Overnight Outdoor Education Trip (#Autism) – Guest Post from Kim

A few weeks ago, I was having a tough day so I asked people who Like my Facebook Page to share some good news. Kim shared that her son had gone on his first overnight trip with his class. Fantastic! I asked if she would be willing to share how she and her son’s Developmental Learning team prepared everything so he could participate and enjoy the 3 day, 2 night trip. Below is her story. Thanks for sharing Kim!

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The day I found out about Liam’s Outdoor Ed trip I did not panic. I went into Autism mommy mode instead.   I started running scenarios through my head. With questions right alongside. Should he go? Would he enjoy it? Can they accommodate his needs? Would he panic? Would I end up driving to get him in the middle of the night?

 

Liam wanted to go. His friend Craig* (name changed) had made it sound like fun. He wanted to be with his friends. Liam wanted to do what his friends were doing. Liam had no idea what he was in for. Without having a prior experience with mental pictures to draw from…he simply had no idea.

 

Thankfully I have a great communication system with his Developmental Learning (DL) teacher. I sent her a note the next morning letting her know I wanted to get together to discuss the trip. She of course was all for it. We set up a time for about a week later due to March Break starting. In the meantime, she began asking the staff involved for information which included a basic breakdown of the typical day at the centre. It also included a diagram of the dorm rooms. She spoke with the school principal about accommodations for Liam’s needs.

 

Sitting down to talk with Liam’s DL teacher we went through and listed what his regular morning and evening routines generally were. We discussed what foods he likes and doesn’t like; and how his food can’t touch on his plate. We discussed some of the chores he is able to be responsible for at home (taking out the recyclables after school, putting out napkins for dinner, making his bed). We made lists of special items he would be allowed to bring, and what different things he should bring. We came up with a contact plan in case of homesickness.

 

The Outdoor Ed centre did their part too. They were able to give his teacher a basic run down of what meals were generally served. They sent tons of outdoor and indoor pictures from the centre to give Liam visuals to see before the trip. They explained what sort of helping chores the kids would be expected to participate in.

 

The biggest accommodation to Liam’s needs was in his sleeping quarters. Usually all the boys share one large bunk bed room; and the girls another large bunk bed room. There are also separate rooms where the teachers and parent volunteers would sleep. Liam and one friend were given a room in this area to reduce the noise and commotion triggers for him. With just the two of them it was a quiet place to go.

 

Prior to the trip story booklets were made up. One for each day that included a schedule with picture references to keep Liam on track and to help him see “what’s coming next”. Not being to know what is coming up later creates a lot of anxiety for him. He also a story booklet about homesickness.

 

We packed according to the list the centre provided (clothing, bedding). We also packed a digital clock (knowing what time it is at all times is important for him), his ear muffs (to block noise), his mealtime vitamins (can’t break dinner routine!), a rest toy (a stuffy of choice to sleep with), his chapstick and hand cream that he can’t seem to live without. He had a separate backpack with books, toys, and such for keeping busy during quiet time. He was allowed to bring his DS, but that was in the control of the E.A. that was along. Electronics are not allowed (except cameras) but as his iPad wasn’t allowed, this was as a reward system if needed. He never used it!

 

The other E.A. on the trip also was given my cell phone number to use as a message system before bed each night (3 day/2 night trip). In the case of mid-day homesickness Liam would have the option of texting me if needed.   Only heard from him at night! This E.A. sent texts to his teacher on how he was doing during the day, which she then passed on to me.

 

All in all, he did fantastic! He loved it, he enjoyed it, he PARTICIPATED! One of the teachers on the trip took pictures and Liam was in quite a number of them doing fun things. Reports from the teachers, the E.A.’s and some of the other students (I work with some of his classmates parents) was that he had a great time, it showed, and he was just a regular kid.

 

With lots of preparation by everyone this trip was a success.   No meltdowns or tantrums, he interacted and participated with a group, he tried new things, he always found foods he liked to eat, he wasn’t lonely or left out, he was helpful to others doing meal cleanup, he actually slept – away from home, with no family member. We are all so proud of him.

 

They say a picture is worth a thousand words……pictures from this adventure could write a novel.

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Kim is a married mother of three boys, and works fulltime outside the home. Her middle son (Liam) has diagnosis of “Autism – Pervasive Disorder” and was diagnosed near the end of grade four at 10 years old. Initially, he had been incorrectly diagnosed with ADHD and medicated with Adderal XL until almost a year ago. Since the corrected Autism diagnosis, he is no longer on medication. He is now placed in a Developmental Learning class while integrated in three of eight classes with his mainstream grade 6 class. He is now catching up with social skills, his reading skills have improved, and his speech and language workers continue to work with him as well.

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Saving/Earning Some Extra Cash for #BackToSchool

I’m happy to introduce you to Simply Shaye. She’s a fellow single mom who asked if I would accept guest posts, and I said sure! She came up with this little gem that I hope you like…how to save/earn some money over the summer to help with those Back to School expenses.  I always do the first two, but haven’t tried the second two suggestions. Thanks for the post Shaye!

Save Money

4 Clever Ways for Moms to Save and Earn Money This Summer

For most families, going back to school is a task that introduces the kids to new places, people and activities. Those shared summer experiences soon become treasured memories that you and your children will cherish for the rest of your lives. For busy moms, however, finding the extra money to fund back to school supplies can be challenging. Fortunately, you have a variety of ways to save money and lots of opportunities to earn extra money too. Here are four unique ways to save and earn money while your summer comes to a close, so that you can enjoy quality time spent with your family.

Keep Your Cool

When the temperature outside begins to soar, it’s natural to want to lower the setting on your air conditioner’s thermostat, but the cost of keeping your AC on all day can quickly deplete your vacation funds. Using a fan allows you to raise the thermostat setting up to four degrees without sacrificing comfort. Fans only cost around five cents per hour to operate. Because they circulate air throughout a room, they’ll make your AC equipment run more efficiently too. For each degree that you raise your thermostat’s setting, you’ll lower your cooling costs by around three percent.

Try This Money-Saving Cooking Strategy

Operating your oven on summer days drives up indoor temperatures, forcing you to run your air conditioner longer to stay cool and comfortable. Cut down on cooking time by doubling your recipes. You’ll not only save money on your energy bills but will have more time to spend with the kids too.

Top-Dog Earning Opportunity

Most dog owners hate the idea of leaving a beloved pet in a kennel when work or pleasure takes them far from home. Providing dog boarding services in your home offers pet owners a more loving alternative. Caring for someone’s pet companion is a boon for your kids too. They’ll have a dog to play with on long summer’s days and you’ll have earned some extra money to help pay for a family vacation.

Make Money Off of Your Photos

It’s so easy these days to take photographs with smart phones that many of us collect a library of photos before we know it. Sites like iStockphoto offer you the opportunity to make money with your snapshots. Sign up for free and submit your photos. You’ll make some extra cash whenever a consumer buys your photo!

Scraping together enough money to take the kids back to school can be challenging for busy moms. A little creativity and healthy dose of determination can inspire imaginative solutions and make it easier to fund for those back to school expenses that will make each family member happy.

Shaye is a single mom that has a passion for family, budgeting, healthy living, fitness, and travel.

She loves finding new ways to cook healthier and stay fit, all while doing it on a budget.

She has a beautiful son and one eccentric dog, but wouldn’t have it any other way.

Follow her blog athttp://simplyshaye.wordpress.com!  

New #PTPA Member

ptpa blogaholic FINAL

I’m so excited to be a new member of the Panel of Blogaholics with the PTPA (Parent Tested, Parent Approved). The PTPA is the largest parent-testing community and seal of approval recognized worldwide. Here is my introduction as a Blogaholic:

“I’m single mom of 7 year old boy/girl twins. My son has Autism. My daughter has Anxiety Disorder. I’m also very happy to still have a relationship with my 18 year old stepdaughter, despite being divorced from her father. She has Asperger’s and Mysophonia. BUT, my kids are so much more than their respective diagnoses.”

Read the rest of my intro here. I’ll admit that I’m so excited to be part of the Blogaholics, that I actually had butterflies in my tummy when I posted my introduction!

 

I encourage you to sign up to become a PTPA tester for products here.

 

If you have a product you would like tested by the panel of PTPA testers, check it out here. As always though, if you are hoping for just me to review your product, feel free to contact me directly.

 

My Guest Post – #Autism is Nothing to be Ashamed Of

(Guest post on SpecialNeeds.com

A few years ago when I was married, we invited a number of other families over for a “get to know you” type of BBQ as we all met at a 10-week course, in the beginning of our journey of learning about Autism.  As we went from family to family, one family surprised me. They had received diagnosis within the last 6 months, and they were still trying to figure out how to tell their immediate family members. These same family members even babysat occasionally so would have obviously been familiar that there were “issues” with this family’s two boys. 

Honestly, it took almost everything I had to remain composed during this discussion. The parents were highly educated, well respected, and employed in enviable jobs.  They had the ability to understand what Autism is, and how to access programs and services to support their sons’ Autism diagnosis.  Yet, they were worried about how their family would treat their kids, and especially how they would be “labeled” at school.

See the rest of my post here: http://www.specialneeds.com/children-and-parents/autism/autism-nothing-be-ashamed

 

My Guest Post: #SupportGroups Needs, from a Parent’s Perspective

Posted today on SpecialNeeds.com:

Because I’m an extrovert to the core, I’m naturally a “joiner”. I’m part of Parents’ Council for both of my kids’ schools, Autism-related support groups, special needs-related support groups, moms groups, etc. As a result, my schedule can get pretty filled between those groups, appointments for my son, field trip chaperoning for my daughter, being taxi-driver to ensure my son gets to IBI, etc.  

I’ve seen groups that are well managed, others that are still growing, and others that have it so down pat that they are amazing! So, I thought I would compile a list of things I really like that groups put in place to help their members.

To communicate with your group:

  • have a Facebook group 
  • keep a current membership list (this will look different for any group as some have fee-based memberships, others are just attendance-related)
  • have an email distribution list…

Click here to view the entire post.