Family

Autism Awareness Month: More than a Diagnosis

I am privileged to know so many wonderful parents that have children on the spectrum. I thought it would be interesting to ask parents of kids with autism and people with autism as well, to describe them using one word/phrase. What I got back from everyone was such an amazing array of descriptions 😊 I have listed 75 of the responses below.

  1. Amazing and wonderful
  2. Hilarious
  3. Very emotional 😭 she is so extra
  4. Crazy
  5. Passionate
  6. Caring
  7. Charm
  8. Lovable
  9. Cannot use one word to describe my two x although my no diagnosed husband could be described with the word ****head
  10. One twin is wild and the other is special
  11. Thoughtful
  12. Genius
  13. Sweetest
  14. Crazy, crafty, cheeky, lovely, snuggly, on the go 24/7 if he could
  15. Happy
  16. Intelligent
  17. Content
  18. Kindness
  19. Insightful
  20. Energized
  21. Gorgeous
  22. Explorer
  23. Awesome
  24. Perfection
  25. Unique
  26. Extraordinary
  27. Compassionate and kind
  28. Inspiring and fearless
  29. Creative
  30. Curious
  31. Messy
  32. Exciting
  33. Strong
  34. Outgoing
  35. Brilliant
  36. Worthy
  37. Fun
  38. Loving
  39. Special
  40. Empathetic
  41. Sociable
  42. Talented
  43. Intense
  44. Fascinating
  45. Bubbly
  46. Unstoppable
  47. Quirky
  48. Sunny
  49. Happy feet
  50. Focused
  51. Determined
  52. Handsome
  53. Advocate
  54. Wonderful
  55. Unpredictable
  56. Spirited
  57. Miracle warrior
  58. Giggles
  59. Friendly
  60. Innovative
  61. Encyclopedia
  62. Smart
  63. Truthful
  64. Comedian
  65. Tinker
  66. Strong willed
  67. Stubborn
  68. Exceptional
  1. Brave
  2. Adventurous
  3. Enthusiastic
  4. Quiet
  5. Ray of sunshine
  6. Animal lover
  7. Best friend

All of these responses melted my heart, made me laugh and were so honest. Thank you to all that gave me their response and this shows just how an autism diagnosis isn’t all that defines them. They are so much more and I am so blessed to have the children I have. This is my last post for Autism Awareness Month πŸ’™πŸ’™πŸ’™

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Family

Autism Awareness Month: The Diet Challenges Of Children On The Spectrum

All kids can be picky eaters at one point or another, they want sweets over vegetables or don’t like pasta. On the other hand, parents of children on the spectrum know this is an understatement of their child’s eating habits and face daily challenges just getting their kids to eat.


Causes of Feeding Problems

There is an array of reasons a child on the spectrum won’t eat certain foods or refuses altogether. Some reasons include:

  • Oral Motor Skills – A child may have a jaw weakness that may prevent them from chewing his/her food. It can prevent proper chewing and processing of food.
    Behavioral/Rigidity – Some kids with ASD have a form of OCD and get set in their ways when it comes to what they like to eat. This makes it difficult to introduce new foods or balance their diet.
    Sensory Issues – If this is the case, they may avoid foods based on the smell, color, texture or even temperature.
    Digestive Problems – If something causes stomach aches or acid reflux, a child may avoid it. By going to a gastroenterologist, parents can rule out digestive issues.
    Lack of Self-Awareness – Some kids will over-eat or under-eat. They may eat until they vomit or eat a few things and stop not realizing they are still hungry.

My Own Challenges

I have two children on the spectrum and both have different issues when it comes to eating.

Leo – He is very sensory based and rigid when it comes to his eating. He smells everything he eats, even if it’s something he has had before. He can smell things I can’t even smell and we (our pediatrician and myself) believe he may have a higher sense of smell. For example, we made pancakes the other morning for breakfast and this time we added in a hint of cinnamon. The second we put the pancakes down in front of him, he started crying saying he didn’t like them. We took the plate back and added a plain pancake under the original. He literally took the top pancake off saying he didn’t like it and began eating the plain one. Also, he gets stuck in his way of having the same thing over and over again because it’s “safe,” he knows he likes it.

Lexi – She is behavioral, rigid and lacks some self awareness. We can trick her into eating something as long as she doesn’t know. One example, she will drink the kids Danimals yogurt but won’t eat a regular Yoplait yogurt. However, if I put the regular yogurt in the Danimals container, she will eat it. Just like Leo, she gets stuck in the habit of wanting the same things over and over again. Now with her lack of self awareness, we have to make sure she doesn’t just eat chicken nuggets all day long. She could have that for breakfast, lunch, and dinner – no problems. Obviously that isn’t a great diet, so we have to tell her no and deal with a bit of a crying fit before she will accept something else.

Their diet is limited because of these issues and we try to balance it out as best we can with supplements. But the list of foods they will eat is pretty short for kids their age

Breakfast

  • Eggs
  • Pancakes

Lunch/Dinner

  • Chicken Nuggets (Only Chick-fil-A or Dino Nuggets)
  • Danimals Yogurt
  • Nutella Sandwich (we are working on PBJ)
  • Plain noodles
  • Mac n Cheese

Snacks/Treats

  • Apples, bananas and strawberries (so thankful for this!)
  • Muffins (only chocolate)
  • Cookies (only chocolate or peanut butter)
  • White rice
  • Chips (only plain or cheese)
  • Ice cream (vanilla or chocolate)
  • Cake pops (they each have a specific one)
  • Popcorn
  • Goldfish/Graham Crackers

This is a Complete list of what they will eat!


A Few Helpful Tips

    Keep mealtimes calm and stress-free.
    Set a routine for mealtimes.
    Create a visual plan around mealtime.
    Teach rules about serving sizes.
    Look for signs of food intolerances.
    Look into supplements to fill in the gaps.


Well, I hope y’all enjoying reading through my own experience and tips. If this was new information, then I hope it helps you understand other that deal with this daily.

Thank you so much! Please feel free to post your comments or questions below!

Cloe πŸ’‹

Advice/Tips, Family

Autism Awareness Month: Long Term EEG

For those of you who have children that are on the spectrum or know someone with autism, then you know the struggles and challenges that come with it. For those of you that don’t know or want to know more, I’m going to give you a sneak peak into our life and some of the things we experience.


What is a Long Term EEG?

My middle child, Lexi, was scheduled for a long term EEG this week. Long-term electroencephalographic monitoring (LTM) is used most frequently in the diagnosis and management of seizures and “spells,” but has also gained wider application in the evaluation of sleep disorders, cerebrovascular disease, psychiatric conditions, and movement disorders. 

We were scheduled for a 48 hour LTM to rule out brain seizures since Lexi has staring or dazing spells. She can zone out for a few minutes and only physical touch will bring her out of it.


The Prep and Setup

We were scheduled for 1pm on Wednesday at CHOC in Mission Viejo. As we arrived, we are greeted and shown to our room on the Pediatric floor. Lexi was enjoying all the attention up until we walked into our room and saw the hospital bed; that’s when she sat on the floor pouting. Took a bit to get all her vitals and finally get her onto the bed. That’s when the technician came in to hook her up to the machine. We put a movie on and had her lay down so the tech could start working. It took 1.5 hours to get all the electrodes attached but surprisingly she did well. Once attached and wrapped to secure in place, we are giving all the instructions for our stay and I was given a tour of the rest of the floor.

Lexi as we arrived at the hospital
Finally all attached and wrapped

Making it Through the 48 Hours

For the next 48 hours, it was a lot of fussing and trying to entertain with movies and games. She was brought meals 3 times a day and I was given a $10 food voucher each day for anything in the cafeteria. While in the room, there is a camera that records our whole stay to be able to go back over and review anything that came up irregular on the EEG. It was a long process but we made it through and on Friday late morning, we were given the all clear to be able to leave.


Finally Going Home

After the all clear, we had to wait for the tech to come in to start the removal of all the electrodes. They have to put a solution in her hair to dissolve the glue used to hold everything in place. It took about 30 minutes to get everything off and we were left with messy hair.

After quite a bit of washing and brushing, I got her hair up and get her dressed to head out. Due to policy, she had to be wheeled out of the hospital to the car in a wheelchair. However, Lexi was loving all the positive attention as we left.

All dressed and ready to go

Little diva getting wheeled out

My husband picked us up and we finally were done and going home to enjoy the rest of our Friday afternoon.

Thankfully, the results came back all good so we can check this off our list as an issue and move on! As much as it was a pain and tiresome, I’m glad we were able to get this done and not have to worry about any underlying issue.

Well, I hope this gave you a better insight to some of the issues parents with kids on the spectrum deal with and what the process is like. Let me know if you had a different experience or want more information in the comments!

Thank you and hope you enjoy your weekend!

Cloe πŸ’™

Advice/Tips, Family

Mama Motivation

Life as a parent comes with joy, humor, excitement and love; but it also comes with frustration, exhaustion, stress and sadness.

In those low moments as a parent, finding a silver lining can make a world of difference to your outlook on life and family.

Being a mom of three is crazy; being a mom of three and two have special needs – insane! However, I always find a positive outlook to all the negative that comes with disabilities.

Just this past week, I had an early IEP (Individualized Education Program), scheduled a 3 day EEG and scheduled an audiology appointment (daughter might need a hearing aid). To top it all off, I took my daughter to the ER for a severely infected ingrown toenail, which they had to scalpel open. This is not including our regular schedule of therapy and preschool.

When I tell anyone about all this craziness, they always have some of the same questions for me. How do you do it all? Doesn’t this stress you out? Don’t you get worn out? Honestly, motivation is all that keeps me going.

My motivation is my children. I have to push past my stress of all I need to do, push past my sadness for what my children are going to have to endure; and give them reassurance that everything is under control and they will be okay with anything that comes our way. I show them that just because something bad happens, it doesn’t mean I give up or break down. That doesn’t mean I don’t take small moments to deal with my emotions but I get my feelings out and then get back to work.

The silver linings I found in the possibility that my daughter might be partially deaf in one ear – she can still hear with her right ear and once we get a hearing aid for her, her speech with improve as well!

The silver lining in going to the ER today – I was forced to make all my calls and schedule appointments since there was nothing else to do. Plus, some focused time on how my daughter felt while my son spent some quality time with grandma.

In all that happens in our life, we can learn from the struggles and help others in the same situation. Be thankful for what you have and realize that there is so much more to be thankful for than we give credit.

Hope this gave you a more positive outlook and some ideas for your own motivation in life!

Family

Long Lost Family, Finally Found

My father was never a part of my life growing up. My mom told me about him and always said that once I was older she would help me contact him and reconnect if I ever wanted.

Through the years, my mom tried to keep as much current information on my father available for when the time came. In her searching, she found out he had another child. I had a half brother and we were close in age.

My mom contacted his mother and told her the situation. She did not want us to tell her son until he was 18 years old. So, we played the waiting game and when he turned 18 we started the search for him. After a couple weeks of sorting through what must have been hundreds of Facebook accounts, we found him!

I sent him a message explaining everything and it took a bit to finally confirm that we were related. He is in the Air Force so it was difficult to set up a time and place to meet. So over the next 6 years we kept in touch and finally, over this last summer, we met face-to-face.

My half brother spent a little over a week at our place, spending quality time with me and the kids. We share so much in common that I don’t share with the siblings I grew up around. He got to celebrate Lexi’s birthday and we surprised him on his birthday. Also, we got matching tattoos together. It is in Japanese and means family – he got it on his left chest area and mine is on my left shoulder blade area. We chose Japanese since that is the strongest shared ethnicity between us.

While he was here, my mom was able to find and get in touch with our paternal uncle. We all met up and got to meet his daughters too, so our cousins. It was a crazy few weeks meeting all this new family.

A couple months passed and in that time, my mom got a hold of my biological father. We planned to meet for dinner and to make it less chaotic, my husband kept the kids while I went with just the baby. I was nervous to meet him and hoped things would go ok. When I got to the restaurant, it was like seeing an old friend. We hugged and just started talking right away about what our daily lives are like and about ourselves. We ended up having so much in common! It turned out to be a great meeting and we plan on more in the future.

He works a ton and usually is out of the country which means long periods of time between us seeing each other. But we keep in touch, by text and email. Another thing to look forward to, he visits Japan often and said he’d love for me and my family to go with him sometime so I could meet other relatives that live near Tokyo, Japan.

From all of this, I learned a lot about my family but also about myself and where I get certain characteristics. I now have even more family than before and am so thankful for each of them. I keep in touch with all of them and am looking forward to what the future may hold. I even learned about my extended family.

Some of the most interesting things I learned about my family and ancestors was that many were put into camps on Hawaii during World War II due to being Japanese. My grandmother also witnessed Hiroshima but was far enough away to not suffer the aftermath. My grandfather was close friends with Jimmy Hoffa and supposedly worked with him. All of these things amaze me and really strengthen my pride in each nationality.

I am so thankful to have been given this opportunity to meet them all and get along with each one. I am also very proud of where I came from and the journey to this point that has made me who I am. I never would want to be different than who I am today.

Family, Opinion, Relationships

Found My Half Sibling

For many people, finding a long lost relative can be challenging and an emotional journey. I have my own story that I’d like to share because it has been life changing. 

My biological dad has never been in the picture since I was about 2 years old. So when my mom was dealing with some issues she came across some information that didn’t make sense to her. Under my fathers name it showed he had two children. My mom looked up the other baby and found out I had a half brother a year and a half younger than me. So when I was three she found some information of the mother to the child. My mom worked at getting in touch with the boy’s mother and when she did, the other lady didn’t want us to contact them again because she was remarrying and didn’t want her son to know her husband wasn’t his father. 

Fast forward about 17 years, my mom and I are talking about getting in touch with him again because he would be 18 years old now. We didn’t know where to start, so I figured best bet would be a Facebook search. Entered his name and up came 6892 matches. This seemed like an impossible task but we decided we would take turns going through each profile looking for someone that possibly resembled myself. Hours passed and then days. On the third day, I got home from work and my mom is standing there smiling. “I think I found him!” My mom rushed me to the computer and showed me the profile she thought was it. I click on the profile picture and he is tall, thin and in a military uniform. It was like looking at a male version of myself. I think I found him. My mind was racing. 

I waited a full day before I took my chances and send a message to the guy I believed to be my half brother. It was a few hours before I received a response. He was so unsure of everything because he had never heard of me but he did know his father was not the one that raised him. So we talked for a few hours, sharing information and finally came to the conclusion that we were half siblings. I had found him!


This started our crazy but wonderful sibling relationship. We talk every single week and really want to plan meeting up. It has just been difficult since he is in the Air Force and I’ve got kids now. But we share so much in common and I couldn’t imagine not having him in my life now. 

So for anyone out there looking for someone, don’t give up hope. I thought it would be impossible but through some tough digging, it was accomplished. Perseverance is what makes miracles happen. 


Share your story below or let me know if you are looking for someone. πŸ’œ
By perseverance the snail reached the ark. -Charles Spurgon 

Advice/Tips, Opinion, Relationships

ο»ΏPost-traumatic stress disorder from Abuse

In honor of PTSD (Post-traumatic stress disorder) Awareness Month, I am writing from my own personal experience of abuse and the affects. This post does contain graphic content that may disturb readers. 


I was in a relationship in 2007 that, at the time, was an abusive relationship but I was not aware of it. He was abusive in multiple ways and I was so young that I didn’t see it as abuse.

He was emotionally/verbally abusive by isolating me from friends and family, blaming me, accusing me, threatening me and/or himself. 

I was financially abused by him controlling my money and when I could use it. 

He used social media and texting to cause digital abuse. He would degrade or threaten me and harass me when I wasn’t with him. Demanded access to all my social media and would go through my phone. 

He stalked me at work, and any time I would be without him, he had a friend watch me. 


When I finally got the courage to leave him, I knew it could go bad and warned coworkers. Once I got home and told him I didn’t want to be with him anymore, I saw the anger rise. This was the first time I had ever been physically abused in my life. He pinned me to the ground and I tried to deflect his punches but many made it past my arms. He knocked me out and he waited til I became conscious to tell me it’s my fault for him doing this. He asked if I was still going to leave and I said yes, the beating continued for about another 10 minutes with him screaming at me. He would yell things like “why would you leave me when I love you?”, “nobody will love you after me because you’re damaged”, “I’ll kill you before I see you with someone else”, and “you are making me do this.”

Coming up with a plan, I finally said I wouldn’t leave, knowing he had work that night. He left and said we would talk later. Once I saw him drive away I called a coworker who picked me up and all my belongings and took me to their home to stay. 

We filed a police report, took photos and visited a doctor. 

The results:

He never was caught. Found out he was an illegal and was hiding. 

I ended up with bruises covering my entire body, busted lip, bone bruises along my jaw, swollen esophagus, a fractured supraorbital arch (eyebrow bone), and PTSD. 


I’m not going to go into detail of my symptoms but I have complied a list of PTSD symptoms I developed. 

  1. Flashbacks and nightmares
  2. Insomnia 
  3. Anxiety 
  4. Numb to emotions 
  5. No self esteem 
  6. Constant headaches
  7. Negative self image 
  8. Hypervigilance


Today, I have moved so far from the struggles I faced then and have become a stronger person. 

What I struggle with today include momentary anxiety and moments of low self esteem. 

I am happy with the person I have become and took a negative and turned it into a positive. I rarely ever have this experience come up and have moved past it. It take determination and courage to push through. Putting my faith in the Lord is what really got me out of such a dark place. My husband and kids really have brought that chapter to a close and I am so thankful I get to enjoy every day with them!

Feel free to share your thoughts or share your story by commenting below. If you would like to share privately, my email is cloe.pottorff@gmail.com πŸ˜ŠπŸ’œ