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Monthly Archives: February 2012

Man what a week!  It was great to see the interviews of my wife and kiddos on Fox News UT and I also appreciated the opportunity to meet with other parents as we talked with our State Representatives, thanking them for their support of the Carson Smith Scholarship (link to this entry).

Accomplishments: Our Sunday Mornings can either be an extreme waste of time of extremely productive.  This week was the second as the kiddos all wanted to help us make Pumpkin Bread and Salted Pumpkin Caramels pictured below.  We tried a ‘healthy’ 500 calorie pumpkin bread that I don’t think we’ll try again but the salted caramels were definitely a winner.

Pictured from Pinterest

The boys are, for the most part, pretty careful around the stove and in the kitchen.  We didn’t let them work with anything hot but we did let them add ingredients together, play with the blender, and do some general mixing.  It was neat to do something as a ‘family’ and to see how excited the boys (especially Twin A) got with the activity.

Great helpers!

We took the treats to my sister and her husband’s home for dinner Sunday Night.  I would dare venture to say that another accomplishment was how well the boys did after their initial adjustment at the dinner.  We played ‘hide and seek’ for most of the night and it was fun to see where they started to hide.

This was the most popular hiding place all night

Tip of the Week:  My wife did a lesson last week about ‘trash’ and ‘treasure’ talking.  She wrote different phrases on slips and had a trash can and a small treasure box.  The kids took turns picking a slip, reading it with mom, and deciding if it was a ‘trash’ or ‘treasure’ phrase.  The boys picked up on it quickly and now, I can hear them telling me when I’m saying treasure phrases or, at a few times this week, phrases that were trash phrases.

It became even more apparent that the lesson stuck with them when we were at church yesterday.  One of the leaders was preparing a lesson in front of the group and was talking about heroes and the ‘bad guys.’  Twin B kept vocalizing his concern that she was using trash phrases (even though she obviously wasn’t) and so she switched to the ‘red and blue’ groups instead.  It has helped them when they start arguing about “MY TOY” or when one will tell the other to “GO TO YOUR ROOM.”  Thanks to my wife for a great lesson!

We were asked a few weeks ago by our twins’ school if we’d be willing to talk with Fox News Utah about the possible ‘diagnosis changes’ for autism and how it could affect our family.  The interview was done in two segments and the link below should take you to the main page.  Scroll down the page to see the second segment.

New definition of autism could deny some families social service help, insurance coverage.

I was at the State Capital for most of the day yesterday with a number of parents talking with our House Representatives on the Carson Smith Scholarship in UT and asking for their continued support and further push for more funds.  My twins aren’t receiving the scholarship since they are still in preschool and the scholarship is for school aged kids.   However, I am glad we were able to go and show our support for a great organization and group supporting Autism.   I am EXTREMELY GRATEFUL for the dedicated parents I met today who do so much – you gave me a renewed effort to do all I can for my kiddos.

Mtg with House Representative for the Carson Smith Scholarship

While I tend to be more of a ‘pessimistic realist’ with things, I am an eternal optimist that there is Someone who watches out for me and more importantly and comforting, my kiddos and family.  In our journey in autism, I am thankful for the awesome parents and role models I meet, and thankful for those who dedicate their work and lives to helping my kids.  YOU ROCK!

I also am EXTREMELY GRATEFUL for my family ~ these two boys are absolutely fantastic.  One of them was talking in class about his family and told his teachers that he has “a cool mom and dad.”  I was floored – I love my boys.

Angry Birds!

What a fun week!  First – thanks to all you other bloggers who share so much!  I love reading your blogs!

The kids had such a fun time at their school parties and it was neat to see how excited they got with all the Valentine’s Day festivities. One of the things I’ve been wanting to do is ‘heart attack’ my parents.  Being that they live in Hawaii and obviously we aren’t there, it took a bit of coordinating but we are EXTREMELY GRATEFUL to a good friend who helped make it possible.  Thanks Malia!

Cutting out hearts his 'own way'

So, I didn’t know what a Valentine’s “heart attack” was until a few years ago but basically, cut out a bunch of hearts, write messages, and plaster someone’s house. . . . car.. . .  mirror. . . .whatever.  The kids had a ton of fun – the picture below is of the half completed ‘attack.’

Happy Valentine's Day!

The kiddos also had fun making their own presents for Mommy.  The kids and I planned our own shopping trip and ‘homemade’ presents and it ended up being a total blast.

Making their present for mommy

My daughter decided that she wanted to make chocolate covered strawberries.  She did a good job and I have to admit, I think I ate more than half of the strawberries.

YUM!

The boys also had a blast at their school activities.  They  came home with their own little bags and it’s so neat to see them go through their bags and decide what they want for a snack, etc.  It’s also good that since they are in different classes, they got different things so they learned to respect that their sibling may have a candy / sticker that they didn’t have.  Can’t say it went perfect (not by ANY means), but still – it is a concept they are getting better at.

Twin A examining his goodies

Accomplishments: It seems like we did a TON this past week.  From seeing one of the boys make friends with another boy at the bounce house this week to their excitement of Valentine’s – it was a fun week.  Also, we did a TON with scissors, playdough, and other activities that I’m hoping they make some big strides in the OT sessions.

My personal favorite moment of the week was tonight, as we did ‘family bed’ downstairs and were watching a movie, both boys asked me to lie down and watch the movie with them.   They both cuddled and talked to me.  Twin B always calls me by saying, “HEY MY DADDY” or “I LOVE YOU MY DADDY.” I can’t tell you how much my family means to me.

Family Bed!

Opportunities: Man we had a few meltdowns and we need to work through both boys ‘accepting’ things that they may not want to do as a first priority. . . sharing in particular.  I was also really bummed when walked to a friend’s house and the friend looked at them and ran away. I get it – little kids don’t understand that their friends have ‘autism’ and what that means but still, bummer.  Poor kid doesn’t know that HE’S THE ONE MISSING OUT!     Sucker!  You may just find a random snowball flying at you this week.  Ok – yes, I’m bad but I love my boys.  Ok, enough negativity.  🙂

Tip of the Week: So, this is our speech homework for the week below- getting the boys to understand the differences in taste.  It was great that my wife had brought home a small bag of sour Skittles that I used with the boys for this.  We still need to work on helping the boys understand that ‘sour’ or ‘salty’ doesn’t mean that it’s necessarily ‘bad.’  Twin B was trying to use it to get out of eating his dinner tonight – he said it was ‘salty’ so he shouldn’t eat it.  Buddy, I wasn’t born yesterday.  Anyway, have a great week!

Taste Worksheet

Remember school pictures?  Man those were stressful times and I found myself thinking the same thing when I found out it was ‘picture day’ for our kids.  We’ve tried to take pictures of all three kids and without fail, one of them isn’t looking.  This past year was the first year we got a decent family picture – most of the time, our family holiday card is a hojpoj of our favorite pictures of the kids.  Thanks to a VERY TALENTED photographer (my sister in law), we got a great family picture (below).  She has other pictures of the shoot on her website.

Wait! Where'd my hair go?

It’s tough enough to get good family pictures but when you add autism to the mix. . . . even tougher. My wife also takes photos and here’s a link to her blog (it’s also on the blogroll) and to get the boys to look at the camera, she would tell them to look at the “monkey” in the camera and ~ this is what we would get.  An incredibly intense look that had me chuckling everytime I opened a picture up.

"Look for the monkey"

This leads up to one of the most touching moments for me this year was getting their school pictures below.

Image

What great looking kids ~ it’s a good thing they take after their mom.  We got these and I couldn’t stop looking at them – they both look so happy and we’ve come such a long way and I thought this picture really captured it.  I was especially happy to see Twin A’s (left) picture – we don’t have a lot of pictures where he is making great eye contact and smiling so this was an absolute treat to see and a “YES” moment for us.

I love my kids – so grateful for my family so I’ll leave with a final picture of the kids.

True Pals

SNOW!  It’s finally snowing today.  Let’s hope we get enough to build a snowman this week!  I mentioned in my last post that the boys have made great progress in their thumbsucking – they’ve gone a week without their thumbs!  Also, I’ve spent hours at night reading blogs from other parents with autistic children – thank you for sharing your experiences!  Helps more than you may know.

This is what we used the tube for last year. . . . . maybe this year as well

Opportunities: So, thought I’d mention a struggle point this week.  We’ve had a busy weekend with friends and family coming over and visiting.  The boys have been doing a lot better with people in the house and ‘sharing’ their toys but our first night was tough.  The boys have a few cousins who are younger than them and we had more breakdowns than I expected.  I heard a lot of “he’s a bad guy” and other fun phrases.  🙂

Accomplishments: On that same note, the following night we had a friend and his kids over and the boys did so much better.  The source of fighting most times is their waterfall train track and if anyone plays with the track or their Thomas trains, the boys usually take note.  However, last night the boys were actually playing cooperatively with other children around their train track.

I think part of the reason is our friend who came had an angry bird shirt on, as did one of his kids – our boys LOVE angry birds.  Within five minutes, there was an ‘angry bird fight’ with stuffed angry birds flying all over the house.  I think that made everyone immediately comfortable and set a fun tone for the evening.  The boys were also surrounded by older children last night which I think really makes a difference.

Cake Pops!

Tip of the Week: The boys are working on their ‘pincher grips’ and writing skills.  I’ve posted a few of their OT lessons in the past but this is something that we picked up that the kids LOVE.  What kid doesn’t love chalk?  I was looking at a chalkboard easel at a big box retailer for $60 over the holidays and just couldn’t stomach forking over that much for an easel.

Well – we were at Ikea that other night and promised ourselves that we wouldn’t buy anything ‘extra’. . . . it’s amazing how that never works out.  However, the ‘extra’ we found was an easel FOR A QUARTER OF THE PRICE we would’ve paid at the big box retailer.  The easel features a chalkboard and a whiteboard on the opposite side.  Along with the easel, we got some chalk, dry erase markers, and a roll of paper (you can see it at as an extra on the page).  The kids are in heaven.  Here’s the link – THANK YOU IKEA!

Now those are some happy kiddos! 🙂

What’s great is we also had their OT appointment this week.  They don’t go to OT as often as Speech so it was a nice chance to test their writing skills and development.  I was EXTREMELY happy to see that for the most part, they are holding their pens properly, with their pincher grip, and the results are below.  For those of you who have autistic kids – I think you’ll agree, seeing something like this is extremely rewarding.

Great Job Zooming and Zapping!

All in all – a fun filled week!  Great news on the thumbsucking and glad that the toy sharing went better on our second night entertaining.

OK – this will be a quick post since I usually do a weekly update on Sundays or Mondays but. . . . . they boys thumbsucking has stopped entirely!  It’s been a week since we issued the challenge!  In a previous post, I mentioned we were using the ‘traffic light’ reward system to encourge them to stop sucking their thumbs.

"I'm not sure about this dad"

Even at night when they are sleeping, they aren’t sucking their thumbs!  They walk past their “reward chart” daily but I notice that they aren’t really paying attention to it until the evening when they are waiting for their reward.  In fact, the only thing they really notice during the day is what color ‘daddy’ is on and if, for whatever unjustified (in my mind) reason, they can figure out a way for me to move to a yellow or red.  They are teaming up against me.  I had to interrupt a fight one afternoon and almost got moved to a yellow for it?!?!?!?!?!?!?

Have we left this behind?

This has been such a relief, surprise and huge accomplishment.  I am ‘cautiously optimistic’ that we have turned a corner  and are done with thumb sucking. Sometimes, I think I doubt how quickly they  will learn things because of their autism.  Much kudos to my  wife for putting the charts and ideas together. . . . and for allowing me to hide the candy in her car so I don’t totally blow my diet.  Proud of my kiddos.

This is awesome – I am so excited that our boys can participate and SO THANKFUL for this opportunity.  This is from one of the parents who has a child in school with The Boys.  She said that her neighbor’s daughter plays on a competitive soccer team and the team wanted to do something for her son and other kids on the spectrum so. . . . they decided to host a soccer clinic!  Talk about an awesome group of girls.

My wife and I have been contemplating putting our boys in a soccer league and depending on how this goes, may do so.  I’ve been playing volleyball with a local group and we usually let the kids run around the sides of the court that we aren’t using.  I’ve watched as the boys have gotten more and more interested in sports – kicking the ball around the court or shooting baskets.  I am so appreciative of these girls from the Red Devil Soccer team here in SLC (check out their Facebook Page or main website).  The clinic is set for May 1st and May 3rd from 3:30 – 4:30pm – location in the flyer below.

The girls actually came to a birthday party for this little boy and they were absolutely fantastic with my twins – even able to tell them apart.  You can send the form (link below) to the address on the flyer or email them to me and I can take them to the school.  PLEASE TAKE ADVANTAGE OF THIS OPPORTUNITY!  I’ll see you all there!  GGGOOOAAALLL!!!!!

Red Devils Soccer Clinic Reg