Siblings of Children with Autism

A couple years ago come this Mother’s Day weekend my youngest was flown to another hospital by fixed wing for a severe asthma attack.  That evening scared me so much seeing her fighting to breathe after wild fire smoke had triggered an asthma attack.  Up to that day I never would have thought that she would have childhood asthma, but that is just it you never do know.  TJ was so worried about his little sister until she was back home.

He has always been compassionate towards his sister.  They have one tight bond.  He loves his sisters and it’s a good thing as he is surrounded by sisters along with one little brother.  I love that he gets to know his siblings even the ones that don’t live in our area.

I have read where some would call siblings of children with ASD “the silent victims”.  I don’t think of it that way nor will I ever look at it in that way.

Sissy loves her big brother more than anything.  And yes when I say more than anything I mean more than her love of Littlest Pet Shop and Project MC2.  If you were to ever see the two of them together you will not only see siblings but you will see…

Best Friends.Lunch dates

Unconditional love.Talia's First Day of Kindergarten

Siblings that will always protect each other.

Zo, Lex, TJ & Sissy
Zo, Lex, TJ & Sissy

Among so many other things.

Summer time is TJ’s favorite since he knows that he will have all of his sisters under one roof and get to enjoy time with all of them.  He loves being the center of attention when his big sisters come to visit.  I love seeing them getting the chance to bond and build their relationships as siblings and friends.

Sissy will play their favorite video games with TJ knowing how much he loves it.  Her and their cousins will adjust games that they play to something TJ can enjoy and understand to play.  They don’t exclude him from anything and I shall say they let him win for the most part.Cousins!

I love seeing my children bond as siblings.  Sissy goes with us to TJ’s therapy days, she tries to help him with his school work and when he struggles to say something she somehow always knows what he is trying to say.  Call it a sisters intuition.

They are not just siblings…they are the best of friends with a most truly one of a kind bond.

Go Girl Run OKC 2016 Recap

It has been just about 2 years since my previous half marathon.  I had the fun task of dealing with heel spurs and even more fun about two months of this recent winter was spent getting over bronchitis.  Then you can add in the fact that I didn’t know about the amount of hills along the course I would be on.  

Training wise…mostly spent on the treadmill as most was during the winter, we have maybe one good size hill in our town and learned that I was in the wrong shoes.  I got fitted finally and glad that I did as I am in love with my Brooks! 

For a course with more hills than this girl knows what to do with I would have thought that since it had been a bit since my last half marathon that I would have been looking at over 4 hours finish time.  Instead just under that..3:59:44 for a finish time.  I was pretty proud of myself to be honest.  

I met some new runners on the course and finished with a girl that was completely her very first half marathon.  Felt nice helping a newbie to keep pushing and finish strong for her first one since I remember being that newbie.

Photo ops were fun even though my sports bra bled when I sweat during the course so I had such a nice tie die effect on my new shirt.  In the end though I look at the fact that my top was one that I had made at the expo that had two messages in one: BElive in YOUrself.  I felt that it was perfect since this was my comeback half marathon.  

Now the really fun part..less than two weeks until my next half marathon!  I am doing the Go Girl Run Triple Crown Challenge where I will finish 3 of the 4 runs.  Here’s to a happy running year and maybe hills will become a thing of the past to me.

My favorite things during this run was getting to use my new FlipBelt (it was amazing for my keys, cash, ID and GU packets); my Brooks Glycenrin 13’s (finished strong with very little pain) and sharing the course with new and veteran runners and walkers.  

Amazon Kindle Unlimited Free 30 Day Trial

Remember when you were little and you loved going to the library at school to check out your favorite book?  Me too, I loved that day!  Believe it or not there is a new option and it is amazing!

I started using Amazon’s Kindle Unlimited and I honestly get that same feeling as I did on library day in school.  Yes I love it that much and more.  You get a Free 30 Day Trial and then to continue it is $9.99 per month but the best part is that instead of just one book you can choose up to 9 titles at anytime and when you want to check out another title you simply select that title and choose which title you wish to return.  Trust me it is that easy!

At the current time you can find books by my all time favorite blogger in my Kindle reader as well as a couple children’s books for my children to look at when we are traveling.  I love how I can access all of the titles I choose on any electronic device and on top of that I can download those same titles so that we can read them while traveling where we have no access to the Internet.  Try it out and Join Amazon Kindle Unlimited with a Free 30 Day Trial and see for yourself the wide variety of titles that Amazon’s Kindle has available today.

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Spring Break in San Antonio

Hi from San Antonio!

So who all is ready for school to start back up and who is not?  I know that neither of mine want to get back to school work but then again what child does.  I can say that we have had our ups and downs for our Spring Break vacation.

The famous 3 pound cinnamon roll at LuLu's Bakery & Cafe.
The famous 3 pound cinnamon roll at LuLu’s Bakery & Cafe.

First off any parent, let alone any special needs parents, knows that time change is no laughing game.  Time change has had its toll on TJ who is not completely adjusted to it just yet.  Give us a few more weeks possibly.

TJ seeing Orcas for the first time.
TJ seeing Orcas for the first time.

We had a lot of fun this week even if we were able to find parking at the aquarium or the zoo we still had quite a bit of fun packed into our week.  Yes I get that some may bash me for taking them to SeaWorld but my kids love the ocean marine life and want to go into marine life rescue.  So to get this out-of-the-way we talked about the rescue side of it all and talked about the differences between the marine life that are at SeaWorld and those who are in the wild.  It is all thanks to the movie Dolphin Tale that my son wants to go into marine rescue and work with marine wildlife.  After all of our talking about the rescue portion of SeaWorld which has a show called Sea Rescue (my kids love watching it), and seeing the Dolphins, and orcas that my daughter wants to go into the rescue side as well.

It makes me happy to see that they want to go into working to rescue marine wildlife and that they have goals in life at such a young age.  My son asked if I would help him look at what he would need to work on in the future for going into the field.  He is going pretty strong on his goal of this as he had his mind made up the first time he seen the movie when it came out.  And we are looking into a trip to Clearwater Aquarium in the near future.

TnT playing in the Sound Garden.
TnT playing in the Sound Garden.
The Faris Wheel at Morgan's Wonderland.
The Faris Wheel at Morgan’s Wonderland.

We also enjoyed a trip to Morgan’s Wonderland.  It is am amusement park built to bring dreams to life for all with special needs.  It’s an amazing place with rides, playgrounds and so much more that are ADA accessible.  The kids enjoyed the rides but loved Sensory Village where they have different ways to interact.  TJ loved the newsroom area with the green screen and weather portion.  They also met other kids and a service dog named Braille who was born deaf and blind.  Morgan’s Wonderland is one place that most definitely all families should check out when in the San Antonio area both with and without special needs.  It is a one of a kind place!

Sissy bowling.
Sissy bowling.
TJ bowling.
TJ bowling.

Talia got to try her hand at bowling for the first time this week and loves it.  TJ loves to go bowling so we knew it would be a win win with him but she was not so sure at first although part way into the first game she decided to give it a try and then figured out she enjoyed it and was missing out on the fun.  I know what we will be doing from time to time on our weekly trips to take TJ to therapy.

We also took in time down along the Riverwalk,  its beautiful along the areas that are not as crowded.  We got to show the kids the Alamo in the Riverwalk area and the Tower of the Americas (although the kids were not willing to go inside of it).   Where we wanted to eat had a 2 hour wait time so we went with our other choice of Applebee’s.  We tried out Joe’s Crab Shack for the first time and had a great experience with it, our waiter was amazing and interacted with TnT each time he went by the table and even surprised them with toy sharks.  I even tried calamari for the first time while there.

TnT at Riverwalk.
TnT at Riverwalk.

Continue reading Spring Break in San Antonio

A quick note before some fun

Both TnT are on Spring Break!  For us that means a road trip which has us spending our week in San Antonio, Texas.  For others that might mean a camping trip, a Disney vacation, or family time around their hometown.  What about the times when they say they are bored?

Kids are bound to say that all time favorite phrase, we as parents all know that.  Whether it is going park hopping and having fun at all of your local parks or a family board game night.  Being together as a family and enjoying the Spring Break together is what it is all about.

We spent the day at SeaWorld yesterday, be watching for a post about all of that fun.  Today we are going to go enjoy a day down at the Riverwalk.  We love to do something fun each day but we also watch TJ for signals as far as when he has had enough for the day and when he is enjoying what we are doing.  Getting him out and away from his games is the nice part because he is making memories and new friends along the way.

I will post photos related to what each post is about although to see even more photos be sure to be following my Facebook page.

Enjoy the fun and laughter of all that Spring Break can become!  They are only little once.

~Christine

The Rising Costs of Autism

“Your child has Autism Spectrum Disorder”, that saying may have been all that most remember hearing in the Doctor office that day.  For many that day was more than likely a foggy day when it comes to what all happened in their day.

Autism has been on the rise these past few years.  These are not the only numbers on the rise…the cost of Autism is climbing just as much.

At this time 1 in 68 children are living with ASD (Autism Spectrum Disorder).  Medical costs for a child on the spectrum will add up to over $32 million over the span of their lifetime.  For most insurance and financial aide help in a major way, especially for those of us who are single parents.

At the moment we drive 2 1/2 hours for TJ to attend speech and occupational therapy as well as a social club.  He absolutely loves his social club or as he puts it “I have friends and I belong mom”.  He is on a waiting list for applied behavior analysis therapy and at this time we are in limbo with his insurance about occupational therapy.  The staff where I take him have been beyond helpful and are working with us to try and form an appeal to the insurance about his therapy.

We are more than grateful to have an amazing place to take TJ especially with the progress he has been showing.  I have his team of therapists to thank for working with him weekly since August to help him get as far as he has come at this point.

They say that mothers with autistic children earn approximately 56% less than those of children with no physical or mental limitations.  Although yes I may be one of those mothers I would never change it for anything.  I love seeing all of the progress he has made and I will do everything I can do to help him keep progressing.  I work full time outside of the home and I work hard to pay the bills and take him back and forth for therapy and social club.

I homeschool TJ via help of k12 online school so that it allows his therapy days free even though we will work on school work away from home.  Most families will have one parent that works full time outside of the home where the other parent may stay at home with their child or even might have a part time job.

I work on finding visuals that I know will catch TJ’s attention and keep it such as chore chart that I am getting finished up as part of our family command center, he also has a visual support binder that I am working on that will have a daily schedule for him to keep track of what he needs to do to work on his routine.  I do as much as I can from hand to keep my out of pocket cost down like drawing our own posters for our school room, and using what we have to build hands on resources that he can use on a daily basis.

I will slowly begin working on creating visuals that I will share on here.  If there are any certain visuals that parents, and caregivers would like to see please let me know.

Our Homeschool Journey

Have you ever wondered some journeys take the paths that they do?  In the beginning that was my thinking too.

When TJ was in preschool we had issues with his teachers not only were his crafts coming home perfectly done as the staff had done all of the work for him instead of letting him try.  It was not until part way into his first full year of school that he was diagnosed with ASD (Autism Spectrum Disorder), Insomnia and traits of ADHD.  Granted with me having taken care of a child while I was in high school who had Aspergers I knew most of the signs and had started seeing the signs when he was around 18 months when he had stopped speaking.

We went through the IEP meetings, dealing with teachers telling us that there was no such thing as Autism and he was just defiant and belligerent.  This was my 4 year that these teachers were talking about.  Any mother or parent in their right mind would have been just as upset as I was in that moment.

That was when I began looking at our options.  I made the choice to close my home child care center after considering various options but at that time the best option for us was for my to close and remain at home with TJ and homeschool him.  We were offered by the Special Education Cooperative to have a in home teacher and Occupational Therapists come to the house once a week for 30 minutes each for his last year of preschool.  We did that as well as Speech Therapy an hour away and basic preschool activities for our homeschool.

As time has progressed I wanted him to be able to work with a teacher and a good curriculum for him to get more of a challenge.  We started k12 this past fall and he works with his special education teacher over the webcam every other week.  When he was showing signs of struggling with some of the harder portions of the curriculum, she listened.  When I asked about changing his phonics to a more basic level as he is still working on the basics, she delivered.  We are starting his new phonics program this week.

We had his IEP redone and getting a better plan in place for TJ that involves us selecting what he may not get as frustrated with and help him work on those lessons.  We agreed to tie in Reading Eggs and Math Seeds to help with extra practice on early phonics and math skills.  We agreed to do a more hands on approach in which I use my love of Pinterest.  It is pretty amazing what someone can find when it comes to science and math hands on activities.

Trying to get the right routine in order has been the trickiest of it all.  I am working on a visual binder for him to use which will have a visual schedule, a behavior chart with visuals to help him keep track of his behavior each day and simple chores to work on to help him develop life skills that will help him as he grows.  When I finish his binder I will share details and links to the items I am using as it is a Star Wars theme to help him be more interested.

I am honestly happy that we have found k12 since they are amazing to work with me and TJ to help him succeed in his education instead of trying to fail to help him.  I would be more than willing to answer any questions if anyone has any.  When he began his school year with k12 all of his curriculum books were delivered to our front door and we were able to rent a desktop for him to use for the school year so he has his own desk area set up for him.

Our Autism Journey 

It has been just over 4 years since we began our Autism journey.  When we first heard that my son had ASD, traits of ADHD and insomnia it was quite a bit to take in but I was also slightly expecting to hear the ASD and insomnia diagnosis.  I kept on it to get him the services he needed although we had some rough spots in which some were not as understanding as a parent would have hoped for adults caring for children would be.  As a parent we are our children’s greatest advocate and are their biggest supporters to keep them going.  I had teachers say that Autism did not exist and that he was instead defiant and belligerent (keep in mind he was in preschool), so I pulled him from school and began home-school.  We did private speech therapy where we would drive an hour one way until his insurance no longer covered and it was more than a single mom’s paycheck could cover.  We had worked it out with the special education cooperative to provide weekly services at home with two therapists until he aged out when he was 5.

Birthday boy with his balloons.
Birthday boy with his balloons.

When it comes to doctors my son has proved two of them wrong and showed that he can progress.  I had one say that he would most likely not say more than 20 words if that (he is a non stop talker), and the other told me that he was mentally retarded and would not progress past that of an 8 year old.    My son just turned 8 years old on Friday and is a very energetic and happy boy who loves everything Star Wars, Lego and video games especially Disney Infinity.  Now a days I drive him 2.5 hours to attend a Social Club for an hour and therapy the next morning both Speech and Occupational.  In just the months since August when he started therapy he has progressed greatly.  He loves going to his Social Club and making new friends they went bowling and gave him balloons the week of his birthday.  Granted right now we are starting to battle insurance once again but as his advocate I won’t back down when I know what he needs to help him progress and succeed in life.

I look forward to seeing where he will continue to grow and progress as he continues with his schooling through k12.com and his therapy.  He loves working with his teachers on k12.com and we are so happy to have an educational team that is willing to work with his at his pace and ability to help him progress further in his learning.

Don’t ever let anyone dull your sparkle and never be afraid to stand out in the crowd.

 ~Christine

Gearing up for a new year

Back in 2014 I signed up for my first runDisney Coast to Coast Challenge.  I had made my mind up that I would take part in that years runDisney Tinker Bell Half Marathon as well as the runDisney Princess Half Marathon weekend.  So that January I flew back to

Fun with my kids at Walt Disney World.
Fun with my kids at Walt Disney World.

California alone for the first part of the Challenge and enjoyed every minute of it between seeing friends from the year before and having fun.  Then came February I was more excited for this last part of the challenge since I would have my TnT along for the trip.  I signed up for the 5k, the 10k and the half marathon with the last two making up the Glass Slipper Challenge.  Both of my kids did the kid races for the very first time and enjoyed it.  We spent the week at Walt Disney World and loved every second of that special time with my family.  Their Nene (aka my mom) traveled along with us) it made for an amazing week for the four of us.   Our first day at Walt Disney World we celebrated my sons birthday, after that day I wasn’t sure if I could top that birthday.

2014 Coast to Coast Challenge
2014 Coast to Coast Challenge

Now of course it is 2016 and I have once again signed up for the Tinker Bell weekend, this is the fifth year for the Tinker Bell Weekend overall although it is my third.  It will be a great time as I get to watch TnT as they run in the kids dashes again, this will be the last year that my son can do the kids dash.  Although the the most special moment will be when I get to take part in the 5k with my son for his first ever 5k!  I will also be taking part in the 10k and the half marathon making up the Pixie Dust Challenge.  I am very excited for this as it will be include something that I am training for at the moment but also enjoying a week of California and Disneyland with my family.   My children have never been to Disneyland let alone California and they are extremely excited for the trip.

Getting back into the grove of things

Hey everyone!  So it’s been a couple years since I have been around and I am getting back into the swing of things with several new changes in my family’s life.  Kids are growing way too fast and we all know what that means…more activities!  My youngest will be 6 this summer and is in Kindergarten as well as a Daisy in Girl Scouts (in which I am a Parent Volunteer) it has really helped her come out of that shy stage she had been going through.  My oldest is going to be 8 next month!! Yikes where has the time gone??  He has really found his voice and is in Speech and Occupational therapy once a week (this puts us on the road for 6 hours round trip each week) but it has been wonderful to seen him getting the help he needs to grow.  We have found a family support group that we attend each month 2.5 hours from home and he will start a group that will be weekly the night before his therapy at the same place in which he will be with other children to learn more social skills and make new friends.  

Our house has also became the command center for my sons Star Wars addiction but it has helped him get his imagination growing even more.  He wants to create his own YouTube channel for videos based on video games, so beware he may begin his own line of tip videos.  I even took him to a marathon of all of the Star Wars movies which was interesting but we survived the day with the help of some sensory breaks.  I am going to be working on decorations for his birthday and will post on that since I plan to do as much on my own as I can.  He is doing school online this year so I will post about our ups and downs of online schooling with him.

I am working full time outside of the house as a Certified Nurse Assistant on evening and night shifts for a hospital which has TnT staying with my mother while I am working and the mornings that I need to sleep between shifts.  I am very thankful to have her living just across town from us and her being so amazing.  Aside from my full time job I am a Beachbody Coach and working on training for several races this year.  I am loving the benefits of being with Beachbody looking forward to the new year ahead of me.  

I will be in the process of updating my blog website and will work on new challenges so please by all means if there is anything that you would like to see made as a challenge whether it be fitness related or something around the house email me your ideas and I will see what I can come up with.  As I am working on training I working on a training plan I found on Pinterest and adding in my own strength and cross training as well as building meal plans for each week based on my Beachbody.  If anyone would be interested in a challenge group I will be working on setting something up for Feb and you can message me for details.