Tuesday, December 11, 2012

Autism Christmas Resources

As I have said before, I love holidays......all of them! But Christmas is such a special time of year, and our family is already deep in Christmas festivities! However, this time of year brings lots of "non-typical" activities that we need to prepare our kiddos for in order for them to experience the warm feelings of Christmas.....instead of being terrified of the unknown!

I subscribe to many newsletters, and one of my favorites is Sandbox Learning Education Tools. I found them when looking for social stories, and they even have a free one about "waiting".....a common difficult concept for kiddos with autism to understand.

Well, today in their newsletter, they emailed me Strategies for Challenging Holiday Situations. It is a wonderfully concise article about things we can do to help our kiddos prepare for the new things that come up during the holiday season. Definitely check it out!!!! Maybe even print it & hang it on your fridge!!!!

Here is another link to a lot of free social stories....It's called KIDS CAN DREAM AUTISM WEBSITE! A very talented girl named Heather writes them & started this website because her 2 brothers have autism, and she wanted to help them & others! How awesome!

Not only are there changes at home during the holidays, but at school as well! Here is a great list of ideas for teachers as well as parents to help children with autism during the holiday season.....and after when it's time to get back to the typical routine! MAKING THE HOLIDAYS HAPPY FOR CHILDREN WITH AUTISM SPECTRUM DISORDERS.

And lastly, here are some great tips on how to handle specific situations.....traveling, shopping, family dinners, worship services, etc...Handling the Holidays with a Child on the Autism Spectrum.

These are much needed resources for parents/teachers/guardians of kids on the spectrum, but I think these ideas would be great for any kiddo! I hope you find them as useful as me!!!! Merry Christmas!!!

Wednesday, December 5, 2012

Ethan's First Funeral

The weekend before Thanksgiving was my Grandpa's visitation, funeral & grave side service. My family was able to attend all of these services, and it was a lot of "newness" for our Ethan. But I am pleased to report that he did very well!!!

All of these events took place at my Grandpa's home town which is located several hours from our home. My mom had the idea to go up a day early & get acclimated to the hotel & surroundings so as to not feel rushed as well as help out Ethan. Great idea! So, we left Thursday afternoon for the hotel. Ethan did great in the car, but he was super excited when he discovered that our hotel had a pool! Well, that night we swam & even got into the hot tub....which was his favorite.

The next day, my mom had several details to attend to, so Corey, Ethan & I were left with some free time. We saw a park close by & spent almost an hour playing there. Then, we thought it would be fun to go bowling. Although Ethan is extremely sensitive to loud noises, bowling alleys have never bothered him......strange, I know. We were trying to do as much physical activity as we could while we could. I knew that there would be a LOT of sitting & trying to be quiet, and in order for that to possibly happen, Ethan needed to do an equal amount of moving & heavy work....running, jumping, pushing bowling ball, etc.

Well, we went bowling, and we were the only people in the whole place! 40 lanes & just us three.....it was nice! But after bowling 3 frames, Ethan was ready to do something else. But we had prepaid for 2 GAMES!!!! So, it took some crafty parenting skills, but we all bowled 2 games & had a great time.

After that, we grabbed lunch & then went back to the hotel to have Ethan nap. He had been up very late the night before, so he took his nap without any issue. A rare & beautiful thing! While Ethan & Corey napped, my mom & I had coffee by the hotel's fireplace. It was really nice to have that time just us girls.

Well, after nap, we all got ready for Grandpa's visitation, and I was kinda nervous as to how Ethan would react to seeing Papa in a casket. Turns out that Ethan was very interested! He didn't ask me any questions, but he kept coming over & peeking inside at Papa. He never said a word....just kept looking. Finally, I reminded Ethan that Jesus took Papa's spirit home to Heaven, and we were just looking at Papa's body. (What a difficult concept to teach!) I told Ethan that all of the people in the church were coming to say goodbye to Papa. Then, Ethan, still looking at my Grandpa, quietly said, "Bye Papa." It was so tender & sweet & had a sad tone to it......yeah.....I lost it. Tears came so quickly & I couldn't talk, but thankfully my husband was right there to step in & take over the teaching moment.

I hadn't really thought Ethan would be all that interested in what was going on that weekend. I thought he would just want to play with his cousins. Earlier in the week, after Grandpa had died, I was crying at home. Ethan crawled up on my lap, and said, "Mommy, why are you sad?" So, I told him that Grandpa had died, but he was in Heaven with Jesus now. I asked him if he understood or had any questions, and he said, "No, I need to go click on the sheep." He in the midst of a computer game, and was more interested in the game than why Mommy was sad. LOL! So, I didn't think he would be so curious this past weekend.

But Ethan did well during the visitation.....mostly ran around with the other kiddos. At the funeral the next morning, he was such a wiggle worm in the pew & had to go potty about 3 times, but overall I would say he did well. It was a long service, and it was difficult for all the kiddos to sit still & be quiet. And at the grave side service, he was the same....wiggly & had to go potty several times. I'm so thankful that my husband is someone I can count on to "be in charge of Ethan" so I could sit with my cousins or cry or help my mom or whatever needed done. Thanks Corey!

After the grave side, our family took pictures & then went to eat. We had our own room at the restaurant because there was a lot of us, and Ethan decided to hide under the table. Typically, we don't allow Ethan do to this type of behavior but it had been a very overwhelming weekend for him, and we were quite noisy. We decided that Ethan needed the break more than anything. He was such a trooper this weekend, and it really helped make it easier for our family during a time of stress & grief.

It was a long & tiring weekend, but we all made it through! And now we can get back to our normal routine......oh wait! It's Christmas time!!!! Well, so much for typical routine!

Monday, December 3, 2012


I have many, many posts that I have written but never published. I could, and may still, eventually post about Ethan's Halloween, his GI visit, his swimming lessons, and so on, but not today. Today, I need to work through some thoughts.

Lately, people in our life have been telling us how well Ethan has been doing. They are seeing him making big giant moon steps, and he is becoming a new child. It truly is remarkable. Some even say, "If you hadn't told me that he has autism, I would have never known." Some are even doubting his diagnosis. Some are suggesting that we re-test Ethan to see if he would still have that diagnosis. That is how well he is doing.

I very much appreciate these compliments.....well, I take them as compliments. We have worked VERY HARD for the last several years & done all we can possibly do for Ethan given our knowledge & resources. So, these kind words are very inspiring to our weary family.

However, the thought that Ethan had a misdiagnosis is just absurd to me. It almost underminds Ethan's triumphs, and I am not about to take that away from him. This kid has worked very hard to overcome a lot.....and always will have to do that in order to thrive in this world. He will always have sensory issues, but we can teach him how to handle it. He will always have autism, but we can give him tools to work through the issues that he faces every day. He is showing so much growth & promise, and I am so proud of him.

Giving Ethan the ability to navigate this world in his skin is the best thing we can do for him. And that is what we try to do every day.....see the world from his point of view & help him to connect to it. This does not come naturally to Ethan....it is not innate. It must be taught to him on a level that he can relate to & understand. And that will always be the challenge. It's not easy but we try. And lately we are seeing big results. YEAH!

Maybe when Ethan is older we could consider re-testing him, but it's a bit early in my opinion. He has yet to start Kindergarten, and I want him to have access to any help he may need in the school system. He has so much life ahead of him, and I want to give him as many resources & support that he needs or wants. Ethan is such a smart & sweet little guy, and I want to give him the best chance that I can possibily give him. And, in my opinion, that means continuing on our current path.

I DO want to thank the many, many people that have encouraged us with your words of support. I'm soooooo glad that you can tell big differences in Ethan. He works so hard for such a little guy, and it's very nice to hear how other people can tell a difference in him. His behavior, his speech, his social skills, his independence......I LOVE to hear all about it!!!! I am one super proud Mama!!!!!!!! But as for a misdiagnosis.......no. There is no doubt in my mind that Ethan has autism. Otherwise, why would therapies geared for children with autism be working so well with him???? HUM?????? :0)

Ethan has autism. It is a part of him. It is his super power. And we love him just how he is! He is our joy, and I wouldn't change a thing about him!!!!!!!

Thursday, November 29, 2012

Who is Team Ethan?

Someone recently emailed me with this great question: "You always seem to talk about 'Team Ethan'. Who is that? Who is included in Team Ethan?"

Well, when I refer to Team Ethan, I am talking about all of his teachers, therapists, doctors, co-ordinators, friends and family. But to break it down even more....other than family & friends....there are 26 people currently on Team Ethan!!!

1 Pediatrician

1 Preschool Teacher
2 Preschool Teacher Aides
1 Preschool Speech Therapist
1 Preschool Occupational Therapist
1 Preschool Librarian/Family Activities Director
1 Preschool Case Co-Ordinator

10 Therapists at Easter Seals Preschool....Developmental Therapy, Speech Therapy, Behavior Therapy, Occupational Therapy
1 Easter Seals Receptionist who Ethan LOVES to talk to!

1 Children's Pastor
1 Children's Pastor Associate
1 Early Childhood Co-Ordinator
2 Sunday School Teachers
1 Sunday School Class Aide

1 Swim Instructor

That's it! Isn't that awesome!!!! Now there are also MANY family members & close friends who are extremely vital to Ethan's progress as well.....but I think of them more as Corey & I's support team! They pray our family, encourage us when we are down, offer babysitting for those much needed breaks, ask questions, are interested in Ethan's progress, and add wonderful ideas & tools to help us parent Ethan. They are our "unsung heroes," and our family would not be where we are today without these people!

So, when I refer to Team Ethan, these are the people I am thinking of....and many other professionals have been on & off the list as Ethan has passed different stages. This list changes as he changes. New people come into our lives & others, sadly, leave our lives. But that is just another reason why I love this blog. Our family is able to stay connected with those who have touched our life (via living with autism), and they will always have a special part in my heart. We will NEVER forget any of you, even if we are no longer a part of your daily life.

There are no words to express what you have done for Ethan and, in turn, have done for us. Together, you have worked miracles in our child, and we are forever grateful to each of you. I can recall moments of celebration as well as frustrustion with each of you as we were trying to help Ethan the best we knew how. Glenda, I can remember you coming to my home as we decided what therpies Ethan needed, and how we celebrated that doors were opening for him. Katie, I remember you helping us work through Ethan's sensory diet while he was on the floor of your room kicking & screaming. You were so calm & encouraging, and the knowledge you gave us has been invaluable! And I have memories similar to this for each person that has ever worked with Ethan, and helped us how to really LIVE with autism.

So, even though I casually mention you as "Team Ethan" in my writings, you are VERY near & dear to our family, and we are so blessed to have each of you in our lives. GO TEAM ETHAN!!!!

Monday, November 19, 2012

Peace In the Midst of Sadness

My beloved Grandpa passed from this world on November 10th, and....thankfully.....I was there with him in his last hours. I witnessed this cherished man depart from this earthly world and enter into God's hands. It was so peaceful and beautiful.

My grandpa was a man of GREAT faith. Thankfully, this is something that I and so many others in my family share with him. I KNOW from the moment he took his last breath that he was with our Savior, and there was a celebration in Heaven. I KNOW that my grandpa was hearing what I long to hear when my time comes, "Well done Good & Faithful Servant!" And I KNOW that this goodbye will not be final.....we will see each other again some day because we both have a deeply personal relationship with Jesus. And this is my comfort & peace.

We are confident, I say, and willing rather to be absent from the body, and to be present with the Lord. - 2 Corinthians 5:8

For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life. - John 3:16

“His master replied, ‘Well done, good and faithful servant!..." Matthew 25:21

In the last moments of his life, many scriptures & songs came to mind. I remember reciting them to encourage my grandpa as he was "actively passing." Our entire family spent many moments singing to him uplifting songs about heaven & going home. And moments before he took his last breath, I was sitting beside his bed reading the Bible to him until we realized that the end was at hand.

All through my Grandpa's last days while we were gathering around him, the song I'll Fly Away kept running through my head. Especially the line, "Just a few more weary days & then I'll fly away. To a home where joy shall never end, I'll fly away." We were experiencing the weary days, but soon he would fly.

Once my Grandpa had gone to Heaven, this is the only song that is on my mind....I Will Rise. I am so thankful that my Grandpa & I shared our faith. It isn't something that he could pass down to me, but I had to find it myself. However, his Christian example was like no other, and that is an unbelievable heritage that I do hope to pass to my Ethan. Thank you, Grandpa, for your Christ-like example that you showed me. I will strive to do the same for my future generations with God's help.

Monday, November 12, 2012

Goodbye for Now, Grandpa

I will be taking some time off this week due to the passing of my Grandpa. Ethan & I would visit him weekly ever since he moved to a nursing home in our city. His absence will be greatly felt in our home.

Rather than write a post about my Grandpa, my cousin has done this for me. :0)

My cousin, also named Ethan, keeps a blog (www.JonesLife.net) about his life as the father of Quintuplets and their older sister. You may have even viewed their recent show on TLC, Quints By Surprise.

He has written a beautiful post about my cherished Grandpa, so I will just share that link with you. All I have to say is, "Ditto." Thank you, Cousin Ethan, for your words....Generations.

I will leave you with a few pictures of my Grandpa with his family. We will always love you, Grandpa!

Me, my cousin Grace, my cousin Jenny & my sister Rachel with our Grandpa.

Grandpa's Midwest Family

Getting a picture with my Grandpa: my nephew & niece & my Ethan.

Thursday, November 8, 2012

Ethan Sandwich Game....Good for Proprioceptive System!

Recently, I have noticed that Ethan is needing more & more heavy work during the day. If he doesn't get a lot of this on a daily basis, he is extremely restless, more clumsy, and doesn't sleep as well. This summer it was quite easy to get in a daily "workout" because we had a pool in our backyard that we would swim in almost every day. Even when the weather got cooler, my husband would take Ethan outside on our large trampoline & jump for a long time. Now, however, it's darker earlier & getting colder so all of our outside things are becoming less & less dependable for us to help Ethan in this area. We do have several things inside our home (jumping on single trampoline, helping with housework using "big boy muscles", etc.), but Ethan seems to be getting bored with all of these things in our home. So, we have started to be a bit creative....

One evening when my husband had been gone all day & I was at the end of my rope with Ethan, I came up with a new game.....Making an Ethan Sandwich. Often, Ethan gets all of the pillows & blankets from all over the house & makes a big pile in our living room. He will jump on this pile, hide under the pile or even roll around in the pile....all good for his proprioceptive system. So, here's how it started....

After a day that seemed to never end.....we've all had them, right?......this mommy needed a moment to myself. So, I put Ethan on his iPad, and snuck off to my bedroom for 5 minutes of peace. Pretty soon Ethan made his way back to me. He crawled up on the bed & began to gather pillows for a pile. Knowing that part of his issues for the day was that his body was needing input, I started squishing him slightly under a pillow...something that we do a lot with our living room couch pillows. Ethan loves it & needs it. Well, to turn it into a game, we decided that the pillows were bread & we were making an Ethan sandwich.

I think because he is getting bigger, he is needing more pressure than previously, so that meant more weight than just one pillow. So, we added more pillows.....and labeled them as pickles, tomatoes, lettuce, bacon, ketchup, and other sandwich toppings.

Ethan loved it! We played this game for at least 45 minutes, and often times Ethan would just lay still once the sandwich was made.....a sign that it was working. So here are some pictures of our Ethan Sandwich game. Cheap, easy, and it worked! Ethan has asked to play this many times since. You can see how much it relaxed him in the pictures below....especially the one with his legs sticking out the back. A couple of times, I thought that Ethan had fallen asleep because he was so still! So, if this is something that your kiddo's system craves, try making a sandwich! It's delicious!!!!


Tuesday, October 30, 2012

5 Little Pumpkins Magnetic Board

Last year, Ethan's Preschool introduced him to the 5 Little Pumpkins. He LOVED IT!

Well, a couple of weeks ago, Ethan & I were at our weekly nursing home visit to see my Grandpa.
We have been so lucky to have this time with him, and Ethan loves to go see him. However, after about 20 minutes, Ethan is ready to go....but I'm not! So, to keep him interested, I was trying to think of songs to sing & scripture to recite for Ethan to perform for my Grandpa. Since it was October, I busted out the 5 Little Pumpkins poem....and shockingly enough, I actually remembered it!

Ethan was SOOO excited to remember this poem! Which meant we had to do it over & over & over again. Using that to my advantage, I would request one song & then the Pumpkin Poem. Then another scripture &
then the Pumpkin Poem. We did this for the rest of our time at the nursing home, and my Grandpa loved it. Ethan was a great performer! LOL!

Well, if you know my Ethan by now, you know that this didn't stop once we left my Grandpa's....it has continued to be a game we play to this day....weeks later! So, I knew I had to incorporate it into a tangible
play item. So, here is our magnetic board for the month of October!

5 foam shaped pumpkins with a green vinyl fence (Thanks Hubby for the vinyl work!)

Here is our book....printed, colored, stapled & hanging by a magnetic clip. Ethan enjoyed coloring this book so much that he didn't mind the much when I kept correcting his crayon grip! (He usually gets so upset with me!)

I simply hot glued strips of magnets to the backs of these foam pumpkins & drew faces with a Sharpie marker.

It was fun for me to draw these faces, and Ethan loves to play out the story! This sits in our entry way so all of our guests are greeted by these cute little guys!

A lot our Play at Home games & ideas have originated from the best website ever....PlayAtHomeMom3.blogspot.com. I love this website so much! If you want ideas for stuff to do around your home that will help the development of your children as well as be super thrifty, you MUST check them out! They have done their own pumpkin magnetic board, and I think we will do this during Halloween week! Ethan is really loving working with different faces & expressions....which will lead him to understand emotions of others......so this will be great to incorporate this idea along with Halloween!

Here is the link to our 5 Little Pumpkin book, and click here for the link to the poem itself!

Monday, October 29, 2012

Who Is Following Ethan's Autism?

During our Month of Doctors, one of the doctors asked me this question. "Who is following Ethan's autism?" I can only imagine what the look on my face conveyed as I stared at him wondering what he meant. And then I asked him, "What do you mean?" This doctor said he wanted to know who was "in charge" of following Ethan's progress in the area of autism. I told him of the different organizations that we were a part of....but I still don't know if that answered his question as he looked at me equally confused. Finally, I laughed and said, "I guess I am!"

Just like anything medical, I believe that we must take charge of our own path. Doctors, therapists, teachers, and others should be a BIG part of any kind of diagnosis. They have knowledge that we don't, and we need to seek their advice & direction. However, in the long run, where does the responsibility ultimately fall??? To ourselves. WE are in charge of seeking help, finding resources, keeping doctor appointments, participating in therapies, and so on. NO ONE will MAKE us to this....we must take this on ourselves. It is our responsibility.....not anyone else's.

And since Ethan is only 4 years old, his care falls to his us, his parents. No one else is responsible for it. And, honestly, there isn't anyone that I trust to do this job other than me! Thankfully, we have been very blessed for it to be able for me to be a Play At Home Mom since the day Ethan was born. Not that I don't have other responsibilites or interests, but taking care of him is my number one priority. And I would jokingly say, "Sorry Husband," but Corey & I have decided that.....for us......this is how we both want it to be for this moment in our lives.

So, when Ethan was diagnosised with autism at 35 months old, I knew that the majority of this would fall under my care. Not only was (am) I Ethan's primary caretaker, but I have a background in education & could pull from this resource. (And I do so often!) For the first year of living with autism, this responsibility was an overwhelming & all consuming task. But here it is....17 months later....and it's not all I think about nor is it as overwhelming. (Thank You, Lord!!!)

And today, because of our seeking & learning & persistence & prayer, Ethan is doing so well! In this last Month of Doctors, Ethan has met so many new people. When I inform them that he has autism (doctors & nurses), almost all of them have said, "I would have never known that if you hadn't told me."


So, who is following Ethan? Well, I guess I'm in charge....I'm the leader/co-ordinator. But really....there are so many people who are working with him, praying for him, and cheering for him. And I think that we are all very excited to see what God has in store for this little guy!

Wednesday, October 24, 2012

X-Rays! Stat!

Corey & I have decided to call this month....THE MONTH OF DOCTORS! LOL!!!

Last Monday, Ethan tripped & fell right on his elbow. Ethan was holding his arm close to his body & not moving it much at all. So, after seeing our pediatrician, we were sent to the hospital for X-Rays. Oh boy.

Anything new causes Ethan's anxiety to increase....which then increases his "autism" characteristics, and he is difficult to work with in the new situation. So, thanks to the wonderful advice of a friend who works with children with autism, I had already bookmarked a X-Ray video on our iPad.....and it was ready for just this moment.


After we left the pedicatrician's office, we decided to try & make this event a bit more fun! While Ethan began to watch the X-Ray video on his iPad in the van, we drove to a gas station & got snacks! Ethan loves these specific drinks that the gas station sells, and we also bought special "X-Ray" Skittles.

Belly Washers
Wild Berry Skittles

Ethan watched the X-Ray video over & over again.....asking me questions & memorizing several phrases from the video.....even in the short time between the doctor's office & the hospital.....maybe 20 minutes. We decided 3 things....

1. X-Rays do NOT hurt
2. X-Rays are quick
3. Mommy & Daddy will be there with you

These 3 things he kept saying.....to self calm. Mommy & Daddy were saying it too.....to self calm. :0)

We were all very nervous. Ethan for the unknown & his parents for how Ethan would handle the X-Ray.

Ethan watching the video on my phone in the hospital's waiting room.

Ethan, still holding on to my phone playing the x-ray video, hides in the play area for additional calming.

Well, Ethan did fine at the beginning. We looked in the X-Ray room while the technicians got things ready. We located the "big camera", talked about where we would lay down, and how he would get special X-Ray Skittles when it was all done.

Ethan & I looking into the X-Ray room

Once the 2 techs were ready, he nervously walked into the room. On the video, the boy is sitting in a chair during the x-ray, but Ethan needed to lay down. This change threw him into panic, and started things into a downward spiral. We were able to lay him down on the table, Daddy at his head, one technician & myself on each side. The tech then showed Ethan how the big camera moves & the sounds it makes. Ethan's anxiety began to creep up even more...becoming more & more overtaken with fear. But these 2 things were just the precurser for what happened next.....the technician moved the bed Ethan was laying on.....yikes.

Poor lady thought that Ethan would enjoy it, and maybe most kids do! It would be like a ride! But the issue was there was no warning before the bed moved. As she was saying, "Look, the bed moves too!"....she was moving the bed. Ethan began to SCREAM. Here we go!

Having taken my big girl pill earlier that day, and having our friends & family praying for us, Corey & I were able to get to work. Corey plugged Ethan's ears for him (since he couldn't do it himself), and I tried to get his mind off of what was happening but asking him state capitals....he gave me two answers before he screamed, "Mommy, I'm so scared!"


I love that Ethan is now able to voice his emotions, but in this case there was literally nothing to be done. I just told him, "I know you are scared, Buddy, but remember what we know about x-rays? It's not hurting you & it's fast.....we will be done soon! And then you will get special Skittles." I was trying to be as positive & encouraging as I could muster....regardless of how I was really feeling inside. Then, Ethan says, "I want Daddy to carry me!"


As Corey & my eyes met each other, we knew how we were each feeling. Corey wanted to pick him up & carry him....and remove him from this crippling fear.....and I wanted to start crying. But even Mommy and Daddy had to remember.....He's not being hurt & it's a short amount of time.

The whole picture taking process probably took 1 minute, but it felt like an eternity. We ALL had to muster all of our courage & strength to get through it, and when it was finally done.....so were we. It was about 8:30pm by this time, and we were all ready to just go home & crash.

The wonderful technicians let Ethan see his X-Rays which I thought was neat because in almost every ABC book, what does X stand for? X-RAY! So, I really thought Ethan would think this was pretty cool. But as we were looking at his x-rays, the computer next to his x-rays had a advertisement for a hospital movie night on it....and Ethan says, "Look! Popcorn!" Well, so much for the x-rays being cool.

After it was over, we waited in a waiting room for the radiologist to read the results at home & our pediatrician to call us with the results & what to do next. By 9:00pm we were told that there was no break or fracture & to give Ethan pain meds around the clock for the next week....and to keep him as immobile as possible for the next couple of days. My thought was...a 4 year old? Immobile? Yeah right! But we did our best.

He stayed home from school for the next couple of days, and then we got a phone call saying that something called a "fat pad" had appeared on the x-ray. We were being sent to a bone specialist for further x-rays & possible cast.

I'm sure you can imagine how we were feeling at this news. Awesome. (note the sarcasm)

Well, after 2 more days of keeping Ethan "immobile" and home from school, we were able to see the bone specialist. She decided that no more x-rays were needed because he passed all of her arm-moving tests with perfection! YEAH!!!

So, x-rays are over. No cast or sling is needed. Thank you, Lord!

However, we are supposed to keep an eye on it over the next year because where they are seeing a concern is the actual place he hit on his elbow. If a tiny fracture is indeed there, but is not yet showing up...it could effect the way that bone grows. So we need to keep an eye on it & watch for him favoring it....and then go back to the bone specialist for more x-rays at that point.

But for now, I am sooooo happy that Ethan's arm appears to be fine, and no more x-rays are in our immediate future. Now, we are getting ready for our appointment this Friday with a Gastro Increnologist for Ethan's potty issues. I'm praying that this too will all turn out to be nothing major.


Seems like this is our life lately.....sitting in waiting rooms & trying to keep my child occupied while waiting for the doctors! Here, Ethan & I are reading a book.

Monday, October 15, 2012

Breaking Bad Sleep Routine

I'm so TIRED!!! I wish I could say it was just today, buy it's been a couple of months now. I don't know WHEN it started but I know WHY it started. Ethan has been coming into our bedroom in the middle of the night EVERY NIGHT for months now. At first, it was just easier to pull him into our bed with us, but now he is doing it ALL THE TIME....and the only one getting a good night sleep is Ethan!

So, today as I wait in the town 30 minutes from home while Ethan is here for his Easter Seals Preschool program....I decided to borrow my mom's laptop & write at Barnes & Noble....where they serve Starbucks!!! And the Starbucks gal must have seen how tired I was when she "recommended" an extra shot of expresso in my latte......Thank you Starbucks Angel!

Well, this past weekend, we decided to try & break this habit. We have tried different things to see if he actually prefers our bed to his.....but it seems he just wants to be with us....regardless of the actual bed. At midnight last night, Ethan came to our door & asked, "Daddy, will you snuggle me in your chair?" LOL....ok....it's not his bed.

So, we told him that if he stayed in his bed & his room all night long, he would get 5 SKITTLES in the morning. We even laid them out the night before....he was so excited. Skittles are our currency in our house. If Ethan uses his words instead of throwing a fit, we reward him with ONE Skittle. If he does something without complaining, he gets a Skittle. We haven't had to use Skittles in awhile, but recently we have started this system again due to some undesirable behavior on his part....but that's for another day.

As we were putting Ethan to bed, he became to "recite" the new rule out loud...."If I stay in my bed all night long, I get 5 Skittles when it is day." My husband then brought in an alarm clock......BRILLIANT!!! He told Ethan that when the alarm goes off, it would be day & he could get out of bed. LOVE IT!!!!

Everything worked pretty well. Ethan got up a few times before Corey & I actually went to be ourselves, so putting him back in his bed wasn't too bad. Most of the time, Ethan would ask us to lay with him but then fall immediately back to sleep.  In fact, I think he only woke up that one time to ask Daddy to snuggle. I think that is pretty good for our first night of trying.

However, Ethan was sooooo excited for those 5 Skittles that he woke up at 5:30am....and asking for them. I reminded him that his alarm hadn't gone off yet, but it didn't matter.....he was awake for the day.....and so was I.

Ironically, I was watching the show Up All Night on Hulu before I went to bed last night, and the couple on the show was having the same issue! Something they tried on there was putting something in the kiddo's bed that had Mommy & Daddy's scent on them. And since Ethan is very sensory driven, I figured that this would be a good idea! So tonight, Ethan's stuffed Cookie Monster & Elmo will be sporting a shirt from Corey & a shirt from me....just have to decide who each of us should be! HA!

So, we will see how this goes. I really want Ethan to have a good night of sleep, but Mommy & Daddy need sleep too! I will keep you all posted on how this goes....Skittles, alarm clock, scent covered stuffed animals & all. But you tell me.....Do I really look that tired???? Wait.....don't answer that. :0)

Wednesday, October 10, 2012


"Strength isn't something you have. It's something you find." ~Emma Smith

Recently, I was watching a film based on the life of Emma Smith. It was a very good movie, but something she said during the film stuck with me....so much so that I could hardly concentrate on the rest of the movie. Her daughter was commenting to her that she wished she was as strong as her (Emma Smith). Then, Emma said, "Strength isn't something you have. It's something you find."

As I reflected on this scene, I related so much to Emma. I am constantly being asked how I have so much patience with my child who has autism, how can you be so calm when he throws a tantrum, how can you be so happy all of the time, and so on. I'm not trying to toot my own horn, but I am asked questions like this almost daily by people in my life. In fact, last weekend my husband & I were fortunate enough to have a date including a meal alone! Our waitress commented to my husband that our home must be full of laughter because I was such a cheerful person. OH...you should have seen the look my husband gave her! It was priceless!!!

But I have to say....I am NOT cheerful all the time or have endless amounts of patience with my child or 24 hours of energy to play flash cards with my kiddo, but I have noticed that since we have discovered Ethan has autism.....I have found an inner strength that I never knew was inside me. I have just called it Courage....but some have called it Determination, Drive, and even Dedication. And I would NEVER have used these words to describe me....EVER! But now that so many people have commented to me about this, I have taken stock in who I am. Maybe it's because I'm now in my 30s and becoming more "self-aware" so to speak, but I guess I AM stronger than I thought I was. But Emma Smith was right. I found it.

And I think every parent, especially those with children who have special needs, comes to a "fight or flight" point in their parenting. For me, it was definitely once I realized that Ethan was developmentally delayed....which was well before his actual ASD diagnosis. I mentioned once before that I felt like my child was trapped inside a burning building, and it was my responsibility to go in & get him out. And that was where I found my strength. In that moment, I summoned all I had and prayed to God to help me with what I knew I was lacking......and every day I do this again & again. Each day God reminds me that I was chosen to be this child's mother for a reason, and I feel responsible to my Lord for my parenting decisions & my daily choices. And He helps me every inch of the way. 

So, yeah, having a child with autism is not the easiest road. But our entire family has grown in our faith & character so much...not just me. I count this as yet another blessing of being Ethan's mama. He has taught me so much about love & perseverance. I look at him, and I can't help but advocate for him! To be his biggest cheerleader & help him in anyway I can! If that means calling up total strangers, knocking down doors, risking not be liked, filling out TONS of paperwork, going to conferences, and paying a bunch of money for things that will help Ethan....YOU BETTER BELIEVE THAT I'M GONNA DO IT! And people, you should see the difference in Ethan. There are no words to describe it. The last several years of ups & downs, of joy & frustration, of lost & found.....it is ALL BEEN WORTH IT TO SEE HOW IT HAS HELPED ETHAN!!!! He is such a different child than he was even MONTHS ago! His struggles & frustrations seem to be shrinking every day! IT IS A-M-A-Z-I-N-G!!!!!! 

So, I can see what Emma Smith was talking about when she said that strength is something you find because I found mine when I needed to help my child. But, I think some people ARE born with an inner strength because I have seen it in Ethan from the moment he was born. He is truly amazing.

Monday, October 8, 2012

More GI Investigation.....

Well, it's no surprise, really. After having Ethan be referred to a GI specialist and being told that we may want to try a gluten free diet with Ethan, I was very overwhelmed & not quite sure what to do next. But because I feel such urgency to help Ethan get his (now 6 weeks) diarrhea under control, I have been to my favorite grocery stores & bought almost every single item that was gluten free.

The pluses have been that there really are a LOT of things out there that are gluten free. My favorite so far was found at Walmart....gluten free cereal bars. Ethan LOVES cereal bars so this was an immediate YES for us!

We have been making subtle changes, but we haven't made it to completely off gluten just yet. But I keep hearing that this takes time & trial/error.....so I'm giving us a break & just doing what we know we can do at the moment. Ethan seems to really like the waffle/pancake mix as well as some gluten free frozen french toast sticks. We learned that Rice Krispie cereal and Trix are gluten free, and Ethan is really liking rice krispie treats! Tonight we are going to try spaghetti with gluten free spaghetti noodles. So....we are trying, but we are still learning. Our biggest hurdles will be.....chicken nuggets, PopTarts, Chef Boyardee products, and pizza. But I've gotten a few hints & tips on these as well....just all in good time. We are so lucky that bacon,  popcorn and fruit snacks are gluten free!!!! Those are DAILY foods for our Ethan!

Although we have a long road ahead of us in the gluten free genre, I still want to continue in case our GI doctor tells us to do so at our appointment in a couple of weeks. This way, we will be ahead of the game, so to speak. However, we tried something......

Recently, I discovered that I have seasonal allergies.....to the point of taking a daily medicine for it. But this is not my long story...this is about Ethan. Through my own discovery of this, we realized that Ethan has similar issues with allergies. So, recently we put him on a generic version of Zyrtec. We tried once before to take Ethan off of this medicine to see if it helped his bathroom issues, but it did not work. So, we scratched that off as the cause. However, we do remember the pediatrician mentioning that a bug was going around during the same time that we took Ethan off of his allergy medicine. So.....we decided to try it again. However, instead of taking Ethan off allergy medicine completely, we would just switch to a different brand. We decided to try Clariten. Well.....Ethan's bowels got better! Not completely but enough of an improvement for us to further investigate this avenue. He wasn't on the Clariten very long because it wasn't helping his allergy issues AT ALL, so we went back to his former medicine.....just at a lower dosage.

So, what we have now is a slight stuffy nose & slightly running number two.....ugh. But, Ethan not suffering with allergies issues during the night, and he is making it to the bathroom, so we are hoping this helps until we can get some further information. Well, last week, I mentioned this to some of the moms at Easter Seals, and one of them told me that they experienced similar issues with their kiddo. Their child is now on a prescription form of allergy medicine, and he no longer has issues in the other area! YEAH!

Well....this momma just got off the phone with the pediatrician's office with this new news......so we will see what happens next. We have been dealing with this pretty much since the beginning of the school year, and I would really like to have this settled & be done with it. We have still kept our appointment at the end of the month with the GI, but I'm really hoping that it is a side effect of his medicine, and not something else. I would really like for SOMETHING to be a simple fix!!!! Fingers crossed & prayers lifted!!!!!!!

Thursday, October 4, 2012

Condensed Weekly Schedule

I talk & post a lot about visual aids. They help our family in so many ways. However, I remember hearing at one of our conferences (sorry I can't remember which one) that visual aids are a supreme resource for kiddos on the Autism Spectrum, but our goal is to eventually have them be able to cope without it. Now, I know of some people, myself included, who would be LOST without certain visual aids. My watch, my calendar, my weather app on my phone, and my many lists. Without these few visual aids, my days would be more frazzled than they already are!!!! So, Ethan needing visual aids to reduce his anxiety.....I totally get that.

But since I post about his visual aids often, I also wanted to point out that we don't still use many of them. Once Ethan has understood the concept or schedule or whatever we are trying to teach him, we notice that he will do a couple of things. First, he will use the visual aid more as a "that's what I'm supposed to do" or "I'm having fun with this game" instead of using it to actually learn. We can tell he is doing this because he isn't really looking at the visual aid but instead is "going through the motions" without even really looking at the tool. Second, he will begin to use the aid in this same way but more randomly. Some days he will look at it, other days he won't. Eventually, we realize it has been weeks since he has needed the resource to calm his anxiety.

For instance, at the beginning of the school year, we had these visual aids to help Ethan understand what his school schedule was to be like...for more on these visual aids, you can find the original post here.

However, now these things have disappeared. I have been able to condense it all to one page.

He has also started looking at my write on/ wipe off calendar that I keep on our refrigerator. And just before bed each night, Ethan will ask me what we are doing tomorrow. I try to keep it less than 5 words....for instance, on Wednesday will will do "Easter Seals, School, Home, Church." I could easily add images onto our visual organizer if I need to but because Ethan is so word/text driven, pictures seem to be unnecessary for him.

Here are a few other links to visual aids that we have used in the past....that we no longer use.

However, the challenge is that, even though Ethan has outgrown many of his past visual aids, the need for new ones will soon come again. And that is always the challenge with parenting all children....staying one step ahead of them!

Thursday, September 27, 2012

G.I. Referral & Gluten Free Diet


Today marks 5 weeks of Ethan having severely loose stools. It started at the same time as cold-like symptoms occurred, so I assumed it was all related. When we saw the doctor the first time, I mentioned this to her but it was more in the form of a list of other things going on with Ethan. However, everything else has cleared up....but this explosiveness remains. We have followed doctor's instructions, and eliminated milk products (we already do that anyway), removed juice from his diet (only a splash to his water to add flavoring), and started him on a pro-biotic. Yet, the diarrhea remains.

This poor kid is unable to make it to the bathroom many times, having accidents at school, and says his belly hurts. 5 weeks of this.....arg. We have been to the doctor 2 times during this time as well as calling weekly for updates & "what now?" We have collected stool samples & had them tested. Everything has come back fine.

Today, we just came home from the pediatrician's office, and they are now referring Ethan to a Gastro Intestinal Doctor. It won't be for a few weeks, but I'm already sick to my stomach over this news. On one hand I am glad that things are moving forward which, hopefully, means that relief is coming soon. But on the other hand.....I am soooo dreading these next steps. I'm already envisioning horrible invasive testing, a new doctor's office, new faces, and a whole lot of trying to keep Ethan from being anxious.....which also means trying to keep me calm so he doesn't feed off of my nerves. UGH!

In the meantime, the doctor suggested trying to switch over to a gluten free diet as well as watching his sugar intake. So....I guess I have a lot of homework to do. I just went to Kroger & bought pretty much anything that said gluten free on it. :0) If anyone has some helpful advice or tips regarding any of this, I would REALLY appreciate it! I just want my little guy to feel better!!! THANKS!!!

Here is what I got at my quick Kroger shopping trip. With a 4 year old in tow, it was hard for me to read labels or focus, but I guess this is a start.

Monday, September 24, 2012

United STATES of America

Ever since Ethan's unique interest in the 2012 Summer Olympics, I have been looking for flash cards or games to encourage his curiosity of the countries, their flags, and so on. A couple of weeks ago, I came across some USA flash cards at a dollar store. I bought them because it just seemed like something Ethan would enjoy. OH MY GOODNESS......to say that he is enjoying them is a HUGE understatement! HE LOVES THEM!!!! We have played with them almost everyday since we bought them! Even when my mom comes over for a visit, she knows that she will be asked to play two things.....Money & USA.

Well, this past weekend, Daddy was planning on being gone all Saturday, so I saw this as a great opportunity to invite my mom over in order for she & I to clean out/organize/re-arrange Ethan's bedroom. (More on that later) Well, when we got to the last step of decorating the walls, I remembered that I had a large map of the United States that was already laminated & hanging in the back of my closet. You see, Ethan's love of maps comes naturally.....I love them too. Well, I knew that we just HAD to put it in Ethan's room.

Originally, I was going to hang it over the shelf as artwork. But Ethan & my mom wanted it close to the ground....where Ethan could see it, study it, and play with it. Good call!!!

When I asked Ethan what his favorite part of his room was, he told me, "Massachusetts." LOL!

You may notice that there are smiley faces on some of the states. These are states that Corey & I have been to together. My goal is to visit all the states before our 50th wedding anniversary.

Along with his wall map, Ethan got this puzzle from us last Christmas. He has never shown any interest in this puzzle.....until now.

Each state is a puzzle piece, and underneath, there is an outline of the state and the capital. It's a Melissa and Doug toy that we got on Amazon.

This is what started it all...the USA flash cards.

On the front side is the state name & a map of it's location.

On the back, they list state facts. Ethan is already interested in each state's capital.

Last week, my sister learned of Ethan's love of the states. She showed us a website of many different games including lots of interactive state games....and of course....Ethan loves them! Here is a link to the website.....http://www.sheppardsoftware.com/web_games.htm. Ethan's favorite game is http://www.sheppardsoftware.com/USA_Geography/USA_GL_click_1024.html

ALL of these items are used to create many kinds of games. Some he plays alone, some with us, some we make up, some he makes up, but it can go on for hours of play. In fact, after we hung up the wall map, I no longer had help from my mom in fixing Ethan's room.....she was occupied by a little boy wanting to play USA over & over again in different ways....and all three of us had a GREAT time!

Tuesday, September 18, 2012

The Cars Are Back

I shouldn't have said it.

I jinxed it.

Last night, I said out loud that I haven't picked up toy cars in a couple of weeks.

Ethan has been playing in such a new & different way, and that has resulted in his 100s of matchbox cars sitting on the shelf. I have loved it! My house has become a bit messier, but it's not been covered in cars. It has been play food, puzzles, building blocks, flash cards, books, board games, and LOTS of his sensory play items. He hasn't even wanted to play computer!

But of course I jinxed it. :0)

Actually, I think he is playing with his cars because he is tired. We have been busy, busy, busy the last couple of days. Sunday, we got up earlier than normal & drove to St. Louis. Both of my cousins, that my sister & I are close to, now live in St. Louis, and we were going to be a part of a special day. One of my cousins was having her little baby dedicated to the Lord at their church, and my other cousin just moved to St. Louis & had a new place. It was a WONDERFUL day! Ethan even attended the church's kids program WILLINGLY!!!!! He came out of their kid's program wearing a party hat & carrying 2 pieces of paper....one with a yarn craft on it, and the other was a coloring/circle the write answer paper. He said he had a lot of fun.....and I was so impressed with him being able to do this independently! AWESOME!!!

Then, we went to my cousin's new house & had a cookout. Ethan was so much more interactive with my family than ever before!!! He was playing with his cousins, playing with the little baby, and talking with my extended family. At one point, he asked my cousin, "Cousin Grace, will you get Hunter's ball for him?" (It has gone over the fence.) It was CRAZY AWESOME!!!!

One the way home from St. Louis, he was soooooo tired, but of course he didn't sleep. We got home about 6:30pm, and he said to us, "Who is going to lay with me." Whoever puts Ethan to bed, lays with him until he falls asleep (usually Daddy), so he was saying he was ready for bed. So, Corey gave him a quick bath & put him in bed.

The next day was Monday, one of our busy days. Ethan woke up earlier than normal, and we began our day. First, he went  to Easter Seals (3 hours of therapy/play/work), and then we head straight over to his Early Intervention School (3 more hours of school/therapy/play/work).  Monday was a rough day. Ethan was so whiny/tired which results in everything being a battle.....brushing teeth, putting shoes on, buckling car seat, cleaning up toys, and so on. Every time I talked to Ethan, he would whine/cry at me....it was brutal. However, once again, in his own way, he asked Daddy if he could go to bed earlier than normal. And once again, Corey gave him a fast bath & put him to bed.

This morning, Ethan woke up at his typical 7am time, and he is in MUCH better spirits. However, I can tell that he is still a bit tired because all he is playing with today are his cars. But, I guess we all need some down time when we are tired. And seeing him play with his cars in his patterned ways doesn't get to me like it has before because I know this is not all he is doing now. He is just tired.....mentally & physically. And I guess I am too because I am already on my 2nd cup of coffee and fighting the urge to reorganize my closets. Like mother, like son.