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Jul 28, 2012

Choice Boards

As an autism mom, I'm grateful for choice boards.  That is one thing I miss about the iPad that I can't find on the kindle fire.  Choice boards are so important for kids that are nonverbal or have very limited language.  We used this choice board when we had the ipad.  It can be found in the App Store under "My Choice Board" :
It was awesome for so many things.  Our speech therapist used it to allow the kids to choose which activities they wanted to do during their therapy.  I loved it cause I could put different snacks/activities.  When my kids were whining, I wouldn't have to go through a list in my head and guess what they wanted.  I could show them the choice board, and they could point at the picture they wanted.  They would then have to drag the picture up to the "place image from below here" box.  They then would hear "I want ___."  They would have to repeat the sentence before they could get what they wanted.  It was amazing how much more they talked and what words stuck in their vocabulary when they were using a choice board.
We just started summer break, and my kids are big eaters.  I hate when they go to my fridge and try to open it (we have locks on our fridge, if you didn't see that in a previous post).  They get so mad.  So, I decided it was time to make a non-digital choice board that my kids could utilize.  I had tried printing pics of all the available foods on magnet paper before and putting them on the fridge.  It was a great idea, until my kids decided they were a fun thing to carry around and lose.  They were also hard to grasp because they were thin.  So this time around, I made a paper choice board that basically was the same design as the "My Choice Board" app on the ipad.  I laminated it, then I put six velcro strips underneath the "I want ____" and one velcro strip next to the word "want."  I then printed off all the food choices I could think of, laminated them and placed velcro on the back.  Since I wouldn't have all the food choices available at all times, I also made a not-available board.  I did this by laminating one clear lamination sheet without anything in it.  I cut out two long red strips and shaped them like an X inside another lamination sheet.  Then I laminated that. I taped three of the four sides of both laminated sheets with duct tape, leaving the top open to form the 'Not-Available' folder.  I then laminated another piece of paper and covered it with velcro strips.  When I don't have certain foods, I just velcro them on that paper and slip it into the 'Not Available' folder.  I used a glue gun to glue magnets on the back of both the choice board and the 'Not-Available' folder, then placed them on the fridge.  The choice board is in easy reach for the kids, and the 'Not-Available' folder is in mom's easy reach.  :)
This has worked out great.  My kids know what is available, so they don't get upset when they are asking for things I don't have.  Caiti has relearned the word, "carrott" so far.  Yay.  I love that they are bringing me the pictures of what they want instead of bringing me a dirty plate from the sink and hoping I can read their mind.

Jul 27, 2012

More Mod Podge Fun

As an autism mom, I am grateful that I have learned to cope with stress by being creative.  If I'm feeling overwhelmed or depressed about things, it is nice to put that negative energy into something positive.  A lot of times these bouts of creativity involve mod podge...yes, I wrote about mod podge before.  That is because it costs under $10 for a thing of mod podge, and then I can use my creativity to make things look prettier without spending money that I don't have.  Hooray for that.
My very favorite project I have done with mod podge is close to my heart and makes me happy every time I look at it.  In my early teens, we found out that they were going to go through the stuff that was still in the location of my great, great grandparents' old store.  It was awesome to go and see all the neat things that had been kept in that building since the 1940s.  I was lucky enough to be able to take a stack of LOOK magazines from the 1940s.  I have just had them sitting in a box, so I decided to use them in my decor.  I know, I know, they are probably worth bunches of money; but they are too valuable, sentimentally, for me to ever try and get money for them, and they are way too cool for me to leave in a box in my garage.  I used a couple of the magazines and cut clips of advertisements with women in them for the drawers to my entertainment center.  Then I decorated Kevin's desk with pics relating to the war/military, since he's my military guy.  It makes me so happy to look across the room when I am sitting on my couch and see that bit of history, both personal and of the world.

Another mod podge project I worked on, when I was particularly antsy and needed a break from reality was my knife block.  I had some pretty scrapbook paper bits and pieces to mod podge onto it that made it more fun to look at.  That is good since I hate cooking, so at least when I'm reaching for the knife while doing that unfavorable task, I can enjoy the scenery.
This last mod podge project was pretty much done as a last ditch effort to prevent Caiti from opening the blinds in her bedroom.  As you may have noted previously, Caiti's favorite outfit is her birthday suit, and she loves to wear it in her bedroom at night when she's supposed to be asleep, but instead walks around with all her favorite toys with the lights on and the blinds open.  This is not good, since her window faces the street.  So, I took her old Madagascar book that was sooo loved that it was falling apart.  I cut out a bunch of cute little pics and mod podged them onto her blinds.  This has worked great so far.  Yay for weird ideas that actually work.  It'll be worth it to buy new blinds for housing if we ever move.  ;)

Jul 26, 2012


I know what you are thinking...What mom is grateful for Barney.  To be truthful, before I ever had kids, I promised myself that Barney would never have a place in my home.  He's way too annoying, and the kids are such bad actors, and who wants to hear cheesy songs for 30 minutes straight (oh wait, I love cheesy songs).  
That promise to myself was quickly broken when I saw how much my kids love Barney.  Caiti carries around her plush Barney and tells him her deepest secrets.  Jason flaps and does a happy stomping thing whenever Barney shows up on TV.  The very best thing about Barney is that he taught my Garrett some functional language.  I know they are working on hello, goodbye and all those greetings in his therapy, but the one that stuck was "See ya!"  "See ya later Aunt Michelle."  "See ya later Mommy!"   That is because at the end of Barney, when the last kid is leaving, he turns around and says, "See ya later Barney!"  My very favorite thing Barney taught Garrett to say was his closing statement, "And remember, I love you."  When Garrett wants me to tell him I love him, he comes up to me and says, "And remember..." and waits...and then I get to finish his sentence with "I love you!"

Jul 22, 2012

The Movie Cars

So, I was awakened at 2 a.m. this morning (not an uncommon occurence) by my cute Caiti.   She has a habit of kicking her door until someone comes to get her, so I have to actually get up so she won't wake everyone else up.  We decided to pass the time by watching Disney Pixar's Cars.
I wasn't feeling too cheery, (who would be after being woken up in that way after only getting three hours of sleep), but Caiti made things better by being adorable.  She would go right up to the screen and make her happy noises at all the characters.  She was absolutely enthralled.  So, of course, just like with the dump truck post earlier, it took me back a few years.
When Caiti was between the baby and toddler stages, I had a hard time keeping her still for 2 seconds.  I would get overwhelmed with the combination of super hyper Garrett and into-everything Caiti.  I figured out that if I strapped Caiti into her high chair with some snacks and turned on Cars, she was OCCUPIED for the  entire movie and would happily watch it.  That was my way of getting a much needed break.
Amazing how that is still the case.  It was nice to get a little break/nipper while she watched her old favorite this morning.

Jul 19, 2012


As an autism mom, I'm thankful for the guidance that my kids receive from their wonderful teachers and all the support staff that they have (which are also a support to me).
Today we had Garrett and Caiti's end-of-school picnic.  It's weird with year-round school because when the back to school sales/ads start showing up, that is when I'm gearing up for the summer break.  Anyway, it was a joy to see Garrett and Caiti with all their cute friends, to mingle with the other parents, and especially to see the kind and loving way that the support staff and teachers interacted with my kids.
 I don't think I've ever been in the classroom when the aides weren't helping out Caiti  in some way.  I remember being so nervous for her to start kindergarten.  That was two years ago, and she has thrived in a school environment because it is structured and the people in her class are so great.
 This is Mr. Bryan.  We had to work really hard to get Garrett a one-to-one aide at school.  Mr. Bryan was his aide in both first and second grade.  We were very happy to learn that he is going to be moving on with Garrett to his new class next year.  Garrett absolutely ADORES Mr. Bryan.

It was bittersweet to have Garrett say goodbye to Ms. Zavala.  She has been his teacher for kindergarten and first grade, and she asked to have him again for second grade because she wasn't quite ready to let him go.  But, third grade means he'll have a new classroom.  Every day before school, Garrett says, "Go see Ms. Zavala.  Go see Mr. Bryan!"  It will be weird to tell him he's not going to see her next year.  I'm greatful for the last few years he's had in such a good environment with people who see his strengths.

Jul 16, 2012

Dump Trucks

As an autism mom, I'm thankful for dump trucks.  Not the big ones, mind you, the cute little toy dump trucks.  I say this because I have been playing with Jason this morning.  We got all his cute little matchbox cars and put them in his dump truck, then I would have him dump them.  We'd say, "Dump!!!!" and laugh as all the cars fell out.  It was fun to have a sharing moment with Jason while we were playing.  One of the things about autism is that play skills/imaginative play does not come naturally...unless you're Caiti.  :)  Anyway, when I was playing with Jason, another dump truck memory came up. When Garrett was 2, I didn't know he had autism, and while he was really good at some things, he was very delayed at others.  Experts were saying how your child should know their colors, shapes, etc...Garrett was awesome with numbers and letters cause he was obsessed with Sesame Street, but could care less about colors and shapes.  I decided to take on the task of teaching him colors, and I made him all these fun little games, etc., to try and teach them.  But he wasn't interested.  Garrett takes after me and has ADD too, so it's extremely hard to keep his attention...unless you are a computer game or a movie...
One day,  I noticed him spinning the wheels of his upside-down dump truck (should have been an autism indication), so I grabbed a box of crayons, turned the dump truck over and had him place one crayon in at a time.  I would tell him what color it was, and he would repeat it, then put it in the dump truck.   Once all the crayons were in, he got the fun job of dumping the truck.  This is why this memory came up while I was playing with Jason, because we also yelled, "Dump!!!!" and laughed hysterically as all the crayons fell out of the truck.  We did that over and over, and I would slowly fade my prompts of the color names, to see if he was catching on.  He totally remembered the names after a few tries. It made me so happy that I was given the inspiration to use the fun dump truck to get through to my little boys.

I couldn't agree more!

Jul 15, 2012

Cookie Tins and Gift Tins

Today, as an autism mom, I'm grateful for cookie tins and gift tins.  Thanks to the ever-trusty pinterest, I found out that cookie tins were I figured that gift tins were too.  I'm happy cause I keep finding gift tins at yard sales for a quarter or less.  Anyway, had to share a few more of the "busy" activities I made for the kids using cookie tins and gift tins. (I made all the magnets by printing the pics off of Google Images, gluing them to magnet strips [or you could print them directly on magnetic paper], and then laminating them).
This first idea is so cute.  I could play with it all day by myself.  I got the idea from here:
I mod podged the paper, letters and Caiti's pic on the lid of the gift tin.  Then magnetized a bunch of photo prop pics that I printed at a smaller size to use to make Caiti look super chic, silly, or just way too cute.
I got the idea for the next project after I made some homemade Sesame Street magnets for our fridge.  I was very happy that Caiti would get distracted by the magnets when she was constantly going to the fridge to get something to eat.  I used a cookie tin, covered it with mod podge, and printed backgrounds off of Google Images.  The jungle background works great for the Dora and Madagascar magnets
 I was super excited to find a real Spongebob background.  It works perfectly...although no Krusty Krab...hmmm...
 I used another gift tin to make three different backgrounds, (one on the lid, one on the inside and one on the bottom), using pics from an Architectural Digest magazine: a kitchen, a dining room and a library.  That way the Muppet, Sesame Street, and the Shrek character magnets all have somewhere to hang out.
I was pretty proud of myself, as always, when I figured these out.  Hope the kids have as much fun with them as I had making them.  We'll see...

Jul 13, 2012


As an autism mom, I'm very grateful for music.  When I'm singing with my kids, I feel like somehow I get through to them more than in any other way.  I love that they love to sing with me.  Of course, for some reason, my kids always think if I'm singing, they should be listening, so when we sing, it is more of a fill in the blank.  Example:
Me: Eensie Weensie _____
Caiti:  Spider
Me:  Went up the water ________
Caiti:  Spout
It's so cute though.  It's fun to see that they know words to songs that I don't realize they know.  I love how excited they get as Caiti dances around and Jason climbs all over me.
I love that Garrett gets on itunes and finds all the songs he likes to listen to.  It was so funny to find out that he loved certain songs.  My favorite example was when he would sing, "Free Falling" by Tom Petty or "Hallelujah," by Jeff Buckley in perfect pitch.  We didn't even know he knew those songs, but he had discovered them on our itunes.  He's so good at that.
It's pretty cool to me that my kids love music.  That is something that my parents instilled in me, and I'm glad I can do the same thing for them.

Just thought I'd share a couple cute videos of Garrett to go with this little post.  The first one is of him "dancing" in the car to his favorite song at the time, The Wiggle's "You Make Me Feel Like Dancing."  He got a little shy cause I think he thought we were laughing at him...which we were, but not in a mean way, we just thought it was SOOOOOO cute!!!!
This second video is what happens when you put the computer on mute during his favorite video of the song, "We are Family!"  Although, he was doing much more when I wasn't filming.  I think it's funny how Jason's carrying around the sour cream, like he's going to get to have that for a snack.

Autism and Epilepsy

One of my biggest fears growing up was that I would have a child with epilepsy.  Seizures, for me, are the scariest thing I could ever encounter.  I remember when Garrett was diagnosed with autism, and I thought, well at least he doesn't have epilepsy.   Except I later learned, after a very traumatic ordeal and three days with him at the hospital, that he does have epilepsy.  According to, as many of 1/3 of people on the autism spectrum also have epilepsy.  Our family is the perfect example of that, with my three kids on the spectrum, and Garrett being the one in the three.
A couple of days ago, I had a total ADD moment and forgot to give Garrett his morning dose of his seizure medication.  Unfortunately, that was also a very hot day and the day that their school had a "field day" where they spent half the day outside playing games on the playground. Overheating can trigger seizures.  Normally, a missed dose isn't enough to trigger a seizure, but in combination with the heat...
Garrett seemed fine when he got home, but when his tutor went to get him for his turn for ABA therapy, he was seizing.  I won't go into the details, but even the dose of diastat that normally helps stop a seizure didn't work.  He was turning blue from oxygen deprivation, and I was balling my eyes out.  I'm grateful for my husband who was the strong one this time around and called 911, rode with Garrett in the ambulance and sat with me at the hospital.  I'm grateful for our tutor, Kim, who stayed with the other two kids until a replacement could come.  That was so nice of her, and I knew I didn't have to worry about them in her capable hands.  I'm grateful for my neighbors who were willing to help out, and for my sister, Michelle, who came and stayed the night.
Most of all, I'm grateful for modern medicine.  I'm grateful that my sweet little boy came out of his seizure and is okay.  I'm grateful that I have him in my life.  He brings me enormous amounts of joy and love and is one of my biggest blessings.

Jul 9, 2012


If you haven't figured it out yet, my family is Mormon.  It's hard getting to church all the time, and once we are there, it is equally as hard to stay.  So, I think we are probably considered "less active" in our church because we average getting there once a month.  Anyway, we have some very cool missionaries that come to our house every couple of weeks to visit, see how we're doing, and leave a spiritual message.  I really like that.  It gives me a reminder of what's important and brings a peaceful feeling to my crazy home.
Today was the best.  One of the Elders brought his ukulele and a Primary Children's Songbook.  He then proceeded to play and sing a bunch of primary songs.  It was so sweet because Caiti started flapping and screaming with glee.  She was dancing, galloping and just so happy.  Whenever he stopped singing, she would walk up to him, mutter some gibberish, until I prompted her to say, "More songs!"  It was the cutest thing ever.  So, as an autism mom, I'm grateful for the missionary who brought his ukulele and a little joy into my house this evening.  :)

Awesome Blog for Printables

As an autism mom, I'm thankful for the blog,  I have been looking for activities that my kids could do at church or places where they need to be quiet.  I love the printables here because, not only are they educational, but they incorporate my kids favorite topics.  It's amazing how interesting boring things can be when they include someone your child is obsessed with.  I have printed off activities with Dora, Toy Story, Cars, and the book, Brown Bear, Brown Bear, What Do You See?  There are so many more fun packets to use.
All of their tot books/tot packs are free to print.  Here's a link directly to all of their tot school printables:
They also have printables for kindergarten here:

Jul 6, 2012

A Happy 4th of July

On this 4th of July holiday, I'm so grateful for my country, for my freedoms, for my family.  Most of all, I'm grateful for the acceptance and love that I've been able to reach  for my children.
When Garrett, my oldest child, was two, I was first suspecting that he had autism.  One of my most vivid memories was actually on the fourth of July.  Garrett was standing at our window box looking outside at the fireworks.  He really liked them.  I thought, "Ooh, how fun!  I should take him outside so he can see them better."  That was not a good idea.  The noise was way too much for my little sensory boy.  He got so upset, and I had to take him inside.  I remember lying down with him on his bed and trying to unsuccessfully calm him down.  I started crying, and I remember thinking that "The Attack of the Body Snatchers" was happening to my little angel.  I remember feeling so sad that the boy who inhabited Garrett's body wasn't the same boy I thought he was.  I still feel very sad when I think about that day.
I'm grateful that I have been able to move on past those feelings and rejoice in the sweet, joyful boy who I have now.  He is one of the biggest sources of happiness in my life.  He makes me smile more than anyone with his unconditional love and silly things he quotes all day.
This fourth, I decided not to have high expectations and just go with the flow.  I made some fun decorations with a friend of mine who is from Brazil, and it was her first year celebrating the fourth.  That was so nice to have some fun with her and get to know her a little better.
The kids tutor/my friend, helped me plan and carry out a festive breakfast that the kids would enjoy.  Yes, I was pretty proud of myself, although I was definitely glad I had the cool whip to sort of mask the taste of my not-so-tasty honey cloud pancakes.  :)
My wonderful sister Michelle came over and watched the kids so Kevin and I could go to a barbecue with our friends.  Originally we had planned to bring the kids, but I'm glad that we have gotten to a place where we don't feel guilty leaving them with the babysitter.  We were able to enjoy our time much more fully, and my kids were able to have some Aunt Michelle time.

She also watched the kids so Kevin and I could take advantage of one of the benefits of being a member of Birch Aquarium this year.  We were able to go there to see the fireworks.  There was plenty of parking, plenty of seating, and they had all their displays open for the evening.  Kevin was actually able to see the octopus this time.  It wasn't being shy.  :)
So, I have to say this was a pretty great 4th.  I'm glad I have better memories now to associate with the fourth and less sadness.

Printable Reminders

So, yet another post about awesome inspiration on pinterest:  I'm grateful for the great quotes, free printables, etc., that I have found on pinterest.  They are a good reminder for me.  For example, I tend to hold all my frustrations in and then explode at Kevin because it's not like I can feel good about myself if I take it out on my special  needs kids.  Poor Kevin.  Of course, he does the same thing to me.  So, I found these printables on and went ahead and hung them up as a reminder to be kind:

I found a perfect quote on pinterest about autism.  I find it very true and comforting and a good way to look at things.  It is "When you shine a pure light through a perfect diamond, a spectrum is born."  I printed it out and hung it on the wall next to the pure and perfect children on the spectrum that were born into my little family.
Sometimes it can be overwhelming, and these quotes from President Thomas S. Monson are a good reminder and help get me through the day:

I was pretty proud of the reminder I made (adding my own autism twist) to "carry on."  It's hanging right next to the front door and I look it at every time I leave or enter my house.

Jul 1, 2012

Unexpected Potty Training Inspiration

So, at our house we have had a huge dilemma as far as potty training is concerned.  The problem is that we have to have our bathroom doors locked.  This is because a certain child of mine likes to flush anything and everything down the toilet, another child thinks the toilet is a nice foot relaxing.  This other child also has used the toilet for a drinking fountain.  Yet another issue...a certain child of mine likes to flood the bathrooms...constantly.  This child thinks the bathtub is a swimming pool and that it requires overflowing water to be any fun.  So, yes, we have decided to keep the bathrooms locked.  The dilemma is that Caiti doesn't have the language to tell me she has to go potty, so we've been dealing with sooo many accidents.  It's sort of been a lose/lose situation here as far as potty training is concerned.  We had tried to buy a toddler potty seat...but Caiti is way too big for that.  She's six years old.
Anyway, our kid's ABA supervisor was looking through her husband's camping catalogues and saw one of these:
Basically, it is a bucket with a potty seat on top.  I'm so grateful for that inspiration she had to realize that this might just work for Caiti.  I have to admit I was depressed at first to see this bucket/toilet sitting around my house.  But I got over it after I noticed that Caiti was going to the potty on her own and was so happy and proud to have her own potty.  We'll get there much sooner now that she has access to her potty, and as a major plus, no worries that our bathroom will get flooded or that we'll find random things clogging up the toilet.  Hooray!