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!!!!!!!