Thursday, January 27, 2011

Keep Moving Forward

I know, I know, another post on Autism...yes, another pep-talk, bear with me people, it's been on my mind, so here it is...and let me clarify here, because I feel like I need to; I don't write these posts out of a "poor me, look at what I'm going through" nature.  I write these posts in hopes to give hope to others seeking it.  John and I had a good talk on this.  We talked about if I would post posts like this if it wasn't autism, if it was something else, some other disability, trial, whatever.  So I've been thinking about this all week before writing.  And my answer is yes, I would write.  At least I would like to think so; if there is hope to be given, and if I can maybe give it, then why not? That is why I write these posts. 

Two weekends ago I got the amazing opportunity to attend a workshop focusing on treatment issues and Evidence-Base Practices for Children with ASD (Autism Spectrum Disorders).  I'm so grateful I went.  What I've learned from going to these workshops is to take what I think sounds good or feels good, and leave what doesn't.  Dr. Andrew Gardner was one of the presenters and his information really stuck out to me, so now you get to hear about it as well.  One of the many things he does is researches the research done on Autism to see if it is valid, etc.

Where I am now on this journey is really a place of peace.  I am not where I was a year ago.  Sure like any mom, with any kid, I still worry about Race and his future, but I don't ask "why" anymore.  Race has Autism, now what do we do?  What do I do as a mom to make sure he's getting the tools he needs now and will need in his future to cope?  How can I help him understand that he can be sooooo successful in life?  That his brain and the way he thinks is AMAZING?  How can I help him understand this?  

So with that in mind, I went to this workshop.  My experience in this past year in the "Autism World" has taught me so much.  I have gotten to meet so many other parents who are searching for answers, who have questions, and are turning to anyone or anything that MIGHT have an answer for them with different types of treatments or interventions.  I have seen in myself and other parents, the desperate need to believe in something that will CURE my kid or their kid, so he can be "normal", or something I can do to prevent my other kids from "getting" it....

Dr. Gardner talked about what true research entails, what treatments are out there that are established, emerging, and unestablished.  You'd be surprised what types of treatments are unestablished (See the National Autism Center, Standards Report and Science American October 2010).  It just reaffirmed in my mind, that I was going about things the wrong way.  They might not ever find out what causes autism.  Sure, we all have our OPINIONS about this, is it genetic, is it environmental, is it both, is it, is it, is it...?

The truth for me is this, and it is simple.  Is what I'm doing for Race helping him?  What do I feel in my heart when I am calm, when I am in the right place within myself?  What does my motherly intuition and the spirit tell me to do?  If it's not working, if I'm not feeling good about something, then we need to change something.  Isn't this how it is for all mothers?  Just on different levels?  How do you explain this to other people?  Because what might help my son, might not help the other family down the street cope...

The workshop focused a lot on ABA training as well.  ABA is a scientific approach for improving socially important behaviors (Baer, Wolf, and Risley 1968).  I am learning for me, and for Race and where he is on the spectrum, that not everything is needed for us; but ABA is great.  ABA is good parenting.  I realized after this training, that we do ABA at home with ALL our kids.  Maybe not as structured or to the extreme as they were teaching, but we do it to an extent, and we know it has helped. 

How fortunate we are today to have the information available to us about autism.  I am so grateful for that.  In Temple Grandin's book "Thinking in Pictures" she talks about where the world would be without the gifted minds and different ways of thinking that autism contributes to (that's not an exact quote, I loaned the book out). 

Walt Disney said it best, "We keep moving forward, opening new doors, and doing new things, because we're curious and curiosity keeps leading us down new paths." 

Race has autism, now what do we do?  We keep moving forward.

Thursday, January 20, 2011

33 Years and Going Strong

Happy Anniversary Mom and Dad. 
(A little late I know.)

Thank you Mom and Daddy for your constant example to me on what a strong marriage requires.  Thank you for showing me the meaning of sacrifice, selfless acts, family, happiness and showing us kids how to work through stuff. Thank you for giving me the best childhood a kid could ask for.  I love you.

Tuesday, January 18, 2011

Bell Trail

It's kind of strange how two weeks ago we were up playing in feet of snow and now we're hiking like it's Spring.  We took the opportunity of having our Daddy home yesterday to get out and hit the trails with the Bleak's.  The boys had a blast adventuring down Bell Trail.

 This picture doesn't capture how beautiful it really was.  I was so proud of Race and Witt, we probably covered about a mile all together and they LOVED it.  Witten was the designated Trail Boss.  He stayed in the front and just kept on going, pointing out cool things to everybody.  Race brought up the rear half the time, getting sidetracked looking at things; the other half was spent making sure Witten wasn't getting too far ahead and keeping him safe from the "Great Outdoors".  What a great big brother.  I'm so excited that Scouting is right around the corner for us!

 I love my friend Laura. 
 When Lane first picked this up, you haven't seen me run so fast.  I honestly thought it was a snake....yes, I know, a snake in January, I didn't hear the end of it from John...but hey, I had my Super mommy glasses on; somebody's got to make sure these boys survive to adulthood...somehow.
 When John and I first moved here (before we had kids) we hiked all over the Verde and the Red Rocks of Sedona.  It really is a great , amazing place for hiking.  So different from the terrain I grew up around; it's a very exciting place with it's majestic, rugged rocks.  We used to hike this trail all the time, ALL the way in to the cliffs (probably about an 8 mile round trip?  I'm totally guesstimating that.)  And yes, we used to jump off the cliffs into the pools back in those days.  Something you wouldn't catch me doing today...

We were just in awe at the idea of hiking this trail 3 kids later...who would have thought. 
 And I still love the guy more than anything...three kids later.

Wednesday, January 12, 2011

Witten (aka: Little Critter)

Have you ever thought that you or someone you know, has so many of the same qualities as a literary character?  Well, I made a discovery in the past few weeks of my dear, sweet, hilarious, fun, adorable, creative, smart (stubborn, ornery,  rough and tough, demanding, hot tempered) son Witten. 

Yes, I live with Little Critter.  What's so fun is that these are some of Witt's favorite books (if you haven't read them, they are a MUST for kids).  Is it because he's so much like him?  Dare I put the label on the kid?  I think I just have to face the reality on this one.  Gotta love him.

What literary character do you know? (or even better...who are you?)

Saturday, January 8, 2011

Another One Bites the SNOW

My boys love danger.  It drives me crazy, and John loves it.  Not that sledding IS dangerous (well at least it shouldn't be...), but if there is a way to make it dangerous, they will find a way to do so; like building ramps, going down head first, trying to surf, bailing the sled half way down the hill, etc.   They sure know how to have a good time.

We had such a great time sledding, we hope to do it again before the snow's gone.

Friday, January 7, 2011

Basketball, Oh How I Love Thee...

It's always good to see old friends.  I love catching up, seeing how we're all "grown-ups" now, doing grown up things; it baffles me.  But then, I love to see how we just pick up where we left off, knowing that really, we haven't changed TOO much.  Well, I guess we're all a little calmer now, wiser, all that stuff...
Cass and Shannon came down from RV for a basketball tournament.  So Adriane (it's been so fun having you close friend!) and I stopped by to watch.  They played real well!  Cass, we're so proud of you, what a great coach you are!  It was such a fun walk down memory lane.

And on that note, it was so fun to watch some basketball (bragging moment I am not one of those people sitting around dwelling on the past, but...).  For those of you who didn't know me as a kid, I grew up around the game.  Daddy loves basketball, and always has.  I can remember going to practice with him when I was pretty young, dribbling on the sidelines so I didn't interfere with the drills.  Movies like Hoosiers and Pete Maravich were favorites in our home.  March was a big deal at our house.  We loved Duke Basketball.  Daddy loved Coach K, and I grew up idolizing Grant Hill (must admit I still do).  I loved watching Dad coach.  What I loved most was AFTER practice, when his boys would go home, we would stick around the gym and he'd work with me on my shot, and dribbling, and "good D". 

So when I think of Basketball, it's more than just a game for me.  It's memories, it's my Dad, it's hard work, it's friendships and it's reliving those exciting moments of youth (whether it's shooting at the wrong basket in Little League, or my goofy sports goggles in Jr. High, or all the ups and downs of High School).  Here's just a glimpse:

First part of Sophomore year:

 Second part of Sophomore year: (I didn't play much that year on Varsity, but I sure had fun.  Those girls taught me a lot.  Some of them became my heroes.)

 Junior year

 Senior Year

 Yes, for those of you wondering, I DID get called for traveling after this cool steal.

And how can I leave out some fun pictures of me and my good buddies I just saw.  Don't hate me guys.
 We were just too cool.
 This one's my favorite...good ol' Alco, such fond memories of the place...

Monday, January 3, 2011

Let it Snow

Last week the boys woke up to snow outside (this is a rare occasion at our house). 

Then, even better, it started snowing more after breakfast!
After much playing, cold fingers and noses, the boys came in and Witt said, "Today is definitely a hot chocolate kind of day." So we all enjoyed our hot cocoa thinking about our poor Daddy, who was out delivering the mail in the cold.