The Mommyhood Life

Autism

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*
 

Holiday Gift Guide 2013 ~ Top 10 Gift Ideas for Children with Autism and Sensory Disorders

It can be difficult shopping for a child with different Sensory needs than the average child.  Here are my top ten gift ideas that Aidan and Lilly both love, despite their sensory issues.

*This Post contains Affiliate Links for your Convenience*
1.  Living Sands, this is a product I recently came across while out shopping and the kids loved it!  Its like being at the beach and feeling the sand without any mess.  This is a great hands on sensory activity.
 2.  Water Table,  We love our water table!  We use it outside in the summer and inside in the winter.  We fill it with water, sand, pasta, and much more.  There is just so many sensory activities that can be done with a water table!
3.  Ikea Ekorre Indoor Swing,  we have this swing in our basement and Aidan uses it constantly.  When he first got diagnosed with Autism we looked into getting an autism swing, but the prices of them were insane.  After some research I found out that this was the alternative that many autism families use, and I have to say it is perfect.  It cuddles Aidan all around which he loves, Lilly doesn’t have to worry about holding on, and it gives them both so much input!
4.  LEGO sets are a great option.  Aidan always loved the pushing them together and pulling them apart sensation.  Now that he is older he’s able to do much more with them.
5. Wooden Peg Puzzles are another great option.  They can be educational and fun.  Plus children are able to do them with an adult or on their own.
6.  iPad, I have to say the item that has impacted my children the most is the iPad.  There are so many Apps available for Autism and Education, its amazing!
 7.  Fun Shape® Electric Massagers, These vibrating bugs are great for sensory input!  We have a handful of them and they are so much fun.
 8.  Weighted Blanket,  I made Aidan’s weighted blanket (tutorial) and I think its a must have!  It helps calm him down at night, we put it on his lap or on his back when he’s playing.  The extra weight seems to basically help him know where his body is and that gives him the ability to relax.
 9.  Play Tunnel,  These are great to help kids burn off energy crawling through them, but there also great for kids to hide in and roll around in.  We also put it on the kids while their standing up and they jump around.  There’s lots of fun to be had with these!
 10.  Indoor Personal Trampoline, This is the trampoline we have for the kids.  Its perfect, it plays music, counts, and plays the ABC’s.  Aidan has so much energy that this helps a lot in the winter to let him burn off some energy, and with Lilly’s low muscle tone the handle bars are perfect for her and she gets to work on building her muscle strength.
*This Post contains Affiliate Links for your Convenience*

Autism Speaks ~ AutismCares Ipad 2 Grant Open till Friday

Ipads can have a huge impact on an autistic child and his/her family.  I have witnessed it first hand with my own children.  However IPads are expensive, too expensive for most families who are also taking on the financial impact of having a special needs child. 
When I saw in the Autism Speaks newsletter today that Autism Cares is accepting applications this week for their Ipad 2 Grant, I wanted to make sure I shared it with everyone!
There are some eligibility requirements as listed on the AutismCares website,  so if your interested I highly recommend you link over and read about this program. 
http://www.autismcares.org/site/c.mqLOIYOBKlF/b.4745901/k.BD21/Home.htmhttp://www.autismcares.org/site/c.mqLOIYOBKlF/b.4745901/k.BD21/Home.htm

 

Family Camping Trip 2013 – Pine Acres Campground, Raymond NH ~ Traveling with Kids

Every Summer for as long as I can remember, my family has done a “family camping trip”.  My aunts, uncles, cousins, mom, along with Antonio, Me and the kids, all go to a campground in NH or Maine for a few nights and get a bunch of sites close to each other. 
This year we chose to return to Pine Acres RV Resort in Raymond NH.  We have a long history with Pine Acres, and each year debate back and forth on whether we will try it again that particular year. 
I can rewind in my head to memories of camping there when I was Anthony’s age with my brother, parents, and sometimes aunts and uncles.  As a kid we used to spend almost every weekend swimming in that lake, canoeing up that stream, riding our bikes to the store for slush.  The same type of memories I hope I’m giving my children.
Then the then owners sold half the campground to Walmart, really Walmart!, and the thoughts of my parents… “who wants to camp next to a Walmart distribution center?”, agreed!  we stopped going for a long time.  However my aunt didn’t so as a teenager I would go with her a few times a summer.  I remember the dances, running from security when my cousins and I would take off to late, I remember the fun themed weekends.  I also remember, that while the campground got smaller and lost its pretty bridge that would take you to the other side of the stream, you still couldn’t actually see Walmart so it wasn’t all bad.
Yet ever sense that sale, it seems the property hasn’t been able to get back to its former glory.  Its switched owners more times that I can count, which is why we always have a big debate about trying it.  We’ve tried it over past years where bathrooms would be flooded, they’d have little to no activities, or the camp store would have bare shelves. 
However this summer, i guess I chalk it up to nostalgia, but I really wanted to retry it.  I am so glad we did!
The newest of owners, are amazing!  They worked in the store, where at the dances, and always seemed to be around if needed.  They were extremely nice and accommodating.  The campground staff where all very friendly, the days where packed with activities for the kids and the adults.  The bathrooms and showers were clean and maintained often, the store was also very well stocked.
The lake was nice and I liked the fact that you could take you float or raft and just relax in the middle of the lake.  A lot of places buoy off the lake so you cant go out to far, and many others don’t allow rafts at all.  So the ability to get away in the middle of the lake was a huge perk.
Yes we had a blast back at the old stomping ground!  However there are still some things that don’t compare to other more pricier campgrounds, and brought down the experience.  For one thing they do not have a pool, and there water slides were broken.  With the little ones a pool is always much more relaxing to me, and driving by water slides that the kids cant go on was a downer.  However the owners did say the water slides will be back up and running next summer.  The owners also decided to take the slides that used to be in the lake, out.  I understand why they did, seeing how packed the beach can get on a holiday weekend, I can only imagine the liability on that.  Yet we all still missed them, who wouldn’t love going down a huge playground slide into a lake? I mean really!  The biggest thing that turned me off was the kids and teenagers that weren’t being watched!  As a mom who is always watching her kids, teaching them, disciplining them, or at least has a babysitter to do it (aka my little cousin).  I hate it when parents are just off doing their own thing letting there kids run a muck, and this weekend there was a lot of that!  Kids where taking other kids floats, teenagers where flying down the roads in their parents golf carts, at times it just seemed like a mess!
There were some down sides to the campground without a doubt, I don’t think it will ever be what it was when I was a kid, but I also haven’t found anyplace else that is either. 
Will we go back next year?  yes.  the new owners just got it, this summer,  I look forward to see what they transform the campground into for next summer.  Is this my go to campground from now on?  No.  I like the pool, Jacuzzi, family aspects of other places.  As the little ones get bigger (and easier) I hope to be able to camp more than once a year and start trying out many more campgrounds that are currently in my favorites folder.
July 4th Weekend:
I’ve also been asked a number of times how I am able to take Aidan camping.  Let me start out by saying this is the first year he really enjoyed it.  At 1 he hated not being able to crawl everywhere and we spent the entire time taking turns in the water with him or walking him in the carriage.  At 2, he had no safety skills at all and Antonio and I left early because we had, had enough of him just running constantly.  At 3, he had some safety awareness and was able to sit and eat, he could walk holding hands, and did pretty good at the park.  Finally now at 4, he is enjoyable to camp with!  We still take turns taking him for long walks to get some of his energy out when he needs to be redirected.  We also bring his IPad, keep snacks he loves on hand, and tell security when we check in about his autism.  If we are staying close to water, well if there’s any water around that’s not securely fenced in, he spends a lot of time with his life jacket on.  Also with Aidan’s ability to escape and his night terrors, I am always nervous of him getting out at night, so if we rent a trailer I always bring door alarms from the dollar store and stick them on (I also do this at hotels) that way if he does try to get out everyone will know.  If where in the tent, I put him in his tent inside of ours.
When the twins where younger I invested in 2 Kidco peapod plus sleep tents.  These are amazing!  I recommend them to every mom, even more so to an autistic mama.  Aidan was climbing out of his pack and play by 1, so I was at a loss for how to take him on any trips until I found these.  They come with an air mattress and a sleeping bag, plus I bring there favorite blanket from home and it becomes there one little space whether we are in a tent or in a hotel room!  At 4, I now am able to leave the door to Lilly’s tent open, but Aidan isn’t quit there yet, so I simply zip his door closed and tie the zippers together at night.  It makes it so he is unable to unzip it and gives me piece of mind (I always have scissors close by in case I need to get in fast and cant untie the knot for some reason).  These tents have made so much more possible, from sleep overs at aunties, to as you see, camping!


At what point did ignorance become OK?

My cousin posted this photo on my Facebook wall the other day, because she knew I would love it! 
 
Aidan, like about 1 in 50 children, has Autism, he is not a spoiled brat, he is not an undisciplined, loud mouth, pain in the A**!  He has a disability and he has to cope with it everyday as a toddler/preschooler!  My heart breaks for my child when I see him wonder aimlessly around flapping his arms, my heart breaks when he falls into a complete and total meltdown that leaves him screaming and inconsolable.  Imagine walking through life not knowing where your body was in space, imagine the rubbing of clothes against your body feeling like needles all over you, imagine not being able to listen to a sentence because a bird chirped outside and you cant block it out.  Now imagine dealing with all this as a toddler, not being able to vocalize how your feeling.
 
Yet we as a family still have to function, I have to go grocery shopping and run errands.  My children still deserve a sense of childhood so we still go to the playground and museums.  I refuse to let my son become a caged animal because others are ignorant.  I get the looks, the stares, I hear the comments under peoples breaths when Aidan begins to scream at the wrong moment.  I’ve heard stories from other Autism parents of being asked to leave shopping malls by security because of melt downs and children being kicked out of daycare facilities.  This makes me SICK!
 
Autism is an invisible disability, you cant look at a child and understand for a second what that child and their family goes through, yet for some reason it seems ok in our society for a person to be blatantly rude based on their own ignorance.  SO to everyone my child annoys in public, to everyone who snickers, who stares, who doesn’t understand why I am comforting a screaming child instead of disciplining him…. TOUGH, I will continue to live everyday, bringing him everywhere any normal child should be able to go…. Because my motto is, There is no cure for Autism, Ignorance on the other hand has one… Education!  So stop judging everyone else around you and go educate yourself!
 
 

How to Make your Own Weighted Blanket ~ Tutorial

When Early Intervention told me I should get Aidan a weighted blanket for his Sensory Processing Disorder, I had no idea what SPD was never mind a weighted blanket!

So what did I do….. Google!
BUT these lovely blankets that were supposed to make my dear little boy able to relax and stay still for a few moments cost over $200! Yes I would save every nickle and penney if need be to help this little cutie feel better, but really $200 for a few pieces of cloth and some stuffing? heck no!
I could feel the Martha in me coming out!

 

So I went over to Walmart to get the essentials:
The fabric was onsale for 75% off because they were discontinueing the fabric section of the store… Yippy!
1 Yard Dinosour Cotton Fabric: $.93
1 Yard Red Flannel: $1.04
2 Bags of Polyfil Pellets: $7.90
And to add some fleece fringe that Aidan loves to rub against his face
1/4 Yard Coordinating Fleece: $.67 the $200 blankets dont have this!
I got home and got to work as soon as the muchkins were in bed, all together it took me about 3 hours, but I have to say I am not an expert sewer and this machine has probably only sewn a hand full of times in the last year…. but I love that it embroiders 😉
So this is how to make one:
Cut off all the ends and lay out the fabric right sides together and smooth it out, then cut any extra that you may have.
Pin along three sides of the blanket, you will use ALOT of pins!
and sew up the three sides.

 

Trim the corners so that they wont bulk up, and turn the blanket right side out. flatten it out or iron it so that its easier to work with.
Now comes the fun part, Start by deciding how heavy you want it, how many squares you want. I used 10% of my sons weight but you should always check with your childs doctor to see what the best weight would be for them.
I had 15 squares. So I sewed 4 vertical lines from the open end of the blanket down as equally spaced apart as possible.
Next I got out the pellets, knowing I wanted 15 squares I divided the 4 pounds of pellets up equally into 4.3 ounces. try not to spill the pellets they are not the easiest to clean up! I know.. I poured the 4.3 ounces into each collum of the blanket, then smooshed them all the way down to the bottom of the blanket and sewed a horizontal line accross the blanket to keep the pellets in, creating squares. Becareful to get all the pellets down so that you dont sew over them and break your needle. Continue doing these steps all the way to the top of the blanket and close it up.

 

At this point the blanket could be done, but my little guy likes to rub soft things against the top of his lip to help him fall asleep, so I decided to add some soft fringe to the top. I took a fat strip of fleece and sewed it to the hem of the blanket and cut the fringe. easy peasy!
and the best part… Aidan loves it!

 

Great project and great blanket for cuddling:)
Enjoy!

 

Kisses!

Finding Out Aidan was on the Spectrum

It’s been 6 months since we found out Aidan was on the Autism Spectrum with PDD-NOS and it has felt like I have been on spin cycle every day ever since. I’ll never forget the morning he got the diagnosis, going in I was completely torn. I wanted a diagnosis, I mean I wanted to know what was wrong with my little guy BUT who would ever want something to be wrong with their child? At the same time feeling scared that another doctor was going to look at me like I was crazy and say “oh no he’s just a two year old”. Then we went through the test where the doctor asked me and his early intervention coordinator (yes she went to the appointment with me, she really is THE BEST!) a bunch of questions and then played with Aidan. At the end of the appointment she scored his results and told me she was diagnosing him with PDD-NOS. I fought back the tears even though I had anticipated the results; I hated to imagine what he was going through. The next few weeks were an emotional rollercoaster, Between being happy to have answers, sad that he had the diagnosis, and mad that it took so long to get it, I was feeling plain Crazy and since Hubby was working 18 hour days back then and didn’t really have any idea what Autism was I was feeling very lonely. But all these feeling soon passed because I quickly realized I didn’t have time to have a pity party I needed to find every way possible to help improve my sons condition! Right now Aidan receives services 5 days a week from different therapists, he has a speech therapist, developmental therapist, occupational therapist, autism therapist, and two floor time therapists. Luckily our insurance covers it all because we could never afford this type of care. My little guy is VERY busy but luckily he loves all of the wonderful ladies that come out to see him so he really enjoys it. These services have helped him so much there are days I look at him and think how could there possibly be anything wrong with him, this is all wrong…. Then he has a melt down or a really unregulated day and I am smacked back into reality. Yet no matter the struggles we have and will face I can’t say that I would change anything given the chance because he is hands down the funniest most loveable little boy I have ever loved!

We Survived Lillys 48 Hour EEG!

One of the many tests the neurologist referred Lilly to was an EEG for her staring spells that have been scaring me allot lately.
We can be in the middle of playing when all of a sudden she just completely zones out and stairs off into space or at an object. They are doing the 48 hour EEG to rule out any type of seizure disorder.
We went into Children’s Hospital and it took them about an hour and a half to attach a ton of little electrodes to her head then wrap up and cover them all then run the wires to a case that they put in a cute little backpack. I was a nervous wreck that I was going to be back in an hour with them all pulled off but I was shocked and proud at how good my little princess did! she didn’t touch them at all, all weekend! Not one fell off and she didn’t fight me once about the backpack. I did try to keep her separated from Aidan whenever I had to do something that took my attention away from them but all and all it went allot smoother than I anticipated!

We went back and it only took about 20 minutes to get them all off, her hair was a hot mess but the grease they use to remove the electrodes helped allot with being able to comb through it and within one wash it was back to its normal curly mess.
NOW we have to wait 2 weeks for the results….. seriously! ugh

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