Friday, May 24, 2019

Becoming More Than Just Mom and #Autism Advocate: Scheduling Tips

Hi, everyone!

This is the final post that was originally written for a site titled Character Boost, which I recently discovered that this site is no longer in operation. I decided to make this post available for my readers in a post linked to the original post. Please enjoy the original guest post as it was submitted to Character Boost a little over six years ago. Thank you for your patience, understanding, and continued support! ~Lorrie

In the previous post, How To Become Your Autism Child's Advocate While MaintainingYouHousehold, we learned about fundraising tips. While you are busy organizing your fundraiser, it is important to keep your family's needs in mind. It takes a lot of preparation to keep everything running smoothly in a family that has a child with Autism Spectrum Disorder. There are many things you have to consider when planning for your child's and your family's daily schedule. I have found that if I follow this checklist, everyone involved is taken care of:

  • Make sure that you have a separate schedule for everything related to your child's educational, physical, emotional, and sensory needs. If someone else is helping you to take or pick up your child from his or her school, doctors, therapists or other activities, you will want to keep them apprised of this schedule. I keep mine updated on my phone but, I periodically shake things up by alternating between a dry-erase and printed, color-coded monthly calendar that I keep posted on the refrigerator for everyone else to reference!
  • Set aside a regular time to spend with your family. Regardless of the responsibilities you have as an adult, your first priority is as a parent to your child. I have found that if I have arranged a regularly scheduled "family time" for us to play our favorite board games, watch a movie, or enjoy an adventure to one of the local museums, everyone in my family looks forward to it!
  • Your spouse needs you to make time for him, or her. The support that I receive from my husband, and the strength from my Lord, motivate me to do what I can for others. I sometimes get so involved in what I am doing, either for our children's school or the local autism support group, I find time has gotten away from me. Please don't let this happen to you, schedule a "date night" for you and your spouse and mark it on the calendar!
  • Lastly, you need to ask yourself the following..."Got ME time?" I know that you are probably laughing hysterically but, it is crucial to make time for yourself! Everyone needs some individual time for solitude, whether it's just having a designated quiet time once a week or being able to meet a friend for a soda. Making the decision, to take care of yourself, will be well worth every minute!

By following the tips mentioned above, you can advocate on your autism child's behalf while still maintaining a sense of order in your home. Last fall, I started as an apprentice co-leader in my local parent-led support group and then was handed the reins, as the new support group leader, in January 2013. This new advocacy role has helped me to benefit from the social aspect and what I can learn from the other parents while I share what I know with them. I have been so busy lately with April being Autism Awareness Month that I have had to constantly remind myself to not let my various advocacy projects interfere with my responsibilities to my family. 

Please join me in celebrating Autism Awareness Month in April and learning more about Autism Spectrum Disorders. The alarming new statistics released by the U.S. Center for Disease Control state that 1 in every 58 children in the United States are being diagnosed with Autism. Are YOU up to the extraordinary challenge of being the one to "Think Differently" to help someone with Autism accomplish better grades in school, achieve a career in a field that interests him or her, or even volunteer to help in childcare at an Autism support group? It will go a long way in making a difference in your community, the families affected by Autism, and in how each of us perceives individuals with Autism Spectrum Disorders. I know from my own experience that I am better for the time that I have spent as Nathan's Mom and working as a Special Education Substitute Teacher. 

If you are looking for a support group, there is most likely a local Autism Society of America chapter which can provide a number of ways in which individuals and families can obtain support and share their experiences with others in their communities. Their chapters are an obvious place to turn for encouragement, accurate information, and education. Also, there are support groups on various social sites that you can join, or check out anonymously. Search for those in your area or state then widen your perimeter. If you are, or someone you know might be, interested in reading more about our journey on the Autism Spectrum, please take the time to check out Nathan's Voice.

Wednesday, May 22, 2019

Becoming More Than Just Mom and #Autism Advocate: Fundraising Tips

Hello, again!

This is another post that was originally written for a site titled Character Boost, which I recently discovered that this site is no longer in operation. I decided to make this post available for my readers in a post linked to the original post. I will post the second part of this post as soon as I possibly can. Please enjoy the original guest post as it was submitted to Character Boost a little over six years ago. Thank you for your understanding and continued support! ~Lorrie

Those of you who follow our family autism blog will know that, besides my being Nathan's Mom and Advocate, I am very involved in my son's school and in our local community. I started out by just volunteering in each of my son's classrooms and in the elementary school office. Three years ago, I became a Substitute Teacher in my boys' elementary school where I enjoy working with children. I have had the privilege of being able to "pay it forward" in the special education department at my son's elementary school. Our family has been fortunate enough to have had an awesome team of individuals that have used their knowledge to help our son use his coping skills to navigate his always unpredictable journey on the Autism Spectrum.

My loving husband, our very supportive extended family, and having the faith to rely on my precious Lord, are what has given me the strength to get through the difficult times before and since Nathan's diagnosis five years ago. Within a few weeks of Nathan's diagnosis, I started our Family Autism Team "Nathan's Voice" and we walked in support of our son, Nathan, in the 2008 Oklahoma Walk Now for Autism Speaks held in Oklahoma City. As the team captain, I had organized two large indoor sales to benefit autism, one for each of the next two years, as our big annual team fundraiser for the annual walk. I hadn't realized how taking on this responsibility would affect my family. It is very important to remember these tips when organizing team fundraisers:


  • Pick a fundraiser that is realistic and one that is not too complicated. It is better to start with something small and then decide to add more features, after having it become a huge success and recruiting more volunteers.
  • Find a location for your fundraiser, possibly an indoor venue so that you don't have to worry about the weather and you will most likely have more volunteers. If a local church is willing to allow you to have your fundraiser indoors, you should list them as a sponsor on your advertising.
  • Select a tentative date and the times for your fundraiser. It is good to have another date available, in the event of bad weather or other scheduling issues. Be sure to check with each of your volunteers, suppliers, and sponsors whom you would like present at your fundraiser.
  • Make a detailed schedule so that each of your volunteers will know when they are expected to work during the fundraiser. Remember to send each of them a friendly reminder, thanking him/her for the help each of them will be providing during your fundraiser!
  • If you will be using price tags, and want a certain format used, you may want to create your own custom template in Excel and share it with your volunteers via email. I have found that you can insert a small logo, personalizing them to advertise your organization. 
  • Put something together as a personal "Thank You" to present to each of your volunteers after your fundraiser is complete. Possibly, a small token of your appreciation or along the lines of what your organization represents or provides to the community.

While you are busy organizing your fundraiser, it is important to keep your family's needs in mind. We hope that you have enjoyed this post, and we look forward to following it up with tips on keeping everything in your household running smoothly.

Tuesday, May 21, 2019

Mastering the Essential Skills of Sportsmanship While Having Autism

Greetings!

This post was originally written for a site titled Character Booster, but I recently discovered while checking the links on my site that this site is no longer in operation. I decided to make this post available for my readers in a post linked to the original post. I will do the same for the other two written for the same site as soon as I possibly can. Please enjoy the original guest post as it was submitted to Character Booster a little over six years ago. Thank you for your understanding and continued support! ~Lorrie

I am honored to have been asked to write a guest post for Character Boost. As a parent of a child with autism spectrum disorder (ASD), I mostly write about how autism affects our family, the education of our son and how difficult social interaction is for him. Autism can best be described as a brain-based disorder that impairs the development of a child's social behavior and communication. I want to give others an insight into my son's extraordinary journey on the autism spectrum. Over the last few years, my husband and I have given our two boys, Vincent and Nathan, more freedom to play with and get to know the other children in our neighborhood. It has been a good experience, and experiment, in social interaction for our sons, especially for Nathan. Occasionally, there may be an afternoon when Vincent has had to escort Nathan back to the house because he has had a "meltdown". Most of the time, he is able to "self-regulate" and rejoin his friends until it is time to come in for dinner.

When the weather will not permit us to be outside, we will play some of our favorite games such as Sorry!™, Monopoly™, Aggravation™ or something special on the Wii™. If we decide to play a game on the Wii, it will usually depend on what we are in the mood for. Each of us gets to choose a game that we want to share with the rest of the family. The diversity in the skills that each of us have, the variety of sports that each of us chooses and the difference in levels of patience are something that makes our family time one of quality and quite memorable. Individual strengths, and weaknesses, make each one of us unique and special. While Vincent may be good at Frisbee Golf, Matt likes the Tiger Woods™ golf and I enjoy the 100-pin bowling, Nathan is exceptionally good at Table Tennis. Our family has learned, that no matter how much that we struggle with a certain skill set, to remember that we are there to support one another through a difficult level and to cheer each other on to success!

We are extremely proud of how Nathan has learned to master the concept of individual game rules, take turns in playing games and how important general sportsmanship is in everyday life. His slightly older brother, Vincent, has been essential in helping Nathan accomplish these motor and social skills. My husband and I are very blessed to have such wonderful children and to know that each of our boys can do, and will continue to be able to do, anything that they set their minds on.