Tuesday, April 30, 2013

Autism Awareness Month

It is the last day of April, the month that marks Autism Awareness Month.  I hope that everything we learned and did this month continues every day and month. 

Autism can be scary thing for a parent to hear. My autism is different from your autism and her autism.  It is a neurogenetic condition that affects language development, speech, social interpretation and social interaction, limited play/repetitive behaviors, the processing of sensory information (auditory, tactile, proprioceptive) affecting touch, being touched, clothing on the body, sounds, light, and eating certain foods, motor skills both fine and gross, immunity/health and, gastrointestinal issue are often present along with allergies and rashes.  This is my definition, based on my observations of my son and others I know.  Each person living with Autism is affected in some of these areas in differing amounts, thus, no two autistic people are the same. 

Another huge impact of autism is that on the family of the affected.  Marriages suffer, sibling relationships are impacted as well as other family relationships and friendships. 

Autism changes lives. 

My hope is that we can be open with each other, sharing our experiences in a nonthreatening way, learn from each other, help each other.  I hope even more that we can teach others in our world, through our friends, neighbors, and families what this is like, what it means to have autism and how we can all live in a non-autistic world that is filled with autistic people.  We all need to understand each other better. 

May the lessons and intentions of Autism Awareness Month be with us every month.

Our wreath for Autism Awareness Month, we made it together.

Event Summary for the week of April 29, 2013

Check out the AutMont Calendar to see all of the activities for this week, as well as those coming up!

Monday, April 29:

Tuesday, April 30
Navigating the Financial World of the Special Needs Family 



Thursday, May 2:
Futures & Estate Planning for Families of Children with Developmental Disabilities




The Germantown 5 miler and the Sports Plus 1K will be held on May 18th and is conducted by the Montgomery County Road Runners Club. The race, known for its rolling course and starts, finishes across the street from the new Shops at Seneca Meadows, in Germantown. The Sports Plus 1K allows children of all ages to enjoy the opportunity to be exposed to racing by entering the 1K Fun Run. Registration is now open for both the 2013 Germantown 5 Miler and Sport Plus 1K.   Please go to www.germantown5miler.com , to access the registration. For those of you who are adults, you can sign up on-line between now and May 6, and pay $25.00.  If you sign up May 7- May 16, you pay $30.00.  A running shirt for each adult is included.  If your child is interested in running the 1K (or 5K), your on-line fee is $10.00.  That includes a t-shirt.  If you wish to register at Packet Pickup, you will pay $15.00, and on race day, $20.00.  Sign up soon!  It is a fun event for the whole family and supports those on the autism spectrum.


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Do you know of another event? Leave details in the comments!

Tuesday, April 23, 2013

Struggles

Earlier today I had to pick up Noah from preschool about half an hour early to go to therapy, specifically, a social skills/speech dyad. 

He was upset to leave school before "goodbye circle" and as his face trembled and he blinked back tears, I knelt in front of him and promised that he could go all day tomorrow.  STAB.  I ushered him, reluctantly, out the door, rushed him to the car, buckled him in and began the 25 minute drive.  In the car, he told me he was tired and wanted to go home.  I promised him one hour of play at therapy and then home for dinner and relaxing and whatever he wanted to do.  STAB.

Mallory, my 3 year old daughter, fell asleep in the car and I had to wake her up and carry her into the building. And she was pantsless.  STAB.

I must backup and mention that before we even left the house to pick up Noah at school, Mallory, (ahem, my 3 year old), and I had what can only be described as a brain bending argument, the kind I recall having with my own mother when I was 13, not 3.  She wanted a wardrobe change and I disagreed but then she insisted and I offered a new dress and then she wanted tights instead of pants and now were late to get Noah and NOT THOSE TIGHTS, and I yelled and felt awful and finally, put her in the car, sans clothing on the bottom half, promising to dress her when we got out of the car.  I kept telling her hurry up, that she wasn't allowed to make Noah late and even as I was saying this and hoping we wouldn't be late for the the pricey therapy, I was hating myself for putting that worry on her.  Now as I type that, I swear to God I can never say that again, I don't want her growing up feeling any more responsible for him than she might already.  STAB. MOTHERING FAIL.

When we got to therapy, he playfully hide behind me and refused to go with his therapist and "friend".  I had to piggyback him into the room and then dart out.

It was in this moment, as I sunk awkwardly into the leather loveseat that I thought, "sheesh, I am wholly unqualified to be running this website, I can't even get through a day without yelling at my kid, my NT kid, upsetting my Autistic kid, and feeling like a gigantic whopping failure" .... and then I realized, Wait, I am exactly the right person to run this website because I am human, and normal, and I'm willing to stand up and announce this, publicly, (don't throw tomatoes at me, they stain). 

I very firmly believe that if we all admit our vulnerablilities we wouldn't feel so insecure and inferior around each other because we would all know that we are human and we have the same feelings and problems.  I think we all feel inadequate sometimes.  I think we all yell at our kids sometimes.  I like to admit my imperfections, because, while I can make a mean crafty poster for teacher appreciation week, I, too, have my weak moments where the stress and fatigue get the best of me and I yell, or let my kids watch a few (or, 10) episodes of Wonder Pets.


I felt guilty for having to drag Mallory around to Noah's therapy, hurrying her here and there, I felt guilty for taking Noah out of school, a class he loves, a class that has embraced him and allowed him to grow beyond my wildest dreams.  Then I questioned my choice of therapy, does he really need this? Is this too much? How much therapy and shlepping should I put him through? Will my good intentions back fire? 

I did apologize to Mallory in the car, telling her I was sorry for yelling.  I explained that she shouldn't wear tights with a shirt, but that rationale was lost because she is, three years old.  I spent time cuddling with Noah before bed, talking and playing Candy Crush together.

The kids probably won't remember any of this tomorrow but I will still question my decision to do so much therapy, worry that I did the right therapy, and wring my hands over my 3-going-on-13 year old.  I promised myself I would try harder to be calmer, plan more transition time before leaving the house for my three year old to properly primp and perfect herself, constantly reevaluate how much therapy I'm taking Noah to, continue to explain and bargain and talk openly with him about his therapy and school.  And, to just try again tomorrow. 

::

Three years ago today, I wrote this.

Sunday, April 21, 2013

Event Summary for the Week of April 22, 2013

Check out the AutMont Calendar to see all of the activities for this week, as well as those coming up!




Tuesday, April 23:
Extraordinary Minds in MCPS

Reading Fluency and Comprehension Strategies

Peer Relationships and Bullying


Up for Discussion on AutMont:


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Do you know of another event? Leave details in the comments!

Friday, April 19, 2013

Welcome, to me! Who I am and why I am here

A warm welcome greeting to all AutMont readers!

I am Stacy Kravitz and I am thrilled to be the new owner of AutMont.  I have used this website myself many times in the past three years and I am so honored to be able to provide this resource for so many others.  I hope to maintain and grow the depth of information available, create lists of providers and resources that are Autism-friendly and create an accepting, honest, respectful community forum.

How Autism Came to Me:

My son, Noah, is currently 5 years old.  He didn't have any verbal language at his second birthday and our pediatrician at the time referred us to Montgomery County Infants and Toddlers (MCITP) for an evaluation.  I had contacted MCITP when he was about 22 months old because his language was not developing like that of his peers.  I had the intake papers but I was dragging my feet, telling myself that I should wait a week, or so, maybe he was having a bad day, maybe he was tired, oh he had a cold, wait! I think I heard him say something that sounded like dog.
 
I was mildly concerned because he did have a few emerging words around 12-14 months of age but they disappeared by 18 months of age.  Between 18 and 24 months he seemed to be oblivious to other kids, developed extreme fears of "normal kid places" like the playground. (I could write pages about this.) Other mothers and even I, just assumed it was an "anxious phase" "stranger anxiety" "afraid of the bigger kids on the playground" or something of that nature.  He only liked to swing on the playground, his his peers of similar age were starting to climb onto the slides and explore the playground confidently.   He had never been interested in certain toys, never got attached to books, toys, lovies, blankies, but he was always, always, very connected to me,  we had physical affection and I always swore my son looked me in the eye.  I know now, that eye contact has a level of quality, and of course, as his mother, I was quite in-tune with him and his needs.  Perhaps too much, because I just always seemed to know what he needed and wanted.

Our Therapy Journey:
 
Noah's MCITP evaluation uncovered more than just a language delay, he was significantly delayed in many areas of his cognitive, physical, emotional, and motor development.  

For the next two years we took advantage of many of our county's wonderful resources through Infants and Toddlers and our lives revolved around making sure Noah had intensive early intervention in every area of life. He attended an ABA program that offered inclusion in a mainstream preschool class; we did speech therapy and occupational therapy with county providers and also privately.  We had a home therapy program, based on the Verbal Behavior program. Noah attended a mainstream preschool class with a shadow that we provided.  A psychologist and BCBA (Board Certified Behavioral Analyst) oversaw our home program and also did some feeding therapy helped with some of Noah's food aversions. 

My Journey:
 
When I think about how much our lives have changed and all that I've been through, my head is overwhelmed with emotions and thoughts about what I've learned about myself and the world.  I am so much more than the mom I once thought I would be.  I see the world differently, I see people differently.  I am forever thankful for the support we received from my family that helped us get through those early years of therapy and confusion. 

There are several stories to be told; Noah's story, My story, as a mother, a wife and an autism parent and I will be completely honest with you - it is nearly impossible to successfully wear those three hats simultaneously.  I lost friends.  And I gained friends.  And I gained wisdom beyond my years.

You. Me. And AutMont

I am so happy to be here today.  I am so glad I have this forum to share what I have learned and provide you with as much information as possible to help you on your journey.  I want to tell you what I didn't know and what would have helped me.  I want to tell you what I wish like hell someone had told me at so many steps along the way. I want this website to be a virtual hug on those days when you are completely at your wits end.  We had wonderful therapists and team members who guided me along my journey. I am excited to pass along the wisdom, information, and tools to anyone else who is struggling along the path of an Autism diagnosis. I should mention, it's not all dark and gloomy.  There are a lot of beautiful moments of light to embrace, celebrate and share. 

I will be maintaining a weekly calendar of events and a long-term calendar that you can consult for future planning.  I will also highlight some of Jean's wonderful posts from the past and add my own as time goes forward.

Please feel free to post questions or comments in the comment section of this or any posting, or email AutismMontgomery (at) gmail (dot) com.  I will do my best to reply to all inquires in a timely manner.

Monday, April 15, 2013

Event Summary for the Week of April 15, 2013

Check out the AutMont Calendar to see all of the activities for this week, as well as those coming up!

**Spring 2013 SportsPlus Baseball, Swimming, and Track & Field started this weekend, April 13 & 14.  SportsPlus.

Wednesday, April 17:

Navigating College Admissions

John Elder Robinson speaks at NIH about Autism


Thursday, April 18:

ASAN presents Loving Lampposts, documentary

Saturday, April 20:

 The Miracle League Baseball Game (game 2)

Around the World of Special Education in One Day!

Music for Autism


COMING UP SOON: 

Sunday, April 28, 2013, ROAR for Autism, Get Active for Autism Research, bike ride, 5, family fun walk and family festival.  Click here for the flyer. 

Tuesday April 30, 2013 Special Needs Financial Planning Seminar at TLC



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Do you know of another event? Leave details in the comments!

Saturday, April 13, 2013

Where to see Cherry Blossoms, other than the Tidal Basin

If your kids are sensitive to busy, open spaces, or if crowds are too scary for you, or your sensory-aware child, consider taking a drive through some local parks and neighborhoods to view the wonder of the cherry blossoms. 

For years it was out of the question, I was not going to take Noah into Washington, DC, to wander aimlessly and expect him to appreciate the blossoms.  The crowds, the lack of bathrooms, the noise, the possibilities of what could go wrong, well, that's endless, and that was very scary to me.  I've learned that you don't have to miss out on life, you just have to adapt.  And you can still appreciate the local flora and color of the season, just in a different location and in a different way. 

I've prepared a short list of neighborhoods and locations known for excellent cherry blossom viewing.  If you know of one, please leave it in the comments and I will add it to this post. 

Take a drive, go for a walk; enjoy your weekend!


Cherry Blossom Sightings

1. Kenwood Neighborhood in Bethesda between River Rd. and Little Falls Parkway.
2. Grosvenor Lane in Bethesda
3. Neighborhoods off of Jones Lane in North Potomac
4. Pioneer Hills Neighborhood in Darnestown

It seems like everything bloomed this week, and almost every neighborhood looks alive right now with pink and white blossoms.  

Does anyone know any good locations in northern Montgomery County and the Silver Spring area?  Leave a comment if you do!


Thursday, April 11, 2013

Announcing AutMont 2.0!

I have thrilling news! AutMont will be starting back up under the ownership of local writer and autism mom Stacy Kravitz.

Stacy is a longtime online writer and mother to two children. She is fabulous and I am beyond ecstatic that not only will AutMont live on, but that it will return in her capable hands.

Please be sure to make her feel welcome as she continues to bring you autism-related events listings for Montgomery County. I am looking forward to seeing where AutMont goes under her leadership.

Thank you, Stacy. And welcome!

Wednesday, April 3, 2013

With Regret, AutMont is Closing

Hi, friends. I know it has been very quiet around here lately. I have had a really hard time finding time to keep AutMont updated as it should be.

I feel that having a poorly updated AutMont is probably worse than having no AutMont at all so with sadness I have to announce that I will no longer be updating this site.

I will continue to share things on the AutMont Facebook page and hope to make it more active as well.

If anyone is interested in taking over AutMont, I would be happy to pass everything along. Feel free to contact me if you are interested.

I am so, so sorry to do this. I wish I had the time and the drive to keep running this site because I love the idea behind it. Thank you for your support over the past couple of years.