Tuesday, December 18, 2012

GJOP Cookie Recipe Exchange

A couple of weeks ago, I went to a cookie exchange party.  You know, the kind where you bring a tray of your cookies, gather around a table and talk about your recipe.  Sorta like a getting-to-know-you deal.  Then you pack up a tray of delicious cookies and go home...hopefully with a new recipe in hand.  Since GJOP readers are all over the world, this is the best I could do.  Hope you enjoy the following recipes.  


 

DanielleBy far the best recipe for Oatmeal Cookies, it's not my recipe. I am an oatmeal cookie junkie!! I have tried many recipes, I ♥ hers!





RuthOld Fashioned Peanut Butter Cookies

These are so delicious. They are old timey, kinda a moist, dense cookie.  Thank you for taking the time to do this. Such a great idea!!!



2 cups of peanut butter
1 cup sugar (or splenda or the like)
1 egg

~ Mix ingredients together and put in freezer for a couple minutes to kinda stiffen up. Roll into balls and place on cookie sheet. Mash ball into a flatter form with a fork making criss cross patterns and bake. Usually takes about 10 minutes or so in a 350 degree oven. If you like em' harder then bake a little longer!!

Soooo YUMMY!!!


Team Bradley.  I want to give you a Bradley's favorite Christmas cookie.  Double Chocolate Cookies
makes 4 1/2 dozen
2 1/2 c all purpose flour
3/4 c unsweetened cocoa powder
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/4 teaspoon sale
1 c (2 sticks) unsalted butter, at room temp
3/4 c packed light brown sugar
3/4 c granulated sugar
2 eggs
2 teaspoons vanilla
1/4 c hot coffee or water ( i use coffee)
1 1/2 c red and green M&M's

1. Heat over 375. Sift together flour, cocoa, caking powder and salt
2. Beat butter in large bowl until creamy and smooth. Add brown sugar and granulated sugars and beat until light and fluffy. Beat in eggs 1 at a time. Add vanilla.
3. On low speed, bear flour mixture into butter mixture. Stir in hot coffee. Fold in M&M's.
4. Drop batter by heaping tablespoonfuls onto ungreased cookie sheets.
5. Bake at 375 for 8-11 min or until set. Let cool slightly on sheets. Transfer to wire racks to cool.


Here's my recipe for Candy Bar Cookies (submitted by Jeanie - aka Reinventing Mommy):

 Ingredients:

2 Sticks of Butter, Softened to Room Temperature
1 Cup of Dark Brown Sugar
1/2 Cup of Granulated Sugar
2 Eggs
2 Tsp. of Vanilla
2 1/2 Cups of All-Purpose Flour
1 Tsp. of Baking Soda
1 1/2 Tsp. Kosher Salt
1 Bag of Fun-Sized Milky Way or Snickers Bars, Chopped (I typically use the 11 - 14 oz bags, depending on how chocolatey/caramel-y I want my cookies)

Directions:

1. Preheat the oven to 350 deg F.
2. Cream butter, brown sugar, and granulated sugar together in a mixer. Once mixed, add the eggs and the vanilla. Mix at medium speed until well incorporated (about 30 seconds).
3. Combine the flour, baking soda, and salt in a separate bowl. Gradually add to the mixer, mixing on low after each addition until well combined. Once all of the flour mixture is added, fold in the chopped Milky Way or Snickers pieces.
4. Drop by rounded tablespoonfuls onto a cookie sheet lined with parchment paper (you want to use parchment rather than just spraying your cookie sheets, or else the caramel in the candy bars will stick to the pan).
5. Bake for 8-10 minutes, depending on your oven. You'll know the cookies are done when the edges just start to turn golden brown.
6. Cool on the pan for 2-3 minutes before moving to a wire cooling rack. I typically move the cookies to the cooling rack on the parchment paper so that the caramel doesn't ooze through the rack.

While these cookies are good warm, I find that they are actually better once the have completely cooled, allowing the caramel and chocolate to firm back up a bit. Once you make these, you'll never go back to plain-old chocolate chip cookies again!

Yields: About 24-30 cookies

Patricia.  Chocolate Crinkles

2 cups granulated sugar
1/2 cup vegetable oil
...
4 oz unsweetened chocolate- melted and cooled
2 teaspoons of vanilla
4 eggs
2 cups flour
2 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 cup powdered sugar

Mix granulated sugar, oil, chocolate, and vanilla. Mix in eggs, one at a time. Stir in flour, powder, and salt. Cover and refrigerate for at least 3 hours.
Heat oven to 350 degrees. Take rounded spoonful of dough and form into a ball for each cookie.
Roll in powdered sugar and place 2 inches apart on a greased baking sheet. Bake 10-12 minutes. Carefully remove to wire rack for cooling.

Karen.  These are my kids' absolute favorite!  Peanut Butter Brownie Cookies 


Unique Connections.  Chocolate No Bake Cookies

2 cups sugar
4 tablespoons cocoa
1 stick butter
1/2 cup milk
1 cup peanut butter

1 tablespoon vanilla
3 cups oatmeal
Waxed paper
Directions
In a heavy saucepan bring to a boil, the sugar, cocoa, butter and milk. Let boil for 1 minute then add peanut butter, vanilla and oatmeal. On a sheet of waxed paper, drop mixture by the teaspoonfuls, until cooled and hardened.


Patricia.  Grandma Minnie's old fashioned sugar cookies
This recipe is one i got from allrecipes.com several years ago. I use it to make cut out cookies for the holidays. It is very good, so if anyone is looking for a good cut out recipe, here ya go.         
Ingredients
3 cups of flour
1 1/2 teaspoons of baking powder
1/2 teaspoon of salt
...
1 cup of sugar
1 cup of butter
1 egg, lightly beaten
3 tablespoons of cream
1 teaspoon of vanilla

Directions
heat oven to 400 degrees

Over a large bowl, sift together all-purpose flour, baking powder, salt, sugar. Cut in butter and blend with a pastry blender until mixture resembles cornmeal. Stir in lightly beaten egg, cream, and vanilla. Blend well. Dough may be chilled, if desired.

On a floured surface, roll out dough to 1/8 inch thickness. Sprinkle with sugar; cut into desired shapes. Transfer to ungreased baking sheets.

Bake for 6 to 8 minutes, or until delicately brown.

Start at the low end of the time and keep an eye on them, they burn quickly. Also, you can double the batch for more dough. It makes 3 medium sized balls of dough per batch.
 
Jennifer.  Flourless Peanut Butter Cookies (Gluten-free, Dairy free)

Autism Art ProjectVanilla Pudding Chocolate Chip Cookies


Balanced Imperfection.  Chocolate Peanut Butter & Banana Bites
Not cookies... but soooo yummy!

Ingredients:
...
2 large bananas
1/4 cup nat¬ural peanut but¬ter
1/2 cup choco¬late chips
2 tbsp-1/4 cup milk of choice


Preparation:
Line a cookie sheet with waxed paper or parch¬ment. Slice bananas into coins about 1/2–3/4 inch thick. Spread a lit¬tle dol¬lop of peanut but¬ter on top of each one. In a small bowl, com-bine the choco¬late chips and milk (remem¬ber, less is more). Microwave in 15 sec¬ond incre-ments until you can whisk them together. You want it to be a dipable con¬sis¬tency, not spread¬able. Add a splash more milk if nec¬es¬sary. Dip the banana chunks using a fork as a lit¬tle chocolate-coating fork¬lift, dip¬ping them into the melted choco¬late. Place choco¬late coated bananas on the pre¬pared sheet and place in freezer until com¬pletely frozen (3–5 hours). Remove from the sheet and store in a freezer container.
My absolute favorite cookie.... Almond Thumb Print Cookies
3/4 cup Crisco
2/3 cup sugar
1 egg
1 tsp. vanilla extract
1 tsp. almond extract
1 3/4 cups flour
1/2 tsp. baking powder

Combine everything.  Roll 1" balls onto lightly sprayed cookie sheet.  Use thumb to make a hole and fill with jelly.  (I use grape and strawberry.)

Bake at 350 for 15 minutes. 

Hopefully you've found a new recipe!!  Thank you everyone who participated.  Merry Christmas to all of you.  ~Jennifer
 

Wednesday, November 28, 2012

GJOP Autism Parents Toy Review

In the beginning of November the GJOP autism parents got together online and suggested a bunch of toys that our children are interested in.  The following toys are broken down and links are attached to each one listed.  This is to give you an idea of what the toy looks like.  I suggest you continue the online search for the perfect toy for your ASD child.  If you'd like to read comments the parents made about a particular toy, you will need to scroll to the Toy Review week, which took place November 5-9 on the fan page.  As always, if you have any questions, please go to the GJOP page and post. 

Classic & Simple Toys
Chuggington Toy Train Set
Pillow Pets
Whistling Spinning Top
Imaginarium City Central Train Table
Magnadoodle
Ball Pit
Mr. & Mrs. Potato Head
Little People Play Sets
Puppet on a Stick
Kaleidoscope
Barrel of Monkeys


iPad Apps & Online Games
Scribblenauts Unlimited


Building Toys
Laser Pegs Light-Up Building Set
Magneatos Jumbo Building Set
Quadrilla Building.  Wood & Marbles
Gears! Gears! Gears!
Zometool
Elenco Snap Circuits
Playstix


High-Tech Gadgets
Karaoke for iPad
LeapFrog Tag Reading System
Furby
Nintendo 3DS
Leapster Explorer


Sensory
Pea Pod Inflatable Calming Station
Incred-A-Ball
Glow in the Dark Lab
EKKORE Hanging Seat
Squishy Baff Bath Activity Kit
LED Super Finger Flashlights Set
Cloud B Twilight Turtle
Rotating 6" Disco Light
PlayDoh Sets
Bilibo
GAK
Floam
Trampoline
Indoor Net Swing
Lava Lamp
Water Table


Misc.
MiniLUK Starter Pack
NERF N-Strike
Keyboard
Kid-Tough Digital Camera
Imaginext Toys
Puppet Building Kit
Privacy Pop up Bed


I hope this helps!

Friday, November 2, 2012

No Explanations Needed

Ever notice that sometimes certain words don't need to be said when it comes to autism parents? 

Sandy has shown her wrath on the East Coast.  Hubby went on a search for coffee on Tuesday morning...a difficult search.  He ended up at a local super market who was serving coffee and bagels and such...nothing hot.  Anyway, in order to get coffee, you had to stand in one line to pay then go to another line to pick up.  Sounds good so far, right? 

Well, the first line was a 30 minute wait and the second line was about 40 minutes.  Sucks now correct?  Still with me?  While he was in the second line he noticed a boy and his mom.  No big deal.  But the boy was rocking, flapping and holding his ears shut.  Many, many other people would think to stay away (autism awareness people) so my hubby stood behind them, looked at the woman and said, "He's doing well."  That was all it took.

It's an understanding in the autism community isn't it?  We don't have to take people all the way back to the diagnosis story, or even explain what is happening, processing, therapies, etc.  We don't need any of that.  There is an understanding.  She started talking with my hubby about her son and how well he was doing and handling all the power outages and changes in his routine.  She appreciated the fact that someone got it.  She didn't ask about how he knew or if he a parent.  The word autism didn't even come up in the conversation.  Just a part of life. 

No explanations needed.

Thursday, September 27, 2012

Summary of Benefits in Black & White

We knew it was coming and now it's here.  Yesterday I received my estimated Medical Assistance co-payment for my son and it was shocking.  There it was in black & white.  There was talk about what the co-pays would be for and how the cost would be figured out.  I didn't pay much attention because why get worked up for something people were only guessing about...right? 

We are very thankful for Medical Assistance and all the additional cost it absorbs.  Our son needs therapy.  Autism is expensive.  It can be mentally draining, physically exhausting and oh, did I say mentally draining?  There are only so many grants around that pay for items you may need for your child whether it goes towards therapies, devices, or equipment.  We pay so much already for our primary insurance that it was hard to actually read yesterday, when I saw in black & white, that the estimated monthly amount for us to pay out would be about $1,000.  Granted this is an estimate but who the heck has an additional $1,000 to spend?  Looking at it deeper our income was listed incorrectly so we will be appealing due to that alone but another thing that got my attention is that it clearly states it doesn't take any expenses into consideration.  Let me say that again....IT DOESN'T TAKE ANY EXPENSES INTO CONSIDERATION.  So, let's forget about the mortgage? car payments? utilities? food? activities?

Everyone has expenses including you, State of Pennsylvania.  Let's look at it from another view here.  You will be billing the parents of a special needs child for co-pays.  Did you take under consideration that their household is under financial stress already?  Many in-tact families are down to one income because of high unemployment rates.  Or how about down to one income because their special needs child needs so much additional support that one parent must stay home.  How about the single parent trying to make it?  You may say let the families and friends help out.  What if family was out of town.  Autism secludes you.  I know many families who are alone not because they want to be but how difficult their lives have become.  How do you meet people?

Did you know, State of Pennsylvania, that the divorce rates for special needs families are at 80% due to the extreme stress factors?  This would add more financial stress to that...don't you think?

Also, in order to pay for the co-pays families may cut back services or take desperate measures and pull out of all services for their children all together to get rid of any type of additional monthly payment.  Who does that hurt---the children.  It is critical to help these children when they are younger because guess what....they grow up to be adults.  Look down the line.  Will you be taking care of these adults when they need help?  Oh, by the way, will my social security even be there when I reach of age?  Probably not.  Have to save for our own retirement don't we?

I'll do what I can for my child.  We take full responsibility for him and that will never change.  He has made tremendous progress through all the therapies he has been in over the years.  He still needs to go to therapies in order to thrive.  We moved school districts to try to get him a better education in an autism-friendly school.  We don't sit back...we never have.  We will be filling out the Fair Hearing form and will be waiting for your call. 

Monday, September 24, 2012

How to Make a Halloween Wreath-With Kids

One of my son's biggest motivators are the holidays.  Most holidays but especially Halloween.  I think it's because it kicks off a bunch of the biggies for us.  This weekend he finally asked to go to the pumpkin patch.  Every year, each weekend in October we visit one...or two depending on the weather.  Since it is only September I wanted to hold him off a bit.  He asked to go to the movies but the Halloween ones aren't playing yet so we went on a quest.  A quest to find and look and play with every single Halloween decoration on the face of the earth!!  He loved it. 

Decorating for holidays is extremely fun for him.  Like I said, HUGE motivator.  After we went to the sixth place to look and play with the decorations, we went to Michael's.  Not knowing what we'd make we settled on making wreaths for the front doors.  Easy and fun to do!  Here's what we bought.

supplies
 
An 18" wreath frame.
9' of Halloween garland.  He picked out the pumpkins but they had bats, ghosts, skeletons.
Pipe cleaners.
Anything extra to make it 'scary'.  He chose spiders, skeletons and glow-in-the-dark mice.


Attach the 9' garland to the wreath.  It wrapped around 2x.

Attach the 'extras' for the scary effect. Place on the door!!


Attach with pipe cleaners or
 wire underneath frame.


Hooked right onto the doors
because of the wire frame.













This was so easy and the kids had lots of fun helping.  So much fun in fact that he took extra pipe cleaners and made a Dracula tree all by himself.  Love my boy!! 

His very own Dracula Tree.

Tuesday, August 28, 2012

Not a 'Beige' Room

It's done!  Complete!! and it won't be painted over for another 5 years....that's my rule anyway.  Whatever theme you pick, you have to live with it for 5 years. 

When we were in the process of moving I had to heartbreakingly paint over his 'Beach at Night' theme room.  (I think if you click on the link, it will take you to the fan page and the photo album.)  He didn't want to paint over it either so I told him to start thinking about what his new room should be and without hesitation he said Angry Birds Space.  OK.  So I started to play the game to even see what it was about.  Looked a bit complicated but if that's what he wanted then that was what he was going to get. 

A little history about why I like crazy rooms.  I grew up in a beige house.  Most of the house was neutral except for my room.  Mom tried but going neutral was safe.  She is embracing color now!  Way to go Mom.  Looking back, my grandfather came over from Germany when he was only 14 years old and didn't know any English.  He knew a trade and his trade was to hang wallpaper.  He was good at it and that is how he earned his living.  He then taught my Dad and he was good at it also.  As far back as I can remember, my bedrooms were always loud and bright and really busy!!  I would always love to be in my room.  I think that is why I'm not afraid of color.  My homes are very colorful and bedrooms have to be WOW!! 

Back to Angry Birds Space...... My son has autism and has difficulty with communication.  No news there.  When we did his 'Beach at Night' bedroom I saw how excited he would get when we talked about the beach.  I would ask him what he would see at the beach and then paint what he told me.  Even let him show me where he wanted it to be.  It was a fun experience for both of us and the whole family got into it.  When planning this room he picked out the paint colors, curtains and carpet.  So, without further ado, here is his 'Angry Birds Space' bedroom.


Paint the walls, ceiling and add clouds.
Don't forget to 'doodle'.
One level had this orange, egg shaped planet.


Angry Birds Space birds.



One of the boulders with pigs.
 The entire ceiling has purple clouds, ice chunks and glow in the dark stars that are scattered throughout the entire room.....not to mention floating pigs in bubbles. 

I am not an artist but I do enjoy the interaction with my son when we create rooms.  My daughter wants a 'Nature' based room complete with high grass, flowers, butterflies, clouds, a sun and a giant rainbow. (I drew the line at a pond with frogs and lilly pads!)

Hope you enjoyed the pictures and I think you will agree that this is not a beige room. 

Tuesday, August 21, 2012

Desperately Holding On



Time for beach (6:23am).  More beach.  My beautiful beach.  More waves.  Here they come!  Jump.  Jump higher.  Wow.  I'm swimming.  Have to throw sand.  Look, a seashell.




  
Time for rides.  Another ride.  More rides please.  SPACE SHIP.  More tickets.  Can I go again? 





Games please.  Can I have a ball?  Claw machine.  Need more money Dad.  Get tickets.  Again.  More money.  Play again?




I'm hungry.  Pizza.  Cotton candy, the blue one.  Onion fries.  Popcorn over there.  Corn dogs.  Another corn dog please.  Brown soda.






 Swimming pool please.  Time to swim.  Goggles.  Where are my goggles?  Water is cold.  Ssooo cold.  Need to swim. 






No home.  Stay at beach.  Want to STAY HERE.  I don't want to go home.  PLEASE.....

Wednesday, August 8, 2012

Dear New Teacher and New School District

I was asked to participate in writing a letter to the new teacher from Homestyle Mama (with a side of autism).  One of the GJOP readers, Karen Williams, shared her letter that she wrote to her son's new teachers when he entered 7th grade.  It was a very thorough, well thought out letter. 
We have a unique situation this year and that is not only does he get a new teacher but we are enrolling him into a new school district.  My son actually picked out our new house...believe it or not before it was even on the market.
We will be meeting with the school this Friday to register both children and we have copies of the IEP and progress report in hand.  Also our BSC will be accompanying us and will be acting as our advocate on behalf of my son.  We are going to ask for a totally different placement for him and believe me, I'm nervous about it. 
New school district = new start for him.
So, I will not be writing a letter and sending it to them instead I will be sitting face to face with all the people involved.  With my husband and our BSC at my side, I will feel stronger to ask for what is best for our son.  I'm planning on telling them some of my son's strengths. 
His strengths are:
  • He is very creative
  • Wants to make friends
  • Asks all the time, "What does that say?"  He wants to read.
  • Has empathy for others
  • Loves to be a part of something or included in groups
  • He enjoys computers and is currently learning how to keyboard
  • Awesome gross motor skills...boy is he fast!
  • He will eat all types of foods and loves to cook...measuring = math skills
  • Looks forward to helping others.  etc. handing out papers, copy machine, collecting work
He needs help in these areas:
  • Sensory breaks are important for him so he can remain on task
  • Paying attention during non preferred activities
  • He wants to contribute during conversations but has difficulty expressing what is inside his head or speaks too fast for others to understand
  • He is easily distracted
  • He doesn't like to write
  • The lessons need to be tweaked so he can understand the information
As a family unit, we are committed to him in getting all the help he needs.  He receives speech, OT, BSC and TSS services outside of school and this year we will be putting him in an after school program with typical kids.  He will receive TSS support in that activity to help him cope with learning how to be social with the other children. 
All we ask is you give him a chance.  We have seen so much improvement every year with him and he is a hard worker. We, as a family, will do whatever it takes to see him thrive and we are depending on you to provide him an education.  Not an education that sends him to a room where he doesn't get to interact with his peers, because he is capable of this.  He can do more than write his name.  He wants to learn.  He just learns differently.  We chose you, new school district, because of other parents who highly recommended you because of your inclusion philosophy with autistic children.  We uprooted the entire family, spent months looking for a new home, went through all this expense and stress to come to you.  Please don't take this wrong but I won't be handing you my son and walking away.  I will most certainly be constantly checking on his progress.  I want a daily communication log with his teachers and will be reading it every single day.  This is how I start circles of communication with him.  I will be putting your phone numbers in my phone and if there are any problems, count on a call from me.  I am not afraid to open up the IEP at anytime and I am not afraid to go to the top.  Now, with that said, I look forward to our school relationship with you.  Let's get started.

Tuesday, August 7, 2012

Guest Blogger Karen Williams' Introduction Letter to Teacher

Guest Blogger Karen Williams shared her letter that she wrote to all the 7th grade teachers that her son would be dealing with at school.  Homestyle Mama (with a side of autism) shared her letters that she wrote for her sons and so did Tylerisms for the Autistic Soul and Laughter Could Be the Missing Piece

The following is from Karen.

I am mother and advocate to an amazing 13 y/o with Asperger's Syndrome. It always helps to prepare ahead each school year, so I have a basic intro letter that I send out to his teachers explaining his uniqueness. This was last year's intro letter which I will be modifying as needed for the upcoming school year:

Dear 7th grade Teachers,

As I am sure you are aware, David has Asperger's Syndrome, which is a high functioning form of Autism. It means that his brain works differently and he processes things differently than typical children. Asperger's is a neurological condition, often affecting communication, social interaction and sensory issues. It is often referred to as the "invisible syndrome" because of the internal struggles these kids have without outwardly demonstrating any real noticeable symptoms. I want to briefly describe some of David's strengths and difficulties in order to facilitate a successful school year, as each child with Asperger's Syndrome is so unique.

Academically, David is highly intelligent and is usually on the high honor roll in school. He loves Math and Science especially. He is a hands on learner who is very detail oriented and is good with facts. He also really loves computers and is very good with them. He can become obsessed with things to the point of becoming quite an "expert" on the subject, and this could be advantageous at times. He does struggle with Reading comprehension at times, and truthfully does not like to read because of that, and also because of focus and attention issues resulting from his coexisting ADHD diagnosis. While he can pick the facts out of a book, when you ask what was meant by something he often cannot tell you.

David thrives with structure and routine, and when there is unstructured time, such as at lunch, assemblies, or field trips he can have a difficult time understanding what is expected of him and then following through. He also gets picked on a lot by other kids during these times, as he does not fit in with them socially. He is very rule oriented, or black and white. When rules are stated and followed he is in control of his world, but when rules are broken his world can quickly spiral out of control and he no longer knows how to behave. Sometimes this can lead to anger and frustration and he has a difficult time calming himself down. Competition can be another trigger, and when he is not instantly good at something he can become easily frustrated. Please allow breaks as needed, and do not trust him to tell you when he needs them, as oftentimes he does not realize he is building up to that point.

As most children with Asperger's Syndrome, David also has a coexisting Sensory Integration Disorder. He talks very loudly at times because his sense of hearing is so keen that he hears things like the clock ticking, pages turning, the motor in the fan, the lights buzzing (yes, he actually can "hear" the lights), etc. He hears these noises so much louder than they actually are and is unable to tune them out as we are, so as a result he tries to talk above everything that he is hearing. We have been trying to work with him at home on this using "The Incredible 5 Point Scale", though he would not be very comfortable or cooperative in school using this in front of his peers as he would have to explain what it means to the other kids when they ask, again calling attention to him. He has scheduled sensory input during the school day, and we also work with him at home with sensory issues.

David also sometimes has difficulty looking directly at you when there is a lot going on around him. While this does not occur all of the time, sometimes he needs to look away to be able to absorb what you are saying or to concentrate on what he is saying. He is not trying to be rude or disrespectful at all. We were recently at a mall food court where it was very busy and noisy, and a friend was with us. As they tried to carry on a conversation with David, he was responding appropriately but looking in the complete opposite direction the entire time he was talking. Other times when it is not so busy he has absolutely no problem with eye contact.

Also, David's perceptions can be a little off at times, as his Asperger's Syndrome causes him to interpret things differently than others. He is very literal at times, and also sometimes does not understand figures of speech, body language, or facial expressions, though he is slowly learning this. Recently he was having a difficult time with something he was doing, and I told him not to worry, that I would help him, and to keep his chin up. He immediately thrust his chin up into the air and asked what good that was going to do. We discussed this, so now he understands this particular idiom, and we teach them as they come up.

David tries his hardest to appear flawless to others and does not want any of his peers to know he is different, though most of them do realize this. Please do your best to protect his privacy. A lot of things that most other children naturally know or pick up on, David needs to be taught. We try to use every opportunity as a teaching moment rather than to punish him for things he simply does not know or cannot help. Punishment does not work for children with Asperger's Syndrome, positive reinforcement is best.

David can become very frustrated during his school day between all of the sensory overload, changes, and transitions. Little things can upset him, from a different bus that picks him up, to an unexpected change in routine, arriving late at school, having a substitute teacher, kids laughing at him or not including him, etc. All of these seemingly very small things build up to a point where he explodes, and this usually happens at home where he is most comfortable and secure. He has a very high anxiety level. We are working on his coping skills, and he attends therapy on a weekly basis for this and also for Social Skills in Allentown. He will also be starting Speech and Language shortly to address his pragmatic communication difficulties.

Like any other child, David wants very badly to fit in with his peers, but seems to have great difficulty doing so. He does seem to hang around with girls mostly, as most of the boys do not accept him or his differences. He tries his best to emulate his peers, but sometimes targets the wrong things to emulate or does so in appropriate ways. Please be patient with him, he is trying his very best.

David has a great sense of humor, but sometimes does not understand jokes. He is also a very sensitive, kind, and thoughtful child, and a simple smile and pat on the back from a teacher can go such a long way with him, he will do cartwheels for you. He tries very hard to please others, and if he perceives an adult as not liking him he is totally crushed and will withdraw and not participate. Though it may seem hard to believe, David has a very low self esteem. Giving him special jobs, or asking for his help with something like a computer issue, and praising him in front of his peers can have a huge positive impact on his self esteem, and would be greatly appreciated.

There is so much more that I could write about. As time goes on I am sure there will be things that come up that I would be glad to help with, and likewise I would welcome any input from you as to things that you feel we can do to help at home. Please do not hesitate to contact me via email or phone for any reason, even if it seems to be something not so important. I look forward to working together as a team and having a very successful year ahead, and I know that communication between school and home is very important to that success. I will do my best to keep you informed also of any changes at home that may cause him any difficulties in school. Thank you so much for taking the time to read this and for getting to know my child and his unique abilities and difficulties.

Sincerely,

Karen Williams

Friday, July 27, 2012

The House with 10 Windows

It was a Thursday afternoon.  Our appointment was for 1pm.  My husband and I walk up the carpeted staircase in an old building downtown.  We were the first to arrive so we sank down into the leather seats to wait for the rest to join us.  Soon our Realtor arrived along with the sellers and their Realtor.  Soon we were escorted into the meeting room with everyone gathering around the table.  Making small talk with the seller was a bit awkward.  You could tell she loved her kitchen.  I assured her it would be used often and taken care of.  I told her that our son loved to cook.  She smiled.  Then a huge stack of papers were presented and pens distributed.  Surprisingly enough, I was at ease.  No stomach jitters.  I looked at my husband and we smiled at each other. 

After signing most of the stack of papers the most important one was at hand....the deed.  The seller signed off on the house with tears in her eyes.  Then it was our turn.  My husband went first.  As he signed he told the seller that her house was already sold before she put it on the market.  She looked at us with a puzzled expression.  We started to share.

We made the decision in April that it was time to purchase a new home.  We had 2 things that we were looking for.  The first was a new school district and second was a large, flat backyard.  You would think that would be an easy thing but it proved to be more difficult that we thought.

After doing research and calling several school districts we decided on one that we felt would be the best fit for our son's needs and also great for our daughter.  That narrowed the search.  We started Sunday drives to narrow the search even more.  We were constantly checking on Zillow and the paper for houses to drive by. 

Often, we would just drive around the area to look.  One night my husband and son went on one of these drives.  My husband  told me he was on a road when my son suddenly said, "I want to go in that house.  My house.  Stop.  My house."  He took note of the house and liked it.  He then told my son that it wasn't for sale.  There was no sign out front. 

I was able to go look at houses with our Realtor while the kids were at school and hubby was at work and eventually narrowed it down to 2.   On a Tuesday afternoon our Realtor, hubby and I pulled up to house #2 to check it out.  As we were getting out of our cars, we noticed a house across the road with a sign on the front lawn.  I pointed it out to the Realtor and said I wanted to go into that one.  My husband agreed and told me that was the house our son wanted to go in, the one he called 'my house'.  Long story short....we put in an offer on Saturday and it was accepted Sunday. 

We kept asking the kids, "What kind of house do you want?"  My son always replied, "10 windows.  The house with 10 windows." 

I met the house inspector at the new house to go through it but before we started, I stood at the top of the driveway and counted the windows.  Sure enough, there were 10.  You could see 10 windows from the street.  Coincidence?  Lucky number?  You never know with him sometimes.  He truly has a sixth sense.

Later that week, I told the kids that Mommy and Daddy bought a new house then took them for a drive by and asked what they thought.  My daughter loved it and my son said, "The house with 10 windows, my house" as a matter-a-fact.

Everyone in the room couldn't believe what they were hearing.  It was followed up with "That's amazing." " Oh my gosh."  "Wow."  The seller had a huge smile on her face along with watery eyes.  She knew the house was in good hands.  It was meant to be.  

Saturday, July 14, 2012

Must've Been the Soda

Yesterday afternoon I found a lump in my left breast.  My first reaction was NOT NOW!  Summer is way too busy.  How was this possibly going to happen?  My next yearly is in September and it wasn't there last time.

When I was 27 I had a lump removed but didn't have any kids.  There were doctor appointments, mammograms, ultrasounds, meet with a surgeon 2x, then finally went to go have surgery to get the darn thing out.  Wait, wait, wait for the results all while healing.  Everything came back negative for the big 'C' thank God. 

Here we go again.  Now that I'm 40 and have 2 kids, 1 on the spectrum, summer activities, constant running around, and another school year to get ready for where oh where am I going to find the time?

 I will make the time because I want this thing out of me.  I knew something was up about 2 months ago when I noticed my left side was a bit larger than my right but couldn't feel anything.  Started to check daily but nothing.  Coffee in the morning, water all day long and wine at night, my usual.  Yesterday the kids and I stopped off at Daddy's work and had some pizza.  My son whined the whole time because he wanted to see the movie Brave, which I promised, so ordering was rushed.  I ended up drinking 1/2 of his soda...I don't drink soda.  Later that afternoon my left side felt very tender, I think do to the extra caffeine and low and behold, because of the tenderness, I found the lump.  Don't wait until October to check yourself...do it now. 

The one thing parents tend to do is take care of their children before taking care of themselves.  Guilty.  So guilty on this one.  We have to be sure we are still around for them by taking care of our health also.  When the kids are sick, we do all we can to get them better asap.  For example when I have a cold, I take some meds to keep on going.  No time to lay down and sleep.  I'm sure you're with me on that one. 

No messing around with my current situation.  I'll be calling the Doctor as soon as the office opens to get in asap.  Not sure how all the appointments will be fit into the schedule but it will get done.  Not happy about another surgery to get the darn thing out but it will get done.  Recovery time?  I'll request major pain killers I guess but it will get done.  My kids and husband are worth it.  I'm worth it.

Tuesday, July 10, 2012

What does BHRS, BSC and TSS stand for?

There have been many times when I've been asked what BHRS, BSC and TSS stand for within our discussions on the Grape Jelly on Pizza page.  Here is a brief definition of them.  My son currently has these services and has had them since he was 4 years old.  They are beneficial to him due to the fact he has autism and behaviors that need to be addressed.  If you aren't sure how to get these services, please ask your Developmental Pediatrician or your child's Psychologist.
 

Behavioral Health Rehabilitative Services (BHRS) 

Behavioral Health Rehabilitative Services (BHRS) are administered through the Office of Mental Health and Substance Abuse Services (OMHSAS) in the Department of Public Welfare (DPW). Children and adolescents who have medical assistance (MA) are eligible to receive medically necessary BHRS services until the day before their 21st birthday.
BHRS is a rehabilitative, MA-funded program providing trained professional support for youth to reduce or replace challenging behavior with positive, socially appropriate behavior. BHRS are family and child-centered and can take place in a variety of settings, including the home and community. Services are defined by the Behavior Treatment Plan, or Behavior Care Plan. Progress is monitored with data, updated regularly and reevaluated every four to twelve months.

Behavioral Specialist Consultant (BSC)

Behavior Specialist Consultants are professionals with a master’s degree in psychology, education, social work, or other related field and one year paid experience working with children in a CASSP approved program. All BSCs working for Autism Behavioral Services, Inc. are supervised by a Board Certified Behavior Analyst (BCBA). BSCs conduct functional behavior assessments, write treatment plans, and supervise the implementation of the program.

Therapeutic Staff Support (TSS)

Therapeutic Staff Support (TSS) are professionals with a bachelor’s degree in psychology, education, or a related field and one year paid experience working with children in a CASSP approved setting. The TSS provides one-to-one intervention to the child or adolescent in the location where services are indicated. The TSS works under the behavior program and supervision of his/her Behavior Specialist Consultant (BSC).

Saturday, July 7, 2012

You will not be a shoplifter, my boy.

As a mom, I have been changing the way I have been acting. For example, when he was little and was throwing full-on fits at stores, I would tell whoever was starring, "He has autism. Sorry." Basically calling him out. As he is growing, I am growing as a person and realizing that it isn't OK for me to do that anymore.  Sometimes it can be tough not to say anything. 

A few days ago we went to Home Depot.  He enjoys going to Home Depot because of all the isles of tons of stuff and I like going because my creative juices get started.  Anyway I had to pick up something that I wasn't familiar with so to save time, I found someone to help.  George asked, so I handed him a small list and we were off to collect the items.  As we were filling up the cart, George told Benjamin to steer the cart because we were turning left.  Hesitation on my part because did he know right from left?  Turns out George sorta steered the cart left so my son then continued it.  While I was getting a brief explanation on how the product worked, my son kept pestering my daughter.  She started complaining, he kept after her and I had to take many breaks from the conversation with George to say, "Stop.  Stay away from each other.  No candy when we leave."  Not that I promised candy but sometimes there is a level of desperation to try to get them to behave.  This happens with typical kids....so I am told.

Thanks George for all your help but we were heading down a spiral path.  You could just tell that in a very short time there would be trouble....autism trouble.

The candy that started it all.
At check-out, he grabbed M&Ms and brought them to the counter but I stuck to my guns and told him no. He then took the candy and started to put it in his pocket when the check-out guy looked at him and said, "Don't even think about it." He put the candy back then walked back to the cart. As we were walking out of the store I told him that by putting the candy in his pocket without paying for it would be shoplifting. If you shoplift you would be in trouble with a police officer and he would then have to go to the police station in the police car without Mommy. I explained it as if I were telling my NT daughter. Without hesitation my son understood what I was saying and immediately said sorry with tears in his eyes.

He got it.

I resisted temptation to tell both George and the check-out guy about his condition.  Would it have made a difference anyway?  Autism looks typical.  If he would've put the candy into his pocket and gotten in trouble, would an explanation of autism have been enough to get him out of it?  I don't want to know...I think.  He needs to know that shoplifting is not OK and hopefully he doesn't attempt it again. 

Tuesday, July 3, 2012

"I am not in Kindergarten"

Extended School Year (ESY) started, which is a necessary in this household.  There is regression over the holiday breaks so as soon as the school year starts, ESY is requested. 

We don't call it school in the summer.  Instead we refer to ESY as camp...yay, camp!!  So, imagine the excitement when it was time for 'camp'.   He picked out his favorite Angry Bird shirt, gathered his backpack together and stood at the front door.

The bus was 35 minutes late to start.  After waiting for 15 minutes I called the school to make sure he was still on the route and was told, "first day, scheduling problems."  OK.  Waiting isn't my child's favorite thing to do.  When the bus came, he was so excited he ran to it, found a seat and waved to me with a big smile on his face.  What a relief.  It could've been different.  Way different.

When he came home he was mad.  Really mad.  He stormed into the house, threw his back pack and stomped into the other room.  Not good.  I followed to see what information I could get out of him.  I asked if he had fun.  He took his little hands, made two fists, and crinkled his nose.  I know that look.  He wasn't sharing any information anytime soon.  So I made him lunch.  Hot dog with ketchup, mustard and relish per request. 

Still no words when it was time to eat.  His BSC came for a while and when she asked him about camp, he threw pieces to a game and stomped his feet right out of the room.  She tried several times but there still was no answer.  Not that we expected a full explanation.  That's the difference with my child with autism compared to my NT child.  She will talk about everything in detail.  You have to piece together what he is saying or get information from his actions.  

He took a break by playing Sonic on Wii.  This seemed to calm him down but I still had to figure out how to help him.  You would think a note would've came home with him if he got in trouble but there wasn't anything.  I just wanted him to answer me.....what happened?

Around 3:30 I got what I was fishing for.  Why was he so upset?  I asked again.  What happened at camp?  Why are you mad?  He told me, "I am not in kindergarten."  There was my answer.  His buddies probably aren't there.  After all, he is going into the third grade and my guess is all of the kindergartners who are going into first grade are in ESY. 

The real test was to be the next day.  Would be voluntarily go on the bus or did he really dislike it so much that he would refuse?

Turns out he did get on this morning but let it be known....he is not in kindergarten.  He wants to be shown respect.  Nursery rhymes don't cut it with him anymore.  Just because he looks at things differently doesn't mean it is OK to belittle him.  He may not be able to read like we do but he has the ability to figure out very difficult computer games that blow people away.  He is smart.  Smarter than people think.  When you are with a child with autism, please keep that in mind.  Talk to them like you would any other child.  They may not look at you but they are still listening to every word you say.  Show them respect.  My son may be in an autistic support classroom but I talk to him like he is a third grader.  A typical third grader. 


Monday, June 11, 2012

Dinner for Two

It only took 2 years but my husband and I went out Saturday for dinner....yes...a real, sit down meal, in a grown up restaurant and we were actually able to enjoy our food without rushing or trying to entertain little people!! Of course, it wasn't that easy to get out of the house with the sitters being late, the kids begging and pleading with us to stay home but we managed to take some time to be together.

It all came about on Monday when my husband asked if I'd like to go out to dinner with him on Saturday night. Of course I would but how? His parents said they would watch the kids for us. There have been health issues with them over the last few years so it was a real treat that THEY volunteered.

Saturday night I came down the stairs in a dress. Yes.  I wore a dress, which then set off the begging and pleading and tons of questions from my daughter.   I'm usually in shorts and a t-shirt.  Why are you dressed up? Why do you have to go? Why are you leaving us? (That one got to me considering she even had tears in her eyes.) Then because he saw his sister upset, my son started frantically running around the house getting dressed. "Go with mommy." "Go with MOMMMMY!!!"  "Dad, stay here."  We told him not this time and then I got the death grip;  clinging to me forever and ever so tight.

Now, a lesson from the past, be home before the kids are getting ready for bed.  Our bedtime routine is sacred and we have learned not to mess with it.  With that being said, our dinner reservation was for 5:30pm which made our reservation seem like a late lunch but whatever.  It is now 5:15 and the kids are being very dramatic like we are leaving them and never coming back and the sitters aren't here yet.  You got it.  I'm standing at the front door and they aren't at the house yet. Then it was 5:20 and I called their phone with no answer.  5:25 my husband called and someone picked up and said they were almost here.  They pulled up at 5:35.  Missed our reservation but the restaurant said be here as soon as you can.  We pealed the kids off of me and practically ran out to the car. 

Ah, peace at last.  During our meal we were trying to remember the last time we actually had a date and it was 2 years ago that we were out together.  The food was incredible!  Like, melt in your mouth incredible.  Probably because it wasn't anywhere close to being a fast-food type of restaurant.  Or, maybe because I could actually take my time and taste it? 

We love to people watch.  I saw an older couple at a table, maybe in their mid 80's, and he was on his cell phone practically the entire meal.  Shame on him.  Then there was a set of grandparents, their daughter and husband and their daughter who maybe was 15.  Someone made a comment to the waitress about how she resembled Julia Roberts and the girl asked who that was.  Thought it was funny when the grandmother then said, you know, Julia Roberts in Pretty Woman?  The girl shrugged her shoulders then her mother said, Mom, that movie is inappropriate for her!  We chuckled. 

Anyway with all this excitement of getting out of the house for dinner, the people watching, the adult conversation we were back home in 1 1/2 hours.  That's how long it took for us to re-energize our parent batteries then we started missing the kids. 

I'd like to go out to dinner with my husband again, maybe this time it will be less than 2 years from now. 

Thursday, June 7, 2012

Fortunate Conversation

A couple of nights ago, I had a conversation with a boy who was my son's age while he was waiting for his sister to finish up her softball game, along with my daughter.  I was talking with his mother when he came over to her and sat on her lap.  Why is this a big deal?  I often wonder how a conversation would go with my own son.  He is verbal and we are working on his circles of communication but this little conversation has made an impact on me.

'Charlie' came over to his mother and hopped on her lap.  He is the same age, height and looks like the same weight as my son.  He then started playing with her hair.  My son plays with my hair.  He wouldn't sit still on her lap.  My son hardly ever sits still.  He started rocking back and forth and being impatient.  Same with my son.  Then I started asking 'Charlie' some questions about school and boy was he was ready to talk.  We talked about his favorite subject...gym class.  Then he went on to tell me all about the fun games they play in gym with one game going into lots of detail.  I could tell it was his absolute favorite.  I'm pretty sure my son dislikes gym class, but again, that is a guess.  He usually gets mad at his teachers when it is time for gym.  Then 'Charlie' and I talked about what he didn't like to do in school...read.  He really disliked reading. Then 'Charlie' and his mom talked a little bit more about his reading teacher.  We've been trying, desperately, to get my son to read, memorize sight words, you name it.  Then I asked what he liked to do outside of school.  'Charlie' really enjoyed being in Boy Scouts.  He then went on and on, telling me all about it.  He also liked to play baseball.  He also told me all about his friends.  My son goes to multiple therapies.  He is not involved in any sports, or groups, and as far as I know, he doesn't have any friends.

After the softball game was over, I thanked his mom for letting me speak with him.  She gave me a puzzled look.  I then told her that my son had autism and I never had a conversation like that with him.  She just smiled and said nothing.  Her response was perfect.  I felt very fortunate to have this little conversation with this boy and hoping that one day, I will have a similar conversation with my own son.

This is what we have to keep doing.

Thursday, May 17, 2012

"My Beautiful Mess"

Never underestimate the value of a Happy Meal toy. 

That's right, I said it.  You know those little, sometimes annoying toys, that come with your child's Happy Meal?  Well, we had a moment last night and it was all because of those toys.

It was 8:30 last night and it was time to start chilling out.  I went downstairs to the playroom and got all comfy on his 6' round crash pad.  That thing is awesome.  He decided to join me and came down the stairs.  He took a second to look around and made his announcement.  "My beautiful mess."  I said, "No way Mr.!!"  He said it again.  When you hear 'my beautiful mess' that means he is going to make a mess.  Why he thinks it beautiful?  No idea.  So he goes into the other room and brings out a bin of random toys, takes off the lid and dumps it all over the floor. 


*Side note*  When he was little and non-verbal, all of this toys were sorted into groups, then I took pictures of the groups so he could point out to me what he wanted to play with.  As he grew it became difficult to keep everything together, so when the pictures went away, so did all the grouping.



With 1 bin on the floor, he headed back into the side room and brought out a total of 3 more.  All 3 had the same ending....dumped all over the floor into a large pile.  When he sees this, his beautiful mess, you can see he gets overwhelmed or confused so I started playing with one of the monkeys from Madagascar.  He thought this was funny so he picked up Shrek.  Shrek made his way over to my monkey and kicked the monkey's butt clear over my leg.  He started laughing hysterically. 

OK.  With circles of communication starting, let's continue!!  I picked up Fiona and then Shrek kicked her butt and so on and so on.  He was laughing so much his sister decided to join in.  Before I knew it, it was 9 o'clock and time for bed.  BUT we were all getting along so we stayed up a bit longer. 

Moments like this didn't happen at all when he was younger.  Now that he is maturing, he does engage more.  So, all of those random toys you may end up throwing out over time?  Keep.  Somewhere in a bin, keep them because they are priceless when they encourage your child to communicate.  I can still hear him laughing right now.

Random Happy Meal Toys +

Thursday, May 3, 2012

Organize Your Summer Activities

Summer is fast approaching!  Not sure about you but the second my kids are together they start fighting!  The easiest way for me to stop the fighting is to keep them going.  Between my son attending ESY and an increase in his therapies, my typical daughter being active in sports and wanting to be in all sorts of camps, and let's not forget about getting together for playdates, summer can fly by in no time.  I'm going to share how we organize our summer activites.  This is the third year I have done this and it helps....believe me.

Step 1 - Get 3 sheets of poster board from your local Dollar Store.  You can buy 2 sheets for $1. 



 
 


Step 2 - Create June, July and August calenders.  Make sure you have a black sharpie marker to make the calendar lines.



Step 3 - I put all 3 months up on the dining room walls with blue painters tape.  I'd show you the roll of tape but the kids used it all up.  Here is a picture my daughter made of me using the blue tape.

 
There you go!  Your entire summer all in one place.  Organizing summer activities this way makes it simple to see where you need to schedule something or if you are available.  If you see a blank day, fill it in!

Tuesday, May 1, 2012

Stronger

You almost got me again.  I admit, you had me down for a while but it was less than 24 hours this time.  Let me tell you again.....You Will Not Deter Me.  You Will Not Get Me Down.  I Am Strong. 

Yesterday we received a copy of an evaluation completed on my son.  Hard to read.  Hate to read the reports.  They are mostly negative.  I am a positive person.  The glass is half full and I prefer to keep it that way.  Sometimes, I have moments.  I'm human.  Honestly thought the report was going to come back much better than what it read. 

So many people, through GJOP, think my son is an aspie.  In thinking about it, probably because of my outlook.  I prefer to look at the good and the positive.  He indeed has classic autism.  Negative thoughts drain you.  But yesterday, they did get to me. 

Significantly Below Average - 0.1 Percentile Rank - Delayed - Frequent Redirection - Unrelated - Off Topic - Lower Extreme - Off Task - Exhibits Several Behaviors that Impact His Ability

You get the idea.  If you are a parent of an ASD child, these words are used repeatedly in every single report you get.  They are used several times and I CAN'T STAND IT.  I stumbled upon a blog called I Couldn't Imagine from Our Life in Pieces and it was a reminder, a wake up call actually. 

So, without further ado, I'm telling you, all things negative, to stay out of my way.  You will not stop me or take another minute of my life.  I'm a parent of a special needs child and he needs me to keep going and to be strong.  I see significant improvements and I will see to it that he continues on this path.  He is intelligent, strong and a fighter.  You'll see.  One day, you'll see.

Monday, April 30, 2012

Change

It's that time of year when I start to feel it coming.....change.  Everything seems to be changing.  We are currently looking for a new car; well, 'new' to us.  (Never underestimate the value of used cars.)  We are starting to look for a new house so that brings on an avalanche of change in itself.  New school district, kids, classes, etc.  We meet his new BSC this Friday.  Read about our adventures with that here.  His IEP and total reevaluation is coming up, always fun sitting around a table filled with people.  We are considered educated parents and with that comes many, many people who make sure we get what we want or know how to talk us out of it so no one gets the 'S' word.   AND we all know how much fun summer can be with the kids at home all. the. time. fighting and bickering and in our case, attacking the kitchen! 

Usually when there is too much going on I get quiet and go into my own head to reconfigure things.  Let's face it.  I'm a stay at home mom so the home is my responsibility.  My husband has so much going on with work and making sure the bills and financial stuff is in order but I know he will help if I ask.  With all these new things happening so quickly, it's time to re prioritize.  How boring would life be in there weren't lots of changes? 

Luckily, my son pretty much rolls with it.  As long as the basics remain the same he is open for change.  We are fortunate for that.  He is changing too.  He now enjoys movies in the movie theatre as long as he has popcorn and a blue slushy.  Yesterday we went to see the new Pirate movie and no sooner did we sit down when the entire bag of popcorn spilled on the floor.  My husband bought another one....to avoid a meltdown.  Then 10 minutes later the blue slushy ended up all over the floor, again, we bought another one to avoid a total meltdown.  Ah, the things we do for our kids. 

Another new thing for him is speech.  He has been gaining more and more but on Friday I was floored.  My daughter had a play date with another little girl.  My son started playing videos on his iPad and he looked at her and asked, "Hey A, would you like to dance with me?"  I couldn't believe my ears, a 9 word sentence, then I was hoping she would say yes and she did.  Thank Goodness!!  He is growing up and I can definitely see a change in him. 

Change is something else isn't it?  It can mean stress.....like crazy stress but it can also mean good, as in maturing and something is clicking good.    I have faith that things happen for a reason.  So I'm going to look at it as change is good.  Change will happen so I'm going to take a lesson from my son and roll with it. 

Saturday, April 28, 2012

Fundraising Secret Revealed....SSHHHH

It's true....I'm going to tell you a fundraising secret.  It's what people stop me for in the middle of the grocery store, not kidding.  I'll tell you in a bit...the suspense will kill you!

First, here's my philosophy on fundraising.

You have a charity that is near and dear to your heart and you want to raise tons of cash to help.  Understandable.  Please understand that people who you ask for donations from also have their own charities that they support, so don't get all bent out of shape if they decide not to support yours. 

Whatever you do, don't let your charity take over your life!  Put a begin date and an end date.  You can fund raise all year round if you'd like but do your family/friends a favor by not harping on them constantly.  You will be known as the 'fundraiser' and not in a good way.

I am extremely fortunate to have a wonderful friend who takes it upon herself to run a Longaberger  Basket Bingo for me every year.  I do what I can but let's face it, she organizes the entire thing.  From beginning to end she is the one who gathers all the auction items, gets volunteers, picks up the bingo license, organizes the food, sets up the hall, makes and distributes fliers; the list is never ending and she does it all....for nothing in return.  She understands that extra time is almost non-existent for me and is very understanding.  She gets much support from her family and friends for this huge event and I am thankful for each and every one of them.  Especially her who is actually planning for next year already.

Awareness is important for me.  I enjoy making simple autism awareness pins and handing them out to people.  Everyone I know has one.  My hope is this simple pin will be questioned by others then it will spark a conversation about autism...which is what we want, more awareness.  Here's how I make the pins

My friend Nancy is a very wise woman.  I appreciate her advice.  She says, "If you don't ask then the answer will be no.  So, take the chance and ask, you may get a yes."  Not her exact words but you get the idea.  With that in mind, I'm about to reveal my fundraising secret......

ready....


                    set...


                                        go...


                                  ASK. 

That's my secret.  If you need to know more about wrap-around fundraisers, selling on-line, stuffed animals, and restaurants or have any other questions I will be more than happy to talk about them with you.  Please e-mail me at grapejellyonpizza@gmail.com.

Wednesday, April 25, 2012

Future Photographer

Sometimes you don't need words.

Have you ever given your child a camera?  I was looking through my phone and saw pictures that my son took.  Here are pictures of what is important to him.

 His Angry Birds while waiting for his sister during her karate class.
 His back window.  He's so proud of all of his stickers.
 His feet and thumb. 
 His fish, Nemo, with Sponge Bob and Patrick.

 He built this, ran upstairs to grab my phone, then took the picture.
While at school for a conference, he took this.
He's squishing my head.