Saturday, November 9, 2013

My Gift by Guest Blogger Jen Conner

As I sit and reflect on the past 12 years,  I can’t believe that 12 years have gone by so fast. I can’t believe that I have been a mom for 12 years!  My name is Jen and this is my journey with Zach. 

I had a normal pregnancy for the first half and the second half well let’s say it wasn't easy.  I had low blood pressure that would cause dizzy spells and a few times became very faint.  At 32 weeks this baby inside me decided it was time to make his debut,  the doctors intervened and I was put on Procardia and bed rest.  At 36 weeks the meds were stopped and I was told to pack my bags.  Well low and behold the baby waited and he was born on his due date 4 weeks later.

When he was born I knew the moment he was brought back to me all swaddled up, smelling so good that something was different, a different I couldn't talk about because who would listen to a new mom who couldn’t really describe what she meant by “different”.

As Zach grew and met all his milestones I still knew deep down in my heart something was wrong.  He never slept; he really didn’t like food although he loved to nurse.  I nursed him until he was 18 months old.  He would sit for a very, very, long time with a basket of books and read.  He had words at 10 months old.  He said “mama” and by 12 months they were gone.

When he was 18 months old I joined my local moms club and would go on play dates.  Well I played with Zach upstairs with sliding closet doors while all of the other moms were I a group singing songs with their wee ones.  Zach hated any type of music so upstairs we stay.  Two of the moms talked to me after they got to know me and validated my feelings, validated what I have known all along was true……. My son was different!

These two moms I will forever be grateful for. They both are educated women who knew what autism is, what it looked like and they knew he and I needed help.  They guided me through the beginning steps and from there I learned a lot on my own.
When Zach was 2 he started speech therapy through early intervention. He caught on quickly.  During the therapy sessions he would fixate on the book One Fish, Two Fish.  He loved that book!  It became an obsession.  It was noted in his reports, the oddities of him were noted but yet they never once mentioned autism.  He was released from therapy in May.  Only 5 months of therapy I thought WOW, this is great He is done with this and we can move on.

We moved alright. We moved into a new home.  I never felt so alone in my life.  This was supposed to be a happy time and yet I knew we had a whole life ahead of us in this place called home.  With this home came endless walks through the neighborhood looking a garage doors, finding neighbors that allow this boy to open them with their automatic openers. Finding neighbors to become friends, finding neighbors who understood like my friends in the moms club did.  I found people, some good, some great, some not so good.  Some who I knew came into my life for a reason, those people I hold dear to my heart.

Zach on his 3rd birthday was officially diagnosed with autism.  It was those words that brought a relief and a sadness I never knew existed to me.  I hurt for him, I hurt for me and I hurt for my husband.  I researched looking for the why. Looking for what went wrong, questions unanswered.  Was it the medicine I had to take to stop preterm labor? Was it the Flintstone vitamins?  Was it my craving of cheeseburgers? Was it this? Was it that? What did this to my son!  I drove myself crazy. As time goes on you realize you did nothing but the best. You did what was right to keep your baby safe inside you.

A while later I became pregnant again, I never felt so scared in my life. I didn’t want this new life inside me to have autism so therefor I didn’t want this baby inside me.  I think God knew my fear for I miscarried that baby. My husband and I decided that Zach would be it for we wouldn’t want to chance having autism again.  Well again I find myself pregnant and was scared but not like before. We really weren’t ready but God’s plans are different than ours.

During my pregnancy the BIG question was “what are you going to do if this one has autism?” My response “WHO BETTER!!”! We have the best doctors, therapist and support.  We know what to look for and the baby would be closely monitored by everyone.  That new baby is perfect; he is more than perfect he is the piece of our puzzle that was missing in our family.  He is the best therapy that Zach could have.  His name is Andrew.   

Zach was at Good Shepherd 3 days a week and in school 2 days a week.  He was placed in a pilot program through the district where they took “high functioning’” kids like Zach and placed them in a regular classroom setting. This was the best thing we did for him.  He has been in the regular ed setting ever since.  Not full time but a greater part of the day.  He was pulled out for math, reading was never an issue.  He had a love of books early on.  We discovered he could read right after his brother was born. When Zach was in first grade his teacher would let him read to the class.  He loved school and everything about it.  He missed days only because he still didn’t sleep that great but with the help of melatonin he was getting better. We then realized Zach also needed help. He was a high anxiety kid.  The doctors said they could help and we agreed he needed it.  We put him on a small dose of Prozac.  We jokingly said this med really was “Pro Zach”. It helped him so much I wish we didn’t wait.  Zach was a different kid, almost typical…. Almost! He was able to be discharged from Good Shepherd, he was excelling in school and at home he was getting better too.  We thought wow let’s try to wean him off this drug and he did great until 4th grade.  He had such an anxiety that a child shouldn’t experience. EVER!!  So back to Good Shepherd we go, back on this med we call “Pro Zach” back to being almost typical.

Zach in 4th grade he realized that he didn’t want to pulled out for math anymore. He wants to stay with his friends. It is then he becomes his own self advocate. He has a voice and he lets it be heard. From October until February he fights for something he feels he is ready for, to be fully mainstreamed. To be in the regular math class, to be with, to be with the coolest teacher in school.  He finally gets through to the teachers after 4 months of fighting.  They comply. He won his first of many battles that will come his way, I sign a release for him to be fully mainstreamed and we have never looked back.  He is thriving and learning what he needed to learn. Something new and challenging and he got A’s.

This boy still struggles in one area he can’t seem to get over this hurdle. FOOD! It is still a reminder that he is different, he cannot handle eating meat, pasta, vegetables, eggs, and peanut butter…… the list is endless. We were introduced to a product Juice Plus. It is a simple product, fruits and veggies in a capsule or a gummies. He loves it, his body needed this simple nutrition and he gained some much needed weight and we were able to lower his dose of “Pro Zach”. He is willing to help cook food and wants to try foods since he started Juice Plus.

As I am writing this I cannot believe this boy my son is in middle school. We just had the best IEP meeting. We were able to remove monthly math probes and adjust his behavioral plan. This kid has a long way to go but I can tell you he has a drive, a determination, a goal! He is an inspiration to all that know him.  His teacher says “he is a positive influence “in the classroom and around the school. This boy is 12 today and he has made me one of the luckiest moms in the world. Zach wrote this :
My Gift

Zach you are by far the best gift, you own your autism.  You my son will always be my biggest inspiration and I will always be your #1 FAN!

I love you buddy HAPPY 12th BIRTHDAY!!!!!!

Friday, November 8, 2013

2013 GJOP Parents Toy Review

2013 GJOP Parents Toy Review

The following toys have been discussed on the Grape Jelly on Pizza Facebook page for support with autism.  Each toy can also be searched for better prices and many have multiple sets to choose from. These particular links show what the toy looks like and doesn't in any way suggest you must purchase the toy from the particular store/site.  Enjoy!!

Building Games and Sets
Marble Run
Laser Pegs Light Up Building Sets
Geomag Construction Set
Magneatos Building Set
Cardboard Building Blocks
Mega Bloks Deluxe Building Set 
Lego Duplo Blocks 
Magna Tiles
Crazy Bubbles
Build A Road
Knex Atomic Coaster
Mr. Potato Head
Ogre & Monsters 

Table Games & Board Games
Train Table
Make N Break - board game
Don't Break the Ice - board game
The Very Hungry Caterpillar game

Sensory Activities & Lighting & Equipment
Play-Doh sets
Mini Massager 
Light Doodler
Light-Up Funny Face Balls
Remote Control LED Light Strip
Spinning Top
Giant Pea Pod
 6' Bean Bag Chair aka Crash Pad
Cuddle Swing
Hammer Away!
Walkie Talkie
Puppet on a Stick
Twilight Animals
Play Parachute
Incred a ball 

 Educational Toys and Books
Tag Reading System
Tag Junior Reading System 
Point to Happy - book
Letter Construction Activity Set
Little People Play Sets
Three Little Pigs Play Set
Wind-up Plane Book

Remote Control Toys
Bumper Cars 

Gifts for Adults
Talking Sheldon Doll
Puzzle of Life frame
Why I Jump book

Hope you enjoy our toy suggestions.

Monday, November 4, 2013

My Story of Hope by Guest Blogger Brittnee Dupre

There are no words to convey how proud I am of my sweet baby Gavin! And I would like to share my story to give some hope out there to other moms feeling like there is no light at the end of the tunnel.

It all started when Gavin was about 18 months. Gavin started showing some strange signs. He never wanted to be cuddled, he didn't show affection, things that he had previously learned (abc's, hello, goodbye, nursery songs) had now vanished, he would throw a tantrum causing harm to himself (banging his head on what ever he could find, kicking screaming), no eye contact, picky eater and parroting. I spoke with specialist immediately, and by a little under two years old our sweet baby boy was diagnosed on the spectrum for autism.

I prepared myself for the worst when going into the meeting, but still couldn't hold back the tears when sitting with his doctors. I blamed myself for a long time, maybe I didn't talk to him enough, or maybe I got pregnant (with my second child, they are two years apart) to soon, or maybe I didn't hold and cuddle enough with him when he was a baby. When I came to terms, right after Gavin's second birthday, we started some in-home therapy and attended a hearing and speech center once a week for social skills. Gavin would pick up some things here and there but wasn't learning as fast as before 18 months nor as fast as his peers.

I can say now looking back two years ago, he is now four and attends a pre-k class in elementary school (with kindergarten based) and is doing amazing! Things we thought he wasn't retaining slip out each day! He is almost talking full sentences, he no longer throws such horrible tantrums, he is learning to follow directions well, he now makes eye contact most of the time, he will eat most of whatever we put in front of him (with a slight fight/ a little convincing), parroting is almost all gone, Gavin now kisses and hugs every single person and I JUST CUDDLED MY BABY TO SLEEP!!!

I hope my story in some way can help those of you having one of "those" days. And we still have them as well, but sometimes we have to take a second and look at how far we have come And I guarantee you that if you do that, you will feel as proud as I do!

Gavin was about 17/18 months when we noticed signs and on the right us Gavin today.

Tuesday, October 29, 2013

No Praise Needed

We were running behind in our nightly routine because The Voice was on.  Yes.  I enjoy watching it and some nights we all slack in parenting skills.  Anyway at 9:45 he came downstairs to get me and asked to go to bed.  At that moment the TV was off and we were all headed upstairs.  After the pj's were on and teeth were brushed they climbed into their beds.  He didn't want the light off so I told him I'd be right back.  While getting myself ready, I heard "one fish, two fish, red fish, blue fish."  With that I tip toed down the hall and stood outside his door.  Noticed he was in bed and reading his book I wanted to jump up and down but didn't make a fuss.

With my son, anytime anyone made a fuss about any progress, he would just stop whatever the fuss was about.  He doesn't like it.  He doesn't like 'yay' or 'woo hoo' or 'that was awesome'.  He never has.

Since he was a baby I have always tried reading to him.  Whenever I would start he would walk away.  If I saw him looking through a book and acknowledged it, he would put it down.  He has every single Dr. Seuss book ever written, thanks to his grandparents but most of them haven't even been opened.

I would hear about parents always reading to their children but he never allowed me to do it so you can imagine last night I was at a crossroads.  Do I continue to stand outside his door and listen to him or should I enter knowing that he, more than likely, would put the book down?  He has been making so much progress lately that I decided to enter and he didn't put the book down.  Instead he said, "sit by me Mommy" and continued to read.  He read until page 17 then asked for a book marker and then the book had to be placed in his closet on a specific shelf.  Is this our new bedtime routine?  I hope so.  I sure do hope so.

Monday, August 26, 2013

First Day Back

Back to school.  Here we go.

Hubby sees it as having a clean house again and enjoying a hot meal.  (He envisions Martha Stewart, Rachel Ray and Pinterest all rolled into one.)

Daughter sees it as filling up her social calendar and walking the runway.

Son sees it as torture.

I see it as high hopes for a new year.  Starting an exercise program.  Cleaning and reorganizing the house and time for me.

Our Reality of Back to School

Hubby scoops a meal out of the crockpot while kids are fighting and clothes and toys and backpacks are being thrown about.

Daughter keeps going over all the kids that aren't in her class this year and how there isn't enough time to eat lunch and how much she hates homework and why can't she have what everyone else is wearing.

Son is a verbal and physical stim mess because of all the new changes due to new kids, teachers, bus driver, and his routine in general.

I realize that a full school day still doesn't allow me any time to myself and the house was way more messier than I thought. 

So tonight I'll dive into that big pile of  'parent homework', tweak schedules and make my lists while pouring a big ole fat glass of wine . 

Ahh......Back to School.

What's your Back to School Reality?
So not happy about Back to School.

Thursday, April 4, 2013

Parents are the Best Resources

Having been in the autism world for over 6 years now, I'd have to say, hands down that other parents are your best resource for information about your child's autism. 

Of course, still go through the Pediatrician but follow your gut if they say, 'wait' or 'give it time' or 'boys are slower to talk than girls'.  Our pediatrician didn't catch it.  We went through our county for an evaluation.  One day, I received a message from my son's new teacher who told me he qualified for 4, 1/2 days of school....he was 3.  Even then, the word 'autism' was never spoken.  He was speech and developmentally delayed.  He started school and I started parent support meetings.  At the second meeting I questioned developmentally delayed and a mom turned around in her chair, looked at me square in the eye and said, "Your boy has autism.  They can't tell you he does because they would be responsible for all expenses if you didn't have insurance.  Get yourself a Developmental Pediatrician right away."  I went home in tears.  He had autism but no one used the word AUTISM and what was a Developmental Pediatrician???

I found our local Developmental Pediatrician and was put on an 18 month waiting list.  Unbelievable to me.  I couldn't apply for medical assistance without an official diagnosis so I was waiting.  Talking with another mom she told me how to get around the 18 month waiting list.  Ready?  I'll share it with you.  When you get the extensive questionnaire to complete for the Developmental Pediatrician, also send back a copy of any sort of evaluation you had ever gotten on your child.  This way, you don't need a 'team meeting' with the Doctor, only a one on one.  I copied the school's evaluation and when he was 2, he received speech through a speech therapist and guess what......we were seen by that same Developmental Pediatrician in UNDER 2 WEEKS.  Got that?  18 month wait reduced to under 2 weeks. 

I then began to search online and found myself on facebook...imagine that.  Anyway, I found that many adults on the spectrum have their own pages.  I now follow many of them and if I get stuck, I just ask them.  They give me a different way to look at son's way.  I am very thankful for that.

In short, I can list a bunch of websites or Doctor's names but save yourself time and talk with other parents.  Others that have been there...done that.  Get involved in a support group through your child's school or local autism agency.  They can direct you where to go and how to get their experience anyway. 

Wednesday, April 3, 2013

Follow Them

Created by "Mommy Buddy" from the planet Autism
 "Those affected by Autism seem to be isolated in their own world.  Follow them.  It's worth it."

Tuesday, April 2, 2013

Autism-More Than a Definition

The definition of Autism from Wikipedia: 

Autism is a disorder of neural development characterized by impaired social interaction and communication, and by restricted and repetitive behavior. The diagnostic criteria require that symptoms become apparent before a child is three years old.[2] Autism affects information processing in the brain by altering how nerve cells and their synapses connect and organize; how this occurs is not well understood.[3] It is one of three recognized disorders in the autism spectrum (ASDs), the other two being Asperger syndrome, which lacks delays in cognitive development and language, and pervasive developmental disorder, not otherwise specified (commonly abbreviated as PDD-NOS), which is diagnosed when the full set of criteria for autism or Asperger syndrome are not met.[4

What I saw was a little boy who used to smile and laugh and make eye contact but somewhere along the line, that stopped.  Exhausted all the time after having a newborn I couldn't think straight.  My son would be up all night long while the baby slept; it was a vicious cycle.  There are even times when my husband I will talk and I can't even recall chunks of time or an event.  We used to fight.  We never left the house.  We were in a constant fog.  The definition was great but who had the time to read? 

We eventually went for help, which wasn't easy.  Here is Our Path to a Diagnosis.

We have come a long way from that time.  Constantly pushing forward and not looking back, progress has been made by everyone.  Here is a blog about Our Therapies.  Past-Present-Future. 

My son is very sensory so the beach is his favorite place to go.  This is a simple blog I put together using his words, Desperately Holding On.

Life is full of changes. You need to change in order to grow.  After struggling for many years he has learned how to read.  This night brought me to tears.  In His Own Time

By reading the above blogs, you will have learned more about our personal journey with autism but more importantly, autism is much more than a definition it's our way of life.   

His favorite thing to do....
sit back and watch Lucky Penny Shop
on the iPad.

Monday, April 1, 2013

Why I Write About Autism

Since my son was diagnosed with autism when he was 4, my family has participated each year in the Walk Now for Autism Speaks.  Our team name is Grape Jelly on Pizza.  I decided to take it to social media and created a facebook page primarily to do some fundraising so I gave the page the same name as our walk group.  Why Grape Jelly on Pizza?  One night my son went into the refrigerator, took out the grape jelly and smeared it all over his pizza.  Wondering what he'd do next..he ate it and LIKED it!  Children with autism usually aren't good eaters but my son loves food.

While running the FB page, I found out that many other parents felt and thought how I did....the best information about ASD (Autism Spectrum Disorder) comes from other parents.  So, like everything else in life, evolution took place.  The page is now an on-line support group with over 3,100 readers.  I am no longer interested in using it for fundraising but for sharing experiences with our ASD kiddos. 

Last year I decided to blog.  Now, I'm not a writer;  I'm a mom.  I don't have a degree in writing, if I didn't have out and punctuation can get out of control.  Some days I have lots to say, other times I can't find the words.  BUT I keep trying.  Last year I entered the WEGO Health Activist Writer's Month Challenge and failed because time got away from me.  I'm back for another go.  It's a personal challenge for me.  The daily prompts make me think outside the box and lets face it, that is what we do for our kids all the time. 

On the FB page and blog, I do share information about my son but also want to hear from all of the readers.  We get to know each other and become friends.  Guest Bloggers are also welcome.  Some days can get out of control and you need to keep a positive outlook to keep going, my thoughts anyway. 

I strongly believe that by sharing your ASD child's progress, you are giving others hope. 

Tuesday, March 26, 2013

Learning to Tie Shoes with Loopeez

Not sure about you but Velcro shoes are a MUST in our household or at least they were.  Velcro is so simple and easy when you need to run out the door especially when the kids were younger. 

Every 6 months, my son's Occupational Therapist goes over his self help goals.  For YEARS we have skipped over tying shoes because of Velcro.  He turned 9 this year and we realized it was time to teach him how to tie shoes.  Sounds easy...right?  I asked parents on GJOP how they taught their children how to tie and was told about the Loopeez Facebook page.  This was the first time I have ever heard of Loopeez. 

During his therapy sessions, he could make the first tie successfully but when it came to making the loops, it was very difficult for him to hold both loops and tie at the same time without it falling apart.  We took Loopeez into his therapy session and it happened!! This is where Loopeez was PERFECT for him! 

He's making the first tie.

He's putting the Loopeez on
 and making his two loops.
He has made his two loops and is
 now tying the shoe independently.

He did it!!!

Bottom line is we are very happy with how this product assists him with making the loops.  Next time he's ready for new sneakers....we're getting tie shoes for sure! 
Check out Loopeez on-line for your set.  

Monday, February 25, 2013

Guest Blogger: Reader Cassandra Atkins

Feeding questions come up many times on Grape Jelly on Pizza.  This is how Cassandra got her 5 year old son to eat healthy foods.....

I have no links and I didn't do any research on how to do this for Al. WE just did what we thought was right and this was before we even knew he had a diagnosis of Autism. I actually felt guilty after I found out that food aversions went along with the diagnosis. Then the docs started telling me I did well. That helped some, but I am a Momma. I think it is in our DNA to feel guilty and question what we do even if it turns out for the best.  I hope this helps someone, anyone.

When Al, our oldest son who happens to have Aspergers, was about 5 we got tired of him not eating much of anything. He was overweight and we kept thinking if we could just get him to eat good things it might just help. So began our journey of getting this wild child to eat. OK when I say eat something, I mean something other than what I hear is usually the standard for our kids. I think you all know the diet. It consisted of chicken nuggets, chips and cookies that are not broken or chipped, bananas, Vienna sausages, canned carrots, I think those are real veggies, and steak. OK so the steak is a surprise but in his defense he thought anything that was not hamburger or hot dogs or chicken was steak. Oh and we also went through the no meat except Momma tricking him into eating chicken salad that came from the hometown chicken place. They knew me really well there.

We decided that he had to eat better. It was getting to the point that he was throwing his school food in the trash can. We had gotten worried. We were also tired of the 'oh he will eat when he gets hungry', or the docs telling us to use vitamins and the supplement drinks. We figured we are Mom and Dad we can fix this. So we did.

It took us about a year and a half but we won. It wasn't that hard either. This is how we did it. Every night we sat at the dinner table together.  Al sat by me. We fixed every ones plate and we started the rule, no dessert unless you take at least 2 bites of everything on your plate. This was not fun to begin with. After Al ate what he wanted, I took the spoon and fixed a big spoonful of whatever was left and he had to eat 2 of them. At first we had to bribe him with really chocolaty things or things that he loved. After the first 3 or 4 nights he caught on that we were not playing and this was how it was going to be, period. After 6 months, we let him fix his own spoonfuls. He would do it but only if we had dessert. Al is now 11 and we still have dessert after every supper.

One night we all went out to eat and Dad chose Chinese. Any other time we had Chinese food, I had order fries and chicken so Al would eat. So this is what I did that night. I went back and fixed our middle son Ras' plate. I had put broccoli and cashew chicken and the stir fried green beans, plus fixed him a small salad with ranch dressing. This was normal for Ras he has always loved salads and veggies of any kind. I sat down and started to eat and Al looked at me and said, "Momma, where is my broccoli?" "What Al? Did you really just ask for broccoli?" "Yep I love it." I went back and fixed him 2 pieces, thinking why am I wasting my time? He is so not going to eat this. I took it back to the table and he ate it and asked for more. This time I took him up to the buffet and let him choose. By this time we had started the clean your plate rule.

Finally after about 1 1/2 years my baby was eating, and it was real food. No longer did I have to beg and plead he just ate.  We have been told by all special ed teachers, who have dealt with lots of ASD kids that they are amazed. Al is a very adventurous eater. He will try 2 bites of anything on his plate, no matter what it is or what it looks like. He even went from throwing a whole food tray away at school because they put lettuce and tomatoes on it to begging for salads and eating them every day at school with ranch dressing of course.

Please feel free to ask me questions. I will try to answer them. This worked well for us. The main thing to remember is be consistent. I chose supper, that was when we were all together and he was home. We even did this if we went out to eat.  You can just imagine what I heard when I started this because I was using dessert. Well, guess what he lost weight. Yep, even though he got and still does get, a cookie or piece of pie/cake, pudding whatever every night, he lost weight and has not gained it back. Everything in moderation. Besides, I am so proud of Al, I would never take things he loves from him just because someone says it could be unhealthy. The one thing I limit is red dye. We see a difference in him when he drinks/eats it. He still can have it; red is his favorite color, but only weekends or special occasions. I have discovered that the red dye in food coloring gel, the kind cake decorators use, they sell it at Walmart in the cake decorating area, does not affect him at all. I use that for homemade cakes, cookies, icings and candies that I make, bake and make lots of stuff homemade. I started doing it to save money and discovered that all of us feel better and like homemade stuff better. I am a stay at home mom so I have time. Nothing wrong with store bought, I do that too Good luck and I hope my crazy rambling story helps just one kid out there. I know from experience that they feel so much better when they eat a good balanced meal. As Al says at the end of every sentence, they feel better literally. No Momma I mean it seriously:)

Monday, February 4, 2013

From One Young Man to the Next

I received an e-mail from a local mom who wanted to know if my son would like a K'Nex set.  Of course he would!  My boy loves K'Nex.  She went on to tell me that her son, who would be entering high school next year, is ready to part with some of his prized sets.  This made me a bit anxious.  I mean, my boy loves K'Nex to make his own creations would he be able to handle an intricate motorized one?  You never know until you try. 

So, we planned on meeting on a Saturday at our local autism organization, ARCH of the Lehigh Valley.  He woke up, came down stairs and said, "I want to go somewhere."  I asked him if he wanted a new K'Nex set and he said, "YES!"  I told him a boy named D wanted to give him his set that he had when he was little and this went totally over his head.  Eventually, he got dressed.  Shorts and t-shirt...the perfect attire when it is 19 degrees outside...don't you think? 

On our way to the meeting, he kept asking about K'Nex and hubby and I kept reminding him that he needed to be patient and say thank you.  We pulled into the parking lot.  His excitement was obvious.  Hand flapping, tip toeing that eventually changed into running.  "No running in the parking lot," I reminded him.  He grabbed my arm and started hopping to the door.

Walking through the doors, I spotted the mom and D.  My boy didn't meet him before so he went into the deep crowd of people. I Lost sight of him for a bit but eventually he came back and I introduced him to D.  Possibly a bit hesitant, D gathered the box and with a big smile, handed it over to my son.  He extended his hands to finally hold the box, looked at the picture and said, "Wow.  Thank you."  At this point, it really felt like a moment from Toy Story 3; the handing down of a treasured toy, a young man with Aspergers to a boy with Autism.  Hubby encouraged our boy to shake D's hand.  Without hesitation, his little hand was extended to D's hand.  They shook, both with big smiles on their faces.  This brought a tear to my eye.  Someday my boy will be going to high school.  He will be as big as D. 

We immediately went home to build his new K'Nex big boy set.  It was the best Saturday in a long time. 
His First Motorized K'Nex Set from D

Tuesday, January 22, 2013

Guest Blogger Christal Barton on How to Make Bad Piggies!!

I've said it so many times before....GJOP readers are the BEST!!  Christal is one of my favorite parents *should I really have favorites?* because she is always there to help others with advice.  Love that she wanted to be Guest Blogger!  So, without further ado.....
Christal Barton on How to Make Bad Piggies!!

When I saw this post from Grape Jelly on Pizza, my first thought was “I HAVE to make these for my little angry birds fanatic RIGHT NOW!”

Then I stood up, the room started spinning, and I remembered I’m sick. No bento lunches for us.
THEN came this post. I knew immediately I MUST make this!

Do you see a trend? Apparently nothing turns me into Martha Stewart like a fever.  Being me, it didn’t occur to me to make my own dough—why would I do that when I had perfectly good canned biscuits in the fridge?

So here’s my ingredients:
1 egg
1 can of Grands! Jr biscuits
1 can of store brand biscuits (they tend to be a little smaller than name brand)
Some milk
*something for eyes (I’ll get back to this)

First thing I did was arrange a few Grands! Jr biscuits in a pan. I flattened them a bit with my hand (and in retrospect would have flattened them a tiny bit more). These become the piggy heads.

Next, I flattened one of the store brand biscuits and cut out circles for the noses.
TIP: flatten the biscuit a little more than you want it to be, then wait a few seconds before cutting your circle. The canned dough is very ‘springy’ and will shrink up quickly.
Just like the original poster, I used the very expensive ‘soda bottle cap’ tool to cut my circles. I am partial to the ‘Diet Sunkist’ brand of bottle cap, but feel free to use whatever you have on hand.

I put one circle near the bottom of each biscuit, then used this thing I found in a drawer to make the nostrils.

It came with a nut cracker, so I’m pretty sure it has something to do with nuts Don’t be afraid to push all the way into the biscuit beneath the nose when cutting your nostrils. It just works better.

As I began cutting ears, I realized that the bottle cap was too small to give me the look I wanted, so after searching I finally found this very expensive kitchen device—the lid from a small jar of cream of tartar. Again, feel free to substitute any spice you’d like.

I cut the first few with this lid, then used the left over biscuits to make a ball then flattened the ball into a circle. Works just as well. Once you have your circle, cut it into quarters (each circle makes 4 ears). I was able to make 5 noses from one of the smaller biscuits and all of the ears from a second biscuit + the leftovers from cutting the noses. So 5 Grands Jr + 2 store brand biscuits made 5 piggies.

After putting the ears in place (the canned biscuits were all sticky, so I didn’t ‘glue’ anything, I just sort of smooched it), I brushed my piggies with an egg wash. For those who are as clueless as I was, this is just an egg and some milk or water (I used about 3 tablespoons of milk) beaten with a whisk and then brushed on with a pastry brush. 

Then I went on a search for eyes. The original Bad Piggies used peppercorns for the eyes, but I knew my picky eater would not be happy with a peppercorn. I thought about chocolate chips, but I wanted to serve them with pizza sauce and that did not sound appetizing either. So I was looking through my fridge and found some hamburger from last night’s dinner. Yep, my eyes are just precooked hamburger crumbles.
And that’s it. I baked them in a toaster oven at 400 degrees Fahrenheit for about 14 minutes. The instructions for the biscuits said 400 for 8-10 minutes, so they did have a slightly longer bake time, but that may have been because I was using a small toaster oven instead of a full sized oven.

Results: Mixed. I thought they were very adorable. Two of mine didn't eat them any better or worse than ordinary bread. The third . . . I thought he was excited about them. Then I heard him apologize to 'piggy' for 'taking bite'. He had taken a bite before realizing what they were, and refused to take another bite!! He did, however, prop 'piggies' up all around his plate and ate more than twice his usual amount of spaghetti while chattering with the 'piggies'. So I'm calling it a win Next time, I'm going to try stuffing them--maybe pizza ingredients, or cheese and ground beef. Something to make them a bit more savory.

Tuesday, January 8, 2013

In His Own Time

On Sunday night at 9:45 I hear, "My homework!  I'll be in trouble!"


"My homework.  I have to do my homework."

This from a boy, who for years, has fought me tooth and nail to complete any type of worksheet.  I have gone as far as to dangle a Hershey Kiss in front of him in order to have him draw a line from 'C' to a 'cow' to complete homework.

During the last IEP meeting, the homework subject was approached.  Not by me but the Director of Special Education.  She asked if he was given any homework and I said no because it was so  difficult for me to get him to do it.  You could tell the educators in the room didn't like that answer so they all devised a dastardly plan on how to make life at home more difficult......I mean, devised a plan on how to get him to want to complete homework. 

They brainstormed.  I listened and thought been there, done that.  Eventually everyone reached an agreement.  Now to try it.

Friday after school, I opened the backpack and there it was.  Homework.  On a Friday?  He flat-out refused.  I put it away.

Back to Sunday night at 9:45.  "My homework.  I have to do my homework."

I took out the worksheets and he said, "Get out mom."

OK.  Nice.  I'll leave.  I sat in the other room and couldn't believe what I heard next.

He read. 

I'll say that again......  HE READ OUT LOUD!!!  He read 2 sentences OUT LOUD!

Then about 5 minutes later he announced that he was 'all done' and went back to his iPad.  I checked his work and it was all correct.  "Good job completing your homework Buddy."

Then he said, "Thanks Mom." 

thought he could read but whenever we approach him, he refused to even look at a book.  His teacher told us he could and now we know he can.  My boy can read!  He can.  He can do anything and he will do everything HE wants to do in his own time. 

I'll keep the Hershey Kisses for myself.  Maybe they will motivate me to get working on this house again........