When you feel like you are failing as an Autism Mom…

I am involved in a support group on Facebook and I often see the horrifying messages that make me wince with sadness and my heart aching with pain after I’ve read them. Although there are those beautiful success stories, the most common thing I come across are Mom’s of all ages and stages, colors and cultures who are all facing the SAME struggle. Their plea for help. Their desperation for progress. And they all actually believe they are “failing.” Thats the part that really has my heart throbbing.

I’m here to say, that if you are trying, then you are not failing. One of my favorite things about being a Christian Autism Mom is that I am able to wake up everyday KNOWING that I will be forgiven for my mistakes as a parent because my heart is pure. I love unconditionally. I live each day trying my absolute hardest. I’ve struggled with depression before becoming a mother so you could only imagine how it was to be pregnant and single. The anxiety sky rocketed since becoming an autism momma bear. (I wouldn’t change him for the WORLD).

Anxiety crept up like the devil ready to devour. Things most parents don’t have to go through half as much or with as much intensity as we do like going to the store, going to a friends house with all neurotypical children and adults who have never dealt with autism, family birthday parties, Disneyland and most of all my favorite, restaurants. It became hell for me and I’m sure it was for my son too. Trapped in our own bodies unable to deal. I was putting so much energy into trying to keep my son calm or lower his voice or to NOT bang his head, hand or knock things over; he’s also a RUNNER. (Gotta love him L.O.L)

But even on those days where I didn’t eat, and watched Netflix for most of the day to escape the outside world and only got out of my bed just to feed, bathe and do at least 1 type of outside or learning activity with my son, I was TRYING MY BEST! I Didn’t look at it that way at the time, but with time and upward growth and honestly, full disclosure; one on one therapy. I do now. There’s a lot of factors that have put me in depression. Single mom, Autsim itself, relationship issues, worrying about how I will pay my bills, therapy/insurances, figuring out how to balance my life, trying to finish school, trying not to be stuck in a hole and worrying about if I’ll ever have success. Worrying about how others will treat my son, worried about his academia, worried if he’ll ever play sports, worried if he’ll ever speak in full sentences…These are all things we deal with among more.

Mental health is crucial. Physical health compliments your mental state. So get up, and get out. No one said to abandon Netflix or Hulu or Prime, just multitask. Watch that season 1,2 and 3 as you work out, do the dishes, wash clothes etc. (;

Here are my 7 ideals to help guide you Mama’s in a healthy direction.

1. Accept – FORGIVE yourself & everyone else. It’s no one’s fault your child has Autism. Accept that your child processes things differently. Get on board.

2. Research – Educate yourself! Learn about autism, learn about ABA, learn to play and engage with your child in whatever way calms them. Read about it. The internet is an amazing tool and sometimes we have to dig for the answers to specific things (adaptation), but it’s SO worth it!

3. Adapt -changing your environmental arrangements in the home and even at families homes if possible and overall doing things differently for a more smooth ride. (Make a busy book for your car, sensory diets etc.)

4. Advocate – fight for your children and yourself! Your children have rights and so do you. Make sure those IEP’s are being held to those standards, make sure the ABA providers are doing their job and not wasting time or inappropriately implementing therapy. Set a fire under those insurance companies butts, appeal everything! If you believe in something never stop.

5. Spread Awareness – with LOVE.

Ahhhhh… #5 is SO HARD.

Being nice to the people who stair at you, and even worse, YOUR CHILD, like you both are disgusting and don’t belong is probably our greatest struggle in life. But after you walk away from simply stating “my son/daughter has Autism and is overstimulated right now” with a smile and loving eyes, YOU feel better. DON’T apologize. Just let them know. And the more you tell people with a smile (while ignoring the behavior you DO NOT want to reinforce, and praising those 4 second appropriate behaviors) keep smiling, keep shopping, KEEP LIVING. It starts to feel good. Each time you say it out loud you begin to gain just a little more confidence.

6. Get up and out! – exercise and get out of your house! Take your children out. Children get depressed too. A park is probably the best way to give your kiddo some freedom and get your dose of vitamin D. Get those endorphins flowing, get some social interaction. It’s Healing for the mind, body and soul.

7. PRAY – pray to whatever higher power you believe in. Pray for your child well-being, their growth, there capabilities, pray for your strength, pray for your sanity, pray for wisdom, pray for everything.

– From one Autism Momma Bear to another..

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A Letter to my Son

For My Son,

I remember the day I found out about you, you were in here…in my tummy, yes son, that’s right, you started out right here in mommy’s tummy. Maybe that’s why you kiss me there so much, and touch, and touch and touch! You wiggled, you tickled, you tossed and turned. You even played hide and seek, when the doctor tried to take a peek. What I remember utmost, were those punches you still love to throw most.

But did you know my love, that the day before mommy found out you were coming that mommy was going to become a soldier just like the ones perfectly lined up on your window pain. And did you know, my love, that mommy was getting ready to embark on many exciting adventures, just like the ones you play out at home. Mommy was going to fly so high, just like the planes we watch so vividly in the sky. And did you know, my love, that mommy thought that becoming a soldier, would be some of the greatest accomplishments and adventures in her life?

Everything changed my love, when Mommy locked eyes with YOU. You are an experience that could never be replaced. What Mommy didn’t know was that you, and only you, would introduce me to a new culture and YOU would give me the new adventures that I craved and mommy wouldn’t trade those for the world.

What Mommy didn’t know then, my love, was that YOU would make me the strongest soldier in life that mommy could have ever been. For you my love, mommy is so grateful. But mommy just wants to remind you, that you are a soldier too, and sometimes life may seem a little tough.. but I’ll always be here to guide you. If not in the physical… “I’ll be in the stars, and everywhere you are, because I could never leave you 🎶 ” (credit: Promises by: Jhene Aiko)

So always remember my love, You are you, and that’s ok. I love when you cluster all the bouncy balls into the corner of the kitchen. At Christmas time, I love when you align the gingerbread house with the edge of the counter (that’s how I know you’ve been there), I love how your toys are always lined, spaced and arranged smallest to tallest, perfectly down the hallway, I love the way you study each toy so close to your face, that it touches your nose before putting it down and give yourself a “happy-hands” flap or two.

And mommy knows, that sometimes you like to play alone, and that’s ok. Sometimes other children get frustrated, and that’s ok. Other times, you get frustrated, and that’s ok. Because mommy is here to tell you, that “ you are you, this is truer than true, and there will never be anyone else, more you-er than you!” (Quote inspo. Dr. Suess)

Back to School for Autism Momma Bears

Alright my fellow Moms! Are you guys ready to get your kiddo’s back to school? Because I don’t think I am (haha). Then again, a part of me is like “dang that was too long,” I can definitely use some help. With my son only being approved 4 hours for ABA therapy, I can definitely use the help of having someone else teach him for 4 hours (my son just started Kindergarten).

Aside from our basic Mama Bear daily frustrations, I know many of you fellow moms are going into this year super hyped, super positive and ready to rock! I also know, there are the many mama’s who become worry warriors…because let’s face it, we don’t KNOW what goes on in the classroom or on the playground. Are there bigger kids? Are there any hitters this year. Are there aggressive kiddos? Bullying? We wonder and sometimes make the mistake of becoming worry warriors. As my faith in Christianity tells me that worrying is a sin, I do my best to keep my faith in the Lord and that he watch over my son. I am working on getting into the habit of prayer in the AM, that he bless my son on his journey at school. Now I’m not saying don’t pay close attention, or don’t check your kiddos body for marks everyday, (because I do). BUT… what I am saying, is to become a prayer warrior. Transfer the worry into Prayer 🙏🏻. In doing so this is US changing OUR behavior because sometimes we need to do that right?? It’s not always about changing our children’s behavior, it’s changing ours also. To whatever God or higher power you believe in. CHOOSE to believe in the goodness of the world.

Be vigilant. Always talk to your kids about their day. Ask what they did at school. One thing I would like to do with my kiddos in pre-k toward the end of the day was to ask each one at circle time their favorite part of the day and then their worst part of the day. Talking is key. And it is ammazing what they will tell you.

(And remind your kiddos the worst part can be a feeling of embarrassment, or getting butterfly’s in their tummy for maybe speaking in front of the class or reading out loud. There doesn’t always have to be an actual horrible time of day)

For those of you who are in the same boat as me and have a kiddo who is non-verbal or unable to answer these questions and you are feeling left in the dark, pay attention to their non-verbal signs. I always do a body check when we get home. And in this process I have found bite marks and scratches from the back of his neck down in between his shoulder blades (when he was in pre-school With no phone call from a teacher). Know your parent rights. I called and emailed photos immediately so there is documentation and a time stamp. I understand some kids are more aggressive than others, and teachers are SO busy because again I’ve worked in the classroom as an aide, but notification is detrimental.

Some other non-verbal cues are:

  1. Not wanting to attend school after being excited to be there

2. Sudden anxiety to go to school/crying

3. Complaints about tummy aches or headaches

4. A sudden burst of maladaptive behaviors

5. Fatigue

6. Incontinence. (Not being able to hold urination after previously being potty trained and no accidents)

And of course, always keep an eye out for physical signs. While I was in my Child Development classes at school and studying about child abuse and neglect, these are the first signs before and physical signs are noticeable.

Parent-Teacher Interaction and Communication is Important!

keep in constant communication with teachers. There are apps like, Class DOJO and I’m sure many more. Be involved, and NEVER feel like you are bugging even if you know you actually are. If a teacher becomes frustrated, you’ll noticed those non-verbal cues and that is a sure sign to keep more tabs on your kiddos. If you have a case with IRC (Inland Regional Center) or have ABA services you can ask them to do a school setting observation. These are all ways to have eyes on the inside and be involved.

Above all, practice consistency in changing the way you think and become a Prayer Warrior instead of a Worrier. Positive affirmations every morning and evening also help to change the thought process.

Best wishes for ALL of you Mama Bears and your kiddos at the start of this beautiful 2019-2020 school year my friends! Make changes that maximize you and your child’s optimal growth, spiritually, physically and mentally and all will be well.

Communicate. Be Vigilant. Be Involved. Be Teachable.

Love,

An Autism Mama Bear just like you… 🧩

Fight for Your/Children’s Rights

I apologize for my 2 week absence. We have been going through a lot of insurance obstacles obtaining Clinically appropriate ABA (Applied Behavior Analysis) services along with Speech therapy. As I put one foot in front of the other each day, I will continue to fight each battle for my son each day. One right after another. I’ll explain the short version of the one of many hurdles we Autism parents and caregivers must overcome.

Our son has dual insurances, because his father and I are separated. He has IEHP through myself, and Aetna through his father’s employment. I was notified recently that we have to go through Aetna as his primary insurance for everything because Aetna is a private paid for insurance. My son has been with his IEHP pediatrician, (whom I absolutely LOVE despite the atrocious waiting times, but it’s the quality over the quantity right 🤷🏼‍♀️) for 4 years. We adore her patience, and the time she takes to talk to us and let us unload all our fears and worries for our son even throughout his non stop meltdowns as we’re there. Aetna contracts their behavior health through HMC, which contracts to another healthcare provider for all adolescent cases. These physicians make the ever-so-important decisions based solely off reports. Our ABA service provider’s recommendation by two separate BOARD CERTIFIED BEHAVIOR ANALYST’S, is 15 hours per week of intensive 1:1 direct intervention. Three of the doctors from this third-party health care provider are trying to tell us that our lower functioning, Moderate to Severe ASD son only needs 4 hours per week in direct intervention….

let’s let that sink in…

As I type these words, I am breathing…inhale annnnd exhale…trying to find my “Zen,” because I gave y’all the short version, you did not get to hear about the raw details like how “peer to peer” conferences have been missed by these physicians which exceeded deadlines and prompted denials with no cantact through his ABA clinical team, or the fact that after I appealed the first denial, the Doctor mentioned he did not read the report (by which he asked for within 1 business day prior to the next phone conference) or the fact that these phone conversations were all of 10 minutes and did not let our BCBA’s state their case. Or the fact that he recommend services stop commencing September 15th…(two months away) Even though my son has severe anxiety issues and is attending a new school for Kindergarten come August…

WEEEELLL…let me just say…WRONG MOMMA BEAR! I have obtained a letter of recommendation from my son’s pediatrician and submitted it to all parties involved. I have exhausted appeal after appeal, I have written a letter to the Board of Trustees of the local union my son’s insurance is contacted with… and I will exhaust those appeals too. I’ve called the state disability office (although they cannot help me because it is a private insurance). I have made the necessary appointments through Aetna (doctors whom which we have never seen). I have contacted Inland Regional Center for support and temporary coverage and I WONT STOP. I’ll never stop.

Fellow parents and caregivers, Don’t stop fighting for your children. They have rights. You have rights. Fight for those rights. Only YOU can choose to make these moves that are so detrimental to your child’s future inclusion and success. We have the right to receive help so that our children have the opportunity to become independent and productive members of society. We have the right to see them grow into blossoming adults who are included, accepted and loved by their community. NEVER GIVE UP.

Our Story

The beginning…

Being a mom of a child with Autism isn’t an easy job. Even for the most experienced mothers out there, it’s still no easy stroll in the park and I mean that literally (there will be protesting, kicking ,screaming, non compliance, tantrums, body dropping, flailing etc.). No matter where your child is on the spectrum-high functioning, low functioning, a genius, multiple diagnosis, let’s face it, it’s hard stuff. I got pregnant with my son at just 21. I was single. Co-parenting was my only option. It seemed easy enough…(or so I thought but we will get into that later). I knew his dad loved him and would be an amazing father despite our differences. But boy were we not ready for what was to come. At around 14 months — a complete and total regression took place! Lack of facial expression and eye contact, a withdrawal socially, unable to complete basic demands like “show me ojitos” or “patty cake,” and things of that nature…around 18 months he would become so frustrated he would bang his head on the wall and hard floor and sometimes hit his head with and open hand. He wouldn’t let me read to him, and rarely could sit and attend. Some similar things stuck out to not only me, but my family as well. We are Hispanic and have nothing but “little ducklings” running around the house as my great grandmother would call it so the developmental progress stood out. I also had taken a child development class a year before becoming pregnant and that helped track a lot of developmental milestones. He would eat dirt, coins, and become fixated with drains and metal. He gathered circular objects, mostly all his bouncy balls, and would line up his toys in the kitchen. It began to become increasingly painful for me to see him wanting to talk to me, but not being able to get it out. So, I finally made the call. I called our local regional center for an assessment and to help explain what was happening. And so it began…that was my first step to becoming an advocate for my baby boy. The beginning of a long and tough journey where God would test me and trials would teach me. The beginning of this ABA Mom!

( Pictured above is my son & I on July 4th, 2019)

A little bit about us…

Happy Independence Day everyone! God bless all the fallen and the standing! To those of you who fought for our Freedom, we are forever thankful. Amen! 🇺🇸🙏🏻 7/4/19

(Picture credit: unknown)

The Intro.

I am a Child Development Major 🍎 and although I have completed all my early childhood education coursework I’m still attending school. I am NOT a medical professional, I am NOT licensed in ANY field. I just have experience that I’d love to share with the world around me. I DON’T “know it all” and I love learning new things. I’m always open to new suggestions and I try to be adaptable as possible.

I have worked in state Pre-school (which I LOVED), provided child care services aka “babysitting” (but with a hands on learning and educational approach), and most recently, I was a Behavior technician but took time off from working to focus on my son and school. My passion lies with ABA (which is basically learning through play). I love helping to teach ALL children, not just those with Autism.

I will do many things in the child development field in my lifetime and I hope to also do many things in the Autism world also. I like to see myself as a “Jack if all trades.” A little bit of this, and a little bit of that…my goal is to become a BCBA (Board Certified Behavior Analyst) however, that will be down the line…Being that my son is almost 6 and we have our very own struggles, it’s not easy working, and completing coursework. I have a long way to go, no doubt. I’ll get there when God see’s it fit 🤷🏼‍♀️

My son is almost 6, and has been in therapy with some breaks and numerous environmental barriers since he was 2 years old. He is still primarily nonverbal with at least 5-10 words to communicate. He is starting Kindergarten in August and will be placed in a Moderate/Severe Spedical Education Class.

If you WANT to learn parents, you can. Yes it’s time consuming, yes it’s stressful, yes it takes discipline, but it’s so worth it. I believe in you all 💪🏼. You CAN do anything you set your mind to. 🙏🏻

This is my passion. And there’s no greater feeling than to see success in my Son, future students, family members, friends etc. The goal is that we get our loved ones where they need to be to become as independent as possible in life and to help them learn and grow and feel safe, secure, and comfortable in their skin at home or in public and overall, just generally good about themselves.

💙🧩🙏🏻

Much respect to all you hardworking moms, dads, grandparents, brothers, sisters, auntys and uncles and extended family members.

Follow me on IG:

@theabamommie_

Love,

The ABA Momma Bear… one of so many.

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