Some weeks back I wrote about visiting a new facility that MJ can go to for various activities. In order for him to be able to participate, we had to do a parent tour, 2 intake sessions, one with MJ and one without, and fill out lots of paperwork. Last week, I was finally able to have him participate in a Social Games class. I was a little nervous when I was taking him because I didn’t fully know what to expect and I wanted him to be in a good mood for the first session. I prepared him for it by explaining that he would be meeting new people, playing games, and having fun. He had no idea that therapy would be going on while he plays. Being the overprotective mom that I am (sorry, not sorry), I asked if I could observe just for a few minutes to make sure that he was okay (in my mind I still see him as the 5-year old that used to run into oncoming traffic). They nicely told me that I could do that towards the end of the session. While waiting, a fellow autism mom showed me the parent observation room! I ran for the chance to see what he was doing. All I saw was pure JOY on MJ’s face. He was so happy playing the game. I was relieved that he wasn’t just fine, he was laughing and being silly. When the session was over he was so talkative! Telling me that he played games, had fun and “I want to come back next week!”
Just yesterday I took Morgan to a sibling support group. There were about 15 kids there. They talked, played games, made hot chocolate, had snacks, did arts and crafts, and were sent home with a bag full of goodies. I cannot begin to express how thrilled and thankful I am for this new program. They not only serve the child with special needs, they serve the entire family.
When raising a child with special needs, it’s very easy to constantly compare your child to other children. In doing so, you soon realize that it does nothing but depress you and allow you to focus on all of the things that your child is not doing. When MJ was about 4 years old, I decided that I would not do that any longer and I would focus on any and all accomplishments MJ had.
We celebrated when he learned the names of objects around the house.
We celebrated when he used his toothbrush for the first time.
We celebrated when he took a bath without assistance and then eventually learned to shower.
We celebrated when he learned to safely use the hot versus cold water.
We celebrated when he learned to dress himself.
We celebrated when he went to school and didn’t try to hide in the classroom closet.
We celebrated when he started speaking in 2 word phrases (“juice please”).
We celebrated when he was able to sit at a restaurant for 10 minutes without having a meltdown.
We celebrated when he went to a store and helped with selecting grocery items instead of running through the store.
We celebrated when he stopped running into the street as soon as the front door was opened.
We celebrated when he learned his address and phone number.
We celebrated whenever he tried a new food.
And this continues today…
Don’t compare your children to anyone else. They are perfectly unique and a one-of-a-kind design. Celebrate their individuality and their successes no matter how small you think they may be- For we know those victories really aren’t small at all.
While rummaging through old files, I found this old picture of MJ. I had to gather paperwork in order to take him to the intake meeting at the new facility. My heart jumped when I came across the paperwork for Mj’s first evaluation at three years old. It brought back so many memories of how I felt at that time. I was scared, confused, angry, overwhelmed and lonely. At that same time I was hopeful and I just knew I loved and wanted to help my little boy. I call it a “hurricane of emotions.” My feelings were like a whirlwind, tossing back-and-forth and around. I sat for a moment- sitting, thinking, reflecting, about the years that have gone by. I am still on a mission to continue helping my son. At times I am still scared and even overwhelmed, but I am so thankful for how far MJ has come. So thankful that he is a happy child. So thankful that he has friends. So thankful that I see him becoming a little more independent as time passes. The intake meeting went very well. They described all of the clubs and activities that they had to offer, as well as offerings for my daughter! As for today, there is no “hurricane of emotions.” I am hopeful…let’s see what’s in store.
MJ 8 years old
Due to the Social Skills group that MJ is attending, I found out about additional activities that I could sign MJ up for through another company. I already know one parent who has her son there and she absolutely loves it. The awesome thing is that it’s literally 10 minutes away from my home ( look at God)! I decided to go to a parent meeting/tour to check out the facility. The director literally said everything any special needs parent would want to hear. All the parents there looked like kids in a candy store! We were hanging on her every word. She spoke about the fact that our kids will always be accepted there. She emphasized the training that all of the therapists and employees have. She talked about the fact that they have sleepovers for our kids, birthday parties for our kids, girls and boys night out (basically everything our kids are usually not invited to or just don’t have the opportunities to do). They have art classes, lego clubs, drama classes, and music therapy among many other things! I was really impressed with the huge playground they had and the on-site house for teaching life skills. My next step is to complete the intake with MJ. I am hoping to do that within the next two weeks! I am hopeful and totally looking forward to this.
This picture shows some of the wonderful therapists that work with MJ every week during his social skills group. He is making great progress and really looks forward to going (which I believe is partly because they are all beautiful)! I notice that he is initiating conversation more and his conversations are more reciprocal instead of sounding like an interview lol. We have seven more weeks in the program and we are excited to see what more he learns.
This was very difficult, and is still difficult to do with MJ. If he had his own way, he’d want to stay home 365 days of the year! It wasn’t easy and he had plenty of meltdowns during every new activity. We slowly had to expose him to various activities. Doing so has allowed us to realize his love of the beach, and swimming in general. As well as his love for basketball and bowling. I am actually in the process of trying to find out different activities that we can try him out for in the coming months. Sooner or later I know we will find something else that he truly enjoys doing.
This was said by MJ every 30 min. during Hurricane Irma. On Friday, MJ was carefree and just chillin’! He was not phased until early Saturday morning at 4 am when we heard 2 loud explosions and our power went out! He managed to go back to bed and when he woke up, he realized that the power was still not on. Every 30 min after that he said, “still no internet, still no air conditioner.” A few times he also said, “still no TV!” We had to explain at least 8 times that nothing would be turned back on until the hurricane passed. We played games, ate snacks, colored, read, played Uno and even had some bible study (we definitely needed comfort from above). MJ used his tablet and portable DVD player until the batteries ran out. It was very scary at times and MJ put his headphones on to drown out some of the noise from the howling wind and rain. We were without power for 30 hours. All in all, MJ handled it very well. He had no meltdowns of any kind! When the power did come back on he was thrilled and quickly went to see if his favorite shows were recorded. We let him know that we were proud of him and his sister for handling the entire ordeal without fighting, being angry, or pouting the whole time. We managed to have fun together. This taught them to appreciate what they have and to not take everyday things for granted. Lesson learned, Hurricane Irma.
Pic courtesy of ABC News/Twitter