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Jan 28, 2013

Caiti Update

Last Tuesday we took Caiti to see a psychiatrist who specializes in autism to address her self injury.  After a thorough assesment, he decided to put her on small doses of a combination of Tenex (off-brand for ADD symptoms) and Prozac.  We were worried she wouldn't take her medications, but she has done great when we magically hide them in a spoonful of...NUTELLA!!!!!  So, not only am I grateful for the meds, but I'm grateful for Nutella because that is the only way she has EVER let me give her meds.  :)
There has been such a nice change since she started on her medications, just in this first week.  She has returned to her happy, sweet self.  She still tantrums, because she is the same person, but her tantrums are not nearly as bad.  There is still a small amount of self injury due to frustration, but it has decreased so much! It is fun to have our happy girl back and see her playing with her toys and finding the joy in her life again!

Jan 26, 2013

Pay It FOrwaRD

As an autism mommy, I'm grateful for the first example I had of someone on the autism spectrum, my nephew Ford.  Ford had Asperger's syndrome, which in my book means that Ford was actually interesting and fun.  Ford is the nephew I wrote about earlier, the one who passed away suddenly.  This weekend is the 6th anniversary of his death.  My sister is using this very hard thing and making it into something positive by making this anniversary an annual tribute to Ford called, "Pay It FOrwaRD."  

This is what my sister posted for the event: 

On the 27th of this month, it will be 6 years since our son Ford was suddenly called back to his Heavenly Father. Ford was sweet and kind. He loved scouts, star wars & outer space. He had a silly sense of humor. He was thoughtful and helped others feel God's love. My family and I would be honored if you would, wherever you are, on the weekend of the 25-27th of January, help us celebrate Ford's life and legacy. Please pray as a family, or by yourself to know how to do this. It can be in a big way, or in one or many small ways. We are asking you to make your corner of the world a little better. Look for ways you can help and share your love with those you know, or complete strangers. Please share this with your friends & help us to touch as many lives as possible as we "Pay it FOrwaRD."  

Besides finding ways to Pay it FOrwaRD, my family also tie-dyed our shirts for the event.  After all, tie dye was Ford's favorite color.  One of many things about him that makes me smile.

Lastly, my sister sent me this email a couple months ago.  It was a list of the reasons I love Ford that I wrote at his viewing:

I love Ford for so many reasons. Just thinking about him makes me smile. He always was so happy to see us & so sad to leave. 
He gave me lessons when I was pregnant on how to take care of babies.
He offered to teach Caiti to walk "in the grass, so it will be soft when she falls down."
The first time I talked to him on the phone, I got out my journal & wrote everything he said down because it was so cute, funny & totally unique.
I remember the first time I met him as a newborn. We were in church & he was being a little fussy, but every time the organ played, he would calm right down.
I remember at Lake Patoka his yellow and maroon T-shirt & shorts. He would go out & ride bikes & eat popsicles.
I love Ford for so many reasons. He was my first sweet, beautiful nephew. He taught me about perserverance, strength, being yourself & not apologizing for it. 
Most of all, I am greatful to Ford for preparing me for one of my most prized posessions, my sweet son Garrett. Ford was an example of taking what others viewed as a disability & showing how it could be a strength & enhancement. I love him for that example!
I hope you know that I have so much to say but not the words. 

Jan 22, 2013

Poop Smearing and Coprophagia

As an autism mom, I'm grateful for resources out there to help deal with the not-so-pretty part of autism:  Poop Smearing.  This is something I might have been embarrassed to mention, let alone blog about, but the fact is it is a reality, and I am not the only one out there that gets the fun of dealing with this.
I remember the first time I discovered a child of mine in the bedroom covered in poop, the walls covered in poop, the dresser covered in poop.  Let's just say that was definitely not the last time that happened either.  I was HORRIFIED, and I thought my child was the only child in the world to do this.  My day would be ruined, and I would cry as I spent an eternity getting the poop out of the room and the smell out of my house.  Fast forward a few years to when I discovered another child of mine who touched their bottom when they were pooping.  I would walk in and see poop next to their mouth.  I was, again, utterly grossed out, horrified, etc.  Once again, I thought that my child was the only child in the world to engage in this repulsive behavior.  (On a side note, my sister made a good point not to say, "Don't touch your poop/butt" to an echolalic child because if they start repeating that one, they are definitely going to get made fun of.  Instead, just use the prompt, "Hands up!")
This morning, I have been scouring the internet trying to find resources out there addressing this topic.  In my search, I learned that these behaviors are common in lower-functioning autism.  I also read on the Journal of Neuropsychiatry website ( that Temple Grandin engaged in fecal smearing when she was a child, and Mozart ingested his own poop.  So some pretty awesome people did the same thing that my kids have done...somehow that makes me feel just a little better.  Is that because misery loves company?  ;)
I am grateful for the social story I found called, Don't Smear the Poop.  This social story is for sale for $12.50 which is a good price compared to a lot of other autism resources out there.
However, I needed a temporary solution for now, as this is a problem that I don't have time to wait on shipping to address.  I also drew my own little images, opened a word document and inserted images from google images search and from their clip art to make my own social story/visual strips for the bathrooms in our house.  If anyone wants to use these for their own personal use,  I am totally fine with that.  All you would do is left click on the image, save it, then print it.
First, I have a nice big printable to remind the child, "Hands Up!"

Next is the printable of what they really should be doing if they are in the bathroom.

Last is the strip showing what they shouldn't be doing.  

***(1/16/2017) -One of the readers of this blog gave me an awesome resource that I now would recommend even more.   In fact, it's almost exactly four years later, and I'm printing off the social story she referred me to, to use for the same child.  Yes, in my experience, some bad habits are hard to break or return when the child is experiencing change or other stressors.  Darn it.  Anyway, the link to the "Don't Play With Your Pooh" social story can be found here:

Also, I made a youtube video reading the social story because I know my kids will destroy the book.  It can be found here (with a few additions to fit our situation).

Jan 18, 2013


Today as an autism mom, I'm grateful for any autism parent who can leave me a comment with some advice.  I was wondering if I could get any suggestions as to handling a daughter who is self injurious.  My daughter hits her face and head a lot.  She has always slapped herself in the face when she was frustrated, but it was more of a one-time thing and then she would move on.  Now, it is very hard to redirect her.  She is basically beating herself up.   I'm sure a lot of this is due to her communication defects and frustrations.  She will punch herself too.  As a result, right now she has a split lip and bruises all over her face.  It is very distressing for me.  Redirecting her and making her give us high-fives instead works sometimes, but I'm at a loss.  She has a psych appointment next week to explore medication intervention, and a regular doctor's office this week to see if there are any physical reasons for her distress.  I would appreciate any feedback I can get.  Thank you!

Jan 13, 2013

Challenge Accepted

As an autism mom, I'm grateful for little motivators to help me have a better attitude.  I have been rather negative lately, and I have let things get to me that I didn't need to.  So, I used some of my old magazine scraps and made myself a motivating sign:

Jan 10, 2013

January 9, 2013

To Our Wonderful Benefactors at FOCUS of San Diego:
We just wanted to take this opportunity and give you such thanks for the swing set you provided for our family.  If you didn’t already know, all three of our children have moderate-to-severe autism.  Garrett is 9 years old, Caiti is 7 and Jason is 4.  We previously had a swing set that was handed down to us from neighbors, and it was amazing to see how calming it was for them to be able to swing.  When that swing set gave out, we were so disappointed not to have that sensory input for our children.  They seemed lost and didn’t know what to do to calm their bodies in a healthy way.
My daughter Caiti has been tantrumming and injuring herself this entire Christmas break because she has a hard time with change and not knowing what is coming next.  It has affected our entire family to see her that unhappy.  She was going crazy being cooped in our house and was seeking the sensory input in unhealthy ways, like when she was hitting herself.  It was very distressing for us, as her parents to see her do this and not know how to stop her.
  This all changed because of the blessing you sent our way.  You should have seen her face when she saw the swing set.  It instantly brightened into a giant smile.  She is someone who doesn’t like the feeling of clothes on her skin, and it is very hard to keep her clothed when she is at home.  We have shown her that the only way she can use the swing set is to have her clothes on.  It is amazing how much less we are seeing of her birthday suit now.  She is so happy and is much calmer now that she is getting that sensory  input in a happier, healthier manner.

Our son Garrett swings super high on the swings.  He gets this huge grin when he’s up so high.   He and Jason, our youngest, love to swing at the same time.  It is interesting to see this interaction because my kids don’t normally play together.  They don’t understand social interactions/play, and it is easier to be by themselves.  It is cute to see them together on the swings, both so happy.
I loved the first day we had the swings out, and Jason would not get off of them.  He kept a tight grip.  It was neat to see him figure out the leg motions to continue swinging.  He didn’t have that skill down before.  I was a proud mama.
As a mommy of these cute kids, it has been an amazing help and stress reliever to have this swing set that we normally wouldn’t have been able to afford.  It brings me great joy to know that my kids are getting the sensory input they crave in a healthy way.  They are all in such great moods now too.  That is definitely needed after the first couple weeks of our Christmas break.
Thank you so much for your generosity.  It is very appreciated, and we will get SOOOOO much use out of that swingset.  I hope you know that it is such a blessing for our family, and we are beyond grateful that you were willing to help us in this very wonderful way.
Love the Roach Family

**** Addendum: We couldn't have enjoyed our swingset without the awesome missionaries who took LOTS of time out of their week to help get the swingset set up.  We are very grateful for their help too!

Jan 6, 2013


As an autism mommy, I'm grateful for my firstborn, and the person who first immersed me into this crazy world of autism, my son Garrett.  Today is his birthday, and he is 9 years old.  What can I say to describe this cutie pie that brings such joy to my life.  Garrett gives everyone unconditional love.  He can be sneaky when he wants to get out of the house or when he wants a yummy treat, but he doesn't have a mean bone in his body.  He has the best smile ever.  He likes tickles and is really good at saying, "Tickle me!"  He loves to have his own kind of conversations where you fill in the blanks with whatever he thinks should come next.  One of them is to name his favorite movies in a certain order.  He also heard me singing "She's My Kind of Rain," by Tim McGraw one day, and he started laughing and said, "She's my kind of blue."  So I figured out he thought I said, "She's my kind of green."  Ever since then, that is a game where we say, "She's my kind of ____" and fill in the blank with a color.  When Garrett was a baby, and he would be sitting in his high chair waiting for mommy to feed him baby food, I would say the name of the baby food in a silly voice.  His favorite was "Vegetable Beef."  Ever since then, his grandpa says that to him whenever he talks to him, and Garrett laughs and laughs.  
Garrett loves to go swimming.  He says, "I want swimming please."  He is so cute in the water.  He thinks he's much smaller than his 100-lb frame and wants us all to throw him in the water or help him do flips.  
Garrett's sense of rhythm is amazing.  He has a talent of tapping one beat with one hand, and then tapping a totally different, but complimentary beat with the other hand at the same time.  I have tried to copy it before, and there's no way i could do that.
Garrett loves to watch his shows.  He's obsessed with Diego right now, and he can even communicate which one by telling me which animal.  His favorite right now is the Underwater Mystery episode.  He comes and tells me, "Watch Mystery Fish?"  Grandma and Grandpa were even lucky enough to hear him sing it to them today when they called to wish him happy birthday.  
I thought I would share this poem I wrote about my Garrett when I was just finding out he had autism, about 6 years ago:

To Garrett:
When you were born, you had no clothes,
But you had pretty eyes and a cute little nose.
Your feet were quite big, and you looked like your dad. 
You were the best present that I ever had.

A gift from Heaven, sent from God,
I looked at you and held you and was completely awed.

You were so sweet, smiley and fun.  
I loved watching you as around the couch you would run
Over and over; you never got tired.
That energy was something everyone admired.

You started having trouble doing every-day things.
You had to be helped when swinging on the swings.
It took you longer than others to climb up the slide,
But you did it one step at a time, and I cried.

They say you're not normal; you've got a different brain.
That was hard to take, knowing you're not the same
As I thought you were, but you're still my little star.
You say your ABC's and you count really far.

They say kids like you don't show love the same way, 
But you let me hold you and kiss you each day.
And even if you think you use your hand for a kiss,
That is one kind of kiss that I would never miss.

You are amazing, so happy and sweet.
You still have the cute nose and the big feet.
And even if some kids' abilities surpass, 
You still are taller than everyone in your class.

And you are an example of what truly is love.
You are the unexpected blessing I received from above.
I watch your example of overcoming trials and strife, 
And I thank God for blessing me with you in my life.

A gift from Heaven, sent from God.
I look at you and hold you and am completely awed.

Jan 1, 2013

Sarcastic Family Christmas Letter - 2012 Edition

Merry Christmas Everyone:

This year Garrett continued his various adventures.  I think he has learned from Dora that you can explore without your parents. One day we couldn't find him for an hour and a half, and the police helicopter, two squad cars and neighborhood patrol helped us find him.  He thought it was so fun to hang out with the cool officers.  However, On a good note, it wasn't because he undid the safety latch on the front door.  He has decided the safety latch is supposed to be shut, so he locks it himself cause he's a giant 8 year old and can reach the top of the door.  That's really fun if you are just going to the car or checking the mail.  He used his amazing observation skills to figure out that if you push a button on the garage wall, the garage door will come up.  This is how he got out the couple times it happened.  He was so good at getting mommy and daddy to disable the garage door opener.  He is doing much better on potty training.  Still working on the wiping part though.  Hoping that next year's letter will include a happy post about toilet paper.
 Caiti also learned from Dora, and went on her own adventure this year.  However, Dora wears shorts, a shirt and a backpack, and Caiti was wearing her favorite birthday suit.  Mommy only had a small panick attack when that happened.Caiti still is very comfortable in her own skin, and her birthday suit is STILL her favorite outfit.  Her aunt Michelle has done a great job getting her to wear clothes sometimes.  She gives her fun rides and spins her if she is wearing her clothes.  Hopefully, she will do this without the rides soon enough because she's over 60 lbs, and we want Aunt Michelle to continue having a healthy back.  Caiti has made many fun new friends with her toys.  We are learning not to give her battery-operated toys cause they no longer work if they have bath parties with Caiti.
Jason decided that he is going to be more independent this year.  His teacher informed me that his tantrums, noncompliance, etc., are all a good thing because that means he is progressing developmentally.  He has figured out how to climb on the counters to get what we thought was out of his reach on top of the fridge.  My friend also figured out that Andy Sandberg developed his "I throw it on the ground" SNL skit using Jason as his inspiration because Jason's really good at clearing a counter, a plate, a table, etc.  I think he likes empty spaces...except for the ground.
All in all, we're progressing in our own little ways.  Merry Christmas to all!
Love the Roaches