Sunday, October 31, 2010

Zachary's Ranges (afternoon Halloween 2010)

To quote Dylan: "3, 15, and 60" when discussing the broad range of levels of expressions that come from Zachary. About an hour ago I was continuing the search for the final missing piece of Zach's costume (could that be the same costume I kept saying "don't play with it, you'll lose pieces of it??? lol), and Zachary said "Mommy, come here....", hugged me and continued "don't worry Mommy, I have everything I need right here." I have lived with this child for 10 years, 9 months, and 22 days (I'm counting the pregnancy there) and yet he still can leave me utterly speechless. The thoughts and emotions he expresses are at once inexplicable in maturity and immaturity--in the same minute as the aforementioned comment, he will run over to Goggy and say "My Goggy!" like a preschooler might. Or even a teenager might, depending on your perspective, lollol.

Halloween is particularly challenging for him. The 10 year old side of him is beyond enthusiastic about candy, decorating, candy, crafts, candy--you get the picture there; but his thoughts are convoluted by autism, making it so hard to differentiate between what is real and what isn't or, more to the point, what is literal and what isn't. He copes by asking question after question; often the questions have nothing to do with the concerns, but it seems that he has to ask any other questions to clear the path for the tougher topics to come out. Zachary told me today that he keeps telling himself over and over "it's not real, it's not real" and is beginning to believe himself. He has such strength and determination; in that way he is just like Alexis, Dylan, and Mallory.

Friday, October 8, 2010

Family Fun at Camp Sun ‘N Fun!


 

A Family Friendly Halloween Adventure


A fun day of crafts, games, food, hayride and a campfire with stories.


at


Camp Sun 'N Fun



1036 N. Tuckahoe Rd

Williamstown, NJ 08094


 

Saturday Afternoons

October 16th & 23rd from 4-8pm

Raindates: Sunday, October 17th & 24th


 

Armbands are $10 per child and include all activities.

(Only 1 of each activity per child please)


 


 


 

Activities include a hayride to the pumpkin patch, scarecrow making, crafts, costume contest, trick or treating, games and campfire.


 

*The costume contest and trick or treating will only be held once daily

and begin promptly at 6pm.*


 


 

Refreshments will be available for purchase


 

For more information please call 856-629-4502


 

All proceeds benefit Camp Sun 'N Fun.


 

Camp Sun 'N Fun is a day and residential camp for individuals with special needs. In this

day and age of computers/video games, childhood obesity and lack of appreciation for our environment; camp has never been more needed… especially for our campers.


 


 

Tuesday, August 31, 2010

Awesome quote about flexibility...

"Women are Angels. And when someone breaks our wings... We simply continue to fly .... on a broomstick... We are flexible..." 
Thanks Kim  :)

Thursday, July 1, 2010

Arctic Lapbook!

We finished this lapbook in...well, several months ago but never got pix taken. This is another one of Zachary's:

Front cover

Inside front cover


Umiak vs Kayak (Zachary verbalized, I wrote lol)

Inside "Jacks notebook" (Magic Treehouse) and Venn diagram (Zachary came up with that one himself!)

Inuit family minibook, How to build an igloo, and a picture of Zach and the igloo they built out back

Some Inuit words for snow, with Z's favorite 3 written in



Dictated sentence generated then traced by Z, and National Geographic animal card.


Under the next flap (this got long, as our homemade lapbooks tend to do!lol)





Just two of the books we read.


Tuesday, June 29, 2010

Numbers are Backwards & the DANGERS of slip and slides

WOW. Mallory just presented me with an astounding lightbulb moment. Now it may not be a lightbulb moment to you, it may well seem like a fizzing out bulb or even a cracked bulb; well that makes sense cause we all know I'm a bit crazy. :-D

She came to me to tell me something and I was about to roll my eyes and say "Mallory stop getting distracted, Zachary and I need you to finish your lapbook NOW so I can build and erupt that volcano!!", but I waited. Okay I did roll my eyes but I listened luckily for me. Her announcement: "Mom, numbers are backwards!!"

Okay so yes, I did greet that statement with a kind of dumbfounded silence, with the thoughts "Oh LORD don't let her say that in front of other people especially if she just told them we homeschool," and then it hit me. She's right! Numbers generally are made and follow in the opposite direction of letters. NO WONDER SO MANY KIDS MAKE THEIR NUMBERS BACKWARDS!!! And for kids with any tendencies towards special needs it is even harder, because they need things to make sense or be logical, and it just doesn't make sense. This will help me with Zachary; I'm not completely sure how just yet but its another wall, that blocked my view from his world, crashing down.

***************

On a separate note, SLIP AND SLIDES=DANGER Danger Will Robinson, Danger! Hey guess what, I met the cute guy that played the cute uncle dude on "Lost in Space" in the Newark airport on my way to California in 1985, I have a picture somewhere, he was on General Hospital at the time....oy, as often is the case I digress--oh hell, that's not digressing that's taking a plane and leaving the country. Focus Linda, focus! Okay, right, slip and slides, injury--okay, back on track. So the kids played on the slip and slide yesterday. Last night after Zachary's shower I saw all the scrapes and said "No more slip and slide." Of course today, with Zachary begging and giving the eyes and Dylan giving me the oh mom its no big deal we can handle it look-from-a-teen, I caved. How'd it go? A few minutes ago Zachary went back into the living room, dragging his poor aching body, and mustered in a feeble, weak voice "I'm broken!" Soooo, anyone want a slip and slide????

No more claritin-and other thoughts

While I suspected this before and had stopped giving Zachary claritin off and on, I am now completely positive that it affected his mood and behavior. He had been back on it for the past few weeks because his allergies were getting bad. When Zachary's allergies are bad, not only does he have to typical allergic symptoms but he wakes up overnight with night terrors (which I've begun to wonder if they are related to breathing troubles while sleeping--apnea maybe..) Why it took me more than 2 weeks to finally have an "AHA" moment is beyond me, but finally I did. Sunday was the first day after not taking claritin and there was a noticeable improvement. Yesterday he initiated his reading lessons, read his own chores on the chore chart and *did* them all with, to quote Zach, "a smile on my face!" I believe that Zachary feels the difference too; I'm glad he's feeling the improvement but I'm so mad at myself for not catching it sooner.

Safety is such a worry to me. Zach doesn't retain safety rules like other kids do, and it can be scary. We had been playing out front a couple months ago and the ball we were using went into the street several times. Zachary darted out into the street a few times, even with reminders and a time out on the step. It's not him being "bad", he just forgets. The last time he ran out a van was coming down the road and nearly hit him, it was very close. Zach also seems to have no concept of stranger-danger/safety, and that terrifies me (I know I sound paranoid-hey just ask the teens in this house they'll agree). The biggest problem with all of this is that he is trying to become more independent, he wants to be more independent...it's something that has taken time to come but is finally arriving, yet I have to temper it with my knowledge of his level of safety concepts. As he gets older and the struggles become more apparent, my heart aches; but I am so thankful he is able to express affection and love (many spectrum kids have a hard time with that) because my heart is instantly soothed by a spontaneous hug or a funny "Zachism."

I know the key is consistency and repetition on my part and I'll continue. I am so lucky and blessed with the people that appeared in our lives when Zachary was very little; Kathy and Bambi, in Maine, helped both of us begin to see things in a different light and to look for whatever path we need to help.

Wednesday, March 3, 2010

Help Fight SMA!

Click on the Pepsi "widget" in the sidebar to vote to fund research for Spinal Muscular Atrophy. A good friend of mine has a beautiful baby girl with SMA. Susan is an amazing woman and mother, there are no words to describe her strength, perseverance, and beauty (inside and out); she and her children deserve the hope this kind of funding can provide.
Please Vote!

If the link doesn't work, use the sidebar tool.

Saturday, February 27, 2010

I warned you it was coming lol, more autism

I was typing a reply to an email and the thoughts on Zachary and autism are swirling. I just had to get it out and always welcome your input.

For me, what I mean by not wanting to "fix" him goes to the core of who he is that I don't want to change. Yes I absolutely want to help him through the anxieties, the melt-downs/rages, the flapping or humming, recognizing pain, etc. I homeschool my son and that's what works for us; I get to work with him on a daily basis, finding what works for him and (more often than not, lol) what doesn't. I've had to work quite a bit with him on empathy for others and even empathy for himself; yet he has this unbelievable compassion and deep feeling for animals. His emotions involving people very often is too powerful for him and we are slowly finding appropriate responses for him to communicate the confusion. His mind can analyze a situation and solve what is going on; my work with him is to help him learn how to communicate these amazing findings of his to share with the rest of the world! ☺

The more I read about autism, the more I realize how wrong the Pervasive Developmental Disorder/Not Otherwise Specified (PDD/NOS) diagnosis is. I get angry that I had to insist they relook at his case; this in spite of the demonstrated autistic behaviors during therapies, as well as spectrum scoring on parental intake testing and initial evaluations with Zachary. Reading the most recent diagnosis is like reading a textbook definition of autistic behaviors, yet the doctor resisted--and even wrote of her resistsance in her notes--and settled with PDD/NOS.(we don't go there anymore, lol)

I'm sure many of you have seen the Autism car magnets with the puzzle pieces making up the ribbon. (and I want one btw!)


I do believe there are many puzzle like pieces to people with autism--the problem I see with it is that many still only see the finished "piece" and find that to be the problem. I don't think all the pieces necessarily fit together, and helping those on the spectrum, or at least my own child, is about:

  • finding the pieces that fit together properly
  • finding the pieces that don't quite fit and gently reshaping them to fit the best way they can
  • finding the pieces that just can't go back in the puzzle--those are the areas we have to learn creative and positive techniques to fill in the "holes."

I know these are layman's terms and these thoughts are coming from my heart in my search for helping Zachary, which in turn helps my other children too. They have their own levels of frustration when handling some of Zachary's issues...but Alexis, Dylan, and Mallory are the most amazing siblings to Zach. To him he is their special, hilariously funny, imaginitive little brother, nothing more and nothing less, and they are amazing with him. But they are human, too, and get frustrated at times when Zachy hits his limits or has a rough day and just can't communicate verbally what is bothering him. I wonder if there is a book out there for kids to read and learn...hmmmm, maybe we should write it? lol!

Tuesday, February 16, 2010

Ode to the Joys of Parenting

I always thought when I heard "I HATE You!!" come from the mouths of my babes I'd be reduced to tears, utterly and completely hurt beyond any verbal or written description. Uh, enter the joys of parenting! How else to explain that when I hear "I HATE YOU!!!" I smile and think, "oh I love you too!" Yea yea, you could explain it by reason of insanity and as I have often espoused here, that would be true; however in this case its just got to be joy. That cute little phrase expresses passionate feelings that I am lucky enough to be blessed with! Hey, you are not laughing are you, cause I'm serious here and you might hurt my feelings, and I might scream I HATE YOU. Of course you'd take it as I Love You cause you'd use my blog against me.

Parents, don't take it to heart if you hear those words. (Unless they are coming from a teenager, in which case you might could be entering a phase of hormonal explosions and had better buckle in for a roller coaster ride) Your child may very well hate you in that particular moment, but keep it in perspective--when you live with someone you are going to hate them and love them and dislike them and adore them...in other words, kids are humans too. They don't really want a reply to it, in the end they just want to know that you love them no matter what. And hey, since I have perfect kids and the perfect family life, you can trust me on this! Oh I do crack myself up on a regular basis.

I got a job!

Its soooo hard. I mean I am getting really, extremely, very dizzy doing this job, its making me insane! Okay, well, if I'm being honest (please read with a British accent ie: a certain judge on a certain singing reality show), I'm dizzy cause I'm trying to count snowflakes to answer a question the youngest once posed. Hey--trying to be a good mom here, I'm just sayin'! And making me insane? HA ha ha ha ha, oh that's rich, I mean seriously, I'm already there, get it? No?? Then you haven't quite made it into my world yet. Keep reading, you'll be crazy right along with me, and if you ask me--which you must have since you're reading along--its a very happy place to be, thankyouverymuch.

So my newest job isn't really a job, its a pleasure. I'm now an affiliate for CurrClick, a great one-stop top-of-the-top hop (sorry, couldn't help myself) for lapbooking, unit studies, notebooking, etc. There are TONS of freebies, but of course I'd absolutely ♥ LOVE ♥ it if you buy stuff cause that's how I make money! There is nothing like some shameless self promoting, IMHO. (I bet you wanna know what that stands for! Okay, most of you are probably waaaay more internetliterate than I am and already know that.) Seriously, I've gotten some great products from CurrClick and have always been happy with it. So what in the world are you still doing here??????

GO ALREADY!



ps thanks to Coder's Talk Blog for the html help. ☺

Friday, February 5, 2010

what's right, what's wrong...

Isn't that supposed to be a simple thing to figure out? This system of checks and balances, of separation of powers...our country has deviated so very far from the original purposes of the constitution. When I have to call 20 different people, and leave 20 different voice mail messages, and get not one call back--all within one county system, I see that as clear evidence our system is
FLAWED FLAWED FLAWED
Having said that, I still see the beauty of the American system as well. That is sincere. Yes, you have to fight for your rights, and if you are the person in the right, you often have to fight 20 times harder than the person in the wrong--but we CAN fight, and keep letting our voices be heard to fix the wrongs. Right? Wrong? Wrong but a little right? Or is this seeming to be completely out in left field? Hey, I have to make someone laugh, so it might as well be me.

Thursday, February 4, 2010

Computers 101 assignment

So I have to post an entry in my blog for my school assignment. Which is a good thing, because it got me looking back at my blog, and now Dylan is looking at my blog asking if I ever use it, which leads me to believe my children don't appreciate my writings.

School is fantastic. I actually have no words to describe the feeling I get from being in a classroom and learning. And no I'm not just saying that to try and get an "A"! There is always something new to hear, and getting immediate feedback on ideas is terrific.

My crazy mind is tired tonite. Going to sleep to dream of snow--well, if I sleep...my first exam is tomorrow and I'm just a bit terrified!

Saturday, January 9, 2010

Lunch out with PACT

PACT--Parents of Autistic Children Together. I've been part of the yahoo group for several months, read posts, watched as activities were listed. Today Zachary and I headed out to our first get together with the group, a luncheon at Old Country Buffet.

When I presented the news to Zachary, I told him we were going to go out to lunch with a group of parents and their kids, and a lot of the kids "think creatively like you do!" In other words, I have not had a frank and honest discussion with Zachary to say "Zachary, you are autistic." Why? Because I'm not a frank and honest person, duh!!! Seriously, I find no purpose in telling him he has a disability. Maybe its because I don't see it as a disability--autism is a translucent shade over Zachary: he can see through it to the outside, and when he likes what he sees he makes people look hard enough to see him, too. I don't want him to allow that shade to define him, I want him to continue to teach people how to look beyond the autism.

Meanwhile, back at the ranch...forgive my colloquialism there, we're reading Lemony Snicket's books and he likes to use little theatrical sayings then explain what they mean to the reader. So what that means is, back to the luncheon day planning! ;) I started feeling anxious about going. I am so not into labels and I worried that all the other people would be, and it would be a judgmental atmosphere, and...and......in other words, my typical insecurities attempted to flair. Zachary was getting nervous too, asking questions here and there about what kind of kids would be there, did they all like Lego's, and were they all builder/engineer/architect/inventors like him? I finally decided the only way to get over the worry was to go. If it wasn't wonderful, no loss--it was a free lunch out with my youngest, just the two of us.

We arrived about 10 minutes late. I know I know, me late, right? The woman at the counter pointed us in the right direction, and we were immediately greeted with smiles, waves, and "you must be Linda!" The atmosphere was warm and welcoming, and just that, not too much and not too little. Perfect for Zachary! There were kids from many levels of autism; so different yet so much alike. A boy put his plate down at our table, after seeing Zachary and his Eagle's shirt, and remarked "I hope you know you are sitting with Cowboy's fans!" He and his mom sat with us, the boys hit it off in their own separate-yet-friends-immediately way. I sat in amazement, tears in my eyes, as the other boy pulled 4 Lego guys out of his pocket; Zachary stood up and pulled a Lego guy from his pocket too, I think he was as stunned as I was to have met another boy that walks around with Lego's at all time!

What really struck me was the ability to relax! There was no need to worry about quirks, or sudden outbursts, or flapping, or eye contact--it was just a lunch out together with our children, and they are who they are and they are wonderful. Of course there are those times when correction and working and learning are needed to help the kids learn to be part of the world around them. Today though was an afternoon for them to share their world with those around them, instead. It was a treat and a joy, and I can't wait to do it again.