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Monthly Archives: March 2012

I have an awesome friend who is one of my workout  idols. . . . even if we live in different states and haven’t seen each other in longer than I care to admit.  We grew up on Maui together and thanks to Facebook, we’ve reconnected.  TruD is always posting her workouts, runs, and events.  Since I am a novice HOPING DESPERATELY to do a half marathon this year and not get laughed at when I run Ragnar with my familiy, she keeps me motivated.

A few weeks ago, TruD tagged me in a picture.  I knew from previous posts that she was doing a run so I thought it was simply because she wanted me to know she finished it.  However, I looked a little closer at her wristband and realized why she tagged me (check out the picture below.

Congratulations Trudy!

I’ve heard of a number of ‘challenge courses’ that have become very popular over the past few years.  I even read a story about the “Tough Mudder” Course and how it became a finalist in the Harvard Business School Competition but didn’t win because the judges said it wasn’t going to be popular enough to be viable. Well, a few years later Tough Mudder signed a deal with Under Armour Apparel and 2011 revenues look to be about $25 Million. . . .  with a big portion of proceeds going to the Wounded Warrior Project.  Awesome.

Sorry, I love business stories and entrepreneurial stories so had to throw that in.  So, I started looking at the Gladiator Rock N Roll and now, it has won a special place in my heart.  The Gladiator Rock N Roll is another challenge course (you can get the down and dirty details on their website) that has risen in popularity and, the way awesome point here, is that the partner charity is TACA – Talk About Curing Autism!  WAY KOOL!

Official badge - Gladiator Rock n Roll

I ask TruD if she’d write about her experience and here’s her thoughts:

“Gladiator Rock N Run was quite the experience. I felt every kind of emotion in the hour and fourteen minutes it took to complete the course. The first step of the course was a shock because it was on a rocky trail straight up a mountain!

There were 16 obstacles throughout the course and the most difficult ones include crawling under a net on all fours at the very peak of the mountain, climbing in and out of a construction size dumpster twice my height, scaling walls, diving under lumber logs in ice water, crawling through a dark muddy tunnel, climbing up a rope over a high wall with mud and soap all over my body, and leaping over fire twice.

Leap of Faith - picture property of Supersports Photography. If you want it removed, please ask and it'll be gone

The second half of the race was real tough because you are running and tackling obstacles with shoes filled with rocks, sand, and mud! I looked over to my buddy Aida wanting to stop and we decided noooo waaay, we’re doing it for Max (her nephew) and the Wunder Ohana!  

I kept saying that it was more than a 5k and sure enough we found out that it was 4.5 miles! My team member Jazmin took 1st Female. Aida and I finished 1:14. Our bodies became riddled with scrapes and massive bruises but decided that we would do it again in a heart beat! Anything for autism, a condition near and dear to my heart.”

Thanks TruD for first of all, introducing me to another awesome opportunity to support Autism.  Secondly, for giving your all for the kids and everyone else.  In reading blogs and through my own personal experience, I know we are all appreciative for things people do to help our kids.  This was an awesome way to help and we appreciate it!  YOU ROCK!  Mahalo Nui Loa!

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I think it’s hilarious when our friends in Oregon are posting pictures of snow and awful weather and we had absolutely gorgeous weather – shorts and t-shirts one day!  The boys were happy to bring out their Angry Bird shirts and run around at the park.

Accomplishments: So ’tis the season for IEP’s apparently. Our situation is a little interesting since our IEP’s were done with the current school our boys attend that is an Autism Targeted School.  However, they receive services from our local school district for speech and OT at two separate schools and there is even a third school that hosts the preschool for special needs that our boys would attend if they weren’t in their current school.

So, besides doing IEP’s with their current teachers, we had a third mtg with the local school district, the preschool advisor and their two therapists.  The two therapists travelled across the school district to come and the preschool advisor hasn’t seen our boys since we started at their current school, but was there for the IEP.  Yes, it’s “her job” technically to do this but at the same time, you can tell that she genuinely is interested in their progress and their well being.  We actually have a tentative visit scheduled so the boys can come by and say hi.  I mean, how many people would want to take time out of their day to do that?  Awesome.

I was a bit bummed to hear one of the current tested percentiles but at the same time, to think about where they have come is outstanding.  I am EXTREMELY GRATEFUL for all the individuals that have met with us about our boys and are currently helping them grow.  THANK YOU SO MUCH!

Opportunities: The boys are learning about ‘class leaders’ that will lead the class to lunch, recess, etc.  Both boys have become more independent in school – Twin B especially loves running errands for his teacher.  Now, the issue comes in when they both want to be the ‘leader’ at home.  Ugh!  “NO I WANT TO BE THE LEADER” and so it starts. . . . hilarious.

Tip of the Week: This is a program called Boardmaker and our speech therapist uses it on her Mac.

The program isn’t the tip of the week since I heard it is a little pricey, it was the visual instructions that the boys did extremely well with.  She made a few slides that showed them how to make ice cream shakes and we made small shakes.  This helped quite a bit with the “into” direction that Twin A, especially, is working on.

The takeaway I had from this was that I can draw a few steps, or even make it on powerpoint on how to, let’s say, bake a cake.  If I detailed it out a little for the boys  “3 eggs (picture cracked), into bowl” I bet they could figure it out and help me bake a cake.  Hmmm. . . . . exercise for spring break!  I bet I can make it in powerpoint with pictures from the web and it would be just as good as this.  Maybe I’ll make it and post in a future post.

One of our friends painted this of our kids. . . . . I have it above our computer and look at it everyday.  Man she is talented but I love how she captured our kids.  Have a great week!

On Friday April 20th, 2012, the College of Humanities and Social Sciences at UVU will host the 2012 UVU Conference on Autism.  Here’s a link to UVU’s Conference Page where you can find more information on the program, speakers, and activities.

It looks like there will be child care offered by one of the nearby Autism Groups – Kids on the Move so that’s an added benefit to allow parents to attend.  It is so much more convenient when something is planned for the middle of the workday and there is childcare offered.

Looking forward to seeing you there!


So we went from swimming last Monday to probably sledding later this afternoon – man this ‘spring’ weather is crazy.  The boys had a ‘vacation day’ earlier in the week and since the local school district was still in school, we decided to dare the nearby indoor swimming pool since it would be relatively quiet.

Getting ready to take the plunge

There were only a handful of other kids so the boys were able to enjoy a fun and relaxing few hours at the pool.  I was surprised how well they did, both would jump off the stairs into the water and were careful to not go in areas that were too deep for them.  At noon, they turned on the ‘water bucket’ that fills and dumps water on the play structure every 5 minutes.  It gets really loud in there once the bucket is turned on and I think it was too much for the boys.

From Lehi City Aquatics Center Homepage

The boys also attending one of their cousin’s birthday parties over the weekend.  There were a TON of kids there and, for the most part, both boys did ok until the end.  Twin A seems to like social situations a bit more than Twin B and he did a number of the activities, including the face painting seen below.  He was extremely distraught when, after his bath that evening, his rainbow disappeared.  So neat though to first, see that he’d participate in the face painting, and secondly, that the boys did ok at the party.

Tip of the Week: This is an idea from our OT session.  We shared the ‘pincher grasp & pennies” last week and this week, we’ll share the Connect 4 idea.

This is a travel size Connect Four.  We didn’t play by the normal Connect Four rules, the idea was that the therapist and I would hold the discs for the boys.  They would use little clothes pins to try and get them and then, drop the pins into the Connect Four game.  Obviously you don’t need a Connect Four game to do this, the entire idea is to build strength in their thumbs and pointer fingers.

Have a great week!

One of the top titles on amazon.com for Autism Awareness Month is “Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close.”  My wife read this a few months back and really liked it and I’ve been on the waiting list at our local library.  Finally got the book and I think within two days I had read the entire thing.

Image from Google Images

I think most people are familiar with the premise in the story thanks to the major motion picture featuring some pretty big names including Sandra Bullock and Tom Hanks.  I should mention, one of my good friends watched the movie and posted the following on his Facebook, “I haven’t been able to stop crying for over an hour. I’ve run out of Kleenex and moved onto the toilet paper. #disclaimer_for_”Extremely Loud & Incredibly Close.”

The entire storyline is intriguing and I felt it was an ‘experience’ reading the book than most books I’ve read recently.  While they never directly say that Oskar (the nine year old whose story is one of the main storylines of the book) is autistic, it is featured as a book for the Autism Awareness so I’m assuming that’s enough to go by.

I was intrigued by Oskar’s thought patterns and some of the descriptives used in the story. For example, Oskar describes situations or conversations that gives him “heavy boots” or “makes his boots lighter.”

Take the following quote from page 36 of the book: ‘The average person falls asleep in seven minutes, but I couldn’t sleep, not after hours, and it made my boots lighter to be around his things, and to touch stuff that he had touched…’

Another descriptive was ‘making my brain quiet’ meaning that he could stop worrying and thinking about things and simply relax:

‘I loved having a Dad who was smarter than the New York Times, and I loved how my cheek could feel the hairs on his chest through his T-shirt, and how he always smelled like shaving, even at the end of the day. Being with him made my brain quiet. I didn’t have to invent a thing.'(12)

One of the teachers at our kids school tells the kids that when too many of them are excited and talking that she can’t understand them because their words are ‘bumping together.’  I thought that was a great descriptive that I know my boys process and understand.

Image from film.com

Oskar also talks about emotions and there are instances in the book where he doesn’t necessarily understand why the other person is showing an emotion but based on the social cues and learned responses, he decides to show an emotion or act a certain way.  One such is when he and his mom get in a fight and he wishes that his mom had passed away instead of his dad.  Seeing that his words have hurt her, he makes a joke and smiles and assumes that it solves the situation.  The thought process he goes through was interesting since it is more of a learned response and something I hadn’t really thought about too much.

Overall, I did enjoy the book and thought it was a good read. There were parts of the story that I found to be too fictional and drawn together but I did enjoy the overall journey of the book and the incredible emotional journey that the characters take.  Good read!

It’s starting to feel like spring!  The boys had a busy week – a lot happened at school and  we did a TON over the weekend.  Between Thursday and Sunday we went tubing, had friends over, spent a day at the zoo, and did “family bed”. . . . . . if I’m tired I can only imagine how the boys feel.

Waiting for the lift

Accomplishments: Thanks to the warm weather, we were able to get an amazing GroupOn for the Soldier Hollow Tube Rides – the longest tube rides in UT with lanes running approximately 1200 ft.  The great thing is that there is a lift that takes everyone up so it saves us from climbing the hills.

The reason this is an ‘accomplishment’ isn’t because the boys enjoyed it (we knew they would), but because Twin A chatted up EVERYONE.  From the young men running the lifts, to the supervisors on the lanes, he said “HI” to everyone and would initiate conversations.  He also refused to have us pull him from the lanes to the lift, he would get out and walk his own tube down.   He used new phrases we hadn’t heard before and had a smile on his face the entire time.  Twin A was in heaven and we were so proud to see how independent and grown up he acted all day.

Twin B isn’t as adventurous and after a run or two, opted to sit out and we hung out at the bottom of the hill.  He did go on a few final runs and he had a blast as well!  He enjoyed making smores with us to celebrate the weekend. However, I did notice that a few pieces of chocolate were missing from the little ‘assembly line’ we made on the table.  Rascals.

Opportunities: We had friends over Friday Night and we haven’t seen each other since last summer.  We have a Thomas the Train track that the boys get very protective over.  The track always gets attacked but tonight, it was dismantled and new tracks were made. I know there was a lot of stress and anxiety over that, especially because we put our boys to bed before our friends left.  It was good for the kiddos to learn to trust that their belongings would be taken care of ~ not an easy thing to do for any kid, especially autistic kids, but the boys are doing better and I was proud of them.

Tip of the Week: I’m going to use an activity from our OT’s lesson on Friday.

We are working on the finer details of their ‘pincher grasps’ so the boys were given this circle with random circles and numbers.  You can see the handout above but the boys had to draw lines connecting numbers in order,  which they’ve gotten much better at.  However, she made the boys hold a penny in their palm (fingers 3-5) while also holding the crayon, thus the only two fingers they could use to write were their thumbs and pointer fingers.  That made the activity a little more difficult for the boys and really put a targeted emphasis on their pincher grasps.  Great activity ~ something we will practice more at home.

Have a great week!

Short post before the weekend ~ one of our favorite restaurants on Maui is Bubba Gumps and I saw this picture on a blog a few days ago that’s stuck with me.

Great thought!

We had a blast yesterday~ I’ll write more in my usual Monday post but here’s a picture of our activity we did this week.  This has been a warm winter – a little worrisome but thanks to GroupOn, we got tickets to Soldier Hollow, a nearby tubing hill for 1/2 off ~ awesome deal!  Have a great weekend.