Tuesday, December 31, 2013

No Need For A New Me!

I must say that this is first time in a long time where I can honestly look back and see how the good outweighed the bad.

This was not an easy year, and there were many times where I thought that things wouldn't get better. I felt and still feel completely overwhelmed at times, but with being a mom of three with a full time job, that is to be expected.  

Now looking back at this year ending and all that happened; I can honestly say it was an amazing year!  This year I have learned so much about myself through my own life experiences, but most of all through experiences of others.  This year has brought some amazing people in my life.  I am forever grateful to all those that have touched my life and shared theirs with me.  

The path I was following shifted and brought me to another.  I welcome the change and I am truly thankful.  I have a new job, and my dreams are slowly coming true.  I am starting my own Baseball league for children on the spectrum and beginning to tighten the reigns.  Planning and preparing to take control, so that the overwhelming moments won't be as difficult to deal with.  

I have grown spiritually, developmental and most of all mentally.  I am a very emotional person.  My heart and emotions usually affect my decisions and how I react, but I am learning to control my impulses.  My faith in God is stronger than ever before and I am continuing to absorb more knowledge.  Knowledge is key.  The more I know the more I'll grow!  Cheesy I know! But I believe it completely.  

I cherish all the moments of 2013 and I am thankful for them all.  I am grateful to those in my life that have my back and those that believe in me.  I thank you for loving me, accepting who I am.  For caring for me and my family. But most of all for seeing my Donomite through my eyes.  

So the only resolution I have this year is to continue doing what I'm doing and embracing what is in store for me.  It is a New Year, but I am fine with who I am!  No need for a new me! 

May you all have a Happy, Healthy and Safe New Year!  

Wednesday, December 18, 2013

To Clone or Not To Clone, That is the Question!!

a cell, cell product, or organism that is genetically identical to the unit or individual from which it was derived. b.

I think back to when I was a little girl and I couldn't wait to be an adult.  I fantasizes about being married and having a family. It all seemed simple then!  LOL, and now as an adult I reflect back on my youth, and wish that It could be as simple as It was then.  When homework and test were one of my biggest worries.  

When I was a child, my parents tried to attend as many functions as they could, but with work, they weren't always able too. Each event I would hope they'd be someone there for me.    I made a promise to myself that when I had children, I'd make sure id be there.  Easier said then done.

Lately I've been feeling quite overwhelmed.  Between work, doctor appointments, IEPs meetings, holiday shows, class parties, and HOMEWORK!!! (And I thought I was done when I graduated!) I feel like I'm stretching myself thin.  

Monday was Dustin's holiday show, Wednesday was Donovan's holiday show, Dustin's open class, Donovan's neurologist appointment, Devynn's Fans4kids workshop, and Friday I have a meeting to discuss Donovan's Functional Behavior Analysis.  My Boss is very understanding, but he also has a company to run and if I'm not in the office, things won't get done.  

Having children is a lot of work, and requires more hours than a day allows.  Adding special needs to the mix, makes things twice as hard.  At Devynn's IEP meeting, both her teachers mentioned more than once that I should spend more one on one time with Devynn.  I was a little offended.  My response was, "I wish I could split myself in 3, this way I could have one on one time with each of them."

 I am a working mother of 3 children, two with special needs and a 4 year old.  I juggle and try to do all that I can and be at all events.  I can't always make this happen.  Human cloning is sounding pretty tempting!!!! But not possible, so That is why I'm grateful to have the support that I have from family and friends. 

My mom volunteered to attend Dustin's open class.  And I'm so thankful!  My heartached at the thought of him making a gingerbread house all by himself.  

It made both their days!  He was so happy to see grandma in his classroom! 

I felt better knowing he had someone there for him! 
And he was definitely happy!!!! 

Friday, December 6, 2013

Is Your Son Okay?

"Is your son Okay?"  A mother asked me today, after I introduced myself and told them a bit about my journey in the world of Autism.

I knew what she meant, but I answered her with a question.   With a very playful smile, I asked her what she meant by okay. I knew exactly what she meant. It's what many parents of children with special needs mean. She was hoping that I had "The Answer".  It was that question dripping with hope.  That the answer will somehow help them confirm that their child will "fit in", be able to become independent and ease their fear of the unknown.  

Like most parents of children with a disability, until you can accept your child's diagnosis, you will constantly seek "The Answer". It's like those searching for the best get rich quick idea.  You want to get rich so bad, that you would do anything to get rich!  Most parents experience this.  I know I did when I was told my Donomite had autism.  I prayed for "The Answer".   I read books, searching for "The Answer".  I researched online, talked to anyone I could, asked any question that came to me.  I searched everywhere for "The Answer". I was willing to do whatever it took to make sure my son was okay.  Until "The Answer" came to me. My Donovan was always okay.  It was me that wasn't.  I was the one that was scared, and feared the unknown.

Once I realized that I was the one that wasn't okay, I was able to  begin working on me.  By doing this I was able to focus on what HE needed.  

So my answer is, "Yes, my son is okay, and so is your child!"  

Different not Less! 

Thursday, December 5, 2013

Santa Land at Macys!!

What a better way to end the Thanksgiving weekend and kick off the holidays then with a visit to Santa Land at Macy's!!! Macy's Santa Land is truly an amazing experience that everyone who Believes in Santa or doesn't, should experience at least once in their lives.  Which is why I am so thankful that Macy's and Autism Speaks allowed us to experience it.  

See my son Donovan my Donomite is Autistic, he was diagnosed when he was just about 2 years old.  

Because of his sensory issues, Going out or attending certain events and activities can be very overwhelming for him. He tends to have a meltdown and demand to go home when places are too crowded, or too noisy. 

 Then there are the occasional stares and looks of judgement or disgust when Donovan squeals, flaps his arm or hits himself. Especially when he is having a meltdown. This opportunity to meet Santa before the store opened was perfect.  

We prepped Donovan the night before and let him know that we would be visiting Santa, and his face lit up and he said "yay, were gonna see Santa!" He rushed to let his siblings know.  

That morning Donovan woke up right away and was ready to go.  Dressing him was much easier than regular days!  He kept asking "Are we gonna see Santa will he have Presents?" Hearing him say this, even if he was repeating it over and over, was music to my ears! He was talking in context and it was full sentences! 

Donovan loves trains, so we chose to take the subway downtown.

 I loved watching how focused and excited he was! Looking out the train car window absorbing it all!  He even sat a while and let his big sister rest on him.  

When we arrived at Macy's we were welcomed right away.  No crowds, it was quiet and Donovan seemed at ease.  We were quickly escorted by an elf helper, who was super sweet and understanding!  It was comforting knowing that those around us understood, and instead of stares, there were welcoming smiles.  Instead of looks of disgusts, there were welcoming looks. 

Our elf escort, took us through Santa Land.  She was a great tour guide.  It was great to watch Donovan walk the along side our elf escort to lead the way.


Donovan fell in love with all the train sets in Santa Land, and asked if he could take them home!  

We were able to take our time and take as many pictures as we wanted!

When we finally made it to Santa's room Donovan went right in, and walked right up to Santa. He seemed very comfortable.  This made me very happy.  I was fearful he may say "can we go home now" but instead he sat by Santa and even answered when Santa asked "what would you like for Christmas?" My Donomite responded with "TRAINS".  It was all set up perfectly and Santa was great!  

He was welcoming and friendly. He gave each child attention and allowed us to take a family picture as well!  But best of all, I knew Dono was okay, because he was all smiles and he wasn't holding onto his ears.  We got a beautiful family photo which is rare thing.  

Usually there is always one of us missing or we end up with photos like this.  

After we met with Santa we were escorted out and each child was given a little gift.  I was filled with so much joy and happiness.  I had a permanent smile on my face.  I think some of Santa's jolly rubbed off on me!  As soon as we got home, I pulled out my Holiday decorations and began to decorate!  

Thanks again to Autism Speaks and Macy's for allowing our family and the many other families to feel comfortable and make some amazing memories that will always stay with us in our thoughts and in our pics!  

Happy Holidays from all of is to all of you!  

Saturday, November 23, 2013

Let's Play Ball!!!!!

   For those interested in the Bronxchester Challenger League for children on the spectrum registration forms are available and will be accepted beginning on Dec. 1st, 2013. Please contact me via email at Bronxchesterchallengerleague@gmail.com.  You're child does not need to know how to play baseball.  This is a venue for your child to learn the basics and be surrounded by those that love and support them unconditionally.  Everyone can play regardless of their abilities.  Each child will have a chance to throw, catch, hit the ball and run all the way to home!!!!! 

The Bronxchester Little league is allowing me to pilot this program. As of right now there will be two sessions available, on Saturdays at 11-11:45 am and 12-12:44 am. Once I receive registration forms I can then determine age groups and offer more time slots.   My goal is to offer this program to children of all ages, and  hopefully one day soon people on the spectrum of all ages free of charge.  I hope to be able to offer a team shirt and hat.  Provide all supplies.  I just ask that parents provide their child with a glove.  In order to do this, I will need to find sponsors and raise the money to cover program costs.  In addition to baseball I would like to offer other activities and functions, such as holiday events.  If you or you know of anyone who is willing to donate, please do not hesitate to have them contact me for more information on how to become a sponsor. Feel free to share and spread the word!!!! 

Most importantly, I am looking for volunteers to become buddies/mentors to the children, and Parent involvement is mandatory.  I want to create a space for parents to feel comfortable and enjoy along with their children.  Parents do not have to know anything about the sport, but they do have to want to encourage their child.  

If a parent is interested in helping map out and improve this program, I am eager and willing to listen!  Reach out to me ASAP.  

I am extremely excited to be given this opportunity and cannot wait to be out in the field and say let's play ball!!!! 

Monday, November 18, 2013

What a Wonderful World!!!

After my Parent/Teacher Conference this past Thursday, I was left feeling broken and defeated.  I had run into another closed door and I left the meeting in tears.  I am still processing and trying to figure out what I need to do next, but I am better than I was when I walked out the meeting.  

This Saturday I was offered tickets to a concert for hope to benefit the Golden Hat Foundation.  I didn't know what to expect and I really didn't know the performers, but I felt like it was something I needed to experience.  And I am so happy I did! 

The concert was at Carnegie Hall! That in itself was amazing, but to be in Carnegie Hall surrounded by families and other individuals who love and support people with Autism was exhilarating.  

I only took a few pictures because I was so absorb by the show, but these are a the few I took!  

I sit back and reflect on my recent events and I think of how amazing a world it would be if it were filled with love an acceptance of Autism!!! 

I am completely blessed to have family and friends that love and accept my Donomite, whether or not they fully understand Autism.  They do not shun us and they always think of us.  They share information they find or come across.  Most of all they support me and give me strength to continue pushing forward.  They believe in me and see my Dono and all his Greatness!  

They are why I write and share my world! I want to show the world that it is possible to spread awareness and to build acceptance!  

Friday, November 15, 2013

I won't settle for less!!

So yesterday after my Donomites Parent/Teacher conference I was feeling emotionally drained and exhausted.  I felt defeated. 

I don't want to limit my kids because of their disabilities.  My daughter with dyslexia and my older son with Autism.  But what the Department of Education is requiring and the methods of teaching that they are pushing teachers to teach is  ridiculous.  

My kids are amazing.  They have a lot of potential if they were taught in way that was conducive to them.  

After a lot of crying and feeling pity for myself, my Dono showed me just why I fight!  

This is a letter he wrote, all by himself!!! I couldn't be more proud!  

Afterwards we went to dinner, and my Donomite was a wizard with chopsticks (kid ones! But still amazing!!!! 

Look at the technique!!! Pure talent!!!

Amazing right?! This is a kid who would rather eat with his hands! 

It is these moments that fuel my fire!!! He is amazing and I refuse to accept that this is as far as my Donomite will go!  

Thursday, November 14, 2013

Am I Asking Too Much?

All I want for any of my children is that they get the best education and services that they need and deserve!  I hate feeling like I am stuck in a dark room with no openings.  Today is parent/teachers conference and yet again I leave the school crying and feeling frustrated.

Dono's first year in the school, I loved it.  The staff were great and he showed a lot of progress.  I would rave about the school to anyone who would listen to me.  I loved his teacher, she was great and saw that she really genuinely cared for her students.  She was stern and the children responded very well to her.  It was twice as wonderful to know that the teacher's aide adored Donovan and took special interest in him.  During meetings and special events I felt the love and happiness.  There was always a spirit and joy breezing through the halls.  You could tell that they ran a tight ship and that the shipmates were all content.

Our second year at the school, was quite different.  My Dono's behavior was off.  He was stimming way more than usual.  His chin began to bruise from his constant punching.  He wasn't engaging as much, even with me.  It was almost like he was back to square one.  At Parent Teacher's conference last year, I went prepared with a list of questions and concerns.  As I was going over my list with his teacher, she informed me that Dono was not receiving his mandated Occupational Therapy services.  When I asked for how long, she told me since September.  This set off a battle to receive a RSA voucher to get external services outside of the school.  After numerous phone calls, meetings and threats to take legal action, I got the golden ticket.

As the year continued, my concerns were continuously affirmed.  At the end of an assembly, my Dono was left backstage with no adult supervision.  This happened as I sat in the audience and watched.  Eventually he came out, totally oblivious to the dangers that could have happened. All of his reports were the same numbers and comments. "Donovan has a hard time focusing, he constantly needs to be redirected, Donovan is easily distracted.  He needs a lot of one on one time."  I felt like my Donovan was stuck and not progressing at all.  I know that I am biased because I am his mother, but he is a very bright child and I see a lot of potential in him.  He had been showing nothing but great progress up until now.

A major concern I had was when his teacher expressed to me that she didn't feel the other teachers in the school were as equipped and she was worried that he would regress further. She only taught kindergarten and first grade and Dono was on his way to second grade. Now how am I supposed to feel hearing this.  So when the summer program was up, you can imagine my surprise when I heard that Dono was going back to his teacher's classroom and she would indeed be Dono's teacher.

Fast Forward to today.  The report card for all the NYC public schools was out and Dono's school scored a D.  I was preparing myself to meet with his teacher.  I planned to leave work for a bit to have enough time to sit and talk with his teacher.  When I  arrived his teacher was surprised.  She is aware that I am a working parent and expected to see me in the evening.  We greeted and began to discuss Dono.  I asked her why he was still in her classroom and she informed me it was because of me.  I had suspected that the administration placed him in her classroom, because they thought it would appease me.  She confirmed my suspicion.

Alot was said, but what I got from it was this... Dono is a bright kid who unless something is of interest to him, it takes a lot of work to get him to focus.  She loves Dono and everyone is team Dono.  But if I have an impartial hearing I won't be successful, because the school is giving Dono all that they are required to do.  She said he is hard to test, because he doesn't respond properly.  The fact that they scored a D, isn't relevant because it isn't based on their achievements, but on paperwork submitted.

My gut is telling me that he needs more, but I am not sure how else to get him what he needs.  I can't afford private school and I don't have a big enough argument to justify getting the board of ed to pay for his education.  Nor do I have a reason other than moving in the area to get him to another school.

I am feeling a bit defeated right now.  All I want is what he needs and deserves.  I feel like I am being forced to accept that this all my son will be.

Making Memories!!

For a while I had been debating on whether I should purchase a membership for the wildlife conservatory.  It gives you unlimited access to all 5 parks, certain exhibits, discounted rates to merchandise, programs, and so much more.  You can bring three adults and up to 5 children.  I can't forget Free Parking!!! 

The offer is amazing, but my experiences with the zoo, was that it was always too crowded, and overwhelming.  After a lot if thought and a whole lot of "mommy, can we go to the Central Park zoo?!, so we can see the Penguins?!!" I gave in and became a member!! 

I have to say, it was one of the best decisions I have ever made!  I have been to build better memories and really appreciate the zoo. We get up early and head out to the zoo to get there right when they open!  My Devynn said to me once, "mom I think we are too early, things are still closed" but I love it.  Also, before my membership, I never really thought about visiting the zoo I other than during warmer weather.  

This year we went to Boo at the Zoo, and I loved it so much! We went twice!  

My second trip, I ventured out just me and the kiddies, and it was Awesome!  We were able to catch the Dinosaur Safari and the last ride on the monorail until Spring! 

I have to say the highlight of our trip was the special attention from a Tiger!  

This tiger ran up to us the minute we walked into the exhibit.  It pressed its head against the glass as if it were asking the kids to pet it.  

I am so looking forward to taking full advantage of my membership!!! 

Sunday, November 3, 2013

I'm okay!!!!

So yesterday my sister in law decided to celebrate my nephew's birthday at The Castle Fun Center.  We all had a great time!  Adults and children.  There were so many fun activities to do, from skating, laser tag, Rock climbing and more! My Trio was excited and couldn't wait to do everything!  Even my Donomite!  We arrived at Fun Castle and Dono immediately wanted to play in the Game Center.  Elijah my nephew hadn't arrived yet, so we purchased a castle card and set the kiddies off with the hubby while I went and ordered food, for him and I.  The kids were gonna get pizza and goodies at the event center so the adults needed to fuel up for the festivities! 

Once our food was ready we all met up at the food court.  We all ate quickly and headed to the party.  Dono followed along.  Never ran off he was focused.  He sat at the table and for the most part participated appropriately. 

 After pizza, ice cream and cake we were off to skate!  Even the adults!!!!! I was excited to see how the kids and adults would do. My Dono was anxious and this made me happy!!! He really wanted to skate.  He had them on and now he was standing!!!! He wasn't very balanced, but he kept trying!  And I loved watching every second of it.  He held my hand tight and we were off!  Dev and Dusty were awesome!  Dev flew in and out and my Dusty like a baby colt wobbled a bit but once he got the hang of it, there was no stopping him!  And he didn't want to hold my hand.  

My Donomite he wasn't Graceful or fast, but he continued to try. When he fell, he'd yell "I'M OKAY!" and get back up with assistance; but kept right on skating!   At one point he told me "I'm done!" I took him off the rink and he sat out with his dad.  Only to get right back up after a few minutes and he kept skating with his Dad!  

I was so PROUD of him!!!! He even let go of my hand and tried on his own!  He was DONOMITE!!!!! 

Next up was laser tag and we lined up, but, laser tag was a no go, and that was okay.  We got our castle Game Center card and we played games.  While we were playing he discovered the bowling area.  I was trying to figure it out and he was getting impatient, so I said, "let's go ask the lady". So my Dono walks right up to her and says, "Excuse me, can I play bowling?!" Woo Hoo!  That's my boy!  Funny how something so simple can make me so happy and proud!  

He rocked!  He didn't want the bumpers up either!  Oh wait I forgot to tell you guys how Awesome he was at the games!  

He won three separate prizes with the claw grabbing machine all by himself!  And he was shooting hoops with ease!!!! 

He even rocked the hoop with his little Brother!!! 

He was OH SO DONOMITE!!!!!!