Tuesday, December 30, 2014

Monumental Little Things

I always say it's the little things in life that mean the most. And dealing with autism, that couldn't be more true. I say now, and I will always believe, that I am so blessed because I don't skip over all the little things with my son. With him, the little things for others are HUGE things!

With all of that said, today is a monumental little thing day. (side note: Monumental Mondays sounds kinda good....I may need to do that!) All he's been talking about the last few weeks has been a D30. For you non-gamers out there, a D30 is a 30 sided die. My son LOVES dice, and we like gaming. But none of us have had a D30. When my son found this out, it became an obsession. D30s are not exactly cheap, at least usually they aren't. But as luck would have it, we were blessed to find a set that had some rather rare dice for less than $8.00 shipped with 2 day shipping. Of course I order this on a non business day, so it took 4 days. 4 days of him watching for the mail man. 4 days of building excitement and non-stop dreaming about HIS D30!

The monumental day was today. Tracking confirmed the D30 was out for delivery. We waited so patiently (haha, yeah right!) and made our trip to the mailbox to discover NO PACKAGE! Say WHAT?! How could this be?! He cried. He was so upset! There was NO package, all that build up, gone. WHERE WAS IT????? I calm him down, and we check the tracking info. Silly mommy that I am, I thought it said USPS when it really said UPS.  We were back on! Queue phone call from the doctor that sent me out right then for some lab work (I'm ok, don't be alarmed!) and when we came back we just knew we'd find that much anticipated package. We checked on the side deck, No dice. We checked the back deck, No dice. Surely UPS would not place a package in the mailbox, so I came in to contact them. Of course it if says that it has been delivered, which is said it had, you have to contact the SELLER per UPS contact page. Sigh....where was the package of DICE?

As it turns out, it was in the mailbox all along. He's now been playing for the last 90 minutes with his D30. He's called his mamaw, he's been showing it off to friends....he's so happy with his $8.00 package of dice. And that, my friends, is being blessed by the little things. This is a day I'll never forget, and I'm sure he won't either!

Sunday, December 28, 2014

2015 Goals

Earlier, Lisa over at Golden Grasses issued a challenge to blog about our 2015 goals. 

I once read a motivational type article that said, instead of making resolutions of change, such as losing x amount of weight, to set more realistic goals like, "don't gain weight." So I've pretty much lived by that the last few years. There's only one problem with this. If you WANT change, you have to make a GOAL for CHANGE! Just simply setting a goal for no negative change doesn't really help matters. So,Lisa...Challenge accepted!

Here are my personal 2015 Goals:

Professional: 

I want to install a new scheduling software that will allow me to schedule photography clients, send out billing invoices, etc. 

I hope to have my studio up to par. I have a lot of great ideas planned out, and some will be put into effect in time for Valentine's Day!

I have a great program that will help tremendously! I can't wait to see it in use. I just need to make the time to learn it properly. I'll be scheduling Valentine mini sessions soon that will use all new props and backdrops. I'm so excited! If you'd like to see my work, check out my Facebook photography page.

Personal:

I want to make it to the gym at least 3-4 days each week. I hope to take more time for myself, which is something I rarely do. I want to focus on taking care of myself-inner health and outer appearance. I want to read my Bible more. 

I don't take nearly enough time to take care of myself, the way I should. I plan to change that this year. I have a membership already, and friends to go with me. I just need to find time for myself to go. Afterall, a happy mom is a happy family!


Planning: 

I hope to schedule more social activities/attend more social activities this year. Schedule blog posts, and have a routine to our days.

This is my character flaw. Sticking to plans. I'll need prayer and help with this. 

Organization:


2015 will be the year for de-cluttering and organization of my home! I am going to totally revamp the kitchen, dining room, bookshelves, closets, and all clutter catching areas! I AM GOING TO DO THIS!

We definitely live in this home. But, there's just a little too much life going on HAHA! It's time to part ways with the clutter! I see a HUGE yard sale in my future!

Homeschool:

I want a routine to our days, as stated above. I want to plan weekly lessons, and stick to them. I want a scheduled day where we have breakfast at the same time, lunch at the same time, and lessons in between. This will benefit us both greatly. I also want to include more outings and more hands on activities

Right now, I feel scatterbrained and unorganized. I don't like that. I don't feel like we are covering what I want covered, mostly because of too much outside stimuli. I plan to make a school days #1 priority in 2015. Things will be scheduled around school, instead of school being scheduled around other things. 

Motto/Scripture Verse: 



"I CAN do all things through Christ who strengthens me." Philippians 4:13

Word of the Year:
 
"Can"  I don't believe we use the positive tense of the word Can enough. We are always saying Can't, but rarely say Can. I want to change that.




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If you want to work on your own 2015 Goals, here's a GREAT graphic Lisa created. This is the one I used for my own personal Goal Sheet! Thanks Lisa for the challenge! Don't forget to pop over to Golden Grasses and say "HI!" 



Friday, December 26, 2014

Homeschool expectations and Autism.

Homeschooling autism is a little different than homeschooling "typical." But does that mean that we expect less? I was talking to my mom about how I plan to change things up a little after the 1st, and that led me to think about the Board of Ed telling me they didn't expect him to have stellar written communication skills, so it was ok if he didn't accomplish that anytime soon. What some may see as a relief, or a help from the BOE, I see as a challenge. You see, he wasn't expected to speak, show emotion, or behave anything like a "typical child," yet he does. He has a fantastic vocabulary, has more emotion and empathy that anyone I know, and his behavior is spot on. When we see challenges, we tackle them head on. Autism is NOT a disability for us, it is a brick wall in the road to our full potential, and one that gets chipped away little by little.


That same boy who was never supposed to speak has spent the entire evening telling us about an elaborate city he has built using a city and railroad simulator program we bought him. The same one who was feared to never develop any sort of reading comprehension has a stack of 8 "Handy Answer" books that he LOVES reading, and then telling us all the fun facts he's learned from them.

Anytime we have been faced with adversity and challenges, I've devoted our days to that challenge. For example, he HATED the color green. I mean the aversion was so bad he'd actually vomit when he saw green in his little bubble world. So for an entire week his world was nothing but green. Green clothes, green toys, green eating utensils, green EVERYTHING. What is his favorite color now? GREEN! For this year, writing is really important to me. Both penmanship and communication, I've given extra work in both. He has to write out all of his answers, and if it is messy, he has to write it over and over until it's neat. He isn't to just do a quick response either, but a full "question restated" answer. "What is your favorite color?" "My favorite color is green." We still practice handwriting letters in block AND cursive. We have handwriting apps for iPad...the whole nine yards. We WILL tackle writing, and we will prevail!

The point is, don't feel relief from lack of expectations, instead feel challenged to set the bar even higher and surpass the "should have been" expectations! Set your goal. Have a solid plan and what you hope to accomplish, then except nothing less! That's what we intend to do!

Wednesday, December 24, 2014

Merry Christmas

Merry Christmas!!

We hope you have a wonderfully blessed Christmas! May God bless you and yours today, and always! We are blessed beyond measure, and for that I am truly thankful. Again, Merry Christmas from our family to yours!

Thursday, December 18, 2014

Autism and the Holidays`


Autism doesn't necessarily make life harder, it just makes it different. It's during the Holiday Season that I feel this most. Everything seems to be a little different, not always bad....just different.

When he was still a tiny toddler, it was very important to me that he "get" the magic of Christmas. I was worried he'd never get the magic of the reindeer, Santa, elves, and everything that makes Christmas so wonderful for kids. During his days of early intervention, I asked all of his therapists who emphasize the magical aspects of Christmas in an attempt to "teach" him how to "get" it. And that is exactly what they did.

A few brought over various art projects, such as making a Rudolph head, or gluing cotton balls onto Santa to make his beard. But one very special speech therapist went above and beyond. Miss Jackie, as we called her, brought Santa to our house! Santa came, with his big bag of goodies, and delivered fruit and crayons. Then Santa sat down with my son, in his comfort zone, and colored for an hour with him. He spoke with him, and just spent time with him. For kids with Autism, a visit with Santa can be impossible sometimes. There's so much in the way of external stimuli that it is overstimulating at times, and right down scary. There are Sensitive Santa events, etc. But even those can throw off a schedule, or be hard depending on the location and time. I was so very grateful to her for bringing Santa into our little world, so that my son could have his own magic.

That is how we brought Holiday Magic to our autism filled lives. We taught the magic early on, so that the love of the magic would develop on its own. My son with autism is now 9. The magic of the holiday season is alive and well, and as strong as ever. Autism doesn't define us. Autism doesn't make things harder. Autism just makes things a little different, and sometimes even better than could have ever been with out it.

Here's how we handle the Holidays.

1.) Don't over do it. Yeah...easy said, right?  I typically host Thanksgiving dinner at my home. I always make sure to add in a few things my son will actually eat. One of the hardest things to deal with in terms of his autism is his picky diet. Thankfully, he will eat ham now. So he had ham and sweet potatoes, and he even tried a roll. This is a great time to try and introduce a new food, but don't push it. And don't sweat it if they simply don't want to take part. That was hard to deal with at first, for me. But now I take joy in the fact that I know he's enjoying himself, even if he's not at the dinner table.

2.) Try to reduce external stimuli. We try to avoid the large shopping crowds by splitting up the shopping. One day I'll go, the next day his step-dad goes. If he wants to go, that's fine, but we are armed with ear plugs just in case.

3.) EAR PLUGS! They are fantastic.

4.) We start opening gifts early, and open gifts later on, too. He really enjoys his gifts, and opening them. But we soon found that he did not like opening them all at once. He would rather open one or two, and enjoy those, explore them, etc., then move on to another. He doesn't get gifts through out the year, just at Christmas time-so we tend to go overboard. He gets a few things for his birthday, and little treats here there for various holidays, but Christmas is our big time. I try to group things together-but not overwhelmingly so. so He may have a box with books in it, but not so many he gets overwhelmed.

5.) Take breaks and expect to change plans. There are times when we may have planned to go to visit friends and family, and we just can't due to "an autism" day. And that's ok. Explain your situation, they will understand.

6.) If you want the magic, you have to build the magic. We started off early teaching him all the magical things of Santa, elves, etc. We watch movies, we do crafts, etc. Many times, kids with autism have to be "taught" things that come naturally to other kids. So if you want the magic, you might have to "teach" the magic.

7.) Think outside the box for gifts. Who cares if "all the other boys" in the neighborhood are asking for the next big toy while yours only wants a kitchen timer? Don't buy gifts that YOU want, think about what truly makes them happy. One year, my son got a 3 pack of Viva paper towels. That's still one of his favorite gifts of all times! This year, he's getting a minimum/maximum thermometer and a digital kitchen timer! Remember, the gift is for them.

It is my hope that you find joy and happiness this Christmas. Don't sweat the small stuff, and just sit back and enjoy the magic of the season.

Tuesday, December 16, 2014

Schoolhouseteacher.com Yearly Membership Review

Schoolhouseteachers.com
Yearly Membership Review



For the past couple of weeks, I have been blessed to review a yearly membership
subscription for Schoolhouseteachers.com, for The Old Schoolhouse Magazine and The Schoolhouse Review Crew.  You'll find great tips, information and ideas at both links.


About the product:

Schoolhouseteachers.com, a division of The Old Schoolhouse Magazine, is an online based homeschool site with a great deal of resources from printable worksheets and workbooks to video courses. The courses are archived, so you can start at any time, or even take breaks. There are activities for pre-school all the way through high school, and many items that can be used for both younger grades as well as older grades. With over 100 courses available, there's something for everyone! So go on over and check out a Yearly Membership today!.




Now, on to my review:

If you are looking for an internet based homeschool resource, this is the one for you! The site is set up with tabs across the top of the page. These tabs break it down by grade level, and partially by type. There's a tab for all the grade level groups, one for Family, one for Resources, Dailies, and Course Offerings. These are the main navigational tools. After you choose your tab, you are able to navigate the assorted links and options under each. Since my son is mostly doing 4th grade work, we mainly used the Dailies tab and the Pre-K/Elem tab. We incorporated Schoolhouseteachers.com every day in our lessons, and used it as both the main ingredient and the supplement at times. I did find that I had some initial trouble with navigating the site at times, so I recommend taking a few minutes to familiarize yourself with the tabs and resources found under each one. Perhaps you could also use one of the planners found on the site under the Resources Tab, or you can use the Course Planner found under the parent's tab! The great thing about a computer based homeschool subscription is that what you need is always at your fingertips for easy printing. 

Here is a Screen Snip of the tabs: 

With my son having autism, I look for 4 main ingredients with any paid curriculum or subscription:

1.) Customization: Is it easily adaptable? Can we customize it to fit “us?” Can we modify or set our own schedule? Can we take breaks, jump ahead, or flat out skip?

The answer to all of these is YES with Schoolhouseteachers.com. The classes are not live, so you can start any time you want. There's a great deal of archived material, so you can go back, jump ahead, and even skip over what you don't wish to cover. This is exactly what we did. We used the Science courses, Dailies, French, Geography, Hands on History, Classic History, Literature, Literature Kits, and a few others. Each one was easily adaptable to meet our needs. Again, because it is an internet based homeschool resource, it is easy to change direction when needed. One way I adapted the site to fit us was to repurpose the copybook pages. I took a Christmas themed copywork page, printed it off, and used it as a writing assignment (Letter to Santa) that I had already planned. You could also print these in black and white, like I did, and have your child color the pictures.
Look over the mess handwriting, we're working on that!


2.) Value: Is it long lasting? Will it cover multiple grade ranges? Are you locked in to one specific grade level? Are there hidden fees?

This subscription is a GREAT value.  Membership is only $139.00 for the year, or $12.95/month. Right now, there is a Christmas Special, so if you sign up before 11:59pm (EST) on Dec. 25, 2014 you will get 40% off the monthly plan (making it $7.77/month) or 50% off the yearly membership ($64.26.) And the best part is, you will get to keep this special price for as long as you maintain your membership!  The price is per family, not per student, and you are not locked into a single grade level at all. Instead, you have the ability to pick and choose from anything on the site. There are NO
hidden fees. Your membership fee covers everything for the full year. Of top of that, there's a LOT of material and resources here! Here's a screen shot of the French PDF to show you just how large the
resource is. It was over 89MB!

You can try it out for free for 30 days, or if you want to get a sample you can visit their Site Directory to get samples of the classes. Click the banner below to take advantage of the fantastic Christmas sale!

SchoolhouseTeachers.com Review
3.) Attention span: Is it boring? Is it engaging? Is it varied enough for ADHD? Does it last too long?

The courses on Schoolhouseteachers.com are not boring at all. The lessons are not too short, but they are not long either. The worksheet printables for the elementary levels are long enough to cover the material, but not so long that a child has to spend a great deal of time going over them. My son could complete a worksheet in 5-10 minutes, give or take his desire to work on it. The courses are engaging, and he really enjoyed the lessons. We utilized the video lessons with the science, and Mr. Science's videos are around 1 minute each. They cover the experiment, yet are short enough to maintain a youngster's attention. There are also experiment sheets one can download so that you can do your own. Classic History also had some really fun activities and color sheets. Here's a sample of one of the coloring sheets:



 The math isn't your run of the mill math, either. Skip counting is much more than just 5, 10, 15. Here's a selection from one of the skip counting worksheets:


Most of the math worksheets I printed off had the answers, in a very small box, on the front of the sheet. So you may need to cover this with another sheet of paper, or cut it out. This was my only fault with any of the printable resources. Here's a photo to show you what I mean: 

Another thing I appreciate is the variety. We have done a lot of worksheets that cover Synonyms and Antonyms. How many times can a kid connect large and big, small and little, etc. The words on these worksheets are a lot different. Close and shut for example, or happy and joyful.


4.) Does it tie into other things we already have.
The answer is again, YES! I noticed a lot of tie-in possibilities, but I'll highlight two. Classical History ties into Classical Conversations, if you are a part of that. There are selected readings from CC books, as well as activities, such as making a clay tablet with Cuneiform writing. The Literature covers well known books that many probably already have in your home libraries. I was very excited to see that December's Literature course was on The Magician's Nephew, as we've started reading that. And the lessons cover a wide range of lessons such as plot, setting, theme, conflict, etc.


Overall:
Overall, I love the subscription and plan to use it a LOT. I have a lot of things planned out now, and a lot of fun activities on the schedule. I highly recommend you check it out, and try it out for yourself.  You won't be disappointed!



For more greatness from The Old Schoolhouse's Schoolhouse Teachers, check them out on Facebook and Pinterest!


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Monday, December 15, 2014

The Old Schoolhouse Christmas Party

Hey everyone! I just wanted to drop a quick note to let you know about the GREAT online Christmas party that will be happening tomorrow (TUESDAY December 16, 2014) on Facebook! The Old Schoolhouse Magazine will be hosting this party, with prizes AND gifts! So check it out here: TOS Christmas Party !!

During the party, they will be giving away 3 tablets! Yes, you read correctly THREE TABLETS! You can find more information here: Kindle Fire with 3 winners!

So, stop what you're doing, go register to win, and RSVP to the party! HAVE FUN and GOOD LUCK!!!!

Saturday, December 13, 2014

The Autism Rollercoaster

Free Clip-art thanks to a Google search



    I always said my son was like a human rollercoaster: Up and Down and Up an Down and all over the place with his behavior, mood, actions, and autism. Fortunately, it has generally been a 1 step back 2 steps forward process, and I realize how blessed we are for that.

    Recent days have been no exception. To say our days have been difficult lately is an understatement, but we overcame as we always do. That is the main thing, to always remember that the bad will soon be only a memory, replaced by the good.

     I call his rollercoaster the good times and the bad/down times. If someone asks how he is and I say, "We are in a down time right now," they know exactly what I mean. It means that he's stimming (spinning, bouncing, running, shaking his head, banging his head, squealing....etc,) or he's having some other autism related issue. If I say, "We're in an upswing right now," then they understand he's acting pretty typical for a kid his age. There will be lengths of time when I get so worried and so concerned that he's regressing that I get myself worked into a tizzy trying to figure out the trigger. I scrutinize and analyze everything from his meals to his clothing. Then suddenly one day comes, he wakes up and he's progresses by leaps and bounds in just a week or so. This is how it has always been. For example, we spent YEARS trying to get him to speak, then one day he just wakes up and says, "I'm hungry. Let's go downstairs." After being non-verbal!

    My son isn't on his age level in some ways, but I know he will get there. He WILL meet all of his milestones, even if it takes him a little longer. This has always been our underlying moto. Better late than never, I suppose. He may not be able to tie his shoes, but he can build intricate road and track systems. He may not be writing award winning paragraphs, but he can read, AND understand what he's read, on a college level. He may not be doing long division, but he can convert miles to kilometers in his head. It is important, with all kids, to build up their strengths while always practicing their weaknesses to build those up. If all I did was focus on the things he's not yet able to do I would pass over all of the wonderful things he can do, and has mastered! We just have to stay on the rollercoaster long enough to get there.

   


    

Thursday, December 11, 2014

The Wonderful World of Excuses

My son has a unique ability to make everything life threatening. It's remarkable really. He can't do his chores because his legs are weak, and if his legs get weak and he has to make an epic journey to the land upstairs via the staircase,well that's just dangerous now-So of course he can't do his chores, because his legs will get weak, and then he will be forced to crawl up the steps or risk his life. He says all of this in one breath, in that whiny voice every mother just LOVES to hear, while looking over the huge mess in the family room that he (and his legs) had no problems creating. Poor thing, he says he's about to fall over. But he had no problems 5 minutes ago when he was making tornadoes with the couch throw and the guts from a most unfortunate pillow pet.

So how do you deal with excuses? What are some good excuses your kids have come up with to get out of doing what has been asked of them? And how have you handled it?








PSA: This post was supposed to have been published on 12/7/14, but a wonky mouse prevented it from being published.

Ever have one of THOSE months?

So...I wrote a blog post a few days ago. I couldn't figure out why there were no posts views. I waited....checked again....no post views. This goes on for a while until I realize. I write the post sure enough, but I clicked on SAVE instead of PUBLISH! I had been dealing with a wonky mouse, and it didn't click properly!  GEESH!


So anyway, what do you do with scheduling? I would LOVE to stick to a schedule, but I find it nearly impossible to do. Especially around the holidays. It always seems like I'm being pulled in a bazillion different directions!

The past week, I've accomplished so little! Between doctor's appointments for myself, my son, my niece having finals in college, my step dad being hospitalized, and the holidays on top of it all....Let's just say I need a nap. So I plan to take the next few days, try to get caught up on what we've not gotten accomplished, and I'll be back in a few days!

Tuesday, December 2, 2014

The Penny's Ancestors....



Autism has given us the blessings of innocence and enlightenment. The other day my son came to me with his little hand full of pennies. He was so excited! "Mommy! Look! A 2013 penny and its ancestors!" He then proceeded to name each penny, making a list as he went. He ran out of names that he could think of, and this ultimately led to a "Baby Names" book that should be delivered today. The things we do for our kids, right?!

Anyway, this got me to thinking. How often do we let the little things slip by, never giving them their rightful attention. How many times have we tossed those pennies in a jar, or tried to get rid of them in "exact change" payments, never thinking about their journey. I looked into his little hand, and thought about that. Wow! Can you imagine the stories that could be told by those pennies, if they could talk. Think about it. This tiny little circular piece of copper from 1925 has survived wars, the Great Depression, changing climates, countless trips. I wonder what countries it has been in. I wonder if a soldier carried it in his pocket in Germany, Korea or Vietnam, his only memento of home. I wonder if any of the pennies we have here have once been in the hands of a President, or rock star?! Could you imagine the stories they could tell?! Think about it. We never really know where the money has been that is in our pockets, but if we could for a minute just imagine the amazing journeys these little pieces of metal and paper have been we could come up with some great stories!

The next time you toss the pocket change you hold into a jar, think about the journey and the stories each of those coins has "lived." For just a minute I have to wonder, what would it be like to be a penny?!

Wednesday, November 26, 2014

What is Thanksgiving, really?



55 minutes before the day of thanks. Why? How many of us truly appreciate and understand what Thanksgiving really is. In a nutshell, the Pilgrims would have essentially died had it not been for the Native Americans help. These dark skinned people who had inhabited this land for generations were met with white skin folk who just came ashore. They could have viewed these new people as intruders. They could have viewed them as inferior due to their skin color, or language, or religious beliefs, or whatever....but they did not. They embraced them (for the most part,) taught them how to farm, and saved their lives. The first harvest was good, so good that Govenor Bradford declared a special day of Thanksgiving to God for the his plentiful gifts, including the gift of Squanto.

Today that idea of thanks is skewed, at best. Sure we say grace for our meals....sometimes. But how often to we really stop to Thank God for what we have? What we wanted and did not get? Sometimes, after all,  what we want and do not get are the greatest blessings! In addition to that, how many times do we stop to pray for those who have not. We are a spoiled society who gorge on food, waste so much, and then spend hundred's and thousands of dollars on the same day (or the day after) we are celebrating being thankful....on junk.

I was watching a TV show where 6 men (3 firemen, 3 police officers) were competing in a team challenge where they had 30 minutes to eat 17 pounds of food. I thought My Gosh, how many hungry families in both this country and else where would LOVE to have 17 pounds of food! That would last for days, not just 30 minutes! How spoiled are we?! How blind are we?! We have gotten so comfortable in our cushy lives that we never stop to think about others. I was sitting in my living room tonight feel down and depressed, then I looked around. I have a beautiful house, a more beautiful home, Christmas tree, clothes, food, family....so much. There's a roof over our heads, soft beds to sleep in, carpet and wood on the floors. Look how many mothers are out there tonight either homeless with their families, or living in such horrible conditions that we wouldn't ever want to be found. Over seas families live with dirt for floors, children sleeping on that dirt...cold...hungry. It's just not right. People say, "Charity begins at home..." And yes, yes it does. But what does that mean? Well first, that's not even in the Bible, so you can just stop saying that. The Bible says that if one does not provide for his family, he is as bad or worse than an unbeliever. It also goes on to say we should not neglect the needy, but to give....and give cheerfully at that. Charity does begin at home...it begins at home by teaching and living a charitable life, and not a greedy life. We start home by realizing how fortunate we are, by praising God for his blessings, being thankful EVERY day. But if it begins at home, it must end elsewhere. We are to go out and help, give to those who have less....help with out judging or criticizing. Help because it pleases God. The Bible never said that Jesus died for all the white people in American who have the money to provide all things for their family. The Bible says that Jesus died for the sins of the WHOLE world.....black, white, brown, yellow, and all combinations thereof. Go out and help someone this Thanksgiving, show them how thankful you are for having the ability to help!

*Please ignore typos. My fingers move slower than my brain when I get on my soapbox.*

Tuesday, November 25, 2014

Getting into that Holiday Spirit

Deck the Halls....fa la la la la la la la la

I've never been one to decorate for holidays much beyond Christmas. I always seem to be in a rush. There's never enough storage space for essentials, much less holiday gear, and I am just not that creative. But Christmas gets me. I LOVE to decorate for Christmas, but the past few years I've just not been in the Christmas mood. My dad was VERY sick with cancer the Christmas of 1998. That was my  last Christmas with the Christmas'y spirit'y mood, but I still put out the lights and the tree. 

Something has come over me this year. Now, a few days before Thanksgiving, I have my tree up! That has never happened before! I would have had it up even earlier, but I had to do a bit of furniture moving. My other half and I also sat together the other night and made this beautiful garland that now graces the staircase. The cat tries to take the credit for it, but it was all us! 

Sorry for the less than good photo quality....dark light + iPhone=best I could do!

This year I have a little of that Christmas Spirit. God must have something good planned for me! My heart is filled with joy and peace. I want to cook, and bake, and wrap gifts, and decorate until I can't decorate anymore. This year I'm choosing to be happy. I know that's what my dad would have wanted. 

Saturday, November 22, 2014

Sunset

Ohio River, WV side. November, 2014


I love sunset. I can sit for ever and look out at the beautiful colors of a West Virginian sunset. The mountains, trees, rivers...all of it combine to create a serene seen that is too beautiful for words. I guess that's why I choose to photograph it so often.

My son also loves sunsets. He will run to the window with my phone and take several photos each evening of the changing red and purple sky. I think that is why this particular sunset shown above captured my attention so strongly. We normally have reds and purples blending together, but this evening everything lined up so perfectly to give off this warm orange sunset. It truly looked as if the river was liquid fire or liquid gold flowing calming around me.

If you look closely you will see two bridges. One is on 6th street and the other is on 17th street. Both are silhouetted in this photo, showcasing two of the major "landmarks" of this area. There was really not severe NEED for two bridges so closely together, and there is actually a 3rd bridge not too far away. Robert C. Byrd lobbied (more or less) to have both of these bridges put in. One was torn down a number of years ago, and there was talk of not replacing it due to the costs. The replacement is named the Robert. C. Byrd bridge in honor of the man who secured the funding. Robert C. Byrd held the the record for the longest serving senator in the U.S until 2013, and he still holds the record for the longest serving member of Congress to hold a position in both houses. He also performed Bluegrass music, recording an album and performing at the Grand Ole Opry!

Maybe that's why I love sunsets so much. They give me time to think. Even pulling up this photo I took a couple weeks ago led me to nearly an hour's worth of research on the topic of Robert C. Byrd where I learned a great deal I had never known before now! 

Friday, November 21, 2014

The Appalachian Trail: A Unit Study Review for The OldSchool House

The Appalachian Trail: A Unit Study REVIEW



This week I was granted the unique opportunity to review The Applachian Trail: A Unit Study for “The Old SchoolHouse Magazine” and www.SchoolhouseReviewCrew.com. Generally speaking, we do not do a lot of unit studies since my son tends to get bored easily, or his attention span simple can't focus on the same topic day to day. With that said,  I was happily surprised with this unit study! It was fun, engaging, and easily adaptable. For this and other unit studies and products, please check out The Old SchoolHouse Magazine's online store at, http://www.theoldschoolhouse.com/shop/ .

The Appalachian Trail: A Unit Study is full of activities that cover all of the core subjects in such a way that younger kids, as well as older kids, can all utilize this study. I am a big advocate of “long lasting” materials-Materials I can come back to later on as he gets older, and use to learn even more. This is definitely one of those lessons that we will be using again! There is spelling, math, reading, science, geography, history, sociology, and health all woven together in a fun and entertaining way. Here is a day by day of our short stint with The Appalachian Trail: A Unit Study

Day 1: We started our study of The Appalachian Trail with geography and history. We first utilized the links included in the study to learn about Earl Shaffer and Emma “Grandma” Gatewood, who were the first male and female hikers to hike the Trail in its entirety. We used this as a catalyst to research other hikers and adventures to learn about other firsts, such as the first to hike Mt. Everest and Mt. McKinley. Being a sociologist, I also used the ages of the hikers at the time they completed their journey and compared that with data from the time period when they completed their trip to try and show how remarkable the social aspect of the trek is both now and then. During these lessons we looked into the states that are crossed by The Appalachian Trail, and hit spelling by using the suggestion in the unit study to reinforce the spelling of each state, the capital, and points of interest along the trail in each state. Nothing like that Autism Hyperfocus! Here is a link for U.S. Census Data that was used for demographic information: Census .
"Grandma" Gatewood: Photo from the AT Conservancy

Earl Shaffer: Photo from EarlShaffer.com


Day 2: The unit study guide suggests reading accounts of those who have hiked the trail. I personally have hiked small portions of the trail, and I have a former professor who does extended hikes yearly with students. So we spoke with a friend of mine who did a week long hike with this professor, looked over photos, and discussed hardships along the way, and how she could have minimized these hardships-if at all. We also talked about her sense of accomplishment after completing such a daunting task. After that we calculated the number of steps she had to have taken, and the distance covered (approximately 75 miles to the tune of nearly 190,000 steps! WOW!) 

Photo from: http://www.cnyhiking.com/DVD-ScenesFromTheAppalachianTrail.htm



Day 3: We utilized the dialect map link provided with the unit study to research the varying dialects found along The Appalachian Trail. We looked into the history and origins of the dialects, and how our own vocabulary has been influenced by much of what we were researched. Then we went a bit farther and looked into regional dialects across the United States. From Potato Bugs and RolyPoly bugs to buggies and shopping carts, we looked into the varying ways people communicate. After that we used my gym stats to figure out how long it would take me to get from point A to point B at different spots along the trail. I spent 18 minutes and rode a stationary bike for 3.5 miles. So we decided round up and say I was riding 11 miles per hour. We then researched and found out that our home state of WV has 4 miles of the AT, and it shares approximately 20 miles with VA. So if we were riding at a consistent 11 miles per hour it would take me just over 2 hours to cross the WV portion of the trail! We finished up with graphing the temperature ranges that are found along varying points along the trail to get a sense of the differing climates one encounters on a hike, as well as the highest and lowest points in each state along the trail to get a sense of differing terrain.

Here are some links for dialect research: http://www4.uwm.edu/FLL/linguistics/dialect/maps.htmlhttp://www.washingtonpost.com/blogs/govbeat/wp/2013/12/02/what-dialect-to-do-you-speak-a-map-of-american-english/http://knightlab.northwestern.edu/2014/01/20/behind-the-dialect-map-interactive-how-an-intern-created-the-new-york-times-most-popular-piece-of-content-in-2013/


DAY 4: This was the last day for our review. We plan on doing a LOT more, but our review time ends here. We learned some basic first aid that one would need on a hike. We also learned a lot about physical fitness. We talked about the importance of a target heart rate, learned how to check heart rate and pulse, and then we did some exercising to see what activities influenced our heart rates more (Sorry no photos! He refused to cooperate unless I was jumping, too!) We had an off day with a lot of running around that needed to be done, so we didn't get to do all that I wanted to do today. But that's ok, because we can come back to it next time!

For the Future: This great unit study has so many wonderful activities that we didn't get to do this week because we are getting ready for a variety of holiday parties. But as soon as time allows we fully intend to do the topographical map activity-You can find the directions for a salt dough map here: Salt Dough Map. We also plan to do the teepee activitie, the poster activity, the collage using brochures, and the puzzle activity where you draw the states, then cut them apart into puzzle pieces. I'm really looking forward to doing a LOT more with this unit study! Please go check it out, I'm sure you'll love it, too!

Pros: This unit study is well-rounded and packed full of great ideas and information. There are a lot of links provided, and these links foster a desire for additional exploration. The reading guide is also in depth, and provides a great deal of information. I also found the “Hiking Tips” particularly helpful. We used this to discuss former hikes we have gone on, and how we could have had a more pleasant or safer hike with these tips.

Cons: Some of the links did not work properly, and this caused me to have to do a web search for the information the link was to provide. I was OK with this since it led us to more research that we may have not ventured to had the provided link been successful. I also think printables would have been a nice addition. Perhaps some sort of word puzzles, or map sheets, or even templates in place of links for the projects would have been helpful. I think if those had been available we might have been able to complete some of the other projects within the amount of time I had to work.


Overall: Overall, we have really enjoyed The Appalachian Trail: A Unit Study. We plan to come back to it after our holiday break to do more of the fun projects we didn't get to do this week. The topic is a fun and unique topic that is close to home for us. It keeps my ASD/ADHD son's attention, so that's a HUGE win in my book! It covers all of the required subjects with ease, and throws in ideas I would not have thought about. I would highly recommend this unit study!


Monday, November 17, 2014

Rainy Day blues

Kids with autism tend to react strongly to changes in weather, Day Light Savings changes, seasonal changes, etc. My son is certainly no exception to that rule. It seems we went from mild Summer to strong Winter overnight with blustery winds and the brink of snow ever looming in the distance. Add to that the fact that it is now dark by 5:30pm, and you have the perfect recipe for "autism days."

We had such a day today.  You see, I do a lot of photography and I had some family who wanted me to do some maternity photos for them. (You can check them out here: Click here) I had to take my son because I had no one to watch him. He had been a bit hyper off and on for the last few days, but I figure it would be ok. I could not have been more wrong!

We started out with just innocent ornery boy hyper, and we ended with me sitting in my car in the parking lot, a basket full of tears, and my poor mom on the other end of a phone call trying to "fix" the problem.

But what is the problem? Good question. To say exactly what set off the shed tears is hard to say, it's more of 10000 little things that became an insurmountable climb that I could not face. And that's the thing. Anyone can deal with a bad day here and there, but when those bad days stack one on top of the other it becomes so much, that one person alone just can't seem to handle it on their own. That's when family and friends can step in, offer to ease the load a little, and help to reduce the stress. I read and article today that said mom's of children with autism had the same chronic stress as a combat veteran. Think about that for a second, because I can understand how this is so.

This is about all I can post for the day, I'm mentally and emotionally spent. I know that tomorrow is a new day full of changes and possibilities!

Friday, November 14, 2014

Technology...yay?



Sometimes higher levels of technology represent massive paradigm shifts for me. I had to create power points in my last meteorology class, and I still remember the migraine I got from this "new" technology. The assignment wasn't hard. I only to forecast the regional and national weather for a period of 3 days. Simple enough when it is your last class before graduation. The issue was the power point! I knew the basic program (Hello Libreoffice Free!) and I figured out how to add slides easily enough. But to jazz it up? Nope....wasn't happening! I got an A, more or less for effort I think, and moved on to figuring this Power Point thing out. I had to do them in other classes, but I had always had help with them before, so I just supplied the information and that was that. Needless to say, my second attempt was better, but the images were scattered all over the place HAHA! Again, I got an A and I even earned an A overall, but the nightmare Power Points haunt me, still.

I am, by trade, a photographer. (Fits with the college degree, right?!) so I stay up to date on the latest camera gear and gadgets, I have various software to use for editing. But I still prefer old school. I take a photo "right" the first time, so there's less to do later on. If given the choice, I'd do most everything with pencil and paper HAHA! But I realize I am in the minority on that, so here I sit....for over an hour, trying to figure out how to make the Widget I thought was in place work. I'm very proud to say, I figured it out all on my own....and with the help of numbered pictures!

The Fear of Failure

It happens to us all. You're at the playground, or the grocery store, or on the phone with your best friend and it happens-Someone says something that their kid can do better than yours. And then the panic sets it. Why does little Johnny finish his math more quickly than my son? Why does little Addy color inside the lines with such finesse while mine hates to color all together? What is wrong with my kid that he can't do basic re-grouping subtraction and others are doing long division? WHY DO WE COMPARE?!

We compare out of fear. We are afraid that our child will not come out on top, be successful, and have the life we have dreamed up for them. We may not want to admit it, but we have pre-planned our child's future for the most part. My son will be a meteorologist, or a math professor for MIT, or perhaps he will cure cancer, but either way he's going to win a Nobel Prize, change the world for the better, and become historical with his awesomeness. OK, so those are my personal choices for him. And in order for him to succeed as I have it planned for him, he will need that long division and that precision that only coloring will give him.

And that's only academically! How many times have we been out in public and seen that child who is so well behaved it is almost as if they aren't even real!? And of course this child is there at that horrid moment our child has decided to whine, moan, groan, complain, and tantrum All.At.The.Same.Time! So here we are, feeling like failures because little Johnny is being an angelic model child while ours is more like "Problem Child 14."

Well, here's the truth of the matter, Mom and Dad. In everything your child does, there WILL always be someone, at some point in time, who will be doing it better. There will be times when your kid will be the envy of all the parents, and times when you'd give anything to crawl under a rock and never come out. And guess what, it's ok! Yes, that's right...it is ALL ok! You're child is not a monster, he is not a brat, he is not going to grow up to be a disrespectful adult who is only concerned about himself. He is going to grow up to be successful in whatever he does, and he is going to love you and respect you for being his parent. So the next time so and so is bragging about her kid and how great they are, smile and say that is fantastic and remember all of the wonderful things your child can do.  And the next time your son pees on the family pet, just smile and remember, "This, too, shall pass...."

Wednesday, November 12, 2014

Autism, Homeschooling, and the Endless Search for Time

I'm still getting the hang of this blogging thing. I've been asked so many time to write about our story and our life, so please stick with me while I get the hang of this blog thing. With that said, one major question is HOW do I do it?!

The answer to how I do it isn't an easy one to answer. I am just now getting this blog up and growing (after a long time of good intentions) because I'm a one mom show. I was going to school full time, primary and solo caregiver to my son with autism, etc. Time to get my own personal thoughts out was pretty non existent in the midst of research papers and homeschooling. To get everything accomplished I would prioritize. No, I didn't always get the highest grades in my undergrad classes because they were not always placed into that top spot. No, my son didn't always get to do that great field trip or awesome science experiment because I had a research paper or exam due. The ability to be fluid and flexible has always been a necessity.

His education has always taken a top spot in the long run, but my education has been needed in order to further his. He wanted to know more about the weather, so I earn a minor in Meteorology. I need to teach him a foreign language, so I get a minor in French, and so on and so forth.

I found the best plan was curriculum with mobility in mind. WHAT?!  Curriculum such as ACE PACEs. They are small workbooks, colorful, and easily stuffed into an overstuffed book bag. Given the fact my son has autism, I also found it to be of benefit since he didn't feel overwhelmed or obligated to complete a huge text book in one sitting, as can happen with spectrum kids. The information was given in a clear manner, and repeated frequently. It is Christian based, which I also found to be helpful.

All of that sounds great, but there are drawbacks. It's kind of hard to keep up with 10 little workbooks per subject. I could have used a 3-hole punch and put them in binders, but what single homeschooling mom, full time student, caregiver to a son with autism has time for that?!

The repetition of the information is boring if your kid catches on quickly. Seriously, I was yawning at times....so we skipped ahead.

It is important to take the placement tests on line. They seem to run a grade level behind in my opinion. Grade 2 WordBuilding (spelling) had words like Man, Mat, Can, Cat....below a 2nd grade level for us.

I also utilized worksheets sites. I am quite fond of Superteacherworksheets.com and Enchantedlearning.com. Both have a huge reservoir of printables, and some are free. Easy Peasy online was used a little, but I don't think anything can really compare to pen and paper. And I used a ton of Scholastic PDFs. PDFs are nice because you can pick the pages you want to print at the time you want them. Pretty awesome!!!!!

So that's how I did it. Prioritize, use small bundles that were easily adaptable to on the go teaching, and a lot of reminding myself that no one is perfect!

Saturday, October 4, 2014

Into the Autistic Mind

We are very blessed by my son's ability to speak. It gives us a glimpse into the mind of one with autism-And what a wondrous mind it is!

We are also blessed by the humor that comes from those spoken words.

For example, we just took a trip to Louisville, KY for a wedding. I am notoriously bad with choosing hotels as evidenced by the week before when I chose a horrible Virginia Beach hotel that basically ruined our vacation. Anyway, so I booked what appeared to be a very nice, inexpensive hotel with great ratings.) THEN I decided to Google the hotel, and I was less than pleased with the results. In particular, a few recent reviews had mentioned a strange or foul smell in the hotel and in their room. I was a bit apprehensive to say the least, but we made a mutual decision to keep the booking since they scored over 4 out of 5 with more than 1000 reviews, but we would not carry in our things until we did a full room inspection. As it turns out, the hotel was fantastic, in a great location, very clean....and free from any and all strange smells. Of course my son took issue with the elevator "smell," but he does with any elevator. We actually enjoyed our stay so much we plan to use the same hotel in the not so distant future for another weekend trip.

So we get home a couple days later, and my son is jibber-jabbering to himself, which is something he does on a regular basis. He comes up to me and says, "Mommy, the only bad smells I smelled in the hotel were my feet and the elevator. It smelled really good, except for my feet of course."

Why my child felt the need to compare and contrast the smell of his foot I will never know, but funny things like this happen on such a regular basis that we have quite the following on Facebook of friends who keep up with his funny remarks.

In addition to funny little tidbits, we get to see into the mind of sheer genius. The autistic mind works so much differently than that of the average person. When others draw power lines, they draw...well...power lines. They may draw a pole, then they will draw the lines coming off the pole as if you are standing back and looking straight on. My son, on the other hand, would also draw them from the perspective of where he stood. Even at 3 years old he would draw power lines as if he were standing UNDER them.

He also has an amazing sense of what I like to call truism imagination. He will imaginatively play, but everything has to be so lifelike and realistic. Today he said he couldn't merely imagine labels on his toy, he had to actually apply labels to the toy. If he drives around his Tonka truck, he affixes a flashlight to it so it had a working headlight.

I am constantly blown away at the degree of advanced awareness he experiences day in and day out. It really is mind blowing.

Saturday, September 27, 2014

The worth of silence is apparently more than $5.00

In a previous blog I detailed how a vast array of doctors and medical professionals had told us my 2 year old son would never speak. If all of those same professionals could see him today! I wonder if they would also offer him $5.00 to just be quite for 15 minutes in a feeble attempt at alleviating a migraine.

The last few days have been "one of those days." You KNOW what I'm talking about because we ALL have them. The milk is spilled, you hit every red light, you burn dinner, the kid is going crazy, the neighbors are, well, being neighbors...you name it, it's going on. The changing seasons always brings about interesting behaviors in an autism filled home. We have an increase in cranky, moody behavior, self-stimming, and general autism'y stuff. (Yes, yes I did use the word stuff. It is a very handy word, very much like "ish.") This year is no exception. We've had general running, stomping, shaking, flapping, spinning, squealing, etc. Only it is made worse by his seemingly "typical" behavior otherwise. One can only endure so much stomping that it seems as if drywall is going to crack, and glass shattering squealing before...yep you guessed....migraine sets it.

Now for those of you who have had bad headaches and referred to them as migraines, you have only hit the tip of the iceberg of headache land. Migraines, for me, come on for days. My hands get tingly, my body just feels off, my eye sight seems a bit wonky. Today though, not so much. I'm driving down the road, taking our sitter to work when BAM! Out of no where some invisible man took an invisible screwdriver and began to unscrew my brain via my left eye. Insert nausea, watering eyes, near blindness it seems like. I pull over at a discount store, manage to get my way inside to find a bottle of Coke and some ibuprofen when I end up in line behind everyone's worst nightmare of a customer. She was bargain shopping, which is GREAT. She was getting half off clearance "last chance items" such as off brand coffee, brownies, cake mix, etc., and they were crazy low prices. 1.30 for a can of coffee and .20 for a pouch of brownie mix! I don't blame her. But, here I stand with my bottle of Coke and my ibuprofen wanting nothing more than to swallow a couple more ibuprofen than I should probably take on an empty stomach and allow some inkling of relief to take over when she began hollering at her kid. Yes, hollering. It is different than yelling. It is obnoxious  behavior that is generally reserved for use with friends and family, not a place of business. She had this head throb inducing raspy voice, her kid was acting as if she was entitled to grab a handful of energy drinks and do a puppy whine when her mother loudly says to put them back, as she stomps loudly away. The manager was trying to fix her order, and cutting up rather loudly with her. All I wanted to do was quietly state it was a place of business, there was a line 5 customers long, just fix her order and move along when the manager decided to open the other register. I thankfully walked over, when the manager starts speaking really loud again to the lady laughing in a high pitch laugh. My head, now feeling like it's going to explode at any minute, was on it's last leg of tolerance. I finally get out of there, drop the sitter off, and make my way home when the kid starts.

He decided that NOW was the perfect time to give me every detail he could think of about weather, bridges, planes, his toys, his toy play area, the dogs, the cats, and the theory of relativity. I begged, I pleaded PLEASE just give me a few minutes to close my eyes and let the ibuprofen kick in, PLEASE I said. No go. Then he started in on his homework, telling me what he didn't like, what he did like, etc. Again, PLEASE son, just 5 minutes. That's all. Just. 5. Minutes! Nothing. I finally said, I will give you a $5.00 bill for 15 minutes of total silence. He says, "really? A whole $5.00 bill?" I can see the gears cranking in his mind, and he accepted! Sweet Lord Above he accepted the terms of the agreement! AND....for a solid 30 seconds it was the BEST silence ever, right up until he breached the contract and started whispering 1039843039484830 questions about geography and Captain Underpants books.

I gotta say, it was pricey, but the 30 seconds that $5.00 bought were pure bliss while they lasted today. Hopefully tomorrow will be a better, migraine free day, when petty little things like this won't bother me.

Friday, September 26, 2014

The trouble with Ts....

Homeschooling can be a beautiful bonding moment for parent and child. Unless of course that parent is right-handed, the child left-handed, and the lesson of the moment is cursive writing. It will be a miracle if I survive this endeavor with my hair firmly rooted in place.

I have countless cursive writing PDFs, and one handwriting workbook. Perhaps these would work to our benefit, I do not know for sure. I figured it would be best to begin with the basics of forming the letters. Who knew lefty's make their letters so vastly different than right handers!?

I finally gave up after days and hours of trying to explain to my concrete thinking kid how to form the letters the "right" way. I elected to write out the letters on lined penmanship paper with a highlighter and let him trace them. I figure he will develop his own style anyway, so why force mine onto him. I figure this way he will learn cursive, and I hope I get to keep my hair! I'll keep you posted on the progress.

Thursday, September 25, 2014

In the beginning....there were no words.

In the beginning....there were no words. This sentence pretty much sums up anything that could be said about the first three years of my son's life. To fully grasp our lives today, we have to take an epic journey down memory lane.....don't forget to buckle up ladies and gentlemen, it's gonna be a bumpy ride!

I was diagnosed with infertility June 2003. After undergoing more tests and evaluations than I personally care to recall at the moment, I found myself in a stark, cold, white room with an equally cold, stark doctor telling me that my chances of  natural conception were so close to impossible, that only God himself could make it happen. Imagine his surprise when I walked in unannounced a little over a year later showing off the most beautiful ultrasound photo of a tiny little blob the world has ever seen!

I had an uneventful pregnancy until 35 weeks gestation. The night before I hit the 35wk mark at 11:30pm a spider fell rather dramatically onto my leg. Insert screams of panic and a jump off the couch here. I woke up around 5:30 am cold...and wet.  Apparently my water broke. Of course we were not ready, and clueless as to what was happening. It took us from 5:30am until nearly 8am to get to the hospital only 15mins away. Long story short, I wasn't in labor, my water had just broken. 4 and half hours of pitocin and 2 pushes later (With no pain meds thank you very much) my son was born.

He was a good baby. He was just very tiny. He didn't cry much at first, and he had a hard time latching on to nurse....but he eventually got the hang of both crying AND latching. He loved to stare at patterns and things in motion. Ceiling fans and the bars on his infant swing were his favorites. By 6 months old he was spinning on all fours so hard and so fast he could do an entire rotation and never touch the floor! By 12 months he was pacing back and forth, shaking his head, banging his head until he left bruises, and flapping his arms and hands. He never lost words because he never gained them in the first place. He did lose foods due to a rising sensitivity to textures.

By 14 months old he began early intervention services to treat profound development delays that were thought to have been a condition of his earlier than expected birth. By 2 years 2 months and 1 day old he had a diagnosis of severe autism. We were told he would never speak, never show true emotion, never say "Mommy"....never say "I love you," ....so many nevers.

I dropped out of school. I was a biology major at Marshall University. I couldn't keep up with his health (a whacky immune system that would later be diagnosed) and his hours upon hours of therapy AND school. I worked with his Birth to Three team, and I spent hours a day (12-14 hours each day) working with him myself. I learned he COULD speak, he just couldn't speak English. He spoke his own language. He would say the same things each time, but they sounded like gibberish. For example, "water" was "Ohtu." He also had echolalia so he repeated most everything he heard. I used his gift of mimic and his own language to more or less teach him English and force him to speak.

I first noticed he could repeat any melody he heard, so I began to communicate to him through sing-song melodies. His name had a tune, and a variety of basic commands and phrases had their own tunes as well. I eventually began to put words with these little melodies, then dropped the melodies all together. After that it was a matter of repeating what he said in HIS language, then repeating it in English. AFter that, when he could say "our" words, I would have him repeat the same thing five different ways. "Can I have a drink? Drink, please? I need a drink? Please get me a drink? I'm thirst?" And with each and everything I said to him I repeated his name. By the time he was 4 he was speaking in short 3-5 word sentences. By the time he was 4 and 1/2 he had a "normal" vocabulary, and by the time he was six he was well above age level for both expressive and receptive communication.

Today, at 9 I hear "I love you, Mommy" multiple times a day, each and every day. And every time it is with true, heart felt emotion! My son, who was diagnosed with severe autism, beat the autism and came back through the autism window. It took a LOT of hard work, but he did it!

Today, I am a college graduate and he is a homeschooled 4th grader. He is a tested and true genius. This blog will hopefully not only inspire others who are facing the diagnosis of Autism in their lives, but also help those who choose to homeschool their typical and non-typical children.