Single Moms Raising Autistic Sons

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Tuesday, March 30, 2010

Cathartic Expression

My friend Jen left a comment that she likes what I do here with a mixture of talking about autism and our other personal life so I am going to respond likewise. I had left a post on here that the "Cathartic Expression" was going to be about our daily activities and this one was just going to be about autism but she changed my mind. So here is what I wrote on that blog:

This is a photo of Mr. Pumpkin the horse that I rode on Friday and Griffin rode yesterday at Free Rein. He is a Halflinger. He looks like a small draft horse and is very gentle. I bet when he is well groomed that he is just gorgeous.

Just hanging out with Griffin who is out of school today because I overslept due to my Fibromyalgia and then I couldn’t take him to school because I didn’t have enough gas. Good thing that I get money in the bank tomorrow!

I feel so terrible today, so very tired and weak but I refuse to lie down and sleep the day away. I have to fight the Fibro. or it will rule my life and get the best of me. Dr. Husted wants me to exercise in spite of feeling this way and I am here to tell you that it is nearly impossible to do that! Imagine not sleeping for days how you would feel….do you think that you would have the motivation to exercise?

My dear friend Stephen is sending me $100.00 out of the kindness of his heart because he knows that Griffin and I struggle and that we live below the poverty line, that it is very hard for me to put food on the table every month. We only get $44.00 in food stamps and we are lucky to get that much! Food is the major expense other than the big bills that we have. I swear I spend well over $200.00 a month on food plus I have to buy food for the dog and cat too. Stephen is so very kind and has such a big heart to reach out and help us like that. That is so very rare these days and I am so very grateful for his generosity. I am so blessed to have such a wonderful friend, to have such a great group of support in my Facebook and blogging friends, and then there are the friends that I have outside of that with whom I communicate with online. It is a shame that the friends that I have here in person never answer their phones or return their calls. Griffin has been crying and having meltdowns over wanting to see his godmother and she just won’t respond.

It is not for me to judge because everyone has their own life and I do not know why one is or is not acting upon my requests. I love my friends unconditionally and that is NO MATTER WHAT! When it comes down to it and I really need help they are there for me. They helped me move here from SC and helped to furnish my apartment and we used to hang out together but it just kind of petered out. So, my online friends are my close friends too and right now they are the ones who help me the most. I am addicted to Facebook for a very good reason.

Sunday, March 28, 2010

World Autism Awareness Day is coming up and I wanted to get a head start on letting people know and not waiting until it is already here to make an announcement. Now is the time to make arrangements to celebrate on April 2nd 2010 by wearing BLUE. It is time to share stories on your blogs, on facebook, on twitter, or wherever. It is time to tell people that you know about autism if you haven't already, to make them aware of signs and symptoms and behaviors of autism spectrum that are so vast that they may not even realize. It is time to be prepared for April 2nd. It is just around the corner.

Go to your local Autism Society and see if they have those handy little business cards that explain autism and why a child is having a meltdown and what is going on that they may be observing in a grocery store or something. Maybe it is a good time to look up resources that you have been meaning to research through the Autism Society or some local organization/group. Network with other parents to help out newly diagnosed parents who might be struggling and feel overwhelmed. Reach out to someone who is a single parent with an autistic child, I know firsthand that she is in need of support!

There is always something that can be done to help others in some small way and even if you are just on facebook and you have friends with autistic children just drop by and give them some support, just let them know that you care. Sometimes that is enough to give them a huge relief to know that someone really cares about them. Let's all stick together....We can all get through it together.....Support is all we need!!!!

Saturday, March 27, 2010

You Decide If This Man is Autistic. He Solved a Hundred Year Old Math Problem

A reclusive genius, Dr. Grigori Perelman, famously solved one of the world's most complicated math problems, the one-hundred-year-old Poincaré conjecture, and is now refusing to accept a $1 million prize from the Clay Mathematics Institute for doing so!
The 44 year old man apparently prefers to live in St. Petersburg, Russia with his mom and sister, and has been given the nickname Mathsputin.

According to neighbors:
"He always wears the same tatty coat and trousers. He never cuts his nails or beard. When he walks he simply stares at the ground, rather than looking from side to side."
"I was once in his flat and I was astounded. He only has a table, a stool and a bed with a dirty mattress which was left by previous owners — alcoholics who sold the flat to him."
However, there's no denying this man is a genius! Perelman solved the Poincaré conjecture in 2002, and it took YEARS for experts to confirm he was correct!!

When reporters attempted to contact him, he responded, "You are disturbing me. I am picking mushrooms."

We are officially in love with this guy.

(Since finding this article I have found some that were much more thorough and intelligent follow this link)

Now is that an autistic savant or what? Even if he is not a savant he is still undisputibly on the spectrum!

Friday, March 26, 2010

The I.E.P. Went Very Well, I Got What I Wanted

I got to speak with the advocate from the Autism Society first, right before the meeting, and she said that she had spoken to the district autism specialist for the schools and that he had some good things to say about Griffin's goals. So she didn't feel that there was anything to be worried about as far as Griffin losing services.

The resource teacher (RT) spoke most of the time as she was the one who was reading all the findings of the tests that had been run and there were lots! The Vineland and CARS and I cannot recall the others. They didn't have my copies ready to send home with me today but as soon as I get them I will post again and update on what was done. So, his teacher was there (Mrs. L) and the principal (P), the autism specialist (AS) and Griffin's case manager (Robert).

I set up the tape recorder right away and nobody had a problem with it. The meeting went smoothly and I found out a lot about how he behaves in school, how he must have his routine in school (big surprise there!), how he responds to his peers, how he needs a great deal of prompting in all that he does, he is superior to his peers in reading and spelling but delayed in reading comprehension, he is a happy child all in all and likes all of his peers but does not play with or parallel to them and there was some question as to whether he even notices them or not. Because Griffin has moments when he does not seem lucid but instead seems completely absent in thought and response the AS and the autism advocate from the Autism Society brought up that I should seriously consider having him tested for absent seizures or is it absence seizures? I have never heard of them but I am calling his doctor on Monday and making an appointment to discuss having the test run. Apparently, according to them, I would have to keep him up all night long and then take him in for an EEG when they will try to induce a seizure with lights and sounds.

The teacher Mrs. L did not have a lot to say throughout the entire meeting until the end when she did respond to me asking that there be more communication between us as to how Griffin is behaving, playing/or not, how he is doing academically, how he is eating (lack of eating could contribute to undesirable behaviors), and just overall whether he had a good day or not. I communicate with her and it is only fair to Griffin that she do the same. The autism advocate had so many great ideas and all of them were so useful and applicable. They were all geared to help Griffin to be more independent and to not be reliant on verbal or human prompts. Since the IEP will follow him into the 3rd grade it is important that he become more and more independent.

Homework!!! I got what I asked for and that was to be able to decide what is too much for him on any given day. If he is out-of-sorts and having an off day then maybe he is not able to do all his work or any of it for that matter. It will be up to me to decide and that is the way that it should be because I have tried everything possible to help him and nothing has helped him only made things worse. He even stopped responding to positive rewards and taking computer breaks and yes, I tried a visual schedule and a timer too. What a huge relief that is for both of us!

That is enough for now. I will update as I get the papers back and have more details from the IEP. I had my first Hippotherapy today (horseback riding therapy) and it was wonderful! My legs are going to be sore, it takes a lot of muscle work to stay erect on a horse and not fall off. It was amazing though. My horse's name is Mr. Pumpkin and he is a Halflinger, he looks like a small draft horse....gorgeous!

For the First Time, a Census of Autistic Adults

This is a great and encouraging article about adults living with autism. It gives hope that children with autism can live independent and productive lives. The statistics weren't really known until now so it is really good news that there are so many autistic adults out in the world functioning on their own. Just click on the link above.

Thursday, March 25, 2010

When Griffin Was Just A Little Guy

Here he is with his weighted vest on lining up chess pieces just perfectly. Now is that an autistic trait or what? I believe that he is under 2 years old here, it could be that it is right after his diagnosis which was at 18 months. The weighted vest worked wonders for him and helped to keep him calm. By this time he had had early intervention since age 15 months and it certainly made a huge difference! I am a big advocate for early intervention because I believe that Griffin would not be high functioning today had it not been for that.
Here is Griffin eating a little bit of everything which he used to do before moving from Alaska. He ate vegetables, fruit, and meat back then but once we moved and he turned 5 years old it stopped and since then he mostly eats carbs, a bit of fruit, some chicken, no more fish, hot dogs, and more carbs! Gone are the days of variety.....if he had his way it would be pizza every night and chips. I don't know what happened but that transition threw him for a loop I guess and changed his life around. But I have heard that many kids, not just autistic kiddos, eat lots of carbs and have limited diets. I am not sure if Griffin's preferences have to do with textures or not but it does seem so because he either likes very dry and crispy like chips or kind of spicy like pepperoni on his pizza. He is sensitive to temperature too. How many of your kids out there have very picky diets? Also if he has cheese, it has to be extra sharp and he likes the tangyness of vanilla yogurt too.

I think that by the way that he eats that his mouth likes to get a lot of information/stimulation from strong tastes such as lots of garlic on his noodles and he likes the taste of ginger too. When he crunches chips that is giving his mouth information through crunching. His Occupational Therapist discussed this with me a couple of weeks ago. Griffin has low muscle tone throughout his entire body including his mouth so when he eats certain foods he gets stimulated by them. In speech, we are working on the Sh, Ch, Th sounds and the forming of the Oh sound and Wh sound. This takes more effort for him than the average kid. But he has begun to correct himself when he is talking which is exciting, it means that he is interested in being understood when he talks.

Tuesday, March 23, 2010

Horseback Riding Therapy for Griffin

Yesterday was Griffin's second horseback riding therapy session. Here is a picture of the first lesson when he rides, Pumpkin. As you can see by the big smile on his face that he just loved it. I should have brought my camera yesterday because they let him ride backwards and sideways on the horse and even trot for a few minutes.....boy, did he ever love that!

My first riding session will be on Friday and I can't wait. We are only going to groom on the first session but that's okay, it will be therapeutic either way. Not much else to report because the IEP isn't until the 26th so I will update on that after it happens. Maybe Friday I will post after my first session. Got to head out to my therapist's office right now....where would I be if not for my therapist?

My Fibromyalgia is flaring up and my doctor deity gave me Nuvigil to take to give me energy and it lasts 15 hours! I still had to take a nap this morning but I feel good right now so I guess that it is working.

Thursday, March 18, 2010

CAFE Bonnie: Coffee Autism Faith Explored

CAFE Bonnie: Coffee Autism Faith Explored

This is a new blog that I discovered that Bonnie writes. She is the speaker, author, and the founder of National Autism Resources and she has a son who is on the spectrum. I found her blog to be very informative and quite enjoyable to read. There is no rambling and going on about personal problems but just pleasant insights and great resources.

I plan to highlight the National Autism Resources blog and business website very soon, so be on the lookout for that because they are fantastic and full of information as well.

Griffin was at his worst last night as far as getting his homework done. His behavior was not bad but he was just so distracted it was just horrible! I swear that I have tried every trick in the book: the timer, the schedule, taking breaks, taking away privileges, being firm, being super patient, reward system, doing work in the morning vs. doing it at night, always sitting with him to be there for help when he needs it and to help him focus, reminding him every 4 minutes to do his work and to stop staring out into space, I have tried giving him sensory time when he takes breaks like playing with play-doh or jumping on the mini-tramp or drawing or reading or whatever I can think of...... Nothing works!!!!

Anyone have any ideas? The IEP is scheduled for the 26th and the advocate from the Autism Society is going with me. We are supposed to meet for coffee soon to go over some information about Griffin beforehand. I am so eager to get this meeting started and done with to finally have some goals for Griffin. He has been without an IEP for a few months now and I know that is not legal but they did it. And before that he was on his 1st grade IEP because they wouldn't grant me the meeting that I practically begged for since August.

I am seriously thinking about changing schools in the fall to a school that has an autism program. Even though Griffin would be in a mainstream classroom he would have the expertise of the autism teacher within the school to use as a reference for his teacher. And maybe he would actually get to do some activities with the other autistic students. I will keep you updated.

Monday, March 15, 2010

Autism through the lifespan #1: Diagnosis Autism

Autism through the lifespan #1: Diagnosis Autism

Posted using ShareThis

Getting a diagnosis is often a life-altering event.
Part one of a nine-part series covering autism’s impact through the lifespan. Erika Beras, behavioral health reporter at WDUQ in Pittsburgh, reports.

Autism is a neural-developmental disorder characterized by social and communication impairments and repetitive or restricted interests. The rates of autism are drastically up – some years ago, it was 1 out of 10,000. Just a few years ago, it was 1 out of 500. When I started doing the interviews for these stories the rate was 1 out of 150. Since then, the CDC has released data that it now affects 1 in 110 and possibly 1 out of 100. That’s one percent.
So who are all of these people? Are these new cases? And why? Or are these children or adults who have never been diagnosed or were diagnosed with other things?
We’ll attempt to answer these questions. Along the way we’ll meet dozens of children and adults with autism – and their parents, teachers, doctors- in the Southwestern Pennsylvania area.
For anyone with autism, the journey officially begins with the diagnosis. But before you get a diagnosis, there are signs that something is amiss.
Parents usually notice the signs in the first two years of life.
Sherri Barnett, Joy McDaniel and Patti McCloud.
Sherri Barnett: My brother watched him one day and a friend of his came over, his son was autistic. He looked at my brother and he said ‘Do you know your nephew is autistic?’ And my brother went, ‘what the heck is that?’
Joy McDaniel: We were a military family and I noticed she was just different than the other children. Pleasant. Oh so pleasant, so sweet, so funny. But she didn’t have the vocabulary or like the, what’d you call, like baby-trash words. We went to the military hospital and went to see the pediatrician and he said, ‘No two children are alike.’
Patti McCloud: We have four grandchildren that were born in the same year in my family, I come from a family of ten so there are a lot of grandchildren. Jordan was born first in March and then there were three others born in the same year. Jordan was developing slower than all of the other kids.
Some children develop typically and then around age 3 seem to begin to regress- losing the language or motor skills they had learned. Experts say an ideal diagnosis should occur before age 3 and treatments, such as language and behavioral interventions should begin immediately afterward.
There’s not one symptom but a variety of symptoms. For example, some kids will have great eye contact but no language. And within autism there are different classifications. There’s classic autism, there’s pervasive developmental disorder, there’s Aspergers.
Diagnosis is based on behavior. There is no cause. There is no cure.
More and more it seems like autism is part of our national discourse. But for many of the people I talked to for these stories, autism was something they had never really heard of. Except in one case.
Rainman the movie: Raymond! Raymond! Am I using you Raymond! Yeah… Shut up! He is answering a question from a half-hour ago!
Lynn Cass: Oddly enough, the first movie my husband and I saw together when we were dating was Rainman and that was pretty much all I knew so when the pediatrician said to me, he might have autism, I said to myself, well he can’t have autism because he’s not…I looked it up online and I thought about what that movie was and I thought, oh, well that’s not him. And now, all these years later, I realize if you meet one child with autism, what you’ve met is one child with autism they’re all so vastly different.
That’s Lynn Cass whose son Alex, now 12, has autism.
Much of the last decade has been about her and her husband educating themselves about autism.
He is non-verbal and has his quirks but his parents say he has come a long way. Much of it the result of early intervention behavioral services. Experts say the earlier you get those services, the better the person’s long-term outcome.
In some cases though, a diagnosis may not come until the teen years. Pam Nocera’s son Vince is now 24. From the time he was a year old, she says he didn’t show any interest in interacting with other kids.
Pam Nocera: At the time, I asked questions, I had him tested at various places and nobody could ever tell me what the problem was because he wasn’t a behavioral problem in school, he was smart, his grades were good and those seem to be two things that when they are testing, they look at those two things for signs and he wasn’t exhibiting any of those signs so they weren’t able to tell me what was going on but as a mother I knew something was different.
It wasn’t until he was 15 that Vince was diagnosed.
Vince Nocera: I had uniquenesses about me that I didn’t exactly fit in so to speak with those directly around me, direct peers, but I never thought a great deal of it because in so many words, everybody is different anyway. So…yeah, but still, I did think that I would be unique to a point where it would be conspicuous.
Pam Nocera: Its weird cause its like, sometimes I feel almost easier to think, well, I have a son whose a little bit different, ok, I’ll deal with it but then you have a son whose different and this is an actual diagnosis that goes with it, it changes it up a little bit.
Increasingly there are adults getting diagnosed.
Caitlan Freedman: I was actually diagnosed quite recently. I’m thirty now, I was diagnosed at 29 and this was after several years of research on my part and trying to figure out what was going on because I knew that I was not processing information like other people and I’ve known this from a very young age.
That’s Caitlan Freedman. Asperger’s Syndrome, which she has, wasn’t an official diagnosis until she was 14. Although as a child she exhibited many signs, her parents were very protective of her and didn’t want labeled with anything.
Caitlan Freedman: At that point, autism as a diagnosis was a sentence for being institutionalized. And my parents knew there was something going on but they didn’t want to, I think, to pursue it as aggressively as maybe they should have.
She says it was sort of liberating getting a diagnosis.
Caitlan Freedman: I felt kind of relieved in that I never quite knew whether it was just all in my head because I had so many people tell me, “Oh your just not trying hard enough, oh, if you just tried harder to you know, talk with people, you’d do there’s nothing wrong with you, if you just put a little more effort into it – and I was putting so much effort, I was struggling so much.
Her partner Phil was diagnosed 6 years ago. He’s 46.
Phil Garrow: There was a time after I was diagnosed, there was a period of regrouping, there was a period of saying, OK. Here’s what it is and you are never going to get better from it. There was no amount of therapy, I had had about twenty years of therapy by that time.
It wasn’t an easy thing to hear.
Phil Garrow: I suffered a little bit of a depression, about a month after the diagnosis, to be able to come down and decide what I was going to do with my life now that I knew what the problem was.
For many people, a diagnosis is often coming after they’ve had a wrong diagnosis.
As a child Jeff Hudale was diagnosed with schizophrenia.
Jeff Hudale: When the doctors did some EEGs and the like on me and they saw wait a minute these brain cells don’t match up with a schizo, its like, this is something different.
He was a teenager then and says the new diagnosis didn’t really have much bearing on him.

Jeff Hudale:
It was kind of I thought I had this and now I have that.
Its really unsure for some people what it actually means. For some it may be the end. Of sort of wondering and some uncertainty. But for others it’s kind of the beginning. Kim and Richard Antesinis’s nine-year-old son is severely autistic.
Kim Antesinis: We were kind of relieved because we had a diagnosis and we thought that would give us a path to follow and we could work on fixing it and have some resolutions. But there are no resolutions.
Richard Antesinis: The day it happened, it was devastating. The doctor told us our son would never speak to us. Would never be able to take care of himself or feed himself or use the restroom by himself or any of these kinds of things. And he was 16 months old.
Some parents say a diagnosis is sort of its own living entity. It changes with everything else around it.
Lynn Cass: I think that how you cope with a diagnosis evolves over time. I think its still evolving now. Because now that he’s 12 years old, now I’m starting to think about and worry about what is he going to do and be as an adult. Where will he live, what will he be able to do, who will take care of him. Friends of mine and myself we all say to one other, well, I've got to live forever, because who will take care of him 20, 30, 40 years from now.
Erika Beras reports on behavioral health issues for WDUQ in Pittsburg, PA.

Sunday, March 14, 2010

"Nerlika" an Autism Service Dog in Canada....Guest Spot

I found this wonderful blog that you can access above and I do encourage you to do so, because there are some beautiful pictures that I didn't include. It is about Nerlika the autism service dog for Anwen who lives in Canada. I got permission by the mother/author of the blog to publish this because I think that it is a great story and that it should be shared with the world. So many people do not realize that there are even autism service dogs out there and available, I have found that most people do not understand that a service dog can help an autistic individual. Getting stories out like this one helps others to understand what it is that they can do to be so helpful in the everyday lives of the individual and the family. This is their story:

Nerlika is a wonderful Siberian Husky, who aids Anwen in her daily functions.

It is hard to explain to a person who does not understand autism, or an autistic child what the role of a working dog can do.

1. My autistic children do not sleep as long as regular children, they are up quite late, and up early, Nerlika is being trained to bark when they leave their bed, or if they are running the taps and/or Nerlika comes to get me if they are doing something they shouldn't in the wee hours of the morning.

2. My children are prone to outbursts, or shutting down in public loud places, Nerlika is like a comforter blanket, or a child’s soother, she is there to calm them down, to give them a constant presence while they learn to deal with the situation, or to wait it out with constant love and affection while they come to terms with the environment around them.

3. They are prone to bolt in parking lots, or wander off, Nerlika is there to make sure they are close at hand, or if they strya a bit to let out a bark, so that way I can juggle all 3 children in public with more ease and confidence.

4. My children had a very hard time with getting their hair wet, or washing their hair, brushing their teeth, or letting me know they were hungry, since they are often at times in their own world, feeding the dog, bathing the dog, cleaning up after the dog, made them aware that they have to do the same things. When the dog has her big breakfast, so do they, and eat they can. When the dog brushes her teeth, they race to do the same.

5. Nerlika has awoken some speech in the kids, they want to interact with her, and to teach her key commands, or speak sit, stay, or down, she is just 2 years old, and still learning, but the kids help out in any way they can. Most of Nerlika's commands are hand gestures, so all 3 children can talk to her.

6. Nerlika is not socialized with other dogs, she is treated like a person and a member of our family unit, she is not encouraged to play with other dogs, or when her vest is on, no one but the children are allowed to touch her.

7. Nerlika is also being trained during this summer, about the kids swimming and being in water, she will wade out and herd them back in, or bark if they are too far, she was the first dog allowed in the West Edmonton mall Waterslides, and did very well. She did not bark, cower, or cause any problems but watched the children and provided Anwen with a constant comfort until she was ready to play, and play she did, she looked like a normal child by the time she got relaxed enough to get wet.

8. Nerlika barks not a lot in the back yard, but a couple times to let me know, someone is close to our space, or my truck. People do not understand that because they look like they are 7, 6 and 4, that they have the mental ability to know stranger danger, My children will go off with strangers, Nerlika is trained and encouraged to let out a couple of barks until I either pop my head out or come outside to see, until she sees my face, she will continue to bark and warn the person to back away. My neighbors have failed to take the time to spend time with Nerlika so she knows them, I asked them repeatedly to do so but gave up a year ago.

* Nerlika is always by Anwen's side since she is almost non verbal. When Anwen has a meltdown it takes me almost 30 minutes to make her more comfortable, since Nerlika has been at her side, she is able to draw her out much quicker, and give her the confidence to get out and see the world around her. This summer has been the best in getting out and about. All thanks to having Nerlika was I able to juggle the children, go to the PNE, Camping, Galaxy Land, Waterslides, and feel that the kids were safe.  I can relax and be a much better parent with Nerlika in our family unit.

Saturday, March 13, 2010

Autistic program projects prepare students for the real world

Autistic program projects prepare students for the real world

By Haley Landgraff | Seaholm Highlander

Walk downstairs into the special education wing on any given day during second hour, and chances are you will find 17 kids hard at work, stringing beads together to make jewlery, cutting and gluing cards together, or shaping sticky dough into the form of a dog biscuit.

These are snapshots of the many things that keep Seaholm’s autistic program hard at work on a daily basis, creating tokens to signify their accomplishments as well as things to sell around the community.

“The Christmas cards are the main focus of September and they go until mid-November. We sell them to parents, teachers within Birmingham and we also go to craft shows,” said special education teacher Kristen Ziebell. “Our main focus right now is Christmas cards; we’re expanding soon and doing birthday cards and hopefully thank you cards.”

The sales happen all over Birmingham, helping the kids see the progression of their work.

“We have [sold at] the Bingham Farms School craft fair which is in the fall. I have spent many Saturdays selling these at conferences,” said special education teacher Debra Lloyd. “Hopefully we’ll be able to go to the farmer’s market for a couple of Sundays and have a table set up there. I’ll take some of the boys to help me sell.”

The selling of the dog biscuits uses a different approach.

“The dog biscuits sales are online,” said Ziebell.

“We sell them to staff here,” said special education teacher Karen Mellott.

“We put flyers in their mailbox occasionally.”

The program allows for every child to participate, regardless of their level of autism.

“There are 17 kids in the program, and all of them participate,” said Ziebell. “Each classroom has three different businesses.”

With the three different businesses, there is something for every kid to help them feel like they accomplished something.

“The dog biscuits we make are for the lower functioning kids,” said Ziebell. “Then we do beading. We do key chains which have either bigger beads or smaller beads for each level. And then we have the cards, and both the lower functioning kids and higher functioning kids can participate because there’s gluing, there’s stamping, there’s punching, there’s cutting, so it just depends on their level of what they can do. They each participate in something for each business.”

Every child in the program is given the opportunity to work to their potential, as well as move forward with their work when they’ve improved.

“Half of our kids can do the beading well,” said Lloyd. “We try and get the other half to start with the bigger beads that we may not necessarily sell, but just to get them into the fact that they have to follow a pattern. Hopefully, we will get more ‘beaders’ as time goes on.”

The way the business is set up gives the kids involved a chance to see the process from start to finish, and enjoy every part of it.

“The kids love it. It’s something different,” said Ziebell. “They actually get to see the finished product. They go to craft shows and they go to conferences and sell and they actually see it unfold.”

“I’ve taken a couple of the kids on Saturdays and they help me sell,” said Lloyd. “They can see that we make it not just to make it, but for a purpose.”

The money they make from the business reimburses them for the supplies used, but also helps them to purchase some things for the program and also have a few special treats.

“Most of the money we put into buying more things, but if we have extra money we buy some things for the classrooms,” said Lloyd. “In years past, we’ve taken our peer mentors out with us for a day off of school to a movie and out to lunch. So it’s kind of one for all and all for one, and everybody has fun.”

The reaction the instructors get from their students makes the whole process worthwhile, and the kids feel important for their accomplishments.

“They’re very proud. They’ve actually been interviewed by the news several times and they’ve been on TV,” said Ziebell. “When we play it back for the kids they have huge smiles on their faces.”

The ultimate goal of the project is to prepare the students for their lives after high school, and to encourage them that they can do anything they set their minds too.

“We were trying to find something for them because after high school our kids go to a secondary program and we’re trying to help prepare them for a real life situation,” Ziebell said. “They get jobs after high school, so we thought we would start in the classroom and build it to a real life situation.”


Please share this news with friends, family and also with your contact list on Twitter, Facebook and MySpace.

Friday, March 12, 2010

A Special Photo for Our Irish Friends

This photo is for all my (over 200) Irish friends on Facebook who are so kind and wonderful whom I love dearly. This is one of Griffin's favorite shirts so I had him model it for the camera and for all of our friends. And Abby had to be in the photo too of course.

Still waiting for the IEP by the end of the month, will keep you updated. Griffin is still doing great. I got some great news yesterday.....Griffin and I both got full scholarships for horseback riding therapy! He will go once a week on an afternoon and I will go on Friday morning! It is called Free Rein and they are just super fanstatic people there. I am so excited! Griffin started horseback riding therapy last year but we couldn't afford the gas plus it wasn't a full scholarship so he had to stop but he missed it when he couldn't go. So now he is excited again.

I want to sign him up for special needs baseball but don't think that I will have enough money to do so because I had to replace the window switch on my Volvo and it was $300.00! Then my computer crashed, the one that had all my school work on it and it ended up being $75.00! So financially this month I am not doing too good. Good thing we have enough food, hope we have enough $ for gas to get to all of our medical and therapy appointments the rest of this month. We have so many each week between the two of us.

I feel bad though because I owe so many of my friends money and I was not able to pay them back this month after the car and the computer fiasco. I sure hope that they understand because I know that they were depending on me paying them money this month. I hate it when I can't pay back money that I owe especially when it is to my friends. They were there to help me out when I needed them and now I can't come through for them, not that I can help it but still....

We had a thunderstorm today! It is so nice to have one instead of snow! I just love that spring is just around the corner!!!

Monday, March 08, 2010

NO I.E.P., New Diet is Working Great, and Some Really Good News

I spoke with the same woman who told me that I would have an IEP this week and she re-negged on me and said that they would not finished observing and testing Griffin until the end of the month. She said that there was some question as to whether Griffin needed services or not and there was some who contested that he did need services and that is why it was taking so long. And I asked why I had no say or part in the whole matter and she said that I would get my chance to do so at the IEP. I don't think that that is satisfactory for me and I am going to call the Autism Society and see what they have to say about that.

The woman told me that they are still using the ( expired/outdated 1st grade ) IEP from South Carolina where we moved from in July and he hasn't attended school in a year. Their deadline was Jan. 26th for the IEP and I don't see how they can get around that. I just feel like I am being jacked around here, does anyone else get the feeling that that is happening to me? I swear if I didn't have school myself I would just keep Griffin out of school until I was granted an IEP and tell them to deal with it without him around but that would be doing Griffin a great disservice, it would not be fair to him to keep him out of school.

We went to see his psychologist today and we both agreed that Griffin, now that he has been off of the refined sugar and on the low-glycemic diet, is so subdued that it is time to decrease his Abilify. Griffin is so mellow now it is amazing but most of the time he is too mellow. I swear I thought that I would never be saying that! Even when Griffin went into my doctor's office he said that Griffin was far more calm than usual. Sure I let him cheat here and there but it doesn't make a huge difference that is not unless it is candy and in that case I can see immediate results! But McDonald's now and then is okay and potato chips sometimes is okay....I am not going to expect him to give up all the stuff in life that he loves so much. I haven't decided yet if I am going to tell his doctor yet or not. I don't care if she cares or not frankly, because it is working regardless. I am giving him 1/2 a packet of "good yeast" to replace the bad yeast that may be present in his tummy but I don't think that Griffin has yeast because if he did then he would have had a fit when I took away all his candy and refined sugar because his body would have craved it. He hasn't even asked me for ketchup.

I bought him sweet potato fries at home and he loves do I and they are so good for us too. I found some ice cream that is sweetened with Maltitol instead of sugar and diabetic cookies sweetened with it too. He has had no complaints and I am so happy. He has also been eating fresh fruit when I can find it inexpensive like bananas or apples or grapes.

My computer crashed and I have to take it in tomorrow. Don't know what happened but it won't boot from the hard drive. It only wants to boot from cd. I dread finding out what has happened and how much it costs. It has all my e-mail addresses and ALL my school work on it! I feel impending DOOM!!!!

I do have a bit of good news though......I made a 95 on my first Psychology101 exam!!! I am so happy and I love the class, lots of work though. It is keeping me so busy. I hardly have time for facebook anymore and definitely not for TV (cable) that I just got for Griffin. Wish that I had time to watch a movie or a show now and then but I have so much reading to do! Speaking of.....Got to go do that right now.

Hey, if I had your e-mail address before please send it to me privately (on facebook) so that I can have it  again....Thanks!!

Sunday, March 07, 2010

I Finally Have Someone's Attention.....Getting an I.E.P.

I was talking to my apartment manager who also has an autistic son but in another school (high school) and she got upset when she heard me tell her that Griffin's IEP had expired and that they had not granted me another one yet. So she made some phone calls then gave me a number to call. The person who I called was someone very important in the district either the superintendent or someone higher up because I truly got her attention when I told her what was going on.

I told her that I had been requesting an IEP since the beginning of school in August and that the school was dragging their feet and that I had not been taken seriously and just been blown off the entire time, that Griffin has been tested for months and observed over and over with no results. So she said that she would call the school to find out what was going on.

By this time it was already after 5:00 p.m. but she took me seriously and was going to get results for me. She called back and said that she got in touch with a man forgot his position but someone from the district, who was familiar with Griffin. This man said that Griffin had been receiving services special ed and speech that THEY had decided to keep him in. I chimed in very quickly to let her know that I had been left out of the loop the entire time that he had been in school and that I was NOT part of the team and that that was NOT acceptable to me and that I was entitled to an IEP a long time ago. She did the math and figured out that legally they were supposed to have had the IEP by January 26th. So legally they are way out of line and could be in big trouble if I chose to go that route.

She, having realized this mistake, quickly told me that she promised me that there would be a meeting this coming week no matter what. That she would be in touch with me on Monday and let me know when it would be. The only problem with that is that it is such a short notice for the advocate at the Autism Society I hope that she is able to come to the meeting with me. I am going to be so prepared with notes in hand and I am going to take the tape recorder and record the entire meeting. If they do not offer an apology I am going to diplomatically demand one. That is the least that they can do. I want an explanation why there has been no communication with me as to how Griffin has been doing in his class and why he has been regressing since our move to North Carolina......something is going on and nobody has let me know what is up.

His speech teacher told me that he has a self-esteem problem and not a speech problem and that pisses me off and so untrue. Griffin is a happy-go-lucky guy and obviously has a speech problem which his private speech teacher has acknowledged. He never used to have the problem nor with his handwriting but he has regressed since July and I just wish that I knew why. I just hope that he is not being bullied like his psychologist suggested might be happening because how am I to know especially if his teacher is not paying any attention to him? I asked her to show this tape that I have that is a program on bullying but she refused to and I am trying so hard and she just is not cooperating. What else should I do?????? 

Wednesday, March 03, 2010

Wine....It is Healthy......It's Official....and I Love It!!!!

A Glass of Wine Every Day May Be Good in Six Ways


Debra Gordon

The list of wine’s benefits is long—and getting more surprising all the time. Already well-known as heart healthy, wine in moderation might help you lose weight, reduce forgetfulness, boost your immunity, and help prevent bone loss.

With America likely to edge out France and Italy in total wine consumption in the near future, according to one analyst, and with women buying more than 6 out of every 10 bottles sold in this country, we’re happy to report that wine may do all of the following:

1. Feed your head

Wine could preserve your memory. When researchers gave memory quizzes to women in their 70s, those who drank one drink or more every day scored much better than those who drank less or not at all. Wine helps prevent clots and reduce blood vessel inflammation, both of which have been linked to cognitive decline and heart disease, explains Tedd Goldfinger, DO, of the University of Arizona School of Medicine. Alcohol also seems to raise HDL, the so-called good cholesterol, which helps unclog your arteries.

2. Keep the scale in your corner

Studies find that people who drink wine daily have lower body mass than those who indulge occasionally; moderate wine drinkers have narrower waists and less abdominal fat than people who drink liquor. Alcohol may encourage your body to burn extra calories for as long as 90 minutes after you down a glass. Beer seems to have a similar effect.

3. Boost your body’s defenses

In one British study, those who drank roughly a glass of wine a day reduced by 11% their risk of infection by Helicobacter pylori bacteria, a major cause of gastritis, ulcers, and stomach cancers. As little as half a glass may also guard against food poisoning caused by germs like salmonella when people are exposed to contaminated food, according to a Spanish study.

4. Guard against ovarian woes

When Australian researchers recently compared women with ovarian cancer to cancer-free women, they found that roughly one glass of wine a day seemed to reduce the risk of the disease by as much as 50 percent. Earlier research at the University of Hawaii produced similar findings. Experts suspect this may be due to antioxidants or phytoestrogens, which have high anticancer properties and are prevalent in wine. And in a recent University of Michigan study, a red wine compound helped kill ovarian cancer cells in a test tube.

5. Build better bones

On average, women who drink moderately seem to have higher bone mass than abstainers. Alcohol appears to boost estrogen levels; the hormone seems to slow the body’s destruction of old bone more than it slows the production of new bone.

6. Prevent blood-sugar trouble

Premenopausal women who drink one or two glasses of wine a day are 40 percent less likely than women who don’t drink to develop type 2 diabetes, according to a 10-year study by Harvard Medical School. While the reasons aren’t clear, wine seems to reduce insulin resistance in diabetic patients.