean something he has come up with himself. He is excellent at what they call "rote" responses. Examples: Shapes, colors, 1+1=2, spelling, reading, etc......things that are always the same. Or he will memorize a script & repeat it during his playtime. Currently, his favorite thing to repeat is Mickey's 3 Mousekateers. It cracks me up because in the show they talk about something not happening due to someone's incompetence. It makes me laugh to see him using such big words that he doesn't understand. So funny.

But the other day, my little family was going somewhere in our van, and we were listening to one of Ethan's music CDs. My husband & I were talking about something, and from the back we hear, "Mom, different song please." WHAT!!!!!!!!!!!????????????? He used my name!!!!!! And not in a way that we have "trained" him, such as, "I love you, Ethan. I love you too, Mom." This was BRAND NEW!!!!! AND the "different song" was new too! Normally, if he doesn't have the words, he will whine/cry/meltdown until we can figure out what is wrong & then try and give him the words to say. ('s really strange to teach your kid to tell YOU "no"...when I would tell him to do something, he would meltdown. So, I had to teach him to use his words. "I don't want to do that".....'course.....then I would say, "Well, I'm sorry but you have to do it" strange.)

Last night, Ethan was playing with his cars, and he brought one over to me, looked me square in the eyes, and said, "I see a Lowe's on this car." WOW!!!!!! Normally, he would have said, "I see a Lowe's car." There were more articles in his new sentence!!!!! I'm so excited. Literally, EVERY DAY he is saying something new, and I could go on & on. Quickly, another favorite is when my husband & Ethan are chasing each other around the house, Ethan has started saying, "I'm gonna getcha! Ethan's gonna getcha!" cute!!!!!!

Again, these may seem insignificant to most people, but they are HUGE steps for us....and he's only 3 years old! To be honest, I was nervous about Ethan going to preschool everyday even though it's only for a couple of hours. But, he LOVES it, and his talking/comprehending has increase so much since he started in August. In fact, last night during bath time, my husband & I lovingly called Ethan our little chatter box!!!! He was talking non-stop!!!! It was great!!!!!!

I have this snip-it of a magazine article on my refrigerator, and I read it often. I totally describes Ethan. It was an article in AllYou magazine, and it was a focus on 3 mothers of special needs kiddos. I cut out a section from one mother's interview..........

"The world would have us believe that being different means you are somehow not perfect. But I have learned that by regarding my daughter as "differently-abled" rather than disabled, I can really see all that she has to give. My life may not look like what I once considered to be perfect, but it is often better. Watching my daughter grow & learn reminds me of something that I once read about bumblebees. Myth has it that, according to the laws of aerodynamics, they shouldn't be able to fly. But the bumblebee doesn't know just flies. Like the bumblebee, my daughter (and Ethan) doesn't know she is not "supposed" to fly. But she does."


Tuesday, October 4, 2011

The "Write" Stuff

OK....Have I mentioned how much I LOVE Occupational Therapy!? It just amazes me how well it works for Ethan. And here is yet ANOTHER example!

Today we (Ethan, my 18 month niece, and myself) decided to get out some construction paper & color with MARKERS....I know!!!!! I guess I just didn't think the kids were messy enough after lunch & playing outside. Anyway, as I turned my back on my niece to ask Ethan what color construction paper he wanted, my niece decided to "apply her makeup"......with markers. YIKES! So, luckily, I still had my wet rag from wiping her hands & face at lunch time, so most of it came off of her face. Then, when I was able to give some attention back to Ethan, this is what I saw.......

Alright....let's break it down. The scribble at the top is a horizontal line....not just a scribble. I'm not really sure what the dots at the right are....other than dots. However, the scribble at the left is a CIRCLE!!!! Ethan asked me to "make a smiley face," so I added the eyes, nose and mouth. BUT HE MADE A CIRCLE!!!! No help, no hand-over-hand, no frustration....he just did it!!!!! This may not seem like much, but it is a big step for Ethan. It was less than a year ago that this child could barely sit down to focus on any paperwork task. When I would get out crayons to color....he would line up the crayons or sort them by color. And while those activities made me love him even more, if that is possible, it was very frustrating for us. So, I would use an art easel to promote any kind of drawing. We would use chalk, water paint, finger paint, shaving cream, and paper taped to it. He was only interested in making a mess & had NO desire to draw anything...including scribbles. And today....he just drew a it was no big deal. I am so excited!!!!!!!!!

AND, a couple of days ago, my sister & I had a "Book Swap Meeting." Our children love books, and we are continually passing books back & forth between our households in order to keep them from getting bored with the same books. During this meeting, we sorted the books into pile, her pile, Grandma's pile, and the Goodwill pile. There were several books that had already made the rounds at my house, so I passed on them. One of the books, however, Ethan decided to rescue....and he wants to play with it all the time. He says, "Together? We play together?" Here he is playing "Together" with Daddy.....

We had this book in our possession before, but Ethan never showed any interest in tracing the letters no matter how much encouragement I gave him. He only wanted to look at the pictures. NOW....he wants to draw in it EVERY DAY! I know it is baby steps, but it is AMAZING how quickly Ethan is catching up!

I have said it before, and I will say it again. Ethan would not be where he is at, would not have made the progress he has made, would not be growing leaps & bounds if it wasn't for his amazing support. His teachers, his therapists, his extended family, his church family, and our friends. NO WAY would Ethan be drawing these circles if didn't have loving people in his life OTHER than mom & dad to teach him. We are SO grateful for all of these wonderful people and blessed to have found this path for Ethan so early in his life. So.....once he masters the art of writing his looking for his first novel!

Saturday, October 1, 2011


OH MY GOSH!!!!!! Yesterday, my husband, mom & I were all fortunate enough to be able to go to one of Temple Grandin's conferences. It was in Chicago, IL so we drove in the night before, stayed in the hotel where the conference was located, and attended the conference ALL DAY! IT WAS GREAT!!!!!!!

We made our way to the conference room as soon as we could....7am. As we were checking in, my mom was talking to me about "Where do we go?" & that sort of thing.....but I didn't hear a word she was saying. I was momentarily "star struck" because at that very second Temple Grandin was coming our way! I was frozen as I just watched her heading towards us. Then, she walked right past me! You would have thought Temple was Elvis Presley or something the way I was so overcome with awe! I, of course, immediately started to cry! Not only was I about to hear from the woman who has helped me understand my own child, the woman who's books I am absorbing, the woman who's interviews I have practically memorized, but she was shoulder-to-shoulder next to me! It really was a surreal moment for me.

After that we made our way into the conference room. My mom & I immediately went to save our seats. Most people were at the continental breakfast that was provided, but we were more concerned with getting optimum seating. And boy did we get it!!!! Here is a picture of how close we were to the speakers.

I don't have many more pictures because it wasn't allowed during the presentations. Besides, I was busy taking notes, laughing, crying, meeting new friends, buying stuff from the vendors, etc. It was a wonderful day. Temple signed the book that I had brought with me. (A long time ago, before we knew that Ethan had autism, my sister was a big Temple Grandin fan. As a teacher, she has fully embraced her classroom as an inclusion classroom, and has loved every minute of it. In order to help her understand some of her students with autism a little better, she purchased & read several of Temple's books. Well, here we are years later, and she has passed those books to I can understand my child a little better. So, it was one of her books that I took with me to have signed....with my sister's permission of course. She was just as excited about this conference as the rest of us!) But here is something so wonderfully funny. As Temple took the book from me to sign, she looked at my name tag & wrote: To Jessica, Temple Grandin. LOL! So now my sister's book says, "To Jessica, Temple Grandin." HAHAHA! We all LOVE IT!!!! Temple also allowed us to take a picture with her.
Dr. Temple Grandin, me and my husband. Thanks mom for taking this picture!
Well, as you can guess, I will have TONS to talk about from this experience. It was amazing! I met some new friends, we all cried together (actually, I'm not sure if my husband ever cried.....but maybe he got that lumpy thing in his throat), we laughed A LOT, and we got some GREAT new information.

One thing that I took away from the conference is this.......we are already doing what we need to be doing for Ethan. I felt reaffirmed in our parenting, our therapies, our strategies, and so on. Yes, I will be tweaking or adding things, but I didn't leave there thinking, "Wow...we could be doing so much more for him." I felt like, "YES! We are already doing all of those things! We are on the right path for what is best for Ethan."

It was probably a once-in-a-lifetime experience, and I am so grateful that I was able to go WITH my husband and my mom. Ethan stayed with my husband's parents, and it sounds like they had a great day as well....LOTS of memories & bonding. This was the first time that we both simultaneously left Ethan for more than 24 hours. This was a big leap for us to do (REALLY big for my husband), but it was so worth it....for all of us. And, as my friend recently said, maybe someday people will be paying money to hear Ethan & I speak at a conference. You never know what God has in store for this child, but I just KNOW that it's going to be AMAZING! YEAH!!!!!!