Sunday, November 30, 2014

Shot of Grace

At Church today, the Littlest Pickle perked up when our priest lit the first Advent candle at Mass.  She leaned over and whispered, "He hasn't done that in a long time, Mommy."  Yep, the season is upon us once more.  It's my favorite one to celebrate.  

The first week of Advent always creeps up on me.  One year, after spending hours searching for the Advent wreath but coming up empty handed, I was forced to improvise.  
Shot of grace, anyone?
Life remains incredibly busy for me, but I was determined to find the Advent wreath before Advent started this year.  Thank you, hubby, for finding the wreath and the candles yesterday! 
First week of Advent
We lit our first candle at dinner tonight.  After lighting the candle, I read the beginning of the Jesse Tree story from a book my parents gave me many years ago.  

We'll continue to read the Jesse Tree story when we gather as a family at the end of each day.  We'll recall the day's events and share our hopes for tomorrow.  We'll also countdown to one of the holiest of days on the calendar too.  In between prayers, reflections and a countdown to the 25th, we'll say prayers of thanksgiving, too.  We'll ask for continued blessings for the people we hold in our thoughts and hearts.  

The thought of continued blessings keeps me hopeful.  I pray it does for you as well.  

xo, Cat


Sunday Synch: Flu Shot Fever

Today's Sunday Synch is about a recent encounter that I had at my local pharmacy.  

I ignore a lot of the flu shot advertising that goes on this time of year.  The flu shot is not worth my time or attention.  Unless I'm using it to try prove a point like how ineffective it is.  Besides it being ineffective, so are some of the people ready to push it on their customers.  

xo, Cat


Flu Shot Fever

Flu shot advertising must have gone into high gear again recently.  I’ve noticed more outdoor signs being added to the lawns and sidewalk areas of several grocery stores and big box pharmacies in parts of my community.  Customers will literally trip over signs if they’re not paying attention. 

Those signs, and the automated phone call from our pharmacy on Friday morning reinforced something I try to forget:  it’s flu shot season.  I honestly don’t think flu shot season ever ended though.  One of the smaller pharmacies in town keeps their Flu Shots Available Here banner up year-round.  I don’t like to give that place my business and use another pharmacy in another part of town. 
That other pharmacy called me Friday morning with an automated message.  Ronan’s seizure medication was ready to be picked up.  Before I could hang up, the message continued.  “…after you pick up your prescription, remember that all of our pharmacies offer flu shots.  No need to make an appointment.  Walk ins are welcome!”

Gee, let me run right down there and ask a complete stranger jab me with this year’s flu shot.  Wheeee!    

Nah.  I know better than to blindly roll up my sleeve or sniff that mist up my nose.  I know better than to get a flu shot at my pharmacy too.  I’ve thought about that, but the last time I was in our pharmacy, I asked some questions that couldn’t be answered. 

I wanted to ask the pharmacy tech a little bit about the flu shot. 

She was busy.  I was not. 

She was trying to rush me.  I wouldn’t let her. 

Even though I know a lot about the flu shot already, I wanted to ask her more questions.  I also wanted to see the package insert.  The pharmacy tech tried to pawn the VIS off on me. 

“No, the package insert, please.” I said, “It has much more information on it…like who manufactured the vaccine…and what adverse reactions I should look for…”   

It took the pharmacy tech a few minutes and my guidance for her to provide the document.  Sure, it’s a simple piece of paper, but it’s one that more people should read.  I wanted to see it.  And I wanted to read it.

The tech went looking for the package insert in a binder on the other side of the pharmacy counter.  She came up empty handed.

“Sorry, ma’am.  We don’t have it.” 


I wasn’t going to let that be her final answer.  “Is it in another place?” I asked. 

I was about to jump on my soapbox and say, “You’re offering to inject people with a product with some heavy-duty toxins.  If you’re doing that, you should be able to offer some reading material about that product,” but she turned away and went to look for the paper in another place. 

No luck there either.  Shaking her head she said, “Sorry, I don’t see…”

I offered, “Maybe you can look in the box in the fridge where the flu shot vials are stored.  Maybe the package insert is in the box with the vials.” 

She walked toward the fridge, which was next to where the head pharmacists was feverishly answering phone calls.  The pharmacy tech looked in the fridge and reached for a box.  She took something out of the box, looked at me and said, “This?”

There it was. 

It was my turn to shake my head. 

“Yes. THAT.  May I please read it?”

“Do you want to keep it?” the pharmacy tech asked. 

Ohmygosh, YES. 

I casually replied, “Sure, if you don’t mind.”

“You can keep it…” she started to say but then stopped herself.  Looking toward the head pharmacists, who was rather annoyed with how long I was keeping her tech from her other duties, she asked, “This lady here, she wants to read this…she can have it, right?”

Still on the phone and sorting through a large stack of prescriptions needing to be filled, she mouthed, “Yes,” and went back to the call.

I took the package insert and said, “Thanks.”  I added, “If I have any questions about the flu shot, can I call you guys?”

The pharmacy tech was pretty much done with me and with my requests.  She looked at me, looked back toward her boss and said, “Yeah, I guess.  We give those shots every day.  So someone here should be able to help you.”

Well, I should hope so! I thought.

“Okay,” I said.  “If I have any questions, I’ll let you know.  Thank you.”

The package insert should not be that hard to find.  Yes, you can search for vaccine package inserts online, but they should be readily available to people who want to read them.  They should especially be available where flu shots are readily and eagerly administered as well. 

Maybe other places do a better job in providing that paperwork, but my pharmacy as eager and ready as they are to give flu shots to anyone who walks into their building, isn’t prepared as I think they should be.  

I need to head back to the pharmacy to pick Ronan’s prescription.  I think I may skip the drive thru and go into the store to pick up the medication.  When I go in, I’ll make sure that I have enough time to ask a few things about the flu shot.  With how flustered she got, I didn’t get to ask the pharmacy tech all of my questions.  I didn’t get a chance to ask her about the flu shot’s known side effects.  I didn’t give her a chance to counsel me on what adverse reactions are.  I didn’t get an idea if she knows what I should document adverse effects from a flu shot either.  While I’m there getting my questions answered, I may ask for a new package insert, too, just to see if it’s any easier to obtain. 

Don’t worry.  I’ve done enough reading to know that I’m not going to get this year’s flu shot.  But with how this year’s flu shot is constantly being pushed in all sorts of pharmacies, including those found in grocery stores, I’m curious about how my local pharmacy staff will answer some very important questions.  Being eager to push a product certainly helps push sales.  But simple knowledge of that product, to include the most basic information, like knowing where the package insert is, should be a top priority. 

Since my pharmacy boasts that they eagerly offer flu shots on a daily basis at each and every one of their stores, they should be better prepared to answer every question, including mine, about those shots.  So yes, I think a quick trip into the pharmacy as well as a friendly chat with the pharmacists is in order.  The pharmacists and the pharmacy techs should be tested on what they’re selling, don’t you think so?  I sure do.  


To see the original post on Age of Autism from November 30, 2014, please click this link: Flu Shot Fever

Saturday, November 29, 2014

A Share: Not by Chance

I'm sharing an old TMR post today that I really like.  It is about a chance encounter I had with another mom.  These chance encounters happen to me quite a bit.  I can't help but think Someone else is orchestrating them...

xo, Cat


Not by Chance
I had an appointment for myself last week. It was supposed to be cancelled and actually was at 5pm Thursday.  But the office manager said for me to come in on Friday morning anyway; they’d squeeze me in.
The appointment was going to be a quick one, not like the hours-long appointments my son is subjected to. When I checked in a young mother walked in behind me.  We both ended up in the children’s area and smiled when our little ones wanted to play together.  We exchanged pleasantries, complimented each other’s children and then had to make our separate ways. I was called back to the exam room.  I didn’t expect to be called back right away because I could tell there was something special about this young Mom. She just seemed like a nice person.  It was almost as if being alive was gift enough to her, and also reason enough to be kind, considerate and full of happiness.  She was refreshing.  As mother to a child with complicated special needs, I needed that breath of fresh air.
Back in my own exam room I entertained my daughter while waiting for the doctor.  My appointment was indeed quick and over before I knew it.  I gathered our things and walked to the check out window.  I noticed the young Mom from the waiting room was also there.  I was thrilled!  Not being too overly extroverted I felt like I just had to say something to her. I felt a Thinking Mom magnetic attraction and just felt like I had to talk to her.
Both of our daughters had brought ‘lovies’ into the office and were holding them. Perfect, I thought! I had just read an article Dirty Kids Are Healthy Kids - The Hygiene Hypothesis about girls not getting enough outside ‘get dirty’ time and were not building some natural immunity many of us parents did when we were kids.  I looked at the girls’ lovies. My daughter’s so dingy from being well loved (and dropped on the floor at least 1,000 times a week) and looked at her daughter’s which now lay on the floor next to their stroller.
“I love her pink blankie,” I started.  We both smiled and I continued, “I just read an article about how some parents won’t let their girls play in the dirt anymore.  Look at this,” and showed the  Mom my daughter’s pale pink, almost gray, but used to be bright pink lovie. “See, it’s so dingy, and she holds this part of it so much it’s actually black now.”  I finished my conversation starter saying I thought I’d read the article on the Natural News website.  She said, “Oh, I’ve heard of them.”
Yes! My instincts were right: she IS a Thinking Mom!
Having only a few moments in the check-out line we shared some small talk about kids, their health needs, and wouldn’t you know it, vaccines. I don’t usually share that my son was vaccine damaged to just any stranger, but I felt I could with this young Thinking Mom.  We moved to the waiting room because a line formed behind us in the check out area. She was curious how I discovered that, which vaccines lead to it and what does a Mom do now that they know about it.  I had really hoped to be in and out of the doctor’s office that morning but now had a great reason to stick around.
Out poured our story, my son’s vaccine reaction and how now years later, we work so hard to to provide for his needs.  How because of his reaction we had to really weigh if my other children would also be susceptible to adverse effects.  But still believing in ‘the system’ at the time, I wasn’t as quick to delay or stop vaccinating altogether.  It was another couple of years later that I finally wised up and stood up to my children’s doctors and said thanks but NO thanks.  She listened. She listened to everything I said.
Next, it was her turn to talk.  She had her two young children with her and is pregnant with another.  She’s been reading about vaccines,and the schedule, how many she’s being told her kids need, that she didn’t like that schedule and didn’t believe her kids needed all those shots.  But when she’d brought up her concerns to her doctors they said the opposite.  I was in awe because I hadn’t done as much as she has already been doing when I was her age or stage of parenting.  My son was well into regression when I kicked into full research mode. This Mom had already started looking things up as a preventative measure–to prevent her children from vaccine damage, from too much too soon, from doctors who aren’t looking completely at the needs of the patients. She and her Thinking husband are actively making informed decisions early on for their little ones.   
I didn’t even realize how long the young Thinking Mom and I were in the waiting room. A whole hour had passed!  An hour we didn’t plan nor could have predicted.  Not by chance the two of us had appointments that day.  Not by chance that this young Mom had just prayed for guidance about vaccines.  Not by chance that my appointment was cancelled but then back on the schedule.  Not by chance there are more Thinking Moms out there who are ready to raise their voices about great concerns about their precious children who will be growing up along side children like mine who were never given the chance for a healthy, typical childhood.   
I’m usually really quiet and keep to myself when I’m out and about.  But the day I met this young Thinking Mom my confidence level soared. Some days I feel like just a statistic – Mom to a 1 in 88.  A Mom to someone who might likely need life-long care.  A Mom to 1 in 88 who may never live on his own due to the severe nature of his disabilities.  When I’m out in the real world, away from my online support groups and from my home where I must tend to my child’s every need because he cannot, I get somewhat depressed.  Meeting another Thinking Mom who has a Thinking Dad by her side ready to learn and do as much as they can for their children was more than refreshing.
It was reassuring to know that some of us who’ve walked this long hard walk demanding changes, making our voices heard and putting our stories, our websites and literature out there for others to read has not been in vain.  Our efforts, and more importantly our actions are shaping how typical families can know how to save their children from what some of us could not.
One child at a time.
One family at a time.
We will do this.
 xoxo, Mamacita

To see the original post on The Thinking Moms' Revolution site from April 23, 2012, please click here:  Not by Chance 

Friday, November 28, 2014

Little Readers, Little Writers

I created a print-rich environment for my oldest daughter once I saw that she was recognizing letters and was curious about the sounds they made.  I labeled items in our house and encouraged her to sound out what she could.  That happened many years ago when she was a toddler.  Soon after, when Fiona was 3, she started to read.  She is still a voracious reader and reads 4-5 books a week. 

I thought my youngest would follow Big Sis’ path.  At the age of 3, the Littlest Pickle recognized all of the letters and would label them when we were out.  She’d proudly tell me what letters she saw:  

“Mommy!  That sign says S-U-B-W-A-Y,” she’d tell me as we drove by the restaurant. 

“Mommy!  That sign say S-T-O-P,” she’d proudly state. 

“Mommy!  That says T-A-R-G-E-T,” she'd say as we passed the store.  

Yes!  Another early reader. 

But while the Little Pickle could recognize all sorts of letters, she was not yet able to string them together.  That is, until just a few weeks ago.  Now, I hear these messages:

“Mommy, h-a-p-p-y spells happy.”

“Mommy, D-a-d-d-y  i-s  h-o-m-e spells Daddy is home.”

“Mommy, I  lo-v-e  M-o-m-m-y  a-n-d  D-a-d-d-y spells I love Mommy and Daddy.”

She’s right too.  That Little Pickle loves her Mommy and Daddy.  And we love her right back.  We also love that she’s mastered learning to read and is transitioning to reading to learn.   Instead of just labeling letters, every day is full of “Mommy, I can spell a new word.  Want to hear it?”  Yes, I do.  

Her reading is taking off.  So is her writing. 

I found these strips of paper on the dining room table the other day.  One of the other kids was reading Captain Underpants.  The Littlest Pickle opened the book to a random page and copied a few words on some blue paper.  Then she cut the words out.  Then she left this message on the table. 
Boogers came
Attacking people
Melvin cried George
The Littlest Pickle is learning.  She’s reading.  She’s writing.  She’s creating a print rich environment on her own, and she’s building an eager audience.  She’s recognizing that reading is fun.  So is writing.  Just like her mama, she’s writing and leaving messages here and there for others to see.

xo, Cat

Thursday, November 27, 2014


I take this placemat out every year on Thanksgiving: 

Sometimes you get discouraged because I am so small,
And always leave my fingerprints on the furniture and walls.
But every day I'm growing up and soon will be so tall,
All those little handprints will be so hard to recall.
So here's a special handprint just so you can say
This is how my fingers looked when I placed them here today.

Thanksgiving, 2005

Thanksgiving 2005
The placemat was made with love by Ronan's big sister when she was in preschool.  I welled up reading the poem this morning.  Big Sis truly has grown...including her feet!  I just bought her woman's size 10 basketball shoes yesterday.  Size TEN!!!

Big Sis has grown so much since those early preschool days.  She has learned to read the fine print.  She has learned to advocate for herself.  She has learned the art of debate.  She has learned to ask questions until all her questions are answered.  She's learned all of that while watching her brother tumble onto the spectrum.  

So many things have happened since 2005.  That was around the time that Ronan went silent.  That was around the time that Ronan had some major regressions.  That was around the time that I put two and two together about childhood vaccines and autism.  That was around the time that I realized life was going to very different than I had imagined it would be.  It was also around that same time that I knew it was going to be up to me to protect my family.   

Protecting my family.  I never thought that I'd have to go the lengths that I have to to protect my family, but I am so thankful that I finally know how to do that.  I pray that others can learn to do that as well.  

xo, Cat

Wednesday, November 26, 2014

Be Still

I use an old picture of Ronan as a bookmark.  The bookmark can be found in a prayer book that my parents gave me.  The book, Celtic Benediction, can be used for both morning and night prayer (when I haven’t misplaced the book). 

I’d recently misplaced the book (story of my life), but found it just a few weeks ago.  As soon as I saw the book, I quickly opened it to make sure Ronan’s picture was still there.  It was. 

Each morning, prayer begins with a reading from the book of Psalms.  What follows is a prompt for silence and this message:

Be still and aware of God’s presence within and all around.    

Be still.  That’s sometimes hard for me to do.  That’s because there is so much going on around me.  Five kids.  Their full schedule.  My own full schedule.  Appointments to get to.  Phone calls to make.  Emails to answer.  When I see that prompt to be still, I have to remind myself to not think about what keeps me busy and think instead about something else. 

I close my eyes, take a deep breath and reflect.   

I reflect on the blessings I’ve received.  I reflect on my children, my husband and our family.  I reflect on the people who’ve inspired me and who’ve supported me.  I reflect on the events of yesterday and on what I hope will happen today.  I imagine today.  I imagine who I’ll see and what I’ll get to do.  I take another deep breath.  

Then, I open my eyes.

Each day tends to be full—my kids’ activities directs most of how my day will unfold.  I’m there for them.  To drive them.  To pick them up.  To encourage and support them.  To guide and discipline them too.  My kids make me stronger.  They make me better.  They drive me nuts too.  But that’s what makes our family our family.  I can’t imagine life without them. 

Be still and be aware of God’s presence within and all around you. 

I’m aware of God’s presence and of the blessings He’s bestowed on me.  I may not always be aware of them during moments of sadness or of grief, but I do recognize them.  I know that my family and my children are the greatest blessing.  I am theirs and they are mine.  I am grateful that they are mine.  

Today, when I pray, when I slow down enough to be still, to be aware, and when I see and feel God’s presence within and all around me, I will again reflect on the blessings that I have.  I will pray for others too so that they may also receive blessings, blessings of peace and of hope and of thanksgiving.  

May we all be blessed with moments of peace, of hope and of thanksgiving. 

xo, Cat

Tuesday, November 25, 2014

Be the Difference

I wrote this piece in the winter 2009, sometime in February when we hope and pray that winter will end.  Winter is when Ronan seems to come down with more sicknesses and when he uses up lots of energy to just be. 

Winter is also when it will sometimes get dark and gloomy outside.  Some days, dark and gloomy matches my mood and describes my thoughts.  Thankfully, writing things out helps me push through some tough days.  That and knowing that other parents are ready to pitch in and help me gives me comfort.  Providing comfort and offering hope can make all the difference.  

Here is a revised version of that piece that I wrote back in 2009.  

Be the Difference

I watch reality shows to escape my present pain.  Most Sunday nights I’m curled up on the couch at 8pm ready to cry like a baby.  The Extreme Home Makeover Team on ABC dazzles weekly again and again with the generous time, talents and gifts bestowed upon a family with far more on their plate than I have.  Some nights I try not to watch the show since I don’t always feel like I want to cry.  I have usually been emotional hung up on a wall during the week and may have already had a good cry.  At that point, I have gotten through a busy weekend of watching Ronan like a hawk.  That's also when I will sometimes get those Monday morning blues even though we're only half-way through Sunday.  Why would I want to restart the emotional faucet by watching a show that is sure to tap the tears?  I do anyway and by 8:50 have bawled like a baby.  The last Makeover show I watched was no different.  I only wish that I had a box of Kleenex with me on the couch.

A well-deserving family with twin boys with special needs was on the receiving end of getting their dream home.  They now had special equipment to care for their sons affected with physical and neurological delays.  The family rested on a fun vacation while the entire town where they lived worked seven days straight building a new and safe home.  Lately on the program, not just a family gets the help they need, but someone in the community is surprised with a mini-makeover.  I well up much earlier in the show nowadays.

This week, an owner of a coffee shack that was in much need of repair was given what he thought was an impossible dream.  Sam, who was born with cerebral palsy, was now the owner of a brand new store  Not only that, but "More Than Coffee" is also handicapped-accessible.  

Sam looked ‘normal’ during his interviews, but until the camera panned over all of him, you could see that he too had physical disabilities.  I held up emotionally most of the show and thought I may not *need* to cry that night.  When Sam was thanking the design team while being hugged by the family of the special needs children though, I lost it. 

That design team did a fantastic job of sending their message of believing when they helped Sam with his run-down building.  They opened up more doors for him, literally, and allowed Sam to open doors for others.  Sam’s dream was to be able to hire staff with disabilities, but his old coffee shack was structurally unable to make that dream come true.  With the help of the Extreme Home Makeover Team, Sam now could.  He was truly was overcome with his emotions and said, “Be the difference you want to be or be the difference you want to see.”  

One small dream made a difference for this man, his employees and their futures.  

Sam was paying it forward like other people had done for him.  When he emigrated from his home country with his father to find better health care, Sam’s father knew that from the start that they were going to be in for a long haul.  Sam found success though and wanted that for others as well.  It's no different than what a lot of parents of vaccine injured children that I know want for their families:  to be heard.  To 
find appropriate treatment.  To be given a chance.  To be respected.  To be given hope.  

I'm inspired by Sam.  I'd like to think that in what I do and say that I am making a small difference.  And not just for me and for Ronan, but for other parents and for their children too.  Things may be tough some days, but I can always find something positive to hold onto.  I can always offer to help someone else.  I can always try to make a difference in someone else's life too.  

Be the difference.  I know you are all already fighting.

Be the difference.  I know you try to stay positive. 

Be the difference.  I know you feel you are at the end of an unraveling rope.

Be the difference.  I know you want this all to go away.

Be the difference.  I know you won’t quit.

Be the difference.  I know you won’t stop asking questions.

Be the difference.  I know you won’t stop demanding things to be righted.

Be the difference.  I know you won’t get off your soapbox about autism and vaccines.

Be the difference.  I know you see the future can be brighter.

Be the difference.  I know you will make changes for success.

Be the difference.  I know you hope.

Be the difference.  I know you dream.

Be the difference.  I know you can.

Be the difference you want to be, or be the difference you want to see. 

Take action.  Be brave.  Fight hard.  Fight harder.  Be loud.  Be demanding.  Be helpful.  Be hopeful.  Be there.  Be the difference.  And do it today.  

xo, Cat

Monday, November 24, 2014

On the Radio

I am not the best public speaker.  When up on stage and with the spotlight on me, I get nervous.  I bumble up my thoughts.  I trip over my words.  I ramble on and on.  And my cheeks get really, really red.  So when a friend shared in a group that someone wanted to interview us, I didn't volunteer.  

I didn't respond to the request.  

I kept quiet.  

I made every excuse not to pursue the interview.  

But when I found out the topic and how the other Moms' interviews were going, I knew I couldn't pass up the opportunity.  

The topic: autism.  

The mission:  share Ronan's story

I know a thing or two about autism.  And I know Ronan's story as if it's my own because frankly, it is.  

I've shared Ronan's story so many times already, so why wouldn't I share it one more time?  Plus, it was going to be a radio show.  That meant no center stage.  No cameras.  No lights.  No make-up.  And no need to be nervous.  

You're on the air...
I'm so glad I made time to talk.   I was able to speak freely on his show.  I shared some of the struggles and hardships that I've had to overcome.  I shared Ronan's story, one that I know so well, and added that I wished I had listened to my mother's intuition.  I know things would be different had I listened to my gut. 

During the show, I also talked about treatments that have worked for Ronan.  I shared that I, like other parents, have benefited from being able to reach out to others when things get tough.  Relying on friends, including those met online, make this journey easier.  Finding support from communities like the one that the Thinking Moms have created, has also helped me and countless others.  

I'm so glad I answered the call to be on this show.  I mentioned quite a few things during the 30 minutes but honestly could have talk all day about Ronan, about autism, and about things I've learned along the way.  I'm grateful that I have other avenues to share what I've learned through my writing.  I'll keep sharing what I know in the hopes that it can help another family.  

The radio show is scheduled to air in a few weeks.  I'll be sure to post a link when it's available.  

xo, Cat


Friday, November 21, 2014

Cheers to the Weekend

Ronan and I went out to lunch with some of our favorite people yesterday.  As soon as we were seated, Ronan scanned the menu and chose what he wanted—a juicy burger and some ice cream.  While the rest of us were still deciding what we wanted to order, Ronan picked up his cup of juice and “clinked” our glasses. 




Then he did it again. 




It was a simple gesture, but also a huge leap.  Ronan will clink his cup with us when the kids want to say, “Cheers!” if we are celebrating something, but I have never seen him initiate that action before. 

Raising a glass.  Just because.  Cheers to you, Ronan.  Cheers always to you. 

xo, Cat

Thursday, November 20, 2014

A Share: Autism File’s Parent-Powered Therapies

I have a billion and one things to do today, so I’m sharing a link to an article that I wrote a few years ago for the Autism File Magazine.  The article dovetails some of what I shared yesterday about living in a therapy house.  

Finding time for therapy sessions, and being able to afford them, can sometimes be difficult.  Being able to work with what you have at home may help to cut some costs.  This article offers a few suggestions for activities to try at home with items typically found around the house.  Some of the suggestions were made by friends and others were made by a few of our amazing therapists.  Feel free to share ideas that you have used successfully in your home.  I love it when other people can offer advice that works, especially when that advice helps our children. 

xo, Cat

Please follow this link to read the article: Parent-Powered Therapies

Wednesday, November 19, 2014

Therapy House

I always joke that our house is not just our home; it’s an oversized therapy room.  We have two swings permanently installed inside.  We have a mini trampoline and a full-size trampoline inside.  We have various sized therapy balls including those hop-long-balls inside our home too.  We have a pull-up bar, pogo sticks, scooters, balance bikes, an exercise mat and a slide inside as well.  And that’s only the gross motor equipment that graces our home! 

We also have sensory buckets, games with magnets and marbles and board games up the wazoo.  And LEGOs.  We have LEGOs as far as the eye can see.  Those are everywhere.  Including my bathtub.  They are in the bathtub because I let Little Buddy and the Littlest Pickle test out boats they made with their LEGOs.  
It floats!
My typical kids love to play.  They love to explore and create.  They are happiest when they are doing something constructive.  Working together or independently, my kids cannot wait to be done with homework and chores so that they can go play, play, play.  

While the Bigs play as much as they can, Ronan continues to show that he’s not interested in playtime.  In fact, Ronan’s gotten more sedentary.  He prefers to play his Wii games more than do the puzzles he used to love to do.  He would rather watch Youtube videos than explore his books and the few games that would always engage him.  I don’t want to let him play on screens all day when he’s home, so I initiate activities with him.  Ronan doesn’t always like that.  He will protest when I tell him it’s time for a break.  But he works through whatever game or activity I’ve set before him and then gets a turn doing what he wants to do. 

Some of the activities I present to Ronan are very simple.  Some seem simple, but with Ronan’s limitations, I know that they are a struggle.  Ronan’s fine motor skills are weak, and it takes him a long time to complete a task.  It sometimes takes constant feedback for him to stick with that task too.    
Practicing fine motor skill development through play
While walking through our house this week, I was reminded of a few things.

We have a lot of therapy stuff. 

And we are blessed. 

Several of those big therapy items, like that full-sized trampoline, were gifts from family.  They know that Ronan needs extra support.  They also know that what we have for Ronan is oftentimes used by his siblings.  

The kids were thrilled with the purchase.  I was too.  Not just because we had a trampoline inside our house (that I can use also), but because our extended family understands what we’re going through and that they continue to help us from a distance. 

My kids don’t know that a lot of the therapy equipment we have in our house is masquerading around as toys.  I’d like to keep it that way.  They get to jump, bounce, roll, swing and slide as much as they can without realizing how many fine- and gross-motor skills they are developing and perfecting.  The more they play, the more they learn.  I'm going to let them play as much as I can.  

The therapy equipment and the time my children spend using it serves several purposes: 

They get to play.  
They get to use their creativity.
They get their wiggles out.  
They get to build skills without realizing it.  
They keep smiles on their faces.  

How I love to see those smiles.  Keep filling our house with smiles, children.  You make your Mommy proud!

xo, Cat