I love autism??? Oh YES I do!!!!

April 2, 2012 is World Autism Awareness Day.

Did you see that the CDC released the newest statistics on Autism……1 in 88 children; occurs in all racial, ethnic and socioeconomic groups; 5 times more common in boys.

NO ONE is exempt from having a child with autism, no matter where you live, how much money you have, how big or small your house is, or how many good or bad deeds you have done….autism can strike everyone everywhere.

I remember learning about autism in college.  The rate of occurence was much less and I hadn’t met anyone with autism….at least that I knew of.  When my older son was diagnosed in 2003, I couldn’t think of anything worse.  I remember the doctors telling me that my son had a 50/50 chance of ever speaking and much less chance that he’d live the life I’d dreamed for him.  I read a book given to me which told that, “if you fall off of a ladder and are screaming in pain, your child may walk over you and not even notice.”  WHAT??  My husband and I couldn’t agree on a treatment plan and neither of us could believe this turn of events…..Forward a year later when my second child was diagnosed with autism.  Could it be?  What had we done wrong?  Members of our family and some friends accused, judged, and didn’t believe that it was true.  We lost a-lot of friends and even sold our home to move to a school district that “got it” and had more special education services for my boys.  We even headed to marriage counseling.  Did you know that 80% of parents with a child who has a special need end up divorced?

Today, I can truly say that I’m thankful for our life.  No, it’s not what we’d expected and planned for, but we would NOT trade it for all the money in the world.  We’ve been through more hours of therapy than can be counted.  We have spent more money on therapy, special classes, Dynavoxes, support organizations than we thought possible.  Is is worth it?  ABSOLUTELY.  The stress of our lives is balanced by the new friends we’ve made, the joy we feel over each little milestone our boys achieve, the love we feel for those boys who we spend so much time working with and training for life.  Autism has been a blessing for us and we now appreciate the little miracles that happen every day.  There is a plan for us, a plan for my boys, and for those who have helped us along the way.

There is always a bright side, maybe bright BLUE for autism….but if you look for it, the good in every situation is always there.  I do not want life to be any harder for my boys than it already is, but they will succeed, they will thrive, and they will follow their wonderful plan that God has for their lives.  I am SURE of it!!  We will be there every baby step of the way.

visit www.route2greatness for our NEW SPD Awareness Magnets

April 1, 2012 at 4:02 pm Leave a comment

What is Sensory Integration?

What is SI or Sensory Integration?

The first step to learning how to help your child is to get a better understanding of what’s really going on.  The way each of us views the world we live in is totally subjective.   Every opinion, reaction, or idea we have is based on our experiences in life.  We have several senses that help us to learn about our world.  The five most known senses are:  touch, taste, hearing, smelling, and seeing.  However, there are additional senses that most of us forget about or aren’t even aware that we have.

Proprioception   Is a sense that uses receptors on nerve endings found in muscles, tendons, the inner ear, and in joints that relay information about our body position and movement in space. These proprioceptors detect subtle changes in movement, position, tension, and force  within the body and allow muscles to contract quickly and help protect us from injury.  Here’s an example of proprioception in use:  You wake up in the middle of the night and walk to the bathroom.  How did you know where your body was in space when it was dark?

Vestibular   The vestibular system is believed to be the single most important sense we have as it affects each and every area of our ability to function in everyday life.  It’s center is in the inner ear and it involved the visual, auditory, and movement receptors.  If you’ve ever had an ear infection that affected your balance, than you know the importance of the vestibular system.  If there is a problem with this system, results may be extremely disruptive to our bodies-headaches, nausea.  The vestibular system controls our balance and movement.  In fact, we can think of this as:  Am I moving?  Is something around me moving?  Is something I’m on moving?  Spin around in circles for a minute and try to walk a straight line!    Another example:  You are sitting on a boat in rough water.  Close your eyes and you feel your body moving about with the boat.  How did you know you were moving?  It was your vestibular system telling you!

Tactile  I mentioned touch above, but want to give you a little more information.  The tactile sytem involves recognizing temperature, pressure, hard/soft.  If you walk into a dark room, you need to find the light switch.  You know to feel for a rectangle that’s smooth and hard.  You know that it has a smaller switch in the middle of the switchplate.  Your hand finds it by feeling for it along the wall.  Example:  You walk in the park, you feel a light tap on your shoulder.  You immediately turn around to determine the source.  OR You walk in the park, someone accidentally crashes into you while texting and running.  You feel the impact and judge it accordingly.

When senses develop correctly, our bodies are able to take information in, process them through our nervous systems, and react to them.  We touch a hot stove accidentally,  we seemlessly and quickly remove our finger.  We didn’t think about how we were going to do it, it just happened.  Our sensory system is much like a computer.  It takes in information, processes it, and gives our bodies a job to do or an output.

What happens when things go wrong?  More posts to come….

February 21, 2012 at 1:58 pm 1 comment

He has a disability so he will never….

This week, one of my children was diagnosed with Tourette Syndrome.  I couldn’t help but get the flash in my head that some of you may have right now….a kid screaming nasty words and slurs in public.  The media has indeed sensationalized this small portion of Tourettes.  In fact, according to the Tourette Syndrome Association, only 15% of people with TS exhibit this symptom.  With that being said, the judgement of my son immediately began.  One person very close to me said, “Great, well this means he will never get married!”  Another remarked that it’s good that we have a big home because it’s very likely that he will be living with us for his entire life.  REALLY?!?!?!?!

I have never been a judgemental person.  I teach my children to accept everyone as they are.  God created everyone to be wonderful and He doesn’t make mistakes.  My husband and I try not to make derogatory statements in front of our kids.  Sure, we are not perfect but sincerely strive to teach our kids that bullying others or making judgements about others is not OK.  Some kids have obvious differences, such as my son.  He has a feeding tube and has frequent involuntary eye and body movements.  My good friend’s son has one arm.  Another friend’s son has Down’s Syndrome.  These children have SO much to offer those who get to know them- those who dare to see beyond the physical.  My son is the sweetest child that I have met.  When he sees someone crying, he immediately tries to console them.  He is smart and loving.  He is good at things that interest him.  He WILL change the world someday, and has already changed the lives of those who see beyond the things which make him “different” than themselves.

What about you?  What makes you different than others?  What do you do when you see someone different that you are?  Do you judge?  Do you make comments that may cause pain to others?  Are you aware that variety is the spice of life?  I encourage you to look at your reactions to others, to look at your children’s reactions to others.  What gives any of us the right to say negative things about others out loud or to their face?  You don’t have the right to tell someone that their child will NEVER do ANYTHING.  The fact is, you should not say anything to any mother bear like me who will stop at nothing to ensure that my children have every chance to do what they dare to dream!

Please contact me at info@route2greatness or leave a comment to give me your thoughts….positive or negative….

February 3, 2012 at 2:36 pm 4 comments

My child chews on EVERYTHING!! Help Me

Thare many fun ways to incorporate oral-motor “heavy work” into your child’s sensory diet.  The activities you choose should be fun for your child!  The most important consideration is to choose an activity in which your child is SUCCESSFUL and then make it more difficult as his muscles get stronger.  You wouldn’t want to begin your first ever gym session by lifting a 100lb weight!

Here are a few fun things to try:

-use a straw to blow a cotton ball or small pom-pom

-blow bubbles into a dish pan of water with liquid soap.  Watch your little one laugh when the bubbles form in the water as a result of their hard work of blowing!  *Of course, make sure they don’t drink the water 😉

-hold a cotton ball in your hand or place it on the edge of the table and have him blow it off.  Make a silly sound as it falls

-whistles of all sizes are fun, each differently shaped whistle changes the muscles used by the mouth, so be sure to provide a variety of sizes for super great exercise

-sucking on candy canes of different flavors is a super activity during the holidays.  Not only does it provide work for the oral muscles, but it provides many taste experiences.

-use pixi sticks and place their contents around the child’s mouth at different places, allow the child to use only his tongue to lick it off in front of a mirror

-straws of different sizes can be placed into your child’s favorite drinks

**REMEMBER** the smaller the straw, the harder the oral muscles will work to get the air out.  Begin with a larger, straighter straw and work down to a smaller, curvier one.

Let me know how these activities work for your child!

Post some of your favorites to share.

January 17, 2012 at 1:13 pm Leave a comment

The Power of a VISUAL..Happy New Year!

Few things excite us and cause a feeling of starting new and fresh like New Years holiday.  It signifies a new beginning.  The visual image of the ball dropping on midnight is so powerful that people make resolutions to make actual changes to their lives.  Imagine that!  What’s the actual difference between today and tomorrow, nothing.  We aren’t different, our lives aren’t different.  We don’t see the time changing in reality…..BUT……the visual symbol of the ball and the change in the calendar carries real POWER.

I encourage you to examine your own reactions to the New Year-wheather they are positive or negative.  Then, look at your child who is a visual learner.  WoW!  The visual stories that you can create to help your child have the potential to create REAL change to their daily lives.  Giving a visual along with your verbal praises, directions, and emotions can be a great help!  The visual image you assign can help your child immensely.  I have made a great many social stories for clients (and my own children) and have seen big changes in their ability to transition and complete activities of daily living with greater ease.  We all need visuals from time to time and don’t think much about them in our own lives.  We all experience the changes that come with New Year’s Day and I’m hoping that you take a minute out of that day to reflect on your child and the potential you have to make a positive difference in his/her life!

Happy VISUAL New Year to All!

Wishing you many blessings in 2012……..from your friends at Route2Greatness.

December 31, 2011 at 11:56 am Leave a comment

Thanksgiving Thanks from Tom Turkey

This Thanksgiving is another special one.  We are blessed to have our family together.  We are blessed that our children have a special nutrition to drink/be fed that is safe and totally hypoallergenic.  Tom the Turkey is especially happy that we saved him this year.  We won’t be purchasing a turkey because our children are both allergic to it.  I’m not opposed to eating turkey and plan on joining our friend’s family for the holiday. But, in our home the smell of g-tube food and Dum-Dum lollipops will prevail.

We are thankful for each precious moment with our children.  It’s not easy to raise children and is even more difficult when they have special needs.  God has blessed us with the opportunity to learn how to use sign language, feeding tube, PECS, and behavior charts.  We have met wonderful therapists, friends, and other parents who have children like ours.  Facebook and blogging have brought us even more helpful connections.  Indeed, we have MUCH to be thankful for.

HAPPY THANKSGIVING from Route2Greatness to your family!!

November 23, 2011 at 10:50 pm 1 comment

Welcome!

Welcome!

Looking forward to sharing the life of raising a child (or many) with special needs with you!  We parent two wonderful children who have special needs!  Today, we’d like to say that we are tired of the saying, “You only get what you can handle.” CLEARLY, a parent of a child with special needs did NOT make up this saying. We handle what we HAVE to handle and are thankful for it, even learn to enjoy it! I don’t think most of us dreamed of parenting a child with special needs, but we’re all here. We can either sit and complain about it or learn to enjoy each little thing our child does. Each gesture, each word, each little milestone which would seem so small to those with typically developing children is so huge to us! Enjoy!!!!

November 21, 2011 at 9:04 pm Leave a comment

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