It makes sense that these old-school written blogs are slowly fading into the background of our ever expanding and quickly growing technologies.  Visitors are able to access a great deal more information from watching quick Vlogs videos or checking out the YouTube posts by website Authors, than they can by fiddling through thousands of written topics that have been archived in websites. 
While change is always challenging, in the world of parenting children with Autism, it's incredibly necessary that we each stay one step ahead of the game.  New theories and scientific research becomes published on a weekly and sometimes even daily basis regarding Autism now.  Therefore, as parents, caregivers and family needing to keep ourselves informed and stay abreast to the new documentation, we have to move forward along with technology.  This blog post will be one of my final entries in the written section of the Blogs for PowerOverAutism.  I will keep the blog archives open and posted for parents to go back and research old topics. 
But more importantly I will now be updating the Vlogs on a weekly and sometimes daily basis as information becomes available and new topics come up. Please look to the Vlogs section to learn more about how the Vlogs work.  Even more exciting are the new changes that are going to be available on poweroverautism.com very soon.  You can see the G+ tab at the top of the page...that is where there will be a brand new feature coming very soon, and you could be an integral part of making the most of it.  The G+ feature will usher in a new online show, called "Power Over Autism Live".  The format will be "newslike" and the topics as diverse as the guests.  Sometimes there will be guest speakers with whom we can ask important questions and become educated by learning something new from each guest and his/her area of expertise.  At the same time, the guests on the "Live" show will be a mixture of parents, caregivers, specialists, doctors, neurologists, scientists and more.  If you are interested in being a guest on the Show, please visit that G+ tab now and learn more.  For the future, please turn to the Vlogs tab & the G+ tab where you will see the most up to date Vlogs & Live Show's posted. 
PowerOverAutism remains committed to empowering parents of children with Autism, Aspbergers, and all other neurobiomedical conditions.  Let's take this next leap into the future seriously and enjoy the ride! 
 
 
Today is the 1st day of MARCH!  We can all feel it, Spring is just around the next corner.  Still, there is much to be done before this school year is out...especially for parents of children with Autism and other disabilities.  While everyone else is looking forward to summer and making plans.  We have to find time to focus our energies on ensuring that our children are enrolled in a proper program to suit their needs for the upcoming year.  We have to do a hop, skip and LEAP past all of Spring and Summer and think to next Fall when school will begin again. 
Because our kids' needs are so unique, almost no one year will easily flow into the next.  Each child's needs change as they learn and grow and move forward.  Some will need extra services in their classrooms as they've become more dependent on assistive technology, while others will be in desperate need of integration into some gen ed. classes, and still others will need a program that focuses on life-skills.  There are so many different things our kids need each year, that we can't depend on the school districts' we live in, nor can we depend on this year's teachers to look into our own child's future and make an accurate call as to what they will likely need the most.  Our children need to have those programs set up now.  Most school districts will allow parents to go through the Administrative special needs staff to help them make appointments with potential schools that have the proper programs and classes that individual children need. 
If you have a child with Autism, you may want to move him/her out of the "Special Education" (general) class, and into an Autism Specific program.  Whether you do or you don't, you'll need to make sure the school your child is enrolled in, has what you need. 
Just as important is that you ensure that you've done an observation of the class you are thinking of putting your child into, and try to meet with the teacher.  Also meet with any and all general education teachers who may be involved as your child integrates into gen. ed. for particular subjects. 
There are so many things to do to prepare your child and your child's IEP for next year's school program.  The last thing you want to do is wait until the Spring to try to get yourself the appointments you need!  Do it Now!  Remember that you are entitled to go to your child's current school and request and Update or Change be made to you child's current I.E.P.  If you are having any trouble getting the meetings you need with next year's teachers.  Once you are in reveiw with your I.E.P. team, you can then let them know what you'd like to see for your child's program and even ask the members of the IEP team if they would prefer one school's program over another for your specific desires. 
The 2 Most Important things to remember: Are 1. YOU are the parent!  YOU are the most important member of the IEP Team and you can dictate where your child should be placed and specify the percentage of time you'd like him/her included in Gen. Ed.  General Education provides your child with social learning that he/she won't get in special education- so fight for it!  And 2. DON'T WAIT until the last minute.  Once you begin to get closer to the end of spring and summer...make sure the main School District's computer Reflects the changes that have been made in the IEP.  District computers will automatically re-enroll children into the next most obvious program, class or zoned school.  Sometimes, the school they enroll your Autisic child in won't have an Autism or Special Education program suited to your child...it's a computer and doesn't "know" what your child needs...it's focus- where are specific Groups of children in specific Age Groups ZONED for.  That's all that the District computer will do, unless YOU ensure that the appropriate changes are made. 

And finally- in the rare case that you don't get everything finalized before summer vacation....take a DEEP breath and understand that when summer begins, Most teachers, fascilitators and other administration will be CLOSED and you won't be able to make any changes until the school year begins. 
OUR family has had this happen - experience is the best way to learn right... And my decision was to meet with the right teachers, Principal and Fascilitator right away, but we DID NOT send our children to the "computerized zoned" school for the 1st week-only to move them.  We simply skipped a few days, or the first week and utilized that time to make a finaly PUSH to get our children Moved to the appropriate schools that had the right care and programs they needed.  The kids didn't miss much at all, and it didn't bother them to enter into school a week late. There will always be a tense 1st day back after summer vacation and that's about what they experienced.  Other children quickly integrated with our children and on went the year.  Without us having a meltdowns :) So don't let that happen to you!  GOOD LUCK!
 
 
Why are we here...on this Earth? 
This is a question posed by philosophers, scientists, and the most knowledgeable thinkers throughout history.  And since it's such an innate question....in fact, it almost seems like we're born wondering "why" we're here.  Some of us know "where" we came from...but even that concept is a major controversy.  Why does it matter to us so much?  Are we so intensly afraid of death that we all spend some amount of time contemplating this topic? 
Here are the answers to these questions:
Obviously our origin is a source of great intrigue for most people...imagine the possibilites.  Or not.  Some are so certain of their beliefs that they are totally closed off to the conversation.  Which in and of itself is making a choice about the topic of discussion "Why are we here...on Earth?"  Not to talk about it because of closed mindedness is a choice. But what's too much?  This is probably too much. 
We each need to understand that life will forever be an eternal mystery- but what's life without some mystery?  And for others- those among us who've hit the jackpot...are the luckiest...as they have some sort of actual connection with Death. 
I was with my Granny when she died. I was 18 years old, had just finished High School...and was told that her husband couldnt' handle taking care of her anymore.  He needed help and she was on Hospice by then.  She'd been an incredible source of inspiration to me since I was born!  While most of the other members of her family either had full-time jobs, or were "otherwise engaged" right.... in the end - I made the decision to go to her, and help her through.  Actually- I helped her cross-over. 
The experience forever changed my life.  While I'd always been a believer....Spiritual person in nature, this experience changed me forever.  I could 'see' the things she was 'seeing' to a certain degree as I cared for her in her final days.  She was very, very weak, and slept quite a bit, but when she was awake she'd been quite lucid.  On the third or forth day after I got there, we were sitting on the couch together, and I was reading to her.  She turned to me suddenly and moved her face close to mine.  After studying my expression for a moment she said, "Aren't you scared?" "No." I answered quickly. And although my heart was racing, I knew it was true.  'Yes I was afraid of losing her'...but I'd had a lovely relationship with her throughout my lifetime, and she was...."READY" to go by then.  She backed up and nodded.  She lay down and asked me to continue reading.  I went on.
A few days later, she awoke and ate a very small bit of broth and crackers during lunch.  While we'd said a lot of very personal things to one another over those last few days....it was at that point that she suddenly wanted her wheelchair (which she'd devoutly Refused before). I wheeled it out and she took her seat. I pushed the footrests beneath her feet and she pulled a small blanket over her lap.  She looked up at me and said, "Take me for a spin about the house Lovey." I did.  I watched her as we moved thru the kitchen, living room, down the hallway and thru the bedrooms.  She was inspecting everything, to the smallest details.  She'd remark on the window coverings, the bedding, the tables, the decor' thruout the house. I asked her if she was feeling tired. And she said "Please take me out back Darling!"  Afternoon light shone through the back sliding glass door and screen, as I moved her closer to the door.  I opened the door.  It was warm out, I pushed her onto the patio, and a breeze swept over us.  She pointed out some flowers she'd planted years ago, and explained that they'd come back every year without fail by Spring.  She called them "posies".  She asked me to arrange them in three vases inside the house.  One in the living room, one on the mantle and one in the kitchen.  Intuition told me exactly when I'd be doing just that.  After a visit outside, she asked me to help her inside to the couch.  I read to her again.  As I'd done every day.  I read "Women Who Run with the Wolves".  Appropriate for her.
She'd always been a source of spirituality, inspiration, a love of art, beauty, and self-confidence for me.  My whole life, she'd been that person. She'd taught me a lot about Spirituality, and started teaching me Yoga when I was just 2 years old.  I still practice Yoga now, and my Spiritual ideology is based on the foundation of a mix of my Grandparents and 'Lil Mama's' beliefs.  All, people I loved more than life.  All people I would have given my life for if I'd had the choice.  All people whose influence would forever touch my life and....what I didn't know at that time....Her influence eventually inspired me to become the kind of mother I became and her belief in me, allowed me to grow and mature into the confident, loving, compassionate and patient mother and wife I have become now! 
As I helped her out of the wheelchair & onto the couch, I couldn't have known how intensely she would touch my later life. 
She died the very next morning.  Her husband (a sortof grandfather of mine who was a terrible man) didn't call people....instead he handed me their "contacts" book and asked me to make the "Passing Calls".  Which I did with as much of her self-confidence and pride as I could summon, even while I mourned her death! 
Since I was 18 years old, she's been with me every step of the way. Even when I may not have "listened" to her advice years ago, I listen, and I ask myself what would she want me to do...how would she guide me?
And I KNOW the answer.  "Why are we here, on this Earth...living each of our own lives?"  The answer is, to learn from the ones who love us the most.  We are each meant to learn how to love, as they loved us.  There are a zillion lessons we are each supposed to learn while we're on this earth.  We each have a specific destiny.  And we must follow our own path!  Still, the purpose of our lives, is LOVE!  How much honest love can we give and receive?  How honest are our connections with others?  When we are faced with people who are spiritually or emotionally toxic...do we feel sorry for ourselves, or do we remove ourselves and our children from those toxic people and into the pesence of Loving people?  Yes, we each have (Way TOO) many things to do in a very short period of time.  But the true purpose is how much can we inspire another?  How many people can we inspire while we're here?  How are we spending our time?  If we're worried about what might happen after we die, we know one thing- we're wasting our time.  The specifics of what happen to us when our souls leave our physical bodies will be our business when it's time.  Till then- how much can we Unconditionally Love!?  That is why we are here, on this earth, and until it's our "Time" to go, it's not our business what we'll do when we die.  Your business and my business on this earth is to move yourself and those you care about, as close to those who will give Unconditional Love every single day.  And to have FUN giving it! 
* Dedicated to GRANNY :) I will Unconditionally LOVE you forever! xo
 
 
I didn't really know the meaning of the following phrase until recently..."You Can't Have it All"  In fact, I didn't believe that! I've always been a very "grass is greener" gal.  I wouldn't have thought it, but the adage is true.  I have recent experience to explain it. 
"You can't have it all" isn't the awful thing we thought it was!
Here's what they meant when they originally coined the term....they meant:
"You can't have it all, All at once."  Not that you can't have everything you want or need in your life.  But it is true that you can't have it all, all the time.  No one of us can.  Why?  Because our focus isn't that big- and we honestly wouldn't want it to be.  We'd all be totally overun with meeting our every desire, need, love, passion- every moment of every day. 
That would take all of the true JOY out of our Loves! 
The adage should be recoined to this: "You can have it all....so Prioritize accordingly!" 

You already know that I'm the mother of three children- twin boys (1 who has Autism) & my youngest, our 10 (almost 11 yr) old daughter, who also has Autism. I also have a grown step-daughter & 2 Grandsons.  My sister has twin baby boys who aren't even a year old yet. She's also blessed me and my family with another nephew (who's a teen like our boys), as well as a college age daughter, Daniel:) I'm very close to my Mum and my Daddy (my kids' grandparents)
Okay- On top of that....my husband and I spend a lot of time together...we're incredibly close, and I wouldn't change a moment of our time- it is precious!

Now, in addition to all this wonderful stuff in my life....I've been an Autism Activist and done web design and marketing, Ghost Speech Writing, and have co-written large documents for various Autism organizations. 
NOW- I can add AUTHOR in my own right!  As I've just had my first Book Published!! And this has been a thrilling experience, as I've written two Books.  My first book didn't really come out as I'd planned.  And I decided it wasn't focused enough on my particular passion. So- I put it on the backburner and kept working on all of my other work...which is obviously 'a-lot'.  Plus- I have a ton of hobbies I Love! I'm a very avid Photographer- for fun, and my hubby bought me the best camera for XMas two years ago! 
My family and I Love to Travel!  We take trips all over the place. We also go on outings around town as much as we can....experience galore. 
In addition to these loves, I always follow music, and have been a guitar enthusiast my entire life. My hubby, son and Father play, and Rock (of course).   I love to swim, love the ocean, love animals- trips to the Zoo, and love, love, love taking my family to 'theme parks'- we are all thrill ride lovers...any ride lovers for that matter. On top of these passions, I have numerous other interests, and they are all very important to me.....so....

My Point: "I Do Have It ALL"!! But do I have ALL of these things every single day of my life?  No.  Of course not.
Here's an example.  I've prioritized "Having it All" and a great example has been my recent Book.  As I've been in the intensive process of finishing writing it, having it edited, editing it myself, re-doing portions of it, then going thru the whole Publishing Process...I've had to let other passions sit on the side for a while.  It's not like I was able to focus on my Photography while I was going thru this....as well, I've had to stay focused on caring for my husband, children and family.  So- of course I've had to make certain choices about what I would focus on during the "Books" time. 
Now YOU too know the secret, to "Having it ALL"! 
Happy Friday to you ALL!
Blessings, Meredith Monica
 
 
MANY very grateful THANKS to my Husband, RALPH TODDRE for his incredible support, love, and encouragement as I wrote and got my first book Published!  You are my Rock Lovey- as always the image of grace under pressure! 
Also- Thank you to my Supportive & Loving family members for your support these past six months!
I LOVE YOU GUYS!!!

Also sending LOVE of totally undefineable proportions out to our children! Babies! (who are teens now:) You are my Bliss!
 
 
Hi guys!
Today's Blog is going to be VERY quick and is simple! As you can see, my First Published BOOK is finally available!  It's avialable for all sorts of devices including: Kindle, Kindle Fire, Nook Books & Nook Color, some Sony Devices, iPod, iPad, Blackberry, and even for your PC!
Please check it out very simply by clicking:
BOOKS & NEWS
Then click the TOP "BOOK" to purchase on Amazon
or Click on the BOTTOM "BOOK" to purchase from BN :)

HAPPY READING PARENTS! Love & Light!
 
 
When our daughter, who has ASD among other health issues, was 7 years old, she was really interested in 'everything cellphone!'  She was delighted by the fact that she could listen to her Daddy talking to her in the car and she could (even though limited in verbal communiations) ...she could 'Tell Him' what she saw, even while he was at work and she was with Mama looking out the car window. 
I let her use my cellphone for fun, and while that was before all the "Apps" they have out now for kids...there were still some 'games' on my phone that she loved to play with.  Mama's cell phone was simply the best "interactive Toy" in the house!
One day while I was making lunch, I heard the sounds of a 'strange' woman's voice, echoing through our house.  I immediately dropped my kitchen utensils and ran toward the living room.
"Alli?...where are you!" I hollered.  I felt my blood-pressure literally rise, and my heart began to race.  'Oh my God! Did I forget to deadbolt the front door?...Oh God, I wonder if she let someone in the house?!'...I thought as I scrambled from room to room looking for my little one.  
"Alli! Seriously Honey...where are you? Mommy's getting scared now! Please say something Honey!"  I yelled.
"mmmhmmm....Okay...is there someone there?" I heard the 'woman's' voice say. As it echoed through the house I couldn't quite make out which direction it was coming from.  I ran to my daughter's bedroom.  Threw open the door! She wasn't there.
I ran to our son's room.  We have twin boys who share a room, one of them is also Autistic.  The room was empty.  The boys were at school.  Still the voice sounded as though it was moving through the house!  As I moved, the 'woman' moved.  I couldn't make out what she was saying. But suddenly I heard my daughter talking back to her.   Alli still spoke mostly gibberish...but could say some nouns and verbs appropriately.
"blekkdiish?" I heard Alli say.  "Dear. Can you get your mommy?" I heard the woman clearly say.  "Mama is lunch" Alli responded with a giggle.  "Did your Mommy leave you alone Dear?" The woman responded.
"ALLISON!" I screamed, frantic now and running back and forth from room to room.
I could clearly tell that Allison and "whoever this woman was" were switching from room to room as fast as I was trying to catch up with them. 
"Heehheeehaaa...Mamas phone." Allison giggled in a very muffled sound.  "Do you know where you are Dear?" the woman asked.  "Is there any grown ups there?...Do you feel scared?" she kept asking.
"Oh my God Allison! Where are you! HONEY Please!!" I yelled....
"Dear, I can see where you are now, are you still there?" she asked and Allison giggled again.
As I grabed the edge of the doorway into the master bedroom and pulled myself around the doorframe into my room, I could see Allison sitting there, burried under the comforter on my bed.  She giggled and I quickly noticed the light from my cellphone blaring out from beneathe the heavy covers.  I was panting!  I yanked the blankets off the bed and unveiled my little girl sitting beneath them, a smirk on her face and the phone, lit up as if she was "talking" to someone. 
I grabbed the phone.  "Allison, what the heck?" I said. "Hello?!" I heard the woman ask, loudly! "This is 911 Emergency, is this an adult?!" She asked out of the speaker portion of the phone.  'The phone is on Speaker!' I thought 'Oh my God! she called 911!'
"Yes Ma'am." I said. "I'm sorry! The girl who called you is my daughter, she has Autism! I'm so sorry.  I was in making lunch and I then when I heard a woman's voice, she must have dialed without my knowing....oh my gosh I'm sorry. I didn't even know she knew how to dial the phone. I don't even know how to use the speaker part of this phone yet?" I panted.  Out of breath from my marathon run!
"Ma'am, that's okay. Calm down. It's okay. I just need to make sure, there's no emergency there right?" she asked kindly.  "No....I'm so sorry." I continued. "I was frantic. I thought, cuz it was on speaker, she'd let someone into the house...Oh my God that was scary!"  
"That's okay." she asked me to verify my name and address and made sure everything was alright.  Amused, she said "Your daughter is a very smart little girl. She's got a very sweet little voice.  Don't worry Meredith.  Try to calm down."
After we'd hung up, Allison and I ate our lunch. Later she showed me how to use the 'Speaker phone' on my phone. 

 
 
 
 
Yes this is the time of year when you hardly know what to do with yourself, let alone finding appropriate things (activities) and more to do with your ASD kids.  The weather is typically icky...it's either raining, windy, cold, or all of the above.  And just when you've gone grocery shopping for ingredients to your best "comfort cold weather" foods, the sun comes out and there it is, a day that pushes the 70 degree mark! 
The weather is totally Bipolar.  It can't make up it's mind.  And as parents of kids with Autism, it's hard enough to create a plan of things to do with our children that will keep everyone happy- including the neurotypical siblings! 
So what to do? 
First- try to see the silver lining.  The fact that it's February, means that Spring is just a few weeks away!  We have Valentines Day to celebrate and there are even a few school holidays that we can look to for extra "off" time to find fun things to do with our kids that will tide us all over till Spring comes in. 
Below -find a list of ideas of places to go (indoor and outdoor) to accomodate the weather.
In order to survive, we need to make sure we have both indoor and outdoor activities planned for our kiddos.  On the weekends, it's much easier in any other month to plan ahead.  You either pack everyone up in coats, hats, gloves, and boots, and bring your backpack filled with cold weather treats and video games.... Or in the Spring and Summer months, you simply let everyone slide their sandals on themselves, and you know that you hardly need to bring anything for anyone.  Maybe pack up a few sweatshirts and some H2O to go, and you can be on your way anywhere.
So- look to your own community for indoor 'things to do' for kids.  If you have indoor play areas, or indoor museums specifically designed to keep kids minds busy, put them on your "outings list".  Still, you never know when a warm, sunny day is going to pop in and say "hello" and you want to be prepared, because every single one of you need the warm sun on your skin by now, for the Vitamin D if nothing else.  For days that happily come in like these, make sure you know where the latest and most fun outdoor parks are.  Bring along your kids' bats/balls, & other outdoor game items they can kick around a wide open dry field.  It's unlikely that anything is going to be grassy or wet with dew yet, so you don't have to worry about those things.  Still- be ready for activities in both worlds.
The best advice is to make a "double column" list of places to take your kiddos for fun.  And then go on one of the big search engines "Maps" sites, and go the the "Directions" section.  Type in your address, and then one by one, type in the various locations of all of the fun places to go- Print Directions to each one. I like to staple them together so that I'll have them all together in a one place and can easily go to my lists when I need them. 
-  Laser Tag (indoor) very fun for everyone boys and girls
-  Roller Skating/Roller Blading (indoor) bring earplugs for your ASD kids- they are loud
-  Ice Skating Rinks (indoor) boys can use the Hockey Skates to feel more like they fit in
-  The Movies (indoor) Obviously- this one can be good to have earplugs for as well
-  The Mall (indoor) great because everyone needs to update their wardrobes
-  Close Park (outdoor) Great for sports- dry open fields that have been unused
-  Basketball Court (outdoor) Great for basketball and other fun games too-
-  Museum (indoor) typically inexpensive & they have ones with children's sections
-  Aquarium (indoor) if you're lucky enough to live near one they are great all year long
-  Gymnasium (indoor) Gyms typically have "open Gym" time to the public
-  Classes (outdoor and indoor) Weekend classes tend to start up in the new year
-  Open Hiking (outdoor) A great way to get your kids back in motion slowly & see beautiful things!  Bring jackets and a camera and be ready to see animals, as they are out this time of year.

At Home Activities:)
When everyone is stuck at home, especially when the weather is crummy for a while, it's great to have some things for everyone to do.
- ART- buy some new (cheap) art supplies and a book about how to draw/paint
- Cooking for Fun- this can be especially fun for kids with special diets- find a new meal that they haven't ever been able to have, and find a new way of using new ingredients to get your kids into helping you cook it!  So fun and a great benefit- the outcome involves a meal or dessert!
-  Get Movies-  From Netflix, to online movies, to Bluerae to DVD old school...watching a movie as a family can be the most fun thing you'll do all weekend.  In our home we take turns letting each family member choose the movie, keeping everyone happy. 
- Finally- Integrate these 3 Together for a Fabulous Weekend Day Indoors on a  Cold February Day!  Especially around Valentines Day!
Make Valentines as your Art Project, create a Valentine specific meal- in the shape of a heart, or something sweet, drizzled with Vegan Chocolate, and then top off your day with a family movie by a warm fire, and everyone will go to bed Happy!!!   ENJOY!