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Autism Resources

ABLEnow is Helping People with Disabilities gain Greater Financial Independence!

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I vividly remember all the feelings and thoughts that went through my head when Aidan was diagnosed with Autism.  I remember worrying about the “right now” problems as I sat in the doctor’s office, how do I get him the right classroom, are medications the right options, how much are his therapies going to cost, why him?  After I left the doctors armed with a folder jam packed with referrals and reading pantalets, I drove home with a sleeping toddler in the backseat and that’s when the future started to really play games with my head.  What if he couldn’t get through school, what if he couldn’t work, what ifs were swirling through my brain so fast that I hardly had time to imagine an outcome.  The biggest what if was, what if we don’t have the financial resources to help him prosper and be self-sufficient.  We have been through a lot of ups and downs since that day 6 years ago, and I have learned a lot along the way and I’m still learning.  I only recently learned about the ABLEnow program, and I was honored when they asked to partner with me on this sponsored post.

The cost of a disability like autism is incredibly overwhelming, between medications, therapies, specialists, exc. and many don’t understand that even with private health insurances the copayments alone are enough to put families in debt.  Luckily, we live in a country that offers public benefits for people with disabilities based on their income.  However, for far too long people with disabilities could not save for the future without the possibility of losing their public benefits.

When Aidan was first diagnosed, he had already been expelled from 2 daycare programs and his lack of safety awareness became such a source of anxiety that I could no longer leave him with anyone besides immediate family who were educated about his needs.  I had to leave my job, my husband was working full time, but his job did not offer benefits, and times got tough.  We ended up being able to get Aidan on Supplemental Security Income and Medicaid, which helped tremendously, however we could not have over a certain amount in savings and assets to remain eligible. 

At the time I was hopeful we would only need these services for a short time.  However, the idea that he would need these services as an adult to be able to achieve a more independent life has always been a strong possibility.  The thought that he would not be able to save for the future and be able to achieve some of the same financial dreams that his non-disabled peers out of fear of losing these much needed benefits, was heart breaking.  Luckily advocates fought hard to change this, resulting in the federal ABLE Act and the new ABLEnow program.

ABLEnow gives people with disabilities the power to achieve a greater independence, financial security and a quality of life that was not possible before.

For the first time, eligible individuals can save and invest in a simple, affordable and tax-advantaged ABLEnow account without jeopardizing their eligibility for certain benefits that are critical to their health and well-being, such as Medicaid and Supplemental Security Income (SSI).  This is gives people with disabilities and their caregivers peace of mind that we did not think was achievable prior to ABLEnow. 

An ABLEnow account can pay for a variety of qualified expenses related to maintaining health, independence and quality of life, such as housing and living expenses.
It gives individuals a greater sense of financial independence and a reliable tool to build the best life possible.

Are you disabled?  Or are you caring for someone with a disability?  Opening and managing an ABLEnow account can be done online and are free to start, Learn more today!

This is a sponsored post written by me on behalf of ABLEnow.

Filling in the Nutritional Gap During the School Year! #NatureMadeAtTarget

This post was sponsored by Nature Made® as part of an Influencer Activation for Influence Central.
With school back in session, I am back to worrying about the kid’s getting all the vitamins they need throughout the day.  They are eating breakfast and lunch at school, which only leaves me preparing and watching how much is eaten at one meal a day.  Knowing that Aidan is already a very picky eater and that the medication he is on for his autism usually leaves him with little to no interest in food, I worry that he isn’t getting much nutrition from his diet.

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The Discovery Museums in Acton, Ma. ~ Hands on Minds at Play!

On Saturday we were invited to explore the Discovery Museums in Acton, Massachusetts.  My mother has talked about how great this place was when my brother and I were younger, however I never made the trip over to check them out with my kids before Saturday.  After visiting the museums as an adult, I am now regretting not becoming a member when the kids were little!

The Discovery Museums consists of two separate museums that are located next to each other, the Children’s Discovery Museum and the Science Discovery Museum.  For the general cost of admission you receive access to both museums!


The first museum we explored was the Children’s Discovery Museum.  This museum is created for toddlers thru early grade school age.  It is designed within a large Victorian house, and every room has a different theme.  Each time we walked through another doorway we were greeted with an exciting adventure, from a train room, to a bubble and water room, to a full diner set up, and of course Aidan’s favorite the camping themed room. 
There was so much hands on fun in every nook and cranny of this house and the kids had so much fun exploring.

I loved how this museum was also very low-key and relaxed.  It is the perfect place to take the little ones and just get on the floor and have fun.  
I remember countless days feeling trapped in the house with twin infants and wishing there was a place I could take Anthony and the babies on my own.  The Children’s Discovery Museum would have been absolutely perfect.

Once we finished up the Children’s Discovery Museum it was time to head over to the Science Discovery Museum.  

This was what Anthony was excited about, he is obsessed with everything science related right now and this museum was perfect for him.

Everything at the Science Discovery Museum was hands on, from magnet exhibits, a mist tornado exhibit, and an inventors station.  This museum really encourages kids to use their hands and minds while learning and discovering.
I really like how this museum is extremely child friendly,  this is NOT a museum where you walk around and look but don’t touch.  At the Science Discovery Museum the kids got to jump around from exhibit to exhibit, laughing and experiencing all there was to learn.

  This meant Aidan really got to enjoy his experience, and I was able to relax knowing he was less likely to have a meltdown.  This in turn meant I got to really watch my science lover Anthony in his element, which was incredibly heart warming for me.

Anthony’s favorite exhibit at the Science Discovery Museum was the harmonograph drawings.  Lilly’s favorite part of the museum was all the magnet exhibits, while Aidan couldn’t get enough of all the sound studio and musical instruments.

The Discovery Museums also offers an amazing Autism program.  During certain times of the month the museum closes to the public and families of children with Autism Spectrum Disorder are able to visit the museums for free and enjoy exploring the exhibits with other families that have similar needs.  

Museum staff can usually direct visitors to a quiet space in each building for children that may need to take a break from stimulation.  
Also food, including gluten-free options, is generously provided by Not Your Average Joe’s of Acton!  

The 2016 event calendar is available here along with more information.

Need an unique place to host a birthday party?  The Discovery Museums have you covered with customizable birthday party packages.  Party packages include unlimited time at the museums, invitations, activities, goody bags, and more.

They can host more than just birthday parties too!  
Check out their venues for family functions, meetings, and even wedding receptions.

The Discovery Museums offers annual memberships starting at $90 for 2 family members and $140 for 4 family members.  This is a great option for families with young children who are looking for a safe and educational place to explore through out the year.  This option would allow you to escape the house during the cold winter months for a change of scenery and enjoy picnics and outdoor play once the nicer weather arrives.
The Discovery Museums
Where:
177 Main Street
Acton, Ma 01720
Cost:
Child and Adult: $12.50
Seniors: $11.50
Children under 1 years old are Free
Teachers are Free
Disclosure: We received free passes to help facilitate this post.  All opinions are 100% my own.

ChewiGem for the Need to Chew! Fashionable Sensory Chewable Jewelry ~ Review and Giveaway

*Thank you to ChewiGem for Sponsoring this post and giveaway*
 As a mom of children with sensory processing issues who are also on the autism spectrum I’ve been dealing with my kids mouthing objects for a long time.  The collar of the shirt gets chewed on, the toy they were playing with ends up with teeth marks, or the top of a pencil, everything ends up in their mouth!  I remember the day I talked to Aidan’s therapist about the chewing and her handing me a white rubber toothbrush looking chew toy.  My mind immediately went to, “this is a dog toy”  and I honestly never gave it to Aidan or Lilly. 
The thing with mouthing and chewing items is that you don’t really realize how much of it is sensory until a child is outgrowing their toddler years.  When a child is two or even three and he puts a toy in his mouth, you assume its part of being a toddler.  However when a four or five year old, is still putting toys in their mouth you know there’s an issue.  Unfortunately this is also an age that kids are venturing out, kids are starting preschool or kindergarten, kids are making friends and realizing what is the social norm and what isn’t. 
As an autism mom I want to raise my children as main stream as possible, and to me sending my five year old off to school with a piece of rubber that I could totally mistake for a toy I’d throw at my puppy just didn’t seem right. 
I recently learned about ChewiGem through this review and I am very excited.  I know as my children progress through school the needs of their sensory processing disorder will become an issue that they will need to self regulate and instead of chewing on clothes, hair, or pencils, having ChewiGem as an option will be a great relief.  The jewelry is fun and funky in design so that no one would guess that it is a therapy item and my kids are excited to wear them, however they are durable and safe enough that these items are very usable.

 Details:
products are made of FDA approved silicone and are lead, latex, BPA, PVC and phthalate free
 
When a child or adult with additional needs is better able to focus and self soothe, their confidence level increases while their anxiety level decreases
 
Prices Range from $14.95-$19.95 depending on Design Choice
 Enter to win a ChewiGem Necklace or Bracelet
Giveaway Ends: October 14th, 2014 
 
 
Connect with ChewiGem and Learn More:
 *Thank you to ChewiGem for Sponsoring this post and giveaway*
 

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