On-line classes

person writing on notebook

So we have done school at home and now we are into summer on-line classes. To be honest, I didn’t know how much we would get out of these classes, even the ones that were supposed to be fun and engaging.

It’s hard to think about connecting with people you have never met to do an activity.

Our son is involved in some pretty cool classes. This week, he is doing a minecraft coding class for beginners. It is really interesting and we have both learned a great deal since I didn’t know anything about this either.

He also does a science class once a week, where they get to do different types of experiments together. This is really cool as well. He also does an art class, where each class they learn about a different technique and they get to practice it together.

It’s a lot of fun some of these classes, especially learning new skills and getting to connect with others in this new crazy way.

I am grateful for the places that provide these classes to try to keep kids engaged in some learning and making it fun in the process. The only thing is when you are doing a messy experiment and trying not to get the stuff all over your laptop!

Our son is also doing an on-line peers program that is provided through the school board where they work on certain skills and are able to practice them as well. This is a good class for the most part but I also find in situations like this when you have to connect with peers and you have never met them before that this is more difficult to manage because you don’t have a relationship with them.

I am grateful to keep some learning going during these times we are facing but also doing fun things as well.

Are your kids doing any on-line classes and if so, how is that working for you?

Diet

variety of vegetables

So we are at the beginning of the SCD (Specific Carbohydrate Diet). We have been doing the GF/CF soy free, sugar free, corn free diet for awhile now to help alleviate some of the gut issues that our son has had for a very long time. This diet has healed some symptoms; however he keeps getting candida flare ups on and off.

It’s frustrating because for those of you who use diet in your daily life, understand how difficult it can be just to be able to make all of these foods on a daily basis. Our son, although eating a pretty clean diet, was eating a lot of carbs. He liked bread and pizza and things like that so he would eat this stuff every day.

I couldn’t understand why his gut was still such a mess. We took him to the doctor recently and even though he does a protocol of herbs and anti-fungals, the gut was still not healing as much as it should.

Our doctor suggested the SCD diet to see if reducing the carbs would possibly be able to heal his gut more fully. You see when you eat carbs, they turn into sugar which feeds yeast and creates the gut issues. So it did make sense to me.

As an autism parent, sometimes life is just overwhelming and I had to think really hard if I wanted to take on yet another challenge. It was summer and I just wanted to relax. But as you know, autism, does not get a break, there is no “day off” from it. So, I thought that knowing this information, how could I not do this?

I had to buy a book first and read up on the diet to ensure that I would be implementing it correctly. There is a website with all of the information, including stages that you need to follow as well as recipes. So I got ready, did all the reading, printed off all the material and even joined a couple of facebook groups that I could ask my questions if I got stumped.

And so about a week ago we began this diet. The hard part for me is that I have to plan the day before what I am going to make for the next day. There is a ton of cooking involved. Yesterday I got up early to make 2 loaves of a type of bread that he could eat on the diet. It took about 90 minutes to bake so I had to ensure that I had enough time before he got out of bed.

I have been to Whole Foods and Healthy Planet many times in the past couple of weeks, buying products and preparing for the diet.

Surprisingly, the planning and the cooking is the hard part, but he is actually eating stuff that I didn’t think he ever would in the first week alone. I made this bread called Chicken and Egg bread, sounds weird right? Well it kind of is strange. It has a strange texture and smell and is just not like other bread, but he loves it!

I also had to make my own ketchup. Yes, you heard that right. No more store bought stuff because it either contains sugar or a sweetener that is not allowed and you know what, this is the best ketchup I have ever tasted!

So, this will be a very long journey I imagine, but my hope is that I will be able to heal our son’s gut. That’s the big picture. I am cautiously optimistic that this will be one of the pieces in the puzzle that will make a sincere difference for him. So even though I will be complaining about how much I have to shop and how many recipes I have to make, I would do anything to help my child.

If you have ever done this diet, I would love to hear from you!

Biking Safety

person in black jacket and black pants riding red bicycle

So your child knows how to ride a bike, hooray! It may have happened quickly for you and it may have taken a longer time.

We were lucky enough when our son was younger to have a girl working with our son who taught him all of the basics in a very methodical way. I remember watching them every day as he progressed along. For him, this took awhile, it didn’t happen quickly but once our son knew how to ride a bike, he just got better and better.

When he was younger, of course, you have to teach bike safely, wearing a helmet, what side of the street to ride on (we don’t have sidewalks on our particular street) and to watch for oncoming traffic.

If you really think about it, there’s a lot to absorb. You have to think about riding and braking as well as looking around and being aware of traffic.

I want to say that it takes longer to teach a child with autism to do this, but honestly, I really don’t know.

Since there hasn’t been a lot to do with the state of our world today, we have taken to a daily bike ride route. We do this together every day of the week, except when it’s raining.

I prefer to do outdoor activities myself to stay in shape, especially when the weather is nice out and we’ve had some really amazing weather lately!

So, I probably mentioned before, that I am a Type A personality, so I like to be in control of everything, I mean everything, down to the tiniest detail. This includes biking.

So we’ve been riding every day and with our son’s increased independence, I still find myself thinking about how I can control the situation. For example, as part of our route, we have to go uphill on this sidewalk. We have to take the sidewalk because it is a main street. Sometimes there are people walking on the sidewalk.  I always go up first and then look back to see if he’s looking, does he go around the people, it’s almost like I’m waiting for a crash.  Sounds silly right?

I keep my mouth shut though and wait for him to get to the top to join me.

The other day I also noticed some of the other things he was doing, which I found kind of strange. I watched him when we were riding on the road in our neighborhood, when he got to each driveway, he would actually go from the road and ride on the driveway and then back down. He did this for each and every driveway. No wonder it was taking him much longer than me!

I told him he didn’t have to do that. But then I realized that he was being extra safety cautious. He would even ride around a parked car so close and then go right back to the very right hand side of the road. In fact, many times he hit his wheel on the curb because he was so close. My husband is Mr. Safety and I thought about how proud he would be to see this.

So not only was he able to navigate, he was also super-aware of his surroundings and in fact when cars went by, he would just automatically stop and get off his bike. I know that I didn’t teach him this, but I was pleasantly surprised to see him doing this.

This is another huge accomplishment and it makes me so very happy when I see him becoming such a independent person.

 

Home alone?

small child washing tiles in bathroom alone

So, if you have a typical child who is a teenager, the decision to leave them home alone probably makes more sense to you than it does to having a child on the spectrum while making that same decision.

I know that this kind of decision varies for many and many parents may have different views on this.

Well, if you had asked me 2 years ago, would I ever leave my child on the spectrum home alone. my answer would have been a clear and fast, “No!”

But today as I sit here, I need to tell you that I did just that, yesterday. Yup, I did.

Was this an easy decision to make? Absolutely not. Did I do it without thinking? No, I did not.

You see, even though sometimes I feel that our son’s progress is slow or at times non-existent, as I look back now and realize that I never in a million years thought I would ever do this. I guess I still had pictures in my head of when our son was younger, running and running and me barely able to catch up with him.

Fast forward today, it’s really a totally different story. For us, this gradually happened with very small baby steps. You see our son up until 3 years ago, would barely let me out of his sight. He got upset if I even took the dog for a walk, even when my husband was home.

So you may ask, how did I achieve this? Well, I had a plan, but it was very flexible.

There were times when our son was younger and he was at home from school ill and I couldn’t take our dog even for a short walk because I honestly didn’t know what he would do.

When we used to walk the dog together and he was on his scooter, there is a route that we take around a school close to our house as there is lots of grass around it, I would make him wait at every corner so that he was always in my eye-line. He would have to wait quite a few times and then as we would walk onto our street, he had to wait for me even though it is not very far.  This same routine went on for years.

Then a couple of years ago, I decided to loosen this restriction a bit. I would make him wait for me before he went onto our street so he knew he could only go so far and then he had to wait until I could see him.

Then this year, I just let him go around.  He knew the routine so he could do his scooter route, then go home before me, put his scooter back in the shed and go into the backyard and he did this perfectly every time!

Our son is 15 and his sister is 17, so this spring I left them alone together many times. Lots of times it would just be me going up to the grocery store at the end of the street or the drug store. Then I gradually ventured out to Costco (which is a lot farther) and I kept checking in with our daughter to see how things were at home.

In all of these instances, it went really well. I always told our son where I was going and when I would return.

This school year, when our son was at home ill, I would leave him and take the dog for a walk and I told him when I would be back. This was a good first test and with him being ill, the chances of him really wanting to do much was very slim.

Yesterday, I had to go pick up a furniture item.  I needed our daughter to help me lift it in and I knew there would be any room in the vehicle for our son as I had to put the back seats down. In my mind, I went back and forth with this. Should I try? I asked my daughter and she said I should. She knows him pretty well, so I trusted her judgement. We weren’t very far from home and he didn’t really want to come anyway. So I told him what I was doing and I also told him that his sister was coming with me and that he would be home alone.

Could anything have happened? Yes. Did it? No. It was risky for me, but I want to try do this more often. This is not a decision or something I will do without any thought. For us, this process is very gradual, but I will continue allowing him to grow, develop and become his own person.

If you think right now that your children will never get to this point, don’t give up. You will be surprised as they learn new things and face new challenges, how much really they can actually do.

It was a great day to be a parent!

 

Money

crop farmer showing money in green summer field in countryside

So, if you live in Canada, you will understand what I am talking about when I talk about autism funding.

So if your child has been diagnosed with autism, the government gives you a one-time funding which you can use for various different types of therapies or items that you may need to purchase for your child that enhance their growth and development.  Sounds good right?

Well, of course money is always good to have especially when you are dealing with anyone on the spectrum, but there are stipulations with this money — many, many stipulations and I guess this blog is to just vent about these hopefully not in a destructive way, but just as information.

So you have a child with autism, and you have a child who is typical. So you have neuro diverse and neuro typical. You have expenses of course for all children, that’s a given. But I really think that it’s unimaginable for someone without a special needs child to really, truly understand the cost of raising them.

Just to put into some practical terms for you. So you child wants to do martial arts, but being around a lot of people sets them off and they can’t focus. So now you have to register for a private class instead of a group class. You want your child to learn the skill, but your options are very limited. So you pay about 4 times the amount of money so that they can go to this class.

Your child on the spectrum usually has some kind of issues with food – whether or not they are allergies or not so you have to spend more money on specialty products. We have one that doesn’t eat gluten, soy, dairy, corn or processed sugar. Any items that you purchase in these categories are normally at least double the amount.

Your child may require assistive equipment or sensory things just to get through the day. So you could be looking at special computer, headphones for sure, weighted blankets, sensory socks – the list goes on and on.

You may need special supplements as we do for biomedical treatments. Our sons takes probably at least 20 pills a day just to keep him healthy. Are these covered by our drug plan? No, so all of it is out of pocket.

Other sensory sensitivities may be clothing or special shoes or detox items like a special footbath that we use on a regular basis. You may have to save up for these items as the footbath we purchased was over $3,000.00.

Other household things that are pure like cleaning products, soaps, toothpaste,shampoo etc.

I cannot list everything here, but none of these items is a “luxury.” They are all part of your daily life and they are needed.

So the government gives you money and for younger children who really need the therapies like ABA, it is extremely helpful and beneficial.

All the parents with children on the spectrum have a lot to deal with just to get through the day and then with the government you are trying to submit expenses that will help your child but some of the ones that should be allowed aren’t and to make it even worse, it’s hard to get them to put things in writing. I am part of a Facebook group and every day there is a post about someone who received funds but has to make many phone calls to find out if what they are purchasing is covered. You see, the list has a grey area open for interpretation so it’s not simple.

I had a phone call yesterday (they left a message) and I wanted to know about a particular sensory item. Even though in my email, I asked them to respond in writing they called which means later if you don’t have it in writing they could turn around and not cover that item.

I mean do they think we have nothing else to do? These are parents who barely get any time to themselves to begin with and now they have to do more running around before they can even purchase certain items to help their child.

Anyway, I am grateful for any help that we get, I just think it is so wrong to go after a very vulnerable population of people in this way. Just my opiinion.

If you don’t live in Canada, you are probably wondering, why I am complaining, right?