Monday, June 20, 2016

Getting Early Intervention for Autism works and My Son is Proof - Brendan 4 years old

       The last 4 months have been the greatest months since we started this autism journey. I have so many amazing stories and progress to share so bare with me while I brag about my son. Getting to brag isn't something I am used to but I am going to continue to enjoy every second.
          Anxiety has been a big issue for Brendan over the last 2 years. He has refused to get into anybody else's car expect for mine for the last 2 years. This has been such a struggle for us especially my husband because he wouldn't even ride in my husbands car. We have been working on getting him to just touch anther car from the outside to putting his iPad in the car so he would have to get in the car to retrieve it. We have worked on this for over a year. I am happy to share that he has gotten into a couple different cars over the last couple months without an issues. This is a huge win for all of us. Going to a bowling alley has also been a big struggle the last 2 years. Well this kid just walks into bowling like he has done this before. He listened, waited his turn to bowl but the best part is he had so much fun! He had an amazing experience at the dentist and the doctors. He used to kick and scream at both of those. He is starting to understand what is going on and he is realizing that all the things he was so scared of are all ok.

  I was asked by AZA United to speak to American Airlines employees to give a parents perspective on flying with a child with special needs. I was able to share all of my own fears I have when flying with Brendan along with his anxiety issues. I wanted them to know that autism can be an invisible disability but their employees still need to be educated. If we are in the air and Brendan starts crying it is not because he didn't get a cookie its because he is terrified. I wasn't even sure if he would get on an airplane since he has anxiety to so much. We are getting ready to leave on a 10 day vacation and I was terrified that it was going to be a disaster flying with him. After my speech was over I had some of the employees approach me and say they wanted to help. They set up a day where we got to go the American Airlines hanger at Sky Harbor airport. They had a plane set out just for him! They had it turned on so he can hear the sound. They let him go into the plane and explore anything he wanted. He was super excited to go into the plane but I wasn't sure if was actually going to go in. But what do know he walked right in with absolutely no issues. American Airlines has gone above and beyond for my family. They made sure our trips next week will be perfect. They have helped me so much. It is one less thing I have to worry about on our trip. Thank you to AZA United for choosing me to represent your company and thank you to American Airlines for making sure Brendan has the best experience flying.
  Brendan started taking a tap and ballet combo dance class with 3-5 years old in late March. He loves to dance so much and he is always wanting to join his sister Haley's dance classes. So I thought why not let him try the class. He absolutely loved the class. He picked up on the dances that the other kids in the class had already learned so fast. He showed such natural skills in class. I was blown away. He blended in with the other typical kids. Watching him in the class he didn't show any signs of his autism well maybe a couple non stop spinning episodes but that would be it. After a couple classes I said something to one of the other moms about him having autism and she didn't believe me. I had to try and convince her that no he really does have autism. I said he has made so much progress in the last 3 months that if you had met him 6 months ago you wouldn't be questioning me because it was so much more obvious. This is something I only could of dreamt of. Brendan was able to perform in the big dance recital. Thank you to Adaptive Force Performing Arts owners Amber and Mike Wittmers for allowing Brendan to have some special privileges to insure he had a great experience. I stayed with him at all times and was able to stand on the side of the stage during his performance. The first time he walked on stage in front of a couple hundred people and danced his little heart I was a mess. I stood on the side of the stage crying my eyes out. I just couldn't even believe this was really happening. My little boy who was diagnosed with autism at 13 months old was stage dancing. As a mom you don't get to dream big for your child after the diagnosis. You never think you chid will be able to do what typical kids get to do. This is why this moment was so emotional for me. It is a moment that will stay with me forever. After the first day of his performances were over I think every person who watched him in the audience came up to him and said how amazing he did. It just warmed my heart. I had moms coming up to me with tears in their eyes after watching him. He truly touched every single person in the audience. He proved that even with autism he can do anything. I didn't get to watch him at the recital other than a side view which I couldn't see his face so I am egerly waiting for the recital dvd to arrive. Here is some video of him on the practice days.

In the middle of April started taking swim lessons. We started him in the ISR (infant survival rescue) program. He goes to swim 5 days a week for only 10 minutes. It is supposed to last 6 to 8 weeks. The first day in the water he just goes in with no fear and holds his breath and breaths out his nose like he had done this before. But this was the first time. He has always had floaty's on when he was in the water. The weeks continued and he was catching on so fast to swimming. At about week 5 and 6 he began to struggle a little. He just wanted to swim, he didn't want to do what was asked of him. I really struggled to communicate what he needed to do. But after just talking with him as much as I could it all finally clicked. He finished the program in 7 weeks and is fully swimming on his own. This program is absolutely amazing and I recommend it for everyone. He once a again was able to do what the typical kids were doing. The water has always been very calming for him but it was also an unsafe place because he had no fear. But now I can have some peace of mind and know that he can swim and enjoy himself.

          Brendan is now one of the most social little 4 year olds. He will say hi to everyone in the room and he will continue to say hi to you until you answer him. He will say thank you when someone compliments him most of the time as well as he says your welcome. He always wants to play make believe like doctor, house, school and babies. I love that he will play all of these things with his sister.   Everyday he is making so much progress. I am not even sure if I have really grasped all of this. This is all proof of why getting early intervention is so important.

Thursday, June 16, 2016

3 Year Anniversary of getting his Autism Diagnosis-Brendan 4 years old

I honestly can't believe it has been 3 years since Brendan got his autism diagnosis. He has worked so hard over the last 3 years and he has made more progress than anyone ever expected. He has the most amazing team of therapist. They truly are the dream team. They are all family to us and mean so much to our family. Here is look at how much progress he has made over the last 3 years!

Sunday, February 7, 2016

Potty Training a child with Autism, Apraxia and Sensory Processing Disorder-Brendan 3.5 years old


    Potty training a typical child can be scary but potty training a child with autism, apraxia and sensory issue was one the most frightening things! I had many sleepless nights leading up to the big day. There was a lot of planning that took place about one month before we started. First I started to take daily data on his pee and poop. I was lucky enough that every time Brendan went in his diaper he wanted it changed right away. So I was able to get the data since I knew every time he went in his diaper. This data allowed me to get kind of an idea of the times he went. Then we had a meeting with his entire therapist team and went over some of the ideas we had on how we were going to approach this. Brendan is extremely unpredictable so we pretty much made a list of different things we could do depending on how he was responding. All his therapist changed their schedules around so this first week of training we could have a therapist here with me at all times. I needed the support as much as Brendan especially since we didn't know how he would react. Next I went on amazon and I ordered everything you could think of that I thought I would need for potty training and more. I got 3 different kinds of the kid potty chairs, 2 different stairs with toilet seat attachments for the big toilet. I got lots of fun underwear, flushable wipes, potty watch, potty sand timers, fun construction vehicle toilet target pictures (for boys only), cheerios for target peeing and fun disposable seats for on the go. I got a fun star potty chart, a chalkboard to keep in the bathroom so we could track when he was going. Because Brendan cant have any candy or food for prizes I got a box of 50 matchbox cars, coloring books, DVD’s of his favorite shows, glow sticks, sticker books and board games. Basically all the things I knew Brendan would want to work for. I know what you are thinking, wow this is a lot and you are right but Brendan is the type of kid who likes to be in control so the more choices he gets to make the better I knew he would respond. I kept all of this in hiding until the day we were going to start the training. Except he did see all the underwear. The night before we started I put underwear on him to go to bed. Risky right but I wanted him to get started in the morning and didn't want a diaper on him. When he went to bed we go rid of every single diaper or pull up we had. I will tell you if you are going to commit to the potty training then you must NEVER go back and forth from pull ups to underwear. I have watched to many people make this curial mistake in potty training. 


       Before Brendan went to bed I asked Brian to demonstrate how you pee into the cheerios targets. lol So Brendan stood there and watched Brian. Well when Brian was done I went and got him a matchbox car and said, "great job dadda you went pee in the potty and here is your prize." Well the look on Brendan's face was priceless. He instantly dropped his pants and sat on the potty and kept saying Brendan prize. He wanted that car so bad. I made Brian hold it so Brendan couldn't touch it or play with it. Brendan sat on the potty for a while and no action. He was so upset because he wanted that prize. It was time for him to go to bed. 

         Brendan went to bed and I went into action. I got everything out and made the bathroom downstairs a place I knew he would want to go in. I put the glow in the dark stars on the bathroom ceiling, I had a 3 potty chairs in there for him to choose from. His prizes were all visible, his potty chart ready, extra underwear for him to choose from. I was even excited to go in the bathroom with all the cool things I had for him. 
     He wakes up way later than normal so this was a little different start to the day. But he woke up DRY! So here we are day 1. We gave him the big reveal of the bathroom and he was so excited. He instantly wants to sit on the iPad potty. He kept wanting to go back in the potty to look at all the prizes. He knew what he had to do to get the matchbox car and within 20 minutes he peed in the potty and was screaming with excitement when he picked his matchbox car out. Day 1 was a little rough but that was to be expected. But overall he did pretty good. 

      Day 2 we were little more mentally prepared. He woke up and I had gotten some fun balloons to put in the bathroom so when he opened the door he was super excited again. By this day we had cut our accidents in half and by the end of the day he was even going by himself. What I mean by that is he was holding his own pee pee down. lol Day 3 he now only had 1 accident and that was a poop accident. Poop is always a tricky thing with the kids. He wasn't scared to go he just always pooped standing up when he wore a diaper so trying to poop sitting down was a bit of a challenge. Day 4 we still had some poop accidents and only 1 pee accident. Everything was going so good. He was getting a matchbox car every time he went. This was the key to success for Brendan. On day 4 he filled his potty chart for the first time and then was able to get 2 cars for filling it all up. Day 5 he had 1 poop accident and 0 pee accidents! I was absolutely amazed! During all of these days so far I did pretty much followed him around every where! He never left the house and he always had just a shirt and his underwear on. 
       By day 6 he started to grab our hands and take us to the bathroom. That was his way of telling us that he had to go. I was so excited because since he doesn't have the verbal communication he learned to take us where he needed to go. He had a accident free day! Day 7 & 8 he still was taking our hands and taking us to the potty. He did have 1 poop accident in this days but still no pee accidents. 
    On day 9 I was feeling so confident with how everything was going that I felt like I could take a deep breath and say he is potty trained for the most part. During these 9 days we had compactly stopped putting any other demands on him. His therapist were still here but they were only focused on the potty training. His therapy had come to a stop but I was comfortable with starting to add some therapy back into his sessions. I also had decided to only give him a prize(matchbox car) after every 3-4 times he went pee. Mostly because we had just about gone through all 50 matchbox cars. Plus he had been doing so good. Well late in the afternoon everything came crashing down. He had his first pee accident in a couple days. Everything started to trickle down from there. I pretty much went into a straight panic. What is happening? Why is he regressing? He was doing so good? I immediately get in contact with his therapist and she went straight to Dr Gentry to get some help. He said that Brendan is doing what is called "spontaneous recovery" and this is actually very common. This happens when kids develop a complex skill pretty quickly. He was not worried at all and said he was beyond impressed with where he was at. When I heard this I was a little relieved. So the next day on day 10 he was back to doing great. This was the first day that Brendan was going to have to leave the house since we started the training. I am not going to lie, I was freaking out. I had no idea what he was going to do in a public bathroom. We went to target and I took him into the bathroom and he went in and tried to go with absolutely zero fear. He didn't go but shortly after that we went to watch Haley at dance and he went at the dance studio with no problem at all. This was such a huge relief! Once again this little boy just blows me away! We had now run out of the 50 matchbox cars for prizes but with our set back I decided to order another box of 50 matchbox cars. Now he was able to get a car again after every time he went.
          On day 11 I decided to try and start using the potty watch. I felt like he was getting really annoyed with me following him around and constantly asking him if he had to go to the bathroom. With the potty watch you have control to set it at either 30, 60 or 90 minutes. When it goes off it lights up and sings a fun little tune. I knew he wouldn't wear the watch but I decided to keep it where he could hear it. Well this WATCH was a game changer for us. I starting setting it 60 minutes and for the rest of the day it went off every hour and he would jump up and say "pee pee time" and then run into the bathroom and pee every time.  This took so much pressure off me when it came to him going pee. The poop was still a work in progress so we decided to get him bigger prizes and then told him those were poop prizes. Day 11 the start of the potty watch was a huge success.

     Watch as he responses to his potty watch when it goes off!

       Going into day 12 we kept the potty watch at 60 minutes but my focus was getting to have a successful poop. I kept close watch on him and when I knew he was having to go poop we went into the bathroom and tried to get him go. Well because he wanted to stand and poop I decided to get his go fish card game out and bring it into the bathroom. I started to play the game with him so he would just sit on the toilet and relax and not think about the poop. Well what do you know the game wasn't even finished yet and he poops! He was so excited because he had been wanting to get one of those big poop prizes he had been looking at for a couple of days. He had an amazing day no accidents at all!!!!!

      So now he has been accident free for a week and his second box of 50 matchbox cars have come and gone(yes he received a total of 100 matchbox cars) he was now just getting a stamp on his hand or a sticker when he went pee. He was still getting poop prizes but he didn't pop everyday and we wanted to make sure he lots of successes before we stop those prizes. We have also continued the potty watch. It goes off every 90 minutes and he is still listening of the watch and goes in and pees every time it goes off. If he does have to pee and the watch hasn't gone off he will walk up to you holding his pee pee and give you a stare down in yours eyes, which any autism parent will know thats not normal. Then I say to him "Bren do you ave to pee" and says "pee pee yes". Since his language is so limited this is his way of telling us he has to go. I take the potty watch out with us and he hears it when we are running errands and goes without any issues. I have been giving him a small prize when he pees outside the house but that is coming to an end.

     Today would be day 27 and he has been ACCIDENT FREE for 15 days and even staying dry at night! I am happy to say my little 3.5 year old son with autism, apraxia and sensory processing disorder is POTTY TRAINED! Thank you god for letting me keep my sanity! Thank you to his whole team of therapist but especially Katie and Sara! Katie even brought me a potty prize she knew wine was a must leading into this task! He continues to fight hard with every challenge he is faced with. His strength, courage and smile has touched so many people but most of all he teaches me what life is really about. 


Saturday, January 9, 2016

Happy New Year! We had a Big Transition last month-3.5 years old

   I can't believe it is the beginning of January already! December just seemed to go by so fast. Brendan actually did really good during the holiday's. We took him to a couple of the local holiday special needs events and overall he did great. He had a couple of anxiety attacks that have me concerned. He definitely doesn't do well with the unknown. What I mean is he doesn't like to do something that he doesn't have control over. We have been dealing with this for over a year now. He will not get into ANYBODY else's car but mine. This has been happening for over a year. He will not get on any fun train, carousal or any kind of ride. Normally he will just tell you no and get upset a bit and then once we say he doesn't have to go then he will calm down. But that has now turned into a real anxiety attack. His whole body starts to shake, tremble and cries and you can just see the fear in his eyes. As a mom watching this is just crushing. You want to take away that fear but I just don't know what is causing it. On the other hand he is a thrill seeker. The faster the better the higher the better so it just doesn't make sense to me. We have our appointment with Dr Melmed this Monday so this will be something that I will addressing with him.

         Brendan is continuing to make huge progress in all other areas. He is understanding and communicating better everyday. He is making his own decisions on so many things he normally didn't care about. He doesn't want to be left out of anything. My best friend and I took our kids out for lunch and the server brought all the kids a cup with water in it but he didn't bring Brendan one and he looks at me puts his hand on his chest and says, "oh no Brendan" he wanted a cup just like all the other kids. At that moment you feel sad but on the other hand excited because he is wanting to be like the other kids! We have had playdates and all he wants to do is interact with the kids. His social awareness has honestly come so far it is incredible. I am such a proud mom.

       Right before Christmas we transitioned Brendan from a crib to a bunk bed. I was pretty terrified with this transition. As most of you know Brendan is a pretty horrible sleeper. But this was long over due. Trying to find a mattress, pillows and sheets without polyester in it wasn't easy. Actually wasn't has hard as I thought but what was crazy was the cost of the things I found without the polyester. OMG things without polyester in it are so much more expensive. But we didn't have choice since his allergy to polyester. He was so excited when his bed was delivered and being put together. His sister has a bunk bed so that is why he wanted one. I had a whole plan of how we were going to transition him. I don't know if I have blogged about this but Brendan has a pajama issue. He would only wear long sleeve footed pajamas. Finding 100% cotton footed pajamas in sizes bigger than 5T was becoming a challenge. So now that he was getting out of the crib and going into a bed with covers I was hoping I could make a pajama transition as well. So night 1 of the bed I put him long sleeve 2 piece pajamas with socks and he did amazing. He has never slept better since transitioning to his bed! Even better we have over come a huge sensory issue with his pajamas!!! Advice to my moms out there, making these kind of changes for our kids on the spectrum are so scary but remember it can also make things better if we just give it a try!

      I am going to try and take my own advice as we will be starting potty training next week. I am absolutely terrified! Brendan likes to be in control and when we are wanting him to do something he doesn't want to do well lets just say it isn't fun at all. All of his therapist are supporting us and are going to help us with this but when you see the fear in your therapist eyes I can't help but to be scared. Stay tuned for my next blog for the results of potty training.
      Brendan is the master at playing games. At 3 years old he does so good playing by the rules, waiting his turn and just understanding how to play. It is so fun to watch him. He definitely likes to win but he also gets excited when someone else wins!
   This is Brendan playing Go Fish!

    I am excited for what 2016 has in store for us. I know it is going to be a great year!

Wednesday, November 25, 2015

Brendan is No Longer Considered Non Verbal- November progress (3.5 years old)

        I have been dreaming about this moment. The moment that I can say Brendan is no longer non verbal! What I mean by that is to most people he is still non verbal but to me he is trying to talk and he is getting better everyday. At 3.5 years old he will say a couple spontaneous phrases. Maybe only 1 or 2 of them are completely clear but the others still need some work. I can understand him but other people have a hard time. Not only he is making HUGE progress verbally but he is giving eye contact so much more and engaging with others. He is starting to understand the world around him and for me as a mom watching this happen is one of the most incredible feelings. Like any toddler his favorite word is "no", but then I can say to him, "I love you Brendan" and he says back "love you momma". I can listen to him say that all day long! You can hand him something and he will always say, "thank you". Now when someone sneezes he says "bless you". He loves to tell everyone to "follow me" and "play with me". He now prefers to have someone play with him all the time which again was a huge goal. He is loving to play games! He is so good at Candy-land. He loves to play red light green light, duck duck goose and what time is it Mr. Fox.

         Halloween was a huge success! He did so good walking to each house with his sister and his cousin. He would say, "trick or treat" to almost every house. I did realize that he doesn't have any fear of scary things. Anytime we would see a scary costume or haunted house he would start laughing while the other kids were terrified. Brendan dressed up as Bert from Mary Poppins. His sister was Mary Poppins and his two dogs dressed up as penguins. We made their costumes for them so it was extra special to watch them loving the costumes. Even though Brendan can't eat any of the candy it didn't seem to bother him at all. He still had a great time.

We got to do our second filming of the autism documentary that Brendan is a part of. It had been 5 months since they first came to film Brendan. He has made so much progress in the last 5 months so it was so fun to watch him interact and actually give directions. He is obsessed with the go pro. He wanted to take it and be the person filming everyone. He is in the stage of being a toddler where he wants to be in control of everything. He definitely showed off for the camera. This is going to be filmed over a couple year period and I am so thankful that Brendan is part of this. I can't wait to watch all the progress he has made over the next couple of years. He is going to be proof that Early Intervention works!

         Anytime Brendan starts to make progress in one area we always have the issue with him losing a skill. So as exciting as it is for him to be making progress with his language he has taken a step back with his feeding. If any of you know Brendan you know that he is obsessed with his hot dogs. He can eat them all day long and be happy. But out of the blue one day last month he just decided he didn't like or want to eat them anymore. I thought ok so maybe just for a couple of days it would last but we went 3.5 weeks with him not wanting to eat them. I started to freak out because he only has 4 things of meals that he rotates so this now means he had only 3 things to eat. I am so thankful he has the genetics on his side because he is so big for his age. But yesterday he finally ate a hot dog so fingers crossed that he will continue to eat them. Feeding is such an emotional rollercoaster for me. I am at the point that I feel like I just want to leave the feeding issue alone and just let him eat his 4 things. Anytime we try to work in a new food during feeding it somehow back fires and he looses a current food. Then his sleeping has been horrible lately. He just keeps waking up so many times a night. He will wake up and fall back asleep pretty fast but its still exhausting for him and us. He just seems to go in phases with his sleep. I am hoping this pattern of waking up is almost over.

       Brendan has been doing really good with outings. I took him to see the movie Charlie Brown and he sat with me and did amazing the entire movie. This was his first time going to a regular movie and not a sensory movie. He also came with me to get my nails done and he actually wanted to sit in the chair like me and get his nails done. I couldn't believe it, he was letting her file and buff his nails. When I try and trim his nails at home its world war for me. He has been doing great at the grocery store for me. He loves to help put the groceries on the checkout scanner. But we have had some run away moments as well on outings. He still doesn't understand the concept of danger. This is something we work on all the time.
           I am so thankful for Brendan's team of therapist and doctors! He truly has the most amazing team! They are an extended part of our family and I couldn't be more grateful for all the hard work they do everyday.
                                       I want to wish everyone a Happy Thanksgiving!

Thursday, October 15, 2015

Early Intervention is working, the Best Doctors Visit-Sept/Oct 2015-Brendan 3 years old


       I can't believe it is the middle of October already! I have so much to share with you. Brendan  goes to his developmental pediatrician doctor every 3 months for a routine check up. He goes to the Melmed Center where he has 2 doctors that he sees. He has Dr Melmed and Dr. PeBenito. So really he gets to see each of them every other time. This visit this time was with Dr PeBenito. We were the first appointment of the day at 7:45am. I always get such bad anxiety before these appointments because I never know how they are going go. Dr PeBenito opens the door and says Brendan I am ready for you. He hears her call his name so he gets up from playing with the office toys and grabs my hand and we walked up to the door and she says,"Hi Brendan". Brendan says, "hi"! We follow her to the exam room first. This is usually never a fun experience for Brendan. She asked Brendan to step up on the scale and he steps up without any hesitation. I was so shocked he did it without a fight or tears! She then asked him to stand against the wall to get his height measured. Then she said ok lets jump up on the table so I can look at your ears and listen to your heart. Well Brendan says,"NO". I told her he doesn't like the paper that is on the table you sit on. So she takes it off and what you know he jumps up for her. He lets her look in his ears and listen to heart. We are now done in the exam room so it is time go into her office. Brendan walks in and starts playing with her toys. She says, "Brendan what are you playing with"? He says, "dinosaur" (obviously in his language). She then says can you bring me the dinosaurs? He gets up and takes his 4 or 5 dinosaurs over to her at her desk. She asks him to count the dinosaurs. He counts out the 5 dinosaurs for her. Then without her saying anything he looks at her and says,"here you go" and hands her one of the dinosaurs to play with. At that moment she looks up at me with a GIANT smile on her face and says,"I am completly blown away with his progress. He greeted me, he answered the questions I asked him. He looked at me when I called his name and he interacted with me." She said he is proof that EARLY INTERVENTION works. She said the progress he has made even since the 6 months she had seen him last was just incredible. At that moment I wanted jump for joy. It was such an incredible moment to hear those words come from a doctor who treats kids like Brendan all day long. She said I can't wait for Dr. Melmed to see how much progress he has made! This was the best appointment we have ever had. We get in the car to leave and I start to break down and cry. I said to myself why is it every time I leave this place I cry? But this time I was crying tears of joy. All the hard work is starting to show. I was so incredibly proud of my son!
                          Brendan doing speech therapy
      This great news from his doctor couldn't come at a better time. Brendan has to work through some changes going on right now. His main habilitation therapist who spends 5-6 days a week with us just gave birth to a gorgeous baby boy, so we are going to miss her for the next 6-8 weeks. We do have someone filling in for her but she is only able to do just a couple hours a week. It is a bit of a change for me too, we actual have a little free time. I am just hoping he does ok with a little bit of a break. It would really crush me if had any regression.
      I am getting ready for our 3rd annual Autism Speaks Team Brendan walk next week. We are going to have a huge turn out and we are so grateful for everyone who is helping us spread awareness.
I am also getting ready for Halloween. This year I have joined the Allergy Associations campaign to go Teal. This is a for you to have a teal pumpkin visible which says you have a non food item to offer trick or treaters who have food allergies. As many of you know Brendan has close to 20 food items he is allergic to. So this means he can not have any kind of candy. It breaks my heart. He hasn't really learned that he can't eat candy because his sensory issues are what make him not eat the candy. But sooner or later it is going to effect him. We have put flyers all around our neighborhood and we have also tried to talk to neighbors. I hope they all jump on board this year! 

Saturday, August 15, 2015

Family Vacation Fun and the start of Soccer July/Aug 2015 (Brendan 3 years old)

  We had been counting down the days until it was time for our family vacation to San Diego. Getting ready for a vacation takes so much planning and preparation. You think as your kids get out of the baby stage that traveling gets easier but in Brendan's case I think it gets harder. We got up super early packed the car to the max and off we headed on our 6-8 hour car ride. Brendan was absolutely perfect on the drive there. He took a little nap and watched his My Little Pony movie about 4 times and he was happy as can be. We were headed to Mission Beach staying at the Hyatt. I called about 10 days before we arrived to speak to the hotel housekeeping manager. I explained Brendan's allergy to polyester and once again they blew me away with how much they will go out of there way to make sure we have the best experience. They said they would get us special sheets and clear the room of anything he could be allergic to. They offered to make sure we had 2 refrigerators and a microwave. I hung up the phone and started to cry. It is such an amazing feeling to have others care so much about your child's needs, it just overwhelmed me with emotion.

   We didn't have any plans on this trip other than spending a day at the San Diego zoo. We were just going to enjoy ourselves and relax. We live on such a crazy schedule everyday that we just wanted to do what we wanted when we wanted. Brendan had no problem adjusting to an new environment at the hotel. He just went with the flow of things which we all know even typical toddlers don't handle well. I have a girlfriend who lives near Mission Beach who was our little tour guide and gave us the best places to eat to beach at and helped with anything we needed. She was amazing! She told us about this little small beach where there wasn't any waves and the sand was pretty compacted so we thought we would take Brendan there to see if he can handle the sand and water. Last year he HATED the beach so I wasn't sure what was going to happen this year. He went to this beach and absolutely loved it. You would never know this kid had major sensory issues. He was even eating the sand. Crazy right..... We were excited to go to the beach on Mission. He LOVED the waves the sand and even tried to ride a budgie board. It was such an amazing moment for my husband and I to watch the joy in his face as he chased the waves.

       We went and spent half a day at the San Diego zoo. I was so excited to take Brendan there because he loves animals. However he wasn't a big fan of the zoo. I think because the animals are so close too you that it made him really nervous. He didn't want to get out of his stroller. He just looked from the stroller and that made him happy. My daughter Haley absolutely loved the zoo and how close all the animals were.

     Our hotel had the best pools and waterslides. The kids had so much fun going down the waterslides and swimming in the pool. This hotel is very kid friendly but also gives you a gorgeous view and relaxation for the adults. I highly recommend the Hyatt at Mission Bay! After 6 days of fun we were headed home. The kids also did great on the drive home. I have to brag and say that Brendan was such an angel on our trip. I couldn't of asked for 2 more perfect kids!

      Jumping back into therapy for Brendan was a little rough. He didn't want to work which I don't blame him. Even adults hate going back to work after vacation. It took him a couple days to get back into the routine. This summer Brendan really loved having his sister home, but summer was coming to an end and she was heading back to school. I actual think she was going to miss him more. I know I loved having her help with him this summer so I definitely was going to miss her.
    We decided to put Brendan into a soccer class to get him exposed to a structure type of environment with typical kids. He loves to kick the ball and he has just a natural sports ability so why not take advantage of it. The place is called B.E.S.T sports and they are great with letting special needs kids join the classes and they are also great with letting a therapist join. This is why we went there because not all places allow this. We arrived for the first class and Brendan seemed super excited and immediately started to run around and kick the ball. The class had started and coach was giving the kids instructions and Brendan just lost his mind. He is so used to being the leaded of his world that having to follow directions was not something he wanted to do. I watched for the first 4-5 minutes and then jumped in to help his therapist Sara (which is also 7 months pregnant) control him. So the rest of the class we had to tag team him. He was running, crying and just having melt down after melt down. He got so worked up that he drank water and then just threw up. Which he has never done.
                               Brendan's 1st soccer lesson

   Then week 2 of soccer he just walks in and is listening and watching the coach. Following directions for the most part and just being such a different kid than week one. He did get tired towards the end of class which brought out a couple melt downs, but over all he did amazing!. My favorite part is watching him at the end sit with all the kids get a stamp and just giggle. Sara and I had to hold back our tears.
                            Brendan's 2nd soccer lesson

    This week Brendan has started a new schedule of therapy. Now with school back his scheduled needed to be adjusted. So I think I am the one trying to get used to it. He used to get a couple breaks in his day but since he doesn't take naps he is working all day.
         Next weekend I have the opportunity to go on a girls trip for 4 days. I am so excited about it but nervous. My daughter Haley is 8 years old and I have never even spent more than 2 days away from her. So it is going to be hard for me leaving both kids but I know my husband will do great.
          I want to remind everyone to SAVE THE DATE for our 3rd annual Autism Speaks Team Brendan walk. It is on October 25th, 2015! You can register here: . . .