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Anything is Possible if you Dare to Dream

April 5, 2015

Autism and Spider Crabs at the World's Largest Aquarium

















We had a typical autistic day yesterday at the Georgia Aquarium. We planned the trip in advance so that Taz's friend could join us. Naturally we forgot that it would be packed due to Spring Break visitors.

When we got there, the lines to get in were over an hour long. TG for membership. We walked right in through the pass line.

Of course it was just as crowded inside. In some ways that helped us keep up with the boys.

When we go to an exhibit with Taz, he usually breezes through, with a quick look here and there and maybe a quick pose for a picture. The crowds slowed him down a good bit. We were actually there for more than an hour which is probably a record for Taz.

In the world's largest aquarium, most people want to spend their time watching the Whale Sharks, Beluga Whales and Dolphins. Not Taz!

For Taz and his friend, watching the giant spider crabs getting fed was the highlight of their visit. The boys wormed their way through the crowds right up to the window and stayed there for a good 15 minutes. After that the boys informed us that we were done. It was time to go.

Again, I  emphasize the value of having a membership. We will go several times this year, including an adult evening or two, just for us.

We have memberships to most all the main attractions in Atlanta. It gives us flexibility, which is a must in parenting an autistic child.

Besides, I have to admit that the spider crabs were pretty fascinating. That's how we roll.

Nianya

April 2, 2015

A Challenge to Corporate America on World Autism Day



















A very wise mother of an autistic teen posted today that "The Cure for Autism is Education, Awareness and Acceptance." I heartily agree.

I  would add a caveat to that wise statement - OPPORTUNITY!

Give an autistic child/teen/adult a chance to show you their unique skills and they will give you a mile.

When my daughter was diagnosed, she could barely speak and was years behind in language arts. So many people refused to give her the time of day. . .teachers, soccer coaches, youth programs. . .

There were a few select people, however, who saw past her difficulty in communicating and gave her an opportunity to show what she was capable of and more. An awesome school, a few great soccer coaches, a trainer at the gym. . .

Fast forward to age 19 and the child who could not speak, not only graduated as Valedictorian, but also got the state's highest scholarship and is playing soccer at a fantastic college.

And still she is faced with people who won't give her an opportunity.

I'm speaking specifically about the job market.

This is a girl who is capable of performing most any entry level position with the right training. She's dependable, stronger than most guys her age and willing to take whatever job is offered.

Problem is. . .no one's offered, even though she's applied to quite a few companies. #Chick-Fil-A, #AcademySports, #HomeDepot, #Lowes.

I challenge each any every one of you to give her an opportunity.

Step up to the plate and give autism a chance. If you don't, who will?

Nianya

March 22, 2015

Just because I like to play with coconuts doesn't mean I'll eat one. . .




Having a child with #foodallergies and major #sensoryissues is always a challenge. We've been trying for years to get Taz to expand his food repertoire and have gotten nowhere.

When discussing fruits and vegetables with friends and colleagues who like to brag about all the healthy foods their kiddos eat, I always joke that:

Taz hasn't eaten a vegetable is his life, unless you count potato chips and french fries!

Problem is, I'm not joking.

Like all "good parents" we introduced Taz to vegetables first. Only organic baby food would do for our precious second child, whom we waited so long for.

We learned our lesson quickly. The fancy fruits and vegetables either came back up or caused hives and an asthma attack. Our precious boy had severe reflux and was apparently allergic to everything on the planet.

Long story short, all the jars of #EarthsBest went to waste, and by the time Taz could eat solid food and we had sorted out his allergies, he was on a very limited diet. #GFCF with multiple fruit and vegetable allergies added on.

Over the years we tried several times to reintroduce foods that Taz was no longer allergic to. We had only limited success and we struck out on vegetables entirely.

Fast forward to age almost 13 and here are a few discussions I have recently had with Taz about his diet.

- Seriously Taz, french fries are made from potatoes, whole ones are better for you. No way they're gross mom.

- Dude, you eat peaches in strawberry jello, why won't you eat peaches in peach jello? Duh, Mom, because the jello is orange (colored) and I hate orange jello.

- Why do I have to buy precooked hamburgers for you Taz? I can buy the frozen patties for much less and cook them in a pan. Ew gross Mom. I'm not eating something cooked from raw meat.

- Why didn't you eat your apple Taz? Uh duh, that's a red apple Mom. I only eat #goldendelicious apples.

Are you seeing a pattern here? If not, welcome to the world of the Tazmanian Devil.

Which brings me back to the title.

The other night DH and I were at the #DeKalbFarmersMarket stocking up on my #cancerfighting #antioxidant fruits and veggies, as well as our other favorite treats.

So I sent DH to get Taz's golden delicious apples and he also comes back with a bag of fresh shredded coconut. I looked at him and said "What are we buying that for? His response: Taz likes coconuts. My reply: There's no way he's going to eat that, he only likes ones in the shell that he can play will or use for art.

Needless to say, I  won that argument. We got home and Taz took one look at the bag of coconut and said "That's coconut milk." "I hate coconut and I'm alleric to milk."

I really had to laugh at that one. I also had to give Taz's points for creativity. After all, he IS allergic to Milk. Cow's milk anyway.

Welcome to our world!

Nianya

March 16, 2015

Balancing Frustration With Joy



















This past weekend I was sooo excited to put winter behind me and start my annual spring planting and trimming. We got our lakefront cleared, got bales and bales of pine straw and bought another dozen #knockout roses. I already have about four dozen in my yard and add on each year.

So while DH and Jessie planted the roses, I got out the big hedge clippers and started to cut back my massive hydrangeas. Less than five minutes later I quit in frustration and pain. I'm still recovering from major surgery and can't do most of the things I've done for years. Now I can add planting and pruning to my can't do list. It's getting quite long.

So I sat down on a bench in frustration and tried to convince myself that it's okay. It's part of my new norm. I told myself to remember that while I have a long way to go, I've already gone a great distance down this road.

As I pondered that thought, I looked at all the beauty and blessings around me. The Heron who showed up in my stream yesterday morning. Taz, who has finally recovered from a winter full of asthma and croup and who was happily paddling his raft around the lake while we worked on the yard. Having a husband and daughter who don't balk at spending every other spring weekend going to nurseries with me and then planting everything I bring home.

Lesson Learned!

Nianya's version of Newton's Law - For every frustration, there is an equal joy. I just have to take the time to look for it.

Nianya

March 14, 2015

It's okay to drop the ball!


Today while looking in Taz's closet for dress clothes to wear to his friend's birthday party,  I realized just how much time I've lost while dealing with cancer, working a full time job and raising two special needs kids. I couldn't find a single sweater that would fit him and he grows very slowly. Majorly dropped the ball on that one.

I always manage to buy school uniforms but apparently I have skipped the necessary dress clothes for the past couple of years. Worse, we've gone through the whole winter, which was a really cold one, and I  haven't been shopping once. At least not at stores that sell preteen boys clothes.

Of course I practically live at Sam's Club and frequently go to BJ'S, but neither of these stores sell clothes in his size. Here's a shout out to both of these stores to start carrying a line of clothes for kids in between, i.e., not babies and toddlers, and not adult sizes.

Of course the real point is that I have no energy to shop at any store other than ones like Sam's Club were I have to go anyway to get bulk foods, prescriptions and household items.

The days of hitting the Outlet Malls are long gone and I only go to the mall if I absolutely have to.

Here's a perfect example. I recently needed some makeup that I could only get at a department store. So I go to Macy's and the requisite counter and the person there who was "filling in" could not find what I needed. She asked me to come back that afternoon when the regular person would be in. I guess she's used to people who go to the mall for hours on Saturday.

I wanted to say "Hello, I'm only here for one thing, I  haven't stepped inside the Mall for ages, I'm recovering from cancer, I have a sick #SNK child at home and I am Not coming back later!" That would have taken more energy than I had, so I bought a couple of other items and left without the one I came for.

It's hard enough being a mother to special needs children, but when you face your own illness and multiple surgeries too, it's beyond overwhelming.

Today was a perfect example of how I roll these days. I pulled out a pair of jeans, a school Polo and a school jacket and gave them to Taz. Then I made a mental note to buy him some nice sweaters between now and next winter. It's on the list along with so many other tasks that probably won't get done.

I'm trying to plan a special 13th birthday party for Taz in the next couple of weeks. The race is on and I can't even keep up with the tortoise. Anyone got a hare I can borrow?

My kudos and praise go out to any mom who can do more than the bare minimum while dealing with her own illness and raising special needs kids. Some days even the bare minimum is just too much.

On the bright side, I did manage to photograph the winter ball for Taz's school this week. It's something I do every year and really enjoy, and TG Taz's only suit still fits. I was exhausted afterwards but really enjoyed it. It's nice to know that a few of my favorite things are part of my new norm. And I learned a longtime ago that the world isn't going to fall apart just because I drop the ball.

Nianya

November 16, 2014

Nianya's Law & The Holidays . . .


I have blogged about this in the past My own version of Murphy's Law.

Nianya's Law: If anything can go wrong, it will, at the worst possible moment!

My solution?

1. Always be flexible and have a back up plan.

This often means upsetting the plans of relatives or friends. If your special needs kids have sensory issues or food allergies, holidays can be trying at best. Make it clear that any plans are subject to change. Maybe that just means arriving late and leaving early and bringing your own food.

2. Know when to hold them and when to fold them.

Don't over book and be prepared to cancel or change plans at the last minute. Sometimes you or your special needs child simple are not up to going out. Holiday plans are not school. They aren't mandatory not matter what anyone else says.

3. Ask your special needs child to help you when you need it.

Never underestimate your child's ability to help you at least when they reach an age at which they can do so. If you prepare them in advance and ask for their help, you may just find that they can help you solve any contingencies.

You can always negotiate with them. Keep a list of items, food or outings they want and offer a trade. Help me now and you can have x later.

4. Stock up on fun surprises for those unexpected times when you are homebound.

There are always times during the year when you will be stuck at home, whether it's due to illness, snow or other bad weather. Break out the old videos, a new or old game, or simple crafts. If they miss their friends, there is always Skype.

This year, facing several weeks of recovery from my upcoming surgery, I'm having to constantly rethink our holiday plans. We had them all set way in advance, but luckily nothing was set in stone. Now I'm busy brainstorming new ideas for things we can do here with just the four of us.

After more than 18 years as a special needs mom, I have learned to ride out the waves when life throws them at us, and I know that doing so only makes our family stronger.

Nianya