Sunday, December 26, 2010

Autism, Holiday Vacations and Keeping Busy!

Christmas Day was wonderful! My daughter made me the most heart-warming book of poems along with artwork. This is a gift I will treasure forever. Handmade gifts always have a special meaning to me. 

The visits we had planned on Christmas Day, had to be postponed until today. This transition was due to my daughters health. She had a focal seizure in the morning on Christmas day and became very tired afterwards. Both of us just rested all day, watching Christmas movies and relaxing.

Today we went on our visits and everything went well. We enjoyed some time with family, and then went to visit a friend. By the time we got home, both of us were tired! My daughter was glad we postponed our traveling until today. She enjoyed the entire day without any seizure activity.

Both days went smoothly, no anxiety or meltdowns. We both had a great time!

Tuesday, December 21, 2010

Autism, Holidays and Traditions

Traditions for a family with a child who has challenges may be more difficult to establish. We found it much easier when my daughter takes ownership in any set of circumstances. Our family traditions have been simplified to match her abilities. She enjoys putting up the Christmas Tree shortly after Thanksgiving, but requires assistance to get the tree decorated. The special ornaments she has collected over the years seem to bring joy to the entire experience! Her "Barbie" ornament collection are the first ornaments she puts up on the tree. After they are up, she and I take our time going through the boxes of ornaments. We had gone to an after-Christmas sale a few years ago and really found some treasures. Snowballs, Angels, and beautiful crystal balls were marked down to next to nothing! Once we get the tree decorated, we take a break with a snack of cookies and milk.
We have made a "deal."  I wrap all of the gifts and she takes the empty ornament boxes back out to the garage. Most of the time I will have everything wrapped and ready to go under the tree.
Another tradition we love to do is making Christmas cookies. We plan this for an early weekend in December. The easiest cookies for my daughter to make are sugar cookies. She loves to decorate each cookie. We purchase cookie bags, and place the cookies in the bags. During the following week we deliver the bags to friends and neighbors. I believe Christmas is her favorite Holiday!

Thursday, December 16, 2010

Autism, Holidays and Transitions

Holidays seem to be a difficult time of year for anyone with autism. Daily structure and consistency are helpful tools to prevent anxiety. If stress and frustration are a part of Holiday anxiety, re-direction may stop a meltdown before it begins. This takes planning ahead of time, but it is well worth it. Even though the Holidays are close by, there is time to make a plan. Transitions during visiting will be easier if an explanation is offered ahead of time. Input from a child, such as: "what will help you get through the next day?" may give you invaluable information. Some ideas we have used successfully include: plenty of rest, planned break times, limiting sweets, listening to soft music, reading a favorite book, and keeping our own anxiety in check! There have been times while we were visiting we found it necessary to shorten the length of our visit. Rarely, have we had to postpone due to a meltdown before we leave for our trip. A helpful tip would be to mention this to your host and answer any questions they may have a few days before the visit. If your child tolerates the transitions well, everyone will enjoy the time they spend together. These are the strategies we use, but you  may have some other great tips. Please comment and include the strategies which work well for you.

Tuesday, November 30, 2010

Researching Autism, Talents and Epilepsy

As my daughter's disabilities and talents progressed, so did the amount of her challenges. We noticed she began to have epilepsy-like episodes about two hours after she went to bed. Off to the Neurologist for a consultation.... His impression was generalized epilepsy, and he started her on her first round of anti-epileptics. The medication worked and did not seem to affect the talents my daughter had.

While speaking with other Mom's and researching epilepsy, it became obvious to me that there was a high probability of autism plus epilepsy.

We made an appointment with a very well respected Doctor at a large teaching hospital with a special epilepsy unit. My daughter was evaluated and the Doctor's impression was Partial Complex Seizures. She also was experiencing focal seizures(like daydreaming).

For a few years my daughter's seizure activity was stable. Then puberty hit and her seizures returned on a daily basis. The Doctor increased her medication, but she still had to be careful.

No riding her bike, no swimming and adult supervision was necessary.

She replaced the activities with more painting, drawing and knitting.

Her interest in advocacy became strong, as she witnessed her classmates in school.

After attending a Conference, along with the break-out sessions she knew what her goal was.

My daughter has been working on becoming a Motivational Speaker for People with Invisible Disabilities.

Wednesday, November 24, 2010

Autism Explosion?

When my third child was born, I knew within the first few weeks that she was different from my other two. She was full-term, but I had a complicated delivery.
We had a difficult time consoling her, and at that time we had no clue about sensory integration.
She slept for short periods, had "radar" hearing, and just didn't cuddle up to us like the older children. Pediatrician's told us she would grow out of it, family was careful to say too much. There were times I questioned myself. But, when she had her Pre-K screening, my thoughts were was bittersweet. I had no idea what I was in for regarding school issues and therapies for her challenges. Those years were a whirlwind. behind the challenges, I saw a very talented child. She appreciated the joy's in life, and seemed to bask in the beauty of nature's colors. By fifth grade, her Art teacher helped her bloom. She began drawing, painting, and creating objects which were way ahead of her classmates. By seventh grade we knew she had a true gift. During her High School years she continued to express herself through her Art. People were amazed at her talent, and her modesty. More......