Saturday, October 13, 2012


The past month and a half has been ridiculously crazy.  First off it started with a sprinkler line having a screw in it that we took out.  That was fine, we were able to handle that stress.  It was not all that bad, luckily our renter's insurance was going to cover it.  Then our downstairs neighbor decides to call the cops on us at 3am when we were all sound asleep, but apparently she thought that Eric was beating us all.  The cop looked around and was like, what the heck is she nuts.  Then the downstairs neighbor decided to get us evicted by saying she could hear the boys walking across the kitchen at 2pm.  Well, duh we tend to use the kitchen at that time of day and we walk, not run in it and hello its an apartment you are going to hear the people above and below you.  Next thing she does really floored me, she some how got Eric's information and called the hospital, staff duty, and the MPs saying they needed to detain him, would give no reason, just that they needed to detain him.  They all laughed at her, because luckily for us we had kept all of Eric's NCOs in the loop with what was going on from day 1.  This lady has always caused us problems from when we moved in, stating that since we have kids we should know better than to live in a 3rd floor apartment.  It was not like it was our choice, it was the only one available.  Then when she found out the boys are autistic, she started calling them retarded and other horrible names as we would pass her in the hall or in the parking lot.  It was very hurtful, but we tried to be the bigger people and just ignore her, after a while it died down, but the day after the sprinkler line leaked she started up again.  When she called post and everything, Eric's NCOs told us we were moving in to post housing.  We were good with that.  We got word on a Wednesday that we were moving the following Monday, that's a four day notice that we are moving, wow.  But we did it and I think we did a pretty good job.  We are still cleaning the apartment, luckily we have until the end of the month to do that.  The move ended up being a good thing because: 1. we are in a much bigger house 2. it's a house 3. it has a fenced in back yard 4. the boys each have their own rooms 5. the school here actually isn't all that bad and 6. did I mention its a house.  I love it here and yeah its going to be tight the next few months but we will make due.
Since the boys get to have their own rooms we decided to set them up as their individual therapy rooms, that way we could possibly get a little bit of a living room back.
Here's Scott's room:

 We have his trains, rocking horse, his weighted balls, and the big blue thing hanging in the corner would be his ball pit, and when we get his climbing grips in we will be putting a climbing wall next to the ball pit, too.

 This would be Pinkerton enjoying the ball pit, he likes some sensory input every now and then too.
Also in Scott's room would be his pressure swing.

He is actually in there behind the queen size comforter.
Next up is Aiden's room:

Aiden has his cuddle swing for when he reads, his cocoon spinning chair and trampoline for when he needs to regulate, his drum on the wall for when he is angry so he can hit something that's a bit productive, a little table for work time and his favorite toy chest from Popo, that train.
I believe we did a pretty good job at getting the boys' room to fit their needs.
Then in the hallway outside their rooms we did this:
They now have their visual schedules right next to their doors and Scott's PECS choice boards right where he can see them and grab them when he needs them.
This was all done within the first few days of moving in, we figured get the boys' set up for what they need and then we can get our stuff situated.
Oh we also have a little area off from the living room that is suppose to be the formal dining room, but who needs one of those when you have an informal dining room anyways.  So we made it into the play area for the boys.
This is where we put the light table, complete with all the sensory items hung above it (I know its not in the picture, but we did add those later) and their play kitchen.  This also serves as Mommy's sewing area, as it holds my fabric and sewing machine in a cubicle nearby.
I have to say I absolutely love the fact that we have room and no longer have to feel like we are on top of one another.  And the boys, they have been amazing through this transition.  I was ready for them to have some pretty severe meltdowns over the first few weeks of all this, but they took it in stride, it was about a week before Aiden had a meltdown, and even then it was not one of his top five most severe ones.  Then Scott had one a day later, his was pretty bad, but when he was done he picked himself right up and went back to work with his ABA therapist.  I also have to say that the boys' therapists have been incredible throughout this whole thing too.  With the uncertainty at first and then the million schedule changes, they have been troopers too.  I am so very thankful for them, they are wonderful to us.
 So needless to say, things might have been incredibly hectic a month ago, but they are calming down now and it has been a very good thing.


Tuesday, August 28, 2012

Busy Busy Bees

I was talking (texting) my sister earlier, which I need to remember to do more often (its been a little while).  She brought up the blog and how she ran into a friend of ours the other day and they were talking about this. I guess I did not realize just how many people my ramblings got too, but I am glad if I can help anyone in anyway, whether it be some new ideas for the kiddos or something to giggle at.  But her bringing that up made me realize it has been a little while since I posted, and I apologize for that, it has been one of those crazy crazy summers.

So where did I leave off....

Oh yes the sleep, well the boys still sleep a lot, but it is not as bad as it use to be.  Scott did have his sleep study and we got the results, they could not find anything definitive during the study (I could have told them that considering Scott slept at the most 30 mins at a time, that and he kept pulling the electrodes off).  But his pulmonologist said for us to keep a record of any respiratory problems and eating problems that he has for the next two months and then they might be looking at taking out his tonsils and adenoids.  I'm not sure if that is good news or bad news, but I guess it is at least something.

Aiden's meltdowns slowed back to a normal level, as in he went back to having them about as often as he did before the spike in them.  In fact the past few days he has been a bit too "chill" for my taste, I'm kind of concerned because it really is not like him.  I know that sounds so wrong for the parent to be worried when the child is excessively calm, but it really is not Aiden so I'm concerned he might be getting sick or something.

On to new things

Scott had his six month followups with Seattle Children's Autism Center.  That went well, they were all surprised at his progress.  He went from not having very many words and not really noticing anyone around him, to having a lot of words (and a few two and three word sentences) and completing all of the tasks they asked him to do.  He still has a bit of trouble with eye contact, but even that is improving.  They decided to have him followed by the developmental pediatrician there, instead of us going back to the one on post (which is what we were wanting to have done, so that's great!!!).  They even put in for Aiden to be followed there as well, I'm so excited about that.  We get to have both boys seen in early October.

Scott has been doing great with all of his therapies.  He loves each of his therapists, his favorite of course being his ABA therapist, she's amazing with him.  We've been working with him on being okay with water, so that bath time will not be a fight anymore and, since we live around a lot of water, so that he can start swimming lessons.  At the clinic where he gets OT and speech, they have a pool and his OT has been working with getting him in the room with the pool, but he would not move through the door.  Which is fine, we were taking baby steps to get him there and we figured it would be several several weeks before we got him anywhere near the water.  But one day when we walked to the door, another therapist was in the pool cleaning up after her last session.  She decided to roll a ball to Scott, who picked it up and rolled it back to her.  They did this back and forth for a few minutes, each time Scott's OT and I would inch our way through the door.  We got him in the door and got the door closed behind Scott while he was playing this game with the other therapist.  He then got braver and went to the edge of the pool and threw the ball at her.  After that he realized he had been shut in the room, but he was okay with it; he went on to have his full hour long session there in the pool (with no swim diaper on, so by the end of it his regular diaper had swelled up like a balloon).

The following week, the boys' ABA therapists decided that it was a good day to have a sensory day for them (that and it was one of the few nice days we get around here) so we decided to have therapy at the lake and we all had fun.  I owe both boys' lives to a friend, who saved Aiden after he decided to be a daredevil and jump off a raft into a deep part of the lake and save Scott from cracking his head on the concrete when we were all eating at the picnic table.  Aiden's ABA therapist brought her dog (as seen in the picture with Scott), and that was the greatest thing for Scott.  He loves animals, but he is in love with Katee, he kept throwing her sticks, and was following her around until we had to leave (makes me re-think about getting him a puppy to raise and train as his service dog because he opens up so much when she is around, I think it could help him).  Aiden also loved having Katee there.  You know those little bones you can get to hold a roll of the poopy bags and clip to your dog's lease; Aiden kept trying to feed that to her.  He kept saying, "eat da bone" as he'd try to push it in her mouth, it was too cute.

Some more news on the boys is that we decided to go ahead and send both of them to school this year, due to the fact that Eric and I talked about it and we both feel I could use the little break from them; plus Eric (and I, once I let myself realize it), does not want me to take on too much and become overwhelmed.  We just decided to try to get him sent to a different school with a different teacher than he had before, with hope that this new teacher will understand a bit more about Aiden's behaviors (either that or at least listen and let his ABA therapist teach her coping mechanisms).  It was not like he was being bad to be bad, he was just bored because he has known his letters and numbers for a while and was teaching himself how to read and do addition (which he is still doing so we want to get the teacher on the same page).  We get to have the IEP meeting the Friday before school starts, so it's going to be quite a rush getting things all ready to go but it will hopefully all turn out for the best.  We are also looking forward to doing all this again in just a few months when Scott turns three, but then we will be pushing for a bit more support at school.

A very sad thing that is happening this coming week is we have to say goodbye to Aiden's ABA therapist; she got a full time job at the neighboring school district (que sad sad music and crying).  We love her and do not want to see her go, but we knew it would happen sooner or later, but on a good note, we will definitely be staying in touch ;).  We have met one of his new therapists (yes it is taking two to replace her, that is how special she is, not one other person could match up :D) and she seems great, Aiden did fairly well today with her.

On good note, the boys have been getting along a bit better with each other.  At least they are tolerating being in the same room at the same time a little more often.

On to how things are going for Eric...

Work is going, I guess, there really has not been much of a change with that.  They keep flip flopping his shifts, one day he'll have the over night shift and then the next he'll be on day shift.  It really is not fair how they treat him, but what can I do.  I know he is getting on a few committees at the hospital, to help with some of the scheduling and regulations, the equipment training, and the education team.  It keeps him pretty busy, but he still makes time for the family and to help out with church.  He is helping with the AVL team at church (he's always been so tech savvy) it's amazing what all he does and knows about mixers and whatnot.  All I know is that when he starts trying to talk to me about all the kind of stuff, my head starts spinning because I have no clue what any of that is.  He is taking leave this month, just to get sometime to focus on the boys and relax away from the hospital for a little bit (that and to study for the promotion board too).  We are not doing anything special, maybe driving up to Forks for my lovely sister-in-law, she's been wanting me to do that since we moved here.

As for me, things are going a lot better.  I am having problems focusing on my coursework, most of the courses I've had lately are repeats of some of the ones I had in my associate's program (using the same textbook and everything) and its just hard to not try to learn more, but I got in trouble with one of my instructors for going a bit too deep in my research (makes no sense to me).  I have not really done much in the way of my projects in the past few days, I need to pick something and start back up.  I am thinking of starting in on some Christmas gifts for my nieces and nephews.  I do need to make the boys some new weighted blankets too, so maybe when they get into school I can have lots of free time to go nuts with ideas.  I miss having my hairless friend help me.

As for health-wise, things are not too bad.  My last test results were normal, which is good, means nothing has stopped working yet :).  I have started to try to change some of my habits around.  I have started trying to build up my endurance (the day at the lake showed me how much my lungs have suffered with everything, and trust me I missed being able to swim for distances).  I am right now just taking it easy and trying to build up to running two miles, I started off at going a mile and am now at 1.60 before I have to take a breather, so not too bad.  The strange thing is that the first few days kicked my butt (especially in the energy department), but now I have lots of energy and no longer feel like crud afterwards.  I am also trying to cut my caffeine intake in half as well as cut out my chocolate snacking.

So all in all, nothing too exciting going on, just been busy.

Wednesday, July 11, 2012

July 11, 2012

So things are starting to get back to normal around here.  Today the boys actually stayed up to their nap time, but then they did not wake up for dinner at all.  That is still better than them falling asleep at 11am and sleeping until 4am the next morning.  I am hoping this is a sign that they are slowly getting back on their schedules.  I do know that Aiden has been showing a lot more behaviors lately, he's been having more and more meltdowns.  It has been a while since he has been like this and I am getting a little bit worried about it.  I have been racking my brain as to what could be triggering these meltdowns and I am not coming up with anything other than his goals have become harder, but that is the normal course of things.  I just do not get why that would all of a sudden cause the increase in meltdowns because he never had a problem being pushed before.  Do not get me wrong, he would always have some things to say, or scream, but he would not have a full out meltdown do to it.  Anyways, that being said, the boys have not been on the best terms with one another for a little while; but today they were in good moods when it came to each other.  They were running around the house laughing and babbling to one another, it was just too cute.  Scott has been becoming attached to carrying a blanket, or as he says a "be be," with him, but he gets upset and frustrated because either it will not stay on him while he is walking around or sitting at the table or it becomes too heavy and bulky for what he is trying to do.  So with this and the fact that when he is wearing his compression outfit, either the SPIO one or the one I made, I call him super man, because that is what he looks like, like he's wearing a super hero suit.

  This got me thinking about capes, so I made the boys their very own super hero capes. 

They loved them, they ended up sleeping in them it was too cute.  But it did the trick, I figured for Scott it would kind of be like a blanket that is just tied to his back, and that's exactly what it was.  When Scott started getting tired, he laid down on the couch and turned his cape around to look like a really long bib and cuddled under his "be be;" it was great.  For the longest time after I put their capes on the boys just spun, around and around, holding their capes out and watching them fly behind them. 

They were doing this all over the house, just spinning everywhere, it was making me dizzy watching them.  Needless to say, they were having a blast and it has been a while since they have been this happy, let alone this happy sharing the day with each other. I am hoping this happiness with each other continues through the weekend because we have a busy and fun weekend planned for the boys.  First off, Saturday is Rhubarb Days over in Sumner, I cannot wait it has been a long time since I have had a good rhubarb pie, or rhubarb period.  I cannot wait to let the boys try some and see if they like it or not.  Then Sunday after church we are heading up to Issaquah to the train museum for Day Out With Thomas.  That is the big one that I cannot wait for, we get to ride on a life size Thomas steam engine, I cannot wait to see the boys' faces, I think they will be excited; esspecially Scott, Thomas is his favorite.  With that being said, I need to get back to my schoolwork, I want to get it all done before this weekend, that way I do not have to worry about it and can have a much needed break.

Thursday, July 5, 2012

Summertime thinking

We have been having our good days and bad days lately.  We had whooping cough a few months ago, and then just two weeks ago we had hand foot and mouth. We have no luck when it comes to immune systems, so if it is going around, we are surely to get it, and sometimes we get it twice. 
We are just now starting to get back on a routine schedule after being on quarantine, and then a pressure system comes into town and plays with Aiden's ears.  He had tubes placed in his ears when he was two, and they stayed in for a little over a year, which is a miracle.  But they fell out about 6 months ago and while he has not had any ear infections (thankfully) any time there is a pressure system or the weather changes suddenly, he gets a lot of pressure in his ears to the point of excruciating pain.  That has been our weekend and beginning of the week so far.  The kicker is that the doc won't do anything because he doesn't have an ear infection so he sees there is nothing to do because his ears do drain.  I say there should be something they can do (such as putting new tubes in) so that the pressure can escape just like the fluid.
Sorry about my rant, I just really do not like the doctors we have.  Considering I have been procrastinating on scheduling Aiden's 6 month neuro check up, both the boys were suppose to see the developmental pediatrician on post (but I just don't like him considering he is the one who said Scott was on the spectrum but he was not going to diagnose because he wanted to test Scott's cognitive ability when he was 5).  Plus I am a couple of months behind on seeing my doctor, but I have a feeling I know what she is going to say to me and I do not really want to hear it.
So on to new things....
We have decided to homeschool the boys for at least this next school year, and we have even decided upon a curriculum.  So now the big thing is getting the boys' IEPs to state that and to figure out their school time schedule and activities. 
In the meantime we are going to be working on potty training, as soon as I get some more laminant (we seem to run out of that all the time), I will be able to post a reward chart and potty schedule for them to see and follow. 
Scott is talking a lot more now, I love to hear his little voice.  He cracks me up with some of the things that he says, even if he is just repeating, it is so much cuter coming from him. 
I am still in the middle of setting up my webpage online to start selling therapy equiptment.  I have my pricing scheme all worked out, I just need to make a few prototypes and take pictures of them.  I say prototypes, not because I haven't made them before, but because I do not have pictures of any of the ones I have previously made, so now I have to make more (which makes me very happy, I love to sew!).  I did have to take a break, because I broke the sewing machine a friend of mine was letting me use (I actually think it decided to go on strike because I had been using it so much lately).  I was blessed with the fact that Eric got a refund from paying for his LPN license last year, that I was able to buy a new one.  I just feel really bad that I broke my friend's.
On the other side of things, my school is going great.  At the moment I am in a neuroscience class and my team chose to do a presentation on autism, I was happy about that because this week the individual assignments for the class are to look at each other's team assignments and evaluate it.  I feel confident about my team's presentation because I was able to bring a lot more knowledge to the class than just what the book stated (using accredited sources, of course).  I just cannot wait to see what others will say about the presentation.
Eric's work is going well, he is stuck on overnights for the next two weeks, but after that he is back on days so we will all be on the same schedule again. The hospital is doing a needle change over, they are changing the types of needles that they are going to be using, and Eric is one of the leaders on that committee, which is good, even if he thinks it's a pain in the butt.  He is also being considered for a few other committees which will help him when he is looking at being promoted, which he goes to the board next month.  He is staying pretty busy, but he will be able to be home a bit more, or at least be awake when he is home a bit more, for the boys' sake.  They were missing him so badly when he was working over nights and then when he was at WLC, because they never saw him; he was either asleep when he was home during the day, or he was not home until the boys were already in bed.  But now they will get to see him more.

Thursday, June 14, 2012

Starting a new chapter

I know I have been lacking in my writing lately, I apologize for that.

I am getting all the information gathered to start my own business, aka selling the therapy materials that I can make.  I have to figure up the prices and sizing scheme for the weighted blanket, compression vests, body socks, lycra sheets, and resistance tunnels.  Then I have to make all of the prototypes so that I can take pictures of them all, I mean I could use some of the ones that I have already made, but I want have a few on hand anyways. 
The good thing is I already made the account on and I already have a name, I am using the name we planned on giving our foundation (A Special Destination).  This will give us the first step in getting the foundation up and running.

I have been thinking, thanks to a friend of mine, about homeschooling the boys again.  My friend palns on doing that for her children and, well, Eric and I had bounced around the thought before we moved up here; we just dismissed it after we moved to give the public schools a chance.  Well, nothing against the schools here, they are actually pretty great, they just do not exactly know how to handle Aiden's behaviors, which means next year when Scott is in school, they will not be able to handle his behaviors.  I give the teacher credit, she seems to be willing to try to learn, but there are just a few things that bug me at the moment.  Then theres the fact that we tried to get a waiver in to get the boys into the neighboring school district that has a very good autism specialist on staff, but they have so many kids on the spectrum in their district already they could not accomodate two more. Since we are plugged into a lease until Sept 2013, we cannot move into the district just yet unless we want to have to owe them.  I could handle paying the apartment off over time, but I am also in the process of trying to pay off our non-essential bills at the moment so why would I want to add to that already huge pile?  So that brings me back to my friend who is going to homeschool her kids.  That would make perfect sense for us because then I would not have to worry about making sure I schedule their million therapies around school because I could do the school around them.  Then I could see if my friend would want to do school together and we could teach our kids together that way they would still have the social piece that they need; let alone the fact that we could both set up the curriculum and two heads are better than one on that (I know I would have a hard time coming up with new ideas all the time).  But again this is all just a thought, I need to talk to her about it too.

My schooling is going along great, I am loving my classes and my peers have been great so far.  I even found out that Harvard offers a degree program in autism studies online (if I could get in that is).  But I still have the plan to get my BCBA and then my PhD so that I could help children on the spectrum by being their therapist and then also being able to diagnosis them.

Other than that life has been going pretty well lately.  I have been a lot happier than I have been, which is good.  I finally feel like I am where I should be.  I have been able to come to grips with past decisions that have affected my body and my mind and I have righted those wrongs.  I am finally at a good weight from recovering for anorexia (oh yeah, I have been open about that a lot more now too).  I am finally able to eat without feeling like I am going to get sick, and I my eating schedule comes more naturally to me, which is much better than having to set alarms for each of my meals.  I have a good exercise regime down, and I think I am finally getting some pretty ripped abs too.  I love myself again, which has been a long time coming and I could not ask for more.  I apologize for everyone who this is news to them, I did not intentionally keep this from you, I was embarrassed about it and I wanted to make sure I was on the right track and going to be okay with myself before I told anyone.  Main thing is I did not want anyone to worry about me, which you do not have to do anymore because I am finally healthy in all senses: mind, body, and spirit. 

The boys are doing good.  They are making progress so fast.  Their therapists are always trying to figure out what to do next without putting them way ahead of their peers when it comes to cognitive functioning (I am not trying to brag but my boys are some smarty pants).  Scott I am going to start working with on his signs a bit more strictly since he still picks up on those faster and uses them spontaneously more so than his verbal language.  Aiden is becoming a ladies man.  He is already betrothed to one little girl (and that wedding is definitely going to be happening :)).  But when he comes from school, I keep finding these notes from some of the 5th graders who help out in his class.  I have to say, my little guy is pretty loveable, but I have a feeling that when he is older I am going to have to be chasing girls off from him.

Friday, May 18, 2012

Busy Busy Busy with nothing too interesting going on

I know I've been dropping the ball a little bit on keeping everyone updated and I apologize for that.  Things have been busy and hectic around here, so I am just going to start with what has been happening recently. 
A friend allowed me to make a weighted blanket for one of her friends' son.  I was excited, nervous, and very self conscious about it, but I embarked on it.  I felt bad because I was hoping to get it done in half the time I ended up taking for it, but I think it turned out perfect. 

It is a duvet cover with the weighted blanket snapping on the inside.  It was the first one I had made like that, but I like it.  I have to give credit to my friend that the little boy's mother, they are the ones that had the idea of the duvet cover. 
I am contemplating opening a store front through or amazon or somewhere online to sell busy books, weighted blankets, lycra sheets, resistance tunnels, and body socks.  I make a lot of these for my boys, so why shouldn't I be able to help other families out by making them some for cheaper than you can find them else-where?  Plus a friend has been asking me to do so.  I guess the only thing holding me back from it is my self, I'm so nervous that no one will want anything or no one will like what they get, I guess I am a very self-conscious person. 

On to the next thing that had been happening, I had a bit of a health scare.  But things are cleared up and it was nothing to worry about, but for about a week I couldn't stop thinking about the worse-case scenario.  Then it turned out to be the best-case scenario and I am thankful for everyone's prayers, they ment a lot and truly helped me through it. 

Scott is still on the waitlist for his OT, speech, and language preschool :(.  I was hoping they would have started by now, but I understand there are a lot of children around here who do need the help and it will be his turn when it is his turn.  On the upside, I did hear that he is at the top of the waitlist for the next 12-week session in the language preschool, so that will be starting I believe next month.

Scott is making tremendous progress with ABA, he picks up things so quickly.  He is also becoming more and more talkative; he does still have his days where he barely mutters a word, but on his good days, which are becoming more and more often, he is starting to talk up a storm.  We are still using sign language as a helper, it gives him a visual and kinsthetic input for the words, granted we still do not know very many signs as we are still in the process of learning too.  Through his feeding therapy, he is eating some new foods, granted half the time he will not eat them for us at home, but it is a start.  We have found out that part of his problem with foods is that his gag reflux is relatively closer than most and so the foods need to be in smaller pieces so as not to hit his gag reflux. 

Aiden is a gem as always with his therapies and progress.  He is mastering things just as quickly as Scott is and it is getting harder and harder to find things to work on without making him even farther ahead academically of kids his age.  He is getting socially better, at school he has two best friends that he plays with and he has started telling me about them when he comes home when I ask about them. 

On a sour note, we did hear back from the school district we were trying to waive the boys into for next year, and they denied us.  It makes sense, they do have a lot of children over there that they need to focus on helping before allowing even more children come it.  It was a bummer, but I completely understand.  The plus is that it seems that Aiden's teacher is working with his ABA therapist on managing and working through his behaviors a bit more. 

School is going decently well for me, I am currently in a statistics class and it is kind of keeping my butt.  I always thought I was good at math, I mean I am with the algebra stuff, but when it comes to frequencies, distributions, graphs, and all the various statistical stuff, it makes my head spin.  But I believe I can get through it, just 3-1/2 more weeks until it is over and I am on to my next class.

So I guess nothing really interesting has been going on with us recently, just been kept very busy.

One last picture to say goodbye.

Aiden and Mister Pinkerton under their lycra sheet.  I say their lycra sheet because all cats have Asperger's and Pinkerton loves the pressure input from it just as much as both the boys.  This was when Aiden wasn't feeling well and Pinkerton stayed with him to make him feel better.

Saturday, April 21, 2012

It's Been a Bit

I know that it has been a little while since I updated everyone and I apologize for that, so here is the run down of what has happened lately.

1. Scott got started in ABA therapy, he loves his therapist too, she is awesome.  Scott has a little bit of a problem with the structure of it, but he is getting use to it these past two weeks.  I think he will do great.

2. Scott is finally getting to be okay with Aiden's ABA therapist, he almost gave her a hug the other day, but he is giving her high fives, which is a big step.  I think that he will warm up to her soon, I just feel bad because he has not done so yet.

3. Scott also started with his oral function therapy, right now the therapist is just trying to gain his trust.  He has a hard time warming up to people and she does not want to push it right off the bat.

4. Scott is on the wait list for his occupational and speech therapies.  Hopefully we can get him started with those soon.

5. Aiden is having a bit of a hard time with the schedule changes.  His GI issues are acting up due to the stress and anxiety of it all.  I am hoping that he will be able to adjust soon.

6. We found a very loving church that accepts the boys for who they are.  Everyone here is incredibly inviting and loving.  I feel at home here and it is a great feeling.  The boys love their Sunday school there, and it is a good experience for both of them and will help Scott with preparing for preschool in November.

7. Eric is being run ragged at work, but that really is not anything new.  I just wish that they would be able to understand that he works all night so they will stop bothering him when he is trying to sleep during the day.

8. I am now in my second class in my bachelor's program and I am still loving it.  At times I do have trouble focusing on my assignments and that could be a mixture of the million things that are going on around here, or I am getting a bit burnt out, or I am just not that into the philosophical aspect of the history of psychology.  (I've never been that into philosophy)

9. I am in the process of making a weighted blanket for another client of Aiden's ABA therapist.  I am nervous about it, I have never really made something for someone else like this and I want to do a good job because he deserves it to be great.

10. I made a Lycra bed sheet for Scott to help with joint pressure input that he craves. He loves it.  I am planning on making a few more, that way I have spares with various tension in them and a few for Aiden, I think he might like them.

11. I am trying to make a train control station for Scott and a flight control station for Aiden, so if anyone has any ideas or random switches, levers, steering wheels, ect they would like to share, I would greatly appreciate them.

12. We are working on trying to get the boys into the school district that is literally just down the road from us.  Nothing against the school district we are currently in, Aiden's teacher does try to help, but they just do not have the resources to fully help the boys, whereas the school district just a mile down the road does.

This alone has kept me pretty busy, especially with trying to get everything scheduled and moved around, it has been crazy.  I am probably going to have to do some more switching when Scott starts OT and speech and I apologize in advance to the boys' therapist, they are amazing and put up with me and the changing schedules so wonderfully and I hope that they know I do not try to make anything harder on them.  I appreciate everything that they do.

Saturday, March 31, 2012

1 in 88, and the vaccine controversy begins (again)!

The CDC released their new Autism incidence numbers a few days ago, and when I posted the news to FaceBook I received an interesting question. Do I believe the increase is related to vaccinations?

The short answer is maybe, the long answer... well here it goes.

The vaccine controversy began with a 1998 study by Andrew Wakefield M.D. There are a lot of people who say that he was biased, and that his results were skewed as a result of undisclosed financial ties to a pharmaceutical company. After hearing all of the hype I had to read the study myself and find out what was so controversial, and I found out that the study actually was not wrong.

The study said "We did not prove an association between measles, mumps, and rubella vaccine and the syndrome described."

Can I prove that there wasn't some kind of bias? No. Can I prove that vaccines cause Autism? No.

I do, however, believe that vaccines are an important thing to look at with our children. I believe that Autism is a combination of genetics, and environmental triggers. Genetically you have to be predisposed to Autism before an environmental trigger pushes you beyond the threshold that causes you to begin showing a developmental delay.

With any child it is important to view the risks vs the benefits of vaccination. I fully believe that it is more important to ensure that my child remains healthy than to risk having them get an illness that could cause them to die. An important side effect of my child being vaccinated is that I don't have to worry about illnesses that are passed around by parents who refuse to vaccinate their children.

Do I mourn the "loss" of my child? No, and here is why, my child is the same loving child that they were before the diagnosis. I just have a word to explain their quirks now. Autism is not a disease that needs to be cured, it is not a mental disorder as some would have you believe, and it is not a tragedy. Autism is a way of explaining why my child would prefer a trampoline over a million dollars, why my child would prefer a night at home over a concert, why my child would prefer to flap instead of clap, but most importantly it is why my child is who they are.

So, back to the original question. Do I believe that vaccines cause Autism? At this point I don't know. All I do know is it doesn't matter to me, because I love my boys, and they love me.

Friday, March 23, 2012

Scott's Evaluation Report

Yesterday afternoon was spent in Seattle at the Seattle Children's Autism Clinic getting Scott's full diagnostic evaluation report from the psychologist there.  Nothing too surprising.  He has several good traits, but some concerning traits as well. 
The one thing that the she mentioned to us was that she stressed that Scott get placed in a class specific to autistic children and their needs.  We are trying to do our research on finding classes and/or schools like that in the area.  I have to thank Aiden's ABA therapist, she is totally awesome to begin with but she is helping us with this search.  We might be able to get him to go to a neighboring school district because she works there as their autism specialist (that would be awesome!).  I just hope that they will take him since we live out of district and cannot break our lease for a year and a half.  If not then we are doing our research on private schools, but there are not many close by and they are expensive. 
Another thing that the psychologist mentioned was looking into an autism service dog for him because he wanders, has no sense of danger, and has some behaviors the dog could help disrupt (his lining up of toys).  So I am and I have found a few agencies, some that even help with fundraising, but we have not decided on that just yet. 
So we have a few things that we need to look into and decide upon, and decide soon. 
On to happier news, everything has went through with ECHO and Scott should hopefully start ABA therapy within the next few weeks once we get the intake scheduled and what not.  I cannot wait, I am too excited about seeing how well he takes to it.  He already has a connection with his soon to be therapist, he interacts with her when he runs the opposite way of everyone else who enters into our house. I believe he is going to do great with everything.

Wednesday, March 21, 2012

Why do I support HR 2288 Caring for Military Kids with Autism Act?

I haven't posted in awhile. Cinnamon has been updating everyone with her posts, but I saw this question posted on a Facebook page that I follow, so I figured it was time for me to explain why we ask people to get involved and to get active in the CMKAA cause.

Cinnamon and I got married by the justice of the peace a few weeks before I deployed to Afghanistan with the thought that we would save money during the deployment for a "real" wedding when I got back. We figured that while I was gone she would have access to base for anything that might need to be done in terms of wonderful Army paperwork, and that she would have health benefits in case she got sick or injured while I was gone.

Two weeks after I got to Afghanistan I was on Skype, and she told me something that would change all of our mid-tour trip to Ireland plans. She said "Babe, I'm pregnant." FRAGO... Midtour leave is now a trip to get home to see my child be born.

As time came closer for me to get home I learned that we were having a boy, and we talked about names, and settled on Aiden James. Aiden being a traditional Irish name, and James after the two friends we chose to have be his Godfathers.

I ended up getting home on November 24th, and on November 26th my wife gave birth to the cutest boy I had ever met. I ended up seeing him for the first two weeks of his life, and then I had to go back to finish the deployment.

I finally got home from my deployment, and then 7 days later when my wife was acting strange I told her to take a pregnancy test. Results were positive. We were having another child!

Shortly after that I was reassigned from Ft. Campbell to Ft. Carson. A few months later, on November 25th, we met our second son, Scott Conor. Once again I was the proud dad with the most beautiful baby boy ever.

Five months later, on April 16th, 2010, we were given another change of mission when a Developmental Pediatrician at Memorial Children's Hospital in Colorado Springs told us that Aiden had Autism. I had no idea what Autism was. I had never met anyone Autistic that I knew of, all I knew was something was going on with my child, and I finally had a name that I could start doing some research on. Boy was that research depressing.

1 in 110 children will be diagnosed with Autism, 1 in 75 boys, 1 in 88 Military children, 3 times more likely if you have a sibling diagnosed. No known cause, no known cure. As the signs in the forest always say "Abandon hope all ye who enter here." Instead of laying down and taking it though we decided to fight.

I re-enlisted and asked to go to M6 school, the Army LPN program. I was accepted, so we ended up shipping off to Ft. Sam Houston, where we met one of the first guiding lights in our journey. Ms. Sherri Sharp at Brooke Army Medical Center. Sherri is the head of the Speech Language Pathology program, and also is the point of contact for BAMC's Autism Team. She gave us the head start that we needed, and put us in touch with some resources in the community.

Aiden started ABA, OT, and ST within a month of us arriving at BAMC. He had received ST and OT while we were in Colorado, but he hadn't been making progress, and at the time we didn't know about ECHO.

Aiden had been in ST and OT for 4 months, and had made no progress when we moved to Texas. After 3 months of ABA we heard meaningful sounds. They weren't full words yet, but there was the beginning of communication.

Lets fast forward at this point. I finished M6 school, and received PCS orders to Madigan Army Medical Center, Joint Base Lewis - McChord Washington. I think with all the press JBLM has had lately I don't need to explain where that is.

When we arrived in WA we had to start services all over again. I can't tell you how frustrating it is to have to explain to the doctor exactly what referrals are needed because they don't know. We have been here for over 7 months now, and still have a referral that is sitting in no mans land because the doctor didn't want to put the referral in. (More on that later).

I'm going to jump back and forth for a quick second here. Scott was concerning us while we were in TX, and we were seen by a developmentalist at BAMC, and they said they wanted to follow Scott for a little while because although there were areas that were starting to show concern, there were no red flags or flashing lights saying look here we got another one!  We were okay with that, then we got to Ft. Lewis, and we saw another developmentalist who said that although he felt like Scott was on the spectrum, he would not diagnose until Scott was at least 4 or 5 and could have cognitive testing done. Are you kidding me? I'm asking if my child is Autistic, not Mentally Retarded (sorry for having to use the "R-word", but it is the current medical term).

We asked for a second opinion, and we were sent to The Seattle Children's Hospital Autism Center. They told us that our initial intake appointment would be about 6 to 9 months out, and we asked if we could be put on a wait list for if someone cancelled. We were told that wasn't a problem. 15-20 minutes later we were called and told someone cancelled and we could have that slot if we wanted it!

So, Aiden was in ABA, ST, and OT, and now we had to drive to Seattle for appointments for Scott, and I still have to go to work. We only have one car, we definitely have a very tight schedule.

The Autism Team nurse who we talked to said that it could take us another 3 months before we saw the psychologist for the evaluation, but that we also needed to look into a thing called the “SPARCS” Study (Physiology of Attention and Regulation in Children with ASD) and see if we qualified. We would receive the exact same exams, by the exact same psychologist, we would just be seen quicker because the deadline for the study was approaching. A few weeks later we were back in Seattle participating in the study. On February 3rd we finally received the letter we had been expecting, and dreading... Scott was diagnosed with Autism.

All of this has been said to answer one question. Why do I support CMKAA? I guess you have seen the long answer. The short answer is this, my children, and thousands of children like them, are stuck in an archaic insurance system that does not provide the benefits they need, nor the benefits they deserve. We are stuck with doctors who don't specialize in Autism, who don't know the special medical needs of our children, and who are unable to educate themselves due to the time constraints put on them by the system. We are stuck with therapy that is deemed medically necessary by 29 states, and the Surgeon Generals of the Army and Navy, but is called an "educational benefit" by TriCare. We are stuck fighting a system that is not in compliance with other federal mandates, but is overlooked because once again it is the Soldier or Sailor or Airman or Marine who must give up everything for their country and in return be given nothing. I for one am sick of that system, and it is time to fight back. Congress is on notice right now, and there are many of us who will be heard. I support CMKAA because all children deserve to have a fighting chance.

Saturday, March 17, 2012

An Awesome Week

So this week went rather well.  (One of the better ones we have had)
It started off with both boys in amazing moods, Aiden sensory investigative, which is amazing, and Scott incredibly talkative, which I love hearing his voice.
Now if we talk about Aiden at school, it was not a great week.  He only went Monday and Tuesday due to having appointments on Thursday and Friday.  Monday his teacher called me to let me know that, "it was the worst day we have had with him."  But I have to admit he was doing amazing when he was at home, so I am not sure what was going on at school to make him act out like he was.  Hopefully it was just what had to give because he was having a great time at home.
I feel bad because Aiden acted out during ABA on Tuesday, Wednesday, and Thursday, but was great during it on Friday so one of his therapists did not get to see him on his best days.
Friday we had a GI appointment to try to figure out his diarrhea/constipation cycles and to see if we could get some allergy testing so we could see if that had anything to do with it. Just Dada and Aiden went while Mister Scott and Mama had one on one time.  But the GI doc did not want to do allergy testing and said Aiden has toddler diarrhea and that he might grow out of it at the age of five or six.  I do not agree (I get that the doc went to school for this and what not) I just do not feel that that is all there is to it.  How the heck am I suppose to potty train him when he is either exploding out of his butt or not able to go period.  Let's just say we are looking into finding another doc who might be a bit more willing to figure out a way to stop this vicious cycle.
Scott stayed talkative all week long.  He was trying new words and everything.  He even told me, "I wuv oo"  last night when I put him down to bed.
I even found the key to turning this:
 Into him helping me in the kitchen:
 Now dont make a fuss when I tell you the secret...It's coffee.  He wanted me coffee Friday morning, so I let him have half of my cup in his sippy (it had a bit of sugar and milk in it and by that time it was ice cold too).  He loved it and tried to get me to let him have more.  Before the coffee, he was having trouble focusing on one thing, he was everywhere, and lining all of his toys up like a pro.  The after the coffee, much calmer, did not mind that the dog knocked his row of cars all over the place, and was helping me make lunch and supper.
Now to the best part of the week: Scott's ECHO paperwork went through!!!!
That is amazing, I am so glad it did not take as long as they had originally told us it would.
I let the lead ABA therapist know and she sent in the referral to get it started and hopefully late next week we can get his intake done.  Yay!!!
Think that was a great ending to the week, add this, we got Scott's referral for his oral function therapy in the mail yesterday too. Amazing!! Now he can start both of his therapies.
To celebrate, we had dinner, a movie, and new toys for the boys.
Yes, I know, I spoil the boys.  But, honestly, who can blame me for these cute little guys and all the hard work they do?

Monday, March 12, 2012

A Good Day in Sensory World

I should be writing a paper that is due today, but I feel like procrastinating and letting everyone know how amazing my boys are one more time.
The boys have been having a great weekend, both of them have been in good moods, which rarely happens at the same time, let alone for three days in a row.
Aiden has been a lot more responsive when asking him questions, and also a lot more attentive to activities all weekend and today.  Scott has been a ton more communicative, he is saying more words, that are actual words, not just a syllable, and he's been bright eyed and hungry for new foods.
So today, Scott was pointing and wanting something up in our manipulatives organizer and I finally figured it out, he wanted the polymers.  This is goop, gems, water beads, and silly squares.  So I mixed him up some of the goopy gems to play with.

They went everywhere, but it was fun.
We took them over to let Aiden play with them...And I apologize for not warning his ABA therapist...Aiden actually loved them, again they went every too.  But he handled it much better than the last time we tried him with them.
Last time Aiden barely touched the goop and freaked out asking for wipes and would not go anywhere near it again. So he did incredibly well.
His ABA therapist and I were talking about how he has a similar reaction to shaving cream every time his OT tries it.  She suggested we try it...Aiden again loved it!! It was amazing.  We deduced that it might be the difference in shaving cream, the one his OT uses comes out as the huge white foaminess that it is, whereas the one Eric uses, as Aiden's ABA therapist stated, "is the good stuff," it comes out as a blue gel that as Aiden plays with it grows to the white foaminess.

Aiden all covered in shaving cream
Scott also got in on the fun.
Pictures courtesy of Aiden's wonderful ABA therapist.
My house still smells like shaving cream, but I can deal with that because at least its clean.
I just love days like these because it lets me know how truly amazing both my boys are, and how we are incredibly lucky to have such great therapists (and friends) working with them on a daily basis.
This has been a good day in the sensory world for both my little guys..

Sunday, March 11, 2012

Quiet/Busy Book

What do you do on a Saturday morning-afternoon and into Sunday when your husband is home and there are no other plans being made?

Make a quiet book of course!!!

We researched blogs and for ideas and many of them were made for cloth books, I did not have any fabric, which is a feat because I am usually making new weighted blankets for the boys. So we redid some of the ideas we were seeing, and added in some new things that would make our boys very happy, for use with a paper busy book.
Hours later, with our printer ink almost depleted, all of our card stock gone, and our over abundance of velcro dots diminished; we have two completed quiet books and the boys love them.

Here is a break down (with pictures) of what we did, as well as a download of our templates that
we used and links to the various websites we got some of our ideas off of.

Step 1 - The Covers
We used Microsoft PowerPoint for pretty much most of this.

Step 2 - The pages

This one is "Feed the Bear" We cut out and colored the bear, then we found some food pictures and cut a few of those out and velcro dotted everything so that the boys had to feed the bear. We also left the bear's bow tie off so the boys can put that on him as well.

This one the boys have to match the whole fruit to the half fruit. It's a bit tricky for Scott so we made a double of it for him so he matches the whole fruit with the whole fruit and the half fruit with the half fruit, but we kept it lined up so he knows which half fruit goes with which whole fruit.

This is the rocket ship. The boys have to build the rocket ship so it can blast off to the moon.

This is Scott's favorite. They have to put the leaves on the tree. There is also a little blue bird that they can put on there too.

Here is the "Build the Ice Cream Cone" page. The boys have to build it from biggest to littlest scoop.

The "Mister Potatohead" Page. Both the boys love mixing him up, especially Scott:

Here is Scott's creation.
Then we have the barn page, which looks like this, but the boys get to open the barn doors and put a horse, pig, and cow inside the barn.

Like so.
Then we made a mail box where the boys have to put the flag on to show there is mail. Then we made 3-d envelopes that the boy's can open and inside there is a letter from Mama and Dada. This is Aiden's from Dada
And this is Scott's from Mama

We made a laptop for Aiden, he loves grabbing the calendar down and acting like he is typing by using the squares for the days as keys. I cut out all of the keys and taped them to the keyboard of this "computer" before I laminated it so that it has a bit of texture to it when he types.

We made a house that the boys have to put the windows and door on.

And we made a finish the pattern page.

We also have the traditional "Match the Shapes" page.

Here we did a different take on matching colors. We have them match shapes made of various shades of a color to the base color

We then have a "Tic-Tac-Tow" page they can play.
Then we have a counting page. This one is Scott's, he loves Pinkerton, our Sphynx so we made it a "Count the Pinkertons" page. For Aiden we made count the sheep because sheep are one of his favorite animals.
We could not make a quiet book without a stoplight for Aiden, but on his we did not put the lights for him to match too, he just has the black box and he has to put the lights in order on it, and he is very fast at doing so.

We of course had to put some trains in here for Scott

And Cars for Aiden. Both the trains and the cars just have random velcro dots along them so the boys can play with moving them along the tracks and roads.

I know that's a lot of pages. We realized that when we were binding the books with rings, but it is worth it because the boys love them. We also made a "ribbon," aka laminated card stock to wrap around and close the book. Also if you are wondering if we keep all the pieces on the pages they are used for, the answer is no. On the backs of each page we put more velcro dots to hold the pieces for the next page. This way when the book is open on the table, the boys can see the pieces for the page they are on easily and transfer to where they belong.

The boys have been enjoying their books all day today, and even took them to bed with them!

Here are the weblinks to some of the sites we got our templates and inspiration off of: