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Thursday, May 10, 2012

Menstrual Cycles and Autism

When I first found out about Savannah's Autism, along with all the other questions and fears was the one about PMS. How to explain this to a child that barely understands why the sun is not always there. LOL I was so worried about her understanding this. About her being afraid, crying or just over reacting as many girls do, only worse.

Well, I looked everywhere, asked everyone, Professionals, teachers, mothers, internet, no one had any answers. It was as though I was the first mother with a female who had Autism. I was one step away from trying to contact Temple Grandin and seek her advice as a woman with Autism. Then a friend of mine, who surprisingly doesn't have a child with Autism, gave me the answer and it worked beautifully.

You see when I told Savannah that babies come from mommies tummy's she spent months thinking she was pregnant. I was so afraid that when I told her why women have menstrual cycles, that this would re-occur only worse. Not what I wanted. So how to explain this to her clearly?

My friends idea was brilliant. Simply tell her that it's her body becoming a woman and cleaning itself out each month. Which when you break it down to it's basics is exactly what is happening. The body is cleaning all the old blood out. It worked great. I realized after telling her that her body needed to wash out the gross stuff inside her once a month, I realized that she handled the news rather well. I also told her that it was sign she was becoming a woman and not a child anymore. This made her happy.

So to all the mothers out there worried about how to explain Menstrual cycles and Periods to their daughters with Autism, simply break it down to it's basics. The details of babies and pregnancy can be handled at a time when your child is old enough to understand sex and the consequences that go with it.

Monday, October 3, 2011

Jr. High for Special Ed

Savannah is now in her 6th week of Jr. High and let me tell you, it's a whole new world. The days of the goals being discussed and evaluated are over. The days of her being graded on those goals, are over. What I didn't know, and what most parents are most likely not told is this;

Remember in grade school you would get a progress report based on your child's IEP goals? Nope!! Not anymore. Now they get the A-F grades. If they are in regular ed classes, they will get an F. I would strongly suggest you hold in IEP meeting the first week of school and go over the new rules, cause the school is not going to tell you these rules.

I searched the Internet for Jr. High rules for the disabled and found nothing. So I I figured I would post them here.

Independence is the new keyword. In Jr. High they want to do as little as possible, so that means more Independence for your child.

Grades. That's right, your child will actually get graded. I have heard nothing about the goals in the IEP and how the teachers are working on them. (time for an IEP)

No more aids. You will have demand an aid to go with your child into the regular ed class, they will not provide on as they did in Grade school and more than likely it will be a student aid, not a certified teacher or adult aid. (your judgement on this one parents)

If your child was like mine and wanted a locker, good luck. You will have to request one and more than not, you probably won't get one. Here in Nevada they are doing away with lockers. So good luck.

Now my daughter is Autistic. She has no physical handicaps, so I cannot speak as to that. But with the Autism class here in Las Vegas at Hyde Park, they will not walk the kids to the buss. They walk the kids to the gate and then let them go. Remember when the teacher would walk them out and put them on the buss. Nope. I guess that's how one little girl ended up dropped off in the middle of some no name Jr. High and left there to get heat stroke this year. Wrong buss.

In conclusion, if you are not familiar with fighting the district and demanding what is needed, get an advocate. They are free in some cases. Call an IEP meeting and have all the new rules outlined to you.

Please post back here about the rules for Jr. High and High School in your area, I would be interested to know if it's the same elsewhere.

Sunday, September 25, 2011

Jr. High

Jr. High is scary for any kid, but especially for someone with Autism. It's not only frightening for the child, but the parent as well. So many things are going to change. All the child behaviors and play time will no longer be a part of the daily life. More expectation, more rules, more, more, more.

The first question I had was; "Is my child going to have one classroom or several?"
Answer: One classroom, with time one elective that depends on the IEP and specified time in regular ed.

Savannah did get to choose her own elective, which was great. She has one classroom and much to her joy, she got a locker. lol

There were things I noted right away that were different. For example;

When she was in grade school, her stimulatory behavior of always having a doll with her was acceptable. In Jr. High this was not. It did not matter to them that this was part her stim behavior, she carries it to stores as well. So be sure to put any stim behaviors in her IEP so the school will not be able to argue.

Also, the children are expected to be more independent. Which is great if your child can be. I noticed that the children walk out alone to the bus or to their parent. The teacher was of course in view of them and kept a steady pace of about 50 feet behind them. But at grade school, the teachers walked the children to the bus. Note this may be different depending on the school. I am simply reporting what it is like at my daughters school.

Many budget cuts lead to many problems with the transportation here in Nevada. So that was a little bit of a hassle and meant my daughter being taken to school by me an hour late every day. After two weeks the transportation was worked out and all is settled in now.

Yes she has P.E. and does have to dress out. She does have a separate locker for this and the school had left over uniforms for her and the other special needs children.

All in all, the only thing that is different in her Jr. High from the regular ed students, is the transferring from several classrooms a day. Everything else is expected of them with of course special limitations and changes to accommodate their handicap.

Friday, July 1, 2011

Middle School

Well Savannah has graduated from grade school at the top her classroom. The teachers were so sad to see her go. She had become their best helper and aid. Running errands to the office and other classrooms, taking the other handicap children to their classes and instructing the younger kids in what to do. For a little girl who had no hope (according to the experts) this was a major goal. It has gone a long way to relieve my fears of her starting middle school. She has grown so much.

She started her ESY (extended school year) today. It is designed to help the children maintain the skills they have learned throughout the year. Since Autistic children forget so easily, or maybe it would be better to say that they 'dismiss' what they have learned if they don't use the skills each day, (an autistic child rarely forgets. At least mine doesn't) it is imperative that they keep using the skills in order to succeed.

Normally Savannah is upset at having to start ESY while her sisters get to stay home. This year was different. She had no problem going and was excited to do so. We also kept a promise we made to her at the beginning of the year. Since her older sister got a cell phone when she started middle school, so would Savannah. So when she got home from the bus today, I had her cell phone waiting. She was so excited and carried it with her in her belt clip all night.

I feel lucky that I have two other children who are typical developing that can and do help her to learn little things like using the phone. Her sister, while they do get a little annoyed from time to time with Savannah differences (so do I), they have no problem teaching her and guiding her. I have been so blessed to have this advantage that other families do not. My advice to those families.

Find a big sister/ big brother program to get your child into. Simply playing with an older, TD child will do wonders. Autistic children mimic what the see, hear and read much more than most.

Get together with family that have other children as much as possible.

Find a support group in your town and set up play dates. If there are none, start one. Invite the parents that have children in your child's class. You will be surprised how much they are willing and eager to join.

Most of all, do not think that your child can not learn something simply because they are autistic or mentally challenged. They can. They will. Each person learns differently but we learn the same things. So can they. If one approach does not work, try another. They can learn, if you are willing to teach.

Friday, June 10, 2011


After 11 years of way to many emotions to list and a whirlwind of chaos, Savannah has graduated Grade school and at the top her Special Ed class. She has gone from someone who would never talk, to speaking clearly and focused. I have been blessed with having the best teacher I have ever come across, spending the last two years dedicating each day to my daughters success. I can never express enough my gratitude to Holly for her amazing teaching. To all the people that have worked with me side by side for years to get my daughter to this point.

My daughter said it very well at her graduation speech. "I'm ready to shoot for the stars." She already has. Later she looked me in the eye and said "Don't worry mommy, everything is going to be okay." I cried.

A Teachers Gift (for Holly)

You turned a frown into a smile.
You taught the lame to walk a mile.
You gave the voiceless the wonder of words.
The silent were heard.
You gave the lost, direction.
You showed the timid the power of affection.
You replaced tears with wonders glisten.
The deaf began to listen.
You tamed the wild.
You brought out the brightness of a child.
You showed them how to cope.
The despondent were given hope.
When the day comes and the Lord asks you,

"What did you do right?"
Say with a warm sigh;
"I taught your angel how to fly."

Most importantly, To my heavenly Father who has walked with me, carried me, taught me, and put up with all my mistakes yet still managed to see something good enough in me to bless me with not one but three of his angels...Thank you again with all my soul for this miracle. I love you.

To those who are still struggling with getting through those early years, there is hope, there is a light and as my daughter says "Everything is going to be okay." just keep believing, keep strong, keep fighting and don't let anyone tell you that your child cannot do it. When they start talking about what your baby can't do, stop them and tell them what your child CAN and WILL do.

Tuesday, April 12, 2011


We all know about service animals. The most commonly known is the seeing eye dog. These remarkable animals are trained and then utilized by the blind to help them see and get around. But what many don't know is that there are service dogs for many other causes including Autism. They are called therapy animals and are classified under the same service animal label. Now while these dogs don't do the same thing as a seeing eye dog would do, they do have many uses. For example.

The service dog that my daughter has is one that we have had since birth. He is a gorgeous Lab/Dane mix and very gentle and patient with her. Since he grew up with her and knows her very well he was a perfect choice. We really didn't have to do any special training as Savannah did not need help in that manner. He has however provided her with a friend, a companion and anther set of eyes for me. In fact, the dog's name was one of the first words Savannah said; "Shunshine" aka "Sunshine"

Now being a large dog, we were worried that she would eventually become scared of him or he would get to big. In fact the truth is the opposite. Savannah is actually afraid of small dogs I believe as a direct result of her thinking that a dog should be big.

There have been plenty of times when Sunshine would protect Savannah even from her own lack of self protection. He would lead her through the house when she was little and guide her towards me when I called her and she wouldn't respond. The older Savannah gets and the less she needs such attention, Sunshine has maintained his status as the Family Dog and keeps a warm place in our hearts. I know without a doubt that should the need arise, I can call on his instincts, training and love he has for my girls to aid them.

Also, since Savannah has been approved (a simple note from a family doctor stating that Savannah could benefit from a service animal) for a service animal, when ever we rented a place the owners could not refuse our application on the grounds of any 'no pet' clause. Since Sunshine is not listed as pet but her therapy dog.

If your child is suffering from lack of social skills (nothing socializes better than mans best friend) and other known issues associated with Autism, look into getting a animal that would be their alone to love. Start out with a young animal so the pet can grow up with child and include your child in the decision.

Look at each breed of Dog or Cat or the character of what animal your child chooses and get one that has the temperment that your child needs. You would be surprised at how much having a pet to love, to play with and to care for will help your Autistic child to smile. And as we all know, the smile of an Autistic child is worth more than a thousand words.

Saturday, April 9, 2011


When Savannah was younger it was difficult to keep any clothes on her, as she got older we worked with it and it's gotten much better. But I have noticed that although she will wear clothes now and I don't have to worry about her stripping in the middle of Walmart with a blizzard blowing outside, she still prefers clothes that are loose and not restricting. She refuses to wear any pants with a button or snap, only elastic waste and she doesn't care for Denim. Also her shirts cannot be tight tees and long sleeves are also out.

She still has issues with her senses, such as cold and hot. She will wear a jacket in hot weather and take one off in the winter. She says she is not cold, although I can see the goosebumps on her arms. It makes me wonder why she doesn't seem to feel it when her body is giving all the outward signs of being cold or hot. She is worse with cold weather.

At this point, I got her a light jacket that wasn't too heavy thinking that this was the problem. Nope. So for lack of anything else, she is still made to wear a jacket when I feel it's needed. As for the rest. If she never wears jeans in her what?! I will continue with stretched pants and sweat pants.