Was your child diagnosed with Autism, and now your scared and don’t know what you should do?
Have people told you that you need to have “realistic expectations” when it comes to your child’s future? But their idea and your idea of reality are completely different?
Are you overwhelmed with all the possible paths you can take with your child’s therapy, but want someone to help you sort through it?
Do you feel alone, and need another fellow special needs mom to talk to? However not trauma bonding, but to set up a battle plan.
Who Am I?
As a mom of two fantastic kids who have special needs, I offer over fifteen years of experience in both working with and challenging “the system”. I went from not knowing where to turn or who to trust to being confident in my ability to ask good questions and make my voice heard. It would be an honor to share my knowledge and help equip you to navigate through your specific journey.
I believe there is HOPE for every child. Too many people want to put children with Autism, or any other disability in a box, label it, and just accept the outcome. I am so different.
I know that every child, with a strong-willed Mom, can take a child above and beyond their doctor’s prognosis. Once Mom decides that she is going to do everything she can to help her child, there is no stopping her.
What Do I Offer?
I support parents, especially moms, of children who have been diagnosed with Autism, and other developmental disabilities. This can be a scary, confusing, and frustrating journey. I want to help hold your hand while we sort through the opinions you have been given, explore available options, and create a plan that is best for your family.
This can include:
– Mentorship for parents on the Doman Method Program, or parents looking into the program
– Special Needs Homeschool Consults – We can work together to come up with a plan to teach your child according to their specific needs
– A place to talk and be heard. Special needs Warrior Moms often don’t fit in with the typical cookie-cutter “support groups”. They feel gross trauma bonding and are looking to connect with a fellow special needs mama. We will share your trials & victories and your fears & dreams without feeling like you need to censor what you’re saying. It’s hard being a special needs mom and sometimes we just need someone to vent to, to celebrate the victories with, and link arms with someone who relates.
Plan & Conquer (via Zoom)
When you’re a Warrior Mom, you need to “Plan & Conquer”, and that’s what you will get when you schedule a session.
1 on 1 Planning Session
Homework and Accountability
Mindfulness Activity to make sure your remembering to take care of your mental health
Below schedule a time we can meet!
Disclaimer: By scheduling an appointment with Monique Lise Dupuis, you agree and understand she is not a medical/mental expert or attorney and cannot give legal advice or a medical diagnosis. Monique Lise Dupuis will not be held responsible for any actions or decisions you make as a result of your session with her. Services are not to be used in place of any professional, medical, financial, or legal counseling.
I went out into the waiting room of the dental office I worked in. My scrubs were getting a little tight around my midsection as my baby bump expanded. I called the name child I was to see next and a boy stood up with his mom and follow me to the room I worked in.
When the boy sat down, his mom asked him if he would like to tell my about himself or if she should. He was capable of speaking but did not make eye contact with me. He told his mom she could tell me. His mom went on the explain to me that her son had autism, and explained some of his odd behaviours and things he may have trouble with.
As a mom-to-be my heart ached. I was 19 years old and knew nothing really about Autism. While I typed up him chart, I said a silent prayer that God would protect my unborn child from Autism. God have very different plans. Little did I know I would be getting the crash course in Autism very soon.
I’ll never forget the day we got the diagnosis.
The A-word. I felt like someone ripped my heart out of my chest and stepped on it. When I mother hears news like this the emotional pain is so intense it can causes her physical pain. My stomach turned and I fought having to excuse myself to get sick.
No, this couldn’t be happening to my son. I argued with the Development Specialist. I had so many reasons why this was not the case. “But he makes eye contact with me! And he loves cuddles and kisses! Children with Autism don’t do that!” The doctor looked at me sympathetically and tried to tell me, “He has lots of strengths and the spectrum is so large. Each child is different.” I was in denial, I demanded more test. In the end of course the test supported the doctor’s diagnosis. There was no escaping it, no matter how it looked to me, my son had Autism.
I asked the Doctor the day we went back and got the official diagnosis, “Well, but he’s going to be alright, right? I mean we’ll do the treatment and he’ll live a normal life.” She flat told me, “I can’t promise you that. Like I said before he has a lot of great strengths.”
I Kind Of Knew
While a part of me was in shock, another part of me wasn’t all that surprise either. I had a watched Jenny McCarthy on Oprah a few months early talking about her son’s battle with Autism. For some reason I felt compelled to go online that night an order her book. When it arrived and I started to read it, I could not put it down. While my son did not have the same medical issues that Jenny’s son Evan had some things she wrote were hitting close to home. But at the time I was still in denial. I called my mom and told her about what I read, and how everything hit so close to home. She agreed that it sounded similar, but we also agreed that he just couldn’t have autism. So this diagnosis came as a shock to them too.
The A-word as I called it consumed my life. My ex and I fought, he thought our son would just grow out of it and I had condemned him by “allowing” him to be labeled. I knew that if I didn’t allow him to be diagnosed he would not receive the services he needed to get better. He accused me of a lot of things, he thought I “allowed” him to be diagnosis so I could get more money from the government. He said I ruined his chances to ever get into a private school. So many hurtful things got thrown in my face. But I had to stand my ground.
My son needed help, and no matter what I was going to get it for him. The extra money that the government was giving me did not come even close to helping cover the cost of treatment or time I had to take off of work to get him said treatment. So I it wasn’t for the money that I allowed them to diagnosis him. It was for the chance to get treatment to help him out of his own little world into ours. I can see now looking back, my son’s dad was just as scared as was. Once we got going with therapies, he came on board for most of them.
Research Consumed Me
I spend many hours searching online, looking for hope. Dishes piled up, so did the laundry, but they were not important. Finding the answer to help my child was. I worked all day, came home, took care of my son, and once he was in bed I was back online. I needed sleep, but I thought, I’ll sleep when I’m dead, my son needs me to figure out something!
One of the purposes of this blog is to provide parents with information on alternative therapies available out their for their child with autism, and our experiences with them. I hope that I can help navigate parents to things quickly so they can decide if it’s right for their child. So they can spend less time searching and more time helping their child.
This Blogs Take Away
The important thing to remember is, “If you met one person with autism, you have met one person with autism.” Each child is so different, so if one therapy does nothing for your child, DON’T GIVE UP! That’s just not the right one for your child, it doesn’t mean another treatment won’t work. It is all about trial and error.
(This is not a paid for article, we paid for our stay at the Canad Inns Grand Forks.)
Day In The Life
In the past I avoided doing a lot of “Day in the Life” of aka DITL. But then I started to think about this blog, and what I want from it. My blog is a place for me to share my journey. The regular DITL stuff is part of my journey. I learn so much about myself, my kids, autism,and what life means to me during those regular days.
I also learn a lot about my family and myself when we go away together. By blogging about this trip, it allows me to go back and see how far we have come. I hope to share more about our journey. I also hope by sharing I can help other autism mom’s along the way. Even if it is just seeing real life struggles happen to other mom’s and that your not alone,
Mama Can’t Stand When People Stop Her From Preparing
Wednesday we were suppose to spent cleaning the house and getting ready to leave for a long weekend away from home. But Wes and my dad went back to the hubby shop to get a part for his car then we went back to his place to hang out. Travis and I drove around and went out for lunch. Then I had to do some last minute running around. You know, make sure we had enough gluten free snacks for Z, pick up some raw cat food for my dad to feed the cats while we were gone, etc. We came home in time to make dinner. Next thing I knew my parents dropped Wesley back off at home and we had to leave to go pick up my stepdaughter.
I’m the first to admit I was stressed out. I wanted to have everything done early on and get to bed early. But as we came home from getting Chloe, it was time to get Z to bed. I was frustrated and anticipated a long night up finishing up the house. But while I did bedtime routine with Z, Travis and my big kids made sure the last bit of the house was picked up, which left me with only a few small things to do. I love that they are old enough to help out more. This meant I was able to get a good night sleep which I was so grateful for.
Mini Vacation: Grand Fork, North Dakota Here We Come.
Thursday morning we all piled in the van, made a pit stop at Tim Horton’s for coffee and headed south to North Dakota.We listened to an awesome Spotify playlist hubby had put together the night before. While waiting at the border, I’m sure the people waiting in line next to us must have thought we were crazy while we danced to the Village People’s YMCA.
After we crossed the border we stopped in the border town of Pembina, North Dakota. I had to stop at the parcel pick up service and get all the homeschool materials I had bought on eBay and some Facebook Homeschool Buy & Sell groups. It saves me so much money having them shipped there instead of to Canada. Look for a post in the future how I save money on curriculum this way.
We of course had to stop at the truck stop in Pembina for a washroom break. There my hubby with his sweet tooth grab us some American treats. Even though I am following Weight Watchers, I allowed myself to enjoy a few treats here and there. The big kids chowed down on some candies and chocolate while we jammed out to Disney Music.
Are We There Yet? YES!
Finally we made it to Grand Forks. We were too early to check in to the hotel, so we stopped in at Walmart.
School Supply Shopping
After we picked up some food for the hotel, I brought the kids to the school supply section. I had done most of their supply shopping the week before, there were a few things I knew I could get for cheaper, or better quality on our trip. The kids picked out there zipper binders, and I was sure to grab an extra to keep as a backup should one of their zippers break. They both wanted the fancier, aka more expensive ones. But they both managed to destroy their binders last year, so they got the cheaper ones with the promise if they take better care of their supplies we could splurge next year and get the fancier ones.
It is Just a Pencil… NO! Its a Ticonderoga
I was also able to get some My First Ticonderoga pencils for Zakari. Last year I based on a recommendation from Erica at My Busy Bees and Me, I order a box of these pencils. I searched high and low, at every store in Winnipeg, Canada I thought might carry them. But I came back empty handed. So I had to turn to the internet. They were expensive and the cost of shipping nearly put me in cardiac arrest. But in the end they are worth the cost.
So this year I decided I was going to look in the USA and try and avoid the extra cost if possible. I was able to find 2 packs for $1.50 a pack. Since I had paid over $1.50 a pencil last year, I bought a case at this price. For kiddos like little Z who have fine motor skill issues, these pencils are worth the cost. He has a much easier time keeping a proper pencil grasp with them.
Can You Say Chick fil A!!
It was still too soon to go check in, so we went to get lunch at my favourite American Fast Food joint Chick Fil A. Honestly it’s a blessing to my waistline and wallet we don’t have a location in Winnipeg. Little Z loves the fries and grilled nuggets there too. I swear I do the happy dance anytime I’m waiting in line at Chick Fil A. We also have to plan ahead for Z. He really can’t have many proteins at other restaurants when we are on the road. But of course it is closed Sundays. So we have to buy extra grilled nuggets on Saturday to put away for the next day. When we got to the window, I indulged in my Spicy Deluxe Chicken Sandwich and waffle fries. When it comes to Chick-fil-a I forget all about Weight Watcher. Afterwards we headed to the hotel.
Check In & Tim Horton’s
We arrived at the hotel 20 mins before check in. We decided we would try and check in on the off chance our room was ready. Of course it wasn’t, but they had us choose which theme room we wanted. Travis picked out the Circus room. The front desk staff said they would call the cleaning staff and have them clean that room next. After waiting for a few minutes we decided to go get some coffee at the American Tim Horton. They sure know how to roll out the red carpet for us Canadians in Grand Forks. Bringing us the comforts of home.
We came back about 30 mins later, and now it was after our actual check in time and our room still was not ready. Before I could even say anything, she handed us 5 free vouchers for the breakfast buffet. We waited about 15 or 20 more minutes and then we were give our key, and our package (3 pizza vouchers and passes for the water park). We made our first trip upstairs with our luggage, and the kids. Afterwards I went back down with the luggage cart and brought up all my parcels.
Box Day! Homeschooling Mom Simple Joys
While the kids picked their bunks, and Travis relaxed, I got down to business with all my boxes. I wish I had taken a picture. It was quite ridiculous actually. 16 packages, 3 were full curriculums(Two levels of Bookshark and 1 Calvert). I had to load up one of those luggage carts to get it all up to the room in one trip. The boxes had taken up the whole back trunk of the van and I knew it could be condensed into fewer boxes. I even brought a large clear tub to package all the chapter books I had purchased. Apparently I purchased more then I thought, because the container didn’t hold them all. Nothing is more fun for a homeschool mom then going through 16 packages of new curriculum and read aloud books.
Wishbone, Magic Tree House, Puppy Place, Kitten Corner, Bailey School Kids, Usborne early chapter books, the list goes on. It was so nice to be able to get all those books for a fraction of the cover cost.
Soon all the new and wonderful homeschooling materials were all packed up, and everyone else was rested up. Z was standing at the window that looked out into the pool area longingly, ready to get going. So once everyone was in their swimsuits we headed downstairs to explore the pool. We were just outside the pool doors when I was stopped by a woman. She asked how long we were staying and I told her till Sunday. She then handed me 2 free pizza vouchers that were to expire on the Saturday and asked me if our family would use them. They were leaving and didn’t want them to go to waste. We thanked her and told her we would make sure they were used.
We continued to head to the pool area. For being a hotel pool, it was awesome. There was a large climber with a huge bucket on the top that poured down on the kids every 10 minutes or so. If you were brave enough you could climb to the top of the structures and slide down one of the 2 fun slides, But not without the risk of getting doused in gallons of water. The structure also had switches and valves that allowed you to adjust the water flow from all the fountains and spouts.
And Then We Were Flushed…
Then there was the huge toilet bowl style water slide. Riders jump on a tube (either singles or pairs) and blast down a dark tunnel. In the middle of the slide you would go around and around like your being flushed down a toilet. After each round your tube gets turned this way and that way. You never know if your going down the bottom forward or backwards.
Once your sucked down the bottom you come splashing down into the lazy river and float off. Travis and the big kids loved this slide. I couldn’t even tell you how many times they went down.
Zakari on the other hand was not crazy about it. Travis took him down once and then he refused to go again. Whether this was a sensory thing because of his autism, or just a typical fear many kids his age have I don’t know. However our method stayed the same. We gently help him get out of his comfort zone. If afterwards he is still uncomfortable with it, we accept it and move on.
So every once in a while Travis or one of the big kids would come and watch Z for me so I could go down could enjoy the slide and lazy river too. I think the kids thought it was entertaining when I would scream while going down the dark tunnel to enter the toilet part of the slide.
Kids…. Enjoyment at their mother’s expense.
Kiddie Pool, Learning to Swim with Autism
The kiddie pool was beach entry style. It had a double slide, 3 spraying fountains, teeter totter and a single baby swing/jumper. This is the pool that also leads to and from the lazy river.
Zakari spent hours in this pool floating, sliding and playing on the other pieces available. Because he was able to touch the bottom of the pool, he felt comfortable practicing floating.
When it comes to learning to be comfortable in the water, I find that with Zakari, he needs to be in a safe zone where he can gently push himself. If we try to push him he panics. But if he is allowed to his own devices, in a safe and supervised manner, great things can happen. While we have to sometimes push our children with autism, we also have to allow them time to explore and discover on their own. This method doesn’t work so well during a 30 minute swim lesson, and the instructor does have to push him along a bit. But we do our best to give Z lots of opportunities to have free time in a pool where he can touch the bottom.
The Big Kid Pool
Finally the slightly deeper pool was the pool my oldest hung out with other kids he met. It was about 4 feet deep, and the big kids enjoyed meeting people while playing water basketball in it. Next thing you know the group of them were going down water slides together and running under the huge bucket of water and getting soaked together
Traveling With The Big Kids
After a few hours of swimming we all started getting hungry. I ordered the big kids a pizza from the hotel by the pool and we went upstairs to get changed. By the time we got everyone sorted out, I ran downstairs and picked up the pizza. The big kids hung out in their room playing video games, and listening to music while Travis, Zakari and I headed out. I love that my big kids are old enough to stay back and hang out if they want. Sometimes they just want to relax while we have running around to do and we don’t have to drag them against their will with us.
Walmart and Supper Run
First stop for us was back to Chick-fil-a to get Z some grilled nuggets. Then we went to Walmart to get some snacks for the hotel. We did not want to have to spend too much money poolside on snacks if we could help it.
I just about fell over with how expensive produce was. It seemed that fruit cost the same price at home, but you have to add 25% to that price for exchange. Cereal, candy, junk food, all seems to be so much cheaper in the USA, but produce is another story. Yikes.
We grabbed a few things we needed, and then went across the parking lot to the Panera Bread drive thru. We had eaten at Panera Bread once when we were in Philadelphia and really enjoyed it, especially my husband. After we were served we took our dinner and Walmart purchases back to the hotel. Once again the soup and sandwiches were delicious. We both really hope Panera decided to start opening up shop in Canada some day.
Magic Tree House. The Perfect Book
Reading as always been a great way to get Z to relax. It also helps him fall asleep. So when we travel I always bring some books to read aloud. Zakari loves the Magic Tree House, so it seemed like a no brainer to grab the next one in the series to read. I didn’t even look to see what the next book was about.
When we started to read Buffalo Before Breakfast (Magic Tree House 18), I realized that it was about the Lakota Native Americans who lived in North Dakota in the 1800’s. I could not have planned that better. We were able to talk to Zakari about how this story took place in the same location we were, but hundreds of years ago.
As I read he drifted off to sleep. Honestly having my child fall asleep in my arms while I read to them is the best part of my day.
Rough Early Morning Wake Up
Around 4:30 am, Little Z woke up and had no idea where he was. He was in one of those startled states, where you cannot console him. After about 45 mins of trying to settle him, I was scared the big kids would be woken up, or the people in the next room could hear him. I did not want to be kicked out. So I quickly threw in my contacts, grabbed my purse and took Z to the van. As soon as we hit the fresh air, he seemed to snap out of it. He settled down, and I drove around, not sure what to do at 5:15 am.
For a little while drove around parts of Grand Forks I usually don’t travel. During that little journey I found a thrift store I never noticed before. Mental note, find time to go check out the books there… While I was in the parking lot checking out the times, I text my mom, and told her to call me if she was up. She’s one of those crazy people that choose to wake up at this time, ON PURPOSE!
Mom To The Rescue & Walmart Therapy
But Grand Forks is not very big, so that did not take me long to drive around. Finally I decided to take the long way to the new Walmart that is a bit further from our hotel. I stopped to see what time Kmart opened at, and drove through the older area of the city. This whole time Zakari was completely content. I hoped my family was getting in some good sleep.
As I pulled into the Walmart parking lot, my phone rang. It was my mom. Such perfect timing, she had wanted me to look for some American groceries for her. I figured now was the perfect time, since Z and I were just killing time. Before I went into the store, it was great to just vent to her. I’m not naturally an early riser. I’m also not always the most pleasant person when I’m awoken before I’ve slept enough. So it was nice to talk to her and get my frustration of my chest. I was able to get back into happy mama mode.
School Clothes Shopping
We walked all of Walmart, and got my mom’s shopping done. While looking at the boys section, I found some fresh t-shirts for Wesley’s back to school wardrobe. Before leaving I grabbed some stuff for Zakari and I to eat for breakfast. I’m love to say I bought some health fruit for myself, but that would be a lie. Besides like I said before fruit is SO expensive here. I had a delicious glazed yeast doughnut. You know what, I don’t even feel bad. I was tired and needed a sugar rush. Good Old Weight Watchers got kicked to the curb. Well not completely, I only bought one doughnut. Before Weight Watchers I would have bought a package, ate a few, and brought the rest back to the hotel. Not this time.
Pumpkin Pie Pop-tarts to the Rescue
I was about 6:50 am when we had seen all there was to see at Walmart. So I googled Targets hours and was surprised to see they opened at 7 am. I knew it would take me about 10 mins to get there. So we checked out and took off. At Target I was able to find a few school supplies that were a good price. I also once again smacked Weight Watchers in the face. I mean come on, who can turn down Pumpkin Pie Pop-tarts.
It was still early, and I didn’t want to head back to the hotel yet, so Zakari and I went to a grocery store and did the aisles. When we got back to the car Travis called me to check to see if we were OK. The kids were still sleeping, but by now it was almost 9 am. So we hit up the Tim Horton’s, (because that’s what a good Canadian does when they need coffee)and head back to the hotel.
Traveling with Autism
Mr Zakari seemed to be in a much better mood. It is hard traveling when your little one has autism and anxiety. But setting realistic expectations is so important as a parent. It is hard when you have all these big plans and sometimes they are too big of plans for our special kiddos. Thing is to go in baby steps and that with practice it will get better.
Roll With The Punches
Even traveling with neurotypical children can be a challenge. I have learned we just need to roll with the punches. Some times I just want to lock myself in our house where it is safe. But that is not what is best for our family. Zakari needs to learn how to go out in and deal with the over stimulation the world has to offer. But we have to help him him learn to cope. These experiences mean so much to him. Even though he doesn’t talk about them, we know it is meaningful because of how he behaves after. He loves looking back at pictures of himself weeks and even years later. Or when we return he asks to do things we have done before there.
No matter how difficult it can be sometimes to travel with a child with autism, the life experiences are much more important. Both to the parents and the kid.
What We Bring To Help Our Son With Autism:
Ear Defenders: When things start to get too loud, we can easily help him block out some of those noises by putting on a pair of ear defenders. I know some kids wear them a lot, but Zakari just uses them to regulate himself and then he takes them off.
His own blanket and pillow. The comforts and smells from home helps my son relax and eventually fall asleep.
Books: As mentioned above this is a great coping strategy for our son. I cannot encourage people enough to read to your child with autism. Even thought they may not seem like they are listening, they really are.
Catnip Fennel. Now I take this with me everywhere we go. It is so helpful for dealing with upset tummies and it helps calm the nervous system. It is a product that has helped us so much over the years. During those meltdowns that we cannot figure out the cause, a lot of the time Catnip Fennel is able to help defuse the situation.
Breakfast Than Back To The Pool
We came back into the hotel room and I got the big kids up. Zakari looked out the window longingly at the pool again while every got ready.
Friday was an awesome day to spend by the pool. The kids swam their hearts out. When lunch time came around we ordered pizza, fries and chicken strips by the pool for lunch. The kids waited for the bell to start ringing so they could run with the other kids under the giant bucket and get soaked. Everyone had so much fun.
At dinner time the kids wanted Pizza, so seeing we still had the free vouchers we had gotten at check in and from the woman in the lobby we didn’t see any problem with that. Travis and I ordered Buffalo Wild Wings. It was so yummy. I just love their food. Another restaurant that we don’t have in Canada.
Little Too Busy Saturday
We woke up Saturday morning, and after lazying around we decided to head down to the pool. Before we left we noticed the lazy river and the kiddie pool were taped off. I called the front desk and there had been a pool fouling, so we needed to wait till it was properly treated.
Finally after an hour or so the pool was reopened. We went down and it was BUSY. Thursday and Friday we had been so spoiled. There was a good amount of people at the pool. Today the pool was swamped with people. Zakari was not having it. Several times he asked to go back to the room. So I decided to take him back and we went shopping.
Thrift Store Shopping
After we went back to the hotel to change, we headed to the car. I wanted to check out the thrift store I had seen on my early morning travels the morning before. We arrived, and of course I went straight for the books. Sadly I was only able to find one book we were looking for. I was impressed with some of the toys they had. They had some real classics from when I was a kid. But I knew we didn’t really need them, so I left them behind.
Little Z was tired. Of course when I had suggested a nap in the hotel, that was met with him jumping on the bed and running around like a crazy head. I really could have used a good nap, but now that we were out I wanted to at least check out Kmart. Sears was the last stop I made. They had just 8 days before they closed their doors for good. We looked around a bit, but Zakari was just not having it. So we headed back to the hotel.
This weekend was just meant to be a get away. Get in some swimming, eat some good food and hang out as a family. The kids were not hungry yet, and we wanted to take them to the arcade at some point in the evening. So Travis, Zakari and I went out on our nightly supper hunt.
We stopped at Chick-fil-a because we needed to get Z chicken for that night and Sunday because, they are not open on Sundays. Then we tried The Noodle Company. It was just OK. I’m not sure I’d go back again. But I’m glad I tried it.
Arcade & Dippin Dots
The one thing Chloe wanted to have while we were in the USA was Dippin’ Dots. So when we got back we went to the pizza place/ arcade. We had two vouchers left for pizza, so the kids each ordered one. While we waited we loaded up the arcade cards and the kids had a blast playing all the games.
We got Chloe some Dippin Dots for helping us out so much with Zakari at the pool. She went up the play structure with the slides and huge dumping bucket all weekend to keep an eye on Zakari. With my contacts I couldn’t keep up with Zakari and not get chloride water in my eyes. I did not want to lose a contact, nor do I like water that much.
When the pizzas were ready, the kids cashed out their tickets, and we went back upstairs.
Packing Up To Go
When we got back I started packing and organizing our stuff. We wanted to be up early and be able to try the breakfast buffet we had free passed for. The big kids ate their pizza and enjoyed one last night of snacks, video games and movies.
Sunday Rough Morning
Zakari had a rough night. I almost wanted to pack up the van and head home in the middle of the night. But Travis talked me out of it. Luckily we got him settled and he finally fell asleep. Only to wake up again at 4:30 am. He wanted me to take him to Walmart again. Of course I didn’t want this to be a habit he got into. But even if I wanted to take him, I couldn’t, Walmart was closed until noon.
Once I read him a few chapters I was able to get him back to sleep. But now I’m worried. Travis and I have not slept well enough to be driving him as safely as we would like. Travis had a pounding headache at this point and needed time to sleep it off.
Late Check Out
I called the front desk and explained that our son had a rough night, we were not sure if he was feeling well or not. We ask for a late check out. They were amazing, they said that even though they don’t do late check outs, they would give us an extra hour or two. We were so grateful, so even though we slept through the breakfast buffet, we were all well rested.
We packed up the trolley, brought all our luggage and my packages to the van, and then checked out. Overall I was very happy with our stay. 3 hours away from home and the kids had a blast. Perfect mini vacation.
Last Minute Shopping
Once again I’m so grateful for big kids who are old enough to babysit. I wanted to run into Sears and have a better look. Travis was not with me the day before so he wanted to look around too. But Zakari was NOT interested in shopping at that moment. So the big kids babysit him in the van. We of course left it running and they locked the doors behind us. All of them were happy playing on their iPads while we spent a few quick minutes looking around. We stopped at the candy store in the mall and went back to the kids.
Afterwards we made one last stop at Walmart. Of course Zakari loves Walmart, so he insisted on coming with us. We grab a few snacks for the road and some more Tylenol to keep Travis’s headache at bay.
McDonald’s, Worst Service EVER
My big kids wanted to have McDonald’s for lunch before we left the states. I swear that was the worst managed McDonald’s in North America. They messed up our order twice, over charged me, and when I asked for something for compensation for our wasted time I was offered 3 free coupons for ice cream or cookies. Offered might now be the right word. The manager rolled her eyes at me, then said she guessed she could get me some coupons. A few weeks later when I went back down to the USA with my parents, they stopped their for coffee and they had an equally terrible experience.
Plus I had a ridiculously hard time cashing in those coupons, they tried to make me wait for a manager to get off their lunch break which would be in 30 mins. I explained that these coupons were given to me for wasting our time. He was able to get us the cookies. At least they were good, but I refuse to ever go to that location again. I will drive down the road to get coffee from now on.
Last Supper Before Heading Back to Canada
Travis and I decided, after long, and painful deliberation we were going to try Erbert and Gerberts. I’m so glad we did! It was so much yummier then Subway.
We ate, filled up our tank and hit the road home. All I could think was, well the moment of truth is coming up. I have to declare what I spent to the border patrol. Which means I have to admit to my husband how much all those boxes cost.
Back Home Again
We landed up making good time, and getting home safely. We were all glad to be able to sleep in our own beds that night. It was so much fun being able to spend time with our kids.
What We Would Do Differently
This was a learning experience for us. We want to take a trip to Great Wolf Lodge next summer and this trip was a great practice run. This winter though we might head back to Grand Forks Canad Inns.
However we will be doing a two things different.
Going for 2 nights instead of 3. I think we all had our fill of swimming after the second night, and the money we save in hotels can allow us to do this trip more often.
I would not go on the weekend again. Saturday was WAY to busy for Zakari. Looking down to the pool on Sunday, it also seemed crazy busy.
What is your go to tip on traveling with a child with autism?
Morning came painfully early. Regardless we didn’t want to miss any of our precious free time. When traveling to the IAHP, Free Days are limited. There was so much to see and do within driving distance, we got up and started our day. We knew we were going to meet a friend of mine at the Maryland Zoo on Sunday, so we decided to head the other direction. We drove to Coney Island. Before we hit the highway made another trip to Walmart to grab some supplies and snacks. Little Z had a blast playing with the over sized mascot heads.
Elastic Man Meets Houdini
About to head out on our road trip!
We left Pennsylvania, drove through New Jersey. Suddenly Zakari became a mixture of Elastic Man and Houdini. I look behind me and he has managed to weasel his upper body out of his car seat and he is trying to open up the back door. While we are on the interstate doing speeds that would have your license revoked in Canada.
Honestly I’m not sure how this happened. I’m what some might refer to as a “Carseat Nazi”. I’m very careful to make sure that my son is buckled up properly. But I guess he discovered how to unbuckle the chest clip and was able to get his arms out. This was a new car seat we bought specifically for the trip. I do not recommend traveling with a car seat your not use to using.
Needless to say it’s not as easy to pull over on the interstate in New Jersey as it is to on a Manitoba highway. I had to unbuckle myself and climb into the back to fix his seatbelt. Slightly scary since the car was traveling nearly the speed of light while Z and I were not properly restrained. Let alone the fact he was trying to open the door. Not my idea of fun.
New York City!!
Crossing the Verrazano-Narrows Bridge
An hour and a half later we arrived in New York City. There was that iconic bridge you see in the movies. Except in the movies, they usually don’t mention the $15US toll to drive over that bridge. Now that’s something I was not use to, tolls. Where I’m from you don’t have to pay to drive on a road. I feared what my credit card statement was going to reveal when I got the EZ Pass bill. It seems like everywhere we went there was a new toll to pay for. I’m glad that we figured out there was an option in our GPS to avoid toll roads.
Of course Zakari was not done living dangerously. He was demanding we pull over so he could “go swimming” in the Ocean. I had to keep a close eye on him, because I was worried he was going to pull Houdini and try and jump out again. Thank god for child locks on the back doors and the fact he could not undo the lower clip/buckle.
Visiting The New York Aquarium
New York Aquarium with Daddy
Little Z loves sea creatures especially penguins. When we went to Alberta we spent so much time watching the penguins at the Calgary Zoo and the Aquarium exhibit in the West Edmonton Mall. So we were pretty sure we wanted to take him to the New York Aquarium. It is the oldest Aquarium in the United States that is still open. After doing a little research, we were aware that they were under construction. From what I read online there was mixed reviews whether it was worth the money or not.
The aquarium was damaged in 2012 by Hurricane Sandy. Staff members had to work tirelessly after the storm to help save as many of the aquatic residents as possible. According to many people on facebook the aquarium as never been the same and some exhibits are still under construction.
However for the $12 a person we paid, we were happy with our visit. We were quite proud with how Z was able to handle the crowds. I love to see the wonder in his eyes when he gets the opportunity to see these beautiful creatures. However just like on the plane the day before, Z had his own ideas how things should go. He got quite upset with us when we would not allow him to swim with the sea lions. The idea this kid gets sometimes cracks me up.
I’d say we spent 45 mins to an hour there exploring. I loved that we were able to buy our tickets on my phone and avoid the ticket lines. We just walked up to the advance tickets door and they scanned my phone and let us in.
Exploring Coney Island
When we were done at the aquarium, I really wanted to check out Coney Island. Since we had already paid for parking at the Aquarium, we just walked down the boardwalk. However we were not able to spend much time here because we seemed to have reached Little Z’s sensory limit. I would have loved to walk down through the midway or let him get his feet wet in the Atlantic Ocean. But now we have another place to add to our bucket list to visit and experience.
We still got to see the ocean, have fresh squeezed lemonade and get the Coney Island vibe. Spiderman came to pose for a picture, but Z was not having it. Maybe it had something to do with the fact it he had a Mexican accent instead of a Brooklyn accent and Z knew he was a fake.
Driving Around New York City
NYPD Parking Enforcement Vehicle
Ground Zero – 9/11
It was getting late, but we did not want to miss having a look around New York City. Z was content with his snack and drink, so we went for a drive. We were told we were crazy even to drive into New York City by other people who had visited the city, but we did just fine. We were able to see the Statue of Liberty and Ground Zero from the comfort of our rental car. I know it’s not the same, but one day we will go back and experience the whole city the right way.
Homestyle Food – Bob Evans
On our way back to Philadelphia we decided to pre order some food online from Bob Evans. I remember when I went to Florida with my family when I was a kid that we loved this restaurant. Usually when we head out to the USA we visit North Dakota which does not have a Bob Evans. My friend from Baltimore had posted a photo of her take out from there on Facebook a few weeks before and I knew I had to eat their at least once. Isn’t technology amazing that you can order food online right from your phone and have it ready when you get there. I just pulled up the menu while Travis drove and selected everything I wanted.
Of course some where in New Jersey someone *cough*Zakari*cough* needed to stop and use the washroom. Driving down the interstate there is not an easy way to stop and find a washroom. We were luckily we able to find a turn off quite quickly that lead to a small town that had a Dunkin’ Donuts. And thank goodness for GPS which helped us find our way back onto the interstate. It was starting to get late and I had no interest in getting lost in a strange place.
Back in Philadelphia
Little Z after a full day of exploring
Finally we made it back to Philadelphia. Just in time to pick up our pot roast meal. I ran in and after a long day of exploring, the aroma of roast, mashed potatoes, veggies and yummy rolls were just what we all needed. I was so glad to be able to get a more home cooked meal while traveling.
Exhausted we went back to the hotel and ate. We all showered and changed into our pjs. Of course since Z was out of his routine, it took us a while to get him to sleep. So we watched Netflix, and finally shortly after midnight we got him to sleep.
Our second day of our trip was in the books. We were in 3 different states, two of which I had never visited. What an amazing adventure.
Children of Dreams, Children of Hope, may have been a title to a book written by Dr. Raymundo Veras, but this was how I felt. I felt like I was one of the children of dreams. Allowed to dream again for my child’s future. Everyone who attended that week long course were also Children of Hope. Our hope was restored.
Saturday morning I woke up to my alarm clock. I set it fairly early because I wanted to do a little exploring in Philadelphia before I returned my rental car. I got myself ready for the day, packed up my last few things and went downstairs.
My wonderful host and I chatted about the Institute and our experiences there. She had taken the course for well babies a few years before. Then she showed me her amazing playroom that she had set up for her children. IAHP EK bits hanging on the wall. I love the dedication she had to teach her little ones.
Host for Hospital program
After thanking the family for their hospitality, I packed up my rental car and drove out of the driveway for the last time. I cannot say enough good things about the Host for Hospital program. If you are heading down to Philadelphia to take either of the courses offered at the Institute, please check out Host for Hospital. It is an affordable program that connect families from out of town to host with space to share. My entire stay for eight days cost me less than one night would have in a hotel. When you consider the exchange rate that I was paying to convert my Canadian money to American, this made it an even bigger savings.
Every host has something different to offer so I can only share my experience. I was allowed to use a large bedroom (larger then my bedroom at home) with my own personal on-suite bathroom. The family also allowed me to use an extra fridge they had in the back entry way. I felt so spoiled and was treated with such respect. My host also passed on a books she had bought at the IAHP that is no longer available about vaccines. I thought that was so kind of her.
Thanks to my phones GPS, I was easily able to find my way into Philadelphia to the Liberty Bell. I planned to arrive early so I could get into line and get in as soon as the building opened at 9am. But I landed up arriving earlier then I anticipated. So decided to look to get some souvenirs for the family who helped me make this trip even possible. On the way I found a few cute little gift shops with exactly what I was looking for.
Afterwards while I walked to the door to the Liberty Bell Centre, I immediately wished I had more time to explore more of the sights and sounds of the area. It is just beautifully kept and I felt very safe walking around on my own. But I was happy I had a few minutes to see the actual Liberty Bell and get a few photos. Another couple offer to take my phone using my phone in exchange I would take their photo with their phone.
When I made it back to my rental car and decided to clean out the car there instead of at the gas station. I gathered up the empty food wrappers and such and found a garbage and recycling bin to get rid of them. Checked all the compartments and under the seats to make sure I didn’t forget anything. Finally found a safe spot in my luggage to pack up the souvenirs I purchased.
Scary Gas Station
Once I was back in the car and buckled up, I GPS’d a nearby gas station. I did not want to have to pay the ridiculous price the rental company would charge me if I did not return the car with a full tank. As I drove away from the Parkade and started following the directions on the GPS. I soon found that the location I picked was taking me away from the direction of the airport.
Soon I saw a Shell gas station on the right side of the road. Even though it didn’t seem to be the best area of town I decided I may as well just fill up there. Well of course the pay at the pump didn’t work because I had a Canadian credit card. So I went inside, only to find the cashier looked like he had been recently beaten. He had a black so swollen, that his eye could not open. I almost turned around a left. My imagination ran wild wondering if he had been recently stuck up working here. But instead I prepaid, pumped my gas and left as quickly as possible. I was not interested in sticking around and meeting the people who had beaten this poor man.
Off To The Airport
Now with a full tank of gas I was once again following the GPS back to the airport. I brought my car back to the rental company. Of course my bill was through the roof since I had to rent a car on the spot. Lesson learned, do not travel with a temporary license. I will make sure to allow time for my new license to come in the mail. I dragged my bags onto the shuttle and road back to the airport.
When I got to the correct terminal, I found a luggage cart and loaded it up with my large duffle bag I bought the night before, my carry on and back pack. I made my way to the desk for checked bags. I felt like such an amateur traveler. Most travel I had done in my life up to this point was in the form of road trips. Prior to this trip I had only ever been on two trips that required flights. One with my parents to Florida when I was 16. The other was a flight to Calgary with Travis and Wesley when I was 25 to take Wesley to a DAN! Doctor. The first trip I was along for the ride, and the second trip Travis and I were together. It also did not require us to go through customs and my aunt was on the other hand picking us up and bring us back to the airport. So I prayed this was going to be an easy process. Luckily it was. They weighted my bag and it came in at 29 lbs. I scoffed when they told me the weight and wondered how I ever thought I’d get that all in my carry on.
At this point I was starving. It was only 10:30 am, but seeing as this was my last few hours in the USA, I wanted something I couldn’t get back at home. I looked around the food court and decided to try Smashburger. I had seen a mom I follow on Instagram post about it and it always looks so yummy. It was on the pricey side, but super tasty. I really enjoyed that it was not greasy at all.
Afterwards I wandered and looked at the little gift shops in the airport. I was actually a bit surprised to find so many weird types of presidential nominee merchandise throughout my trip. Something I never saw in the Canadian elections. All I could image was a Justin Trudeau chia pet. “But he’s got nice hair” would have a whole new meaning.
A Few Minutes of Peace & Quiet
As excited as I was to get home to my kids, I was not crazy enough to not take advantage of the quiet, child free few hours I had left. I regretted packing my binder full of notes from the course in my checked bag. I really wanted to start planning what I was going to do with Zakari. But in the end, it was for the best I didn’t have access to them. I think it was good to just take this time to relax. Looking through my bag, I picked up and started reading a book I purchased at the Institute’s bookshop. Children of Dreams, Children of Hope by Dr. Raymundo Veras.
Description was taken from the Gentle Revolution website
This is the story of Dr. Raymundo Veras, a brilliant Brazilian surgeon and his journey into the world of brain-Injured children. After Dr. Veras’s son, Zé Carlos was injured in a diving accident, Dr. Veras dedicated his life to fixing his son’s injury. That devotion led him to The Institutes for the Achievement of Human Potential in Philadelphia, where he learned from Glenn Doman and the staff, how to fix brain-Injured children. From there he returned to Brazil and began treating many more children. His success with the children the world has called Mongoloid or Down Syndrome led to the first successful methods to treat their problems. This book is the story of Dr. Veras’s second life and the first chance for wellness for many of the world’s hurt children.
I nearly completed this book by the time I got back home to Winnipeg. Even though I do not have a child with Down’s Syndrome, I still found it very informative. No matter what type of brain injury a parent on the Institute program writes about I find them to be amazing to reads. I love learning about how the program worked for them, how they managed, and how the Institutes have changed over the years.
Homeward Bound Part 1
Finally it was time to board my first plane to Toronto. I texted Travis that I was boarding the plane and would let him know when I made it back. I sat back and enjoyed the flight with my book in my lap. Mid flight a flight attendant came around with custom forms to fill out. One of the questions on the form asked if I was carrying and business product samples. Of course I have two Beach Body Shakeology samples I had not drank in my bag. I sat their debating if I that’s what the form meant. Should I declare it? So I did to error on the side of caution. I did not want to cause trouble smuggling back to protein shakes.
Homeward Bound Part 2
Well of course after we landed in Toronto, I went to scan my passport and this form and got hauled into customs. Luckily for me the customs officer was real nice. He asked me if the samples were to try and solicit customers for a business. When I explained they were for personal consumption, he changed my answer to no and welcomed me back to Canada.
The first thing I did when I arrived in Toronto was hit up the Tim Hortons kiosk. Oh man, Dunkin Donuts does not hold a candle to our good old fashion Timmy’s. It was nice to have a piece of home shortly after landing back on Canadian soil. While I enjoyed my Timmy’s I made a few phone calls. I let Travis know that my flight was on time and when should expect to be back in Winnipeg. I called my mom to let her know I had landed safe. The idea of me traveling alone didn’t sit well for her. This is where we are completely different. For me this was an awesome adventure. For her the thought was just down right scary.
Next thing I knew I was boarding my last flight from Toronto to Winnipeg. I was so excited to get home to my kids. I would have to wait one more day to see Wesley as he was at is dad’s for the weekend, but I could see Zakari. This trip was the longest I had ever been away from either of my children. As rewarding and totally worth it as it was, I was glad I was going home.
Somehow I scored the West Jet Plus seat and I had lots of room on the flight to Winnipeg. The man next to me try to spark up a conversation with me, but honestly I was not in a chatty mood. How could I really explain why I was in Philadelphia. I was still processing everything I learned, I was not ready to be challenged if this person turned out to be a skeptic. Luckily I was able to be polite and come off as shy and he left me to my book.
Home Sweet Home
Finally I could see the lights over Winnipeg. We were landing. As soon as we made contact with the ground I called Travis to tell him to be ready to pick me up. He was in the area, and my friend had gone to our house to wait with Zakari. He tends to fall asleep in the car so close to bedtime and they knew I would want to see him.
I stood anxiously at the conveyor belt waiting for my huge duffle bag. Luckily I didn’t have to wait long because my bag was one of the first out. Because it was raining in Winnipeg my bag was soaking wet, but when I looked inside everything dry. I was quite impressed with my last minute Walmart purchase. I loaded my bags on a luggage cart and went out into the rain. Travis looped around the front of the airport and helped me get the bags in the van.
It was so nice to see him and hear about how he made out with the kids for the whole week. I think having mom gone and only him in charge really helped strengthen his relationship with the boys. He made sure the house was cleaner then I left it the week before. I came home to dinner and cuddles with my Zakari.
I made it! My first time traveling alone. A dream come true. Something I had wanted to do since Wesley was little. My only regret is that I didn’t make it happen way sooner.
Children of Dreams, Children of Hope…
What I have seen cannot be unseen…
Did you miss how the beginning of my trip to Philadelphia to take the What To Do About Your Brain Injured Child Course went? You can catch up and read about it in the following posts:
11 months after my first journey to Philadelphia. It was almost like a dream. Never in a million years did I think we could pull this off.
But thanks to the help from a wonderful organization, The Elks of Canada, we were there at the airport. Starting our journey to the IAHP in Philadelphia.
Nerves and Worries
I had to say I was completely nervous to be traveling by air with Zakari. He’s not one for crowds and we had a layover in Chicago.
Waiting to check our bag.
We arrived at the airport 2 hours early like they recommended. Then we saw the line to check in. We had tried to check in the night before online, but it said we had to check in when we arrived. So we got in line and waited our turn.
We started getting nervous when the line wasn’t really moving. Were they canceling flights. We had taken a chance and flown United Airlines. yes they had bad publicity lately, but we figured they would now be on their best behaviour since the world was watching.
We finally reach the check in desk and everything was fine. They let us check our bag and off to security we went. Thankfully we were the only people going through security at the time.
Compassionate Security Staff
The people who were running security were amazing. I quickly explained to them that Z has autism and that I could not let go of his hand. They were very compassionate and kind. They had us remove our shoes. We were told that Z could keep his on, but then they noticed they were light up shoes, so they said he had to remove them. Well Mr. Z was more than willing to comply.
From that point on he was convinced you’re not suppose to wear shoes in the airport.
They let me carry Z through the metal detector. We quickly gathered our belongings and made our way to customs. We had 2 back packs, Z’s car seat and 1 carry on because Hubby thought that it would be worth the money to check a bag. Boy was he right! I could not image trying to juggle an extra bag. While the car seat was a pain to drag around, it was a blessing to use on the plane.
We found a little alcove in the waiting area and Z climbed on the couches and got all his wiggles out. They kept changing gates, so we just stayed there till we heard they were boarding our flight. The Winnipeg Airport is very small so its easy to just stay put and move to where you need to be when its time.
We got in line and when we made it to the front the flight attendant said she had called us to board first. We must have missed her call. She said because I had called ahead to let them know about Z’s special needs they wanted to make sure he was taken care of.
Mr Z’s first time on an airplane.
When we got on board, Hubby helped me install Z’s car seat. I have to say, if you have a busy child, make sure to bring your child’s car seat on the plane. Z knows when he’s in a car in his carseat, that’s where he is expected to be.
Take off went well. I was worried he might freak out about his ears popping, but he just plugged them. I had brought ear defenders, but he was not interested in using them.
When they came around with snacks and drinks, they brought him one of those squeezy apple sauces, which he enjoyed. But of course in total Z style, he managed to dump my glass of coke on my lap. Thankfully I had already drank half of it, so I was only a little wet.
The biggest challenge for me was preventing him from kicking the chair ahead of us. He is use to traveling in a van where he has lots of legroom.
Luckily the person in front of him had no one sitting beside him, he was able to move over. That being said I made my best effort to stop him from kicking the back of the chair.
What Do You Mean I Can’t Go Outside?
About 30 mins into the flight Z decided that he wanted to go play outside. Try as I might to explain to him that we are thousands of feet in the air, he still wanted to go play outside. This was one of the many times this trip this poor guy’s mom rained on his parade.
After our 2+ hour flight we landed in Chicago. We waited for the plane to empty out and then we uninstalled his car seat and made our way off.
United Airlines, Amazing Staff!
There waiting for us was a United Airlines employee with a wheelchair. Z needed the opportunity to stretch his legs. But the employee invited us to put his car seat and bags on the wheelchair, and escorted us through the airport to our next terminal gate.
I was so grateful he did! Boy oh boy is the Chicago airport huge! Because he escorted us, we were able to have time for a bathroom break as well as get Z some popcorn to snack on on the next flight.
Because we were right by the gate, we were able to board first. United was able to upgrade our seats so Z had more leg room. Z snacked on popcorn and watched a few episodes of his show I had downloaded from Netflix to his tablet. He started to doze off to sleep just before we landed.
Welcome to Philadelphia
We are in Philadelphia! Posing for a silly picture while Daddy gets our bag.
Once again we let the plane empty out before we gathered our belongings and got off. There waiting for us was another United employee with a wheelchair. We thanked him very much, but told him we knew where to go as I’ve been to the Philadelphia airport before and Z needed to stretch again.
We made our way to the baggage claim. Grabbed our bag and made our way to catch the shuttle to the Alamo, the car rental company.
By now it is Saturday. Z is tired, and a giggling mess. As I waited for Hubby to finalize our car rental, Z is jumping from couch to couch in the empty waiting area.
A few people in line were staring, but frankly I didn’t care. He was not disturbing anyone. It’s after 1 am and my kid is right on the edge of having a party or having a meltdown. I’m wanting to mark this up as a good traveling day, so I’m voting for the party option. I could handle the dirty looks, those would disappear as soon as we got into the rental car. The meltdown however would follow us to the hotel.
A few minutes later we were away from the dirty looks and cruising to our hotel to check in.
Hotel Delays & Walmart
35 mins later we arrived. I had made arrangements with Expedia to be able to check in at 2am. But when I went in, the front desk needed 45 minutes to reboot the system so that the sign in would count as a Saturday check in. So back to the car I went, and off we went to look for food.
A quick trip through a drive through, we still had a bit of time to kill. So Hubby ran into a 24 hour Walmart and picked up some supplies we were going to need in the morning. I waiting in the car while Little Z slept. Of course just before Hubby was about to come out of the store there was a torrential downfall. By the time he got to the car with the bag they were both soaked.
Tired & Panicking
Now I made a huge mistake, while waiting for Hubby. I went and rechecked the hotel we were staying at’s reviews. When I had booked this hotel, the reviews were OK. Now since I last check there was a terrible review. I went into panic mode. Do I call Expedia and try to get into a different hotel? I’m tired and sleep deprived at this point and a bit irrational.
We head back to the hotel and when we arrive there is a sign, “Back in 15 mins.” Are you kidding me? I’m tired and it’s now almost 3 am. I start praying, is this a sign we should find another hotel? I get on the phone with Expedia and am put on hold. As I wait the woman come back to the desk and removes the sign. I hang up the phone, I guess this is where we are suppose to be.
A few minutes later we are parked near our hotel entrance. I’m panicking. Maybe we should check it out first before we bring in the bags and Z? Nope, Hubby wants to bring everything in in one trip. I put the card in the door and slowly open it…
Much to my relief, it looks nice and clean. A quick examination and I’m feeling a bit better. Z immediately makes himself comfortable and takes up a whole bed.
Here we are, we’ve made it. Finally able to kick off our shoes and get cleaned up from our first Traveling Day.
Our Adventures have just begun after our first Traveling Day.
Little Z is not an easy child to shop for at Christmas time. Before the holidays, my mom had me on the search for some gift ideas. While we were shopping we landed up in the LeapFrog section of the toy store. Little Z had really wanted the My Pal Violet plushie toy to match his My Pal Scout. When were there we noticed this game, LeapFrog Letter Factory Leaping Letters.
Basically this game is like the game Perfection. Except instead of an assortment of shapes, this game requires the player to put the alphabet in order. There is also a second part to the game, level 2 I guess. You instead a card in the indent of the board and start trying to build as many 3 letter words.
I love that the timer is quite long. I mean the game is designed for 3-6 year olds, so I appreciate that they actually have a chance to complete the task. How frustrating would it be for Little Z to never be able to complete the game. However I do love that as they get older you can give them less and less time to complete the game.
I do have to say, keep your receipt when you purchase LeapFrog Letter Factory Leaping Letters. The first one we got was a dud. We sat down to play it with Z and the board would not click down. We landed up having to take it back to the store to exchange. The second one works great, and we have had no issues. However I wanted to be fully transparent as I would hate to mislead my readers.
I originally thought it was just a great game for fine motor skills and focus. Z already knows his alphabet and his letter sounds. However, this week I realized this game will be a perfect addition to the All About Spelling curriculum I plan to use with Z in the future. One activity that is required is learning how to put the alphabet in order. I think this game is a great start. Parents can talk to their child when they are looking to put the letter in its correct spot, “What comes before Q?” or “What letter comes after V”. It is a great tool to facilitate these types of conversations with with child, without them feeling like they are being tested.
Disclaimer: My son received this game as a gift from my mom. We were not paid or compensated in any way by this company to share our opinion. I just thought what an awesome addition to our homeschooling curriculum and wanted to share it with my readers.
I love reading blogs! Back when I was a teenager I joined a website called teenopendiary.com. I really didn’t write all that often. But what I did do was save my list of favorites and go check on them everyday to see what was going on in their lives.
Then I got busy with college and work, and well teenopendiary.com just didn’t seem like a place for an 18 year old college student.
Then I got pregnant with Wes. I was 19 years old and while I had a good job and knew I could support us, my friends were all in a different place in life. I felt alone.
That is when I started writing on OpenDiary.com, the parent site of TeenOpenDiary.com. There I was able to meet people who were the same age or close to that were going through the same thing as I was. It was a real community. To this day, even though OpenDiary.com is no more, I am still close friends with many of the women I meet on this site. We become mothers together, we were there for eachother during pregnancy losses, divorces, marriages, custody battles, and the joys and trials of raising our children.
This was my early introduction to blogging.
A few years after Wes was born I started reading some stand alone blogs. And in 2010 I decided I wanted to start my own stand alone blog and share what I had learned over the years. I started my blog Doman, ABA, Homeschooling Momma.
In late October 2014, I decided to purchase my own domain and webhosting services. But I realized that Doman, ABA, and Afterschooling Momma(switched to Afterschooling in 2012) just didn’t roll off the tongue, and there were too many spelling variations for Momma. So that’s when EarlyLearningMom.com was born.
Even though I’ve been blogging for over 5 years now about parenting, autism, homeschooling, and afterschooling, I am NO MEANS an expert. There are regular blogs I read for ideas, and all sorts of information on how to raise my boys.
Here are my TOP 6 Educational Blogs I Follow:
Planet Smart Pants
Planet Smarty Pants– Natalie from Planet Smarty Pants blogs about her adventures raising her only child. Her daughter is only one year younger than Wes, so while I was a working mom I read her blog quite closely, picking up tips on how to afterschool my child while keeping up the demands of being a mom who works out of the home.
Natalie also host link ups for other blogs to share what they have been doing to afterschool their children.
1+1+1=1 – If you’re looking for ways to teach your toddler, preschooler,or kindergartener this is the site to visit. There are so many resources that Carisa as created for her own children available for free right at your fingertips. She also has an online store where she has a membership only powerpoints, and several bundles of more educational materials. The prices are very affordable.
I have printed out plenty of her printouts when Wes was younger and in more recent years have started using some of her ideas with Little Z.
DomanMom : Liz from DomanMom is someone I have looked up to in the early learning movement since I embarked on my journey. Her two boys are just a bit older than my two boys. So I’ve been watching her blog very carefully over the years. Be sure to also check out her YouTube Channel, which is filled with awesome educational videos for your little ones.
Early Learning with Marta, Eaton and Nathaniel
Early Learning with Marta, Eaton and Nathaniel: I love Marta’s blog, I can’t say that enough!! Her youngest is just a bit older then my Little Z, so I’m often snooping around her blog looking for ideas. The stuff her boys are able to do at such a young age blows my mind.
If I had to describe her style of teaching her boys, I would describe it as very montessori.
larrysanger.org: Larry’s blog is not strictly a early learning parenting blog. However he written a 140 page Essay on how he taught his young son to read at a young age. Trust me, the 140 page essay is worth your time to read. We are lucky he has decided to share it for free instead of turning it into a book for purchase. He is also the creator of the FREE online reading program Reading Bear.
Figur8: If you are looking for early learning information this is the blog to go to. I have been reading it for years and I keep finding new info I missed. Whether you are looking for brain training, child development, early learning ideas, etc. You will find it here.
Who do you regularly follow? I’m always looking for new learning blogs to check out.
Little Z loves his tutors and they are just so kind to him. I’m so happy with our awesome team. Everyone has come into our home with their A game on.
Yesterday one of the tutors knocked on my bedroom door. (I always hide in my room during the afternoon, daycare kids are napping downstairs and Z and his tutors have the run of the upper floor.) Little Z had taken one of each of their boots and was walking around with them. They thought it was so cute they had to share with me. I’m so happy he’s allowed to learn and just be a kid and have find at the same time.
He’s mastered a few programs and now he has a maintenance program. Basically what this is is the tutor occasionally asks Z to do a program he’s already master periodically to insurance he maintained that skill. It’s awesome we are only 6 weeks in and he’s already running maintenance.
This weekend our herbalist and I tweaked his herbal program. I found that his sleep cycles were all wonky, and his bowel movements were too frequent. So we cut his catnip fennel from 4mls a day to 2mls, and his turmeric from 4 capsules a day to 1. We kept his black walnut at 1 capsule a day.
Our herbalist Carrie also mentioned this Nature’s Sunshine blend/formula she brought in and was having success with 2 other children like Little Z. So we decided what the heck, let’s give it a go. I scraped up $45 and went and picked it up.
Well I’m glad I did! He’s so calm. Well I mean if you didn’t know him, you might think he was still hyper. But if you know where we are coming from then you would see a HUGE improvement.
I am so happy and grateful we are able to combine these two amazing therapies and create such earth shattering results. For the last year and a half I have been a basket case, having to be on my toes every waking minute. Now yes I’m still on my toes, but not much more than any mother of a rambunctious 3 year old.
This morning I was able to hot iron my hair while he played with his bin of bath toys in the floor of the bathroom or sat in the stool chatting to me. I’m so happy and feel so relaxed now. To an parent to a easy going typical child, you might not understand. But if you saw me a few months ago and saw me now you would see a difference. I feel like I’m living again, not just surviving.
Disclaimer: This is not a cookie cutter herbal plan. I am just blogging what we are using here for my records. I would strongly suggest before using a herbal plan with your child you speak with an herbalist. I’m not an herbalist and I am not in a position to offer any advice other then see an herbalist. If you do try what I’m doing with Little Z regarding herbs I am not responsible for any outcomes.
I can’t believe it’s almost the end of the year. Little Z is officially 3 and a half years old. So much has been going on his life.
Little Z started ABA therapy at the beginning of September. It’s been a slow start getting staffing in place, but we are almost running at full capacity now.
Z has really started building a relationship with his morning tutor, and looks forward to her coming every morning. His senior tutor is awesome too, she has even more energy than Z has. I’ve only met our afternoon tutor twice, but I think she is going to make a great addition to our team.
Right now we have a few program going to build compliance, a matching program and a waiting program. But mostly we are just trying to make our tutors reinforcing and fun for Z.
Little Z had a visit last week from our Occupational Therapist. She recommended we try having Z wear a Bear Hug periodically to help him calm down and regulate. She said that deep tissue pressure might do him some good.
He originally freaked out there first time we put it on him, but he settled and seem to be calmed by it. But the next time I put it on him, he did not resist at all. He is able to sit down and do activities more with me now when he wears it.
This is the one we are currently borrowing from our OT. You will notice that it comes with straps. Z didn’t seem to like the straps at all. But the good thing is the straps are removeable. We are going to see what we notice in the next month, and then decided if we should order one. But so far I’m leaning towards yes.
We have been also implementing a homeschool/Glenn Doman style learning program.
Usually before ABA arrives, lunch time, sometimes in the evening and then before bed, we work through his learning binders and homemade books.
Little Z has also been playing with his own little Mortensen Block sets. Hopefully with time we will be able to transition to a full math program using this blocks.
Skip counting seems to be Zs favorite thing to practice. We have one skip counting chart per learning binder. However in the picture above my son got ahold of one of the binders full of stuff I have ready to put in the binder when he retires the material that is currently there. I guess he wanted to work on counting by 14s and 15s.
If you want to use these charts with your child, check out Homeschool Creations. Jolanthe has charts from 2-15 posted on her blog.
Before bed every night I’ve been trying to read him one story from this amazing book I found at a local church book sale. So far we have read classics like:
– Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs
– Jack and the Beanstalk
– Goldilocks and the Three Bears
To name a few…
We are still logging books in our 1000 Books Before Kindergarten log, but seeing as he’s only 3 and already 25% done, I figured we can slow down a bit and work through some classical literature to work on enhancing his vocabulary.
So all and all, I feel like we are on the right path. ABA is hitting on the compliance and left brain skills. At home we are working on the right brain side of things.
What are you doing with your child? I’m always curious to hear, might be something we can incorporate into our day.