“You can not lose when you lock arms with the Lord.”

Since starting this blog, I have never really carried a loud voice when it comes to my faith in God and Jesus Christ. I think I feared making readers feel uncomfortable or feared this topic is irrelevant when it comes to the topic of autism. But last Sunday someone was bearing their testimony of Christ and a single line touched my heart. He said, “You can not lose when you lock arms with The Lord.” Guess where my mind went when I heard those eleven simple words?

Autism.

And then it hit me. My faith in Christ has everything to do with everything! Including my perspective on autism.

When Cali was diagnosed, I was so scared. The future was completely unknown. Where did I turn? To prayer. Every single morning and every single night I prayed to Heavenly Father asking him to help me know how to help Cali.

I have been raised a Latter Day Saint Mormon my entire life, so I knew without hesitation that asking Heavenly Father for help in sincere prayer would provide answers to seemingly impossible questions. The principle of prayer is a true principle I am grateful for every single day.

By no means did I know exactly what today would look during the diagnosis time, but what I did know was that I couldn’t lose by locking arms with the Lord.

Cali’s success and continued progress has so much to do with her therapies, but it has also been greatly influenced by a loving Heavenly Father above.

Last week I was talking with a good friend over the phone. Cali was in social skills group and I was waiting in the car watching a movie with Ava. I remembered I needed to call back this friend and so I did. This good girlfriend of mine is almost a year into her autism journey. Her daughter is very similar to where Cali was when we first started out. Our conversation brought me back to when we began our families journey. Man was that a tough time! And ironically, how grateful I am for having had that experience and continued experience today.

The comment “you can not lose when you lock arms with the Lord”, came after the conversation with my girlfriend. It came four days later, but when it was spoken, I knew exactly why my mind went straight to autism.

My girlfriend is going through a possible change in her daughters treatment plan. Her and her husband are weighing out different options and trying to find the most beneficial route for her and the family. Hearing my friend talk, took me back to our beginning. And then when I heard this comment in church, I was immediately aware of why the beginning for us was tough, yet easy.

“You can not lose when you lock arms with the Lord.”

I am convinced it is my personal relationship with the Lord through prayer that has directed me on how to best help Cali and give her exactly what she needs.

I don’t want to fail Cali as a mom. I want to provide the best for her and Ava. It is a daily desire to live up to the stewardship I have been given to be a mom.

I truly believe that I can not lose when I lock arms with the Lord. The trials and stumbles will continue to come, but it’s ok. I welcome the difficulties because I know the Lord is their to help me through. They won’t magically disappear, but I can rest at ease knowing there is a way to endure them well with his help.

I feel blessed to have this knowledge. To be a part of the church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints is also a blessing beyond measure. It is through the gospel of Jesus Christ where I learn to live according to true principles. Principles which guide and direct me in a correct path leading to happiness and peace.

“You can not lose when you lock arms with the Lord.” This is true.

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Whole Body Learning Conference

You do not want to miss this!!!!! Krisanne, Cali’s OT, asked if I would pass along this information. This is a one day conference being hosted by the Life Skills Clinic through the University of Utah Health Clinic. It’s going to be great!


 

Whole Body Learning Conference

Date:

Friday, March 14 from 9:00 am until 4:00 pm; at the Division of Occupational Therapy (520 Wakara Way on the University of Utah Campus/Research Park)

Cost:

   $30.00, includes continental breakfast and lunch

Audience:

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

Presenters:

Krisanne Lewis MOT, OTR/L; Kasey Mitchell MOT, OTR/L

 

 

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.

 

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 and social/professional networking

12:45 – Small group/case studies

1:30 – Vision and visual perceptual strategies

2:30 – Break

2:45 – Handwriting and fine motor strategies

4:00 – Dismissal

 

To Register:

Contact Kim or Krisanne

(801)585-6837

 

 


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“Tell her I had a bad dream”

I never know what the morning will bring for Cali. She can be cheery, complacent, grumpy, frustrated, you name it. Ava on the other hand is very predictable. She is the gosh darn cutest little three year old with grumpy written all over her face. How one manages to pull off grumpy and cute at the same time is beyond me, but Ava has certainly figured it out! This morning I was greeted in our work out room with cute, grumpy Ava and frustrated, irritable Cali.

 

Cali loves making her bed in the morning, but this morning the bed was being temperamental and not working with her. She was frustrated. She also had to go to the bathroom and asked if I would go with her. I mentioned Ava being willing to go with her, but if she wanted to go with me she would have to wait until I finished part of my work out. She did not like this one bit! Through her irritation and frustration, she told me she was not going to school and that “school was ugly!”. I knew I couldn’t win the battle by telling her she was going to go to school, so instead we started to talk through why she didn’t want to go. She explained to me she had had a very bad dream about an “ugly, ugly eagle and bat”. She didn’t want to go to school because what if she thought about the dream, and couldn’t finish her worksheets. As she was explaining this to me, it gave me an idea. I asked her, “Today would you like me to walk you to class instead of dropping you off? I can take you to Miss Valerie and tell her all about your bad dream. If she knows about your bad dream, she will be able to help you.” I didn’t know  if this option would put her mind at ease, but I figured it was worth a shot. It did! She looked at me and nodded her head yes. Wahoo!! No battle fought, only good communication. And let me tell you how long we have worked for this kind of communication!

 

Cali biggest hurdle to climb has been communication and regulating her emotions. This is what we have worked on from day one and continue to work on day in and day out, among other things. For her to tell me she was frustrated and didn’t want to go to school was a great step in our conversation. Then to describe the reason as to why she didn’t want to go to school, was another huge communication accomplishment. Then to listen to my ideas on how we might solve this problem and agree with the final solution was another great step in our communication and her being able to regulate her frustration.

 

The time came to pack up and head to school. She and Ava hopped into the car with no complaints. I asked Cali again if she would like me to walk her in and talk with Miss Valerie. She said yes. We walked in and first dropped off Ava. Next was Cali’s class. We walked in hand in hand directly toward Miss Valerie. I knelt down and asked Cali, loud enough so that Miss Valerie could hear, what she wanted me to tell the teacher. She whispered in my ear, “Tell her about my bad dream”. I told Miss Valerie all about the dream and told her that Cali may become worried periodically throughout the class if she happened to think about her dream. I looked to Cali and she stood there with a sweet smile spread across her face. She then gave me the biggest hug. It felt so good! I said goodbye, I love you, and walked out of the classroom.

 

It felt good to feel Cali’s hug, but it felt even better to think about what we had just accomplished. I think back to all the times I have responded rashly or emotionally to a “I don’t want to go to school” or whatever other defiant comment coming from Cali, and the end result was never positive. In doing so, I would shut off any potential door to communication. Instead, I would get on a power trip and tell her she was going to school. Period. Today I learned a HUGE lesson! And once again I was proud of how far Cali has come!

 

It feels good when I have crossed a hurdle as a parent, but to cross an autism related hurdle…now that feels even better!!!!!

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“I’m so glad you’re proud of me…”

Sunday is church day for our family. Starting at the front of January, our church service changed from 9am to 1pm. This obviously means lunch before church. Six weeks in and I still do not have our Sunday morning routine down, which also means most of the time I end up scrambling at about 11:30 to get myself and everything else ready. This past Sunday, as I was yet again scrambling, the girls started asking for lunch. I gave them the, “In a minute” response, which they took quite literally. They asked me for lunch about every minute! At one point Cali came in and passed on the lunch question. Instead, she asked if she could put on her bunny dance recital leotard and bunny ears. With only 30 minutes until church, my answer was no. She left the room pouting and I continued to finished my hair.

 

My hair was done, so I hurried to the kitchen. As I walked down the foyer, I could hear the microwave going and could smell Cali’s most favorite meal, macaroni and cheese with tuna (yep, fish with mac n cheese and no I’m not kidding!). Before I could round the corner into the kitchen, I was already anticipating what was happening. Cali must be making lunch for herself!! And she was! The most surprising and just as exciting part was that she had made a plate for Ava as well. She even gave Ava a side of grapes, because she knows how much Ava loves grapes. Makes me smile even as I type! Ok, but here’s the thing…this was only the first part. The second part is the most exciting!!!

 

About a couple months ago, Madi started working on a new program with Cali. This program was written by Madi to help Cali learn how to work through problems. To learn how to find solutions to her problems with out becoming dysregulated and emotional. Before starting this program, Cali would have the slightest misstep and would consequently be unable to function. She would stop and complain, whine, and forget to even ask for help. To Cali all hope was lost. Since starting this little program with Cali, she is now learning how to find solutions to her problems without becoming emotional charge and dysfunctional.

 

Basically the program goes like this…

 

1. Cali has a problem.

2. We ask Cali to identify the problem.

3. We ask Cali for ideas on how she can fix the problem.

4. We try out those ideas to see if the problem gets fixed.

5. We point out the obvious and have Cali realize the problem is fixed because of her idea/s.

 

I wonder if you can guess where I am going with this. What was so exciting about the second part?! Remember when Cali came to me and asked if she could wear the bunny leotard? Remember I said no and Cali left the room pouting and upset. Well, when Cali noticed me in the kitchen she ran to me with her hands in the air and said, “I know how to make my own lunch!” I responded by saying, “I’m so proud of you Cali!” Her next response is what made super excited. She said, “I’m so glad you’re proud of me. I made solutions to the bunny costume!” It’s working!!!!!!!!!! Did you read that Madi?! The program is working and she, by herself, came up with an idea that would help her find a solution to to bunny costume situation.

 

You bet I’m proud of Cali! I haven’t been able to stop thinking about it all day!!

 

A few pictures of Cali in her bunny costume last year at the dance recital…don’t mind the string cheese addition.

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Will she get in??

Cali has seven months until kindergarten starts. Call us crazy, but we have been looking into different school for about a year. I don’t know if this is normal or not, but nonetheless we have made it a priority to find the school that will be best for Cali.

 

Last year was easy. I still had a year and a half to get in therapy and prepare her as best as possible. Now that a year as already flown by, it’s not so easy anymore. I wonder if she will be ready. I wonder if the school will be accommodating to her needs. I wonder if she will even be accepted.

 

We have chosen a private school for Cali. We took a tour of the entire school including the kindergarten classroom she would be learning in, and both her and I fell in love. She still talks about that one hour tour and in fact, she told Krisanne, her OT, about the bunnies in the science room just today. That was her “favorite part!” Taking the tour last year was again an easy step. No pressure of the application or evaluations. Today was a different story.

 

Today I started the application process. The first part was yet again easy. Names, contact info, applicants age and primary info. But as I scrolled down I started to get nervous. We live with autism every single day, so you tend to forget about the diagnosis day or the why’s and how’s of her therapy. We wake up and go about our day just like everyone else. Yes, maybe our days are filled with therapy, but that is our normal. So when I scrolled down to find specific questions like, has your child been involved with special education or does your child have a medical history with a psychologist, and so on and so forth, I started to get really nervous. I was worried. Worried there may be a chance they won’t give her a fair look. It was weird to be honest. Cali has progressed so far and so drastically, that before starting the application process I thought she would be able to go to most any school . Like I mentioned above, the closer it gets, the more I wonder, but never did I think she might not be able to get accepted into the school of our choice.

 

I’m not sure of other private schools, but this one does not have a special education program. They will provide tutors and extra help if needed, but there is no such thing as an individual education plan (IEP). Technically Cali currently has one of these. Only hers is through Autism Journeys and is called an individual development plan (IDP). This little plan has made ALL the difference. Every single one of her goals is included in this IDP. Without the goals, you can’t measure any success or progression. You may be able to guess, because of better communication or better social interaction, but ultimately you need specific goals in order to measure the degree of success and progression. I wonder, if she is able to get in and participate in this school, will they be accommodating to her IDP?

 

I told Casey tonight how I became more and more nervous the deeper I got into the application. His response, “It is what it is.” Geeze, if only I had that perspective.

 

The truth is, I just want the best for Cali. Just like any other parent, I want Cali to receive the best if it is possible. One of the questions in the application was, what do you hope a (the school name) education will provide for your child? I said this…

 

We want Cali to be given the opportunity to reach her full academic and social potential. We believe your school can provide this opportunity. We also believe your school can rear and sculpt independent and decisive thinkers. We want this for Cali. She will do well in life if she can leave our home confident in her ability to learn. If she can move on to college as a responsible thinker, one who makes choices with reason and logic and based on truth, she will find herself a promising and fruitful future. This is what we hope your school’s education can provide for Cali! 

 

And that’s it. Simply put, we just want Cali to reach her potential and be given great opportunities for growth and learning.

 

I am scheduling our second tour through the school and I’ll be sure to give an update!! I just need to relax and realize Cali will be just fine and love whatever school she attends throughout grade school.

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