Turn off The News

Turn off the News

You’ve heard it a million times over. Be grateful. Count your blessings. Focus on the good.  Lukas Nelson once said, “I believe every heart is kind; some of them are just a little underused. Turn off the news and build a garden with me.”

Yet let’s face it, living from gratitude, particularly when the news bombards us with all the “not-so-good,” is easier said than done.  You can stop watching but it will find its way to sneak right into your world through your social or even an ad interrupting while listening to my music app while trying to shut the world out for just 6 minutes in the shower to recharge.  Yes, us autism moms are grateful for an uninterrupted 6 minutes. 

COVD-19. Devastating wildfires. Mass shootings. Politics. Hurricanes.  And then closer to home, our everyday pressures and problems: job stress, financial stress, Pandemic stress, marital stress, kids stress… there will always be something that isn’t as we’d like it to be. Things that can constantly give us anxiety, sadness, self-pity, despair, frustration or resentment.

This is all true.

What is also true is that there are many good people in the world who are brave, compassionate and committed to making the world a better one.

Our reality is shaped by the emotions we feel.  Our happiness is not determined by the conditions of our lives but by how we feel about them.

What you focus on expands. For better or worse.

  • What good does it do to focus on what’s missing or completely out of your control?
  • What good does is do you to focus on all the potential dangers in the world?
  • What good does is do you to focus on what’s unfair and how you’ve been wronged?

What if you focus on all the good in your life? The people you love and what lays inside your control? What if you focus on the future that inspires you and all you can do to improve it?  What if you focus on the power of gratitude and your passion or drive for something?

My youngest son for the first time ever had a friend send him a picture that said he was thankful for play dates with him.  He also braved through a wellness doctor visit with little anxiety.  My oldest reflected on all the support his best friends have provided him since he was 12 years of age.  He also shared his passions writing an essay why special needs kids have changed him to be a better person and perhaps he might want to receive his masters to become a Board-Certified Behavior Analyst one day.  I was reminded by a special Mom today also one of the Founders of Labeled and Loved, that I have a village supporting Cody and their vision is to have these supports throughout his life time.  This is a lot of good in my life right now.

As I share my Thanksgiving this month whether it’s in person or virtually, I will focus on the good in my life. Not what I can’t control.

Remember, if you have a full plate this Thanksgiving, if you are surrounded (in person or virtually) with people you love, if you have fresh air to breath and freedom to express your truth, then you have much to be thankful for.  Millions have none of this.  Be blessings to others. Block all the noise you can’t control and focus on the good.  Perhaps turn off the news and build a garden with me. 

Just as my oldest son once wrote on our kitchen board, “One good deed, could change the world.”

The Month of Transitions

Today is the first Monday after our oldest headed off to college. We are excited about Cameron’s opportunity to go off and start the next chapter and no words can describe how proud of him we are. Cameron’s brother has autism and is pre-verbal. We have been preparing for this departure most of the summer on how to handle this change but as a parent you question, “Was that enough?”  Are they ready? What are they both feeling?

Planning for a child going off to school is natural. In contrast, it was hard for us to prepare for how this change would affect our other son. My husband and I worried about how Cody would handle this new situation. Like many on the spectrum, Cody is most comfortable in a routine. His routine includes looking for where people are in the house, familiar noises (like my son’s friends or girlfriend coming over the house and laughing and talking loudly), and the physical closeness he and his brother shared. Cameron is a hugger. Cody has grown accustomed to his brother picking him up and wrapping his long arms around him and spending time talking to him while he plays on his iPad. All while this change is happening, it’s also in the middle of a Pandemic and Cody has not been in school since last March. First day of school is Wednesday (remotely) and while I set up a space in our home, Cody shared much anxiety with even more change.

We united as a family and spoke with Cody daily about where his Bro Bro was going.  We also gained support from our therapists for them to incorporate in his programs. We showed photos of Cameron’s new dorm room.  We did our best to describe what was happening and that going forward it will be different. Because Cody has a hard time expressing emotions and not always sure if he understands, we naturally wondered how much he was taking in.  We know there is some understanding because of some past memories he has shared through photos that we never realized he knew about until months later. 

When the day finally came to follow Cameron to his new home away from home; The University of Oklahoma, we felt nervous, excited, proud and sad. Some of the most difficult things we do are also the things that fill our hearts with joy. We were leaving a piece of our heart in Oklahoma.  The trip home was tough and then thoughts kept seeping in wondering if we were going to be faced with another challenge once we arrived home. The first few days back, I held my breath to see what would happen.  We kept busy and made sure we spoke of Cameron a lot and shared even more photos. Yesterday Cameron FaceTimed us and Cody was able to get that visual connection and say hello. It was so wonderful to see his smile and he for sure made my day too! 

This morning started off rough. Home was extra quiet, preparing for school and the  uncertainty was stressful. I could sense Cody’s anxiety and it just seemed to escalate more and more. He had hit his limit and had a fallout.  Any autism parent would agree, the worst part is you cannot fix it for them. You can’t wrap your arms around him to make him feel better, you can’t redirect and really all you can do is help him with some calming breathing techniques that seem to work best for him in his favorite brown chair but not too close but not out of sight. 

He finally calmed his self-down and then as a parent all the thoughts go through your head of what caused this. I do believe is was a mix of things happening. I believe he is sad about his brother leaving, change of routine over last 4-5 days leading up to his brothers departure and the changes in our home prepping for his upcoming school year.

I know with time, they both will thrive in their new norms.  In the past, Cody has adapted to change very quickly as long as we could get the practice trials in.  This may take Cameron a bit longer accepting of his brothers absence but he too will adjust and thrive. We are fortunate to technology these days.  Truth be told, I believe over the next few weeks they both will adjust faster than I will. 

Having a son with a autism, we worry often and our fears become strong. We are always thinking five steps ahead all at the same time trying our best to live in the present moment to endure those special times that make memories. We have an incredible supports in place and that helps tremendously too.

Wishing everyone a happy transitioning month with our upcoming, remote, virtual and in person school year and with all the other extra transitions sprinkled in!

A Good One

Today will be tough. It’s our last session with Cody’s therapist who has been part of our lives for three years.

She was part of so many life-changing developments and growth with Cody.

He found his voice with her by tapping into his creativity and her determination and consistency with programs involving his communication device.

She brought out his personality through dance, singing, jumping, riding bikes and doing somersaults. She provided a foundation of social skills with several outings we did together and playing boardgames all at the same time holding him accountable to using good manners. She empowered him and gave him confidence to climb trees and jump into foam pits. The list goes on…

We will be forever blessed that she could see life through a different window and understand the view. THIS is what makes her AUsome.

We will miss you. Best of luck with your move and new chapter. ❤️

Just so I NEVER forget….. April 6, 2020

Gas price a mile from home was $1.52

School closed until at least May 4th.

Self-distancing measures on the rise.

Tape on the floors at grocery stores and others to help distance shoppers (6ft) from each other.

Limited number of people inside stores, therefore, lineups outside the store doors.

Non-essential stores and businesses mandated closed.

Parks, trails, entire cities locked up.

Entire sports seasons cancelled.

Concerts, tours, festivals, entertainment events – cancelled.

Weddings, family celebrations, holiday gatherings – cancelled.

No gatherings of 50 or more, then changed to 10 or more and now no gatherings.

Don’t socialize with anyone outside of your home.

Shortage of masks, gowns, gloves for our front-line workers.

Shortage of ventilators for the critically ill.

Panic buying sets in and we have no toilet paper, no disinfecting supplies, no paper towel no laundry soap, no hand sanitizer.

Shelves are bare. Amazing to find a loaf of bread or toilet paper.

Manufacturers, distilleries and other businesses switch their lines to help make visors, masks, hand sanitizer and PPE.

Government closes the border to all non-essential travel.

Fines are established for breaking the rules.

Stadiums and recreation facilities open up for the overflow of Covid-19 patients.

Press conferences daily from the President. Daily updates on new cases, recoveries, and deaths.

Government incentives to stay home.

Barely anyone on the roads.

People wearing masks and gloves outside.

Essential service workers are terrified to go to work. *God Bless Them*

Medical field workers are afraid to go home to their families.

In-Home Learning in place with not being able to attend school

Class of 2020 – All things Senior year for my son – No Prom, Possibly No Graduation, No Senior Trip, No Senior Breakfast, No Senior Jamaica Trip, No Scholarship Awards Ceremony

This is the Novel Coronavirus (Covid-19) Pandemic, declared March 11th, 2020.

Why, you ask, do I write this?

One day it will show up as a memory and it will be a yearly reminder that life is precious and not to take the things we dearly love for granted.

We have so much!

Be thankful. Be grateful.

Be kind to each other – love one another – support everyone.

We are all one and stronger together.

33322222Senior Year

 

Cameron Shares About True Friendship

Last Friday, as the boys were headed back to Dallas from their 4th annual New Year’s trip, a dear friend sent the Moms this photo with a message about how much she enjoys spending time ringing in the new year with our boys each year.  She and her husband have opened up their home for them to attend the last four years.  Their time together is packed with lots of, laughs,  hikes, fishing, Frisbee golf, air soft wars and fireworks and of course good food.

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Before the holidays, Cameron and I worked on several scholarships together.  Depending on the scholarship, an essay or question was required for him to write about. One question was on friendship and seemed so fitting to share after their week together. Here is what Cameron shared on the impact of true friendship.

I found my true friends at the age of 12.  These three have been by my side nonstop. The value of true friends is knowing they are there regardless what life brings your way.  Knowing you have their trust too. They have guided me through life’s challenges and offered advice along the way.  When you experience this kind of friendship, you will know because it’s a feeling like nothing you have ever had. My friends have been there for me with no judgement. We have different interests, but all have one thing in common which is caring for each other. We all will head off to different colleges next year, but true friends are always together in spirit.

Before Cameron left out on his trip he informed me that one day,  it would not surprise him if his friends start bringing their families all together on this annual trip in the years to come!

 

Ross, “I’m Fine”

Providing for your child and offering him the very best therapies and support that he needs in order for his development are already a challenge for any special needs parent.

But, to add to the challenge is the absurd preparation it takes in seeking insurance that will cover his required therapy and preparing an authorization for xx amount of hours for services.

This year we had two options for CR to cover his ABA therapy services. We chose to leave the ever so ridiculous insurance provider that I will not mention name but appealed ALL YEAR long due to reduction in hours because in their eyes after the magic age of 7 you no longer face new autism challenges OR development success gains and your hours should only dwindle away.

We went with a NEW carrier and today, at 12 pm central time, our BCBA will be requesting for a six-month authorization at 40 hours.

While preparing this morning we found a little humor in this Friends video…

Please send happy vibes or say a prayer today.

Click below:

Friends Video

New Decade of Hope

2016 I wrote:

“In the months immediately following Cody’s diagnosis, we were mourning. Mourning the loss of what we thought was a typically developing child. Then we quickly went through all the grieving stages (in no particular order) and still do at times. Then you hit the panic button wondering what therapy do we choose and what is best for Cody? Of all the 200 methods out their specifically for Autism, where do you start and who do you trust to help guide you through this journey?

But then suddenly, we changed—our eyes, like Cody’s, opened. Looking at the same landscape and seeing something different.

We pressed forward with as much early intervention therapy Cody could handle. Books stacked in piles on the nightstand along with countless articles found on my Kindle to research and sponge everything we could learn about Autism. Our lives rearranged.

Then about half way through the year, we began to get settled into a rhythm of therapies. Books finished, different schools of thought studied, conversations about fundraisers started, prayers said, progress snail-slow (but subtly occurring).

And recently for the first time the word “on” is contingent and he makes a vocalization when he wants something “on”. Not always sounding like “on” but he knows he must vocalize.

It’s those small steps and brings us such joy and hope.”

Today:

As you have observed we have quite the vocabulary that extends far past “on”. I would never believe we would have the countless words that we do today. And the thousands that he knows already but just can’t expressively say them yet.

THIS is WHY we hold onto HOPE. Hope does not mean we want a cure or to fix him, we just want to hold on to HOPE that he continues to progress at the speed he has already.

Hope in 2020❤️

Happy New Years to all our followers! Your support and encouragement means the world.

De-Cody-ing: Self Independence

This morning, I saw the same face I witnessed the day he took off down the road on his bike for the first time.

The feeling of freedom, feeling of independence, the feeling of confidence, the feeling of ”I did it!”  It was a look that will forever be deep-rooted in my mind.

Working on self-independence is an everyday thing in our home. That is our long term goal right?  To provide Cody with the skills and confidence to be able to live a successful independent life one day on his own?  Shit, that scares me when I write those words out.

So this morning, I placed the car in park about five cars deep in the line at school drop off. Cody jumped out and put on his backpack and threw his Communication Device over his shoulders. I gave him a hug  and said, “Have a great day, I love you!”  Unplanned on my part, I just stood there and said, “Go on in! You know where to go!”

The kid ran so fast to join 3 friends that were running in same time. He was in front and I heard his giggle all the way from my car.  He did not know he was supposed to open the door!  It’s times like this when you are enabling him and don’t even realize it because someone is always there to open his door.  As parents, Brad and I are constantly having to think differently to create growth for Cody.

You question yourself, “If he were by his self standing at that same door, would he just be standing there until someone acknowledged him or opened the door for him?  Perhaps, yes!”  THESE are the things that all have to be taught to Cody. Once learned, it’s tattooed in his head forever. Nothing can come natural, simple like others may learn but once in there, its locked in forever.

After an awkward 10 seconds, I hollered to Cody from car, “Open door!”  He successfully opened and off he ran!  I ran up to see under the door and all I could see was his smile as he turned the corner realizing he bypassed his classroom.  I immediately called his teacher and told her what I did so she could track him down.  She quickly responded he is doing exactly what he should and headed to the cafeteria where he sits with friends until the bell rings.  She was so excited and sent this photo.  His posture and smile say it all. Seeing his joy this morning was priceless and I am so grateful for his teachers.

On another note, his Occupational Therapist reached out before the Thanksgiving holiday and realized there is so much inside CR’s brain that he can’t express that she has picked up on because of his limitations in his writing skills.  We are now testing and probing to see if we need to go into a different direction to help him release his thoughts and responses through technology.  I will share and write on this subject another time……stay tuned!

Look at his smile!

 

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Be Blessings to Others

You’ve heard it a million times over. Be grateful. Count your blessings. Focus on the good.

Yet let’s face it, living from gratitude, particularly when the news bombards us with all the “not-so-good,” is easier said than done.  You can stop watching but it will find its way to sneak right into your world through your social or even break in to your music app while trying to shut the world out for just a 6 minutes in the shower to recharge.

Devastating wildfires. Mass shootings. Politics. Terror attacks. Hurricanes. More mass shootings. And then closer to home, our everyday pressures and problems: job stress, financial stress, marital stress, kids stress… there will always be something that isn’t as we’d like it to be. Things that can constantly give us anxiety, sadness, self-pity, despair, frustration or resentment.

This is all true.

What is also true is that there are many good people in the world who are brave and compassionate and committed to making the world a better one.

Our reality is shaped by the emotions we feel.  Our happiness is not determined by the conditions of our lives but by how we feel about them.

I wont lie, I cried a lot this week after reading Cameron’s scholarship essays on the value of true friends and what his role would be in a village to raise a child.  And wishing Cody did not struggle like he does at times but just as soon as I stopped he shares the most powerful bravery like no other kid could overcome.

What you focus on expands. For better or worse.

  • What good does it do to focus on what’s missing or completely out of your control?
  • What good does is do you to focus on all the potential dangers in the world?
  • What good does is do you to focus on what’s unfair and how you’ve been wronged?

What if you focus on all the good in your life? The people you love and what lays inside your control? What if you focus on the future that inspires you and all you can do to improve it?  What is you focus on the power of gratitude and your passion or drive for something?

Cody had for the first time ever a friend send him a picture that said he was thankful for play dates with him this week.  He also braved through a wellness doctor visit with little anxiety.  Cameron reflected on all the support his 3 best friends have provided him since he was 12 years of age.  He also shared his passions writing an essay why special needs kids have changed him to be a better person and perhaps receive a masters to become a Board Certified Behavior Analyst.  Brad received a positive report from the doctor after a CT scan.  He also received a deserving promotion because of his dedication, hard work and commitment.  I was reminded by moms, teachers and family this week that I have a village supporting Cody and our family needs.

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As I share my Thanksgiving next week, I will focus on the good in my life. Not what I can’t control.

Remember, if you have a full plate this Thanksgiving, if you are surrounded with people you love around you, if you have fresh air to breath and freedom to express your truth, then you have much to be thankful for.  Millions have none of this.  Be blessings to others. Block all the noise you can’t control and focus on the good.

Just as Cameron once wrote, “One good deed, could change the world.”

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The Good Doctor

Having a tough time this morning.

Most of you witnessed pure joy seeing CR in his costume on social last night. I must admit it was pretty awesome watching how excited he got when I told him it was time to put on his Good Doctor costume and as you can see by the photos how Dr. Cody Rivers hammed it up with his 4 legged nurses by his side.  We were waiting with excitement for the arrival of brother and daddy to get home from work so we could go out trick or treating as a family.

615 We headed out and decided to take the trail behind the house to connect to a busier neighborhood.  Once we hit the end of the trail at the top of the street, just like that it triggered a meltdown.  He wanted to turn back around and go home.  He pointed with his entire hand and said over and over, “Let’s go that way.  Let’s go that way. Let’s go that way.”  We nudged a little more and even made it across the street and close to the first house and it just got worse.

Sometimes we don’t know why. You play the moment over and over trying to determine all the sensory triggers like was it the dogs barking behind the neighbors fence, was it something we said, was it the plane flying over, did something happen in his day that finally boiled over?  Could it have been prevented?

Then it hits you that this was the exact spot where he did not like to cross the road on his bike rides recently. Why? In all seriousness, we really don’t know why.  For whatever reason, to him that exact spot something happened and he has not forgotten and he just could move past it last-night.

So just like that, we headed home.

When he started to calm down, just as any school night, we started bedtime routine. I took a quick shower (needing a pause and a quick cry myself) and when I got out Cody came walking in wearing my shoes and asked me to, “put on shirt.”  What breaks my heart the most about all of this is I truly believe he was trying in is way to say he was sorry.  He does not owe any apology to anyone.  We have noticed after he has a meltdown he tends to shows us in random ways.  It crushes me because I know he can not help it.

Here is the thing, we have already learned not to set our expectations high and believe me we have already learned this but still it does not make it any easier.   In our hearts, we know Cody wanted to trick or treat and unfortunately last night a hurdle jumped in our way unexpectedly.

His courage and strength is stronger than any person you will ever meet and I remind him of that all the time.   Next year, we will try again (multiple trials) and maybe hit more trunk or treats and fall festivities before Halloween too so he can enjoy in some of that childhood fun too!

What we can’t lose site of is all the amazing progress he has gained over the last few weeks just because of one hurdle.  Tomorrow is a new day.

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