Tuesday, October 8, 2013

The Early Years

Welcome to Courage & Coffee....The Early Years. This portion of our main blog, Courage & Coffee, is dedicated to our years in Early Intervention. As our son is now in elementary school, we are in a new part of our journey. However, it is my hope & prayer that these posts help others during their years in Early Intervention or those families who are journeying thorough the early years of a diagnosis. I pray that connecting with one another through the world wide web, we can help each other learn to live with autism a little better each day.

Thank you for visiting Courage and Coffee The Early Years. If you would like to follow along with our present day story, please visit our main web page at www.courageandcoffee.blogspot.com.

If you would like to connect with me personally, always comment on a post or email me at imjwo80@gmail.com. I would love to "meet" you!


Friday, August 16, 2013

3 Doctors in 3 Days

Ethan at the Dentist. They were amazing.
They let him "play" with the instruments & explained all they were doing to his teeth.
He didn't like the chair moving or the "saliva sucker."
Due to those things, they cleaned his teeth while he stood next to the sink.
He spit into the sink when directed & was excellent at receiving direction!
I don't know who was more nervous....me or him.

Apparently in the state of Illinois, a child entering Kindergarten needs an eye checkup, a dental checkup and a physical including shots.


Because I have been consumed with end of Easter Seals preschool, Walk With Me, our Money Pit of a house, and going on vacation with my In-Laws....I failed to realized this fact until the last month of summer. This led to a schedule of 3 doctor appointment in 3 days.....3 days in a row.....oh joy.

Tuesday, August 6, 2013

A Quiet Fourth of July

For the last 2 years, I have forced encouraged my family to attend our town's Fourth Of July fireworks show. I LOVE the hometown traditions & the sense of community. However, Ethan was terrified both times. I thought the 2nd year would be better...it was a bit. So this year I informed my family that we would not be attending the firework's show. My husband was ecstatic. Ethan was just as happy. So, our 4th of July was spent swimming/eating with friends & family during the day, but then we headed home. My brother-in-law's uncle gifted Ethan with several boxes of sparklers. This was the perfect way for our family to celebrate The Fourth. After we watched a fireworks show on TV, we went outside for sparklers.....

Saturday, August 3, 2013

Attaching A Sensory Toy To A Coat

I am always looking for ways to provide Ethan the sensory items he needs in a way that doesn't scream, "HI! I'M A SENSORY TOY!" It takes a LOT of trial & error as well as thinking outside the box. This can be a challenge, but I believe that it is worth it in the end!

One way that I have discovered to fill his "chewing" need is to attach a toy to his jackets & coats. This is to replace him chewing on his shirt collars & coat zippers. Why replace this behavior? Because the chewing is ruining his clothing. Why attach it to his clothing? Because it's easy for him to access & less change of losing our chew toys!

Using a simple grommet tool....from Hobby Lobby...I was able to insert a ring into the collar of Ethan's coat. Thanks to Jessica over at The Almost Perfectionist for introducing me to this tool! It's so simple...even I can do it!

Thursday, August 1, 2013

Morning Routine Organization for Kids

With Back To School in the air (insert sad face), I thought I would share my tips on getting ready in the morning. That is SUCH a hectic time, but it can be made a whole lot easier. And if you start NOW, your kiddos will already be used to this "system," and it won't be another new thing when they actually begin their school year.

1. Address the closet. Mainstream it as much as possible. Picking clothes needs to be simple & not overwhelming. 

This organizer has really helped Ethan feel 
more independent in getting dressed as well as
 allowing me to chose his clothes for him. 
This way he doesn't wear long sleeves 
when it's 90 degrees outside. I also read this book 
as he gets dressed.  It makes it more fun & 
there have been a lot less battles. 
This is Ethan's closet.We have removed the closet doors
 to prevent a frustration/trigger.
 My next step is to remove his winter clothes
because it adds too much visual stimulation.

My husband labeled Ethan's 
dresser drawers with text & pictures.

Sunday, July 21, 2013

Our Last Day of Early Intervention

This day had been 3 years in the making. It was coming faster than I realized. The finish line was here.

The last day of Ethan's Early Intervention programs. The final day of professional help & therapy before Ethan starts Kindergarten.

Several friends of mine, including my mother-in-law, are preparing to send their children off to college. In talking with them, most of them are excited but worried too. "Did we teach them enough? Did we do all we could to prepare them for this moment? Did we do all we possible could for them & their future?"

These same thoughts were running through my head as I walked Ethan into his last day at Easter Seals ITAP program.

Our journey with Early Intervention started even before his autism diagnosis.

Wednesday, July 17, 2013

Last Day of Easter Seals Autism Preschool Program

Today was Ethan's last day of Easter Seals Intensive Therapy Autism Preschool Program. I am currently writing up a post all about this day, what it means for our family, and Ethan's next steps. However, here are some pictures of his last day. I was able to capture Ethan with each therapist except the Director of the program....but we did see her at Walk With Me.

These ladies are amazing, and our family will miss them terribly! Also, we were all very emotional.....my pictures do not portray just how beautiful these women are!!!! Please excuse the blurry lines & red eyes...I was a hot mess taking these pictures! All of my focus was on not crying!

Ethan being presented with his Diploma
Looking at his Diploma

Tuesday, July 16, 2013

YWCA Swimming Lessons

This past Winter, Ethan took swimming lessons at the YWCA. He loves the water, but does NOT like putting his face under water. He also would NEVER let go of Corey or me while in the pool. However, after these swim lessons, he is now swimming this summer with water wings instead of a life jacket. He also will swim all around the pool without needing Mom or Dad by his side. He has gained a little bit more independence! YEAH!

Here are some pictures from our swimming lessons...

Sunday, July 14, 2013

News Coverage for Walk With Me 2013

Picture courtesy of Steve Smedley @ Pantagraph
This blogger was interviewed by a TV crew & a local city's newpaper during yesterday's Easter Seals Walk With Me event. You all know that when it comes to our family's story, I am an open book. Anything that I can share that may help or inform someone else going through something similar, I am going to talk about it!......and often! :0)

So, here is the TV news story...which this gal crying. It is a very emotional event. The amount of support you feel is overwhelming, and they interviewed me right after we had walked our mile. I was all tears. :0)

Also, a couple of people from the city's newpaper walked with our team for a bit. They talked with our family as we began our walk. It was so wonderful to be able to boast about how Easter Seals has helped our Ethan.

To watch the TV News Clip, click http://centralillinoisproud.com/fulltext?nxd_id=336482.

To read the Newspaper Article, click http://www.pantagraph.com/news/local/dozens-of-teams-participate-in-easter-seals-walk-at-corn/article_ae58b602-ec06-11e2-9040-001a4bcf887a.html

Saturday, July 13, 2013

Easter Seals Walk With Me 2013

This Saturday, our family participated in our 2nd Easter Seals Walk With Me Event. It was beautiful weather & wonderfully organized....we had a great time. Thanks to all of our family & friends who walked with us or donated to our team. And thanks to our new friends that joined our team...it was great meeting you all! Here are some pictures from the event. Hope you can join us next year!!!!

Friday, July 12, 2013

Ethan's 5th Birthday Party

Other than his 1st birthday party, we have done a family only birthday party for Ethan. Not even family only....immediate family only. If it was MY party, I would invite every friend & family member. I LOVE parties!!!!! However, my Ethan does not like a lot of people, loud noises & commotion...so we do small family birthday party. IF you count having 9 cousins a small group! Here are some pictures from Ethan's pool party! Thanks to our family for, once again, making it a memorable day!

All but 2 cousins were able to come!

Thursday, July 11, 2013

Ethan's FIFTH Birthday

Breakfast in Bed. Presents in Pajamas. The perks of a summer birthday. I love this tradition because Ethan then has the remainder of the day to play with his new toys. Here is Ethan's 5th birthday...in Mommy & Daddy's bed....his favorite place to sleep.

Saturday, July 6, 2013

Ethan Was Here

As we go about our lives, many times during the days I am stopped in my tracks. There are things that pop up that remind me....that Ethan Was Here. I hope you enjoy these pictures of the little surprises I receive from Ethan!

Tuesday, July 2, 2013

Is It July Already?!?!

I had to put up my blinders as I walked through the store today. I overheard one of the employees talking about stocking back to school supplies. I decided that I wanted to remain in denial of this information.....so I put my head down & headed straight for the registers.

I can't believe it's July already??? Where is summer going?! 

Tonight, as I searched for a clean piece of notebook paper, I came across my "Summer Bucket List".....things I wanted to be SURE to do this summer. I remembered making that list....a couple weeks before school let out. You know, just after you get the city's summer programs guide, and you are itching to be done the school schedules. You decide to take full advantage of the lazy days of summer & capture every summer activity before it's too late.

Saturday, June 29, 2013

"Jesus, Will You Be My Best Friend Forever?"

It was another trip to Easter Seals. What was once a quiet van ride only filled with the music of The Go Fish Guys, was now becoming Ethan's time to ask me questions about God. I was starting to look forward to these trips. Not only was it nice to have a "typical" back & forth conversation with Ethan, it was interesting to hear what questions he had for me. Almost like an inside peek into how his amazing mind works.

The day before my sister told me that her little girl had asked Jesus to be in her heart. This was something that I wondered if Ethan would understand or even WANT to do, but I had been praying for since he was created. And this is a pretty typical up/down feeling for a mom of a child on the spectrum. Most of your friends' kids are hitting milestones & achieving progress.......first steps, saying "Mommy," reading, writing, developing relationships, etc......and I am always so genuinely happy for them. I love seeing the kids in my life growing up....I love being Aunt Wo in my family or Miss Jessica at church or Mrs. Wolfe when I teach. But then there is ALWAYS a punch in the gut that comes with it. It's another reminder that my child is a bit different. That my precious Ethan may never achieve the milestones his peers are reaching. Up/Down feelings.....another quiet prayer in my heart.....my infamous broken record....."Please Lord, I want Ethan know you at an early age. And I want him to love you & serve you the rest of his life.

Wednesday, June 26, 2013

Discussing God with Ethan

What does God eat?

What is his favorite color?

Does he go potty like a big boy?

What do you ride on to get to heaven? A rocket?

LOVE. These are some of the questions that Ethan has been asking me about God, Heaven & salvation. On our 2 times a week drive to Easter Seals, we have a good solid 30 minute drive. Ethan, never being much for conversation in the car, prefers to listen to music. Our favorite groups of all time is The Go Fish Guys. They are a group of Dads that create Christian music...and some silly songs too....specifically for kids. BUT....they don't drive you crazy. I actually really enjoy them as well.

Something wonderful has happened this past month during our drives. Ethan has been asking a TON of questions about the words in their songs.

Wednesday, June 19, 2013

When All Else Fails, Use YouTube!

I have been a bit absent from writing for awhile. Like a lot of this country, we have been getting a LOT of rain. I hate to even mention it because there are so many families that are dealing with much worse rain damage than we are.....much worse. I am simply explaining what has been going on with our family.

1. Our basement filled with water. Not a lot but enough to ruin carpeting & such.
2. Our ceiling started leaking. Boo.
3. Our air conditioning went out.

All of this happened during the middle of one of our home projects.....replacing our flooring in 5 rooms. If any of you have ever done a home improvement project, you know what it is like to live among that mess. Nothing is where is should be, and your routines are off. Especially when it's the bathroom....which is where our project was when this rain business started.

He hated the roofers making noise,
but he LOVED the dumpster! LOL!
So, the flooring has been halted & our attention has been turned to all things "de-watering." Calling people, taking bids, learning way more about my home than I ever thought I needed to know.....it's wearing & super stressful. But we are making progress. We have had the roof replaced & the gutters are next. This will take care of a LOT of our water issue...but not all of it. We have a couple of plumbing issues that need to be uncovered & addressed as well. Baby steps, right?

Well, that is all things house related....only one portion of our life. We also have Ethan's birthday in 3 days...which I have done ZERO shopping. Oh...his birthday party too....I've done nothing. Mom of the year...right here.

Friday, June 14, 2013

Join Our Walk With Me Team 2013

This will be our 2nd year participating in Easter Seals Walk With Me! Ethan is an ambassador for this event, and we are putting together a team! Here is a link for more information about our team! We would love for you to join us!!!

I asked Ethan why he loves Easter Seals so much.
Here's how that conversation went....

Friday, May 31, 2013

Puzzle Piece Rewards System

Weeks of sticker charts!
DLTK's Custom Chore Charts!
For a long time, we have been doing the typical sticker chart to encourage Ethan to use manners, maintain good hygiene and become more independent. After a sticker chart was completed, Ethan would get $1 for his bank. That worked for awhile but then the novelty wore off. Getting a sticker for brushing his teeth was no longer worth it to him....and the battles returned.

So, we began to up the ante! Each night, we would count his stickers & he would earn 1 coin per sticker. And when his sticker chart was full, he would still earn a dollar.

Want to know a secret? I would just re-use coins already in his bank, so it didn't cost us any extra money. Shhhh....don't tell Ethan!

Well, that worked for awhile, but soon that began to wear off too. The battles were beginning to start again....fighting to brush teeth, fighting to self dress, and I was losing my currency with Ethan!

24 piece puzzle from Dollar General. 
And, once again, the Changing Challenging Behaviors Workshop from Easter Seals came through for us!!! Ms. Dona, leader of the workshop & Ethan's ITAP program, showed the class several strategies & examples. Corey & I immediately knew that we had found our solution.....puzzles.

How do puzzles work in place of a sticker chart? For every demonstration of desired behavior, Ethan earns one puzzle piece....instead of one sticker. Once Ethan has completed a puzzle, he gets to pick a prize/toy out of the prize bin I've put together. Things from the dollar store, happy meal toys, garage sale finds....nothing that costs more than $1 each. ETHAN LOVES IT!!!!

In the middle of a puzzle!
Almost time for a trip to the prize bin!
It has been working longer than anything we have tried before! He loves gaining a puzzle piece, loves putting the puzzles together, loves digging for toys in our prize bin! Initially, I was cutting up the cardboard boxes of his fruit snacks, cereal, pop tarts, and other recognizable logos. But once Ethan got the hang of it, we needed to go to more puzzle pieces so he wasn't earning a toy EVERY day. 

I am thrilled to report that this is STILL going VERY well, and he loves earning puzzle pieces!!! Now our battles are diminishing! Picking up toys, brushing teeth, turning off the computer, trying new foods, behavior in new places, and other issues are able to be a managed so much better with this new form of "currency." HOORAY FOR PUZZLES!

Wednesday, May 29, 2013

Route 66 Road Trip

To celebrate the end of school & beginning of summer, we decided to kick things off with a quick road trip to Pontiac, IL. Just a couple of hours away, the thing that attracted us to this small, rural town is it's the home of the Route 66 Hall of Fame. I thought my car crazy guys would enjoy this kind of getaway. We decided to leave right after Ethan got out of school. We got there about dinner time, ate at a restaurant, and then checked in to our hotel....complete with a pool. Of course Ethan wanted to swim ASAP, so we did. The place was so quiet & we had the pool & hot tub all to ourselves. It was wonderful. We just decided to lounge around in our hotel for the rest of the evening.

The next morning, after breakfast & a Ethan "swim" in our room's whirlpool tub, we were ready to head downtown. I think this place is the friendliest place on Earth! You should visit! It was VERY low cost (all museums were FREE), and lots of things to do! Now, I'll just let the pictures speak for themselves....get ready for a Parade Of Pictures From Pontiac!

Monday, May 27, 2013

Last Day Of Preschool!

The day finally came....Ethan's last day of Preschool. When Ethan first woke up he was full of energy & super excited for the day. However, once at school, he was a total bear! Did any of you notice that it was a full moon at the end of last week? Any of your kiddos in "moods?" Mine sure was! I told his teacher & principal that I was actually a bit grateful for his fowl mood. His attitude caused me to be frustrated & exhausted...instead of contemplative & sad.....it actually worked out! How's that for a positive outlook! LOL!!! HAPPY PRESCHOOL GRADUATION, ETHAN!

First day of Preschool 2012
Last day of Preschool 2013 

Walking in to school for the last time!

Thursday, May 23, 2013

"It's the End of An Era"

This is a quote from my most favorite TV show of all time....FRIENDS. And that is all that is running through my mind tonight. 

I just got home from watching some of my former Kindergarten students graduate from 8th grade. I haven't seen most of them since Kindergarten because that was my last year of teaching. I couldn't help but think back.....who was the talker of the class, who was the class clown, who was the shy girl, and so on. Some of them gave speeches during the ceremony as well. Their writing & speaking blew me away. These kids have grown up....almost over night, in my opinion....and I was one proud teacher.

Then, this Sunday, Corey's youngest brother...who we lovingly call "our first child" because was a constant companion during our dating & early married life...will be graduating from High School! Oh man....I'm gonna need more tissues.

Wednesday, May 22, 2013

7 Tips to Teach Your Child With ASD About God

Ever since I found out that I was going to be a mom, I have had one major parenting question. “How am I going to teach my child about God?” And here I am…5 years later…wondering the same thing. “How am I going teach my child with autism about God?”

We know that abstract concepts, like faith, are difficult for most children to understand. However, generally speaking, those who have ASD find abstract concepts to be even more difficult. Give them a math problem & they can grasp that idea in no time. But something that is not tangible or visible, and you are in a whole new ballgame.

Shortly after Ethan was diagnosed with classic autism, my mom, husband & I attended one of Dr. Temple Grandin’s conferences. This question was brought up to Templeby another one of the attendees. Dr. Grandin responded by saying, “Teach them by your example. Teach them the Golden Rule. Follow the 10 commandments. Be love. Be God to them.” What a great answer for us all.

Recently, a friend asked me for some ideas to help her son who has recently been diagnosed with Asperger’s Syndrome. It wasn’t related to this topic, but it got me thinking…maybe I should start posting what I have learned in list form?! So, here are my tips for teaching children with ASD about God & your faith.

7 Tips to Teach Your Child With ASD About God

  1. Be a Christ-like example to them. Show them God’s love, and do this wherever you are…not just at church. Be Christ at home, at the grocery store, at Walmart, at family functions….everywhere. Even though it may not seem like these kiddos are paying attention.....they are. Are we going to get this one right 100% of the time? Probably not, but our kids are smart enough to know when we are putting on a show and when we are being genuine. Galations 2:20 "I have been crucified with Christ and I no longer live, but Christ lives in me. The life I now live in the body, I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me."

Monday, May 20, 2013

Fear of the Water Sprinkler

The weather around here has either been super rainy or super beautiful...not much in between.I'll take that! We have been spending a LOT of time outdoors already this year, and once the heat hit the 80s....the pool went up! But do you know how hard it is to explain to an autistic four year-old that we have to WAIT for the pool water to warm up & the chemicals to do their job? Why is it different from a bath? Oooo....Ethan was NOT happy about waiting. So, I pulled out last year's sprinkler....still in it's box.

The reason it was still unopened is because we were at my sister's house one day when they turned on their sprinkler for the kids to run through, and Ethan was NOT having it! His anxiety was super high & insisted on doing all things non-sprinkler related.

And that's fine. Honestly, when it comes to picking my battles, making him run through the sprinkler is very low on my list. Can I get an amen?

However, I was a bit nervous myself getting out the sprinkler. Ethan was already having some "waiting" issues & his anxiety was already rising. Should I risk the sprinkler? Um.....YEAH! Lately, he has been letting me use our shower head to rinse him off after his bath instead of using a big cup to fill & dump and fill & dump and fill & dump...the shower head is so much easier when you have a child that is already about 4 feet tall! And the sprinkler is kind of like a shower head, right? Well, that's what I told Ethan anyway.

Saturday, May 18, 2013

Changing Challenging Behaviors: Update

About a month ago, Corey & I attended a workshop at our Easter Seals entitled Changing Challenging Behaviors. It was during this training that I had an "Ah-ha" moment about MY behavior during a meltdown. To read more about that, click here. In a nutshell, I engage with him during his meltdowns & I needed to stop.

Tuesday, May 14, 2013

Sensory Play: Colored Ice Cubes

One of the greatest things of any holiday is the after holiday sales.....if you can hold out on buying items that long! I am ALWAYS shopping these clearanced items in order to add to our sensory play resources. This year I was keeping my eye on some key items....one of them being shaped ice cube trays.

There are many ways to make colored ice cubes. We added food coloring to water. I filled the hearts with water & Ethan picked different colors for each heart. He added the food coloring too.

Once they were frozen, we added them to our kitchen sink water. Why is our water black? Because Ethan asked to add food coloring to it & 3 colors mixed together makes black. :0)

Thursday, May 9, 2013

Happy Mother's Day

When Ethan was a baby, I received a magazine subscription to Parenting as a gift. One of my favorite columns in this magazine is entitled Pop Culture. This article appears in every Parenting magazine, and it's written by a DAD! (Get it....POP culture!? He even writes a blog! Click here to see more from him.) Shawn Bean tells of life as a father & family man. I love his point of view....which helps me understand the 2 guys in my life a little better.....and his humor on situations is the best.

This month he talked about how he half-heartedly celebrated mother's day several years ago. It's a cute story. To read about it, check it out here. His wife responded to his blunder with these words...."This holiday is more important to me than any other. It's the only holiday I had to earn."

Very well said, Mrs. Bean.

And being the mother of a child with a disability gives the word "earn" a whole new meaning. For me, Mother's Day will always be bitter sweet. Four years ago, I became a mother. Two years after that, on Mother's Day week, I became a mother of a child with autism. Yes, Mother's Day always reminds me of the day Ethan was diagnosed with autism....and a small bit of grieving occurs all over again. But I wouldn't change my Ethan & who he is for anything. He is my perfect child from above, and I really love being his mom.

My friend shared this video this week on her Facebook page, and I just loved it. It's short, but very cute & sweet. I was crying like a baby by the end....and it has NOTHING to do with autism. Just being a Mom. It really is a MUST WATCH.

Happy Mother's Day!!!

Wednesday, May 8, 2013

Savoring Moments

Nothing special happening today. My husband has agreed to pick up Ethan from preschool today, so I am taking 20 minutes for myself. As I sit outside taking in the neighborhood sounds, my mind wanders in 100 directions. Does that happen to anyone else?

Most of my days are filled with all things autism. Whether it's hurrying to find a picture to visually help explain something to Ethan or driving him around to his 2 schools, my mind is usually all around Ethan & being the best mother I can be for him. I guess that comes with the territory of being a stay-at-home mom. I feel the pressure of being that perfect 50's housewife.....of which I fall short daily. I also feel inadequate in other areas too...in leading our new special needs ministry at church, in blogging information that would be beneficial to others, in maintaining my relationships with my friends & family, in taking care of myself...I just can't find a balance.

But as I take this 20 minute quiet break for myself, I am filled with a sense of peace. I am reminded that my life will not be this way forever...it's just how it is for right now. Like most of you, I am just trying to do the best I can with the cards I'm dealt....and what else can I do.

Tuesday, May 7, 2013

Look Who's Running for Easter Seals?!?!

A few months ago, our area Easter Seals hosted their annual telethon. During this telecast, Running Central, a company based in Peoria, IL, introduced Peoria's First Annual City Wide Easter Seals Marathon! With the event two months away, I decided to start training again & run this 5K. Well, what do they say about the best laid plans??? I have just learned that raising a child with autism makes COMMITMENT a very hard thing to....um.....well.....commit to! In our situation, flexibility in our lives as parents makes things a bit easier in raising Ethan.....not so easy for training for a marathon. Well....maybe next year!

Then, I received the greatest blessing this past Sunday. After church, my brother-in-law (my sister's husband) told me that he ran his first marathon a couple of weeks ago. He seemed to really enjoy it & was looking for another one of which to participate. He told me that he found one in Peoria but was on the fence about doing it....until he heard that it was for Easter Seals. He signed up immediately.

Friday, May 3, 2013

Burlap Art Work Display

I seem to be a bit random in my posts lately. I think it due to the weather. If it's nice outside, I want to show you outdoor fun. If it's raining....like it is AGAIN today, I seem to move my thoughts inside. So...today I want to show you my latest indoor project.

Does anyone else have problems with a refrigerator overflowing with your children's artwork? I guess I shouldn't say problem because I LOVE to look at all of Ethan's creations. To me, they are like looking at miracles. The problem that I have is that it looks messy & they are always falling! Especially when Ethan decides he wants to play with the refrigerator magnets!

Saturday, April 27, 2013

Easter Seals ITAP Interview

I talk A LOT about the Easter Seals program that Ethan has been a part of since last summer. If you would like to see it in action & learn more about it......you can! Our local news station recently interviewed an Easter Seals Staff member about this program, and they have video of the program in action! Although it's not Ethan's actual class, the video does include his teachers & therapists! I hope you can watch it! This program is WONDERFUL! Click here to watch it!!!!

Tuesday, April 23, 2013

Therapy Dog, Payton, Helps Ethan

Ethan attends a 2 Day a Week Preschool at Easter Seals called ITAP (Intensive Autism Therapy Program). Several months ago, a paper came home with Ethan....a permission slip to include a therapy dog, Payton, into Ethan's class. I was excited for this opportunity because Ethan has a slight anxiety regarding dogs. But I knew if anyone could help Ethan overcome this fear, it would be Easter Seals.

Since then, Payton has made several appearances to Ethan's classroom. Not only has Payton helped alleviate his fears regarding dogs, but something else amazing has happened....

Ethan is riding the elevator at Easter Seals!
Ethan with Payton on the elevator.
Why is this amazing? Ethan HATES elevators. If I could think of a stronger word for hate, I would use that instead. Every time we walk up to one, Ethan WIGS OUT & climbs me like a tree. Once on the elevator, he screams the ENTIRE time. It's awful. Last fall, we went to visit my grandpa in the hospital, and the route to his room included 3 different elevators. We managed the first one, but after that....Ethan was NOT having it. He became impossible. So, we took the stairs. By the time I got to my grandpa's room, I was EXHAUSTED...physically & emotionally. Thank goodness my visits with my Grandpa were always uplifting. Man, I miss that man. He would really have enjoyed hearing this story.