Chewigem USA

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I am excited to share with all of you another product that is well worth the buy if applicable and usable to your child. And if not your child, then take this information and share it with someone who would greatly benefit. A couple of months ago I received an email from a fellow autism mom who introduced me to Chewigem USA. She is the proud owner of this company and I asked her if she wouldn’t mind sharing information about the company and products to help you better understand what they aim to provide for their customers. Here is what she has to say…

 

CHEWIGEM USA was launched in September 2013 as a discreet, quality solution for those with the need to chew.  As parents of a child with Asperger’s, we clearly understand the importance of a quality product that provides comfort and confidence to a child in need.  We have lived through the restless days and nights of sheet and clothes chewing and personally know the value of this product.  When our son was transitioning to middle school we had a lengthy search for a product that would relieve his anxiety through his chewing, yet had an age appropriate appearance.  We found this product in Chewigem, which began in the UK.  Once we saw the confidence it brought to our son when he was able to self regulate his needs, we knew we had to share with other families, educators  and clinicians in the additional needs community.  Additionally, since beginning the company, we have found success in the speech therapy community as our products have been used to strengthen mouth muscles and help improve chewing coordination for those with that need.  Our product lines continue to grow and evolve and will soon be offering products that can be used as fidget items as well.  As a global presence in the chewelry community we are compromised of mothers, early childhood educators and clinicians.  We are committed to making your  CHEWIGEM USA™ purchase experience one that you will want to rave about with others. 

 

Many children on the spectrum have sensory needs which may include oral sensory needs. Cali has never had the tendency to chew in order to self-regulate, but I was intrigued and curious by this awesome sounding product. I asked the owner if she wouldn’t mind sending me a piece from their “chewelry” line. She agreed and the piece was quickly on it’s way. When I received the item I was impressed. The item was a pink colored Tread Bangle. The girls instantly fought over who could wear it first!

 

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This company’s goal to create products in which help a child’s oral sensory needs, while maintaining an age appropriate appearance has been met. Take some time to peruse their site. You will love what you see!

 

 

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Whole Body Learning Conference

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Hurry and sign up fast!! Space is limited!! Therapy, private tutoring, any specialized treatment is extremely expensive, so when an opportunity such as this becomes available, we all have to grab on. Krisanne Lewis is Cali’s occupational therapist. She has been working with Cali for about three years now. I can not not say enough good about her and her talent with kids. The information, strategies, and therapy tools available in this class will be invaluable. Whether your child is autistic or typical, you can attend! Here is more information regarding the class…

 

WHAT YOU CAN EXPECT TO GET:

 

This day-long conference will focus on strategies to help children of all ages be more successful in school. Topics will include Sensory Integration theory, research, and strategies; visual development and visual perceptual strategies; fine motor development and strategies to teach handwriting. Hands-on learning opportunities will also be provided, and attendees will leave with ready-to-implement ideas and research-based intervention strategies. Attendees will have the opportunity to network with other professionals and will leave with a certificate of attendance.

 

AUDIENCE:

 

Special education and general education teachers, paraprofessionals, related service providers (OT, speech, PT, counseling, etc.), psychologists, parents

 

AGENDA:

 

8:30- Registration and breakfast

9:00- Sensory Integration theory, evidence and background

10:15- Break

10:30- Sensory Integration strategies for school and home

12:00- Lunch on your own

12:45- Small group/case studies

1:30 Handwriting and fine motor strategies

2:30- Break

2:45- Handwriting and fine motor strategies

4:00- Dismissal

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Luv

Luv written by Cali

Luv iss kad (love is kind)

Luv iss happ (love is happy)

Luv iss luv (love is love)

Luv iss Fakfl (love is thankful)

Luv iss faly (love is family)

Luv iss hijuj (love is children)

  Cali came downstairs as I was eating my lunch, to share with me something so very special. She sat down beside me and places a small stack of papers on the counter in front of her.  I had no idea what she was about to share would have me in tears. Clearly we have some work to do in the spelling department, but this is a moment I will remember for the eternities! I asked Cali how she came up with this and she told me, “I just sounded them in my head.” When I asked her if she came up with the words on her own she said yes.

 

I think Cali taught us all a great lesson. I love you Cali!

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Kindergarten Evaluation

I filled out all the appropriate paper work, posted it, and waited for a response. The response would tell us the date of Cali’s kindergarten evaluation. I was a bit nervous for Cali, although I think a fully confident mom in this situation doesn’t really exist, autism or not.  I actually think the nerves are a good thing anyway. They made me aware and caused me to take the necessary time to prep Cali for this mock kindergarten experience. Cali was nervous and so was I! We had toured the school about a year prior and she instantly fell in love, and quite frankly so did I. Maybe this was part of the reason my nerves were so high. I knew this was an amazing school and I wanted so badly for Cali to have the chance to experience learning in it’s classrooms. We still had a year and a half to work really hard to get Cali where she needed to be. I guess the question was, will she respond and progress fast enough to get her to this “ready” spot? We had to wait and see.

 

We received the evaluation date in the mail about two weeks after sending in the admission papers. Cali’s date was Thursday, March 20th at 3:30pm. Seeing the actual date made my nerves emerge again. When I mentioned to Cali we would be going to her new school soon, she began to tell me why she was so nervous. She was nervous about the very thing most kids get nervous about…meeting new friends. This shocked me! Cali has never once been nervous about meeting new people. She is outgoing, gregarious, loud, silly, and accepting of everyone. Yes, I was shocked. So, we talked about it.

 

Me: “Cali, why are you nervous?”

Cali: “What if the kids don’t like me? What if they laugh at me? (Cali has a difficult time when people laugh around her these days. She thinks the laugh is directed at her. A mean laugh is what she calls it.)

 

We talked through these questions. I explained to Cali that friends will laugh with you because something you did or said makes them happy. Of coarse, I told her some friends might make mistakes and may make a mean laugh, but all of us make mistakes. She seemed content with this explanation, but still showed legitimate nerves. I was confused. It was a couple of days before I finally figured out the root cause of these unexpected nerves. Turns out, Cali was reflecting on last years school tour. She remembered the kindergarten class we visited and remembered seeing all of the kids in uniform, already friends, and already playing with one another. Cali noticed she was “the new kid”. She was afraid no one would accept her because they didn’t “need” her.  Sad on the one hand, and excellent on the other! This seemed to me to be some very high level social thinking! Once I explained that kids from last year are now in the grade above and all new kids would be coming to kindergarten just like her, the nerves were no more. Now all I had to do was work on my own nerves!

 

I gave the admissions office a call to get some details on the evaluation.  I figured I could take those details and prep Cali for the experience. The call put many of my nerves to rest. The lady on the line assured me the evaluation was very low-key, and we had nothing to be nervous about. She was fully aware of Cali ‘s autism when we chatted, so her reassurance gave me comfort. Well, some comfort!

 

Thursday, March 20th came and Cali was prepped and ready. She was excited! We walked into the front lobby and waited with the other parents and children. Cali immediately introduced herself to a boy named Emerett. Emerett was shy and didn’t say much. Cali definitely talked about some random topics to both Emerett and his mom. Although, her comments weren’t really random. She knew what she was talking about. Sometimes Cali has a hard time referencing where the comment is stemming from so it can seem a bit random and out of nowhere. She also, from time to time, has a hard time telling stories or ideas in an appropriate order (i.e., beginning, middle, and end). Even with the comments being a bit random to Emerett and the mom, they didn’t seem to notice or care.

 

It was time to head back to the evaluation. All the parents were led with the kids to the school’s library. There we waited for the three kindergarten teachers. Each child was to go and pick out their name tag and stick it on their shirt. Who know I would be so nervous for Cali to pick up her dang name tag. I needed to RELAX!!!! She grabbed her name tag just fine and waited patiently just like all the other kids.

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The teachers arrived and took all the kids to a room separate from the parents. My nerves were close to gone when I saw and heard Cali whisper to Emerett, “Are we going to be in the same class?” Now I just had to work on holding back the tears!

 

After 45 minutes we could see the kids rounding the corner and heading back to the library. Cali was just as happy as when she left. She ran to me and told me all about her paper. It had all sorts of drawings and her name legibly written on the top right corner. There was no question she had had a great evaluation! I was so proud of her and so happy! The kindergarten teachers made a general comment about the evaluation. They said it went great and we would hear back from them in about two weeks. That was it!  It was so much less stressful and intense than I had suspected.  

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Flash forward two weeks…

 

Cali has been invited to their school!!!!

 

After the evaluation I was pretty positive Cali would be invited to attend. The only reason that might have prevented this, would have been because of limited space. The only surprise of Cali’s acceptance, was an additional call I received from the admissions office. The director of the school wants to sit down with me and Casey to clarify a few things. My guess is that he wants to make sure we manage our expectations and are aware this school does not provide what a public school provides in terms of special needs accommodations. Casey and I are looking forward to this conversation. We are fully aware of what the school provides and does not provide. We are also fully aware of Cali’s current needs and I think she is going to do just fine at this school. In fact, I think she is going to do spectacular!!!!

 

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If not me, then who

My very good girlfriend, Jess, agreed to write a little something for the blog. I think I want to ask girlfriends to do this more often. Something about reading from the perspective of an autism mom, brings so much comfort and knowledge to my own perspective. Sometimes perspectives may be different, but I think this can be a good thing. And sometimes the perspectives match up, which works just as well.

 

When I asked Jess to write something up, I didn’t give any topic or parameters. I simply asked her to write what her heart desires and knew without question it would be fantastic! And it is!! Enjoy….

 

 


The moment my daughter, Evie, was diagnosed with Autism, I became a fighter.

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I’ll never forget that afternoon in late August, and the way the words “Autism Spectrum Disorder” seemed to pierce my heart as they slipped from that doctor’s lips. In an instant, our whole life had changed, and my role as her Mother became more complex and challenging than I ever imagined it could be. No longer was I “just” a mother– responsible for pbj’s, and story time, and bandaging scraped knees–now I was responsible for guiding her life in an impossibly real way. Who would get this sweet girl in front of the right doctors, if not me? Who would fight tooth and nail for the services she deserved, if not me? Who would find the best treatment, the best therapists, deliver the biggest applause at her slightest accomplishment?

 

That became clear to me in an instant.

I would.

 

At times, advocating for Evie has felt like pounding my fists against concrete walls. I fall into bed at night with bruised knuckles and bleeding skin, shoulders throbbing from the weight of my effort. At times, advocating for Evie has meant telling the SLP at school her assessment of Evie’s language skills is inaccurate, watching her face fall slightly at the accusation, and feeling my pulse quicken as my heart cheers on my lips; “open your mouth, Jess, and speak.”

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Advocating for Evie has meant doing my research. Asking for a second opinion, learning the lingo, sitting in on their meetings, studying their programs, encouraging their efforts, and pushing, always pushing, for more.

 

More than anything, advocating for Evie has meant following my heart. Trusting my gut when it tells me that she needs something different than what she is receiving. Trusting my gut when it tells me to take a second look. Trusting my gut when it tells me to quiet all the voices around me telling me what I should know about Autism, what I should believe about what she is capable of…quieting the voice that fills me with fear and uncertainty, and trusting my heart when it tells me to open up my eyes, and simply see.

 

Recently, trusting my gut has led me away from one therapy provider and towards another. I sat with the decision for months, pounding my fists against those concrete walls, and praying for clarity, and peace, and reassurance. At times, I have wondered if I expect too much of the people who work with my daughter; perhaps I need to take a step back, relax, and quiet the voice inside myself that tells me to keep pushing.

 

But then I sit next to her as she eats her lunch and watch the way her eyes sparkle back at mine when I speak to her, and I know that I am meant to fight for this girl. Who will mold this little life into one of promise, if not me? Who will speak for Evie, when she cannot speak for herself? Who will make the hard decisions, the big decisions, that ultimately add up to a lifetime of loving her?

 

The answer has always been clear.

I will.

 

I still don’t know if I am making the right decision. Leaving one company and heading to another will not be easy on any of us. We have fallen in love with our therapists, and saying goodbye is painful, and heartbreaking, and hard. I don’t have all the answers, and I don’t know where this road will lead, but I do know that I am listening to that voice that tells me to keep fighting for what I know is possible for my girl. I do know that I am following my heart, and trusting the person Evie’s autism has forced me to become.

 

It hasn’t been easy, and my shoulders still throb from the weight of it all when I lay my tired body down at night. But Autism has molded me into so much more than what I was before. No longer do I have to question whether I am strong enough, or brave enough, or wise enough to guide this precious little girl into the life that is waiting for her.  I don’t have to be the strongest, or the bravest, or the wisest mother in order to do it right. At the end of the day, I just have to follow my heart. And, at the end of the day, I close my eyes and see a future for my Evie as bright as her sparkling ice-water eyes.

 

Should I should take a step back, relax, and quiet my heart when it tells me to keep pushing?

 

Never.

 

 


Jess shares more of her words of wisdom on her family blog. Read more here!

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