Friday, December 21, 2007

Education and Media Week

Better late info then no info. But hey! It's the Christmas season AND we do have those six Autistic children and their needs. Anyway...

Sunday, December 9th was the start of the Education part of the week. A neighbor of ours, Melisa, does educational seminars for teachers and parents of Autistic children. She is a 'Behavior Analyst', as I understand it, that teaches these groups how to communicate with their Autistic children. She does seminars all over the country and concentrates on Aspergers children. She and a fellow Behavior Analyst, Aaron, from California; watched our children, came up with a plan and personally bought materials for us to use. Aaron specializes in working with more severe Autism. Thanks guys!

On the afternoon of the 11th our documentary producer and camera man came over to see what was needed to get the house ready for filming. They were here that day and Wednesday and left late Thursday. Got a lot of family life and daily living plus on Thursday I took 3 of the children to University of Utah's Autism research center we've been involved in for the past year. They filmed one the Dr's doing evaluations on each of them.












Here's our crew, Monica, Scott, Keith and Richard:

Then on Friday, December 14th, our magazine photographer, Ken, arrived. He followed us around for the next 3 days. He said he would take over 1000 shots and they'd end up using 6-8. I thought that was huge, but he said that it is very typical.

Our reporter says that now that we have pictures our story should be out fairly soon. We are hoping that it is THIS month.

Our goals are better and more awareness and getting support and financial aid to families through our AutsimBites Foundation.

“Funding for Autism research is good, funding to help with day to day living, is better.” - Dad

Wednesday, December 12, 2007

Glenn Beck Turns Back On Dad of Six Autistic Kids


My title is another example of sensationalistic "Headlines" that we are seeing a lot during this political season. (my little joke, HA!) If you look closely you'll seen Glenn smiling. (also notice that Glenn and I have similar chins) He was at a book signing, last Saturday, for his latest book. My oldest son, Ben, snapped the picture just after I handed Glenn a gift t-shirt from our website. (Glenn was actually turning around to put the t-shirt on a table behind him) He was very nice and when I told him I was the Dad of six Autistic children and that the t-shirt was from our website he said, "God bless you sir."










The big face in this shot is me.







I silenced the room and created a fair amount of laughter when I let out a VERY loud, AWWWWWW-YEAHHHHHH!!! about 5 times during the book signing.



The people behind me got this shot for me and emailed it. Thanks Connie!



In between the folds of the t-shirt I included a note to Glenn regarding Autism. Here are some excerpts from that letter: "Make a Difference for Autistic Families. Who We Are - My wife, Robin, and I are the parents of six Autistic children. We are participants in a genetic study on Autism at the University of Utah. We’re making this appeal especially to you because as a father of a special needs child you would have an understanding of our hopes for, our and all Autistic children’s future.


You Are Too Busy - I know… I know that you are busier then a one-armed paper hanger that also has just one leg, now involved in a butt kicking contest. However, I hope that you will consider helping parents that have been financially devastated by Autism.

We are forming a non-profit, The AutismBites Foundation. Our wish is to get needed funds into the hands of Autistic parents for basic needs, home renovations to keep their children safe, for treatments and interventions to improve their children’s lives...

...Do an AutismBites charity day on one of you radio programs sometime in 2008. It could be much like the one Rush Limbaugh does for Lymphoma where he raised around 5 million dollars last time."

I then included this recent picture of our family.

Hope and pray with me that we can get the AutismBites Foundation to become a reality very soon.
Dad

Friday, November 30, 2007

Squirty Shorts and Drippy Pants


We've been a bit under the weather starting the day before Thanksgiving. Mary (3 in Dec) came into the living room the day before Thanksgiving with barf down her shirt, her pants and some in her hair. It looked like milk and we thought maybe she drank an old bottle.


She barfed and fussed the rest of the day, she was sick. The next day she seemed better and we prepared the Thanksgiving feast at home for ourselves. No ones invites us, of course. After Ammon (4) was in bed for the night for just a few minutes. Hack...HACK...BARRRRFFFF!!!!

We had to put him in the tub and rinse him off. His playpen? (the only place he'll sleep) looked like it had 5 lbs. of yuck. Amazing how much can come out of one little boy.


Mary's new friend on Friday was Mr. Diarrhea. How did we discover this? We found a trail (guck!) from her room into the living room, of green droppings. This lasted most of the day, thus our title of this blog entry. Oh, and Sarah (5) started her barfing as well.


Saturday was relatively calm with most of the babies filling their diapers with, well... let's just say it was nasty. Myself and the 3 oldest went to church on Sunday. Robin stayed home with the recovering 3 youngest.


That night Emma (9) started barfing. No school for her on Monday. Nephi (8) did go to school, but by noon we got a call from the nurse that he, "had an upset stomach", picked him up. Now Robin and I we starting to feel the effects. Mary's Friday friend was now our buddy. Once Nephi was home he paid homage to the porcelain god. (actually he preferred a large bowl beside his bed). Still Monday, the 3 youngest were much better, but now with Mom and Dad (called in to work sick that day) feeling bad and Nehpi hacking in the background... well, is this picture somewhat clear?


Bobby (14) ? Oh, he got it Monday night and missed school on Tuesday and Wednesday. I'm still making trips to the potty more then usual.


Sooooo, how was your Thanksgiving?


Dad

Tuesday, November 20, 2007

My Profile Has Had Over 1000 Views!!

We felt from the beginning when we started this blog that there may be some people interested in what our lives are like, how we handle things and what some of our interests are.

A 1000 VIEWS!?! Pretty cool to me. But...

From the views and stats of the blog we are getting a lot of looks but as far as tons of comments... not so much. It sure warms MY heart that people comment. Looking is fine, comments are better. Especially some of you family members that NEVER comment.

So....... let's get involved in the whole blog thing and COMMENT!!! Thanks

Dad

Thursday, November 15, 2007

Hand Sanitizer Can Poison Your Children

I recently came across these stories that tell of the dangers that could happen when using alcohol-based gel hand cleaners. Story 1 Story 2

Our Autistic pumpkins pick up lots of disgusting stuff, especially the 3 littlest. We were always worried that something could happen just like what is told in these situations. But, we constantly clean their hands and the alcohol in the gel cleaners would dry out their little hands and make them red and raw.

Robin was telling me that one the the aides at our preschoolers class was practically crying, when she used a gel cleaner just yesterday. She was always needing to clean up between the children and lessons. Her hands were cracked and the alcohol made her hands sting something terrible.

We found this hand sanitizer that has NO ALCOHOL, actually softens your hands, cleans hands as well or better as the gel, has about 4 times the pumps as the other stuff and the best part? It puts a germ protecting barrier on the hands that lasts about 3 to 4 hours. And it smells good.

We use it all the time now and I liked it so much that I have my own web page that sells it.

PureWorks Antibacterial Foam/Lotion/Soap (the phone # is not current) Also click on the "View The Product Tour!" link, it will be a short video.

Yes, BEWARE when you buy a bottle from my page I'll make about a dollar. But, what do the huge company's make on these alcohol gel products that could be dangerous. That dry out your hands, sting when you use them and only kill germs until the alcohol dries?

Dad

Tuesday, November 6, 2007

Busiest Mom - Press Release

Bemis Identifies Busiest Mom Through Nationwide Search and Rescue Mission

The above link is our just released, 'Press Release'. We ask that all interested parties form a line over here on the left. That's right, no pushing and shoving please. HEY, yeah you with the bushy moustache, NO pushing or we'll be sending you to the back of the line!

Anyway, we REALLY want to thank the woman who recommended the contest to us, but her profile is one of those blank ones that tells nothing about how to reach the commentor. Hope she comes back one day to see what she started.

Thursday, November 1, 2007

Ninjas, Zombies and Princesses ...Oh MY!!


Left to right is Emma as the Princess, Nephi the Ninja and Bobby the Zombie.


Emma wouldn't wear socks with the 'princess' shoes so after an hour or so she was grumping and fussing that her feet hurt and were cold.

We also were not able to find her favorite house that served homemade root beer the last two years. Of course this was the cause of additional fussing and, "But, I wanted to have the root beer drink".

I tried to explain, "We don't know what happened, honey, maybe they moved or the mom or daddy is sick. Or maybe they died." "But, I still want some". "You'll be OK". (but I'll be losing my mind!)

Nephi was whipping out his swords and attacking someone or something every few minutes. He also jumped and bounced around so much that his candy kept falling out of his bag.

Bobby's mask scared the living bejevees out a bunch of little kids and parents were covering their kids eyes when he walked by. He started to really get into the scaring thing by walking toward people and jumping out at cars going by.

Here is our traditional 'Barfing' pumpkin that we put on the front steps -





Sunday, October 28, 2007

Cinderella is only her seventh favorite princess...

I don't know what to write really, so I'll sit here and think about it..............

Well, Emma, 9, mild Asperger's, didn't like the adult sized Cinderella costume I got her. It was the only pretty little girl costume left at Target that would fit her! She's so much like her mama, kid sizes don't fit, is too chunky. She said that Cinderella is only her 7th favorite Disney Princess, augh! So, we went chasing all over town looking for something to make her happy. We finally made it over to Kmart where she found the costume she saw before that she was desirous of--I guess it went in one ear and out the other after she fussed about the diva/pop star costume she originally wanted that wasn't in her size. So anyhow, I became greatly relieved as I tried it on her, it fit THANK THE DEAR LORD, and after all that, buying the $8 wig she wanted to wear with it was a smalll price to pay for some beloved peace. Reminds me of the time when I was 16 and had a crush on this really nice guy who didn't like me in that way, but being the optimistic and relentless romantic that I was, I hoped anyhow, especially if I came to the dance that night looking really good. My mom took me to the mall to find a new dress, and I tried on like 50 until I found one I was happy with. I caused my mom excruciating pain that day, and I guess I got some of it back to me this past weekend...

Ammon, 3, classic autism, got a fever yesterday, got pale, laid around and was miserable. This morning, he threw up a couple of times. But soon thereafter, he made a miraculous recovery. He came right over when I asked him if he wanted a bath, and he splashed and smiled a lot. He then sat at the table and wanted to eat. So, I gave him some crackers. After he snarfed those, he finished off the last of a baggie of Life cereal. He then started coloring, doing his cute little stims like his waving back and forth with his arms and head like Stevie Wonder, and getting into stuff. It did my heart a lot of joy to see him feel well again so fast and do the things he loves again, but my stress meter shot up when he started doing his usual destroying too. Actually, that compounded with Sarah. Sarah, 5, classic autism, was really going at it in the kitchen today. I finally changed the broken locking latch on the fridge, so instead of messing around in there, she climbed on the counters and got a box of pancake mix off the top of the cupboards. She then dumped it on the kids table in the living room and spread it around and licked it. I hollered at her, wiped it, and put it in the garbage. A little later, I thought she got it out of the garbage because the same dang thing happened! No, this time, she climbed on the counter and got the other box of pancake mix and dumped it and licked it. It was Aunt Jemima, our favorite too. Between trying to tend to her messes, Ammon's messes and Mary's messes and demands, Mary's 2 w/PDD, I had enough. I prayed that John and the older kids would come home from church VERY SOON and I put the kitchen garbage and the pancake mixes in the outside dumpster.

Mary is about a year behind in development, and now that she's almost 3, she seems to have hit her terrible 2's. She seems to be getting more frustrated, wanting to express herself more than she's able. I have to do things her way, serve her food her way, etc. For example, she won't accept a half a granola bar, she has to have the ENTIRE thing or she screams. Last week, she screamed her head off like she was being killed when I gave her an ice cream cone....She immediately stopped and was happy again when I served her ice cream in a bowl instead. That's my precious babies...

Next week, we are meeting with a production crew to begin our autism documentary. And, this week I get to meet with the handy man and the house cleaning service to start those things going as part of my Bemis Busiest Mom contest winnings. Thank you dear Lord for your blessings!

Love,

Robin

Tuesday, October 23, 2007

Before You Let an Autism Diagnosis Drive You Crazy

Yes, today is a better day! Even when I'm feeling WAY down like yesterday I do know that better days are ahead. Got this story link (see below) in my email this morning, good stuff.

Parents with a child on the autism spectrum tend to overwhelm themselves with research, treatments, and general anxiety over their child's welfare. While this is natural, it's not particularly good for you, your child, your marriage or the rest of your family. And the truth is, it really isn't necessary. Here's why. (article continues here) -

http://autism.about.com/od/inspirationideas/bb/notcrazy.htm

Dad

Monday, October 22, 2007

A better evening after a rotten day

Oh my goodness...my husband sure is having a rotten day, uff duh....

Yeah, it's pretty bad. He's otherwise usually rather positive, and a LOT LESS moody than myself. I partly feel to blame, I spent a bit much at Walmart last week, he's between jobs, and I convinced him to cleanse his "inner vessel", and it's apparently giving his stomach some grief, probably because he's so full of crap--literally that is!

Anyhow, we did have a recent disappointing set back. Ammon, age 3 & classic autistic, had stopped stripping and digging in his poopy pants for several weeks, perhaps months. But, it wasn't soon after I realized that he stopped and mentioned it that he started up again, about two weeks ago. And it really bites! He's so dang smart that he can unzip himself all the way when his outfit is on backwards. There is NOTHING he can't figure a way out from. I did find a special zipper part that's included in some specialty clothing especially for fecal smearers, but each outfit costs $120. Dear God, let this soon pass...

Ammon also likes to draw, we have another aspiring artist in the family which does our hearts much joy, I mean it, no sarcasm that time....BUT....he's not only drawing on the walls which is actually kind of cute and easy to clean, he's drawing everywhere. He's drawing all over the counters, tables and floor as well! Buying stock in Mr. Clean Magic Eraser Sponges would be a great idea right about now.

We were somewhat disappointed also about having the chance to move into a bigger rental, the home of a friend who's moving into a bigger place for her growing family, but she needed more rent than we could afford. Was just one of those things that didn't work out. We're trying to work on being more patient about waiting for our time to move, but it's not been easy. Squeezing eight people into a 1300 sq ft, 3 bd, 1 bath house...it's like sardines in a can.

Well, it sure brings a heart joy to hear the little ones outside the bedroom door jumping and running around and laughing with each other. I'm gonna go clean up the sugar Sarah, 5, classic autism, spilled this morning twice just so she could eat it straight. Then, I will make them dinner, and we will have a much better evening.

Love,

Robin

Autism and Life Bites!

If you don't want to read the rantings of a Dad with Autistic children, stop now. Otherwise life is a bit in the crapper right now. Now, sure it's been great that Robin won the "Busy Mom" contest with all the prizes that are coming to us soon, thanks Bemis. But, most everything else pretty much stinks.

Gee, even now I wanted to go into details but I DON"T FEEL LIKE IT. Besides it looks like no one hardly reads or especailly comments on this blog anyway. I'll probably feel better tomorrow.

Dad

Friday, October 12, 2007

We're Getting a Real Website

Before if you typed Autism Bites dot com into your browser, you would have gone to the site that we have our Autism t-shirts. Now when you enter: www.autismbites.com you'll see that something else is there, every day I hope something new until we get it the way that we want.

My sister-in-law is a web developer by day and will be helping us put it all together. With all the additional attention we're getting we decided to have a place that tells about us, interests, dreams, bios on us all, etc. It will partly be a help for media types that want info on us. Hopefully a launching place for the AutismBites Foundation. A place of information, helping, coping and other nice things.

If you have anything you'd like to suggest, please do.

Dad

Sunday, October 7, 2007

We're On A Mission

I was talking to the marketing guy connected to Robin winning the 'Busy Mom' contest the other day. He had attended a seminar that said in today's world there is too much of: 'XYZ is the greatest, best, etc.' or 'Never seen before', blah, blah, blah. For something to be TRUELY unique it must really, actually, BE unique.

WE are unique.

Not to go tooting our horn here, but we have SIX Autistic children. And we have a strong marriage as well. Note I did not say perfect... and we make it through each day. We have a story and experiences to talk about that we feel can help others with their struggles. Whether you have Autistic children or not.

I've joked with my wife that I'd be a great political candidate with what I've been through in MY life. I can relate to a LOT of people... "I feel your pain". ; )

My parents were divorced when I was young. I've had 3 stepfathers. I've lived as a child on a military base. I've lived in regular neighborhoods. I've been abused, physically, emotional and sexually. I've been poor, middle class and yet looking for being rich. I have lived in or visited every state in the US except: HI, AR, ME, VT, NH, CT or MA. I've travelled across the country by myself in cars, buses, trains and planes. I was in the USAF for over 12 years and got to live in and visit a number of countries in Europe.

I can speak a little bit of Russian, Spanish and a bit more of German. I've been married and divorced and married again. I'm the Father of 9 children (5 girls, 4 boys) and step-father to one. I am the oldest of 9 siblings, most are half brothers and sisters. I have relatives I get along with and some I don't. I have ancestors that were here in the early 1700's and some that got to the US in the late 1800's. My ancestry is English, Irish, Dutch, Prussian and French. I or my ancestors have been military members during the Cold war, Vietnam, Korea, WWII, Civil war and the Revolutionary war.

In the military I've earned two medals for marksmanship, received leadership awards , marched men, lead men, been frozen at minus 50 degrees and have worn full chemical gear and gas mask for hours in 90 plus degree heat. Repaired nuclear warheads, helped install nuclear missiles on B-52 bombers and have seen the 'standing on it's tail' take off of an SR-71 spy plane. I also cut a lot of grass and weeds. Painted walls and floors. Drove step vans, tugs, 2 1/2 ton trucks, pickups, and about everything else with wheels. I knew a man who was a political refugee from an African dictatorship. I could go on but that is about all I can think of off the top of my head.

So, why is any of this in any way important to you? I believe I can relate to nearly anyone, anywhere or anytime. My title above says we are on a mission.

What mission is that? Glad you asked.

TO HELP OTHERS.

We are both great conversationalists. If I or we can help just one person feel better, deal with a situation better or just make it through another day, we've done something good. Robin and I enjoy watching the sermons of Joel Osteen of the Lakewood Church in Houston, TX. He gives hope to the hopeless, lifts up those in despair and restores faith in people. If we can do our own little bit in the Autism world. We feel it is our 'calling', our 'mission' and our personal Ministry.

What can I help you with today?


Dad

Thursday, September 27, 2007

Time to go to school and play!

Today, I had a meeting with Sarah and Mary's teacher at their autism school. Sarah is 5 w/classic autism, and Mary is 2 w/PDD, they're also in the same class in the morning preschool that meets for 3 hours three mornings a week. I told the children that we're going in the car to school today, and we're going to play at school.

Once there, Ammon went to his regular class, and the girls and I met in their classroom with the teacher. The children didn't need to be there, but since I had no child care, they were there. I found out that Mary is developmentally around the level of a 2 year old old, a young two year old, and in a couple of things a little younger than a 2 year old--she's just a few months shy of 3. So, that was quite encouraging. When they talked of the results of Sarah's developmental testing, she's mostly equivalent to a toddler, 18 months, and emotionally she's about 8 months old. Actually, that sounds about right. So I'm wondering why I'm feeling kind of bummed out about it...I guess hearing it kind of made it more real, and kind of disappointing. And, I am getting very tired of her taking off her clothes and diaper all the time. She didn't do that for a while, then started doing it again constantly sometime within the last several months. The same goes for her public screaming, I can't been able to take her to the store lately because it's been so out of control. She's still good at our favorite hamburger joint with the play land though.

Well, I can focus on the disappointment, or I can focus on the positive. After all, she's made AMAZING progress nonetheless. I mean, she used to be more developmentally delayed. And, she's saying a lot more words, and is thriving with the Picture Exchange System. One of her former preschool teachers from our school district was visiting the school and observed Sarah and was delighted and amazed at how well Sarah is doing, how she's talking so much more.

Sarah was all over the room. She likes the new Pampers Cruisers diapers because they have the Sesame Street characters on the front that she likes so much, especially Elmo. She saw a package of them and tore them open and kept taking the diapers and carrying them around smiling. Last night, she slept with one from home that had Elmo on it. Those are the BEST diapers, are stretchy, fit well and hold "it" in real well. Anyhow, Sarah kept trying to get into the fish in the little fish tank--she loves fish. She says "Fih" and makes the fish moving his mouth in the water sound. She also kept getting into her reward box and chomping on the snacks in there, and shared them with her sister. Mary kept running water, playing in it, drinking it, pouring it into another cup, etc. They spilled water and left crumbs all over, just like home...

Robin

Sunday, September 23, 2007

Autism Guide for Educators/Teachers/Parents

I found this info on the website of the National Education Association (NEA). It has a LOT of good info that parents should make sure their school district and teachers of your children have AND use.

From their website:

Guide Will Help Educators with 'Puzzle of Autism'

Across the country, the number of children diagnosed as having autism has increased substantially and many of these students are in general education classrooms. How can general education teachers and other education professionals address their complex communication, social and learning needs?

To assist educators in their daily work, NEA has produced a new resource in collaboration with the Autism Society of America, the American Speech-Language-Hearing Association, and the National Association of School Psychologists.

"The Puzzle of Autism" is a succinct informational guide for all education personnel who work with students with Autism Spectrum Disorders. The guide explains common autistic characteristics and suggests effective classroom strategies for improving the communication, sensory, social, and behavioral skills of children who have autism.

You can download a copy of
"The Puzzle of Autism" .

Dad

Friday, September 14, 2007

I'm The Busiest Mom !!!

I just spent nearly the last hour working on my latest entry. I talked of how it's been having my three youngest children in school the last three weeks at the Carmen D. Pingree School in Salt Lake City. It's a private school for autistic children and I bragged kind of extensively how great the school is.

During that time, my daughter Sarah, 5, came home from afternoon kindergarten at the local elementary school--she attends Pingree three mornings a week. She took off her clothes, but left her diaper on while she hung out on my and my husband John's bed, one of her favorite places to be and bounce on, especially while Mom's on the computer. I soon smelled an odor...Sarah had taken off her dirty diaper, and skid her back side on the bed. Unhappily, I went and changed her and put on a one piece outfit--that should have taken care of the problem for the time being...But, Mary, 2, needed a diaper change too.

So, after I took care of her, Sarah wasn't in sight and very quiet, I then yelled "Sarah!!!" Sarah ran off from the computer where she had just gotten rid of everything I wrote, then sat down on the bed in the SAME place she messed it up minutes ago and got herself dirty and stinky all over again! I cleaned her up again and told the older and higher functioning kids who, thank the Lord, just got home to take her outside to play NOW.

Well, I'm too tired and short of time to rewrite my entry now. Maybe later....

Hey, I've got GREAT news, I'm officially the "Busiest Mom", the Beamis Manufacturing Company said so! For, my beloved husband John wrote and submitted an essay to the Busy Mom contest they held recently, and I just received a call today that I am the grand prize winner.

They left some messages on my phone asking me to call them to "take care of some paperwork", and when I called back, they put me on speaker phone, told me that I actually won, and a handful of friendly folks congratulated me!!! It took me a moment to react, I mean, it was such awesome news that I was a bit in flattered disbelief. But, it soon sunk in, and I said thank you several times.

They have given me a very generous package of services that I could really use, but it's interesting how the thing I got the most excited about was free house cleaning service I think twice a month for a year, WOWEEEEEEE!!!!! When I had half the amount of kids I have now, I used to keep such a clean house. But now, my ability to keep order has totally gone to hell. I know putting it in those terms sounds strong, but you should see my house and you'll know what I'm talking about. I can't even clean when the little ones are home or awake because I get constantly interrupted and they make messes faster than I can clean, ahh!

So, thank you AGAIN from the bottom of my ADORING AND LOVING HEART, Beamis Corporation! I hear they have some really great easy to clean toilet seats.

Well, I have to go, I just heard the sound of glass breaking, grrrr..... A busy mom's work is NEVER done. (Thanks for telling us about it, Hannah, please comment).


Robin

Saturday, September 8, 2007

The AutismBites Foundation

We feel that there is a BIG gap in the fund raising and grants/rewards area within the Autism community.

The Autism Society of America has much of the usual fund raising for research and rewards, etc. Others, Talk About Curing Autism, Generation Rescue, Autism One, Schafer Autism Report, Safe Minds, and Treating Autism advocate the use of various treatments, finding the right doctor(s), reading various books, getting on their newsletter/email list, subscribing to their reports, etc. etc. etc. (NOTE: If I missed your group, let me know).

Then the 'walk-a-thon', celebrity and fund raising champion, Autism Speaks, that has money for research and other various projects.

I'm not saying that any of these organization aren't providing a needed service in their area of focus or interest. Or that they don't provide a LOT of useful information and resources...

But, here's the gap:

What about poor Mom and Dad trying to PAY for these interventions and treatments, trips to the Dr. (that many insurances don't pay for), books, special clothing and/or alterations, changes to the home and on and on. Try this... read that... try something else... read just one more book that will hopeful tell you exactly what is the right thing for YOUR child. I don't know about many of you, but just trying to organize the information of each of our six (going to Office Max again, honey!) has put a serious crimp in our budget.

Now, if I've gotten it wrong or missed something important about an organization, PLEASE straighten me out. That's fine... I'm no expert on any one group. That is except my group of six here at home (still working on the expert part).

So, what about The AutismBites Foundation? It's primary purpose is to provide funds... MONEY... cash-in-hand... to parents. For whatever THEY feel their child(ren) needs. All without a bunch of rules, criteria and layers and layers of committees and approvals needed. Our idea is to take application letters and then to give funds on a first-come, most-needs basis. And if we have a lot of money to grant we can be more generous. If the letter brings a tear to our eye, that will help. ; )

So, if you are able, please click the link to the right. And also if you belong to a large and giving company, ask the CFO to click our link. We will be keeping our overhead low and fund giving high.

Please forward this blog to all friends, rich uncles, the rich and famous, Bill Gates types you know that want to really make a difference to families of Autism.

Dad

Monday, September 3, 2007

Future Employers Listen Up

Our children have MANY talents, but lately it appears that their true callings in life are coming out. ; )

Emma and Nephi: Spongebob Squarepants - Content Critics:

















Sarah: Wall Paint Peeler and Taster
























Ammon: Chicken Shredder








And the most important part of all is they are happy in their work!


Dad

Wednesday, August 29, 2007

Autism Stress

A friend sent this story and thoughtful words. I thought that how we all handle the Autism thing can be related to what is said here:

A lecturer, when explaining stress management to an audience, raised a glass of water and asked, 'How heavy is this glass of water?' Answers called out ranged from 20g to 500g.

The lecturer replied, 'The absolute weight doesn't matter It depends on how long you try to hold it. 'If I hold it for a minute, that's not a problem.

If I hold it for an hour, I'll have an ache in my right arm.

If I hold it for a day, you'll have to call an ambulance.

'In each case, it's the same weight, but the longer I hold it, the heavier it becomes. '

He continued, 'And that's the way it is with stress management.

If we carry our burdens all the time, sooner or later, as the burden becomes increasingly heavy, we won't be able to carry on. '

'As with the glass of water, you have to put it down for a while and rest before holding it again. When we're refreshed, we can carry on with the burden. '

'So, before you return home tonight, put the burden of work down. Don't carry it home You can pick it up tomorrow. Whatever burdens you're carrying now, let them down for a moment if you can. ' 'Relax; pick them up later after you've rested. Life is short. Enjoy it!

And then he shared some ways of dealing with the burdens of life:

* Accept that some days you're the pigeon, and some days you're the statue.
* Always keep your words soft and sweet, just in case you have to eat them.
* Always read stuff that will make you look good if you die in the middle of it.
* Drive carefully. It's not only cars that can be recalled by their Maker.
* If you can't be kind, at least have the decency to be vague.
* If you lend someone $20 and never see that person again, it was probably worth it.
* It may be that your sole purpose in life is simply to serve as a warning to others.
* Never buy a car you can't push.
* Never put both feet in your mouth at the same time, because then you won't have a leg to stand on.
* Nobody cares if you can't dance well. Just get up and dance.
* Since it's the early worm that gets eaten by the bird, sleep late.
* The second mouse gets the cheese.
* When everything's coming your way, you're in the wrong lane.
* Birthdays are good for you. The more you have, the longer you live.
* To the world you might be one person, but to one person you just might be the world.
* Some mistakes are too much fun to only make once
* We could learn a lot from crayons. Some are sharp, some are pretty and some are dull, Some have weird names , and all are different colors, but they all have to live in the same box


Dad

Tuesday, August 28, 2007

Alex, I'll Take "Autism and Genetics" for $1000


Kristina has a great article on her blog, Autism Vox...

(is this like: would you could you like Autism with a fox in a box? Hmmmm...)

...about the genetic question in regards to Autism. We felt that we should help with the Autism Genome project and got involved through the University of Utah. Being as we still appear to have the most children on the spectrum in one family, six, we hope for results as to why.

We love our children and accept who they are, but if a way can be found to reverse or 'fix it', we'll sign up. And if some feel that attitude is somewhat harsh, well... you try dealing with 6 children from 13 to 2 with Autism. No picnic.

We believe it has to be a combination of genetics and environment. My wife and I have no form of Autism. She has an uncle who we now believe is Aspergers and maybe a great-uncle, but that's it. Where did ours come from?

Until and likely past, we'll deal with the poopy walls and floors, destroyed furniture, bitten DVDs, shredded mail, books and magazines, escaping screaming huggable angels sent from above. Oh yeah, don't forget the MELTDOWNS... who can?

Dad

Friday, August 24, 2007

Our Newspaper Story... revisited

I know we've included the link to our story in previous posts. But, in case you missed that and I'm also going to comment inside the story of parts that were not quite correct. Here it is:

Autism x 6: Family's kids all have the disorder By Angie Welling Deseret Morning News Published: June 3, 2007 12:21 a.m. MDT

MURRAY — One minute they're sitting, the next they're gone. Off the couch and onto the rocking chair, into the corner of the room, anywhere but where they were.

The children move quickly, often too fast for their parents (not really, a bit of journalistic enthusiasm I think) — or even the camera's lens — to catch them.

This speed, this constant flash of children, is why the Kirton house looks like it does: a veritable maze of locked doors and makeshift barricades (and HUGE messes) that are designed to keep kids in, or out, of certain areas. It is why the Kirton parents can keep talking through just about anything, (you gotta do what you gotta do) hardly raising their voices while 8-year-old Nephi has yet another "meltdown" as 5-year-old Sarah, aka "Tigger," bounces madly on the couch beside them.

After all, if John and Robin Kirton focused too much on these incidents, who would catch 3-year-old Ammon, lovingly referred to as "The Destroyer," before his little hand finds its way into his dirty diaper? And where, during all of this, are the older children, Bobby and Emma, or the baby, Mary? (as long as they're in the house and we don't smell smoke...things are fine)

Life with six children is tough. Life with six children with autism practically defies description. (a great description of our life!)

The stress has landed the family in juvenile court, following an offhand comment from a frustrated mother, and cost John Kirton his job (my stress, not Mom's comments) and the family's medical insurance. But it has also helped (a bit over a $200 isn't much yet) the Kirtons — who now market their own "Autism Bites" T-shirts — recognize the healing power of laughter.

"We use sarcastic humor to diffuse our stress," Robin Kirton said with a smile. Added husband John: "If we didn't laugh, we'd cry."

Dubious distinction

In Utah, 1 in every 133 children has autism, according to a recent study that placed Utah's rate about 12 percent higher than the national average. University of Utah researchers found that the rate is even higher for boys, at 1 in 79. (for us it's 50/50, 3 boys and 3 girls)

Even with such high state rates, having six children from the same family on the autism spectrum is extremely rare, said Judith Pinborough Zimmerman, Ph.D., assistant professor in the department of psychiatry at the U.

"What tends to happen is sometimes families, if they have one child with autism, they tend to stop having other children," she said. "Geneticists refer to it as stoppage."

Autism is characterized by impaired social, communicative and behavioral development. It is a spectrum disorder, with symptoms and characteristics ranging from mild to severe. Common characteristics include resistance to change, a difficulty expressing needs, tantrums, difficulty socializing with others, an obsessive attachment to objects, over- or under-sensitivity to pain and a preference for being alone. There is no medical cure for autism.

Autism cannot be detected by medical tests; diagnoses are based primarily on observation. Its causes are unknown, though research indicates that genetics can be a factor, while many believe that environmental factors and even childhood vaccines may be to blame. (We think it may be a combination of both in our case)

The Kirtons note all of these factors when questioned about the cause of their children's autism. They also point to John's age as a possible factor, as he was over 40 (we mentioned a study done in Israel of over 40 year old fathers of Autistic children) when all of his children were born. (Bobby, the oldest boy, is Robin Kirton's son from her first marriage.)

The Kirton's own research, through Internet searches, online discussion groups and local autism conferences, has led the family to believe it may lead the nation in the number of children with autism. (still #1 as far as we know) It's a dubious distinction to John and Robin Kirton, but they also see it as an opportunity to educate others about the disorder and, maybe one day, start their own nonprofit organization to raise money for other families with autistic children. (we very much want to do this to help insure no one else has to you through the courts like we did. And for the financial shortfall most Autistic parents experience. Anyone like to help and/or join us?)

This week, researchers from the Utah Registry of Autism and Developmental Disabilities, a joint project between the state health department and the U. medical school's department of psychiatry, will visit the family's home to draw blood from each family member as part of an ongoing study into the role of genetics in autism.

'Dangerous thoughts'

John and Robin Kirton bristle when asked the all-too-familiar question about their family: Why didn't they, as many parents do, stop having children?

Depending on their mood, the Kirtons respond with humor, frustration or defensiveness. Regardless, the answer remains the same — all of the Kirton children were already born when Bobby's fifth-grade teacher told John and Robin she suspected the boy suffered from Asperger's syndrome, a mild form of autism.

According to the Utah Registry of Autism and Developmental Disabilities, signs of autism-spectrum disorders are often the most obvious in 3 and 4 year olds, while more mild forms are often not diagnosed until later in childhood.

After observation tests confirmed Bobby, now 13, was a high-functioning autistic, the Kirtons began to become concerned about their other children. Sarah's diagnosis (not official) came next, then Ammon's. (official)

"That's about when my grieving period started," John Kirton said. (couldn't concentrate at work, felt like I was in a constant haze for 6-8 months)

The Kirtons sought early intervention services for the two children, (Ammon and Sarah) each considered "classic autistic." Falling at the severe end of the spectrum, each child is still in diapers and has limited verbal skills. It was one of those early intervention workers, from a local nonprofit organization that contracts with the Utah Department of Health, to whom Robin Kirton made the comment last fall about the family's Murray home being so dirty (messy) that some days she was tempted to "burn the whole thing down and start over."

The remark was never meant seriously, said Robin Kirton. It was simply one of those "dark and dangerous and scary thoughts that crosses the minds of all parents but you don't do."

Still, within an hour, workers from the state Division of Child and Family Services were at the front door. (called in by the helpful case worker) One week later, all six children were at the Christmas Box House, where they lived for two weeks while their mother's mental state was evaluated.

"I feel like my character was, at first, so smeared," Robin said. "At the same time, I know they were doing their job. I've just had to prove myself and earn our freedom back.

"It really helped humble us. It made us appreciate the children more."

It also led to an official diagnosis for the other three Kirton children after the juvenile court judge ordered that they be tested for autism, as well. Last November, the news finally came: Emma, 9, and Nephi also have Asperger's syndrome and 2-year-old Mary has PDD-NOS, which stands for "pervasive developmental disorder — not otherwise specified."

The news, Robin said, "was hard to take." However, the diagnoses also helped the family in certain ways, she said. "For one, it helped make sense of all the stress."

'Armageddon level'

The Kirtons will be back in court late next month for what they hope will be their final court hearing. (it was, we're all done, YEAH!) "The thing with the thing," (huh? don't remember saying that one) as John Kirton refers to the state intervention, is finally winding down.

The pair has made necessary changes to their home, and John Kirton has found work driving a truck for a local excavation company. The owner is sympathetic to the family's situation and the fact that John misses at least one day of work every couple of weeks to tend to his family — the reason he lost his previous job. (not really, my VP and boss said it sounded like I needed to take care of the home life... see ya, a lay off. But, he said he didn't say it that way, that I quit, avoiding an unemployment claim) And although John and Robin are without health insurance, three of the children receive Medicaid and the other three are on federal SSI (supplemental security income) through Social Security. (the 3 on SSI are the ones getting medicaid, the other 3 and us have no insurance)

Meantime, the couple, who celebrated their 11th wedding anniversary in late May, will continue to cope with their situation in their own ways. John blogs on their Web site autismbitestheblog.blogspot.com/ (like now) about his family and rents World War II movies because, "even though I know how it ends, I like to see the fighting and how they got there." (a better version: "even though I know how it ends, I like to see the fighting and how we won.") Robin, on the other hand, steals whatever free time she can to play her favorite computer game, Snood.

Recently, while reaching the highest level in the puzzle game, Robin reached an important conclusion about her life.

"I realized that the lower levels aren't fun now, because I'm good at it," Robin Kirton said. "If I had, say, six normal kids or less kids that were normal, that would be easy for me. God knew I was up for the challenge, so he made it.

"Six autistic kids is my Armageddon level."

End of comments

Dad

Wednesday, August 22, 2007

Tearing down the walls--literally

This morning, I let the little ones play in the yard like usual, before it gets too hot in the middle of the day. All the sudden, I heard Ammon. He was hanging on the door of our SUV uttering "Bah bah bah bah!" Well, Ammon, 3, classic autistic, aka Monkey Boy among many other things, finally found a way to penetrate the 5 feet tall stretch of fence in our yard. He brought a toy horse to the fence and used it to hoist himself high enough to get over the fence. GRRRR!!!!

Well, Ammon and Sarah, 5, also classic autistic, have this new thing they like to do, they like to peel the paint off the wall. I'm not exaggerating in the least, as my fellow parents of autistics well know. I'm not sure how they made the original edges, I'm guessing clawing or chewing and now they are removing large sheets of it off in one sitting. Anyhow, between that, the crayon artwork, the holes and the dirty paw prints, their bedroom/playroom is one trashed joint. Our landlord wanted to do an inspection a couple of weeks ago, and gave us a few days warning--which we thanked God very much for. Well, the place looked great for about a half hour, and then she forgot to come, argh! Maybe it's for the best, maybe she'll keep forgetting or put it off until we're able to move because she just might throw us out as soon as she sees that room, uff duh...

So, John and I were thinking of how we can avoid paint peeling in the future. I got what I thought might be a pretty smart idea--hard wood flooring on the wall, the kind that doesn't scratch, chip, and has like a lifetime guarantee. I don't even know if a contractor has done this or would do this. Another idea is paneling. I know it's considered UGLY by modern day standards, but if it stays on the dang wall--I imagine it's much more affordable than Bellawood too....So, has anybody else have/had this problem and found a solution? I thank you in advance for your suggestions, that would be much helpful!

Sincerely,

Robin

Friday, August 17, 2007

"Guck!"

We've been driving pretty much all week, running all over town doing errands to get ready for back to school. Our car came close to getting overheated yesterday, the reading of the temp was maxed out at 260, yikes! But, we thank God that it cooled off after we went to another store. Emma, 9, mild Aspergers, started getting a migraine headache after eating one of the suckers the bank gave us. We still can't seem to remember all the time that she can't eat things with food coloring, and cheap hard candy is the worst. At the store, her headache was coming on strong, so I gave her a plastic bag and told her to sit on the bench near the entry. She asked if she could look at the toys, and I said no. So, when we couldn't find her when we were done, I went to check the bathroom. An employee with a cleaning cart just entered the bathroom , I asked her if there was a 9 year old girl in here, and she immediately grumbled "No one is in here!" So, I had her paged. But, when she didn't come, I didn't freak because I knew exactly where she was--looking at Barbies in the toy department...

Back at home, Emma got so sick. The little ones had full diapers, especially Ammon, 3, classic autism. He doesn't talk yet, but does a lot of cute babbling and gibberish. But, once in a great while, he tries to say a little something and is successful--and this was one of those moments!!! He imitated the words of his 2 year old sister, Mary, PDD. He very quietly uttered "Guck!" (that's what Mary says when she's hauling chunks in her pants) and then he said "Boy da." Mary says that a lot, we don't know what it means, but she always says it excitedly and with a big smile.

John is coming home from his medical study today. I know he wants this place to look much better than he left it, but he's not going to get that luxury. This place is still trashed, but at least we've got everything and everybody ready for school which has been a HUGE undertaking. I talked to the elementary school social worker yesterday, she invited Emma and Nephi, 8, moderate Asperger's, to meet their teacher yesterday to help them transist. She said "So what are you gonna do all day now that all of them will be in school this year?" I said "Plenty." She smiled and said she's kidding, and I said "I know."

Tuesday, August 14, 2007

School time count down...and defending my son--with DIVERSITY!

Well, I haven't written a post yet except for my bio, I'm Robin Kirton, the mom of 6 autistic kids. My husband John had to help me post the bio. I've been kind of shy to write, I imagine all these eyes on me as I write, I really do--I'm a screenwriter and imagine the audience watching the films that play out in my head too--and I found out my clergyman reads this blog too, so I get a bit weirded out by that too sometimes...I only said "wierded out sometimes", I still love ya man! John showed me how to post too, so I hope I remembered it correctly. I've had requests for me to write more, I thank you for that, I honestly am flattered. I hope you won't be sorry by the end of this entry because I tend to not be able to stop for a while once I get going. I've had quite a day and have some stuff on my mind, so here it goes...

I truly do feel kind of bad for just going ahead and admitting it, but I am looking forward to school starting next week. We have had a long, hot summer full of not much to do, and a lot of fussing, screaming, crying and fighting around here, and I've had about all I can take on an all day every day basis--and the home with autistic kids being "just kids" is more like the normal kid on steroids. Nephi, 8, with moderate Aspergers, has been screaming and crying every time his 13 year old brother, Bobby, severe Aspergers, asks or tells him to do something he doesn't want to do--that Bobby tells him over and OVER again doesn't help, then he keeps claiming innocence when I tell him to stop bothering Nephi. Well, at least they get along when they play Game Boy...

John, the dad of our 6 autistic kids, is out of town for the entire week. He agreed to be a human gineau pig for an Alzheimer's drug--and he's the only aging fart in the study, the rest are young guys, ha! So, if it works well, then maybe he'll remember things better when he gets home, maybe he won't tell me the same old stories over and over again so much and I won't be the only one around here who can find stuff...You know how it is, seems like mom's the only one who can find anything around the house and as the mom, you cringe when you even think about asking anyone else to find anything because they CAN'T. Like, I ask a child to find something in the closet, they open it up for a fraction of a second, then close it and say "It's not there, I can't find it!" Then, I go open the closet, look under a thing or two and find it in two seconds flat. Argh!!!

I am trying so hard to get everyone and the house ready for school. Like John has said, I'm tired a lot. I'm so dang tired that I haven't cleaned my side of the bed since like 2006, last time I can remember at least. John cleaned it last week in preparation for a landlord inspection. The landlord forgot to come, and of course, the house is trashed again and my side of the bed is piled up with school stuff I hope to organize before school starts, and I mean this year....I just received Nephi's skateboard from Bobby because Nephi still refuses to get his clothes and room ready for school. Buying a stupid back pack that had a skateboard included for that child was one of the purchases I regret most in my life...and now I have an 8 year old boy screaming and making choking sounds like that kid from the Omen.

I guess I'm just thinking out loud right now....Hey, here's a good story about one of our latest autism adventures into the public at large. I brought the entire gang to a local hamburger joint we like to frequent every so often, they have tall tables that Sarah, 5, with classic autism likes to sit on and doesn't scream about, and they have a great indoor play place that they enjoy too. And, I just could barely believe my eyes and ears...the kids were GREAT! They all sat quietly, even Ammon, 3, classic autism, who is constantly on the move. He would sit in the booth, but tossed the booster seat on the floor. They ate quietly, then they played more peacefully than they ever had. Sarah the screamer hardly screamed. They were complete angels!!! There was an old couple sitting nearby and the wife kept looking at the kids like she was rather aggravated, and she seemed puzzled too, like perhaps she didn't know what "autism" meant--I remembered to put our Moodees autistic t-shirts on them today. Well, she just kept looking at them and looking at me, then looking at them again and me again...I was totally waiting for the moment when she couldn't help herself anymore and had to say something. I was ready to say something like "I know that you're from the generation where kids are supposed to be seen and not heard...autism didn't exist back in the good old days...and...What are you talking about?! This is the BEST they've ever behaved in public, what you're witnessing right now is a freaking miracle, lady!" Perhaps she worked it out on her own, she started smiling at me as she and her husband left...Perhaps she was just relieved to get away from my kids too. Whatever.

We went to Walmart afterwards to get a few last minute school supplies--and that didn't go so well. I swear everyone who saw or heard Sarah stood there with stunned looks on their faces looking at her and myself, and my feuding boys who started up again. Doesn't anybody at least try to conceal their horror anymore? Have people no shame? Anyhow, on the way out of the store, Bobby luckily noticed that Sarah was trying to make off with an Angelina Ballerina DVD. I've heard way too many horror stories about Walmart's zero tolerance policy about shop lifting, so I thank the Lord above Bobby noticed it before the alarm went off, I was publicly hauled off in handcuffs and the kids were taken into state custody....I've heard of that happening before, no joke. Anyhow, I don't dwell on that, Walmart has most everything I need at the prices I like, and I've become accustomed to spending time in court, and the letters "ACLU" popped into my head when I envisioned that possibility for a brief moment. Anyhow, the look from the cashier made me uncomfortable, like maybe she was thinking I was trying to shoplift, but planned to blame it on the kid. It didn't get better when I passed the friendly greeter. The nice, friendly people greeter became unfriendly. Sarah came out of the store screaming her head off because I didn't buy the #@! DVD, and I then had to spend a few minutes putting her sandals back on so her feet didn't burn on the asphalt pavement in the approximately 100 degree heat--Sarah HATES shoes and constantly takes them off. Bobby was holding Sarah by the arm as we left and the greeter--whom I even had a friendly conversation with the last time I saw her--told me that my son was giving the little girl bruises on her arms from squeezing her too hard! Well, I had to defend my son. I said that she already had those bruises because she jumps around and rough houses a lot because she's autistic.

Crud, this is a constant emotional roller coaster ride, it's like I'm always on the edge of misunderstandings and accusations and like I could get my kids taken away again just because they're loud and socially inappropriate--and I feel like I'm expected to make them act perfect all the time and deal with them perfectly, politically correctly and like every other "normal" kid should be dealt with...but the thing is, they're NOT "normal"! How about that politically correct ideal that no one should hurt anyone's feelings, that everyone and everything and all our diversity should be accepted and celebrated?! Well celebrate this, world! Come see my kids in public and I'll show you DIVERSITY!!!

Saturday, August 11, 2007

Are You Using Our T-shirts?

Please tell us your stories. A lot of people have purchased our AutismBites t-shirts and we are wondering how well they've worked for you and your family. Comments pleeeease...

Sunday, August 5, 2007

Too Busy to Blog

I know I've been remiss in blogging more often. I drive a 10-wheel dump truck (hauls 17 tons) for my work and this past week I put in over 55 hours. Boy, did my butt hurt at the end of the day. After a long day I don't feel like doing more then popping a cold one (Sprite) and watching the boob tube.

As I've mentioned in the past, I really have been wanting to find a home job so I can help around the home with the children. Mom needs this, badly. I've been told MANY times that with my voice I should be doing commercials or audio books or radio. One lady told me I sound like the voice of God she heard on a religious video.

So I've finally decided I should take the plunge and take some training, do a demo recording and hopefully earn enough to quit the day job. Wish me luck.

Dad

Sunday, July 29, 2007

The Busy Mom Contest

Thanks to a previous commenter we found out about The Busy Mom Contest. I have entered my hardworking wife, Robin. Here is my entry:

"My wife, Robin, is definitely the busiest Mom. Why? She insures that our lives are as 'normal' as possible. You see, she is not only the Mom of six children, but they are all Autistic. We have three boys (aged 13, 8, 3) and three girls (aged 9, 5, 2).

She doesn’t have a typical week. Our home life is a constant ever changing swirling combination of meals, diaper changes, laundry, housework, mopping, wiping, crying, comforting, appointments and so MUCH more.

This past year was an especially busy one. We were just discovering and dealing with the emotions of finding out about our children’s Autism. Then a heavy blow hit our family. When commenting to a social worker about her frustrations and needing a break from the daily disasters in our home, our children were taken from us. At first the state Child Protective Services thought how we dealt with maintaining our home and children was unsafe. When the court realized exactly what we were dealing with, within two weeks the children were returned. The judge ordered my wife to be evaluated. She is borderline clinical depression and generalized anxiety disorder (not surprising). She is taking Zoloft to help her through each day. She maintains a detailed daily journal of people seen, visitors, phone calls and appointments. This takes one to two hours each day.

The three youngest are still in diapers and the 3 and 5 year old are completely non-verbal. We have to put them in backward one piece outfits to keep them from stripping and smearing their poop everywhere. Our 3 year old climbs on, breaks and rips EVERYTHING. We call him “The Destroyer” (like Conan the Destroyer). The two year old has now discovered the ‘joys’ of poop smearing.

I often hear the dryer’s buzz at 3am. The washing machine runs nearly 20 hours a day. After the children are in bed, she’ll dash to the gym.

On top of everything else she has fibromyalgia and is exhausted most of the time. If any Mom NEEDS a break from her busy life, it’s my wife Robin."

Dad

Wednesday, July 25, 2007

Sarah "The Destroyer"?


Today Sarah (5) was messing around on Mom's kitchen table chair. She knocked it over and broke off the top of the back piece. We already have 3 different styles of chairs for the table.

Anyone got a hot deal on an 8 piece dining room table and chair set?

Dad

Wednesday, July 18, 2007

Got Gas?

We do now!

The notice saying it was turned back on, said we needed someone who is "qualified" to turn the valve on the meter. I can turn a wrench 90 degrees to the left. I'm qualified.

I turned the valve sloooowly (as suggested). No big WOOOOSSSSSH... the house was still there.

I AM qualified, by golly!

What else happened TODAY? Ammon stripped out of his overalls, Mom found him butt-nekked in his playpen with 3-4 blankets over himself. NO POOP! Dodged that nugget...whew. Gretchen, who the state pays to come over twice a week to help out, found his diaper among the toys strewn all over the bedroom.

Mom had to do some running around and dropped off Nephi (8) and Emma (9) at the Boys and Girls club. Emma got 'bored' and called soon after to be picked up. Nephi wanted to stay. Later when it was time to pick him up he was in the office. He had been playing Air Hockey and lost the game and his noodles (a meltdown).

Mom was invited to go to dinner with a friend she hadn't spent time with for quite awhile. I said yes, go have fun. I'll just stay home (sniff) and feed all the kids, by myself, while I light the pilot light of the water heater. And get a hot shower since two days ago (phew!).

There's more, but I got other things to do, see ya...

Dad

Tuesday, July 17, 2007

Another, another Day In Paradise

My profile mentions that around here something happens everyday, I'm just too tired, depressed, forgetful, busy to write EVERY day.

But I want more ego strokes from the blogging world, so I told myself today, "Self, you need to blog more often, be more fun (boring blogs bite) and more people will read your great and wonderful words of wisdom and insight".

"Huh?, did someone say something?" Can't even pay attention to myself...

Anyway... the day started early. Bzzzzz, its 5:30am, get your butt out of bed. I did last minute paper work and Mom got the girls ready. Today Mary and Sarah were to be evaluated to see if they could be accepted for pre-school at the Carmen B. Pingree school for Autistic children. Its just for 3 days a week for half days. But, it's the best we have here in Utah.

They were accepted for this fall!

What else happened? The gas was turned off per the notice on the door when Mom walked out. I mailed the payment late last week.

"Mom, did we get anything in the mail from the gas company?" "I think so... a couple of weeks I think." "Do you know where it is?" "I'm not sure." Hmmmmm...

Ammon's been perfecting his climbing skills.
And has been learning to scale the 4'x8' plywood sheet that blocks him from "Destroying" the kitchen. Today he saw, he scaled, he destroyed. An $8 bag of trail mix was in the middle of the floor along with the entire contents of the diaper bag. Remember he likes to shred? Got ALL the baby wipes. But, isn't he CUTE! He looks older, but he's just 3. Me? I'm somewhere between 50 and dead-on-my-feet.


Emma got a headache and barfed.

Mary "Goldilocks" has been imitating everybody and everything. This includes big brothers burp and fart sounds. Nice.






Thursday, July 12, 2007

A Call for AutismBites T-shirt Stories

Now that we have over 60 people who have bought a t-shirt or tote bag from our AutismBites t-shirt website, we'd like to hear your experiences with the shirts.

Since Ammon and Sarah have become our t-shirt models, life is a little bit more calm when we venture outside the home. The other day a t-shirt sure saved some embarrassment when we were at the local burger place. The children had finished eating and were wrecking havoc in the play area. Sarah, who is very stealthy and cunning, pounced upon a woman's drink two booths down from us. This unsuspecting woman's drink was right in front of her when Sarah did a quick 'grab and slurp'.

We offered quick apologies and got her a replacement drink. We're quite sure had Sarah not had on her AutismBites t-shirt the lady would have said more. We had noticed earlier that she had read Sarah's t-shirt when she 'Tigger' bounced past her table a few times.

That's a recent story from us, what's yours? Thanks!

Dad

Tuesday, July 10, 2007

Our Day in Court, Part 2

We are now free from all state intervention!

The state attorney generals office lawyer stated that they were satisfied that we have come very far and have completed all requirements. Their recommendation: close the case.

The children's lawyer agreed. My lawyer concurred. And Robin's lawyer suggested that the case against us be closed as well.

I admit that I was on pins and needles waiting for the judge to rule. Her comments were that we have all learned a lot in dealing with a family with so many Autistic children (we found out about all the children during all this). What sources of help are available and confessed that the court has learned a lot as well.

Now we are free from people coming to the house checking up on us, in the beginning it was twice a day from the state and we had people that were required to stay with Robin while I was at work.

It's been a long hard journey, but this is not the end. Really it's just the beginning for us as average Joe's, with six Autistic children that is!

Dad

Our Day in Court, Part 1

Today is what we hope is the last appearance we have to make since we started our run in with the State of Utah. Since we had our children taken away for 2 weeks last fall we have had to do many things and have accomplished a lot.

Since that time we have: 1) Found out that ALL six of our children have some level of Autism -from classic to moderate Aspergers. 2) Had to make changes to our home to make it 'safe'. 3) Learn A LOT about what Autism is. 4) Created this blog to help us and hopefully other Autistic parents. 5) Start using Autism t-shirts on Sarah and Ammon whenever we go out of the house. 6) Be on a local 10:00pm news program. 7) Appear on the Sunday front page of our local paper. 8) Have two national magazines want to do our story, the one we decided on is here this week. 9) Get to know a lot of good folks.

There's a bunch more, but we've got things to do to get ready for court this afternoon...

Dad

Wednesday, July 4, 2007

Our Flag

Standing here so close to you,
It seems that I am seeing you
For the first time.
Yet, I cannot remember
The first time I ever saw you,
Though I remember quite well
The first time I ever touched you.
It was the Fourth of July.
I paid a dime for you.
I did not know then
That you could not be bought
But that men would give for you
All that they had—Even their lives.
I did not know
That what I held in my hand
Was not you;
No one told me.
But, of course,
Those things can’t be told;
Each person must learn them
For himself.
I did not know that you had
A heart that could feel,
A mind that could think,
And a body that could work;

But I know you now
For what you are
I’ve learned my lesson.

You are a mother
Waiting for a word from her son,
And the word never comes.
You are a father
Working patiently,
Hoping for a better day,
A better world—Tomorrow.
You are proud young men
With light and laughter
In their voices.
You are the hands of young women
Roughened and hardened by work.
You are a mother
Holding her first born
Tenderly close to her breast,
And wearing a Distinguished Service Cross
And a Purple Heart
Pinned on her dress.
You are the boys and girls
Offering their pledge to you
In the school houses of America.
You are men and women
Of every language, of every color,
Of every creed.
Going to the church of their choice
On Sunday morning.
You are the noise of the busy city;
The peace of the country side
At the twilight hour,
You are all of these
And something more:
You are Truth,
And Truth is Freedom;
“You shall know the Truth,” he said,
“And the Truth shall make you free.”

Yes, I know you now;
I can see you clearly;
You have changed.
You are not new and stiff and shiny
As you were on that summer day
So long ago.

You are stained with tears;
You are dirty with sweat;
You are torn and bleeding,
But you have wept before;
You have toiled before;
You have bled before,
And I know in my heart
That when this that is upon us
Shall have passed away
You will still in Freedom be flying
Over a people born to be free.

* Historical Information*

On a misty, foggy, Sunday afternoon, in the month of January, 1944, the late U.S. Senator, Robert S. Kerr, at that time Governor of Oklahoma, members of the American Legion, and I were seated on the Atoka, Oklahoma High School stage waiting to begin the memorial service honoring the young men of Atoka County who had given, in the Second World War, “...even their lives.”

It was 2:30 o’clock p.m.…time to start the service; still we waited. I was neither anxious nor impatient; I had been asked by the Commander of the American Legion to say something about the Flag, and I knew what I wanted to say, so I had not bothered to make a copy of it. A little later, the audience became quiet; when I looked toward the entrance of the auditorium, I understood why. Walking down the aisle toward the front were the families of the young men for whom the service had been planned. Suddenly, I felt that I could not stand, face those people, and say what I had decided to say. At that moment, with a shock, I realized that I did not remember a thing I had intended to say; I thought of leaving the building by the stage exit, but I could not do that when I remembered the young men and their families who had no avenue of escape.

When my name was called, I walked to the front of the stage, and for a long moment looked at the Flag standing close by...Then I heard myself saying, for the first time, the lines of “Our Flag” that have been repeated countless times since that misty, foggy Sunday afternoon in the month of January 1944.

I wondered—could Governor Kerr have been right when he said to the audience, “I came here from Oklahoma City to give the memorial services, but there is nothing left to say; the few lines you have just heard have said it all…for all time…for all people…

—Grace R. Stewart

Friday, June 29, 2007

Mom's Debut...A Little Bit Means A Lot

Hello all! This is my first blog entry! My husband, John, has been asking me to write for a while. Well, here I am!

My name is Robin and I am 36 years old. As the mom of six autistic kids, every so often people comment "How do you do it?" and "I don't know how you do it." I really don't know what to say except "I don't really know how I do it either." I just do it, I have to, and of course, I want to, after all, they're my babies and I LOVE THEM SO MUCH.

When I say a little bit means a lot, this is huge, I want to shout it from the rooftops!!!!.....

A couple of days ago, Sarah, age 5, and Ammon, age 3, both classic autistics, ate their apple sauce with a spoon for the FIRST TIME! Yahoo!!!! Praise the good Lord in Heaven!!! John got out the video camera too, we were so proud.

And yesterday, we managed to barely survive a trip to the local health food store. I forgot to bring along our AutismBites t-shirts, oops....Well, when we got in, Sarah immediately went to the produce and started pawing the apples and screaming. We kept telling her no, but soon realized we had to give in, she was hungry. So, she quieted down as she chomped on that apple for dear life. We were almost done as we were in the dairy aisle getting some non-hydrogenated, soy spread that tastes a lot like butter. Sarah apparently had enough and really started screaming at this point. A woman shopper was near us, and as we left that aisle, our 9 year old Emma, mild Asperger's, said that that woman gave us a mean look. I calmly replied "It's okay, people give us mean looks a lot."!

....It also means a lot to us when people keep their little bitty mean looks to themselves, at least until we turn our backs and can't see them anymore.

Mom


Wednesday, June 20, 2007

Spongeboy Poopants and Ice Ice Baby

Ahhhh... the joys of Autism. Ammon (aka The Destroyer) just will not get out of his diaper diving mode. Yesterday he got it on his AND Sarah's bed, the walls, the carpet and a stylish smear across his forehead.

Today when I detected a familiar smell waifing from the children's room, I knew something was afoot... or a bum bum. As the change was taking place nothing appeared to be amiss, at first. Besides the 5 lbs load in the diaper of course. The smell still lingered. A closer look at his clothes and... yuccccck, poo poo smears on his chest. Hands too of course. But the funny thing was he wears a one piece overall outfit and there was no visible signs of entry... or escape. Huh?

Sarah LOVES ice. We discovered this when at a family gathering a few months ago my sister brought over some liters of pop and a bag of ice. Sarah can't get enough of the stuff, she started constantly asking for 'pop' (pronounced pa pa). She will bite and crunch it, with the melt dripping down her chin and onto her clothes.

At least it's not POOP!

Dad

Monday, June 18, 2007

Fighting Over Autism

I've been reading a lot lately about all the in-fighting in the Autism community. It reminds me of Jr. High when the main combatants went to the sand pit near the school right after the last bell.

We would like to know, not only how and maybe why our 6 children are on the Autism spectrum, but what can we do to help them today. We feel that from our research that it must
be a combination of genetics and environmental factors.

Autism Speaks has become the Autism fund raising 800 lbs gorilla. They are doing a lot of research and we are currently involved in the genome study they have funded. What I'd like to see is a branching out from a research mainly mode to include areas that can affect families now. Treatments, diet, education, etc. Follow-up on areas that are having some success and see what else a bunch of money may reveal. Then let us parents know what HELPS our kids. Something now, not just research of causes. That's a 'nice to know' for us that already have Autistic children.

Autism is a spectrum disorder. We need a spectrum approach that can allow the funding to be used for each group to have their own soap box. If Autism Speaks can put all of us under their umbrella, great, if not lets support a group that will.

I named our new blog Autism Bites because we were surprised by the news that all six of our children were ASD, 'snake bit' if you will. I would like to call for a stop to all the Autism community fighting. If well funded groups truly want to make Autism a thing of the past put your money where your mouth is. Not into your pockets, while providing lip service only.

Dad

Sunday, June 17, 2007

Thank you, thank you verrry much (using an Elvis voice)

Today is Father's Day.

It is always a day of joy and sadness for me. I've not mentioned it before now, but I was married before and had 4 children from that marriage. My oldest son has forgiven me for divorcing his mother, but the other three I don't hear from on Father's day.

My son took me out to dinner Friday at a very chic Chinese restaurant (valet parking even) and then we went to see the opening of the new Fantastic Four. It was all very good. Just in case you are doing a count my total is yes...ten children who can call me Dad. Even if only 7 do so on a regular basis.

A great big thanks to all those who have bought our Autism Bites t-shirts in the last couple of weeks. Our champion buyer this past week was Daniel V. from Ohio who bought 4 t-shirts! Thanks to all and please do come here and comment about the t-shirts, especially when you buy some. What you like, don't like or any suggestions.

Thank you also for the kind and thoughtful words from the last blog. Its nice to know that we aren't the only ones that have bad days and that we have blogger friends. It is especially nice since I've been spending the last couple of days posting on a Yahoo Group and have been called a whiner, because I had a different opinion. I thought that not talking about religion or politics with friends was a bad idea. I'm learning that some people really get worked up and sometimes down right angry when it comes to the subject of Autism.

Lastly, thanks for making this blog one of your favorites on your blogs list. When you do let me know, if you list us I'd like to list you.

Dad

Tuesday, June 12, 2007

Some Days Its All Just Too Much

The last few days I been reading lots of Autism blogs, Autism Yahoo Groups, YouTube Autism stories and various books. I love my children so much and want to help them with diet or intervention or education or one of a million things it seems.

Today was a day that it was just too much.

Mom gets tired a lot and needs naps. Just trying to stay caught up with cleaning or washing wears her out. I understand. She was able to get breaks with 5 of the 6 attending various schooling...but now its summer and no breaks. When I get home from work I give her a break as much as I'm able. Made dinner, got the children to help clean up afterwards, watched a couple of educational cartoons with them, said evening prayers and got them off bed.

I get tired too, but many times I feel that I have to read just one more blog, website or book to learn more. To do a better job of being Dad. If I didn't have my magnetic rings I'd be completely wiped out. I wish for a job where I can be involved with Autism. Autism IS my life and I feel I need to learn and help and... SOMETHING more.

Today was a day that it was just too much.

I didn't feel like blogging today, but I think that if I don't have something new to say that people will stop coming by. And stop buying our Autism Bites t-shirts. We don't make much but we need all we can get.

Getting too pitiful here?

We've been getting advice on various treatments or diets. It would be great and I'm sure some of the suggested things will help. BUT, I see NO WAY to pay for it all. Special diets cost more then a regular one. Try that with a family of eight.

Boy, do I need a hit of Mom's Zoloft. Sorry to be such a downer today. Today was a day that it was just too much.

Dad

Saturday, June 9, 2007

Autistic Family Assaults Arctic Circle

Today was a typical reason why our Autism t-shirts save some of our sanity.

Robin took ALL the children to a local hamburger place (Arctic Circle) for lunch with a play area. I stayed home to get a nap, she got hers when I made dinner and fed them.

Anyway, she said it started well. Just a little bickering among the older kids doing some of the usual, "Bobby's picking on me." Sarah (5) aka 'Tigger' getting up and down and out of her seat. Then as if on cue they all picked it up about 10 notches.

They were done eating and headed into the play area. I call this phase "the releasing of the hounds" something like a pack of baying dogs. They were LOUD, laughing, crying, fussing. Of course Robin just sat back ready to field any complaints or nasty looks. But Ammon (3) and Sarah (our classics) had on their Autism t-shirts. Ammon's was the: 'I'm Autistic, what's your excuse?!' Sarah's was: 'I'm Autistic and I think you're weird too!' shirts.

NO ONE SAID A THING! This has been happening more and more often, when we remember the t-shirts of course. Even when Ammon went to the front door and started his, open the door - watch it close, open the door - watch it close, routine.

Then he and Mary (2) decided to run back and forth between the play and eating areas. Still not a peep out of anyone, and the place was busy. About that time Robin decided to give everyone a break and headed up the gang for an assault on the Health Food store.

The t-shirts work, that is one of the reasons why we offer them to help the rest of you deal with the NT world. We found that shirts with 'words only' didn't work as well for us. People see our shirts with the large funny face and really take a moment to read the words.

Dad

Thursday, June 7, 2007

Top 10 Snappy Answers to Annoying Comments

A friend sent us this great list.

If you're a parent with a child on the spectrum, you've probably responded to the same annoying remarks and questions a thousand times. Here's a handy list of responses that...you'll probably never use out loud (but are fun to imagine using)!

1) He can’t be autistic -- he can talk! (or make eye contact, smile, engage)
And yet, amazingly, he’s still autistic! Y’see, autism is a spectrum disorder, and that means …

2) Oh, she must be SO good at math! (or science or music)
Actually, her great talent is in memorizing and reciting lines from Sponge Bob videos! (Or those annoying Thomas the Tank Engine songs!)

3) All he needs is more discipline, and he’ll get the message.
Yup, it’s true -- if you give a child enough time outs, he’ll just stop being autistic. And if I speak French to you loudly enough, you’ll become fluent!

4) You poor thing, it must be so upsetting to have a child with a disability.
Yes, it can be hard. And pity really helps me to get through the day and feel better about myself and my child. So…thanks so much!

5) Will he be able to go to college (or get married or hold down a job)?
Hm. Good question. By the way, has your daughter’s divorce been finalized yet? And I’m so sorry to hear that your son was recently laid off from his job…

6) I have a friend whose child was autistic, and she cured him!
Wow! So I guess she’s enjoying the millions she made after figuring out how to cure autism? I bet her second home is a yacht!

7) If she can’t behave properly, you shouldn’t BRING her to the grocery store!
Wow -- that would be great. Should I fax you my grocery list, or send it by email? I’ll really enjoy the delivery service!

8) We can’t include him in typical classes, it wouldn’t be fair to the other kids.
Hm, that’s an interesting perspective. So I guess you have a pretty big endowment to pay for all the law suits? That must be great!

9) We can’t accept her at our school because she doesn’t have a learning disability
Ohhhh… what a shame! Oh, wait, look, she’s suddenly developed dyslexia! Can she come to your school now?

10) You should make more time for yourself!
You’re so right! So will you be babysitting tonight or tomorrow night?

Dad