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Thursday, February 19, 2015

Random Acts of Kindness

I've been reflecting lately on "Random Acts of Kindness." When we stop just long enough in our hectic lives to do a small act of kindness, great things may come. Maybe it's because I'm focusing on it, or maybe it's because the Lord knows I need it, but I've noticed more kindness lately.  Here's my ongoing list:

  • Someone sent me a Valentine's card in the mail with a gift certificate to 7-11.  She saw me there once with my family and she suggested it would be fun to take the kids out for slurpees.  We totally did and they LOVED it!
  • Jacob won a guessing contest and as soon as we get a sitter we can go to dinner and a movie using the gift cards he won! (I know, not a random act of kindness, but it's still awesome.)
  • A saw a co-worker today reassuring another co-worker today. Quietly and calmly, she took time to help another person through a difficult situation.  This particular co-worker is an excellent example to me of the importance of kindness.
  • EVERY time my son sees me - or any other adult he loves - in the hallway at school, I can expect a great hug! I wonder if he knows how awesome that is?
  • My lunchtime at work is always full of laughter.  I can always count on a couple of awesome ladies to supply some much-needed humor to help me re-charge. Today was especially helpful - I almost laughed soda out my nose! (Thanks, Peggy!)
Have you noticed acts of kindness lately?  Kid President has a great message about kindness that I think is totally awesome.

Saturday, February 14, 2015

Looking Back: Autism Diagnosis

I blogged sporadically before, during, and after Joseph’s evaluations and eventual diagnosis of Autism/High Functioning Autism.  Here are my collected blog posts, unedited, from that time.  To the mom reading this: You are amazing.  You are the parent your child needs.  Intervention services will change everything.

9/8/08: Joseph's age: 2 years, 8 months
So, I'm sitting here, 40 weeks pregnant, getting ready to read an article about inner peace. Joseph is playing with his blocks as I start reading and all of a sudden, he walks over to me, looks me right in the face, and starts giggling for no apparent reason. It's the kind of giggle that you can't help but laugh along with because it's so darn cute and funny. I'm glad he knew I needed that!

2/20/2009: Joseph's age: 3 years, 2 months
Joseph is getting taller everyday. His doctor wanted us to have his speech and behavior "evaluated" because he screams at her every time we go. Now, Joseph has had a problem with screaming in the past, but we turned off the TV, and his screaming dramatically decreased. So, now he only has screaming fits when he is in a stressful situation - i.e. doctor's visits, tired, or hungry. I don't mind the doctor recommending this, but I am frustrated that she hasn't seen the calm side of him. Luckily, when the evaluation screener came to the house, she saw Joseph's apprehension to a new person (he screamed a little), but after 15-20 minutes, he totally warmed up to her and even showed her all his sign language and recited almost his entire vocabulary to her. So, we'll see what happens at the actual evaluation.

3/10/2009: Joseph's age: 3 years, 3 months
Joseph actually slept all night in his own bed and in his own room!!!!! I'm a little excited about that because he is 3 years old and this has never happened before! I'll try to get some pictures posted soon!

5/1/2009: Joseph's age: 3 years, 4 months
Joseph is doing very well with his reading and has 3 or 4 books that he likes to read to me and Jacob. We have a great occupational therapist that comes over every week or so and helps Joseph with some of his behavior issues. Sometimes, Joseph gets over-stimulated and stops using his words to communicate (i.e. screams and hits). I'm learning how to use different techniques to help him cope. Yesterday we started using a weighted vest for a little bit and it seemed to keep him calmer than usual. I have some sewing patterns to make my own since we are borrowing one from the school right now. I also might make him a weighted blanket so he can hopefully stay in his own bed all night. Joseph is also going to start preschool at the end of August after we get back from Utah. 
All of the things that have happened since we moved into our apartment really makes me feel that we were supposed to move when we did. The school district has done so much to help Joseph already. He has more testing to go through before we know exactly what the diagnosis is (Asperger's or PDD). I am truly grateful for all the wonderful teachers that are helping us. I was really starting to feel like I was just a bad mother who couldn't handle my 3 year-old, but now I know that I'm not a terrible mother. I can finally hope that things will be just fine.

5/29/2009: Joseph's age: 3 years, 5 months
Joseph is getting better with all the new strategies his occupational therapist has given us. He loves is velcro schedule. He also loves hanging from the pull-up bar when we put it up in his doorway. I want to get a swing to attach to it. It's neat to see how certain types of play actually help Joseph calm himself down. Not only is his behavior improving, but he is reading more everyday! He still has his moments and we are working on getting him to be better in Nursery at church, but I am thankful for what he has accomplished so far.

9/3/09: Joseph's age: 3 years, 8 months
September - Joseph started Pre-School!!!! (Okay, it was actually Aug 28). He takes the bus to and from school. His speech has already started improving and I am beginning to catch up with housework while he is away.

12/15/09: Joseph's age: 3 years, 11 months
Joseph is having a blast at pre-school and has learned A LOT! His social skills and behavior are greatly improved. He also recently started Occupational therapy to help him with some of his sensory issues. They have gotten him to feed himself peach mango applesauce, which is quite a feat. He is also going to start some extra speech therapy, too. Earlier today, I met with Joseph's "education team" at his school. We went over his goals and talked about how much progress he has made since starting in August. We are always amazed at his reading ability. He will be 4 in January and is reading at about a 2nd grade level. I did find out this morning that Joseph has an official educational diagnosis of Autism. We've basically known that for a while now, but had it confirmed by a school psychologist today. I am SO thankful for all of the early intervention he is getting.

1/2/2010: Joseph's age: 4 years
Joseph is continuing to make progress at therapy. He has some steps to eating that have helped and just started speech therapy to complement his occupational therapy. I'm sure when he starts pre-school again, he will make more progress. Having a normal schedule again only makes things better. He is turning 4 years old tomorrow!!! Happy Birthday Joseph!

11/30/2010: Joseph's age: 4 years, 11 months
Joseph - Is also growing (and constantly eating) - apparently this is a preview to the teenage years! He is making tons of progress and is now able to go to sunbeams classtime without mommy or daddy. We are working towards staying for all of sharing time. He recently participated in the primary presentation at church and read a scripture in front of the whole congregation! (He was so excited to hear his voice in the microphone). He is doing well at pre-school learning to play with the other kids. His reading is still amazing - I would guess maybe 2nd grade level. It's hard to believe he will be turning 5 in just about a month!

11/2012: Joseph's age: 6 years, 11 months
Joseph is in first grade and is completely mainstreamed.  He has made amazing progress and only goes to therapy once a week now.  He will be 7 in about a month!

Joseph's current age: 9 years, 1 month - A follow up post is in the works!

Saturday, February 7, 2015

"Anxiety's Like a Rocking Chair."

. . . "It gives you something to do, but it doesn't get you very far." Jodi Picoult, Sing You Home
To anyone who has known me for a while, you know I'm an anxious person.  I've dealt with some level of anxiety from the time I was in high school. 
This morning, I attended a Relief Society women's meeting.  During the meeting, the speaker talked about what we should do when we are fearful or overwhelmed.  She talked about Mary and Martha in the New Testament.  Martha gets a bit of a bad rep for her words, but I think we are often like Martha. "But Martha was cumbered about much serving, and came to him, and said, Lord, dost thou not care that my sister hath left me to serve alone? bid her therefore that she help me." We are invited to remember the Lord always, but we distract ourselves with to-do lists and sometimes complain that we feel alone in our struggle. The Savior told Martha: "Martha, Martha, thou art careful and troubled about many things: But one thing is needful."  It was a wonderful reminder to me that my worries are known and recognized by a loving Heavenly Father and that He asks me to remember to prioritize the gospel in my life.  The speaker went on to say that not only are our worries known, but that we can be supported through our worries by relying on the teachings of the gospel.  We all have moments when we feel like we are sinking, but if we let faith replace our fear, we will be able to keep going. Sometimes, part of that answer is getting extra help through therapy, counseling, and medication. Nobody should feel ashamed for needing this help, either. It's another blessing from our Heavenly Father to assist us in functioning at our potential so that we can serve others, too.

Sunday, February 1, 2015

My Coworkers Are Better Than Yours

I found this picture from June 2014.  I have the best co-workers - those in the picture and those that aren't.

Sharing on Facebook

I love to keep in touch with family and friends on Facebook.  As a military child, I've moved a lot, so it's quite a treat to keep in touch.  I used to think that Facebook was a virtual doldrums, with no actual positive aspects.  While it certainly has that potential, when you have self-control and a bit of foresight, you can make Facebook a great, positive thing in your life. You can maintain connections with important people and #sharegoodness with others.  People are even using Facebook to help others learn more about the gospel.
I used to think, "I am so glad Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram were not around when I was a teenager!"  Mostly, I think that because of the choices I made in high school and the choices of some of my friends that put me in some interesting situations.  Then, I wondered if my choices would have been the same if I knew there was a possibility of my parents seeing it!  I am sure that if my high-school self was Facebook friends with my mom, young women leaders, aunts and uncles, I would have altered a few of my choices.  Maybe I would have been able to stay in touch with friends from Youth Conference and Girls' Camp.  Maybe I would have been excited to share and pin quotes from General Conference meetings at church. Maybe Social Media would have been a positive influence?  I know I am trying to make Social Media a positive part of my life now. So, as my children continue to grow, I hope I can show them how to be an uplifting member of the Social Media community.  It's important to be aware of the pitfalls of technology and #fightthenewdrug .  
So, what do you think of Social Media?  I used it today to share with my friends and family the latest school project that Joseph has been working on.  He finished his model of the planet Uranus.  Yay for 3rd Grade Core Knowledge