Tuesday, June 25, 2013

A BIG "Thank YOU" To Marianne Ross, AMC Theatres and #Autism Society For Implementing Sensory Friendly Films!

Not many people know how the very first "Sensory Friendly Films" came into existence. It was after Marianne Ross, a mother of a seven year old daughter with autism, was asked to leave a movie theater because other movie-goers were bothered by her daughter's outbursts. The frustrated mother called an AMC movie theater in Columbia, Maryland and spoke to the theater's manager who took the time to listen to her about the adaptations the company could make to help children with autism, and their families, be more comfortable or accepted while watching movies. 

It has been just a little over four years since AMC Theatres and the Autism Society have teamed up to bring families affected by autism, and other disabilities, a special opportunity to enjoy their favorite films in a safe and accepting environment on a monthly basis with the "Sensory Friendly Films" program. In order for AMC Theatres to provide a more comfortable setting for this unique audience, the movie auditoriums will have their lights brought up and the sound turned down, families will be able to bring in their own gluten-free, casein-free snacks, and at most locations, no previews or advertisements will be shown before the movie. Additionally, audience members are welcome to get up and dance, walk, shout or sing - in other words, AMC's "Silence is Golden" policy will not be enforced unless the safety of the audience is questioned.

This coming Saturday morning, June 29th at 10:00 am, the scheduled "Sensory Friendly Film" is Monsters University, a computer animated comedy film produced by the renown Pixar Animation Studios and released by Walt Disney Pictures. If it is anything like Disney Pixar's Monster's Inc. that came out in 2001, it will be a good movie for us to take our families to see. I would like to ask you to enjoy the movie and then be sure to thank the staff that make it possible for our families to do so without being asked to leave, or at least ridiculed by other movie-goers. This will let them know how much we appreciate the time and effort that goes in to providing these films to the autism community!

Sunday, June 23, 2013

After The Week That I Have Had, I Will Definitely Need a Refill On My "Pockets Of Patience"!

I don't want anyone to think that I don't cherish every little bit of time I spend my family or enjoy the volunteer work that I elect to take on. It's just that, every once in a while, I feel like I need a refill on my Pockets of Patience! This last week, the boys and I attended Vacation Bible School at a church that we have recently became involved with. My initial goal was to shadow Nathan as he moved between each activity, interacted with the other children and learned more about how God sent his Son to give us eternal life through salvation. It is difficult for Nathan to remember to initiate "self-control" when he becomes frustrated but, overall he seemed to be transitioning well into this new environment. 

If you follow my blog posts, you may remember that a month ago we had quite a few tornadoes that destroyed a large amount of homes, businesses, hospitals and took lives of loved ones. Many of the people affected had been signed up as volunteers during VBS but, understandably, were not available because they were now taking care of personal business related to property loss, insurance claims, etc. It hadn't occurred to me until I just happened to overhear someone asking another individual if they could help in another area. I don't tend to wait for someone to ask me if I can help, I immediately jump in where I am needed! After I explained to Nathan what I wanted to do and asked if he would be alright, I went over to ask if I could help them by volunteering where they needed help. I am sure having a complete stranger, someone they did not know anything about, walk up to them and volunteer to work with children caught them off guard...it would make me apprehensive, to say the least!

Within a matter of a few minutes, I had been signed up as a  volunteer, introduced to the other volunteer that was working with the group that I was assigned to and directed to the location of our current activity for that day. The first day went by faster than I anticipated! I was excited about being able to contribute towards my church's children ministry, even if it was such a small part. I haven't been in a church this size since I was a teenager, which was a very long time ago! I was physically exhausted because I am out of shape from not exercising regularly and literally overwhelmed with the number of people that I had come in contact with during those few hours. Like my youngest son, Nathan, I tend to get cranky when I get frustrated or irritated. I have to continuously ask God for more patience, and understanding, in order for me to accomplish my daily routines, deal with unforeseen things that pop up and sometimes even when forgiving myself. 

Being able to contribute towards the VBS of the church that we have just become involved in was a totally amazing experience, while at the same time, it was definitely outside of my normal comfortable zone. I have recently been trying to be more accepting of change when it happens, doing new things with my own children when we have the opportunity and improving on my skills of being a better parent and full-time advocate for children with autism. This will not happen right away but, it will eventually become easier for me to venture outside what I consider to be my "normal" comfortable zone.

The most important thing is that each of us remembers, when something makes us uncomfortable, that there are others out there dealing with less than desirable circumstances. Learning to step outside our own comfortable zone, to help someone in their time of need, makes each of a Good Samaritan and shows others we are willing to follow in the footsteps of Christ. I only ask that each of us will take the time, not if but, when the opportunity presents itself to make a difference in someone's life. One of my ongoing goals in life is to #PayItForward and I hope you will choose to do so, as well!

Friday, June 21, 2013

I Would Like To Introduce You To "Helping Hands Worldwide"

I joined the Helping Hands Worldwide community about seven months ago. It is an honor to be a part of this special group which helps people who are struggling financially, due to having a child or children with special needs or medical condition. This group lends the needed support to help make sure that each child receives either a birthday present or Christmas present when the child's parents can not afford to provide a gift. Parents/friends can send a personal message with details on the child so that the group can organize a little special gift from all of us in the Helping Hands Worldwide community. 
The Helping Hands Worldwide community is in need of more individuals, or even families, interested in becoming a Hero in either the "Children In Need" program or the "Heroes for Kids" program. Are YOU interested in putting a smile on a special child's face because you are willing to make sure that he or she has a birthday present and a card, or a Christmas present, on that special day in their life?!? Please take the time to visit Helping Hands Worldwide so that Dee Williams can help you get you registered for the program! 
If you are interested in the other various groups featured by Helping Hands Worldwide, please check out the following: 
    • Children in Need (for children on our list who's parents cannot afford a gift) 
    • Adult Birthday Group (cards for adults only - senders & recipients) 
    • Heroes for Kids (volunteers who would like to sponsor children in need) 
    • Heroes for Adults (sending cards or ecards to parents of special needs kids) 
    • ASD support group 
    • Financial Resource (forums by state/country) 
    • Special Education Resources (forums by state/country) 
    • PenPals for Kids (where you can help your child find a penpal) 
    • PenPals for Parents (where you can find yourself an adult to talk to) 
    • Prayer Group (for those needing prayers and who will pray for others) 
    • Special Diet Requirements (for those with special dietary needs & food allergies) 
    • Weight Loss Support (forums for different diets, so you can find support) 
    • USA Smart Phone Drive (for people who can help gather or donate used smart phones with touch screens and the phone charger. The phones will be reset to factory setting, apps loaded and placed with children in need of assistive technology, who's parents cannot afford an iPad or iTouch to download apps on, so Helping Hands Worldwide can make a difference and help them with a new way to learn!)

Your help is most needed in helping to make sure that each of these wonderful children receives a present on their birthday and Christmas. It is an awesome feeling to be able to assist their parents make sure that special day is one that they will remember!! Please be sure to mention that Lorrie Servati of "Nathan's Voice" sent you. I look forward to hearing from anyone that wishes to leave me a comment below. Thank YOU for taking the time to read my post and be motivated enough to visit Helping Hands Worldwide!

Wednesday, June 5, 2013

Even With Having To Relocate Because Of Last Week's Tornadoes, It Couldn't Stop Camp Noggin 2013!

     My boys and I have been looking forward to Camp Noggin 2013 since we found out how much FUN it was at last year's camp! This is an awesome camp where children with autism and their siblings can enjoy a week of day camp, meet new friends and have FUN learning things in an autism-friendly environment. We have a fabulous director and assistant that spend all year preparing the schedule, snacks, activities, awards ceremony and the extraordinary Camp Noggin t-shirt that you see above. 
     Last Friday's tornadoes tore through at least three counties leaving damages, power outages and took the lives of at least twenty. The one that ripped through El Reno last Friday evening affected families, businesses and nonprofits like El Reno Youth and Family Services where we normally have our beloved Camp Noggin each year. Our wonderful Camp Noggin director, while dealing with no power in her own home, wasted no time in locating another location so that we could provide this long-awaited week of day camp for these special children. 
     We are very thankful that an area church was gracious enough to host the autism day camp this year but, our spectacular Camp Noggin will be back at the El Reno Youth and Family Services next year, where it belongs. For more information on how the tornado has affected our Camp Noggin sponsor, El Reno Youth and Family Services, please check out their website here. Thank you for taking the time to support and follow our autism journey!