Tuesday, November 7, 2017

Artfully Beautiful

Boog never ceases to amaze me. I know that is a phrase used often, but I mean every word of it. Out of the blue he often does something that just about knocks me back. He did such a thing two nights ago.

Boog does a lot of really fun/creative/beautiful artwork at school. The more his fine motor skills improve, the more detailed it is. I’m one of those moms that just can’t throw any of it away and I have a lot of it stored in a couple boxes.

Tip: Share your child’s artwork with family to have the following benefits:

1. That family member gets to enjoy the art
2. It allows others to see the progress being made by seeing the details increase over time
3. It cuts down of the ton of artwork you can’t bare to throw away
***4. Your child will see that other family members are proud of their work - a huge confidence builder

I put stars by number four because of what happened the other night. All of the prepping for the next day had been done and we were all on the couch relaxing before bedtime. I have probably more than ten of those relatively new coloring books for adults and none have been used. I finally got a set of some great markers and have been coloring a bit.

While coloring a really pretty and intricate picture of a cat, I saw Boog leaning over to see what I was doing. I showed him that I was coloring and he studied the page. I offered him a marker to see if maybe he wanted to color. That surprised me because prefers to do his artwork at school or with his Nana.

Instead of reaching for the marker, he reached for the picture. I handed it to him and he got up.

On the wall in the living room I made one of those popular “Look What I Did” things that allows you to showcase recent work and then switch it up whenever you want. I didn’t think Boog had ever paid much attention to it in honesty.

So he got up, my picture in hand, and walked over to where I display his artwork. He held the picture under it on the wall and looked at me. I could have cried! I quickly got some tape to hold it on the wall where he wanted it, right under his artwork. It may seem like a small gesture, but in our world it means so much like:

He knew I put his artwork on the wall
He knew I put it there because I liked it (confidence builder)
He knew what I was doing was also “art”
He wanted Mommy to know that her art was good too

God bless this sweet angel. Sometimes I can’t believe I created a child so amazing.

His Daddy and I gave him so many hugs and kisses and I probably thanked him 20 times.

This is one of those cherished moments I don’t want to forget, so I had to post about it.

Feeling very, very grateful,
Boog’s Mommy

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Sunday, November 5, 2017

Still More Oily Than Essential

Every time another mom tries to tell me that buying some damn essential oil will help my kid with Autism I want to shove a bottle of lemongrass up their @ss.

I also would like to shake them and ask them to find a dictionary and read the following definitions out loud for the whole class to hear:

1. “Pyramid Scheme”

2. “Placebo”

Never mind. It wouldn’t do any good πŸ™„

Before you try and “fix” your child with some liquid made God-knows-where, use your head. If it was that amazing don’t you think pediatricians would have been telling us this for years? If there were scientific proof any of this works I can promise you Pfizer would have been selling the pill form all day long.

Come on sheep, wake up. If you like your house to smell nice, by all means, use essential oils. I’ve used them for years for that reason, way before the hype. If you think rubbing it on your kids foot is magic, please email me ASAP. I have a really amazing deal on some gorgeous ocean-front property in Arizona.

Don’t believe me? No problem. Just read any of these:

FROM PARENTS MAGAZINE: Warning: Essential Oils Are Poisoning More and More Kids

FROM WOMAN’S DAY MAGAZINE: Experts Say Essential Oils Can Pose Dangerous Health Risks

New study finds essential oils could be bad for kids

When to NOT use essential oils (Essential oils can cause seizures in kids)

Warnings dōTERRA & Young Living Won’t Tell You

Essential Oil Claims – The Dangers Keep On Coming

Risks and Uses of Essential Oils

3 Reasons Essential Oils Could Hurt Your Family

Damning Evidence That Young Living and DoTERRA’s Essential Oils are Adulterated

Are DoTERRA Essential Oils a Scam?

As this is my blog, I can do what I want. I now choose to post essential oils memes because I like
them very much. This is also my opinion and I’m pretty sure I’m still allowed to have that.

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Monday, October 30, 2017

Just a Couple of Tricks to Help You Treat

Halloween. It happens to be my favorite holiday. For years my Mom and I spent hours decorating the porch and yard. One year my Mom actually hid in the bushes and jumped out after the kids got their candy, but that’s probably not a good idea these days. I feel like a personal injury attorney would show up about emotional distress, PTSD or something πŸ™„

Early October (usually September because  I get excited). I start looking for the sensory-friendly, Autism approved costume for this year. It’s not that difficult, there are just two main rules:

1. No costume with itchy fabric, tight collar, face makeup, necklace, etc.
2. No costume with a mask, crown, helmet, or anything that goes on the head.

Here are just a few costume ideas I have used in the past or thought of that may be a bit helpful. Note: I’m one of those gender-doesn’t-matter moms and I think kids should wear what they like. Seriously, we have enough stress with daily life. That’s why I have only one list for both boys and girls:

Costume Ideas
Star Wars (Jedi, etc.)
Knight, Queen, or any Royalty
Harry Potter or Sorcerer/Witch
Football player (or any sport)
Disney Prince/Princess

If your little trick or treater insists on a costume that includes a piece they will not wear, you can make up for the missing piece with a little creativity. I’ve found that parents of special needs children are strong when it comes to being creative. We can stop a meltdown with three toothpicks, a gum wrapper and some hand sanitizer. We’re basically MacGuyver.


Problem: Your son wants to dress up like Darth Vader but won’t wear a helmet and you’re not sure people will know what costume it is.

Solution: Take the helmet, turn it upside down, and hot glue on a handle. You can use some thick string or basically anything that will hold for a night. Now you have used the entire costume and everyone is happy πŸ˜‰

Here are photos of some great costumes I found at the Halloween Costumes website that will hopefully give you some ideas:

The only limit here is your imagination. Have a Happy Halloween!!!
-Boog’s Mom that Refuses to Grow Up

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Wednesday, October 11, 2017

Explaining Autism - The Parents’ Version

I saw a video on Facebook this morning:

This is one of the most accurate examples of parents explaining Autism behaviors I have seen. I especially love the one about the child repeatedly spinning the toy helicopter propeller.

“What I realized is he’s not just repeating the same pattern. He’s observing everything. He’s observing this creates wind, and it moves the dust particles around”.

So many behaviors are written off as just “Autism” and believed to have no meaning, just a pointless response that comes across odd or exaggerated. 

Slowly the world is learning that everything has a reason and these children are given beautiful, amazing gifts. We just have to “catch up” and think outside of the box in order to recognize some of them.

Boog does things at home and all I can do is sit dumbfounded. A couple of days ago he wanted to make sure he spelled “curriculum” correctly. He’s seven years old. I have an MBA and yet I still worry I’m not moving fast enough to give him the answers he needs. 

This is the future and it can be very difficult, yet it is bright. 

Thank you, Spark for Autism for this eye-opening, positive video.

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Thursday, October 5, 2017

What’s in a Name?

I don’t completely know why, but when people state that someone is “autistic”. It mildly annoys me.

I feel that word immediately makes the listener think it’s all encompassing.

“She is deaf.” - You immediately think that only said person’s hearing is impacted and all other facilities remain “normal” for the person.

“He is blind.” - Again, you only think of the eyes.

“He is autistic.”
I believe the listener or reader may assume the person with Autism has below “normal” capabilities in every category and that Autism is a whole, encompassing problem.

I admit assuming this myself.

Years ago I walked in a charity fundraiser. It was required in my job that you have to do a certain amount of community service. The local “Walk for Autism Awareness” just happened to be nearby and on a weekend I was free. I didn't think much past that.

While at the walk I read the signs and t-shirts and it finally sunk in that this was raising money for children with Autism. I’ll never forget what I thought back then:

Those poor parents.
These kids are violent and out of control.
These are the kids that wear helmets because they self harm.
These kids’ future will be incredibly limited.
These kids are probably, or will end up in an institution.

Yep. That was my thought process. Hell, I was even a bit nervous. I knew nothing about Autism other than the stereotypical description. I was even mildly on edge that one of the kids at the walk may hurt me. It’s true.

Where did that one quote come from? “People fear what they don’t understand”. That explains me exactly at that time.

I don’t want people to hear “He’s autistic” and base their view of my child on that one word. I freely admit I have become quite a bit defensive, so when speaking to someone that doesn’t know us or anyone with Autism, I choose one of these routes:

Option A:
I tell person I have a son.
Immediately after I show a picture on phone of how beautiful and happy he is.
He looks “normal” to the other person.
Then I mention he has Autism.

It’s one thing, not everything.

Option B:
Yes, my son has Autism (then immediately said), “but he’s great and doing really well in school and really smart and has a huge vocabulary and he types words well above other kids his age!”.
It’s one quickly-spoken run on sentence meant to stop the stereotypical thought before it starts.

So there I am, too worried the A-Word will diminish a person’s perception of my child or that the person will then pity me. I’ve gotten a lot of that too. I say he has Autism and I get a sad look in return, or they assume I’m some sort of super-mom because I’m still standing, or they even reply with “I’m so sorry”.

Please don’t pity me. I know you mean well, but pity means something is terribly wrong or impossibly hard in my life. Instead, please have a bit of empathy and think that although my job may be harder, I am still just a Mom. I deal with most of the same things other moms do, it just may be a bit differently or later on.

Just be kind and do exactly what you would do to anyone else. Ask his age, where does he go to school, what books or shows does he like, any basic question is welcome and appreciated. Don’t be like the idiot a couple weeks ago who actually responded with “Is he high functioning?”. What if he wasn’t? Does that mean he’s not a real person? He’s doomed?

She’s lucky.
Very lucky I knew going to jail would be both expensive and problematic.

So, that long explanation above is why I choose to say:
“He has Autism” instead  of “He is Autistic”.

-Boog’s Mom
(that likely overthinks everything)

***** P.S. This opinion is mine only and my choice on how to describe Autism. It in no way is trying to paint any dialogue or descriptions in a negative way. This is merely a narrative of my personal thoughts.

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Thursday, September 28, 2017

“Skipping” for Joy

We are truly blessed. A school specifically for children with Autism has opened this school year. That alone is **huge**.  I had been looking for this exact type of school for weeks, but unfortunately was having no luck and feeling horribly frustrated.

I was so sad that we may have to split up our little family in order to find a school out of state when out of the blue a friend told me about this new school. I got off the phone with her and have never made a call so fast. I applied that day. They gave me paperwork to fill out and bring back. I went down to the coffee shop, filled it out and brought it right back. I was probably looking a bit loony, but the school was PERFECT.

As if that isn’t enough, some of the best people Boog has worked with are the faculty! The school had a meet-and-greet a while back and some people probably think I was drugged or insane. I just walked around this completely redone building that was functional, simple, modern and every part designed for children with Autism. I kept hearing more and more wonderful things they planned for the near future. I kept seeing more and more familiar faces of people who have helped my son over these years with love, patience and kind hearts. I was overwhelmed with joy! I literally looked like one of the kids from Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory seeing the vast room of candy for the first time.

Before the school began children that were applied for had to go through a multi-day assessment. Boog knocked it out of the park all by himself. I wasn’t back there with him to cheer him on. He did it himself. He showed them what he could do, was working on and his amazing kind personality. Did I mention I was proud of him?

The school has “levels” instead of grades. I love it so much. Grades are based by age, whereas levels are based on age/academics/independence. I remember kids that had to be “held back” to repeat a grade when I was in school. Looking back I can only imagine how that may have felt. Everyone knew that child had been held back because they weren’t in our classes anymore. Who knows what that did to their confidence or how lasting the effects could be.

I was thrilled to have Boog in Level 2 (they have 1-3) and I was (yet again) incredibly proud of him. Then last week the faculty said they needed to speak with me after school for a moment about Boog, but it was good news. Even though they said it was great news repeatedly to me, I was still so nervous. I broke out in my highly annoying anxiety rash (bright red splotches on my cheeks, neck and chest).

A mother of a child with special needs often has to have meetings and discuss an issue or something that needs to be worked on. That’s why my anxiety started. It’s almost like PTSD. You hear that a meeting is needed and immediately prepare for the news. Sometimes you agree and the meeting is informative and very useful. Sometimes those meetings mean standing your ground, advocating and refusing to back down. Unfortunately my fight or flight response begins when I hear “we need to talk”.

I can honestly say this little meeting was one of my all time best moments of my life.

Boog had only been at the school for about a month and a half and he was already moving to level 3! These caring people took the time to bring me in and tell me face-to-face. I was stunned, elated, proud, thankful, and overjoyed. I cried. Like baby I cried. I stood up and walked over to the CBT we had known the longest, grabbed her and cried.

That in itself is beyond a dream come true. You know what else this means? Boog is *****one***** step away from general education.
General education.

For years I had fought to have Boog in general education for even 30 minutes a day and was denied every time. I wanted him around more than just the same few kids in special education every day. How can you push yourself if you never understand or see the goal in person? It’s like training to swim without using a pool. It’s like not allowing a person to go see a movie just because they’re partially deaf and use sign language to communicate. It’s like not allowing a child to go to recess just because he’s in a wheelchair. My child was segregated. If you think segregation in schools was a thing of the past, you haven’t been paying attention.

Yes, my son is non-verbal and that alone has pigeon-holed him for so long. It didn’t matter that he was typing more and more and his vocabulary was building incredibly fast. For years I have seen children move up to more challenging classes just because they could speak, not based on merit or academics.

The very first meeting I had with the new school’s Director and staff had me floored. She just asked which way Boog preferred to type and on what device. In this school words are words. It doesn’t matter if those words are heard, signed or read.

I’m so used to fighting. I’ve fought for over six years now. This school sees Boog’s potential. They believe me when I tell them he’s doing something new. They understand, and because of this understanding, they see Boog’s abilities and his potential.

There’s no way I can thank them enough, but I will try.

-Boog’s Thankful Mommy

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Wednesday, August 30, 2017

International Peace? No. Internal Peace.

World Peace. I've heard people speak of that wish for as long as I can remember. It's even been the joke that all beauty pageant contestants say it as their greatest wish.

I'm not writing about World Peace.

I'm wishing for Country Peace.

Wow. We've gone that far backwards. I can't help but wonder what people of the past would think.

"Brave people of 1964, you did a great job protesting against the Vietnam War, but it didn't last. We have a new war every week. Wars inside and outside of America." I am sorry.

"Dr. King, I know you wanted the children together. They're no longer separated by segregation laws. They're separated by growing up in a time where lines are being drawn in the sand. People believe you are or you are not. If you aren't, I hate you". I am sorry.

"Mr. Lennon, I know you were one of the loudest protestors. You were never afraid to show the world we needed peace through speech, art and song. Today the songs have no real meaning and none of them can bring people together". I am sorry.

I've been an advocate for children with Autism for nearly six years now. Trying to speak for those who can't. Working for change. Breaking down the stereotypes of children with special needs.

How can I fight for these children when the whole country is becoming more and more divided by the day? I don't have the answers. Not even close. So until I do, I will listen to those who felt the same heartache many years ago. I encourage you to make a playlist of these both beautiful, sad, yet hopeful songs.

1. Marvin Gaye
"Mercy Mercy Me"
Where did all the blue skies go? 
Poison is the wind that blows from the north and south and east".

2. The Youngbloods
"Get Together"
"Love is but a song we sing.
Fear's the way we die.
You can make the mountains ring, or make the angels cry".

3. Credence Clearwater Revival
"Fortunate Son"
"Some folks inherent star-spangled eyes.
They send you down to war.
And when you ask
'How much should I give?'
They only answer, 'More! More! More!'"

4. Bob Dylan
"Blowin in the Wind"
"How many times must the cannonballs fly,
Before they're forever banned?"

"How many times can a man turn his head,
And pretend that he just doesn't see?"

John Lennon
5. "Give Peace a Chance"

6. "Instant Karma"
"Better recognize your bothers,
Every one you meet."

7. "Imagine"
"Imagine all the people, sharing all the land."

8. Elvis Presley
"If I can dream"
"If I can dream of a better land,
Where all my brothers walk hand in hand.
Tell me why can't my dream come true?"

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Friday, August 18, 2017

Winter is Here!

Are you totally disgusted with politics right now?

Do you think "Oh, it can't get any worse", yet the next day it somehow does?

Do you like Game of Thrones?

If you said yes to all above, this is for you. You're welcome.

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Forever Young

Forever Young. As a parent of a child with special needs it can be described in two ways:

1. Your sweet child grows up a bit slower than most.
2. The fear of passing away and leaving your child one day alone. The parent's wish to stay, forever young.

Things are going so great right now. Boog is just doing so many things. He's with the right people and at the right school for this specific time in his life. People who not only understand, but they also believe me when I tell them something new. You'd be surprised how many times over the years people either ignored me because they thought I was just projecting - wanting to believe something happens so much you convince yourself it has. I'm a concrete thinker. If I say it happened, it did. At a time that Boog is getting into more specific interests and doing new things, it's an overwhelming feeling when you know that teacher/therapist gets just as excited as you do. It's a blessing.

I wear myself out time and time again. A good bit of it is due to number 2 up there. I need to work on being thankful for today. I need to appreciate the accomplishments now, instead of immediately jumping to the next project. It's hard, but I'm going to try. I just want to do every single thing I can think of that could possibly help. Having a child who's non-verbal, I try to convey so much. Pages and pages. Notes and notes. Sleepless nights.

So if you're run down, dark circles under your eyes, the laundry is piled up - you're not alone. Just know that you can slow down, you are doing all you can, and screw the laundry (it will never be caught up, I don't think it's possible).

Here are a couple good quotes I've seen recently:

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Sunday, August 13, 2017

Didya Make It?

Congratulations to all the parents out there!!

We have made it through the summer!!

I sort of feel like Tom Hanks in Castaway when he finally makes the fire.

I hope you also made it through and finally have a little (necessary) time for yourself because:

*This post brought to you by Boog's Mommy, who really needs a pedicure, haircut and everything else you have to be alone to do.

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Friday, June 23, 2017

You Want a Piece of Me?

If you thought the title of this blog might also be the lyrics to a Britney Spears song were right! Sorry that it will be in your head all day now 😬

Anyhoo, I just wanted to chat about my opinion of the symbol for Autism, the puzzle piece. This is **just** my opinion and I am by no means trying to throw any sort of shade or spill any kind or flavor of tea. I am actually VERY thankful for the puzzle piece because it is a symbol that makes people think of Autism and isn't used by any other group. For example, the primary colors are also used for LGBTQ+ people and the color blue is used for several other types of awareness.

Now that that's out of the way, I want to explain why I'm over the puzzle piece.

Initially Autism was even more misunderstood and incredibly difficult to pinpoint or even define than it still is today. It totally makes sense - we need to complete the puzzle - we don't know why/how/what Autism really is. It's a puzzle and we need the missing piece(s).

There are so many theories and studies being done because we still don't know everything about Autism. However, we know a lot more than before and for that I am truly thankful.

I guess what I'm trying to state is, I'm not looking for a piece of my son that's missing. My son has Autism and if he didn't he would be a completely different child. I don't want a completely different Boog, so I have all my pieces - does that make sense?

Now that I've been an Autism Mom for several years, I look at the spectrum in a much different way. Yes, I do want science to continue to come up with ways that make life easier for people with Autism. Things like communication, sensory issues, socialization and more. If you think about it, that statement could be used to describe a million other things. We know it's there, we want to help, we need to go forward to help.

I choose to use "Neurodiversity" as my focus. To me it means that there are many, many people of whom think "differently" and we need to celebrate those thought processes too. Neurodiversity isn't just for Autism, it's also about supporting people with ADHD, OCD, BPD, Aspergers, and about a thousand other things that make people who they are. These diagnoses describe a part of who that person is and if removed, most would be a different person.

Here is a partial explaination via Wikipedia:

The entire definition/explaination can be found on Wikipedia here.

Look, I am no scientologist trying to say that mental illness doesn't exist or need treatment. I'm also not going to jump on Oprah's couch or call anyone "glib" either. I just mean that we're starting to understand just how many people think differently. Those people shouldn't feel they are beneath anyone else. Different does not mean less. 

I can look back at my high school and college days and think of so many kids that were just thought of as extremely shy, when in reality they may have had Aspergers and social situations were very hard for them.

So by celebrating and supporting neurodiversity you're including many types of people under that umbrella. Good news: the umbrella is massive and we have room enough for all.

So basically less this:

And more this:

***Again, this is just my very humble opinion and I have absolutely no intention of offending anyone***

Peace, Love & Acceptance,
Boog's Mommy

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Saturday, June 10, 2017

Summer Water Safety

Please share this. So many kids with Autism are attracted to water.

This is a real danger when kids play in water. It's not hard to notice, but here are the signs: 

I made an image of the warning signs you can save, print and share:

There's no such thing as being too safe!

-Boog's Mommy

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