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 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.

Wednesday, April 17, 2013

Avon's Bath Finger Paints

Seems like whenever I give Ethan a bath, we end up doing some sort of messy play. It's just so easy to do sensory play in the bathtub! I have his full attention, he is calm, and clean up is a breeze! Recently, I have discovered how to make playing with shaving cream even MORE exciting & enticing for coloring it & making it bath paint! For more on that, visit here.

Well, for Easter, my mom bought all of her grand kids Avon's Natural Kids Bath Finger Paints. They came in 3, blue & orange. Ethan didn't seem all that excited when he opened his gift from my mom, but when he took his bath that night & saw what these guys could was an instant hit! It was goodbye shaving cream & hello Avon paint!

Friday, April 12, 2013

My Behavior During A Meltdown....It Needs To Change!

Have you ever had an "Ah-Ha" moment? A moment, conversation, story, or event that opened your eyes to things happening in your own life which changed your behavior/way of thinking forever? I had a very key parenting ah-ha moment last night regarding Ethan's meltdowns.

Last night, Corey & I attended a workshop provided by our local Easter Seals branch. It was entitled, Changing Challenging Behaviors and was taught by the director of Ethan's ITAP program. This woman has so much experience & is so educated.....I wish I could have her on speed dial!!!  But I will settle for spending a couple of hours listening to her talk about this particular topic.

During the workshop, she gave us so many new ideas & resources, and we are excited to try them with Ethan. The woman is truly brilliant! But my big realizaton came almost at the end of the session. All workshop long, Ms. Donna was telling us how to change unwanted behaviors, but thankfully she included a section of what to do WHEN meltdowns occur anyway....despite all our efforts.

I was pretty proud of myself as she was describing how to react to a meltdown....I knew most of them & felt that I was pretty good at them....being calm, don't take it personal, don't use it as a time to teach, and so on. However, one thing she said was, "limit touch or talk during this time. It is like adding fuel to the fire."

Monday, April 8, 2013

Why "Courage and Coffee"

I realized that I have never answered this question on my blog, but it is a question I get asked most often.

"Why the name Courage and Coffee?"

Here's how it came to be.....

I began writing this blog months before I actually published it to the world. I kept the settings on "private" so only I would see it, and my blog had no name at that time. I just needed a place to get out all that I was feeling & thinking before I had a nervous breakdown......seriously. I was so overwhelmed with being the main caretaker of a chid with special needs. I felt as if I was thrown into the deep end of the "autism pool" without knowing how to swim. I was over my head & didn't know how to stop drowning. All I was trying to do was just tread water & get through each day one at a time.

Sunday, April 7, 2013

He's Eating New Foods!!!

The last several posts (click #1 or #2 to read them) have been leading up to some very exciting news! ETHAN HAS BEEN EATING NEW FOODS THIS WEEK!!!! Pinch me 'cuz I think I'm dreaming!

 The food issue is sooooo maddening to me.....a girl who literally loves all food. I don't understand this "picky-eater" thing AT ALL! And I used to REALLY fight this battle with all my might. But, whether good or bad, I just grew tired of fighting with Ethan at EVERY meal. I just decided to focus on what I could help him with....table manners & sitting at the table LONGER than a minute. We also eat in our living room a lot now because we have an eat-in kitchen & the smells are too much for Ethan. In fact, we have even moved our dining room table INTO our living room!


Beef Stew
Pizza Pocket made with crescent rolls
Jelly Beans
Cinnamon Raisin Biscuits
Spice Cake
Chicken & Noodles

Ethan & I "cheesing it up" at dinner!
He also TRIED cheesy scalloped potatoes & LICKED apples slices in therapy at Easter Seals. This is from a child who wigs out whenever he sees apple slices approaching the dinner table! However, when we went to the new Chick-Fil-A restaurant & was served WAFFLE fries, he wouldn't touch them. Fries are not shaped like waffles. Oh, that kid cracks me up!

Now, I realize that all of these foods are not SUPER healthy, but they are foods that he would have NEVER tried in the past....and now he is willingly eating....and loving them!!! CRAZY AWESOME PROGRESS!

This just reiterates that doing sensory play at home as well as having Ethan in occupational therapy is paying off big time! I can't wait to see what new foods he will eat this week! I'M SO EXCITED!!!!

***OH YEAH! One more thing! Ethan's school occupational therapist has told me that Ethan is able to zip up his own coat, but he has NEVER done it for me. It was always a frustration/trigger that would set him off, and I would end up doing it for him. Recently, we dug out a "new to us" hand-me-down jacket for Spring.....and ETHAN HAS ZIPPED IT UP EVERY TIME HE'S WORN IT!!!!!! WOO-HOO!!!!!!!

Friday, April 5, 2013

Messy Art Projects at Easter Seals

Ethan's snowmen & his name. This is simply amazing!
Last post, I talked about how we do a lot of messy sensory play in our home. This is to help Ethan overcome his heightened senses due to Sensory Processing Disorder. This has many benefits which should help him participate in daily common activities, such as sitting in a noisy classroom or eating a bigger variety of foods.

Well, leave it to Ethan's Early Intervention Team (including Easter Seals & School Preschool Program) to take things to the next level!!! THANK YOU!

I'm always so excited to see Ethan's take-home projects in his bookbag. Since he doesn't (or can't) relay to me in words what he is doing at school/ITAP, it is nice to see tangible items that helps me see the whole picture. About a month ago, I picked Ethan up from Easter Seals and noticed that Ethan's hands were dyed with colors. I knew immediately that he had been doing some kind of art project....but just what that was had yet to be seen.

Well, folks, let me tell you.....when I saw what Ethan had been doing, I was blown away. Ethan had been painting. Not just with a paintbrush, but with his fingers.....and his ENTIRE BARE HANDS!!!!

Thursday, April 4, 2013

Homemade Bath Paint

Shaving cream + food coloring = bath paint!
When Ethan was diagnosed with autism, he was also diagnosed with sensory processing disorder. Basically, the way Ethan receives the 5 senses into his body is different than the way we seems that his body is missing a filter. He hears everything louder, smells everything stronger, tastes everything deeper and so on. This, then ,carrries over into other things....difficulty sleeping, extremely pickey eating, etc.....which leads to a tired/cranky boy, more meltdowns, frustration, health deficiencies, etc. See the sequence?

Because Ethan experiences the senses so intensely, we do A LOT of "sensory play." The goal is to increase Ethan's tolerance to his sensitivities. So, while you may be looking at Ethan playing with messy, colorful shaving cream, I see a boy who may one day eat more than 10 things. A child who may touch or even eat luncheon meat. A boy who might be able to take a simple sandwich in his lunch box.....or even eat hot lunch at school! Bring on the sensory play!!!!!

Wednesday, April 3, 2013

My Guys Were On The Local News!

Ethan tells us that he thinks the car is "Grrrrr-ific!"
Word has spread quickly about Corey's Light It Up Blue car! A local news station contacted Easter Seals where Corey's car was featured on their Facebook page for Autism Awareness Day. Easter Seals then contacted us, and an interview was set up for today! We spent about 30 minutes with the reporter & camera man as well as a few friends from Easter Seals. Ethan was acting so silly being the center of attention...and that was pretty amusing.

So, here is the link to see my two guys on TV!

Tuesday, April 2, 2013

Happy World Autism Awareness Day 2013!!!

Ethan Lighting It Up Blue!
Well, I knew 2 things this morning when Ethan woke me.....It was 7:00am, and I would need to dress us both in blue. Awhile back we bought Ethan a digital clock and told him that he had to stay in his bed until the first number was seven. Now my daily wake up call is...."It's Seven! We can get up!" (Yesterday, I told him that I knew we COULD get up, but did we HAVE to??? which he, of course, replied, "YES!")

And naturally we dressed in blue to celebrate World Autism Awareness Day! Ever since Ethan's diagnosis, we have been "lighting it up blue" to celebrate the amazing child that God gave to us! In fact, Ethan even PICKED out this shirt...he liked that it had the world on it for WORLD Autism Awareness Day...and there was blue in it! We all wore blue, my friends & family texted me that they were wearing blue, and some of us even accessorized with Autism Speaks wrist bands &/or other items. Ethan even wanted blue underwear. :0)